Easy as Thanksgiving Pie

Author: Kirsten K., Dessert, Food & Drink, Holidays, Sweets

See's Seasonal Pie TrufflesWith Christmas creep threatening to overtake October, there’s barely a breather between “Happy Halloween!” and “Happy Holidays!” for Thanksgiving to stretch its wings, but I prefer to enjoy the unfolding of each celebration in succession and look forward every year to this feast of family, friends, food, and gratitude. After we’ve given thanks for the many blessings bestowed on us over the past year, then passed the (plant-based) turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy, it’s time for dessert!

My beloved Aunt Berni was famous for her pie crusts and pastries and always brought a selection of homemade harvest treats for the table. I swooned over her pecan pie, but her apple pie, pumpkin pie, and dried apricot cobbler also made guests go gaga. Thanks to Auntie B, Thanksgiving pies became my favorite sweets of the season, so when chocolatiers began to mingle these annual offerings with my perennial passion, I wanted a slice of the action.

See’s Candies carries their Apple Pie Truffle all year long (because what could be more American?), but they serve it up at this time of year with a tempting trio of Cranberry Orange, Pumpkin Pie, and Pecan Pie truffles enrobed in dark, milk, and white chocolate, respectively. I like to line them up—along with a couple of Caramel Apple Scotchmallows and a cute, candy-turkey-topped truffle—on the company’s signature serving tray, which could easily double as Swoon Society merch with its familiar swirling S on each handle.

See's Signature Candy Tray

The tart-sweet flavor of the triangular Apple Pie truffle is so authentic that you could serve it up with a slice of cheddar. And though I’m not partial to pumpkin pie, I could definitely go for a second helping of the See’s version, which has enough pumpkin pie spice to take down a PSL. While their Pecan Pie can’t hold a candle to the ones my Aunt Berni baked, the Cranberry Orange is the perfect complement to the luscious loaf that my co-swooner Kirsti recently revealed over at Sugar Nerd.

Trader Joe's Thanksgiving Pie Chocolate TrufflesI am highly susceptible to clever marketing, so the wedge-shaped segments in the window of the Thanksgiving Pie Chocolate Truffles box from Trader Joe’s immediately caught my eye among their seasonal stock. While the chocolates enveloping Vanilla Crème and Cranberry Ginger Cinnamon fillings didn’t leave a strong impression of pie on the palate, the soft centers of the Caramel Apple Cinnamon and Salted Caramel Pecan truffles fit the bill to a T.

So if you’re looking for a hassle-free holiday host/ess gift—or you don’t bake, but want to contribute a confection to the fall festivities—bringing a box of these bonbons to the banquet is as easy as Thanksgiving pie.

S.W.O.O.N. Stamp
Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:

See’s Candies Seasonal Pie Truffles
Trader Joe’s Thanksgiving Pie Chocolate Truffles

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🥧 Happy Thanksgiving, Swooners! 🥧

Whacks Poetic

Author: Kirsten K., Author: Kirsti K., Holidays

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They say I, Lizzie, took an axe
And gave my mother forty whacks,
Then when I saw what I had done,
I gave my father forty-one.

But in their research they’ve been lax,
So I am here to give the facts,
Because my folks were felled by blows
In numbers less extreme than those.
.

.Lizzie Borden Pumpkin Carving
.
And I’m not guilty by a mile,
Acquitted as I was at trial,
‘Cause none could prove I was to blame,
Despite the way I rose to fame.

But if you’d lived with Mum and Dad
You might decide I’m not that bad,
So I won’t be a hypocrite—
I think that they both axed for it!
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🎃 Happy Halloween, Swooners! 🪓

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“Jack-o’-Lizzie” was carved using tools from Pumpkin Masters.

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Cruel Beans

Author: Kirsten K., Coffee, Food & Drink, Holidays, Hot Drinks

Groundwork Organic Bitches Brew CoffeeWe’ve returned from hiatus to interrupt this season already in progress with Breaking Brews! Since surrendering to the inevitable and becoming a constituent of coffee culture, I have been trying an endless variety of brands and blends. This month, inspired by the season, I opted for the Bitches Brew from Groundwork Coffee Co.

