I’ve needed to post.
So here it is.
In photographic form…
A taste of the last six months.
Yeah for summer!
What have you been up to?
Halloween is such a fun holiday. Everyone gets to be whatever they want…and what a holiday to get creative!
Now, I’m not usually the type of person who goes all out on holidays, but this past Halloween I did.
My son, Finn, is so into holidays, especially Halloween, that this year we hosted a Halloween party. A Halloween party which has taken the entire past year to plan. We had very few dinner conversations where Halloween decor was not the main topic of conversation… Finn is that serious about Halloween (clearly, I am too!).
A Halloween party for kids and grown-ups alike and what a blast it was! Complete with lots of handmade decorations and games – a bat pinata, driftwood burning man, witch finger cookies, a mummy head, and specimen jars are just a few of the things we made…and the dance floor (aka our barn) was complete with a disco ball (this we did buy – but what an investment!)…
I cut out bats to hang from the ceiling, made hanging ghosts from found (at the freebie barn of course) sheer curtains and metal hangers, baked witch finger cookies (made weeks in advance then froze) and caramel apples, created a bat pinata by covering layers of glue and newspaper over a blown-up balloon, designed a ‘catch the cat’ toss game (from found bucket and construction paper) and constructed a monster mash can (recycled cans and construction paper) toss, plus shadow puppets (card stock paper) for the kids and gauze-like curtains (also found for free from our dump), which we made c-r-e-e-p-y… Oh and so much more…blood dripping candles, ghost cut-outs, a ghost toss…the list goes on and on. I hadn’t realized how much I made until this post!
I also realized that I really like making stuff.
Staying up late, cutting, gluing, assembling..it was like being a kid again! I had so much fun! The best part would be Finns expression in the morning, when he’d look around to see what mamma made last night…all our ideas were coming to life!
Handmade decorations are not only re-usable and fun, they also save money and are way cooler than any store bought decoration! Plus, thanks to our local transfer station I was able to create many things for free! It also helps to have a brother in-law with a professional sound system and a partner who can do (and make and fix) just about anything! Now, this party was not all free, we did spend some money, but it was money well spent!
Here’s a few pics of what I’ve been up to these past six weeks.
Bat template. Cut-out can be hung from ceilings or on walls. They look great indoors or out.
Finn helped me with the ‘creepy’ curtains. I was so psyched when I found an entire bag full of white, sheer curtains, for free at our local transfer station! Use old curtains, sheets or cheesecloth, cut small holes and strips into each. Spray with coffee to create an aged look…it works great! Then tack/hang up when dry. They are now packed away for next year, as are most of the decorations…
I picked up this super cool glitter skull at a thrift shop for $2. The mason jars I had, but if you don’t have mason jars, just recycle glass jars and add tea lights (every inexpensive, yet effective!)
Now, this sound system made the party, and we didn’t rent it, we borrowed it from my brother-in-law…but an i-pod or computer with speakers will do too!
This is just cauliflower in water colored with red food coloring. Great effect and cheap! Fennel bulbs work amazingly as hearts too. Cauliflower looks great cut in half with the leaves slightly peeled back too. Bummer, I didn’t get a photo of my knife stabbed ‘heart’…
One of our guests decided to use the glow-in-dark slime and eye balls together…gross!!
More free stuff (lucky me, I know) – the flannel, pants and boots I picked up at our dump too! The rats and spider were purchased. Now, while I am not an advocate for plastic, these decorations will be used for years to come…
The owl cut-outs I made using a template and the eyes were very small stickers that I had enlarged and then cut out…another inexpensive idea. Copy, enlarge and cut-out!
The bar area was complete with cobwebs (taken down and will re-use) and inexpensive wine with new labels! I downloaded templates, cut-out and glued on…it takes a bit of time, but well worth it! If possible, rinse the bottles (careful not to wet the labels) and store for next year!This idea, the paper skeleton, I just LOVE! I couldn’t figure out how to fold paper in order to have it come out as garland, so I ordered it. I actually ordered two, it made more sense with the shipping costs and now I have garland for next year too! The rest consists of paper and one white balloon…so much fun!
Shadow puppets! Great for any kids party. These fabulous templates I found on the crafty crow. That is such a great site!! I designed the holders out of recycled paper towel tubes and toilet paper roll (my idea)…
The mandatory spiders frozen in ice! So effective! Put water in ice trays, place spiders in each holder, freeze and voila! If children are involved, be sure they are not too small – choking hazard!
Red slime…another mandatory item…looks a lot like blood…that expression is purposeful!
Don’t forget your windows…paper cut-outs are another effective, yet inexpensive way to decorate! I found this image, had it enlarged, then cut out on card stock paper…
Panty hose leg filled with stuffing and spiders…creeepy…stuffing I picked up at my freebie barn.
This was so fun! I was up very late one night making each of these ‘monster’ cans…I designed each can, yet the idea is an old one! Try it. I used plastic eyeballs and table tennis balls…again, plastic items which will be packed away and used for more projects/games…The large skull in the background was an enlarged image from one of Finns Bones books…
This was fun. It’s a toss game. I called it ‘Catch the Cat.’ Object, see how many hula hoops you can ‘catch’ the cat with…this was a fun project to design!
