Monday, November 16, 2009

Itemized Cookie Recipe

I don't like the way that the ingredients got split up in my previous post, and I don't want you to wind up unhappy with your cookies, so here is an itemized list of the ingredients for the Andes Mint Cookies:

3/4 Cup Butter
1 1/2 Cups firmly packed Dark Brown Sugar
2 Tblsp. Water
2 Cups Semisweet Chocolate Chips
2 Eggs
2 1/2 Cups Flour
1 1/4 Teasp. Baking Soda (yes, you read that right!)
1/2 Teasp. Salt
 2 -3 Boxes Andes Creme de Menthe Mints
Chocolate Sprinkles (optional)

The rest of the instructions are pretty straight forward, but it was those ingredient amounts that got cut apart! Sorry about that!!

There!  I feel better now! :-)

Have a great evening!!

Let's Bake!!!

Yes! As promised, we are back in the kitchen! Normally, I try out new,   special, recipes throughout the year, being the test as to whether it is worthy of being added to the "official" holiday cookie & candy trays, but this year, I wasn't able to do that. Until today, when I tried one that according to Hubs, should be a new addition.

And normally, I wouldn't introduce a new recipe here, without trying it out myself first, but I felt SO sure about this one, I decided that we could take this journey together.

This cookie recipe is for Andes Mint Cookies.  The recipe can also be found in the back of the book that I mentioned this morning, along with a number of other very yummy sounding recipes! I know there are at least two others that I want to try!

These cookies make the Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies, go hide in the cupboard. They are THAT good!

In a heavy saucepan, over low heat, blend together 3/4 cup of butter, 1 1/2 cups of firmly packed dark brown sugar, and 2 Tblsp. of water, stirring gently until all of the butter is melted.  Remove from heat, and stir in 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips. (My Hubs isn't overly fond of semi-sweet, so I used one cup of the semi-sweet, and one cup of Ghiradelli's Double Chocolate chips instead.  If you don't like rich chocolate at all, you could try using milk chocolate chips instead, but you won't have the same intensity, which is what you may want!

Pour the mixture into a large mixer bowl and let stand 10 minutes to cool slightly.  With the mixer on high speed, beat in 2 eggs, 1 at a time.  Reduce speed to low and add in 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 Teasp. baking soda, and 1/2 Teasp. salt, that have been blended together in another bowl. I find a whisk is a handy little tool for this, with no mess. Beat just until blended.  Chill dough 1 hour for easier handling.

Use this time to unwrap all of the pieces of two boxes of Andes Creme de Menthe mints. Keep a third one handy because you will be using a portion of it. ( And no! I didn't sample any candy! I'm SO proud of myself! And that little pinch of deliciously rich cookie dough that I did sample was for testing purposes only. There was no instant gratification involved, whatsoever!)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 cookie sheets with foil. (I love the non-stick version!) Roll dough into small, (about 1 inch) balls;  place them 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Bake 12 - 13 minutes, no longer!

Cookies will crisp as they cool.  Remove from oven and immediately place a mint over each cookie. 

Allow it to soften, then swirl over top.  If desired, decorate with chocolate sprinkles.  Remove from cookie sheets and cool.  Frosting will harden once it cools.  

This recipe makes about 80 cookies.  And yes, they are rich, but oh, so good!

And what did I learn from this first batch, that I would do differently next time? Well for one thing, I wouldn't come in here during that hour, and get involved reading friend's blogs, because the dough got very stiff during that time, and my hands got a major workout rolling it into the balls. :-) I do have a cookie dough scoop, and that helped tremendously!

Other than that, everything went very smoothly, and I'm very pleased with how they came out!

I hope that you enjoy making them too, and that your pleasure eating them is even greater!

On Strike For Christmas!

I thought that might get your attention! And no, I'm not going on strike for Christmas or Yule, or any other holiday, but wanted to share the title of a book I just read.

Normally, I don't make book recommendations unless I truly know what the person likes, or is seeking, but I just hopped over to Sarah's Cottage Garden Studio, as I do each Monday morning (a very nice tradition!) to join in her quilting bee, and nibble on some fantastic treats that she always has laid out for us.

This morning, she is talking about Holiday Traditions, something that has been on my own mind lately, and brought more into focus with a humorous book that I just finished.

On Strike For Christmas, by Sheila Roberts, is a lighthearted story of a group of women, each for their own reason, goes on strike, getting ready for the holidays, and their husbands are forced to take over.  This isn't a torrid romance novel, but there is love in the air, with a warm hearted ending.  Any woman, or man, for that matter, who has always done everything to get ready for the holidays, will get a few laughs, and will relate to the women in this book. 

Sarah mentions that her hubby is going to bake this year, and she is going to go put her feet up and watch Harry Potter.  Well, the movie may be different, but that is exactly what one of the women does! Sarah, did you read this book too?  :-)

More on my own traditions later. Right now, I'm off to finish baking a new-to-me cookie recipe. Results to follow later!

