Best halloween Treats- Almond Witchy Fingers

Witchy fingers- you can use any color for the nails
I mixed it up with black

Almond Witchy Fingers

1 cup sugar
1 egg (room temp best)
1 tsp Almond extract
1 tsp Vanilla extract
2 2/3 cup Flour
1 tsp Salt
3/4 cup whole Almonds, blanched
2 squares melting chocolate (optional)


1. Combine the sugar, egg, butter, almond extract, and vanilla in a bowl. Mix in the flour, and salt. Cover and refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes, or until it’s firm.
Once you have the (chilled) dough, use a scooper to create
a nice uniformity of size
Cut the ball in two or you will have ginormous fingers
Roll out the door
Enlist your kids and start painting
2. When you’re ready to shape the cookies, only take out a small portion of the dough at a time. Shape the cookies into fingers by rolling and working with your hands. Score the top of the cookie with a knife or spatula to make it look like the wrinkles in your knuckle. Press an imprint into the tip of the cookie with your finger to make a spot for the almond finger nail. Press an almond into the tip of each finger to look like a fingernail.
3. Placed on a cooking sheet lightly coated with no-stick cooking spray and bake at 325` for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cookies are a very light golden brown. Let the cookies cool on a drying rack.
This will make about 30 fingers (depending on how
much dough you devour)

1. I was very intimated by this, since I’m as artistically akin to a walrus (I flounder in my fatness on the beach as I watch others do the real work). However, used my scooper (same as previous recipe) to place the (chilled) dough on the parchment paper (on the cookie sheet). I failed on the first two attempts, as this resulted in a Fessick-size finger (that would be the giant in The Princess Bride). Go for something more human size. I then cut the dough ball in half. This was more realistic.
Remember to ‘score’ the fingers to make it took realistic
2. Round the dough into a ball (rolling between your palms)
3. Using your fore-and middle fingers, roll the dough on a flat surface (I used my breadboard with a bit of flour), pressing a little harder, resulting in one end being a little thinner.
4. Cut your time down dramatically by skipping the chocolate rims. I made it easy on myself and fun for the kids. I took a paintbrush, dropped red food coloring in a ramiken and painted the top of the (dried) blanched almonds. It definitely needed 2-3 coats to attain the deep-red color.
Allow the fingers to cool entirely before moving.
5. Last but not least- this recipe didn’t call for an egg white application, but I added it after the first batch looked–boring. Take 1 egg white and apply a nice, thin coating (using another paintbrush). This makes the finger shine in a nice-crusty-sort of way.
6. OH! be sure to push the almond fingernails in the dough a little ways–otherwise the fingernails will fall off.

Best Halloween Treats- Peanut Butter & White Chocolate Eyeballs

Peanut Butter Eyeballs
This is actually more of a truffle recipe, because the peanut butter concoction isn’t baked. It’s beyond fatty, rich and creamy. The key is having the dough chilled so you can work with it during the two rounds of molding and shaping. Start with it first, as it takes the most time.
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
12 ounces white chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons shortening
2 drops blue food coloring
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate
red food coloring (optional)
1. Beat the peanut butter and butter with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in the sugar and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll chilled dough into small, eyeball-sized balls and place on 2 baking sheets lined with wax paper. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes.
2. Melt the white chocolate and shortening in a microwave-safe glass or ceramic bowl in 30-second intervals, stirring after each melting, for 1 to 3 minutes (depending on your microwave). Do not overheat or chocolate will scorch. Dip each eyeball into the white chocolate and transfer to the waxed paper until the chocolate has set. You can chill them in the refrigerator.
3. Stir a few drops of blue food coloring into the remaining melted white chocolate. Make a round “iris” on the top of the cooled eyeball and press a mini chocolate chip in the center for a “pupil.” For an extra spooky bloodshot eyeballs take a toothpick dipped in red food coloring and make squiggly lines on the eye.
This was the professional version (not use of light
blue around the eyes. I think it makes a big difference)
A couple of tips: 
1. Use a small ice cream or cantalope scooper for the dough. The provide uniformity of size and shape. Drop all these on the lined cookie sheet and put in the fridge.
After melting the chocolate, you can roll the chilled balls around in the choc and then place quickly back on the baking sheet. They will dry fast, but the longer the dough is at room temperature, the soggier it gets, which makes it harder to work with.
2. Use a squeeze bottle of food coloring instead of applying the blue with a toothpick or paintbrush. That takes way too much time. I used black for my color and it was over in seconds. Then me and my 7 year old poured a 1/2 teaspoon (or so) amount of red food coloring in a little ramiken. Take a toothpick (as directed) and then make the lines.
3. An added touch–Blue around the black eyes. My daughter was having so much fun, I then took a bit of blue, gave her a new toothpick and encouraged her to draw a ring of blue around the pupils. She did great.
Only downside of this dessert– after a few hours at room temperature, they get mushy on the inside- but the outside looks perfect.
My version- still yummy!
Next up: Witchy fingers- two versions

