Well it’s a rainy day in Georgia, and as I sit here with my cute little mug full of apple cider, and as my precious little one “cooks” in her kitchen, I breathe a steamy breath of delight. My favorite time of year: the fall! I could take in the scent of pumpkin spice all month long, and I intend to do so! Pumpkin pie, roasted pumpkin seeds, caramel apples, and the lingering smells of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg fill the air ‘til Christmas - my next favorite time of year! “Bring on the Holidays!” This month is loaded full of county fairs, pumpkin patches, hayrides, and candy! Next thing you know, we’ll all be carving the turkey, eating way too much around the lazy-susan, and sleeping in a recliner in front of a Thanksgiving football game - all while jingle bells sound in the distance. Sounds a tad bit romantic, I’m sure, but that’s the delight around this time of year. From Halloween to New Year’s, we all come together to celebrate the ones we love with the change of the seasons. I’ll raise a glass to that!
To prepare and get ready for Halloween, I’ve got our home decked out with pumpkins, garlands, and candy dishes in just about every room. Growing up, I used to help my mama decorate the house every year for Halloween, even complete with SCARY hanging witches, and it always brought so much fun for my brothers and me, and I carry on that tradition for my little one today. No frightening witches in our décor just yet, but I always keep an eye out for end of holiday super sales to stock up for next year.
Of course, no holiday is complete without all the comfort food to go with it, so I’ve created a yummy snack mix and roasted pumpkin seeds to add to the festivities this year. Also, there’s really nothing better than coming home to a house full of sweet smells, and so in our home, the delightful aroma of apple cider seeps from the crock pot from now until the end of the year. Right now, I have the crock pot chock-full of apple cider, apples, cinnamon, and brown sugar. The house smells like heaven on a daily basis – and all without the help of candles or plug-ins, thank you very much!
What do you like to do to get excited for the holidays ahead? By allowing ourselves to take the time to get creative – even with small projects like brewing apple cider - the holidays can still be fun and less stressful (and often times less expensive). Ways I’ve found to be resourceful during Halloween include: buying pumpkins that support local farmers and/or local causes, purchasing costumes that can grow with your child (like the bumble bee costume we found for Naomi last year fits children ages 1-4), stocking up on super sale items after the holidays for next year, and buying reusable goods/décor that can last a lifetime, just like my mama’s hanging witches. One of my favorite finds? We scored some plug-in pumpkins years back that glow just like jack-o’-lanterns but never rot. Now tell me that wasn’t a good find! We still carve pumpkins too…just days before the holiday starts. The southern humidity is not kind to carved pumpkins!
I hope you all have a fantastic start to the holiday season, and if you’re interested in the recipes I’ve used, check below. They’re all worth sharing. Happy Halloween, y’all!
Halloween Snack Mix:
Combine the following ingredients and store in air tight container! I used an old, cleaned-out pickle jar with handkerchief for show. It’s that easy!
2 C of pretzels, 2 C granola, 2 C shredded wheat, 2 C cheez-its, bag of Halloween pumpkins/candy corn, half bag of m&ms, and 1 bag of dried cranberry mix with peanuts and chocolate pieces. You can really add anything you want to it, and the candy corns add the holiday element we all have grown to love.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds:
1. Preheat oven to 350. Remove seeds from pumpkin. Place on lightly greased baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes and remove.
2. Combine in a small bowl the following ingredients: 1 Tbs olive oil, 1 Tbs honey, dash of kosher salt and pepper, and 1 pinch each of cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, cayenne, and cumin.
3. Toss pumpkin seeds in mixture above and place back in oven for another 10 minutes. Let cool but toss around on pan to prevent sticking, and they’re ready to eat!
Warm Apple Cider:
1. Fill a crock pot ¾ full of apple cider.
2. Add ¼ C brown sugar, 3 cinnamon sticks, 1 Tbs cinnamon sugar, a few dashes of nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice, and 4 large pieces of crystalized ginger (the secret ingredient!).
3. Add half a chopped apple (red delicious is my favorite) and a whole orange (peeled and in chunks).
**Your entire house will smell wonderful after making this yummy drink this fall!**
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Join Paula and family for a Party at Sea aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas to Labadee, Jamaica, and Cozumel (roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale) presented by Alice Travel. We will be having special, separate events for kids on this one with Jack Deen hosting the kids program! Click here for more information, and please note that the Paula Deen cruise is only available by booking directly with Alice Travel Book now before the prices start going up on the cruise and air!