It has been well-established that I am NOT a morning person, so bagging this bitchy blend was a no-brainer. Organic and fair trade with a robust, yet smooth, flavor, this bad-tempered brew is actually a charmer. Invoking notes of dark chocolate and caramel, it has cast a spell over my morning ritual.

Recently, I’ve been trying to bring back the phrase “Cool beans!” While it’s been difficult to convince my legume-loathing friends (“Why you gotta bring beans into it?”) that this extended family encompasses both coffee and cacao, these “cruel beans” from Groundwork might just weave a little black magic with their deliciously dark roast.

While I am late to the game, Groundwork is not. Established in 1990 right here in Southern California, this small batch roaster has clearly mastered the art of Bitch-craft, so conjure up a cup of this wicked good coffee and you’ll spend the day flying high.

S.W.O.O.N. Stamp
Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:

Bitches Brew

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For more festive fun, try their Black Magic espresso or spooky Supernatural blend with hints of candy corn and fruit punch.

Heart of Glass

Author: Kirsten K., Author: Kirsti K., Holidays

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♪ ♫ Ornament the blog with a touch of class:
A picture…of a heart of glass.
Circle of gold beads ‘round a profile;
Classical bust, hint of a smile.

Two / Fourteen —
Will you spend it reading through our posts online?
‘Cause we’re choosing you to be our Valentine. 🏹
If we are amusing you, it’s just too good,
You swooning like you do…
♩♬

..

❤️ Happy Valentine’s Day, Swooners! ❤️

 

Lyrics adapted from Heart of Glass by Blondie.

Bloggers We Have Read Online

Author: Kirsten K., Author: Kirsti K., Holidays

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♪ ♫ Bloggers we have read online
sweetly swoon @ their domain,
And the comments in reply
Echo in their “faint” refrain:
♩ ♬

“Fo—o-o-o-o-o—o-o-o-o-o—o-o-o-or our readers,

👼🏼 Merry Christmas Day-o!”👼🏼

..

“Fo—o-o-o-o-o—o-o-o-o-o—o-o-o-or our readers,

👼🏼 Merry Christmas Day-ay-o!”👼🏼

 

Lyrics adapted from the Christmas carol Angels We Have Heard On High.
Picture adapted from a detail in the Sistine Madonna painting by Raphael Sanzio.

Fir Real

Author: Kirsten K., Cocktails, Coffee, Food, Food & Drink, Fragrance, Holidays, Hot Drinks, Nostalgia, Spirits, Sweets, Tea

Loyal Swooners know that Kirsti and I are Fleur Crazy, but they might not be aware that I am also fir-crazy. Scent is the sense most closely connected to memory, and the smell of evergreen instantly conjures up happy childhood memories of decorating the Christmas tree and sitting beneath its boughs while tearing into presents with unbridled avarice. The scent always became sweeter as the tree dried out, and I used to gather the fallen needles into a muslin sachet, wanting to hold on to that adored aroma even after the last holiday decoration had been wrapped in tissue paper and put away.

When Starbucks introduced its erstwhile Juniper Latte a few years ago, it was a revelation to realize I could actually taste, as well as smell, this sylvan scent. Ever since, I’ve been searching for new ways to enjoy the flavors of the forest. I began this “noble” pursuit at Aftelier, the aromatic atelier of perfumer Mandy Aftel, which offers a range of Chef’s Essence® Flavor Drops for use in cooking and cocktails. Among them are Fir Needle, Juniper Berry, and Pine Needle. I was torn about which to try first when Kirsti went ahead and bought all three for me as a gift (BFF!*).

