One of the reasons I love Thanksgiving holiday food so much is that I love pie, especially if it’s pumpkin, apple or pecan! Want the recipes to some of my favorite desserts? Click on the links to find out my tried and true recipes for Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie. I’ve posted recipes for Pecan Pie in the past, but pecans burn easily making getting the recipe right a bit finicky. I’m ready to try a new one. The link below connects to a recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
I like roasted seeds and nuts (do I sound like a squirrel?), but have never tried sweet roasted pumpkin seeds. When we were scooping pumpkins and saving the seeds for our two preschool classes, my co-teacher Hannah said she loved the seeds with cinnamon. Mind blown! What planet am I living on? How did I not know about these? Hon, here’s a healthy, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo-friendly, kosher recipe from Joy Food Sunshine that I must try!
Happy carving, scooping and baking!
Roasted Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds
Tips Before Roasting Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds must dry completely before roasting. Remove the seeds from pumpkins and rinse thoroughly, discarding any stringy orange pieces. Drain seeds by lining a large baking pan with paper towels, spreading seeds evenly in a layer, and letting sit for 24 hours. At the 12 hour mark, change damp paper towels for dry ones, stir to air out pumpkin seeds.
3 cups pumpkin seeds dried for at least 24 hours
3 Tablespoons coconut oil or butter (or vegan butter)
1/2 teaspoon pur vanilla extract
4 Tablespoons granulated sugar (or coconut sugar to make paleo)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 325°F. Very lightly grease a large baking pan, set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
Melt coconut oil or butter in a large microwave safe bowl or on the stovetop in a 4-quart pot.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Mix in pumpkin seeds until they are all evenly coated.
Add dry ingredients to the pumpkin seeds and mix until all they are evenly coated.
Spread pumpkin seeds on your prepared baking pan in single layer.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. They are done when they start to brown.
To test for doneness: remove a few seeds from the pan and let sit on the counter to cool. If they harden up the seeds are done. If they remain soft, return to the oven, checking them after 5 minutes. Continue baking in 5 minute intervals until done.
Once seeds are done, transfer them from the warm pan to another pan lined with parchment paper to let cool.
Yield: 3 cups
Store pumpkin seeds in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
One of my daughters loves to cook and another loves to bake. The third’s in college so she gets a pass until she lives on her own–lol! My son, also a self-declared chef, tells me about the dishes he puts together. When I requested he make dinner for hubby and me, he said, “When I come home, you cook!”
Morgan, the one who whips up delicious, healthy meals, introduced us to farro. I love its texture and taste and the way it forms a healthy base for an endless variety of additions. Mixing with roasted veggies are my favorite way to dress up this grain.
“Crispy roasted root vegetables like parsnips and celery root add an earthy, caramelized depth to this simple grain salad made with tender, chewy farro. Resist the urge to stir the vegetables during cooking to help the them develop the most color,” says Maria Sinskey for Food & Wine, whose recipe is shared here.
Farro Salad with Roasted Root Vegetables
3 cups water
4 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus parsley leaves, for garnish
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
Preheat oven to 450°F. Bring 3 cups water and 2 teaspoons salt to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Stir in farro. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until farro is tender and water is mostly absorbed, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand, covered, 10 minutes.
While farro cooks, toss together carrots, parsnips, onion, celery root, 1/4 cup oil, and 2 teaspoons salt on a rimmed baking sheet; spread in an even layer. Roast in preheated oven until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes.
Drain any excess water from farro. Stir together farro, chopped parsley, vinegar, pepper, roasted vegetables and any residual oil from roasting pan, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Let stand at room temperature at least 15 minutes or up to 3 hours, or cover and refrigerate up to 3 days. If chilled, let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.
Just before serving, stir in remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and vinegar. Garnish with parsley leaves.
Farro and vegetables may be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 3 days. Buy pearled farro for this recipe; it cooks more quickly than whole-grain.
Theresa Julian, critique partner, writer-friend, published author, and fellow triplets mom, can be called a humor expert. Her first book, The Joke Machine, teaches kids how they can increase their own funny factor. Her second book, 101 HILARIOUS PRANKS AND PRACTICAL JOKES, illustrated by Pat Lewis, is now out in the world! Woohoo! Darlene Beck-Jacobson added an excellent post to her blog “Gold From The Dust: Bringing Stories to Life,” in which Theresa gives potential pranksters a leg up by sharing tips from her book. Darlene’s post is re-blogged below.
Did you know:
Cows moo with different accents – depending on where they live?