Skip Halloween, go directly to Christmas

Last year, I heard- scratch that- my mother heard, a whole lot of complaints because relatives thought they’d been dumped from my Christmas card list. For that matter, it wasn’t until my Halloween party last Saturday that one of my good friends copped to the same opinion.

“You better put me back on the list,” she said to me.

“I figured that this meant I was back on the list,” chimed in another, fluttering her three-inch long blue and glittery eyelashes at me, somehow poking from under a massive blue wig.

“There were no Christmas cards last year,” I hastened to note. I just…well…skipped it. It became one more thing– no pictures from the summer, couldn’t get a photographer, didn’t want to do it myself, wrestling the entire crew in some type of uniform outfit so we didn’t all clash.

I ain’t getting no grief this year….

Whatever, I thought. No one will notice.

Boy, was I wrong. Aunts. Grandmas. Investors in my husbands’ company. Our neighbor. Turns our they were all a bit miffed, hurt or otherwise bummed out. For many, it’s the only update they get from us that includes pictures.

OK- I went back to the easiest route, it being Shutterfly. Of course, I alternate between that and Tinyprints, but this year, I liked the updated collage of Christmas cards on shutterfly. I chose a fold that allows multiple pics on the front, then inside pages, allowing for more, than had a final photo on the back of the card (assuming anyone looks). That’s our favorite actually. We are all making complete idiots of ourselves, with the caption “we can’t always be serious.” I hope someone notices.

Once again, I went for the matching return address cards, and used foil stamps that I purchased in July. Believe it or not, I have actually already addressed every single card, and started writing the note inside. Long-time readers of this blog know I get a bit peevish when cards are sent and nary a hand written word. Not like I need a novel, but a love you, would be nice, or something…just sayin…

This also gave me time to get old addresses updated (always good to contact Grandma), and be ahead of the game. All in, about $100 (Oh, we did the pictures ourselves this year. It’s amazing what a decent digital camera, tripod and delay time can do nowadays).

Slim Fit Secrets

It is with the vision of plum fairies dancing in my head that I long to have the female equivalent of my husbands metro-sexual slim fit jean body. It’s not that he’s purely gay. He balks at the notion of being metrosexual (and inquiring minds like my mother’s want to know–

“isn’t that an insult to every straight man that has fashion sense, can pick out colors and is polite?” Um, yes, but that’s not the point. The point is that here is Rog, who slides his body into the Calvin Kline off the rack chords and I am pouring my self into a pair of slimfit jeans, that, by the way, have no right being on my body, and the end result is more like our homemade potato sausage recipe.

“Do what all models do,” my friend Donita tells me, after choking on her tongue when I give her my potato sausage comment. “Use Xpel and drink lots of water,” she says.

Don’t you hate the word Diuretic? Doesn’t that conjure up the visual of living on the toilet? Fortunately, that wasn’t the case…

At my request, she tells me that Xpel is used to eliminate the water weight typically associated with menstruation. “But men and women models use it all the time. You think they don’t gorge the other three weeks before a shoot? Of course they do. Then they go liquids and drop the weight the week prior.”

How little did me, the mere mortal know? I couldn’t find Xtel at the store, but some generic brand. Since I had an event on the weekend, I figured-what the heck, I’ll start it on Saturday. However, I am a weak-minded woman when it comes to Mexican food and a good flan. I was not perfect. Nay, I sinned daily. (and like the non-Catholic that I am, I had no issue doing so). By the time Sunday rolled around, I’d consumed a lot more water, not that much less food, and still dropped four pounds. My outfit was great.

Liberation and slavery

Liberation is an accidental deletion of ones blogs, email and anything associated with my google credentials. Slavery is realizing that losing eight years of emails and 500+ blogs didn’t free my mind from creating stuff that, in the moment, is relevant to me. It’s like my Porridge Pot (Or Magic Porridge pot as its known in the UK), it’s overflowing even though I’d had more than enough.

Thus, my mother said I “purposefully” deleted all. Not so, I told her. I was attempting to delete a blog that I created but don’t maintain. I hate loose-ends, and it was like running around with my fly unzipped, or worse, showing some butt-crack in low-riser pants. All bad.

