Thursday, October 31, 2013

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds...with a KICK!

Don't throw away those pumpkin seeds!

This Halloween, try my easy, spicy concoction for roasted seeds with some serious KICK!
After you've gutted your pumpkins, toss the innards into a bowl with water to encourage separation. 
Let it sit for a half hour or so and then remove the seeds from the goop.

Lay the clean pumpkin seeds on a towel to dry for an hour or so.
Preheat your oven to 275 degrees F.

Once dry, toss 2 cups of pumpkin seeds into a bowl and mix with-
1 1/2 tablespoons of melted butter
1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt
2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce

and if you're awesome and brave, add...

1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
a teaspoon of Sriracha sauce
a teaspoon of tabasco sauce

Once thoroughly mixed, spread the seeds on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 30 minutes.

When the time has elapsed, stir the seeds well and continue to bake for another 30 minutes- total bake time should be about one hour, till the seeds are slightly browned.
Then sit down by the light of your jack-o-lantern and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Happy chompin', friends. I can't get enough of this devilishly delicious snack.
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

At the Horror Show

My students used to be surprised to learn that I'm a total horror movie buff. 

With countless Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween and Stephen King movies burned into my memory, I can definitely roll with the big dogs when it comes to enduring a good scare. 

Seen 'em all.
But, during my first pregnancy, my thought process changed.

Suddenly, that wasn't a promiscuous twit getting chased through the woods...
it was somebody's kid
somebody's sister
somebody's friend.

That's a lot more horror than I can handle these days.

I realized it was time to cool out on the creepy scene. 
And I really have.

But at Halloween...
I fall right back into old habits,
especially when my sister is around.

Horror movies are kind of our thing
Spookin' it out with my homegirl
So last night, we snuggled up with some candles and candy to watch The Conjuring—which was everything it needed to be.

Maybe I had to walk her to her car when it was over. 
Maybe I jolted BAGONZO style when my fella took a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Maybe we should stop watching these tension-builiding movies.
The Exorcist
Really though. In late October, who can resist a good scare?
Something about that electric thrill reminds us how ALIVE we really are.
And three cheers for that, huh?

It's amazing how alert a person can become when they're on edge.
Just ask my sister, who maybe patrolled her house brandishing hedge cutters the other night...

What's your favorite scary movie? 
This Halloween, I recommend A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors for an incredible blend of horror and bad humor. OH, the one liners...

Happy hauntings, friends!
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pumpkin Carvin' Time

Over the past few years, I've had requests to share my pumpkin-carving process.
Ask and ye shall receive.
Harry Potter pumpkin design
Harry Potter
We begin by searching the Internet for ideas.

Once we find an exciting design, I either freehand a pencil sketch on the pumpkin—or if the image is intricate, I print out the design to scratch/copy onto the surface.
This year was a scratch/copy year.

Holding the print against the pumpkin, I use a sharp needle to firmly scratch the outline onto the surface. 
When the scratching is complete, I use a ball point pen to fill in the lines for greater visibility during the carve.
Once the lines are clearly drawn, using a serrated knife, I open the lid and remove out the innards with an ice cream scoop or large spoon.
 Save and dry out those seeds! Delicious recipe coming later this week!
And then it's down to biz.
I use a sturdy, serrated steak knife to do all my carving.
I have tried using "pumpkin carving kits" but I find the strength of a solid knife is more reliable.
Once the design has been penetrated, I slowly extract the knife. Then, using a controlled stabbing motion, I slowly trace the pattern with the knife.

I use very little quick sawing motion when I carve. My method is slower and more controlled.

After I've stabbed around a shape, I press against the inside of the pumpkin to determine if the piece is ready to come out.

Often, I need to gently repeat insertions around the segment before it is loose enough to push out—like a puzzle piece. Be gentle and patient.
Slice around a section until it is loose enough to slip out with minimal pressure
I find the stab technique effective to avoid breaking pieces of the design.
Slow and steady.

Once you pop out your final segment, light your pumpkin's candle and bring your design to life. VOILA!

We've really been having fun with our carvings over the past few years, and I can't wait to attempt new, more challenging designs.

Any great carving tips or tools?
Send ideas our way!

Happy HALLOWEEN, boils and ghouls!
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours
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Monday, October 28, 2013

On Adult Temper Tantrums

As a peanut, I'd wail and cry—sometimes with my face pressed under my bedroom door
to be extra sure my mom would hear me tweakin'.

In my teenage years, I'd scream into a pillow with all my angst and rage
then cry...
far away from the door
to be extra sure no one would hear me.
It's adult time now.

I like to think I've currently got a handle on my emotions, but hey. Two X chromosomes. So...

Personal spazziness aside (cough), as a former teacher, a mom and a student of life, I've witnessed plenty of temper tantrums—
and man.

