Sugar Cookies and Jack-O-Lanterns

After two hectic weeks of packing, moving, unpacking, and organizing, Kevin and I finally had a day to unwind and relax by spending Sunday afternoon with my middle sister and her husband. Kevin hadn’t seen their new place yet so we piled into the car after church and drove up to see them.

J called me earlier this week to invite us to come to their house and bake sugar cookies and carve pumpkins, two things I haven’t done in ages. When we were kids we baked sugar cookies with my mom and our baby sister all the time, particularly on Halloween and Christmas. My mom has an unbeatable recipe for sugar cookie dough and each year she’d make up a huge batch and we’d make dozens of cut out cookies, which we’d then proceed to decorate. And when I say decorate I don’t mean that we slapped some Betty Crocker premade icing on the cookies and called it a day. Nope, we made our own sugar icing (in different colors) and used a variety of sprinkles (in different colors). Don’t believe me? Take a look at just a little bit of last Christmas’s bounty:

cookies

Yeah. We take cookie decorating to a whole other level. This also may be a good time to say I am notorious for decorating a handful of cookies before announcing that I’m bored and then trying to sneak off and hide while everyone else finishes the cookies. I really do like doing them…in small doses. My Dad helps with our annual cookie-palooza as well, but he works his own magic making chocolate mint cookies, peanut butter blossoms (my FAVORITE), and several other varieties of sugary deliciousness. He generally leaves the cut outs to us. (Smart man, I say!)

So J has a couple of adorable fall themed cookie cutters which include a ghost, a leaf, an acorn and a pumpkin, so after a delicious lunch of chicken salad and fresh fruit, we whipped up some icing and settled in to work.

fall cookies 2

fall cookies 

We even got our husbands to help us decorate!

fall cookies 4

After we had the cookies decorated and put away, it was time to start on the pumpkins! I should mention here that I am not artistic in any way, shape, or form. My youngest sister definitely got the artistic genes in the family – she’s quite talented. And J isn’t too bad herself – she at least carved her pumpkin by hand. I, on the other hand, had to run into the grocery store and buy one of those pumpkin decorating kits with the traceable shapes you transfer onto the pumpkin and then cut out the lines with the little saw they provide. And that’s OK with me – I’d much rather have a nice looking pumpkin that I carved with a cut-out than something that looks like a three year old with a butcher knife went after it. (Which pretty much describes the last pumpkin I tried to carve. You think I’m joking, but I’m not.)

pumpkin carving

Let me tell you something – those pumpkin designs are hard! I legitimately broke a sweat sitting there in my sisters kitchen, carving away with a two inch “saw”. It was quite the arm workout! But after the initial grumbling (I couldn’t figure out how to tape the drawing onto the pumpkin, if you can believe that), I actually found myself enjoying the work! And what’s better – the pumpkin came out looking quite good!

pumpkin carving 5

My sister decided to do a luminary – she carved out a moon on the front of her pumpkin with stars on all sides so when she lit a candle inside the shapes would show on the walls – and it looked awesome. Because it was still light outside, we had to find a dark room to try out our new pumpkins…

pumpkin carving 4

Yes, that’s the bathroom, but it’s the only room in my sister’s apartment without windows. But they look great, right?

pumpkin carving 3

While we were carving pumpkins, Kevin drove to the nearest grocery store to pick up some apple cider and cinnamon sticks to make hot mulled cider. J had a crockpot full of beef stew cooking all day, so by the time we finished with the pumpkins the apartment smelled of a heavenly mixture of sugar cookies, beef stew, and cider. We served up hearty bowls of thick beef stew and slices of sweet bread and dug in.

beef stew dinner

Delicious! All in all, it was the perfect October day. And the best part? Homemade sugar cookies with my coffee tomorrow morning! Here’s to relaxing afternoons with family!

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