Fir Needle and Juniper Berry are both essential oils with strong scents in the bottle, but surprisingly smooth flavors when added to foods and beverages. I’ve used them to “spruce” up my morning coffee and to bring the bright, fresh essence of evergreen to snowy scoops of vanilla ice cream and seasonal sips of Christmas-y cocktails. An unexpected delight is the deep forest green of the thick Pine Needle Absolute, which has a wonderfully woodsy aroma and a sweet, smoky flavor that transports me to a mountaintop timberland every time I taste it. (For links to recipes, click on individual Chef’s Essence®s in Aftelier’s online shop).

If Christmas is your cup of tea, you’ll love the Douglas Fir Spring Tips Botanical Tea from Juniper Ridge. A recent fortuitous find, this company makes sustainably harvested and wildcrafted products using organic ingredients sourced from the slopes of Northern California. Their caffeine-free Douglas Fir tea allows you to literally drink in the quintessential scent of the season with its fresh, light flavor, while the authentic aroma of their Christmas Fir Room Spray will instantly relocate you to the redolent rows of a tree lot. In combination with their full line of bath, body, and home fragrance offerings, it’s like dropping a Tannen-bomb.

Finally, I don’t know if the Balsam & Cedar fragrance from Brayer Ridge Soap in Maine is “fir real” or not, but the company deserves honorable mention, because their Handcrafted Goat Milk Lotion is the most swoon-worthy moisturizing cream I’ve ever used. Last fall, on a visit to Eagle Island, I stumbled upon a tube of this luscious lotion with the sweet scent of my beloved balsam and cedar. As a natural product without artificial preservatives, it had an expiration date less than six months away, but I kept it in the fridge and managed to ration it all the way through summer. Lisa at Brayer Ridge only makes this lotion during the colder months of the year and, unfortunately, she’s already out for the season(!), but I’m consoling myself with her equally swoon-worthy Balsam & Cedar Whipped Body Butter and Goat Milk Soap, which bathe my bathroom in an alpine aroma.

If you’re looking for last-minute holiday gifts and know someone with a firry fetish, there’s still time to stockpile these fragrant and flavorful finds—or to branch out and try them for yourself. You might discover, as I have, that seasons change, but tree love lasts firever.


Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:

Aftelier Fir Needle, Juniper Berry, and Pine Needle Chef’s Essence® Flavor Drops
Juniper Ridge Douglas Fir Tea and Christmas Fir Room Spray
Brayer Ridge Soap Balsam & Cedar Bath and Body Products

 

*Best Firry Friend!

 

Ancient Hissstory

Author: Kirsten K., Author: Kirsti K., Holidays

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This year’s pumpkin carving is no great big mystery;
You only need study your Greek ancient hissstory,
While dealing with COVID and lockdown neuroses
By flipping through Ovid in Metamorphoses.

It’s Snakes on a Mane as our Halloween feature,
Depicting a Hell-enic mythical creature
With slithering hair and a gaze that’s hypnotic,
Which causes her victims to go all sclerotic.

..

The ladys a viper — to tempt her is unwise.
She’ll turn you to stone if you stare into her eyes.
So don’t look too long, or she’s bound to seduce ya,
This profile pic of our “Gourd-gon” Medusa.

🎃 Happy Halloween, Ssswooners! 🐍

 

This pumpkin was carved using a classical-style Medusa silhouette and tools from Pumpkin Masters.

Cameo Appearance

Author: Kirsten K., Crafts, Holidays

Halloween is almost here, and with more time at home in recent months due to the pandemic, I’ve finally been able to work on some of the seasonal decorating ideas that have been floating around my head for years. To go by the number of ghoulish and ghostly displays that have suddenly materialized in my neighborhood, I’m not the only one.

In addition to exterior décor, I’ve brought the Halloween spirit(s) into my home, where a spine-tingling twist on tradition is making a cameo appearance this year. Among the carved Fun-Kins and framed Killhouettes that adorn my abode, I’ve created an arrangement of creepy cameos around a blushing bride who is head over heels (his head, her heels).