The bones in the human body are held together by marshmallow taffy?
Snakes don’t live in swamps, they live in potato chips cans, like this:
If you didn’t know these facts, it’s okay because – none of them are true. I’m pulling your leg. Kidding. Pranking you.
If there’s a little jokester in your life who wants to learn about pranking, check out 101 Hilarious Pranks & Practical Jokes, a middle grade book written by me and illustrated by Pat Lewis. This super silly book includes – you guessed it – 101 pranks, AND explains how to pull the perfect trick.
The book teaches kids how to pace their prank, find the right attitude, and create a story around it. It explains how kids can kick their pranks up a notch through physical humor, which is using their body to make someone laugh. It’s using goofy faces, funny voices, slipping, tripping, and weird smells and sounds to make their pranks extra awesome.
Here are some tips from the book:
Start a prank with the right attitude. How would you feel if you were really in the prank situation? If you’re pretending you’ve just won a million dollars, act thrilled. If you’re pretending you broke a window, act shocked. If you’ve filled the cabinet with ping-pong balls, act casual and wait for someone to open the door. Pick an attitude, commit to it, and sell it.
Create an interesting story around your prank. Let’s say you want to convince your friend that your family has a “dead finger” collection and you’ve brought in your favorite one to show her. But, of course, it’s really just your finger in a box, covered in ketchup and avocado mush.
If you walk up to your friend and show her the box, it may not be very effective. But if you build it up with a story that draws her in, and then show the box, you’ll get a bigger reaction.
Try creating a story like this: You crept down your creaky basement stairs; opened the rusty door to the back room; and gagged at the stench of rotting skin. When you turned on the light, you found that there, in your very own basement, was a dead-finger collection – probably great-grandpa’s from the war. Now, when you show the box, you’ll probably get the reaction you were looking for.
A good prank is carefully paced, not blurted out or rushed.
Picture this: Your brother walks into the kitchen and hasn’t yet seen the fake tarantula on the cheese casserole. Do you jump up and yell, “Look at the cheese casserole, ha ha!”? No, of course not. You sit and wait, distract him with comments about how good you’ve been (which, is always true, right?), and wait for the time to be ripe. It’s sooo much better if he finds the hairy spider himself!
Let’s face it, facial expressions are key to a good prank because they help sell your story. Picture a face that’s afraid, amazed, annoyed, or bored, like the ones below.
The right face can say a lot more than words. So when you’re pranking, let your face do the talking!
Kooky Arms & Legs
Get your whole body into the prank. If you tell your friend the rat in the garage is THIS BIG, fling out your arms and show just how big. If you’re pretending you’re about to vomit, clutch your stomach, moan and double over in pain. In the prankiverse, body language reinforces your story and paints a picture, and is often funnier than words.
Silly Voices and Sounds
Silly voices and sounds make pranks more believable and fun. If you’re pretending you’ve broken a window, download a crashing glass sound and play it on your phone or computer. If you’ll make a prank call, you’ll need to disguise your voice with an accent or different tone. Funny voices are fun to create and once you’ve nailed a few, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them!
Slipping, Tripping and Prat-falling
101 Hilarious Pranks & Practical Jokes teaches you how to pretend you’re slipping, tripping and falling, so you get the reaction you want. For example, here’s how to pretend you’re hitting your head on a door:
The book also explains how to crack your nose, bite off your finger, detach your head, spit out your teeth, push a pencil through your head, rip your eyeball out, slip in poop, and control gravity. You’re welcome.
So, if there’s a little prankster in your life who’s looking to learn completely ridiculous skills, such as how to use goofy faces, funny voices, bad smells, weird sounds, and smooth body moves to trick their friends, check out 101 HILARIOUS PRANKS AND PRACTICAL JOKESwhich goes on sale Sept. 28, 2021. Then — watch your back
Theresa Julian loves chocolate, changing her ringtones, and writing humorous books for middle graders. Her books have been featured in TIME for Kids magazine, the Barnes & Noble Kid’s Blog, and Today.com. Theresa is a graduate of Boston College and has a Master’s in Corporate Communications. After many years of writing business documents for large corporations, she’s now happily living on the beach, writing funny books for kids. Her mother claims Theresa spent most of first grade sleeping on her desk, but don’t worry, she’s awake now, dreaming up new ways to keep kids reading and laughing.