Wishing everyone a very festive day!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Long Overdue Thank You's!


But no less heartfelt! I've been running helter-skelter for that past couple of weeks, and need to get focused once again because it is time for us to return to the Mayo Clinici for my hubs continued treatment.

So the first things are my list, are to catch up with some VERY sincere Thank You's!

I want to thank everyone who stopped by during Mrs. B's Haunted Halloween Blog Tour! I was overwhelmed by the new friends that have stopped to say "Hi!"  It was fun for me to tour everyone else's blogs too. What a great way to spread the Halloween Glow!!

To add to my merriment during that most festive time of the year, I received two awards!  And since I received them at just about the same time, I am listing them in no particular order. They are both treasured, and I cherish my friendships with the people who awarded them to me!

A very thoughtful Lizzie bestowed this Honest Scrap Award to me.  As part of receiving this award, I'm to share 10 things about me, that you may, but more likely, don't know about me.  This is tough. I'm not that interesting!  Hmmm, let's see.

1. I love horses, and used to ride English
2. I broke my arm lengthwise, and shattered my wrist while out on a frozen lake, taking photos while ice fishing.
3. I currently share my home with 8 kitties.
4. My hair that isn't turning gray, is a natural auburn
5. I'm ambidexterous (which came in handy when I broke my arm!)
6. I've lived in Michigan my whole life.
7. I have an alto voice, and sang in my high school choir, and occasionally in a holiday choir in years past.
8. I have three grown children, two are a set of twins
9. I like to play chess, and cribbage (I could have counted those as two! lol)
10. I love to iron, especially on rainy days.

Ok! That's it! Now, I'm suppose to pick 7 people to forward this on to, but I'm going to do my usual thing. If anyone would like this award for their very own, all you have to do, is leave a comment, and pick it up! Then I'll be looking for YOUR list of 10 things that we don't know about you!

And thank you again, Lizzie! I'm sorry that I took so long in posting it, but it was fun to receive, and fun to come up with the 10 things!

My other award is an especially pretty one, and comes to me from sweet Sarah!  This is the "Deborah Award", which makes me sit up and take notice because that is one of my daughter's name.

Here is the lovely description of this award:

"So today I am planting another tree. The Quercus shumardii or Shumard Oak. It is a handsome large tree with straight axis and broad, rounded open crown. It withstands strong hurricane winds, extreme heat, is tall and straight and just plain beautiful. It fits it's honoree, my dearest sisterfriend Deborah, poet, friend, not just a mother but a soldier's mother too. Oh, the sleepless nights, the anxiety and worries, yet she is perpetually pleasant and cheerful, kind and gentle, diplomatic and tactful. She exudes courage, hope and faith. To her son Pfc. Ryan and his fellow soldiers: I am grateful to you for making it possible for me to blog freely, sleep soundly and speak openly. Thank you! I stand by your mother and hold her hand as she awaits your safe return home.

Deborah, the honor is mine. You have enriched my life in such a short period of time. You inspire me and encourage me. Thank you very much!

I have more trees to plant but rest assured those who have virtual trees and acorns planted and distributed in their honor have one common virtue, they are loyal friends regardless of race, creed, political affiliations and geography. Here, I honor womanhood and friendship and there is nothing more wondrous a blessing for anyone than for a friend who came and never left your side. Someone like Deborah."

For some reason, this award makes me rather teary eyed.  I guess it is because I know how much I value my friends, and what special people each and every one of you are!  In that vein, I would like each of you to share this award with me.  You are ALL so wonderful, and to think that I never would have met you if it hadn't been for this wonderful web of interaction.

Sarah, thank you again, SO much for giving me this award. I am humbled by your continued thoughtfulness and support.

Wishing everyone a beautiful week, filled with lots of love and laughter

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Magical Holiday Artists Give Away!

I am SO pleased to be a member of the Magical Holiday Artist group! They are a bunch of very talented people, and some are donating their fine work to the first group Give Away!  Just click on the name above, to be taken to the Give Away info! 

Good Luck

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Some Changes In The Wind

Yes, with the changing of the seasons, the winds are shifting, causing a slight shift here as well.

For whatever the reasons, as I've mentioned, I've had a hard time letting go of Halloween this year, and the more I thought about it, I realized that I didn't have to.

Does this photo look familiar?  It is of one of my garden benches on Halloween, a couple of years ago.  It was also the header photo of my blog during the celebration of Halloween.  And, now if you click HERE, you'll find it again! 

Yes! I'm going to have a blog dedicated to Halloween.  This blog will flow with the year's changes, while that one will remain rooted in all things Black, and Orange, mysterious and fun. 

There may be some overlap from time to time, but I'll try and keep each one as separate as I can. 

