A Love Letter to Pumpkins

Pumpkins are quite possibly the most perfect real food item (I love chocolate but don't think of it as real food). They are very healthy, as pumpkin is an excellent source of beta-carotene, antioxidants and fiber. They are quite versatile - pumpkin can serve as an appetizer, salad, soup, main course and dessert ingredient and tastes delicious whether in a sweet or salty dish.

They are very appealing as decorative items - either brightening the entryway or as a centerpiece. They play a very important role in the most wonderful time of the year - it feels officially like autumn when the pumpkins come to market. And what would Halloween be without Jack-o-lanterns? One of my day-after-Thanksgiving rituals is to cut my decorative pumpkins in half and place them out in the woods for the wild critters and birds to feast on. Within the next month or so, they will be completely consumed, so they are also a good resource for wild life.

Today, like all Thanksgivings, I am not craving the turkey or fixin's. I start salivating for pumpkin pie. I plan my entire caloric intake on T-Day around the pie. I skimp on the potatoes and completely ignore the stuffing and rolls so as to leave ample room for the pie. I could care less about having leftovers of anything but the pumpkin pie - if there is a chance there won't be any, I have been known to bake an extra pie to enjoy over the days after T-day.

Speaking of pumpkin pie, I love it so much, it is my official birthday cake every year. But I don't just love pumpkin pie. I am an equal-opportunity pumpkin dessert lover. I make pumpkin goodies year round - pumpkin cake, pumpkin bars, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins. I just downloaded some additional recipes that I am going to try over the next few months.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Double Layer Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

Pumpkin Mousse

Now, grab your barf bags and try to imagine these yummy desserts made with turkey instead. Not the same, is it?

As I was surfing the 'nets for all things pumpkin, it occurred to me that poor pumpkins are treated like second class citizens, especially at Thanksgiving. Turkeys are given superstar status, while the poor pumpkins are relegated to the sidelines.

Superstardom has clearly gone to this diva's head, er, neck

For instance, how many pumpkins get the chance to get this up close and personal with the head Turkey every year? (Although on second thought,,, maybe that's a plus for the pumpkins).

Don't get me wrong. I like turkey just fine. Especially with mashed potatoes and gravy. But I don't find myself looking forward to Thanksgiving because of the turkey. To me, Thanksgiving means pumpkin-love!

All of this has gotten me to thinking....when you compare all of the benefits of pumpkins against the merits of turkey, pumpkins will win almost every time. Pumpkins are much cuter than turkeys:

Pumpkins come in a wider variety of shapes, color and size:

Whereas turkeys come in only 2 basic modes - light and dark:

Pumpkins are eaten by carnivores and vegetarians alike, which cannot be said for turkeys. Preparing pumpkins to be cooked is not nearly so messy as prepping a turkey (although you don't get leftover bones to make a delicious turkey gumbo the next day). And finally, knitters everywhere prefer pumpkins over turkeys, 3 to 1.

Don't believe me? Ravelry has 6 pages of knitted pumpkin patterns as compared to a paltry 2 for turkeys. So while it is clear that pumpkins are superior to turkeys in countless ways, I have to ask: Why do we have a national holiday for turkeys and not pumpkins? I would like to start a petition to make pumpkins the official mascot of Thanksgiving. Who's with me on this?

Happy Pumpkin Day from Criquette's House of Pumpkins to yours!


Music Mix Swap, Part I

I signed up for a swap I found on Ravelry where we make music mixes and send out 3 packages. I am loving it! I'm probably the most ancient person in the swap, by far and I think that both my spoiler and spoilee are the 2 youngest. They both seem like really interesting people and surprisingly, I seem to have a few things in common with both of them. My spoiler does an incredible amount of knitting for charity and raises chickens. Most people don't know that I have my bachelor's in Agriculture. I REALLY wanted to raise chickens. Maybe one day... My spoilee has bunches of pets and is involved in animal rescue. They both have eclectic taste in music, much like I do. And they knit. So yeah, it's fun.

