Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fall in a Flash

Somehow, fall has flown by-- and we didn't even pick grapes or buy apples! Actually, let's be honest, I know exactly what happened to our fall: SOCCER. The three oldest kids played soccer this fall, the oldest being on a traveling team. That equals practice on Monday nights, three practices on Thursday nights, and three soccer games on Saturdays, half of Kennedy's in other towns usually about an hour away. Which explains why we missed grape season this year. I'm very sad that I won't be able to make grape jam, especially considering it is my family's favorite and I made less strawberry and raspberry in anticipation of making more grape than usual. Now we'll probably run out of jam this year and have to resort to buying the store stuff.
Despite not being able to pick grapes, we still made our annual pilgrimage to Peck's Farm Market to pet the animals,

ride the train,

play around,

and admire the produce. Behold the harvest.

I'm hoping to still get my hands on a couple bushels of apples. We shall see.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cake Project

By cake project I mean a project in which I make a cake, NOT a project that is ridiculously easy, like "Making this sandwich was a piece of cake."

One of the ladies who reports to my husband at work celebrated her 25th work anniversary yesterday. My husband thought that it would be nice to bring her a nice homemade cake for the celebration, rather than pick one up at the store. He asked me if I would make one for her. I enjoy making cakes, so I said I would take the challenge.

The lady being celebrated likes chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, (who doesn't?!). Since my vision involved fondant, I thought I would make it with cocoa powder. This was probably a bad idea since it was my first time making my own fondant. The fondant I did not flavor with cocoa was very easy to work with. The fondant I DID flavor with cocoa tasted great, but was too dry and tended to crack and tear easily. I may or may not have flung a handful of fondant across my kitchen at one point. There were no witnesses to the event so we will never know.

I made a delicious chocolate cake and spread some blackberry preserves between the layers. I covered the entire thing with a layer of chocolate buttercream frosting, then decorated it with a large Lands' End label, the words 25 Years, some braiding, and a bunch of fondant leaves. It did not turn out as well as the vision in my head, but each time I work with fondant I learn a little more. Someday maybe I'll be good at it. Anyone have any good tips for me? And every time I work with fondant I am more impressed with folks who create masterpieces with the stuff, like Angie, a woman I went to school with. You've got mad skills, Angie.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Guess what arrived!

I scored the Land of Nod quilt I wanted on Ebay! Lincoln about fell over when I told him I paid $100, but, BUT---that's including shipping. And a pillowcase and very cute curtains made from the sheets. The quilt alone retails for about $160.

So it really was a great deal. And everything is in pristine condition. I was worried about whether I had picked the right pink for this and it is perfect. And I had hoped that the diamonds on the wall would repeat the diamonds in the quilt nicely. Success! I love it.

I'm going to put in a little plug for The Land of Nod here. A couple years ago I purchased 2 Land of Nod quilts from a seller on Craigs List.

These USED quilts have been on my boys' beds since then and have held up amazingly well. Devon has had frequent bed-wetting issues and nosebleeds, so these quilts have been washed about a bazillion times since I purchased them and they still look great.

That's why I figured even if I had to pay retail for this quilt, it would be worth it.

I'm hoping to finally get to putting in some of the trim in this room this weekend. I had kind of reached a point where I just needed a break from this room. Now that I have the quilt and the curtains, I'm excited to get moving in there again. I think I'm going to use the curtains in place of a closet door. They are really too big for the window anyway. Hopefully soon I'll have some better quality photos up and more progress to show you!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

H-A-Double L-O-W-Double E-N Spells Halloween...

Anybody remember that song?

I have been busily shuffling around my fall decorations to make way for the Halloween decor. It's funny, I really look forward to putting up the fall decorations, but I forget every year how fun it is to do Halloween until I get started. Early on, I didn't decorate for Halloween beyond jack o' lanterns the week of. But little by little over the years I've gotten more and more into the fun of it.

One of my favorite decorations I've done was an idea I got I believe, from Martha Stewart five or so years ago. But I may be wrong. Anyway, it's easy, fun, and big impact. Unfortunately the picture quality is poor because I still haven't figured out how to take a decent night time photo with my camera.

These are pieces of felt purchased off a bolt. Just cut out ghostly eyes and a mouth and hang it in your window. Voila! Big creepy faces!

Last year I began pulling together pieces for a spooky "mantle' vignette. (*Note* I do not have a mantle. I use the top of my piano as a mantle replacement.) I really love the haunted mansion look of this vignette.
In the day:

At night:

This year I added the subway art.

It's not perfect. I did it freehand. But I like it that way. So there. The frame from the subway art was a lucky find. I was purchasing a bunk bed I had found on Craigs List. It was in the lady's storage unit. She told me she had recently gotten married (they were both in their 50s) so they were combining households. She was trying to sell almost all the stuff in her storage unit. So I kind of went shopping in there. I got two big old antique frames for a dollar each. I LOVE them. The other one is in the late stage of transformation so it can be placed in the girls' new bedroom. This one was to be transformed as well, but until then, it works perfectly in all its chippy, antiquey glory, as part of this wall.

The other frames I purchased for very little at Goodwill, then spray painted them all in matte black. Inside the frames are images I found online. This one has two of my ancestors, then a werewolf (?) I found online. I like the juxtaposition of the normal with the creepy.

Nobody gets this one.

It's a family of albinos. I wanted something that wouldn't totally creep my kids out, but was considered an oddity. (This is a freak show poster. Not so PC, I guess.) But no one gets it, which is good, actually, because it means we've come a long way since this was considered freak show material. So this year I need to find a picture that is more appropriate (on several levels) and that fits my frame better.

This Frankenstein photo is my kids' limit for creepy.

Throw in some skulls, a cool candelabra painted black,

a crow (raven?), spiders, tattered fabric, and a few other accessories, and I think it's pretty fun.

Oh yes, and my $2.99 tree from Goodwill with some jack o' lantern lanterns in it.

So what about you? Do you do creepy? Gorey? Cutesy? Just fall?