A “Little Women” Breakfast

I so badly want to go into painstaking detail about my Mother’s invention of “the birthweek” and how she executes it year after year after year…

but I don’t have time! My 6th batch of granola is in the oven, a mountain of presents wait to be wrapped, and we have company coming to sup with us tomorrow night…

SO, I have to make this snappy, and just tell you, without going into specifics, that although my Mom and Mr. Gore had given me the birthweek of all birthweeks, my actual birthday was on the horizon and Mom wanted to know what kind of party I wanted.

Even though she had already given me a 12-12-12 party.

And even though she had already made me a cake.

And even though I had been opening presents throughout the entire week.

But people who are being spoiled rarely speak up about these things and decide, rather, to see how long the spoiling will continue before life goes back to unbirthday-like normality, and so, after much serious discussion (birthdays are obviously serious business around here, you guys), we settled upon a birthday BREAKFAST.

For, like my friend Leslie Knope, I heartily believe that breakfast is the very best meal of the day.

But…what kind of breakfast?

We had already had pancakes. We didn’t have time to pick up apple fritters from the bakery (we live far away from pretty much everything). Bacon and eggs didn’t seem very celebratory. We just couldn’t decide…

Then, suddenly, I gasped!

“What?” Mom asked, gasping in return.

“I want a ‘Little Women’ breakfast!!” I exclaimed.

Mom stared at me and blinked.

“You know…” I said, “popovers…oranges…sausage links…coffee!!…”

Mom stared at me and blinked.

“You know…” I said, “Colonial-like and beautiful and simple. That’s what I want!!!”

Then we both laughed, because I am a total nutcase who always does things like this to her while she blinks and tries to figure out how to create the weirdness that is in my head.

But boy…showing up at her house on the morning of my birthday, I was amazed to find that “Little Women” had been delivered with perfection. I honestly can’t imagine being more pleased with my (official) birthday meal. It was somehow a dream come true – the breakfast Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy sit down to on Christmas morning has always captured my fancy – and to have a near representation before my very eyes was just a real treat.

All that to say, I am most eager to share the following pictures with you so that, if you are wired like I am and like anything nostalgic or literary or whimsical, you can indulge in a “Little Women” Christmas breakfast of your own! There’s still time, yes?

Take a look…

~

I thought the table was just so beautiful and and simple and reminiscent of yesteryear. The bananas might have been a modern twist, but hey…we like bananas.

IMG_8585

on the menu: Pioneer Woman’s Orange Mini-Muffins with Brown Sugar Glaze. Make them. NOW!!

(I make these specifically around Christmastime because I think they taste like Christmas-morning-in-a-breakfast-bread, and they have become, without contestation, my favorite muffin. Obviously, you can make them in regular muffin tins as well as mini – I like both versions, and thought they were especially scrumptious when my Mom made them for me).

IMG_8582

popovers!! (Here’s a good recipe from Paula Deen). Mom’s were especially “poppy” and we all ooohed and aahhhed when she pulled them out of the oven.

IMG_8597

And here they are all prettied up on the table…

IMG_8601

Along with bacon, sausage links, the orange muffins, scrambled eggs with ham and cheese, and breakfast potatoes (Mom’s budget isn’t as tight at the March’s).

IMG_8599

I think this will be my breakfast of choice every birthday (and/or Christmas) morning…

IMG_8604

And here is Mrs. Gore herself, happy, hungry and…happy. (I cropped out the back part of this picture, because muffin tops were not on the menu and are not welcome at my birthday party).

IMG_8592

I sincerely hope you plan your own “Little Women” breakfast, and as you partake of your meal, contemplate simpler times when a breakfast spread like the above was the stuff of dreams and very difficult to come by…

It really will make you count your blessings, especially when you realize that you don’t have to share your food with the Hummel’s.

As ever, special thanks to my Mama, who still strives to make my silly dreams come true, 31 years and counting.

A Pinteresty Halloween

In celebration of our upcoming holiday, I’ve been sharing Halloween ideas all day on the Mrs. Gore’s Diary facebook page (where we have LOTS of fun! Join us, why don’t you?), and I thought I’d gather them all up together right here, along with a few more that have yet to be shared…

Last year, just awakening to the glorious world of Pinterest, I threw a Halloween party for all of our friends and family members employing many of the ideas I had come across at that most beloved site, along with a few I had picked up over the years from Country Living and Martha Stewart. We had a ball…but I think I’m still exhausted from our fete, as I have yet to put up a single Halloween decoration this year.

Still, I’ve had great fun looking back at all the fun we had last year, and would love to share with you some Pinterest ideas that worked…and then some that didn’t work…to help you with your Halloween festivities next week.

Really…you  don’t have to thank me.

Let’s hop straight to it!

~

Pinterest ideas that worked:

Idea #1: Use a Sharpie to draw jack-o-lantern faces on clementines. On a night that is fueled by candy and sugar, its nice to have at least one healthy treat for your little ones. I’m pretty sure I drew all of these faces on while watching “The X Factor”…

(source)

We also had a bucket of healthy, shiny apples. I am proud to say that, by the end of the night, only 3 of these beauties remained (thanks to our favorite and magical apple peeler/corer/slicer).

