Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bread of the Dead


   

 Since we are a pagan family Halloween/Samhain is a very big holiday for us. One of our new traditions that we thought would be fun with Xavier is to make the Bread of the Dead.
"This traditional Mexican sweet and spiced bread is prepared to represent the souls of the departed. They are shaped with forms of skulls or human figures and decorated with colored glazes or tinted sesame seeds, which represent happiness. The recipe makes two loaves" From the book Circle Round by Starhawk, Diane Baker and Anne Hill. If you are a pagan family and looking for ideas to celebrate including your children I highly recommend this book. It is full of lots of fun idea to celebrate Pagan holidays with your family. They have many ideas for each holiday!
    I made the bread yesterday to enjoy today, but it is easy to make and you probably have most of the ingredients in your home so you still have time if you would like to make it and celebrate with it tonight. I hope you enjoy!

Bread of the Dead
makes two loaves

Ingredients:
- 2 Tablespoons dry yeast (2 packages)
- 1/2 Cup warm water
- pinch of sugar
- 1/2 Cup of milk
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 Cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
- 1 Tablespoon Aniseed (also spelled Anise seed)
- 1 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 5-6 Cups white flour (unbleached is best)

Topping:
-1/2 Cup sugar
- 1/3 Cup orange juice
- 2 teaspoons orange peel

Directions:
Sprinkle the yeast on the water, add the pinch of sugar and let stand until foamy.



 Mix the milk, eggs, sugar, butter, seeds and salt together, then add the foamy yeast mixture.



 Add the flour slowly, smoothing out lumps before adding more. When the mixture is too stiff to stir, turn out onto a floured surface and knead, adding flour carefully, just enough to keep it from becoming sticky. When the loaf is smooth and cohesive and begins to develop resistance to kneading, set in a buttered bowl.



 Turn it over, cover and let rise in a warm spot until doubled.
   Punch down the dough and divide into two. Form loaves on greased cookie sheets or a baking stone sprinkled with cornmeal.
    To form a skull, make the dough into a flattish oval, about 10 inches long and 7 inches wide. With a sharp knife, cut slits for eyes, nose and mouth. With your fingers, gently pull the dough back along these slits to form the skull-like hollows for the features. Cover and let rise till it is about 80 percent doubled. Use your fingers again to reestablish the holes and openings. Brush with an egg white beaten with a teaspoon of water.




   To form a figure, break off a piece of the dough about the size of a Ping-Pong ball. Make the rest of the dough into a cylinder about 12 inches long. Cut one end of the cylinder in half lengthwise, separate into legs, and shape feet. Just above the legs, cut into the dough about an inch horizontally, then upward to within an inch of the top. Pull out to form arms, then smooth the sides of the torso. Add the reserved dough as the head. Let the loaf rise and brush with the egg white mixture.



   Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes. Let the forms cool completely before glazing.




    For the topping, boil the ingredients together for 2 minutes. Let it cool down until it's a thick liquid. Drip onto forms as decorations.






HAPPY HALLOWEEN/SAMHAIN TO ALL OUR READERS! We hope you have a fun and safe evening. 

 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Trick or Treating Under The Sea


     We were very excited that this year since Xavier is old enough to really enjoy Halloween. We would take him out as much as we could so he can get tons of great memories started in his little brain. I was excited to finally be able to take him to the Trick Or Treat Under The Sea at the Fort Fisher Aquarium. It is a wonderful event where the kids go to the aquarium dressed up and they have trick or treating stations, shows, special exhibits, etc. It always looked like fun to me and I was excited to go this year and Xavier was able to go with one of his little friends as they came with us and had a blast as well.
       Although the event is always two days, it is extremely crowded. However, we were prepared for crowded. (They even warn you to only bring an umbrella stroller). I was extremely impressed in how everything was handled. Clearly the aquarium knew and were ready for this to be a crowded event. Even the parking was extremely efficient as you were led directly to a parking space. The admission was reasonable. The exhibits were amazing.
      I apologize for not taking pictures of this event however, as stated above it was very crowded and not well lit, plus we were dressed up with a toddler in tow, need I say more? It was neat to be able to see how they "dressed" up the aquarium for Halloween. There were pumpkins in the fish tanks. Pirate skeletons in the shipwrecks and my favorite the graveyard in the stingray tank. They also had a lot of fun activities out for the children to see. Xavier was not interested in them much as all of it was a lot for him. He was content to just ride along in his umbrella stroller. However, I had fun looking at the live snakes, and touching the sea turtle shell and testing out my super hero powers. I was sorry we missed the magic show.
      What I thought was also great was when your kid got fussy from the crowds and too much stimulus you were able to take them outside and play on the aquarium playground which is very new and lots of fun! Xavier went down the slide all by himself for the very first time there! I was so proud. He loved it so much he even went down one time head first, though he did not seem to like that as he did not do head first again.
 



