Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

The woven basket that hangs under my mailbox, to collect newspapers and larger items, seemed just the place to tuck this creature who somehow seems a little scary but comical at the same time. Being at the right height to greet a lot of our trick-or-treaters, he did a very good job of acting as host at our front door.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Giving Halloween a Hand

Several years ago I picked up this string of three pairs of hands. They light up and look appropriately creepy at night. The last couple of years I have had them poking out of a large basket filled with leaves, but this year I used them to light trick-or-treaters' way up our driveway. I placed the hands in various positions and anchored them with rocks, then covered the electrical wire with leaves. The effect was great at night, subtle and natural and nicely set the stage for what awaited ahead.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins

When I bought this stand from a thrift shop I had no idea what it was for, but later learned that it is actually half of a set that wraps around the pole of a patio umbrella and is meant to hold tea-light votives. I have re-purposed it as a cupcake stand, though these are actually pumpkin muffins with cream cheese frosting.

The stand’s quirkiness seems well matched for my Halloween-themed treat!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Outdoor Fun Indoors

One of the reasons I enjoy Halloween so much because it presents such “scope for the imagination” as Anne of Green Gables would say. It can be full of fun and at the same time low on the stressful preparations of other holidays. There are no expectations that come with Halloween. You can either participate, or not, and your level of participation is entirely up to you. Needless to say, I think Halloween is my favourite “holiday” of the year.

Perhaps because of its one-day nature, I like to enjoy some of my outdoor decorations ahead of time, indoors, and this might explain why I had a bunch of giant furry spiders crawling up our bathroom wall (and in this photo, a plaque on the wall) as well as others peering out from a large lidded glass urn at the side of the bath. Not quite the display for an arachnophobe of course and if they were real, I too, might have a problem with them due to their sheer size, but in this case... they are a bit of fun.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pretty Pumpkin

As an alternative to carving pumpkins you might like to consider painting on a design. I used tole paint from the craft store to create this scroll pattern. The bonus of using this method is that if you slip up, you can just wash it off and start again. This is the first time that I’ve tried painting a pumpkin and I’m quite taken with the effect, especially for decorative purposes. As far as Halloween goes, I must admit that there’s nothing quite like a traditionally carved jack o’lantern. If you have the time and the interest, why not do both? Or if you like, paint with water-soluble paint and enjoy, then later on wash it off and carve it up for Halloween. (Depending on your design you might not even need to wash it off, have a patterned carved pumpkin.) You have doubled your pleasure and used the same pumpkin. Thrifty!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Autumn Arrangement # 3

Thought I'd try out another fall arrangement using the wee orange chair I found at a thrift shop for $5.00 back in September and talked about in my post of September 25th. The blue fence continues to be an interesting backdrop for my arrangements, from cafe tables set with summer drinks or tea to autumn displays. It will be interesting to see how it looks in the winter with snow. Since we just painted the fence this summer, we haven't experienced this new colour in all seasons yet, and the jury is out as far as I am concerned. Not sure if it will remain blue, or perhaps this particualr shade of blue, more than short term. We'll see.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Teapot Cookies #2

I had another occasion to use my teapot cookie cutter not too long after my last post of October 1st. When I bought the cutter I knew that it would be perfect for making cookies for a tea party. What I didn’t envision at the time was using it for cookies for a class, let alone a class on tea. This latest batch of cookies was made to take to a course on Asian teas that I was taking at a local university, being given by none other than Jeff Fuchs: explorer, rock climber, photographer and author of The Ancient Tea Horse Road. Since we were covering the topic of teapots at our last class, I had the idea of trying to emulate the natural bisque of Chinese teapots as cookies. I used a gingersnap recipe for the dough, piped the details in chocolate royal icing, then stamped the cookies with food colouring using stamps with the Chinese characters for either “water” or “earth”. When you stop to think about it all four elements are needed for tea: water for growing and for making the tea, earth for growing the tea plants and for making the teapot, fire for boiling the water, and air for both growing and drying the tea leaves.

For more on Jeff, read the National Post article:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Warty White Pumpkin

Such an odd pumpkin! This one, larger than a basketball, was grown by a dear friend from a package of mixed seeds. The variety wasn’t marked so she has no idea of its name. So far all I can find it referred to as is a warty white pumpkin. But what a great Halloween pumpkin it makes. Just look at that surface. It reminds me of my chenille crocheted wash cloth. Now that I think about it, in colour and texture, the rind actually looks more like peanut shells. I wonder how long it will be before this type of pumpkin is for sale at the local grocery store?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fabric Sale Finds

Just some of the lovely vintage items I picked up at yesterday's Fabric Sale in the Glebe Cummunity Centre. I was hoping to find some vintage fabrics this year and the sale didn't disappoint, thanks to a few of the vendors who specialize in vintage. Found (photo at bottom and moving up) some colourful tablecloths, three delightful hankies, a faded cushion cover and vintage apron pattern, some sort of drawstring bag with a strap, an assortment of lovely large shell buttons, a soft well-used quilted placemat and even a pearl necklace.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bundling the Beach

