Of Mazes and Muffins

Happy Saturday, kiddos! And Happy Two Weeks Until Halloween!!!

Can you believe how fast October is flying by? (me either!)

As I watched the days passing by, I decided to dedicate one day to “Halloween Activities” this week. It was going to be a day full of my favorite Halloween-related things and it was going to be awesome.

The first order of business was to make my absolutely favorite pumpkin recipe EVER, Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins.

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Seriously obsessed with these little morsels of fall goodness… they are the perfect combination of pumpkin, spice, chocolate, and almonds. Plus, their little cute size makes them easy to package up in clear bags as Halloween hostess gifts for all your Halloween (or any fall) gatherings.

After a morning of Halloween baking, I dug into my Halloween candy stash (shhh!), grabbed my mom, and we headed out to our family friend’s house. As some of you may know, every year around Halloween, our family friends create a huge loops-and-traps maze in their backyard and allow the public to come and try to solve it.

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It is a large undertaking for our friends, but it truly is a fun Halloween tradition that I have been enjoying for the past 18 years. It is never the Halloween season without a trip to the maze…

… in the daytime, of course! As I have recounted previously, I am a HUGE ‘fraidy cat so I decided to save myself the embarrassment of bursting into tears by only doing the maze in the daytime when all the scary elements of the maze are washed in bright sunshine.

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Like this witch (which I know is technically not IN the maze) is completely terrifying at night, but kind of adorable during the day!

Since it was a quiet break in the afternoon, I was allowed to grab my camera and snap some photos as I went through the maze. Which was great because then I could text pictures to my sister E and my family friend T (who built the maze!) about my progress/show them scary things in the maze/tell them to come from their respective work places to save me because I was lost (kidding about the last part).

So after grabbing my camera and phone, I approached the maze.

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And saw that they were very encouraging at my attempt to complete the maze in an hour or less…

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Ready? Set? Let’s go!

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When I tell my other friends about the maze, they all initially assume that it is either a corn maze or a maze made out of hedges. When I tell them that it’s actually burlap panels with hidden doors and passageways (AKA a loops-and-traps maze), they are very impressed (and want me to take them ASAP). It’s definitely a different kind of maze, one that I prefer to any other kind! (Plus, look how groovy it is!).

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While getting lost in the maze is my specialty, it is always reassuring that there is someone around to ask for help/hints. While I can’t seriously text T for help (because T is actually at work and I can’t just text him pictures of random burlap walls saying “Help me, I’m lost!”), I can always call up to the upper deck and have his mom (Mrs. S) give me hints. She and my mom are the best of friends and love to gab while I flounder around in the maze. Having the camera was helpful though – I was able to raise it up to ask for help (this is when they were telling me that I was hopelessly lost… big surprise!).

BUT, after that photo was taken, I actually got through the maze successfully (only two tries this year!) and in UNDER thirty minutes (cue happy music). I was absolutely thrilled by this development and encouraged my mom to try going through the maze too!

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Not sure if she appreciated having someone follow her around the maze, snapping photos, and giving non-verbal hints. Yet, even with all those distractions, she was able to get through it too! It was definitely a Halloween win for the family!

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And we celebrated at home with a Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin.

 

So, kiddos, how are you planning the weeks up to Halloween? Are you going to visit a Halloween maze or haunted house? Let me know!

Your pumpkin muffin obsessed, Halloween maze conquering friend,

C

Happy Halloween!

Hi kiddos, how’s it going? I have some awesome news – I got a new computer!! My new-fangled spaceship-like laptop is super awesome but I’m still getting used to it (and trying to keep it away from all food products – I think scrambled eggs played a part of the demise of the last one). Since I needed a new laptop, E and I went home for the weekend so my dad could come with me. And what a weekend it was! We decided that it was so close to Halloween, we should celebrate. So we did.

We drove down to home Thursday and we celebrated my birthday a little bit early – nothing says welcome home like cake! It was delicious and I appreciated all the birthday love.

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My cat was very enthusiastic to see us again too.

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Right.

 

Friday was full of running errands (like putting the dreaded snow tires on the car), doing a little yard work, and shopping like crazy. It was the perfect low-key day that helped me recharge my batteries and reconnect with the family.

 But Saturday was Halloween Day! Actually it was Laptop Day first. After a teary-eyed morning at the electronic store (my first blog was written on that old laptop!), my father suggested that we should have lunch at a favorite family burger joint.

 And they are known for this.

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Onion rings are my weakness… especially these onion rings. They are crisp and crunchy, while the onion is still sweet and tender in the middle. The French fries aren’t half bad either.

Another reason why I love this burger joint is that they have big bowls of homemade pickles. They are lightly brined and super crunchy, which is a perfect complement to the earthy burger – if a kosher dill pickle and a fresh cucumber had a baby, this would be a result. They are amazing and I probably eat more of them than the onion rings.

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Those are the only ones left on my little plate before I remembered to snap a photo. Then they were gone too!

I had to steal this photo off of my sister’s phone – she has such a way with food photography (and her burger building skills are pretty awesome too).

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After being fortified with burgers, onion rings and French fries, and pickles, we headed off to our family friend’s maze – or shall I say, their “Loops and Traps” maze (I don’t know what that means). They do it every year for Halloween and it is always great fun to try to get through the exceeding difficult maze and then gorge oneself on Halloween candy. It is the highlight of my fall to-do list.

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The thing is that I am a ‘fraidy cat. Horror movies, haunted houses/hayrides, and clowns FREAK me out. I went to a haunted maze as a freshman in college and freaked out two “zombies” conducting crowd control at the entrance by bursting into tears and SITTING DOWN on the ground. Yes, I am an embarrassment to my family and friends (but by now, they should know about my aversion to all things frightening). So I made my sister go first! 

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In all seriousness, the “maze creatures” (high school and college kids hired to wear scary masks and jump out at people in the maze) only are present at night, which means that I am usually okay going through by myself during the day. But it is always good to have some one in front of you. 

Plus E has much better directional sense.

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See, she’s leading us to victory! (I think).

All in all, it took us about 45 minutes to get through the maze once – a very impressive time (it usually takes 1+ hour). We went inside to warm up and chow on some sugar.

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These cute little cupcakes were waiting for us – the perfect end to the perfect day.

 

Sunday was church, packing, and nap time before heading back up to school. It was the perfect weekend to cap of the Halloween season and put me in the Thanksgiving mindset.

 

What are your Halloween plans this year? Lasagna and trick-or-treating or a costume party with fancy finger food? Let me know!

Your ‘fraidy cat, Halloween-candy lovin’ friend,

C