The minute I heard about the pregnancy, my hands were itching to knit a baby blanket. I couldn’t decide between light pink or variegated yarn. I checked with the mom-to-be and it was decided–I’d combine a cool, modern yarn with a traditional pattern (shout out to Patty, the owner of Wool & Grace, who suggested the yarn and pattern). I hadn’t knit cables in a very long time (maybe not since college?) but, after a quick reminder, I was ready to go. I love how this Baby Cable Ridge Blanket turned out!
yarn–Malabrigo Rios, 100% Superwash Merino Wool, color “276 Medusa”
finished size–approximately 24″ x 32″ but after blocking, the one I knit is 27″ x 46″
Humans are eternally fascinated by the possibility of life on other planets. I never tire of movies about venturing into space (The Martian), encountering creatures we never imagined (Arrival), or contemplating a fourth dimension (Interstellar). Enter into this genre “The Vast of Night,“ a PG-13, 1 1/2 hour “micro-budget sci-fi indi” movie made in only 17 days on a tight budget of $700,000. Available on Amazon Prime Video, the movie starts as if it’s an episode of “Paradox Theatre Hour” (a play on “The Twilight Zone”) and follows high schoolers Everett and Faye as they enter their high school’s basketball game and then leave for their jobs as a radio show host and switchboard operator, respectively. Everett and Faye talk fast and walk quickly, and it isn’t until they leave the high school that you get to know them on a more personal level. Stick with them and you’ll be in for a ride. I was all in and can’t stop thinking about this movie–it was that good!
It’s a testament to what director Andrew Patterson has pulled off in his micro-budget sci-fi indie “The Vast of Night” that when that line comes, it feels like it’s the first time those words have ever been said, even though there’s a line just like it in every movie of its kind. Something about Patterson’s approach—precise and inventive—makes a moment that could have been a cliche into something fresh, vivid, filled with the strangeness of what it would really be like. The line is whispered into an eerie nighttime silence, and the mood is one of awe, terror, excitement. What is out there in the vast of night? There’s something in the sky. How on earth Patterson made a movie about a UFO hovering over a small town in the late 1950s without falling back on every cliche in the book is the fun and wonder of “The Vast of Night.” You already know the plot. You’ve seen it all before. But the way the story is told is new. With “The Vast of Night,” it really is about the how, not just the “what happens.”
The film opens at a high school basketball game. The entire town is in the stands. Lanky players lope around the court. Cheerleaders do cartwheels on the sidelines. Two high school kids, Everett (Jake Horowitz) and Fay (Sierra McCormick), leave the game and walk across the deserted town to their nighttime jobs. He hosts a nightly radio show, and she mans the town switchboard. Once ensconced at their jobs, they realize something strange is going on. There’s interference in the radio signals. She notices calls are cutting out. A weird sound comes through the line, a sound Fay doesn’t recognize. She calls Everett and plays it for him. He doesn’t know what it is either. A woman calls the switchboard, screaming through the static about something weird going on on the outskirts of town. But Fay can’t hear her through the fuzz. Fay and Everett are both technology nerds. They decide to figure out what is going on.
All of this is familiar territory to anyone who has seen “The Blob,” “The X-Files,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” “The Twilight Zone,” you name it. The trappings of the genre are present, and writers James Montague and Craig W. Sanger don’t shy away from any of it. They even place the entire film within a framing device of a black-and-white TV showing an episode of the “Paradox Theatre Hour.” This is just one of the distancing techniques in operation. The audience is kept at a slight remove. You notice it right away in the opening sequence, a long meandering take, following Everett and Fay as they walk through the gym and then outside into the parking lot, talking the whole time. The most obvious thing right off the bat is that there are no close-ups, nothing to familiarize us with the characters. Their dialogue is fast and overlapped, ridden with slang (“Razzle my berries.” “Cut the gas, cube”), and it takes some time to figure out what they’re talking about. This continues during their walk across the empty town, the camera stalking them from behind, gliding along creepily at street level.
But a funny thing happens during this opening sequence. In a way, the whole thing is alienating. It refuses to let you in. “The Vast of Night” doesn’t come to you. You must go to it. You must submit to its rules, and once you do, it yields tremendous rewards. Patterson’s style, in partnership with cinematographer M.I. Littin-Menz, infuses these well-worn plot points with urgency, creating an overriding mood of strangeness and mystery. By the time Patterson finally gives us close-ups of his two young leads, we already have gotten to know them, just from following them around. It’s old-fashioned in a beautiful way: once upon a time, a close-up really meant something, and close-ups really mean something in “The Vast of Night.”