I do hope that you'll come over and keep me company there from time to time. I truly enjoy reading your comments, and hearing your experiences!

If you click on the link above, you'll see Sorceress Kitty at her spooky, glowing eyed best, and find out what happened in my garden this afternoon!  I hope to see you there!  And here!

Wishing you all a spectacular week!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My Sorceress Kitty

I've had several people ask about my Sorceress Kitty that I showed you during my Halloween Tour.

She was gifted to me by my daughter and daughter in law for my Birthday, several years ago.  I saw her at the Ren Fest, and fell in love with her.  They went back the next day (sooo sneaky!), and bought her for me.

She is made by Melody Pena Windstone Editions.  They have a website so you can see all that they make.  There are some really neat dragons, and Oh! A NEW Wizard Kitty!

And something else that is really cool! They offer a number of pieces that you can paint, yourself! Now how much fun THAT would be!!! 

Here is their website if you want to go exploring! 

They also have a blog,

Have fun, and let me know what you have put on your wish list!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween Tour Coming To A Close

It is hard for me to have to face up to it, but the Halloween tour this year is coming to a close.  Time to turn off the lights, and lovingly tuck everything away in nests of tissue paper.

I know people who have rooms in their homes dedicated to year around Christmas, leaving decorated trees up, along with complete Yuletide decor.  Maybe I should have a Halloween room! It is worth thinking about!

As you leave, you'll be going through the front porch, which has now dried off, so you don't have to worry about where you step.

This sturdy pumpkin is carved out of one piece of wood.  No, the nutcracker is not Halloween, but one must show some sort of school spirit! (Go Spartans!)

And some soft pillows. I do love textiles!

These are assorted pumpkins that I would normally keep out over Thanksgiving too.  And, I've been known to turn a JOL around so that the face doesn't show, to use it for Fall decoration.

A view of part of our porch that was originally open, and wrapped around the side. A some point, it was remuddled, shortened, and enclosed.  The wicker furniture is all vintage that I've gotten at seasonal outdoor antique markets.

And, I have a Baker's Rack (not vintage) on the front porch that is a neat spot for displaying the rest of my Halloween collection. Most of the pieces are wood, or papier mache.

I do hope that you have enjoyed the tour. I certainly enjoyed you stopping by, and hope that you'll return again!

Have a great evening!!

A Visit To A Halloween Fall Festival!

Halloween wouldn't be complete without visiting a Halloween Fall Festival, even if it is through a blog, and in our imaginations.

This is the last of my Halloween villages, and the one that my daughter, who had her 40th birthday this year, says that she wishes that she could shrink down, and live in this village. I don't blame her.  It has the atmosphere that I absolutely love in Autumn, and when the afternoon sun shines through it, you can almost smell the apples, and the burning leaves wafting through the crisp air.

Then at night, when the lights are on, it brings out new detail. .the little JOL's are SO cute! I can't have enough of them! lol

A Few years ago, Dept 56 diverted a bit from their normal Snow Village pieces that have ceramic "snow" on them, to make one Autumn piece a year.  This year, it is a corn maze, that I haven't gotten yet. I wasn't able to get to my favorite shop to buy it yet, but intend to do so in time to set it up next year! In past years, they have offered an apple stand, a fall produce stand, and a scarecrow festival shop that sells jams and jellies.

For this village, I combined the Autumn pieces, with the not so spooky pieces from their Halloween Village.  There are some houses that aren't haunted, just decorated for the holiday, a Gypsy Fortune Teller's trailer, and combined costume shop, a rather elaborate Pumpkin Carver's shop, and even the water tower is a huge Jack O Lantern in the sky!

Once again, I tried taking photos in the daytime, but they don't show the magic.  Nighttime ones lose detail.  I tried taking some with just lamplight, to try and find a happy medium.  But even then, I'm not satisfied. I'll keep trying, but in the meantime, you can get a little sample to give you ideas of what you can do with your village pieces!

It is now time to pack most of these pieces away for another year.  I remove the ones that are definitely "Halloween", and rearrange the ones that are "Autumn".

There is a house, that I didn't picture here, because it was a little hard to get to with the camera, but it is their one Thanksgiving house, complete with a full Turkey dinner on the dining room table, that can be seen through the front windows.  I always add it to my Halloween village, but keep it in the back, and decorate it with a couple of strings of the JOL lights that are battery powered. 

For Thanksgiving, I remove the lights, move the house front and center, and put the produce stands around it, along with all of the Fall trees.  For a more natural look, I include some of my evergreens that don't have snow on them.  Some years, I would include some birchs and bare limbed maples that were frosted, and would sprinkle a few mica snowflakes on top of the loose leaves, since we often have a dusting here in November.  But it was too hard to separate the leaves afterward, so I haven't done that lately! lol

But this year, it is all being packed away. I'm not decorating for Thanksgiving for several reasons, but mostly because my hubs has asked if we (meaning me! lol) can start putting up our Yuletide decorations.  I know that there will be complaints from people we know about ignoring Thanksgiving, but that isn't the case. 