      All in all it was a wonderful, family fun night for all. We were one tuckered out family of garden gnomes. Which by the way I was proud to have made our costumes all by myself on my new sewing machine! It is amazing how even as a mom who is home everyday with her little one, you are still able to fit in time to learn something new everyday!



Trick or Treat Under The Sea is over for this year but is offered every year at the Fort Fisher Aquarium. For more information about the North Carolina you can check out my post of visiting it here, and you can check out their website here.

North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

Mailing address & Street Address:
900 Loggerhead Road
Kure Beach, NC 28449
Toll Free: 800-832-3474 ext. 2
Fax: 910-458-6812
E-mail: ffmail@ncaquariums.com

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Bewitching Hour

  

  
   Gone are the joys of the twice a day naps. Once around 11am and once around 4pm (that was my favorite as it was my nap time as well). So now Xavier who is nineteen months has since protested and proven that no second nap is "totally" necessary. By "totally" I mean he still gets grouchy as the night goes on, but he is simply NOT tired until the Bewitching Hour which is around 5pm-8pm when he goes to bed. At any moment during that time he can just scream, throw himself on the floor, cry or throw things (though that is never encouraged and usually results in more crying).  He can then go and be happy again in a second. You never know what you are going to get during those three hours.
      What is funny is if you have kids, especially a toddler you know what I am talking about. I am sure you have a Bewitching Hour at your house as well. From what I have heard, it is mostly the same hours between 5pm-8pm, however, I have not done enough research to know for sure.
   So if you have a little angel who acts up during the Bewitching Hour and want to know what to do with this "Bewitching Hour" you have heard so much about. Here are some tips that we have found seem to work best.

Tips for Surviving The Bewitching Hours

1) First be on top of your kid. I know it's your bewitching hour too and you are exhausted, but pay attention to your child who demands your attention. Make sure he/she is fed, and has plenty to do and does not need a diaper change, or is teething. Handle them as if you are getting ready to go out and you want all your bases covered. Diaper, check, food/drink satisfied, check, medicine if needed, check, teething items if needed, check.

2) Take it outside. As much as possible children love outdoors and you can usually get away with doing less if you are outside. A nice stroll around the block. A simple playtime on the swings. Even kicking a ball around really will get things moving and you can all blow off steam from your day.

3) Toward the end of The Bewitching Hour try to quiet things down. Do quiet activities, like reading, puzzles, blocks, or a quiet movie, although screen time before bed is not recommended for children or adults.

4) Try to have a play date. This may sound odd but if you happen to have a friend come by with their kids and all the kids can play and you can enjoy some adult conversation. This helps everyone and is a win win situation.

5) If all else fails go for water. Never underestimate how much kids love water. Break out the water balloons, the mini pools, the slip n slide, the sprinkler, the water guns. If you live up north this works with snow. Kids love snow so get out your sleds, and make those snowmen and have snowball fights. If you cannot go outside, try a nice long bath or having them help wash dishes in the sink. Believe it or not many love it if you let them use extra bubbles!

Hopefully these will help you with your Bewitching Hour! I hope you all have a wonderful Halloween/Samhain week!



Monday, October 28, 2013

Cheesy Squash Bake



  I am always on the look out for fall recipes that incorporate all the other great vegetables that are available during this season. So I found a type of squash bake and added some more things and spices to it to make it taste amazing. If you are a squash lover you will love this. It's a great fall dish for the whole family and it is easy to make! Enjoy

Cheesy Squash Bake
Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
- 3 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
- 2 zucchini's peeled and sliced
- 2 spaghetti squash peeled and sliced
- 16 oz. dried elbow macaroni (or whatever type you like)
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 8 oz. of button mushrooms sliced
- 3 green onions thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsps All-Purpose flour
- 1 cup of milk
- 12 oz of mild cheddar cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a 2-quart rectangular baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. In a medium microwave-safe bowl combine squash and 2 Tbsps of water; cover with vented plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 4 minutes; stir. Microwave covered, for about 4 more minutes or until squash is tender.



