Halloween Memories

Halloween in the 1984

This was done my first year at college, when I came home on break…

Reminiscing Halloweens past, and the decorating we used to do at the Homestead with all homemade materials.¬† All the pictures in this post are from the 80’s (as the clothing and hairstyles will attest, LOL)!

Ma with pumpkinCutting jack-o-lanterns with Pa and Ma. Ma is having a bit of fun with her pumpkin. ūüôā

Pa and Mary with pumpkin

Admiring the finished products with Pa

pumpkin and mary

And finally, sitting atop the little shelter Pa built for us to stand in while we waited for the school bus at the end of our long driveway…sharing the space with a giant pumpkin Pa grew, and a little orange cat he and Ma took in.

Happy Halloween!

Cozy Imaginings

I suppose the fact that I have a vivid and active imagination isn’t a big surprise. Most fictions writers do.

One of the ways my imagination works often¬†results in a kind of fun game. It’s something I’ve done since I was a little kid, and I’d have to amuse myself as we drove back and forth from shopping or one of the many activities I or my six sisters participated in.

0_6730f_ddb9f7d9_origIt can be triggered by something as simple as seeing¬†a charming¬†house like this one on the left, with its windows lit warmly from within…

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Or¬†driving by an¬†historic and lovely¬†library…

pg304-6543Hill-304Or spotting¬†a cozy home when¬†I’m driving in the around town or in the country…

Without much effort, I can create an entire story in my mind about the people who live or work there.

Sometimes even a bend in the road makes a scene blossom, shifting my thoughts to a more personal connection. At those times, I often feel a sense of longing or nostalgia and a vision of what my own life might be like in the imagined setting.

Almost like an alternative reality daydream.

This happened to me a couple weeks ago, on my drive to work. I saw a road curving off to the left , the leaves of the trees on either side brilliant and lit with the morning sun, and the farmer’s fields all¬†around warm in the glow.

It’s a road I’ve seen many times before, but the angle when I looked at it, or perhaps the way the sun dappled the leaves, set off the imaginative machine inside me.¬† I didn’t stop to snap a photo that day, because (as is usual) I had no extra time to spare in getting to work.

imageBut I stopped to take this picture on the left a day later.

The atmosphere had changed…it was misty that morning, and far less golden as the sun slowly rose, but it inspired me nonetheless.

I could suddenly picture a cozy home499b724fb9ca8231ab5f5765ef4366e1 (like this one on the right, perhaps)  just out of sight down the road and imagine living in it Рonly not the real me, but a fictional me, from the alternate reality, where I live out in the country, like when I was young. In this world, I am a homebody, gardening, baking, and wandering around outdoors, rather than going to work every day and busy with a multitude of tasks, chores, and responsibilities I have to accomplish.

It’s a pleasant fiction, and it makes my heart pang for a second.

Okay…so I’m ready to hear from you – am I odd to have imaginings like this, or can any of you relate (whether or not you’re a writer)? Please let me know in the comments. I promise I can handle it if you think I’m just odd, LOL. ūüôā

Happy Friday – and Happy Night Before Halloween!

Remembering 1970’s Halloween

candybags

A selection of little treat bags, circa 1970s

I’ve been traveling down Memory Lane lately. My Trick-or-Treating heyday was in the 1970’s…from ages four – 11. By the time I got to junior high, it wasn’t cool to trick-or-treat anymore, and we shifted to house Halloween parties or dances.

Not that we didn’t have house parties in those days, too. As I wrote about in a Halloween post last year, my mother made tons of homemade pizza and offered bowls of chips, candy, and cups of soda for some of our famed parties and haunted house in the camp each year.

AlcProfHalloween1Here are a couple recipes posted in an pamphlet, circa 1975. I might have to try making that cake!

brachs_12Candies like these were common, as were unwrapped sorts, like mallow pumpkins and candy corn, tossed in our trick-or-treat plastic pumpkins by the handful.

Ad from 1975I saw ads like this all the time. It’s amazing how prices have changed in just a few decades!

d0b361383f73f911b1b2002699b548b529795b7b54425e850af721b4394892e5cadb4969df31abfdb959395fc54d48c49080e724f2cf044bf66d75d25448221eThere was an abundance of Witch and other Halloween decorations that¬†had a definite 70’s flair, though it was a favorite activity each autumn to pull out the colored construction paper and fashion jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, black cats in front of yellow moons, witches flying, and spooky trees – all of which were hung on the windows or walls in the house…

IMG_2596I had this exact decoration hanging in my home and probably another one just like it hanging in our classroom, on one of the windows.

witchBecause my mother hand-sewed all of our dance costumes, bedspreads, and curtains, as well as some of our clothes (which is a feat in and of itself, considering the time constraints in a household of nine, with three meals a days and loads of laundry that had to be spaced out because of the well water issues), some years we got to select a box-packaged, store-bought costume come Halloween.