So, I'm going to be packing things away, and slowly getting the garland and lights ready!  I always enjoy the holiday journey more than the actual days of celebration anyway, so this year, I'll be dancing each day for a loooong time! lol

Thank you for visiting my Fall Festival!

A Special Give-Away

Janie, over at Mother Moon's Message is having what I think, is a very special give away.  She tells her story so much better than I could relay it, so please either click on the link here, or on my sidebar.

Thank you Janie, for giving us all a chance at sharing something so meaningful!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dept 56 Sleepy Hallow-een & Sleepy Hollow

I was just doing a quick look-see on the Dept 56 website, and they now are showing their new series of Legends of Sleepy Hallow-een.  I knew that this series was coming out, but haven't personally seen it yet.  Right now, there are 4 pieces available, including the Headless Horseman, himself!  These look to be a little smaller in scale than some of the other villages. And, they are priced accordingly, much more reasonable than some of the other series buildings. 

Not to be confusing, but there is also a number of Sleepy Hollow pieces included in the New England Village.  They aren't separated out, so you have to search for them, but they have among others, Incabod Crane's house, the VonTassel's, etc. including some of the figures from the story, but I don't know if they have made an actual Headless Horseman or not. I've never seen one.  If you go to ebay, you can see some of the pieces that are available, or search on the Dept 56 site.  They are of a different style, not so fanciful, but more realistic as to the style of homes and buildings built during that time period.

As much as I love that story, I hadn't invested in any of the New England pieces, for fear of wanting to add more to that village too! lol  But now that they have the Sleepy Hallow-een pieces, and can have an actual Horseman too, I may just have to find another spot for another small tableau. .just a litte one. . .

The Witch's Village

What I call the Witch's Village is so much fun, but being honest, sadly I didn't set it up this year.

One of our cats that had spent his first 4 years of his life living in the wild, came inside in the Spring, and has made a fantastic adjustment to living the luxury life of a totally indoor cat.  However, he is still extremely curious. along with being extremely bold and lightning fast. Not a good combination for a village with lots of delicate, moving parts!

I also don't have nighttime shots of this village. Not that I haven't tried, and will do so again next year when I set it up. (Hopefully with a new house that I want to get to add to it!) But there are many flashing and moving lights in these buildings, making a good photograph of it as a whole, nearly impossible to do.

Ahhhh, good! The Dept 56 site is working again. The link will take you to their Halloween Village page, but from there, you can see all of the other village pieces too.

My Witch's Village also has ghosts, but only Witches would live in harmony with Spirits, so even though it is a touch on the spooky side, everyone is very friendly!  And don't mind the run down look of their homes. As anyone who lives in a semi-restored Victorian, knows, that is normal! lol  Think of the Addams family living next door to the Munsters!

In this first photo, there is a little Crone sitting out on a balcony of the first home/shop.  She rocks in a chair, which makes creaking noises (this is a very noisy village too!).  The lights that border the shop window are orange and purple, and flash on and off.  The little shop next door, also has lights in the window, and a fiber optic tree just behind it.  The Hocus Pocus shop lights up, and has a button that you push to have your fortune told!  The building on the extreme right has bats circling above. 

The hedge eyeballs light up, and look SO cute at night!  Nearly all of the JOL's light up as well.  It is hard to see her in this photo, but there is a Witch stuck in the top of one of the trees, her broom jammed between branches.  She really took the tumble hard, her head swiveling around and around on her shoulders, poor thing.  And just beneath her, is another Witch stirring her cauldron, not manually of course! Casting her spell, the spoon goes round and around in the pulsing, greenish glowing "soup".

In this photo, the two mansions that are hidden by the trees both light up, with both solid and flashing lights, accompanied by screams and moaning. (the sound can be, and is turned off most of the time! lol).  The house on the right is the first Halloween house that was introduced.  It has a clear plastic drum inside, with ghosts painted in black. There is a light in the middle, and when it is plugged in, the drum rotates, making the shadows of the ghosts float across the windows! Pretty cool!  The gated garden is full of light JOL's, skulls and other glowing lights.

In this last one, you can see the garden a little better.  The haunted house and barn also have lights, and sound, which also turns off.  And another poor Witchie has run into a tree.  Perhaps they should have attended the Witch's Flying School that I received for my Birthday, but hasn't been displayed yet.  It has a young Witch In Training, flying around and around on her broom above a thatched roof hut type of building.  I also got another Witch, who is a lot more adept on her broom, also flying from a little base of lighted JOL's and shrubbery.  I'm going to have to space those pieces out so that they don't collide!

Ok. .is anyone making their wish list yet?