Pumpkin Palooza

pumkins!

So IF you’re going to throw your third grade daughter a joint birthday party with her classmate whose birthday is four days later and whose mother is a good friend, I definitely recommend a pumpkin palooza theme–IF, you know, the party lands in October.

And what does one do at a pumpkin palooza party?  Glad you asked.  Really, in today’s world of commercial holidays, it took my girlfriend Jen and I about 30 seconds to come up with 30 pumpkin-y options.  We went with decorating artsy-shmartsy pumpkins (photo above–aren’t they cute!) and baking pumpkin bread.

Josie’s Pumpkin Bread (which, yes, is really more like a pumpkin cake if you must know)

pumpkin bread

Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/4 tsp. baking powder, 3/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. each: cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, 1 2/3 cup flour, 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 cup water, 1 cup pumpkin, 2 eggs

Directions: Mix dry ingredients, add the rest.  Grease bottom of two bread pans and pour 1/2 way full.  Bake at 350 for 45 mins.

Tips: IF you ever supervise 10 third grade girls (plus a few siblings, etc…) while they each make their own loaves of bread and IF you are doubling the recipe while floating among the chaos, and IF you accidentally forget to double the flour in one of the bowls (you know, hypothetically speaking of course) then just go ahead and bake the bread for another 20 or so minutes.  It might look a bit funny, but it will still taste good–and be extra moist!  (At least I think that’s what would happen…)

New Year’s Eve–Family Style!

ny eve

Since having my first child almost nine years ago, I haven’t had much desire to stay up till midnight.  I’ve been awake at midnight, of course, many times–but rarely for, uh, “partying” purposes.

It took Mike and me a few years to realize that with a little creativity, the fun of welcoming the new year could still be enjoyed by people who like to collapse into bed long before the Cinderella lost her slipper…

Five years ago we hosted a New Year’s Eve countdown party–and counted down with Brazil.  Why?  Because when it’s midnight in Brazil it’s 7:00 pm in California!  We invited some other friends and family–many with young children and babies like us–to a pot-luck soup and sandwich party.   None of us was in a stage of life where we wanted to throw a big party single-handedly, but together we could combine efforts and put on quite a spread.

That year we decorated our house with Brazilian flags and colors. Then, at 7:00 pm local time we all gathered together and counted down to “midnight” (thanks to the help of our computer) when we cheered, kissed and blew our blowers and yelled “Feliz Ano Novo!” in Portuguese of course!  And then, thanks to our Brazilian time-line, everyone got to bed before the kids (and adults!) turned into pumpkins.

By the third year we’d moved to Puerto Rico, which celebrates at 8:00 local time.  Puerto Rican flags and colors adorned our home as we all cheered “Feliz Ano Nuevo” in Spanish together.

I had thought that by this year we’d be celebrating with New York, which is 9:00 pm locally.  Only problem is that our list of guests has grown so darn much that we actually had to move the celebrating further east–with England at 4:00 pm local time!–so we can be outside and enjoy the December Pasadena-day-time weather which should be in the low sixties  (please, please, please!) this afternoon.  The nights turn chilly and unfortunately I cannot fit 60+ people (including roughly 40 kids) inside my house for very long!

It is Monday, December 31st, 2012 and soon my stove top and counter will be a gorgeous pot-luck buffet of fabuloso homemade soups which we will sample and sip until our hearts and bellies are full.  I sincerely hope our afternoon indoor/outdoor gig works out so we can invite even more friends next time.

By the time many Californian’s will be ringing in the new year, my family and many friends will already be dreaming of confetti, blow horns and hangovers, and the very-awesome-and-just-a-bit-ahead-of schedule New Year’s Eve party we all celebrated together!