Use what you have. I had a cake plate, so why not put a skull in it! Place it on a bed of moss with some over sized ants crawling out of its mouth and well, you have a creepy table piece…
This is another effective idea! I found it through Martha Stewart, though I altered it to fit my needs and budget. I used a wire hanger (from the dump) as the head and stuffed that too, thus allowing a sturdy support and ‘built-in’ hanger…I also added cut-out black construction paper eyes and moth and glued them on. So much fun!
I made a mummy head like this years ago and still love the idea. The head cost me $4 at a local cosmetic supply store, then it’s covered with paper towels which have been stained with coffee, then dried. Applied with corn syrup…a messy, but thrilling project. It looks amazing with coffee stained gauze surrounding the base, served up on a sliver platter!
And finally these incredible witch fingers! This idea has been on my mind for years now and I was so pleased with the results that they are definitely going on my ‘next years’ list! They are really almond cookies, with almond slivers as nails and raspberry jam (I substituted jam for the red food gel) as the ‘glue’. Very convincing. Bonus, these can be made weeks in advance and frozen. Simply create the ‘finger’, shape, mark, and press an imprint of the almond (remove almond before baking) on the tip, then bake. Cool on rack, then store in airtight container in freezer. No need to defrost either. Simply remove on the day of the party, apply jam and press nail on. Yummy!
Almost forgot the pinata! This took some time, but oh so worth it!
Do you have a favorite Halloween recipe or decorative idea? If so, please share below, my list is never ending…
Phew, it’s September 3rd and the garden is in full force! Corn is ready, swiss chard has been prolific, tomatoes are slowly coming along beets have been the sweetest ever and the green beans were fabulous and abundant! Not sure how to cook beets? Check out this recipe for roasted beets – d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s ! This year, Finn and I have been able to keep up with the squash bugs, so we have lots of buttercup squash growing! Yeah! And the flower beds have done well despite the japanese beetles trying their best… We’ve been enjoying swiss chard in just about everything and I’ve even found a great recipe for a home made puff pastry, so I’ve made a few of my swiss chard tarts this summer too. Recipe for pastry in a future post! Oh, I can’t forget my garlic! Wow. I can’t believe it has taken me so long to grow this simple and scrumptious bulb. Thank you Mim for giving me the garlic to plant and the encouragement! Store bought garlic pales in comparison to homegrown. Actually, there is no comparison. If you have space, at all, try planting garlic. While it’s not an expensive herb, it is a delicious and easy homegrown plant to try. Bonus, the scapes which come out in early summer… While school has begun, summer weather still abounds and there is still plenty to be harvested and enjoyed. Lettuce is growing again, spinach is planted and more beets and carrots are on their way…and some plants are also going to seed…gather, dry and save those seeds! Below are pansy seeds, which I started from store bought seeds, though this year will start from my own seeds. If you can’t or simply don’t garden, don’t forget to check out your local farmers markets – they are fabulous resources for fresh, organic fruits and veggies and they may cost a bit more than the supermaket, but not that much more and many accept food stamps too! What you may spend in dollars saves your health and supports your community. So do check them out! How does your garden grow? Anything exceptional this year? Anything troublesome? Happy gardening and eating! enjoy!
Time. It keeps moving forward…and here in Maine, it’s so obvious. Obvious because of the cycle of the seasons and the flowers (or lack of) each season brings.
After being here, year round these past six years, I’ve begun to notice the pattern of the flowers on this peninsula. First it’s the snow drops, then the tulips, followed by the daffodils, the apple blossoms, the ferns…the buttercups, forget me nots… and it goes on and on until the chill of fall begins putting things back to sleep…
I’ve been wanting to post since before the daffodils
and before the apple trees began to bud.
I then I tried before their blossoms appeared, though now those beautiful flowers are long gone…
I tried to write while the lilacs were still buds
and winter jackets were still needed, though while the jackets (thankfully) are finally packed away, the lilac flowers have come and gone too.
I can say the same about when the rosa rugosa started to bud; I wanted to post, but time escaped me, again…It was so exciting when their buds finally began to open and their greenery popped out in early spring,
though now they are even more intoxicating – their sweet scent being carried on the wind, into my (now) open kitchen windows…luxury, to say the least.
The lupines are here (though they are almost gone now too)
and the iris’s are blooming, though quickly passing.
Tiger lilies are beginning to bud and other types have already blossomed.
I look forward to my peonies, nasturtiums and morning glories…though realize they too will come and go. But, I’m not rushing, nor forgetting to appreciate the here and now! While spring may be ending, summer is just beginning!
So while the flowers, whichever they may be, are here, I will enjoy them. I will pick them, eat them (nasturtiums), give them away and decorate with them.
For me, late spring and all of summer is a time of freshly picked flowers in every room, freshly harvested vegetables from the backyard, and the hope that with the heat, comes a more slow pace, if only for a few weeks…
Flowers remind me just how fleeting life can be and how beautiful it is.
And don’t even get me started on all the loveliness in the vegetable garden, time goes quickly there too! If you don’t get your seeds/plants in on time, well, you miss out…
Here’s a sneak peek at what is happening back there!