~

Idea #2: Glitter Pumpkins! I saw these on the Martha Stewart show in college and had always wanted to give them a try, so one fine Fall day, Gideon and I sat on the front porch and did our first craft together. These were great fun to make (even though we made a HUGE mess on the porch), and seriously? I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. SO much glitter. SOOOO pretty! (and please don’t even think of comparing mine to Martha’s…you should know better).

(source)

~

Idea #3: my favorite Halloween decoration everrrrr…and another Martha Stewart stroke of genius! Use her templates to trace and cut out these little mice (I did mine on black cardstock) and attach them to your baseboards or have them crawling onto your windowsills or mantle…I will admit that, after they were stationed all over our living room, they caused me to shiver a few times, but my kids loved them. And I do love Halloween decorations that aren’t gory or scary…just classic, kind-of-spooky, old-fashioned fun.

(source)

~

Idea #4: These cake-like cookies (on the bottom tier) were not too difficult to make and…I loved eating them. I don’t remember how well they were received at the party, but I do know this: they were all eaten. Maybe mostly by me.

(source and recipe)

~

Idea #5: Amy brought the drinks for our party, and they were a huge hit among the kiddos. Giant pickle jars (with Dollar Store signage) held the drinks, and little jelly jars with spill-proof laminated “lids” served as perfect spooky vessels…topped with a spider ring for each guest. This might have been the kids’ favorite part of the entire party, and was born solely out of Amy’s creativity and resourcefulness. Love her.

~

Idea #6: I’ve seen this game several times in magazines and blogs, but I can’t recall from whom or where or whence it came. Its just something we picked up along the way and have used many a time at Halloween or Fall parties. So the source is…whoever gave me the idea. Thanks, you!

Anyhow, as an alternative to dunking for apples, simply tie donuts to long strings and elevate them. The children have to hold their hands behind their back and try to retrieve the yummy donut, resulting in lots of giggles. Our donuts were tied this year to a broomstick that I held in my hands and lowered or raised according to each child’s height.

Yes, I have a picture of me holding the broomstick. Yes, I look about 6 months pregnant in that particular picture. No, I was no pregnant at all. Yes, I was having so much fun I forgot to suck in my gut. No, I will not be sharing that photograph. But YES, I will share this one of sweet Anna trying to get her a donut, as her friends cheer her on…

~

Idea #7: You may recall us making these lanterns at my Mom’s Halloween party…well, they looked even more magnificent at night, and helped give our party a festive, family-friendly Halloween vibe. And the kids were so proud to see their own handiwork on display! This idea came straight from Southern Living and was discovered by my Mom, not on Pinterest, but in a real live magazine. Yes, they still make those (and we still love to peruse them!).

(source)

~

Pinterest ideas that did NOT work:

So not every endeavor ends in success. You win some…you lose some…even on Pinterest. I definitely lost some in the next two instances.

Failed Idea #1: Would you just look at these adorable cupcakes all tied up with a little bow? Upon seeing them, I directly added them to my list of party treats.

(source)

And then I made them, foolishly using a different recipe that obviously wasn’t destined for such Halloween cuteness. I almost smashed each puny little cupcake as I tried to gingerly tie a pretty bow on them, a sea of powdered sugar covering my kitchen floor. They tasted great, but…I still hate the sight of my version, a blight on my memory and my stupid Halloween party. Gah!

~

Failed Idea # 2: I keep a board on my Pinterest account just for Amy so she doesn’t have to mess with an active account, and there, I share things that I think she might like, or projects I think she would excel in, but more often than not, we bounce around photography ideas. One day, I shared this precious photograph with her, eager to try it out on Betsie. I mean, look at how content that sweet little baby is to sit in a pumpkin! I just knew Betsie, the most content and happy baby I’d ever been around, would do exactly this and more!

(source)

Amy was as gung-ho about it as I was, and we couldn’t wait to set up our little pumpkin photo shoot…

Turns out, Betsie wasn’t keen on the idea of being stuffed inside of a cold pumpkin. Epic fail.

My sincerest apologies to my sweet baby girl who, for some reason, now has a pumpkin phobia. Just kidding. But she might if I showed her this picture…

And just for the record, we got her out of this horrid predicament as soon as possible, whereupon she received lots of cuddling and sympathetic baby-talk.

~

Pinterest failures notwithstanding, it was one of the most festive and enjoyable nights we’ve shared, music playing, Fall breeze gently blowing, trick-or-treaters showing up at the gate and realizing too late that we were having a private, rather than a neighborhood, party (“Oh hi! Um…we only have candy for the kids inside the fence. Sorry…”).

And I was doing one of my favorite things. Sitting around a table with little people, in costume, eating lots and lots of sugar…

Life, in my opinion, doesn’t get much better. Thanks, Pinterest…

Except for where you miserably failed me.

Selah Springs: The Tweedledummies

On the 2nd day of our vacation, my Mom and I loaded up my 2 little girls and flitted off to the charming city of Fredericksburg, Texas, to spend the day shopping and eating and doing all sorts of non-Ranchy girly stuff.

