pumpkin bread & giving thanks.

Fresh Scratch, Pumpkin Bread

It’s hard to believe that at this time last year, I was watching the sunrise over the Grand Canyon {still one of the best moments of my life}. This Thanksgiving season looks a little different {okay, a lot different} – for one, we are staying put in the great old pnw, visiting my parents for part of the break.

Fresh Scratch, Arizona, Grand Canyon, South Rim, Hopi PointAnd, for two, well…dang. I am just in such a different place than last year. Last year I was writing up a storm, teaching just three classes, but struggling with a lot of turmoil in my personal life. While I’m glad that last part has done a 180, I sure miss the writing load and the sleep and the just-three-classes part.

Five classes is proving to sort of kick my arse.

But it’s a season of life. I’m figuring it out. Those five classes mean that my blog got a makeover and Matt got a new car {which I backed into my brother’s car this weekend, but let’s just grimace and move on, shall we?}. And though I tend to look for the ways to be happy in any situation, I am learning that I need to just lean in to all the seasons of life and listen to what they have to teach me. They are each meant to be lived, even if they are kicking your arse. Even if you have to let some things you love go for a while, it doesn’t mean they’re gone for good. Sometimes figuring crap out takes time and quiet.

Fresh Scratch, Pumpkin BreadTake this pumpkin bread, for example. I’ve issued this pumpkin bar recipe out to you each fall these last few years, but it only dawned on me this very month that, hey, this could be made into bread instead of cake with icing. Because, duh, I am slow sometimes. But generally your patience is rewarded.

I got up early this morning and baked two of these smell-a-rific loaves to serve to our brunch guests, Marie and Patrick, whom we manage to see every week in the summer but sometimes go long distances between those visits in the school year. There, too, our patience is always rewarded with tight hugs and long chats and kids putting on plays for us.

And, so, here it is: the recipe for pumpkin bread, the less wild and crazy cousin of pumpkin bars.

Pumpkin Bread

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: approx. 16 slices

Pumpkin Bread

The perfect companion to all of your autumn moments, unless you are married to George Clooney. Because then George would be your perfect companion.


  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. oil of your choice (I use safflower)
  • 15 oz. can of pumpkin
  • 4 eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients.
  3. Blend wet ingredients until combined.
  4. Add dry ingredients and mix until smooth and combined.
  5. Pour into 2 buttered bread pans.
  6. Bake until toothpick test is clean, 50-55 mins.
  7. Cool in pans for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and release them.
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And, while I’m at it with this Thanksgiving vibe, if you’re in need of some tasty ideas for this long holiday weekend, please enjoy some of my favorite Thanksgiving-ish foods and beverages: Apple Pie Martini, The Fresh Scratch Cocktail, The Spiced Cider Cocktail, Cranberry Sauce, and Flat Apple Pie.

This year, I am particularly thankful for the enjoyment of solitude {there’s just not enough, though}; for finally getting my daughters’ bathroom painted since putting off for for nearly six months; for red wine; for being five episodes away from finishing “Revenge” – my true guilty pleasure; for the fact that I am now caught up on the Undisclosed Podcast and will, therefore, no longer be listening to spooky murder case details while walking to work through the dark  woods each morning…

…and for you. Thank so much for standing by so patiently as my writing schedule has slowed down to a crawl. It won’t always be so. In fact, I have recently put my freelance writing on hold until summer and am looking forward to spending my writing time exclusively here for a while. Why? Because I have the best readers on earth.

xo & gobble-gobble,

mrs. fresh scratch

switzerland, 2015.

Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, Escholzmatt

Greetings from my ongoing little travelogue from this past summer, when I traipsed around Europe {with students, don’t forget!} for three weeks. With the weather getting a little snappy lately, I thought you could use a bit of sweet, sunny, Switzerland.

But make no mistake: Switzerland was still hot as #$%^. As we headed into the Alps from France, I thought that surely these few days may be our one reprieve from the 100-degree-plus heat, but I was pretty much wrong…unless you count 94 degrees a reprieve. Which I kind of did. It was the coolest temperature on our entire journey.

Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, Escholzmatt Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, EscholzmattFresh Scratch, Switzerland, EscholzmattI basically felt like I was sleeping in a little bird’s nest at our hotel. It was a big chalet in the farm town of Escholzmatt, and I was at the tippity-top. My room was spare, spare, spare, and I loved it. My shower was straight from the seven dwarves. I mean, the curtain rod came up to my chest. It was hilarious and awesome.

My window faced the town’s cathedral just to the left, mountains straight ahead. There was a full moon the nights we were there, and it was so warm that my window was just flung open, letting all the Swiss night air in to envelop me. The commuter train tracks were about a block or two away, so all night long I had the soothing lullaby of the clanging of cow bells, the trains’ low rumble, and the sound of the little fountain at the cathedral.

I loved every second.

One night I remember being excited to actually be getting six! hours! of! sleep! before we were off and running the next day. Instead, I awoke to my niece’s light knock and an “I don’t feel good.” I ushered her into my sunny, sleepy room, and she sat on my little bed and I crawled back in and it was pretty much the coziest morning ever in the history of student travel. I’m glad she woke me up, because otherwise I’d have missed a very glorious dawn happening outside that sweet, tiny, window.

Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, PilatusFresh Scratch, Switzerland, Pilatus Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, Pilatus Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, PilatusFresh Scratch, Switzerland, PilatusThat morning we were up and at ’em and cable car-ing it up the side of Mt. Pilatus. {ps: that white thing in the sky on the right side of the panoramic pic is a hang glider!} It was such a sunny, glorious day that my photos are a bit blown-out, but I think you get the gist.

Mt. Pilatus is the site of a mythical dragon’s cave, a tourist center, a hotel, and a military installation {they’re everywhere in Switzerland, even the places you think they’re not}, not to mention it’s the home of the world’s steepest cog railway. Hey, you’ve gotta take your claims to fame where you can get them!

Though there’s no photo, I was pretty stoked to see an ibex from up there. It was the first time I’d ever seen an animal in the wild and had absolutely no idea what it was called.

And that picture of that little church? No photo would do it justice. You’ve just got to go in person, okay?

Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, LucerneAfter the cog railway down the mountain, we had a long, lazy boat ride on Lake Lucerne, which ended in Lucerne itself. It was so hot and so sunny that co-worker Steve and I just kept following the shade around the boat the entire ride.

My niece and I soaked up Lucerne together, which is code for we sat on the river bank, ate gelato, oh, and she got her hair cut on a whim. The pace of our time in Switzerland each year is just the best.

Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, Escholzmatt Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, Escholzmatt Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, Escholzmatt Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, Escholzmatt Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, Escholzmatt Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, EscholzmattThe last evening there was spent like every evening is – Steve and I walked the town until it was nearly time for bed checks. The Swiss word for hiking is “wanderweg” {pronounced “vander-veg”}, and there are little signs pointing out these trails all over the countryside wherever you are. The trails cut through private property, farm land, cow pastures, whatever. So that’s what we do in Switzerland after dinner – we wander, and I threaten to steal cows’ bells right off their sweet necks because it would be so easy, but I don’t actually do it.

And before we knew it, the moon came up over the hills and made everything positively glow, and I felt that feeling of, “Hey, I could just disappear into a little town like this and it might work out just fine in the end…….”

But of course I didn’t. And of course it was on to Italy the next day. Which was a whole other dang hot adventure that I’ll tell you about later.

For more on this past summer’s trip, you can read my posts on London and France.

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