I’ve never tried starting pansy’s from seed and this year I did! I’m so pleased that they are finally blooming!!
This weeks photo challenge is (was) about windows. One of my favorite travel photos is of a window…an open window.
A small window propped open with a stick. The shutter overhead hangs crookedly…coconut milk filled plastic soda bottles line the lower sash…the last bottle on the left is the only one with a red cap…
A small handmade wooden table sits off center, beneath the shopkeepers only window. A white, floral cotton swath of fabric covers all but one corner of the table… green and yellow bananas sit beside fresh whole coconuts…but my eyes were on the window.
The row of bottled coconut milk, the fruit for sale beneath, the soft white paint covering the concrete walls, the crooked shutter…the island on which this little shop was situated… it was all so beautiful…I had to take a photo…
The island was Rarotonga.
It was a two month stop along our ’round the world trip we took years ago…it was magic…
We rented a small flat from a local woman and rode our rented bicycles everyday, everywhere…we savored cooking on an actual stove and loved the weekly farmers market. This is where I first spotted this lovely open window – at the market.
I also appreciated the many beaches, the simplicity of our daily lives, the balmy breezes, the lush mountain hikes and all the photo opportunities…this one in particular…
They all have a view – good or bad – and they all show something perhaps not so easily seen from the other side…of the window…
This gallery contains 35 photos.
I love it. Without it, where would we be? Enjoy the day!
Muffins. Who doesn’t like a muffin? OK, I’m sure someone, somewhere doesn’t like muffins or perhaps has never even heard of a muffin, but for me, I love muffins. Not all the time mind you, but when a situation calls for muffins, muffins I will bake.
It was our familys’ turn to provide snack for Finns’ classroom (once a month, each family is responsible for providing snack for 25 students), and since cranberry season is upon us, cranberry orange muffins only made sense.
Prefer blueberries? Check this recipe out!
Nuts (of any kind) are not allowed at Finns school (nut allergies), so I couldn’t use them, but if I could have, walnuts would have been my choice. The combination of cranberries and orange zest scream for walnuts…at least in my opinion…so if I could have, I would have added walnuts!
The tart sweetness of the cranberry, the pop of orange zest, combined with the velvety crunch of the walnuts (or not), make this recipe irresistible this time of year…
Assemble your ingredients, blend, mix and bake. Muffins in about an hour. Why not?
Cranberry Orange Muffins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 beaten egg
1 2/3 cups milk
1/4 cooking oil (I used olive oil)
2 tsp. finely shredded orange peel (or any orange – like citrus fruit – I used clementine rind)
1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries
3/4 cup chopped almonds, pecans or walnuts (optional)
Here’s what to do;
In large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
Blend in finely shredded orange peel.
Create a well in center of dry mixture.
In medium mixing bowl combine the egg, milk and oil.
Add egg mixture to the ‘well’ in the dry mixture.
Stir just until moistened – this is the key for fluffy muffins – do not over mix.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until fork comes out clean. Rest in muffin tins until able to touch, then remove and allow to cool on rack.
Enjoy immediately or freeze for another day.
My gardens have taken a back seat in my life lately, but just last week I said to myself, that’s it. It’s time to organize and clean-up the front flower beds.
It’s time to trim away the browning greenery, cut down the lilies gone by, pull out the ever encroaching weeds… in general – tidy up the flowers that are still growing and keep my front entrance looking bright and cheery. But what to do about the gaps left behind from annuals gone past…?
‘Aha’, I thought to myself.
I have some beautiful French Marigolds in the back garden – why not simply transplant a few up front?
So that’s what Finn and I did.
And while I don’t have any photos of the actual transplanting – it’s a delicate balance working with a three year old, a shovel and the roots of a plant – I did manage to take a few photos of the front garden now…
This lovely stopped by while we were working…
And these buzzing beauties are still around…and loving all the marigolds…
And while we did leave a few marigolds in the back garden, (we still have swiss chard, gourds and leeks to harvest), the color the transplants added to the front was just what they were needing! The back and front gardens benefit from these fall beauties.
And I didn’t have to buy a thing.
If your in need of a change in your flower beds, or want to start a new bed, think about utilizing plants/bulbs elsewhere in your yard.
Who doesn’t like free flowers?
Enjoy the weekend!
Have you ever done it?
I hadn’t until last week.
I was given three beautiful home grown (thank you Mim) heads of garlic and decided this was the year I would experiment with growing garlic…we enjoyed one head and used these two for planting…
So I asked a few gardener friends of mine if they had ever grown garlic and most had…all agreed it had to be the simplest bulb to grow.
Finn and I broke apart each bulb and then headed out to the garden…
It was a beautiful day. The mosquitos were quiet, the sun was warm and the ocean could be heard…
It’s so simple – if, of course you already have a garden or area to plant in…
Make little holes. We went about 2 inches apart. 2 – 3 inches deep.
Pop a clove in.
Water (not shown). Finn moved right along to picking carrots…but you can see the completed row of garlic behind him…
Mulch garlic bed well for winter (still have to do). Wait for spring…
So, have you ever planted garlic?