What really happened is that a little box says “to delete accounts using these credentials.” I’m more than slightly mortified to say I never thought Google was stupid enough to replicate Independence Day, and use the credentials (my username and password) to blow up the master ship (in this case, all accounts linked to my username and password. As an aside, the joy of single-sign-on with Google is that with two words, I can access every ad account, blog, email etcetc I control. In hindsight, that’s giving a pound of coke to an addict. Also muy malo. Thus, when I hit the delete account, the virus passed to my Borg ship and KAboom! it all went away.

I had three days of peace before my illustrious She couldn’t take it anymore. She demanded my credentials and in less time it’s taken to write a single paragraph of this blog, she had reinstated all my accounts.

“You’re my hero!” I texted her.

“I know I am,” she texted back. “Get to it.”

I did. Once I finished my porridge.

Best spiderwebs

Nothing kills my spook-mojo like cheap, inelastic fiberwebs. I spent the extra .50 cents, thinking, in my marketing mind, that it would be better than the cheaper brand (see below), I sprung for BooBatts at Lowes, and have been cursing at myself, throughout my house, ever since. How this product ever passed inspection, consumer tests or the buying manager at Lowes, let alone any retail is beyond me. It tears. It rips. It does NOT stretch. It’s the anti-stretch. It’s like glorified cotton balls packaged together and marketed as “Super Stretch Web.” False advertising claim. If I was a lawsuit oriented gal, I’d join a calss action.

Product review grade: F+. It gets the + because it’s white.

On the other hand, The CelebrateIt Halloween spider web is awesome. No link because the store where I bought it–Michaels— web site is so lame it doesn’t list it as an item. It stretches and holds together, creating the amazing sheer look. I have stretched this stuff five feet, and that’s after cutting it up a bit. LOVE IT.

Yes, it’s actually less expensive and oh, so much better. Grade: A+. The plus is because the price point is $2.49.

Jilted Brides make my Halloween

The final product–but she has windblown hair
need to put a clip in that
The mask- 4 bucks at Goodwill. Looks like Michael Jackson
met up with the joker. Looks like a jilted bride to me

Nothing like writing an entire blog, just to have it lost upon saving. The upside is the mind-popping, blood-vessel bursting anger can now be focused in to an infinitely shorter blog (past readers know I feel of the 5-paragraph-limit ages ago. Maybe this will put me back into recovery. dare to dream).

Step 1- wrap the cotton with
clear tape. Attach the
mask to ensure it fits.

The backstory. I have halloween envy. It’s all my cousin Nancy’s fault. She’s a spooky-time goddess who happens to sew better than anyone I know, and that’s saying something (ok, maybe she is on par with my aunts, but I don’t think they’ve made a 9 foot witch). Hence, the envy.

Step 2-attach the $4.95 wig,
also courtesy of Goodwill

“Go to Fabricland–” Nance starts.

“Full stop,” I interrupt, reminding her Rog sews a hemline better than I do. Nance regroups.

“OK. Right. Go to Goodwill and pick up the witches costume, a wig, some PVC tubing and you’re on your way.”

Couldn’t help myself. It
looked like a size 6, so
I put it on, feeling sort of
gross, like an interloper
on someone’s day of
happiness gone awry

Later that day,  I show up, nary a witches costume in site, but a lovely, armpit stained bridal dress with a three foot rain for the bargain basement price of $19.95. I’m in love all over again, ready to don garters and pumps.

I go home, grab Rog’s disgusting mop, some tape, spraypaint, a few hangers and I’m ready to rock. Here goes the pics. (see, I almost made the 5 paragraphs. We should all thank the buggy-save feature on blogspot).

Step 3- attach the hangers
to the clear tape.
Step 4- attach the bra and undershirt
Step 4- I had to McGyver and use a safety pin,
no bubble gum.

This is right before the paint.
Step 5- use the primer

Step 6- add the reds and the grey

Save the lawsuit- use a an author release form

Out of the blue, I was contacted by a former sports star who is writing about about the travails of bad money management, for lack of a better phrase. The story is the same: elite athlete rises to fame, makes loads of dough (American slang for money, dear Russian readers, who come to this site in droves) for a period of time and then poof. It’s gone. The mysteries of why athletes go broke tend to be the same: blown on wine, women and song (well, exotic cars and way too many babies with different wives (the most famous being 9 babies by 9 woman. whoa. that’s a lot of action), but I digress).