They should teach a class on handling this biz.
Image Credit
Adult temper tantrums are never cute.

In my desperate valiant effort to maintain composure as a role-model to my wee ones, I've been studying up on adult trips to the zoo.

If you saw this viral YouTube video of an adult woman's temper tantrum...
you feel my concern.
Just can't let that be happening ova hey-a.
Or to people I love.
Because yeesh.
Homegirl needs some shiraz.

Then there's this clip, of a mom who lost her marbles after a let down in her local Apple store. It's short and self explanatory. Mama needs service STAT. The hand stomp slays me every time. I'm there with you, sista. Come ON!
While these current examples are undoubtedly hysterical, don't let this happen to you.
In order to grow with positive change, we've just gotta get adult freak-outs under control.

Whether you have 'em, deal with 'em, or are working on preventing adult temper tantrums, 
here's my favorite piece of advice from Wall Street Journal article This Loved One Will Explode in Five...Four

"Psychologists agree on the importance of remaining calm when the other person blows up. This isn't your tantrum. Don't withdraw completely, but limit what you say to validating the person's feelings—that you understand why he is upset—not the bad behavior.

"It's unlikely you'll have a constructive conversation when someone is in the red zone," says Susan Orenstein, a Cary, N.C., psychologist who specializes in anger management. "But I think it's important to say something like, 'I can't really listen to you when you are throwing things. But I would be glad to listen when you calm down.' "
After everyone has quieted down, explain calmly why the meltdown upset you. Ask your loved one how the tantrum made him feel and what might really have sparked the anger."
I think that's good advice, don't you?
Definitely gonna try to remember this.

I learned that it's a bad idea to engage someone who is tweaking. Make a clear statement of acknowledgement and take a step back to avoid worsening a volatile episode. 
Higher road, friends. 

Another CBS article suggests that backing off is crucial when a person is losing it. Gotta give the tantrum-er space to blow off the edge before they say or do something they'll regret. 

Let's work together, people—so that no one we love ends up tantrum-ing on YouTube, 'kay?
And if you know any good tips on handling adult freak outs, send them our way!

Here's to Zen...

P.S. Know a repeat offender blow-er up-per?
Another great resource in dealing with adult tweak times.
More on the psychology of adult temper tantrums.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Repurposing Onesies and Burp Cloths

Lil' peanuts sure do grow up fast, huh?

Seems like, by the time the first birthday candles are blown out, there are BINS of outgrown clothing, burp cloths and blankies taking up space everywhere. 

We hand down and donate tons of used baby gear, but I've found a wonderful way to repurpose oldies but goodies!

Grab those outgrown onesies, use scissors to remove the snaps and then open by cutting up the side.  
Create perfectly sized, super soft dust rags...
and hold on to the memories of those newborn days just a teensy bit longer.

Don't dump those ultra-soft burp cloths either!
Old burp cloths are ideal for household cleanup!
Slice 'em up and reuse as dust cloths, eye compresses or under counter rags for cleaning up spills in the kitchen or bathroom. 

It's the 21st century. Let's cut back on the paper towels and napkins and try to be resourceful. 
Old baby cottons are perfect for around-the-house use. 
Old socks turned into LEG WARMERS!
Same-sies with old socks. Catch up on my previous post about repurposing them for cleaning or to make a groovy fashion statement here

Reduce, reuse, recycle, sweet friends!
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Mercy Kill That Would've Been Murder

While eating breakfast yesterday, we heard a nasty THUD.

Looking out onto the deck, the girls screeched at the sight of a beautiful robin writhing in pain, poop and feathers. 

Poor darlin' hit our window hard, and as his companion robin pranced hopefully by his side, the victim bird twitched in agony.
Image Credit
With ruined appetites, we watched the tragic scene unfold.

The companion hopped to and fro, waiting for her friend to revive, and we scrambled to figure out how to end victim bird's misery.

What to do?
As we tossed around ideas for a humane mercy killing, I shuddered and cringed. 
I honestly didn't think I could do it. 
But the scene on the deck was so desperate, so grim—I grappled.

Fifteen minutes later, when I figured that both the bird and I had suffered enough, I was about to make a move when...
Homeboy sprung up and shook his head, took another massive poop, and began to teeter over to the side of the deck.

A recovery like no other!
And in the nick of time...
To think of what almost transpired!

After some research, I learned that birds often go into a state of shock after hitting windows that can last anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour. 

This poor robin hung around on the deck for about an hour before hopping down onto a beam, where he sat to regain his bearings for another hour before flying back into the mix.
Lesson after research? Three steps.

1. When a bird collides with a window, gently place it in a shoebox (with a lid with holes poked in it) to protect it from predators while it recovers.

