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Monday, October 31, 2011

The Jack of All Trades

The leaves are changing colors, the air has a familiar chill and the Jack-o-Lanterns have once again returned to grace the porches of neighbors' homes.

We carved our first pumpkin with our daughter this year (I don't think I have carved a pumpkin in 10 years or more so don't judge the creation that follows).  As we were carving, scraping, cutting shapes and toasting seeds, I couldn't help but feeling akin to the friendly little pumpkin we were transforming into a Jack-o-Lantern.

As a mother you are constantly digging deep within yourself to provide your children, your husband, your friends and family, with the very pieces of you they crave.  You haven't quite lost the roundness of your former pregnant self and you may even find you have more wrinkles now, more stress showing on your face.  The Jack-o-Lantern often has missing teeth, squinted eyes, or a crooked nose yet they are expected to shine brightly and light the way for those around them.  Like motherhood, although fulfilling, facing the world with one tooth, a crooked nose,and a lingering roundness, can be a daunting task.  But you do it.  You do it because it is your life's purpose.

The Jack-o-Lantern is one of the most favored traditions of celebrating Halloween and even with the advances in technology, the moving, noise-making, blinking lawn toys so plentiful, the Jack-o-Lantern is always present, always a must.  The tools for carving have become better, the designs more creative, but the premise is the same.  To offer a laugh, a comforting glow, a familiar face for a traditional holiday.

Mothers are much the same.  The tools and technology for motherhood have changed immensely and rapidly, but the underlying purpose and the natural instincts are still there.  Mothers give their souls to their children and family with the only expectation of return being a laugh, a smile from their child.  A hug and a feeling that the light within you shines brightly to guide their way.  To them, a missing tooth, an added wrinkle, and sagging eyes are not what defines you.  To them you are the tradition, the comfort, the familiar  face that delights and enchants them time and again.

So the next time you see a Jack-o-Lantern I hope you will appreciate the pumpkin they once were and the transformation they have made.  There is a reason we don't carve squash or potatoes....there is a reason pumpkins and mothers are uniquely perfect for the privilege of being the chosen ones.

Below is a sweet twist on an old favorite, Cinnamon and Sugar Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, enjoy!

1 - 2 Cups Fresh Pumpkin Seeds, rinsed and patted dry
2 -3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Teaspoons Cinnamon
1/3 Cup Organic Granulated Sugar
2 Teaspoons Sea Salt
1 Teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 Teaspoon Iodized Salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

  • In a medium bowl, soak seeds in 1 - 2 Cups of water with iodized salt for approximately 15 minutes.
  •  Remove any remaining pumpkin innards from seeds (remove more easily after they soak in the salt water).  Drain excess water and pat seeds dry with a paper towel.  
  • In a separate bowl, combine dry seeds with olive oil, cinnamon and pumpkin spice, tossing until evenly coated. 

  • Spread evenly onto a cookie sheet (single layer) and bake for 5 - 10 minutes (watching closely so as not to burn).  
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle with sea salt while still warm.  Enjoy!

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