I knew it was only a matter of time before I did something with the beachcombed finds from various Vancouver beaches when I posted about them on August 26th. The string bags are great because they allow the air to circulate. I was so happy when I found a piece of crockery on the first two beaches but try as I might I didn’t find a piece on the third. If I’d just had a little more time I know that I would have found at least one piece! But I only had a half an hour as the sun was setting to conduct my search and sadly we were not able to return to Spanish Banks Beach on that particular trip. Using those finds that you bring back from trips around the house is a nice way to remember your travels and in this case those sunny summer days.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An Autumn Encounter

Look who came to land on my thrift shop Ralph Lauren sheets when I was taking them off the clothesline! His gorgeous red tail blended in so perfectly, you would have thought that I had chosen him for just that reason. But no, his visit was purely a delightful surprise. And notice how the sheet’s pattern shows through his wings, an indication of just how transparent they are. A fleeting but beautiful encounter!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Autumn Arrangement #2

Tried out another arrangement using the mini white pumpkins I had with some dried leaves, along with various wooden objects and creamy ceramics I already had in the house. The sunlight, at different times of the day, really makes a difference to the scene. I love the golden warmth of the autumn sun. It bathes everything in a warm golden glow and I adore the creaminess of this variety of pumpkin.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Autumn Arrangements

I am slowly amassing pumpkins as I come across them and must say, I’m having fun arranging and rearranging them in various parts of the house. The latest addition is a large white pumpkin which is presently sitting atop a well weathered tree stump I’ve had for around 15 years, though it has spent most of its time outdoors. The big white looks rather ghostly there, especially side-lit as it is at this time of day.

Changing with the Seasons

Why not put to use your seldom used three-tiered plate rack by turning it into a display for the seasons? It took almost no time at all to place a few pumpkins, dried hydrangea and lanterns on the plates and yet the impact is high. This piece is a fair size so it fills the corner of our kitchen. Now whenever we sit at the kitchen table we have something lovely to catch our eye. With so little effort involved, you can change the displays often and always have something new to look at.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Baby Face Cookies

These baby face cookies began life as simple round cookies. Surprising what a little royal icing, food colouring and round sprinkles can do for a basic plain cookie. These were made for a baby shower.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What Goes Around

What goes around comes around, and in this case only three days later. I was repaid this morning for my good deed last Monday when I gave up my place on the bus (you can read about it in my October 5th post). Today I got on the bus only to discover that I'd forgotten my bus pass. I told the driver and began to place $5.00 in the farebox (as I had no change) but he stopped me, handing me a daypass saying "This should get you through the day." I thanked him profusely and mused on how quickly I experienced someone's kindess towards me after my own small act.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Autumn Trio

This is a very quick and simple project that will add a touch of autumn to your d├ęcor. I used three glass vases but any sort of clear containers would work. Mine are filled with small yellow leaves, twigs and plum tomatoes, but in fact anything that reflects the season could be used, such as small pinecones, acorns, maple keys or small red leaves like those from a burning bush, to name just a few. My preference is to go out and see what mature can provide. A blending of autumnal colours looks great together, and doesn’t have to cost a penny.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Gift for Me

Something quite wonderful happened today. I was at my morning bus stop rather later than usual, waiting for the bus to take me to work, and two buses in a row went past without stopping because they were packed full. Nothing unusual about that. After a time a third bus arrived and I noticed that there were only a few spots left to stand, up near the driver. I was one of the fortunate ones who managed to get on. As I turned and glanced out the window I noticed a young woman pleading with the driver to let her on but he said he could not as the bus was filled to capacity and closed the door. It was obvious from the look of distress on her face and her body language that this was very upsetting for her. There was something about the expression on that face. I asked the bus driver to let me out so she could have my place, which he did. The young woman couldn’t believe what was happening and was very grateful, offering me thanks as she hopped aboard. The bus closed its doors and was off. It was such a tiny act on my part but it made me smile all the way to work because it had seemingly made such a difference to this young lady.

That would normally be the end of the story, but as it happened, I was standing at my stop waiting to catch my bus home that same day when a young woman approached asking if this was the Albert and Bay stop. I answered in the affirmative. She thanked me, looked a little closer then gasped “You’re the woman from this morning, and now you’re helping me again!” She then proceeded to lavish me with thanks and compliments concerning my kindness and generosity going as far as to call me her angel. I indeed had made a huge difference. She was late for an exam but had made it on time. She continued to thank me and tell me how wonderful I was, how everyone on the bus had thought I was wonderful, how she had texted her friend to tell her how wonderful I was, and this stream of gratitude continued until her bus arrived and took her on her way. It was so great to confirm that my reading of her distress and then relief and thankfulness had been very real. And I felt wonderful all over again. What a lot of joy I received from doing something so small for someone else and that... was a gift for me.