Little things mean a lot — little children, little puppies, ordinary little moments spent with those you love. Sometimes the smallest, most ordinary things make the strongest memories.
I vividly remember dozens of ordinary Sunday afternoons when I was nine or 10 years old. My parents and I would take drives and explore the countryside, especially when we lived in New England. Our drives would always end at the first clean-looking restaurant we found wherever we happened to be when we got hungry.
Little things done especially for you — or that you do for others — can stand out in your memory through decades of time. Remember when you got your first puppy? The Christmas when there were skis under the tree? Walking down a sandy road the last few yards to the ocean when you were on vacation?
At this time of year, I especially remember several of the Halloween costumes my mother sewed for me when I was a child. Mother didn’t sew a lot of clothing, but she could follow a pattern. For some reason, Halloween brought out her creative side. She would work on a costume for several weeks ahead. Seeing the costume progress for two or three weeks heightened my anticipation to a fever pitch. The costume of the year always made me feel special, whether I was a gypsy (complete with a full skirt mother had decorated with sequins sewn on by the dozens) or a clown in colorful makeup.
When I had children, I couldn’t wait to start making their costumes. I cut simple patterns from newspaper, going by pants and tops that fit them well at the time. The well-known white Bunny Suit was the first costume all three wore as toddlers. Heather and Jenny wore the Cowgirl costume — bright yellow felt, trimmed in sparkly gold giant rick-rack — for trick-or-treat nights in consecutive years. One year, when she was very young, Jenny was a skunk. The year Daniel was a little clown, he had so many pillows stuffed in his green sleeper he could hardly walk (according to him, that was not my best effort).
Little culinary touches matter as well. Ordinary spaghetti sauce is amazingly improved with the addition of some basil (fresh or dried) and fennel seeds to taste. A juicy steak looks way more interesting with a scoop of sautéed mushrooms beside it on your plate — tastes better, too.
Halloween’s the perfect time to make cupcakes (or buy some and decorate them) with icing spiders on top. It doesn’t take long, and children’s memories are there long into adulthood. For a quick, yummy and visually memorable treat decorate ordinary fruit. Here’s how.
FOR LITTLE GOBLINS
(Arrange on a platter. Great finger food.)
6 small pretzel sticks, broken in two
Peel clementines. Poke half a pretzel stick into the center (where all the sections come together).
Oh, No — Mice!
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 maraschino cherries, stems intact
12 chocolate kisses
24 pieces of sliced almonds
24 cinnamon red hot candies
Place chocolate bits in a small microwave-proof bowl. Put the bowl in the microwave. Melt the chocolate by turning on the microwave in 10-second bursts, just until chocolate melts.
Blot cherries with paper towels to dry. Hold by the stems and dip, one by one into the melted chocolate. Put aside to set coating.
When coating on cherries is set, dip just the flat bottom of the kisses, one at a time, into the remaining melted chocolate. Stick each kiss onto a cherry (position them so the stem is the mouse’s tail. Immediately position two slices of almond between the cherry and the kiss. Those are the mouse’s ears.
Dab a little melted chocolate on one flat side of each red-hot and position them on a kiss. Don’t all mice have red eyes?
Let the little fellows cool completely (a few minutes in the fridge helps) and place them on the platter.
12 regular chocolate chips
24 mini-chocolate chips
Peel bananas and slice them in half horizontally. Lay them down and poke 2 mini-chips (pointed end in) near the rounded ends of the banana halves (eyes). Just below the eyes, poke a regular chip for the mouths.
Place them on the platter with the pumpkins and mice.
Makes 36 pieces. Twelve goblins can have one of each.
Have a safe and happy Halloween!
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.