830ee5b332a2f04d42b638374b695067On those special occasions, choosing our costumes at the local 5 and Dime was a trip much anticipated!

We’d get to wear our purchase, once for the school party and once for¬†trick-or-treating. Then they were packed carefully away, since often, we’d have to go back to the old costumes and choose from them in future years; as an adult, I know that it must have been¬†because money was especially tight¬†on those Halloweens, but when I was a kid, it was just something that needed to happen periodically. We never complained.

BWx20x7ex202505_3LI had this “gypsy”¬†one, one year.

ae3d182e66ce5a13357e59e893526f34My sister, who was always more “princess-like” than I was – beautiful, fine-boned, and blond – wore one very much like this.

I can still smell the plastic scent of the mask and feel the slight condensation from breathing through the always-too-narrow nose holes as we participated in the classroom party or  ran door to door Trick-or-Treating on a crisp Halloween night.

It was an innocent time, especially in my earlier years. The whole scare about razor blades in apples and medication or drugs tainting candy didn’t get started until nearer to the time I was getting too old to participate in candy-gathering…and of course home-baked goods were still always allowed to be brought into school for classroom parties and treats.

beistle-halloween-decoration-black-cat-moonAs the day approaches this year, I’m hanging some decorations and getting into the spirit, hoping to give some children the same happiness when they trick-or-treat at my¬†door that¬†I felt on those Halloween nights long ago. ūüôā

Do you have any treasured Halloween memories to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

In An Autumn Mood…

imageThis post is a mish-mash of several different images and topics, all related to autumn.

First (and not surprisingly, considering my last two posts, I suppose!) is the food. As the weather cools down a bit, the “hibernating” instinct kicks in, and all ideas for all sorts of hearty foods and meals start to nag at me (in a very pleasant way).

imageHere is last night’s homemade creation: Boneless pork loin chops seasoned with garlic and thyme and smothered in apples and onion, scalloped potatoes (no cheese in mine…I prefer the classic onion, butter, and cream, with plenty of salt and pepper and a little garlic), and sweet peas.

imageDessert was homemade apple pie, from the apples yielded by the two apple trees in my parent’s yard at the old Homestead (another post on that soon).

imageSecond, is the scenery. It’s getting to peak color here in Upstate New York. Every day is a new treat for the senses.

I love driving to and from work, because it’s the equivalent of taking a “country drive” every day!

imageEven on cloudy days, the gray sky  highlights the brilliant leaves, making them almost glow.

imageAs we creep ever closer to Halloween, certain images lend a pensive or even spooky tone to the vistas. While I always love crows, since I associate my father with them, I also think that their appearance in October is perfect for this season in particular. These two handsome fellows were just hanging out in the upper branches when I pulled over on my way to work to take their picture. ūüôā

Is it autumn where you live, or another season altogether (like in Australia)? Regardless of where you are, what does it look like around you? Please share in the comments!

Spaghetti Squash Made Easy

So, this is my second recipe post in a row, I know. What can I say? I like to cook, and the cooler autumn months make that even more enticing.

You don’t have to like squash to like spaghetti squash. It has a very, very¬†mild flavor, and is a great way to sneak in more vegetables and avoid some of the simple carbs that can make you feel logey (rhymes with hoagie for those unfamiliar with the word. Logey = sluggish, and is a word derived from Dutch, used in the Northeastern part of the US, particularly in NY and MA! ūüôā )

I made some this weekend. It takes a bit of time (1.5 hours), but it’s well worth it.

imageStart by preheating the oven to 365-370 degrees F (depending on how “hot” your oven is), and washing a large, smooth spaghetti squash. Slice it vertically.image

Scoop out the “guts” (very much like removing seeds and fibers from a pumpkin when Halloween carving time comes along) and discard them. Now it’s ready to season.

imageEither slice up some garlic (I like a lot) or buy it pre-chopped from the store, which is what I did, because I didn’t have other garlic handy.

imageNote: if you use pre-chopped garlic, you may have to dry it a bit if you want it to “roast” and turn into those brown bits that taste so good.

Place the garlic in the cavities of the squash and then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Add a mixture of olive oil and vegetable oil (half and half) to the cavity and smear all over the visible parts of the cut squash.

imageRoast in the oven for about an hour. Mine took a little longer. You’ll know it’s done when the flesh pulls back from the skin without too much resistance and begins to “thread” like spaghetti. Use two forks to scrape all the squash from the inside of each half.

imageIt’s ready to serve! Put into a bowl and season with a little more oil, or some butter, and test for whether more salt and pepper is needed.

imageIt’s great as is, but it’s also delicious with your favorite pasta sauce (with or without meat or a sprinkle of parmesan cheese¬†– use the squash just like pasta). If you use a tomato-based sauce, though, let the squash sit for a few minutes first; otherwise, it picks up the liquid from the tomatoes and gets a little watery.

That’s it! Delicious and nutritious.

Has anyone here tried this squash before? Any fans of it with other recipes for using it that you love? Please share in the comments. ūüôā