2. Keep the box in a warm, dark, quiet place to keep the bird calm during revival.

3. After about an hour, open the lid and hope the bird flies off into the wild.

Put the mercy kill on hold and keep your fingers crossed, friends.
That was a close one.

XOXO From My Hearth to Yours
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Legendary Sacred Oak of Oley: The Real Giving Tree

We've just discovered that the Giving Tree is real, and it stands tall in Oley, PA. 
Follow the edge of the corn field until you spot the majestic tree. 
With riveting stories of the Lenape Indians' reverence for "The Sacred Oak," (currently estimated to be 500-700-years-old) and the powers they believed it to possess, we studied up on the tree's history and ventured out this weekend. 

Have a gander at the legendary story of the Lenape chief whose love was spared by the Great Spirit of the massive Chinkapin oak here. What an astounding tale!
People gather here,
marry here,
scatter the ashes of loved ones.

Talk about energy...

After a treasure hunt to find the location, we spotted the sprawling oak and our jaws dropped. 
It's that wow.

No photo could ever do it justice.

A plaque at the base claims that the 84-foot-tall tree is the largest yellow oak in the United States. 
And we believe it. 

Not only is this tree massive in size, but there is truly a hugely positive, welcome energy surrounding the site.
You can't resist the urge to caress the bark
to wrap your arms around the trunk (it took SIX of us, holding hands to make a ring around the base!)
to sit in the nooks formed by the roots.

And emotion intensifies as you notice the "gifts" left in the Sacred Oak's care.
Each item most certainly holds a story—holds heart.

Imagine the meaning behind the treasures propped at the base, hung from the bark, tucked into the roots and crevices—incredibly moving.

These trinkets remind us of how vulnerable and human we really are compared to this sturdy oak.
Whistle and feather hanging on the bark- and, on left, unique silver trinket laying on a knot
Now I'm not a super hokey person,
but something about this tree really got to me.

I connected

Mesmerized, I dreamed of visiting the tree alone sometime
on quiet and still afternoon.
I got lost in a reverie of curling up in a nook against the tree—with a pillow, blanket and sketchbook.

The idea is strangely alluring
strangely calming
strangely familiar
like there's incredible strength and safety there.

It's weird
but real
and awesome.

There is love in this tree.
Ballet shoe and stick sculptures
Wanna see for yourselves?

There is a sign stating that the path to the tree is open to the public only from dawn till dusk. This, most recent article, addresses the new landowner's plans for allowing future access to the great oak.

To keep up with the haps at this famed site, "like" the Sacred Oak community page here and be reminded of the magic that stands, deeply rooted down the cornfield's path. 
How many "heads up" pennies can you find embedded in the trunk?
Go there.
You'll feel it, too.

But be sure to behave when you visit...
Legend states that anyone who desecrates this site will be forever cursed. 
Don't mess with The Great Spirit of the Sacred Oak.

This might be my new favorite place on the planet, so treat it with the utmost respect.
Here's to the mighty tree...

P.S. If you're as captivated by these stories as we are, check out these local Sacred Oak articles from Oct 2, 1927 and March 1, 1952.

This article has more information about the Sacred Oak's history and future in Oley.

Or backtrack to the previous landowner's efforts to preserve this magical tree by reading this beautiful story about The Sacred Oak's allure.

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Love the Skin You're In

Have you seen Anthony Cerniello's video of a young girl aging into an old woman?

And the story behind this humbling production?
Even more moving and profound.

Set aside 5 minutes to experience the progression of a lifetime today.
It's a beautiful thing.
Check out the official 'Danielle' video here and watch time fly.

And if you love this as much as I do, check out this REAL time-laspe video that Frans Hofmeester made of his daughter's growth from birth till age 12.
Age progression video
Birth to 12 years in 2 min. 45 sec. Time Lapse Lotte. by Frans Hofmeester
What a project.
What an impact.
What a ride...

Oh, love the skin you're in today, my sweet friends.
If we're lucky, we'll have a different coat tomorrow.

XOXO From My Hearth to Yours
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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lake Medusa?

You're not even gonna believe this is real.
Lake Natron
Nick Brandt / Courtesy of Hasted Kraeutler Gallery
Ever heard of Tanzania's Lake Natron?
Lake Natron
Long, insane-o story short?

This lake's highly alkaline, blood red, 80ºF water kills and preserves living creatures that fall into the salty mix.

No freakin' joke, you guys.
Lake Natron
Nick Brandt / Courtesy of Hasted Kraeutler Gallery
Finding petrified corpses along the shore, wildlife photographer Nick Brandt repositioned these birds to bring them back to life...

kind of.
Creep show life?

Now, with good reason, articles like, "Terrifying Lake Turns Birds Into Statues" are popping up all over the interwebs.