The day had started off very well, but as it wore on, I noticed that my Mom was acting a little strange, walking slowly, turning down restaurant ideas even though she had skipped breakfast and it was nearing 1:00 p.m., and as I finally turned around to study her and make sure all was well, I immediately realized what had been the cause of her odd behavior. She had been harboring a surprise…

For there, walking toward us on the busy sidewalk, was my Aunt Bea, Mama’s sister and the closest thing I have to a second mother. Her 3-hour drive to Fredericksburg was much more manageable than her 9-hour drive to our house in Oklahoma, so she had loaded up early that morning, determined to spend the day with us and join us for a relaxing night on the Ranch.

We embraced and laughed and chattered about this sneaky plan (that apparently everyone had been in on but me), but the funny thing about our relationship with Aunt Bea is that, within minutes, we were shopping and mozying about as if we spend every minute of every day together. The 3 of us have always had such a bond, and few things make us happier than simply being in each other’s company.

We are also the living emodiment of Tweedledee, Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber, and spend most of our time together laughing at ourselves and/or each other.

Especially when we are out among our fellow citizens.

Our conversation immediately turned toward where we should have lunch, a discussion Mom and I had been having since we left for Fredericksburg. We so badly wanted to eat something heart-breakingly delicious, in a restaurant that was chock-full of cozy and inspiring ambiance…you know, somewhere perfect. Somewhere that would leave us full of longing and expectation for our next trip to the Hill County.

“So what do you think?…” Mom asked, looking down the street lined with quaint shops and restaurants and fudgeries and ice cream parlors.

“Uhhh…” I replied. “I dunno…I just want to eat somewhere really, really good.”

“What kind of food sounds good?” Aunt Bea asked.

“Hmmm…” said Mom. “Something really, really yummy.”

A morning of thinking, and we were still absolutely clueless.

“Let’s ask someone what they would recommend.” my Mom suggested.

A couple just happened to be walking out of the Brewery in front of us. My Mom hailed them. “How was the food there?” she asked.

“Oh, it was delicious!” the woman raved. “Really good.”

If you remember, “really good” was what we had been looking for, but, upon peering into the windows, we decided we’d rather not try it. It lacked ambiance and perfection.

But our stomachs were really starting to get hungry. We wandered down the street once more, pursuing something we weren’t even sure existed.

“Ugh!” I exclaimed. “I just don’t know what to do. Let’s ask someone else.”

“Yes, let’s…” agreed Aunt Bea.

Looking up, we saw a hefty motorcycle lady sitting on a park bench, smoking a cigarette.

“How about her?” my Mom asked an unsure look on her face.

Our heads nodded while our brains vehemently disagreed, but it was like we were no longer acting of our own accord. We had shifted into our signature Tweedledummy autopilot and were moving, as a group, into the land of no return (at least where our lunch was concerned).

“Hi…” my Mom approached her. “Can you recommend any good places to eat?”

“Oh, sure!” she croaked, pointing at a restaurant we had passed by numerous times. “I ate lunch at that German restaurant down the street. It was awesome.”

We smiled widely like we always do and exclaimed our thanks, as we said encouraging things like “that sounds delicious!” and “oh, great! We’ve been wanting some good German food!” and immediately began to walk in the direction she had pointed us.

We didn’t look at each other.

We didn’t talk.

We just walked.

Onward, Christian soldiers, too timid to disagree with a Motorcycle Mama, even though she was as kind and friendly as could be.

Did we ask each other whether or not German food even sounded good?

No.

Did we discuss whether or not we should seek out anyone else’s opinion?

No.

Did any single one of us express our mutual reluctance to enter in to the place where our feet were taking us?

Nuh-uh.

Forward we trudged, obedient to our new friend’s opinion, unwilling to hurt her feelings by walking in the opposite direction of the place she recommended.

We got a table…

we sat ourselves down…

and we cheerfully perused the menu of German fare that we did not really want to eat.

If someone had drawn a picture of us, sitting around our table, blinking at our menus with smiles pasted on our faces, the thought bubbles emerging from our heads most certainly would have read “Duh…”.

But it gets worse.

By this point, my brain was so exhausted by the entire ordeal, and my mind was so removed from my body, I made our situation even more hilarious and ridiculous and inexplicably chose the most far-fetched item on the menu…

The “Texas Schnitzel”.

Why?

I have no idea.

I’m sure that this Tex-German concoction would be delicious to many palates, but the hot mess of schnitzel, guacamole, sour cream and melted cheese that soon sat in front of me was a far cry from what I had set my heart on that day, and I spent the next 30 minutes or so trying to figure out how to rearrange my plate to make it look like I had devoured my lunch rather than picked at it.

We were less than enamored, but regardless of our true opinion of the place, Mom, Aunt Bea and I continued to talk brightly and happily about our restaurant of “choice” and the “awesome food” we were “enjoying”,  paid the whopping $50 check without batting an eye, and finally, rose and said “Auf Weidersehen!” to our lunch of madness…

But we laughed all the way home.

Which is, after all, exactly what Tweedledummies do best. Self-entertainment is our forte.

~

Coming up next…Selah Springs: The Cave