I'm still waiting to hear whether my spoilee is happy with her first package, or if I'm totally out of touch with what older teens like. But I received my first package today from my very talented spoiler, Sarah, who did a fantastic job! It's like she knows me. I loved everything!

Chloe and Abbie knew the package had treats in it before it was opened. Abbie was leaping frantically and salivating (which is why she looks so goofy in this picture). They must be psychic.

Look at all of these goodies! Starting with the upper left, you will see "People Crackers" for the pooches. I had to open them immediately to get those 2 from driving me crazy. She also sent along some toys for the kitties, some Ghiridelli (one of my favorite chocolates)peanut butter squares, some melt-in-your-mouth crispy chocolate cookies (one pack was demolished immediately), a beautiful and very pettable ball of Elizabeth Lavold alpaca/wool/silk yarn in one of my favorite winter colors, a perfect-sized little box (for stitchmarkers and small accessories) with a great pair of handmade earrings. And of course, an intriguing music mix which I can't wait to hear.

This is probably the best notecard anyone has ever sent me

These are definitely my new favorites!!! I wear black just about every day and I just love the style of these earrings!

What about the rest of the goodies? I'll let the pictures do the talking. After eating many people treats, Chloe went off to Mr. C's office for a little nap.

There were some fun little mice with jingle bells on their tails. Bitsy, who has always ignored stuffed toys up until now, was the first to run over and claim one for herself.

But she left one for Criquette, who showed Bitsy the best way to kill a toy mouse.

And then there was the best toy of all - wind up shrimp sushi! Abbie was all over it and had to be scolded to "leave it." I am convinced she would have eaten it if given a chance.

Criquette wasn't sure what to make of this crazy orange thing that was spinning around on the floor. She spent a few minutes checking it out.

Once she was certain the sushi was safe, she got closer....

and snatched it up and ran off with it before I could get another picture! We laughed until it hurt. Priceless. However, once I located the sushi (under the bed), I reclaimed it, as it is the perfect addition to my little collection of crazy windup toys.

So as you can see, I have been blessed by the Swap gods and been given the best spoiler ever! Thanks, Sarah!

We're heading out now for a couple of days. I have a workshop to attend, but we'll be back before Thanksgiving. All of you have a great week and take care!


Dogs on Thursday Say: Koyotes Is Our Cuzzins

The woods behind our house serve as a wildlife highway. We regularly see or hear coyotes as they travel along the edge of suburbia, trying their best to survive in a world of expanding lawns and minivans. Like all of us, they are just doing their best to survive, day by day. I have no grudges against coyotes. In fact, I think they're quite beautiful. As long as they're not eating the local dogs and cats.

This is Charlie. He is not my coyote, but I wish he was.

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He is an amazing animal companion and he has his very own blog.

He also has his own yarn (his mom must be a knitter).

Take a few minutes to go and visit. His human mom takes some of the most haunting and beautiful photographs of the west. Her book is coming out in early December. I've already signed up for my copy.

So what does this have to do with dogs? Well, coyotes are very closely related to our domestic dogs - they are both members of the Canine species (with different genuses). When Chloe and Abbie spot coyotes, or hear them howling, they react very differently than when they spot bunnies or squirrels or deer. The hair on the back of their necks and flanks will raise up and their barking is deep and serious, as in "guarding the house" (as opposed to the hyper and shrill excited "quick mom, let's go hunting! Let's go catch those things!"). And yet, their tails are sort of wagging at the same time. It's like they recognize the coyotes as distant cousins, but they don't want them to come and visit.

Although for Charlie, they might make an exception.


Dogs on Thursday: Back From the Big Car Ride

We got back from the lake on Monday. Criquette was in quite a snit and would have absolutely nothing to do with us, the little cow. Bitsy, the grump, is the one I'd expect to be sulking, but she came running out of her hiding place to greet us and actually let us pet her for a bit.

Chloe and Abbie, who spent much of their time at the lake napping, immediately ran to their beds and slept most of the evening. They were totally worn out from so much relaxing. I wasn't mentally ready to make the transition from the lake back to real life, so was in a grumpy mood myself.