The moments of technical virtuosity are amazing when you consider the budget and that Patterson basically funded the movie himself. There’s a tracking shot through what appears to be the entire town, down the main drag, around a corner, over some grass, past the power station, through the gym parking lot, into the crowded gym, and then out again. Another standout scene is a ten-minute single take where Fay, at the switchboard, takes calls, makes calls, plugging wires in, pulling wires out, each call with a different agenda, ignited by Fay’s increasing sense of alarm that something is very wrong “out there” in the vast night. It’s a complicated sequence, and McCormick handles it all with aplomb and skill. Patterson’s style is flexible and patient enough to allow for shadings, nuances, even complexities in not just Everett and Fay, but the people they meet along the way.
“The Vast of Night” is not just a stylistic exercise. It is not ironic in tone, and it doesn’t have quotation marks around the genre. The tail-finned cars, the saddle shoes, the cat-eye glasses, the Sputnik references, place us in time, but the period is not belabored and/or condescended to. Instead, what we get is a thickness of atmosphere and texture, a strange and eerie mood, and affection for the characters we meet. The distancing choices made at the beginning just increase the feelings of intimacy and warmth by the end.
This is an astonishing first feature. It works like gangbusters, start to finish.
I admit it. I’m not a huge fan of ground turkey, but I like it when cooked in savory Turkey Chili. Searching for a new recipe for an out of town guest who is a fan, I came across Delish.com’s Muffin-Tin Turkey Meatloaf. Hubby made his yummy mashed potatoes to serve on top. We added roasted cauliflower and broccoli and a side of whole-berry cranberry sauce. The meal was a winner!
Preheat oven to 350° and spray a muffin tin with cooking spray or line with baking cups.
In a large bowl, mix ground turkey with breadcrumbs, eggs, and garlic. Add Worcestershire, thyme, and tomato paste and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Divide mixture evenly between 12 muffin tins.
In a small bowl, whisk together ketchup and brown sugar. Brush half the ketchup mixture on top of the meatloaf.
Bake until cooked through, 35 minutes.
Remove from oven and brush meatloaf with remaining half ketchup mixture.
Spoon mashed potatoes on top and garnish with parsley.
Yield: 12 mini turkey loafs
Tip: Cook ahead of time, freeze, defrost and re-heat for about 30 minutes on 325 degrees F.
While walking Lucy one recent morning, I came across a huge wasps’ nest that apparently fell out of a tree and split open. The wasps were busy inside, trying to repair the damage and salvage their nest. They were not at all concerned with me, so much so that I was able sit down on the road to take a closer look.
I’d never seen Bald-Faced Hornets before. Interestingly they are actually wasps, a type of yellowjacket, with patterns of white bands and lines on their abdomens and tips. The inside of the nest was amazing! The cells were perfect hexagons. Outside, the whorls reminded me of seashells.
You know what I had to do, hon? Research! The following are the:
Top Ten Facts About Bald-Faced Hornets:
“Bald-faced hornets are considered a beneficial species because they prey on flies and other yellow jackets (notoriously aggressive).” They also eat other insects and, in late summer, will collect nectar.
In these large social colonies numbering 200-400, all have specific tasks. The queen lays hundreds of eggs and raises sterile daughter offspring. The females enlarge and maintain the nest, forage for food, and raise the offspring. “The male drones function is to be ready to fertilize a receptive queen.”
The queen lays all of the eggs in the colony and fertilizes them using stored sperm from the spermatheca. What is a spermatheca? It’s a structure inside the queen which allows her to control the fertilization of eggs. She can lay eggs that are either unfertilized or fertilized. Unfertilized eggs develop into males or drones. Fertilized eggs develop into females, which may be either workers or virgin queens.
Non-fertilized eggs have only half as many genes as the queen or female workers. The resulting male drones have no sting.
Males have an additional white band on the first abdominal segment and on their tip.
Queens, which measure 18-20mm as compared to workers which measure 12-15mm, are the only members of the colony to survive the winter.
Adults will chew flies into a pulp and feed them to their larvae.
Their large, aerial, gray nests are made from paper like material which is created when chewed wood fibers are mixed with saliva.
Inside the nest, there are 3-4 tiers of combs that resemble honeycombs.
“Nests are built every year. The abandoned nests are often destroyed by birds looking for food.”
I recently told a relative that after my mom died, I sought the help of a therapist to work through the grief. I’m not ashamed to say that as a young newlywed and mom of triplets and a younger daughter, I’ve worked on my mental health, gaining tools, techniques, and strategies to recognize my hot buttons and ways in which I can improve parenting, marriage, and relationships.