 Carefully remove plastic wrap. Mash squash; set aside.  Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain. In medium saucepan heat butter over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, green onions, zucchini and spaghetti squash. Cook and stir for 1 minute.



 Add milk and salt and pepper to taste. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.



Remove from heat; stir in squash. Add pasta. Gently fold to combine.



Transfer half of the pasta mixture to the prepared baking dish.




Sprinkle with half of the cheese.




Add remaining pasta mixture and cheese. Bake uncovered 20-25 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.
 






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Friday, October 25, 2013

Sneaky, Sneaky

  For your Friday Funny I thought this would crack you all up. Xavier has just started wanting to really sit on our furniture. He now loves our rocking recliner. I try not to encourage him to get into it as it rocks and I usually have the laptop or phone next to it (which he also tries to get into to).
    The other day I was in the bedroom folding laundry and Xavier was playing in the living room. Apparently, he got tired of his toys because as you can see by the pictures he snuck up onto the recliner and rocked it back and forth for a while and then the little sneak, got down and went right back to playing thinking I never saw him. When really I have photographic proof! Oh the joys of parenting! I hope you all have a wonderful and fun filled weekend!

The climb into the rocking recliner.

Turning around to sit in the rocking recliner.

Crazily rocking in the rocking recliner. (That is why he is so blurry because he was going so fast).

The descent back down off the rocking recliner.

Almost done and no one caught me!










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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review: Mike's Farm Country Store & Restaurant



    Since it is our favorite season of the year getting ready to be our favorite holiday of the year. I always try to pack as much October fun as possible into our days. This year we decided since Xavier is now eighteen months old and walking and running it would be fun to go to a farm and get some pumpkins for our Halloween and Samhain celebrations. After looking online for a few different farms in our areas. We settled on Mike's Farm Country Store and Restaurant. They had a great easy to use website, good hours, and we had heard nice things of them from many friends of ours.



    What we liked best about Mike's Farm Country Store and Restaurant is that it is rustic enough that it looks like a farm and it has animals, and crops and lots of land, but you can also tell that they get a lot of visitors to this farm as it was well equipped with things to do, nice rest rooms, a gift shop, a bakery, with amazing smelling fudge and a restaurant. We only went for the hayride to get our pumpkins and then we were able to wander around the farm and pet some of the animals that were around. Xavier got to feed the goats, and pet the donkey and bunnies. He also got to see the chickens, roosters and turkeys.




    It was a lot of fun. There was a short wait between hayrides which we did not mind. We actually got to sit on hay, but it was tightly bundled so no real worries of it falling all over you.



 We had a nice ride through their farm and at the end they had a big pumpkin patch where you can get off and get some pumpkins if you want to.



 I thought it was convenient that there was a port-a-potty even by the pumpkin patch. Many people on the hayride had toddlers and little ones. Mike's Farm Country Store and Restaurant is extremely kid friendly even baby and toddler friendly which was wonderful. I don't know how long it actually took all together, but I can say it was just long enough to be worth the only $2 for the hayride (pumpkins are extra) and short enough that everyone's toddler does not throw a tantrum. We had a lot of fun and Xavier enjoyed every bit of it, from the hayride to even picking out his own little pumpkin.






    After the hay ride we checked out the animals which are spread out over the property which provided a great place to let your child run and interact with the animals. Xavier loved feeding the goats and looking at the turkeys and bunnies.





It was a really fun day and exactly the experience we wanted to have with our son for getting his first pumpkin. We will definitely be making this our yearly tradition.




 They also do this for Christmas trees and have many special events as well and are open all year round (though hours vary so be sure to check their website). I am so thankful to Mike's Farm Country Store & Restaurant for making our October even more special and spectacular then it has already been!



 They are also offering a Haunted Hayride & Carnival this weekend October 24th, 25th and 26th hayrides begin at 7pm each night.

To find out more about Mike's Farm Country Store and Restaurant you can visit their website at
www.mikesfarm.com

Mike's Farm Country Store and Restaurant is located at
1600 Haw Branch Rd.
Beulaville, NC 28518
910-324-3422
Toll Free: 888-820-FARM (3276)

Hours vary by season please check their website or call





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