It’s not just America. It’s everywhere. Athletic and entertainment money managers don’t do much good if they are ignored or fired or never hired in the first place. So after a career, the athlete inevitably bemoans that reality of poor money management and repossessed cars. The stats are harsh. 78 percent of NFL players go broke within a few TWO years of retirement, and 60 percent on NBA players w/in 6 yrs. But it’s not just athletes. Entertainers follow the same trent.

When I was told of the story, the athlete also indicated he’d lined up lots athletes so speak on the record, as well as coaches and those in the entourage. His own advisor recommended she have those going on record to sign an author release form, ensuring that she does not get sued by a broke athlete or money manager for a share of the profits of the book, should she be so lucky.

Thus, it was my pleasure to contact my own editor, who used this release form for many of her own projects. These are a little hard to come by (most internet searches produce nada), so if you are going to be writing a book, interviewing folks and don’t want to share a piece of the profits (even to Grandma Nila), then use this author release form. And I must give a plug to the filefactory. It’s fast and free. Two things I appreciate.

Saying goodbye: Our beloved P-dog

Tonight at 8:03 pm, we said goodbye to our beloved family member Penelope, aka P-dog, or, as my brother always called her, ‘nelps.’ It was so fast. I went from arguing with Roger at 3:30 about whether or not to take her in, to putting her down five hours later.

Since my blog on the subject a few days ago, she stopped barking when I came home, her loud, booming hellos strong enough to be heard from the street, quite a distance off. Rog noticed it first; I thought she was asleep. It was only after we left the vets that Rog apologized.

“I’m so sorry,” he said, through agonized bursts of tears. “I knew the truth and I couldn’t face it.”

At 5 pm, I’d been dealing with four and a half hours of my youngest daughter being sick on the toilet. Between crying, agonized fits of pain and the subsequent horrid aftermath, I was ready (and willing) to take Penelope to the vet. Rog fought with me, then insisted. When he called, around 5 pm, he said the vet confirmed I’d been right for the last few weeks. Something was indeed wrong– her spleen was swollen, and that wasn’t good news. She’d come in on her day off to take a look, and would do the x-rays in the morning, along with the exploratory surgery.

When he returned, I left. I’d been crying, and wanted to be alone. Crying is best done by oneself. After two hours of driving aimlessly, I got the impression to call Jane.

“Jane, if you are going to do surgery, and it’s bad…I guess what I’m saying is…do we need to come over to say our goodbyes.”

A hesitation. “Sarah, it’s not looking good.”

In all the years I’ve been going to Dr. Jane (the vet) for one dog, two cats and a myriad of stray animals, she’s never used those words. It was always “we can do X or Y.” Then she gave me the news.

Enlarged liver. Tumors in both lungs. Enlarged kidney- actually, it had stopped functioning entirely. Her spleen was non-functioning. Her stomach, instead of being empty, was completely full of blood. In short, opening her up would do no good. On top of all that, the blood work came back and showed that the bad cells had taken over the good cells (don’t ask me to recall the medical jargon). In a matter of days, or hours even, one or more of her organs were going to stop functioning.

I tried to keep focused on the road. Rog had made me promise to drive careful, not get distracted or injure myself.

“Can we come tonight?”

“That would be best,” she said, telling me she’d wait for us at the back door.

That last picture set with Penelope: family photos
a month ago in prep for our christmas card.
She was already dying, but we didn’t know.

By 7:30, my two daughters, already in their pajamas, were giving Penelope loves from the large, blanket-covered kennel. She was slightly sedated, her eyes trying to come alive, her tail wagging- but just. She could barely lift up her head, but did so as I approached her to cradle her muscular jowels in my hands, rubbing either side of her jaws in the way she so enjoyed. The girls stroked her. When it was Rog’s turn, he took her head in both hands and murmured to her, words of appreciation for keeping his family safe, for the trips, the runs, for chasing the frogs by the pond. She was our first kid, he told her, before we had the girls. He asked that if there was a God, that he would take care of her.

He carefully, lovingly placed her head back on the blanket as she looked up at the four of us. I couldn’t help it. I went back one more time and kissed her forehead. Her tail wagged three times then stopped. Her head was on her paws, her eyes dark and tired. Rog left first, out the door and to the car. I could hear his sobs on the way out. I carried the girls.

Tomorrow morning, she’ll be sedated, then injected with a serum that will stop her vital functions. We’ve spent the last few hours recalling memories, laughing and crying. Rog being Rog, he already went online to the shelters, seeking out a new dog. He found a three month old with similar facial features and a darker coat.

“The house already seems empty,” he said. “She would want us to be protected and love another animal.” I did little more than nod my head, my throat still too choked to talk, my head hurting from hours of crying.

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