Goals? To a) better understand myself, b) live a purposeful life, c) direct my energy towards personal and professional pursuits that bring me joy, and d) find inner peace in our short time on Earth. Working through issues isn’t for everyone, but it has helped me tremendously.
So I was taken aback when that same relative threw the conversation back in my face…twice! “Did you say you saw a—-pause for effect—-PSYCHIATRIST?”
The first time, I calmly responded that, no, she’s a social worker and reminded her that, by the way, so are my sister, niece, and several friends. The second time, I was not calm. I jumped down her throat and said, “We’ve already discussed this and we live in the 21st century!” BUTTON PUSHED!
Why? Why was I so upset that the only takeaway from a prior heartfelt conversation were questions that felt like she had asked, “Did you say you’ve decided to become a real-life mermaid by undergoing surgery to remove your legs and attach a tail?!”
Hon, seriously! That’s about the only news that would warrant her titter-worthy tone!
A few reasons I was annoyed:
If someone has a medical problem, is it noteworthy if he/she seeks medical help? Of course not! So, why the stigma about treating our emotional selves?
Are there aisles of Self Help books and a podcast industry born out of the desire to improve our emotional lives? Yes!
Are we neanderthals who existed as hunters and gatherers? No, we’ve evolved into hunters, gatherers and listeners.
Upon further research, I discovered that counseling goes back to ancient Egypt:
Even before the written language, people told stories and parables. It’s an ancient tradition that often served as a kind of therapy, helping others heal while passing on indelible wisdom to support others. More than 3,500 years ago, references to “healing through words” appeared in ancient Egyptian and Greek writings. The word “counseling” found its way into Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath’s Tale in 1386.
The more formal term “psychotherapy” was coined in the late 1800s, which the Mayo Clinic defines as a “general term for treating mental health problems by talking with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health provider.” It’s during psychotherapy where participants examine their moods, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, while learning how to take control and respond to challenging situations in a healthy way.
And. And for someone who watched the 2021 Olympics and as much as I did, knowledge of Olympic gymnast Simone Biles’ need to take a step back, which called to mind professional tennis player Naomi Osaka’s own mental health journey, the questions were anachronistic and insulting.
The day after Simone decided not to compete in the individual all-around competition after withdrawing from the team finals, Better Up, a coaching resource [“helps your people identify their strengths, achieve their goals, and reach their full potential. The results? A high-performing workforce ready to tackle whatever comes their way] ran a full page ad in The New York Times.
I love it for its clever wording and for its message.
Thank you Simone.
Thank you for raising the bar without touching one.
For showing your strength without moving a muscle.
And for showing the world that taking care of yourself is never selfish.
Thank you for trusting your instincts as much as you trust your teammates.
Thank you for using your voice to give others one.
And for teaching us all that leaving a legacy isn’t always about sticking the landing.
Sometimes it’s about helping others just get off the ground.
You’ve shown us once again
That mental health and physical health are one and the same.
And that your courage is one of a kind.
Thank you, Simone.
Thank you, Naomi.
And all who have helped us see that everyone is going through something.
But no one has to do it alone.
As a small gesture to show our tremendous gratitude, we’re gifting athletes, coaches, and anyone else inspired to start their mental fitness journey, free BetterUp coaching. We hope that this moment turns into momentum, and we can continue to empower the next generation of GOATs.
These gluten-free, rich, chocolatey bites are a healthy way to satisfy a sweet tooth. Guess what I’ll be making more of?
Women’s Bliss Bites
1 1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup dates, pitted
2 (or so) Tablespoons almond butter
1/4 cup dark cacao powder (dark unsweetened), plus 1 Tablespoon for dusting
4 level Tablespoons maca powder
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/4 cup coconut flakes, finely ground
optional, orange zest
In a food processor, grind walnuts until they are close to finely ground. Add dates and grind to from a thicker blend. Add in almond butter and mix until a dough forms. Tip: A little extra almond butter may be needed to get the dough to form.
In a separate bowl, combine the 1/4 cup cacao powder, cardamom and cinnamon. Pour into food processor and blend.
In a small bowl, prepare the remaining 1 Tablespoon of cacao powder, coconut flakes and orange zest.
Remove blade from food processor, then form round balls using about 1 Tablespoon of “dough” per ball. Roll these in your hands, then roll in the extra cacao powder mixture. Tip: If dough is still crumbly, add a small amount of warm water to the mixture. Alternately, wet hands to make rolling dough into balls easier.
Place on a platter or into a glass storage container. These can be eaten right away or kept in the fridge for 3-4 days.