I’ve always loved classic forms of portraiture, like silhouettes and cameos, but I don’t wear much jewelry, so when I came across Cameo Jewelry Supply and swooned over their vast collection of affordable resin cameos, I had to consider alternate ways to use these wearable works of art. Naturally, their selection of Skull, Zombie, and Gothic cameos made me think of Halloween, and I knew at once that I wanted to showcase all of these spooky specimens for the season.

Using the shape of the cameos as my guide, I settled on a simple black frame with an oval opening encircling a school picture photo mat. Since a standard 40x30mm cameo would have been lost in the large oval, I chose a favorite Killhouette for dead center. It seemed appropriate for all of these disembodied heads to be looking upon Bridezilla, who has just “uncrowned” her Prince Charming. Leave it to cleaver!

This skull at bottom center glows in the dark.

As someone who lives in SoCal, I always keep plenty of QuakeHold! on hand, and I used a tiny bit to affix each cameo in its space so that I could mix, match, and remove them easily. Once I embellished Bridezilla with blood to match the red skull and crossbones, my creation was complete.

I also purchased some smaller skeleton and skull cameos, along with supplies to make eerie earrings and hair-raising hair pins for Halloween, but I don’t plan to stop there. With categories ranging from Alphabet to Zodiac, I have a feeling that these petite portraits will be making a cameo appearance in my life throughout the year.


Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:

Cameo Jewelry Supply

 

A wide variety of beautiful cameo settings—often referred to as “blanks”—for pins, pendants, bracelets, rings, and earrings is also available on Etsy.

 

World War Zzz

Author: Kirsten K., Author: Kirsti K., Holidays

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We’ve been busy swooning instead of blogging,
but even though we’ve checked out recently,
we’re checking in on one of our favorite days
of the year to let you know that we haven’t
been turned into mindless zombies—yet.

..

🎃 Have fun “passing out”💤 candy, Swooners! 🍬

💀 Happy Halloween! 💀

 

This pumpkin was carved using a Victorian zombie silhouette and tools from Pumpkin Masters.

 

True Colors

Author: Kirsten K., Crafts, Holidays

This year, Easter arrives the day before Earth Day, which is a timely reminder to make sustainable choices when celebrating this holiday of rebirth and renewal. Consider one of these green alternatives to plastic Easter grass, then fill your basket with goodies from Natural Candy Store. Along with natural and organic jelly beans, lollipops, foil-wrapped eggs, and chocolate bunnies, this online emporium sells a superb set of Natural Easter Egg Decorating Colors.

These six vegetable powders from TruColor make potent natural dyes that are specially designed to color eggs (or alternatives). Ingredients like red cabbage and purple sweet potato provide a vibrant stain that deepens as it dries. Unlike the traditional method I learned growing up, which involved submerging eggs for five minutes in a mixture of boiling water, vinegar, and synthetic food coloring, dyeing eggs with these natural colors is as easy as 1, 2, 3:

  1. Mix powder with water in a cup.
  2. Let sit until completely dissolved.
  3. Submerge egg for one minute.

In just 60 seconds, the colors surpassed pastel and grew in hue, so play around with the amount of powder, water, and time for a basketful of options (such as diluting the dye mixture at intervals to create ombré eggs). You can also mix equal parts powder and water for applying color directly to the eggs with a paintbrush. Enter your “eggcellent” creation in the 2019 Easter Egg Natural Decorating Contest by April 21st (instructions and contest rules are included with your natural dye kit) and your artistry may be rewarded with a $100 gift certificate to Natural Candy Store. Sweet!

Once you’ve finished dyeing your eggs, you can use the leftover powder for cake and cookie decorating to make earth-friendly and people-pleasing holiday treats, so show your true colors on Easter while honoring Earth Day as you celebrate this spring awakening the natural way.


Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:

Natural Easter Egg Decorating Colors

 

Natural Candy Store is currently offering 10% off your entire order, including savings of up to 50% on overstock Easter-themed candy, plus a free gift for any $20 minimum purchase. Consult this chart for Easter shipping deadlines and get hopping!