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…
There is so much trash in the world. I see it on the side of the road, on the beach, in parking lots, on sidewalks – it’s unfortunately, everywhere. Though some of the ‘trash’ I see at my local transfer station is not really trash at all, well, at least not in my eyes...
It’s actually perfectly good stuff no longer wanted or needed by its previous owner. And our wise town transfer station has created an area specifically for these hand-me-downs…everyone wins. The town saves money, the earth is spared (at least a little) and goods are recycled, upcycled and simple re-used by another.
Here are just a few of the fun things I’ve come across this summer…my house is filled with free stuff. It’s actually quite amazing what people throw out…
So before you get rid of something, think of donating or giving it away. You just never know, your trash could very well become someone’s treasure.
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!
So, as usual, I hadn’t really ‘planned’ dinner…I used to plan dinners, well, sort of… my idea of planning was and still is, to try and incorporate a new recipe every now and again – to help with the boringness of the ‘same old, same old’ – but now that I’m only home three nights a week, I tend to ‘wing it’ and simply use what I have on hand…sometimes it works, sometimes it’s still the ‘same old, same old’…but it’s always homemade, with love.
This night I was in need of a change, do you that know that feeling?
Our bodies need change, our minds need change, and our food prep habits need change…hence, how I ended up with this recipe…
I needed to use what I had (I live 25 minutes from the closest grocery store, one-way), and I wanted to utilize the abundance of fresh kale I had just picked from my backyard garden and I wanted comfort food.
So, guess what I came up with? Pasta with kale, dripping in alfredo sauce!
It was SO good.
I think all that cheese negated the health benefits of the kale, but such is life sometimes…
A few months ago (in the cold, dark of winter) I was wanting something rich, gooey, and comforting – I needed a recipe for an alfredo sauce. A simple sauce of cheese, milk/cream, roux and salt and pepper. Nothing else would do. I connected to the internet (yes, I still have dial-up and yes, it still exists, sadly…) and after awhile I came across this delicious and easy to make recipe. I made it, I loved it and I printed it to keep – and I’m so glad I did.
I hadn’t made it since the dark days of winter, but when your in the mood for a rich and decadent alfredo sauce and you live in the woods by the sea, well, you better know how to make it, or at least have a recipe to help you know how!
So, I looked in the fridge – yeah, all the ingredients were there! All I had to do was prep.
No simple feat as a mamma of a pre-schooler, but with a little help from Michael, my partner – he entertained our four year old, while I chopped, diced, whisked and then finally, assembled – dinner!
This recipe is so flexible, it’s ridiculous.
Here’s what you need and what to do;
Sautee any veggies you have – I used peppers, mushrooms and kale – in a bit of olive oil and set aside.
Boil water for pasta and begin cooking pasta just before you start making the alfredo sauce.
Prepare alfredo sauce.
Place cooked pasta on plate or bowl, top with alfredo, then veggies and voila, dinner is served! Finish with a bit of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper and serve alongside a salad of greens and a feast is served! Enjoy.
Slightly adapted from Jessica at Delicious Obsessions
1/2 tbsp. freshly minced garlic
1 -2 tbsp. flour of your choice (I used 1.5 tbsp. unbleached white)
3/4 cup whole milk*
3/4 cup heavy cream*
**(I substituted 1.5 cups half and half and 1/4 whole milk for heavy cream and milk measurements)
1.5 cups freshly shredded parmesan cheese
Kosher or sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
What to Do:
In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter.
Add garlic and saute until lightly browned.
Sprinkle the flour over the butter/garlic mixture and whisk around, quickly. You want to use enough flour to absorb the butter, without over doing it. You want to create a roux (which is a mixture of flour and a fat (usually butter) used to thicken sauces and soups), which is slightly thick, yet fluid, without being gloppy.
Whisk this mixture for about 4 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning…this helps remove the ‘raw’ taste the flour could have if undercooked. The flour should be very lightly browned.
After you’ve made your roux (cooked your flour), slowly add the milk and cream, all the while continuing to whisk. Keep whisking – or else your sauce will be clumpy – until it’s slightly thickened and gently bubbling…
While whisking, add the shredded parmesan, little by little, until all is incorporated.
Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Things to consider;
Don’t have kale? Use spinach or swiss chard.
Don’t have peppers? Use caramelized onions or summer squash.
What about garlic? Or garlic scapes? Or fresh basil? What about freshly chopped parsley?
Like meat? Add sausage or bacon.
Play around with what you have and keep it simple.
Veggies and cheese over pasta, how can you go wrong?
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!!