I think the weather may be playing a role in this. I am being charitable by calling the weather "dreary". The entire time we were at the lake. On the verge of drizzling, on the verge of being cold, but overall, just yucky. This is how the sky looked on our way to the lake:

And it just got worse. We stayed in the cabin in front of the wood stove most of the time we were there, except to take the dogs for walks twice a day.

The cabin is as cozy as it looks.

Abbie and Chloe don't care if it's cold and yucky, as long as there are plenty of smelly things to investigate.

Abbie is checking out a small flock of ducks that had just landed in the water.

Abbie got too exhuberant on one of the walks and hurt her leg while bouncing around on a steep hill. She wouldn't put any weight on it for a couple of days and naturally got lots of sympathy from mom and dad, who even let her share the nest by the stove. Two days later, she jumped out of bed onto both legs and hasn't had a single problem since. I think she's smarter than she lets on, at least when it comes to scoring comfy places to nap!

I drove about 40 minutes over to the largest town, to visit The Yarn Basket. I shopped and hung out with some local knitters for most of the afternoon. The local gossip was quite juicy and vastly entertaining, like the stories about the very unattractive knitting guy who wears kilts with nothing under them and brings his 2 girlfriends with him to one of the knitting groups. I think I'll spare you the other bits on the basis of TMI. I guess there's more opportunity to get into all sorts of trouble living in a small town without much distraction.

This time I went in to the yarn shop with a mission so didn't end up buying much in the way of "oooh's" and "ahhhh's". I got an idea for a secret project and became very fixated on it during my getaway. I decided it should be felted, so I needed to purchase some wool that I knew would felt nicely and knew I couldn't go wrong with good old Lamb's Pride. I decided to also try the Galway wool, because I like the colors. It's unpleasantly scratchy which I suspect should make it felt well too. I also got a couple of skeins for my Ravelry Music Mix swap pal, a ball of Berrocco Comfort in a beautiful woodsy green colorway that will be a couple of men's chemo caps, a couple of skeins of rainbow cotton, and a couple of balls of red and green variegated cotton in a brand I am unfamiliar with.

The newest members of the stash

I liked the Christmas colorway, but what seems obviously dark green turns to black when knitted up. I don't really like it, but I'm not hating it, so I'll finish up the dishcloth and throw the remaining ball into the stash.

As far as the rest of the trip... doesn't it just figure that on the very last day of the trip, out comes the sun. Grrrrrrrr! But we had a great walk before packing up to go...

and all of our legs were working just fine

Goodbye, little cabin, we'll see you in the spring!

Our trip ended with this beautiful sunset as we pulled into our neighborhood. Abbie and Chloe voted for us to do this again next year!


Dogs on Thursday (On Wednesday)

Two very lucky Dogs on Thursday are going to go for a Big Ride in the car today. They get to go on a little vacation with their Mom and Dad to the lake. They can watch the fish, bark at the squirrels, ducks, and deer, and sleep up on their own beds and smell all kinds of new and exciting smells. And maybe their Mom will get a chance to bake them some homemade canine cookies that they can snack on while lounging in front of the wood stove at night.

They have been such very good dogs through all of the months of fostering, they deserve a long weekend of pampering.
Chloe is doing very well. She's on a different dog food now and is like a new dog - happy and energetic and healthy!

Abbie's been really excited to go on walks with her again, now that Chloe's not poking so far behind anymore.

I feel like I'm still not over the bug that I had last week, or maybe it's a new one, who knows. But it won't stop me from spending my birthday at the lake, surrounded by most of my loved ones (the kitties declined the invite to join us), with nothing to do but knit, sleep, drink wine, eat good food, and shop at one of my favorite LYS' away from home. Enjoy your weekend too!


One Vote is Like a Drop in a Bucket....

...but if it wasn't for each single drop, the bucket would never be filled. So especially if you think your one vote won't make a difference, get out there and help fill the bucket already! (And don't forget to bring your knitting - the early voting lines were really long).