Probably because this looks like something right out of The Dark Crystal, no?
Lake Natron
Nick Brandt / Courtesy of Hasted Kraeutler Gallery
Fish Eagle
the power of nature
and awe-inspiring resurrection born from Brandt's artistic vision.

Double wows.
I think I'll pass on a leisurely swim, thankyouverymuch.

And I thought Yellowstone was a mind bender.
This place?
Straight outta horror town.

Simply stunning!

What's the wildest natural wonder you've ever heard about? 
Lake Natron has just gotta be high in the ranks.

Have a hot one, friends!
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours

P.S. Special thanks to my buddy, Spade, who knew I'd go bonkers over this story. 

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Razor Sharp Awakening

How often do you replace disposable razors?

Realizing these suckers don't last long, I stopped using expensive disposables years ago and switched over to lower priced razors that I wouldn't feel guilty about tossing more frequently.
But about that guilt...
Disposable razors make a LOT of waste.

Making an effort to be environmentally responsible, I'm happy to report that I've found recyclable disposables (Preserve Triple Razors and Schick Xtreme3 Eco) as welcome alternatives.

I was shocked that I couldn't find ANY other options for recyclable disposables!
We've only got one earth, people.
Preserve Triple Razor
Preserve Triple Razors- made from 100% recycled plastic from yogurt cups!

According to this article, razors should be replaced after every 3-7 shaves.

In this post, also advises avoiding folliculitis (those dastardly little red bumps) by tossing disposables after a few uses.

This interesting site- all about hair removal suggests that the disposables we abuse are really only designed for one or two uses.

Geezoo! Think of all that trash!
I'm so thankful to have found better options.
recyclable disposable razors
Schick Xtreme3 Eco is made from 100% recycled paper.
From now on, we'll buy recyclable razors in bulk (peace OUT razor burn) and replace them more frequently instead of paying big bucks for non-recyclable razors that waste money, energy and resources.

And HEYO, all other razor companies!
How about making some moves out there to start using recyclable materials for your products?
Because really!

A landfill loaded with used razors is decidedly NOT picture perfect. So let's get on that, 'kay? Quick.
Let's not let THIS keep happening, friends.
Readers, if you find any other recyclable disposable razor options or alternatives, please comment and let us know. 

Here's to smooth skin and planet Earth!
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours

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Monday, October 7, 2013

The WK&S Hawk Mountain Line- Training Day

Something about trains...
such a thrilling charge, you know?
The Kempton Train
Next time you're about board, stop and have a gander at the expressions of surrounding passengers.

Children squeal, jumping up and down with raw excitement.
Adults gaze, in awe, at the power of such mighty machinery.
Kempton Train
Check out the Halloween addition to the WK&S Line
It's just ON as soon as that beast chugs into the station.

Out here in Eastern PA, to get our fix of beauty and nostalgia, we hit up The WK&S Hawk Mountain Line every year. 

And it never disappoints!
The Kempton Train
Boarding this exquisite train feels like time travel.

Walk through the cozy cars (check out the PIANO car!) to find the perfect window view, or sit out in the open air as the train coasts past rivers, farms, mountains and forests.
The Kempton Train
Don't forget to look up at the magnificent birds that soar along, following your journey down the line.

It's a beautiful experience.

Always looking out for the needs and desires of riders, the WK&S Line plans extraordinary events to deliver thrills.
With "Wine & Cheese" rides, "Murder Mystery Dinner Theater" events and an assortment of both daytime and evening holiday themed rides, smiles are served up for every style on The Hawk Mountain Line.
The Kempton Train
October Pumpkin Patch Train Ride
Man, do I love living out here.

If you're down to hop on board, check out the WK&S history here, and book a ride this season.
It's a trip, for sure. 
You'll love it!

What events in your area combine the beauty of nature with nostalgia? 
All aboard, friends!
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Advice From Strangers

You know how it is...
there's someone spouting advice about any and everything.

Some tips are useful.
Some are just plain bonkers.
:::smile and nod

***Sidenote- Ask a pregnant woman how she feels about advice from strangers and watch smoke come out of her ears.

But genuinely good advice, memorable words that force a little perspective?
Priceless and rare.
Yesterday, director, screenwriter and producer Baz Luhrmann's 1998 release "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)" popped up on the radio.

Hadn't heard it in years.
I promise you this—it put a super positive spin on my day.

This unusual recording serves up real, invaluable advice.

I should listen to this every day.

Hearing it will change your week
your month
your year.
The wisdom in this song lingers. It's moving, people. You've gotta listen to it today.
Then go dance.
Or sing.

Don't have time to watch the entire 5 minute video? Check out the lyrics to this song here.
If I was still teaching, I'd print this advice and hang it on my classroom wall immediately.

Maybe the playroom?
It's that good.

Check it out, and let us know which tidbit hits you hardest.
Here's to making the most of every moment, sweet friends!
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours
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