October 31, 2011

Fog, Pumpkins and a Cheetah

I still don’t know if my kiddo’s Halloween costume was a cheetah, or a leopard, or an ocelot. She changed her mind almost daily. On Halloween day, I think she was going with cheetah, but I’m probably wrong (again) about that.

One thing I do know, my cheetah-leopard-ocelot was EXCITED and doing her Halloween dance before school. This is all PRE-SUGAR mind you. . .

There are a lot of leaves on the ground – it would be so dandy to go jump and play in them, but they are soggy, soggy, soggy. We get a sunny day, then a rainy day, sunny, rainy, sunny, rainy. Soon it will be rainyrainyrainyrainyrainy.

‘A Nightmare Before Christmas’ tableau from my mom-in-law. Julia is obsessed with Jack & Sally. She’s never seen the movie mind you, but she’s got the CD and last year, I think she listened to it at least 100 times a week. The fact that I didn’t run screaming from the house is a good indication of the music’s fundamental quality, I think!

On Halloween morning, we woke up to some really foggy fog. I love fog. I also love the movie ‘The Fog’. You can’t ask for much more from a horror film than ghostly scythe-wielding pirates, now can you? I think not.

Julia insisted I take a picture of her Pillow Pet. Its name is Pillow Pet.

During pumpkin carving, we discovered that the mighty Rosebud likes to eat pumpkin. That’s going to make for a fun litter box, eh? Fiber! Laxative?

I also discovered that Andrew has been hiding some hidden craft skills from me. He carved all our cat-themed pumpkins and they were FANTASTIC.

And we discovered that the missy takes after her mommy. She likes to boss people around and give nonsensical orders that no one can understand.

I love my BOO garland! Every year it goes up. Every year people get their heads stuck in it. I love it so.

Please admire my Victorian Witch Hat! Isn’t it too fabulous? It’s been decided by my mom-in-law and I that it will also double as my Easter bonnet next year. Also please admire the kiddo's purple teeth that she got at her school Halloween party. She LOOOOOVES them. The ocelot-or-cheetah girl was very happy with her Halloween Day. “Didn’t you think it was the best Halloween ever Mama?” She shoveled in a ton of taffy, sweet tarts and gummi candies before having a meltdown right before bed and then falling asleep. Now if that’s not a good Halloween, I don’t know what is.

Look at this. Ridiculous. I couldn’t do this if I had ten hands. My husband is ALWAYS going to be our pumpkin carver!

Happy Halloween!

Tomorrow I’ll have some pix from our own Halloween but today I wanted to show you the work of the amazing Ida Rentoul Outhwaite (cool name!) – Her most favored subject was. . . FAIRIES!! I love these Halloween-esque images.

I am SO wanting this book! ‘The Little World Of Elves and Fairies’, $8.98.

And this one:

‘The Enchanted Forest’, $12.00.

Isn’t her work just glorious?

Hopefully your day is treat filled! (I’m ready to see the candy bowl go buh-bye.)

(Image credits: Pinterest)

October 30, 2011

Spooky Kitties

October 28, 2011

Cool Stuff I Like

Check out my Halloween hat, yo! I’m dressing up as eccentric Halloween Victorian lady. Wait, I dress like that already! (Ha ha to you Mr. Andrew sir, I believe I beat you to the punch.) I could see that joke coming from so far away I went ahead and wrote it myself. (Now he’s going to tell me that he would have come up with a far wittier joke!)

So MY SPOOKIES! Sniff, I feel like that’s the last time I’ll be able to call you all that. Until next year that is. What’s up for the weekend? We have a neighborhood pumpkin carving soiree to attend, and my husband Andrew is going to subject me to one last blast of scary movies. Because ‘American Horror Story’, ‘The Walking Dead’, ‘Supernatural’ and ‘Vampire Diaries’ just ain’t enough for this household! Hee hee, he is now going to be very offended that I put ‘Vampire Diaries’ on that list – he surfs the internet when I watch that one. I have no idea WHY, because that show is SO AWESOME!

Let’s look at more awesome on this week’s COOL LIST:

Abbey, from Design Scouting, found a really neato scratch-off world map. I want one!

Apple Pie Muffins!!

It’s THAT TIME. Time to start thinking about Christmas. I love these stars!

And I adore these darling owl measuring cups from West Elm.

Is anyone making popcorn balls this weekend? I think these look awesome.

Gorgeous, gorgeous leaf lanterns.

I forgot to include this monster puzzle in my Monster Mash-up post.

Cool Book of the Week: ‘The Blueberry Pie Elf’ by Jane Thayer and Seymour Fleishman. Haven’t read this! Oh how I want to read about this little elf who really, really loves his pie! Does this not look DARLING?

Have a fabulous weekend-before-Halloween! Cheery good spooks to one and all!

October 27, 2011

The Attic Witch

Another library find from Miss Julia. Holy macaroni, the girl finds better books at the library than I do!

And because I’m so funny (?), I’m going to play a wee little trick on you. I’m going to stop talking. Because this book, ‘The Attic Witch’ is wordless, I am also going to be wordless.

(One last thought. Julia LOVED this one and has renewed it twice. She spends a half hour at a time creating her own words for the story. I have always heard that wordless books are good for the imagination, well turns out. . . it’s true!)

(Another last thought. The art is going to blow your mind!! Ok, I’m no good at being wordless.)

October 25, 2011

A Tale of Two Witches

Got some witch action for ya today but first, you must meet Pumpkin Man:

My husband Andrew thinks he is TERRIFYING. Aw, I think he’s adorable and very sweet!

Now if you want terrifying, Pumpkin Man has a daddy. Meet Big Pumpkin Man, far right side of the window:

Andrew can’t believe I have this as a decoration! Big Pumpkin Man is twice as high and has some kind of little drum-on-a-stick and cone in which to collect candy. HE’S DELIGHTFUL, no? Our window is way more embellished now, with Julia’s Halloween House and other assorted Halloweeny paintings.

Here’s our Halloween window at night:

Pumpkin Man wants to be your friend. (Please don’t send me angry emails if Pumpkin Man or his daddy wind up in your dreams and give you scary nightmares. NOT MY FAULT! Wasn’t that nice of me to put that idea in your head? )

On to witches! Do you like your witches in shades of black and white and green?

‘Only a Witch Can Fly’ by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Taeeun Yoo is really, really sweet, depicting the flying attempts of a fledgling witch. Or is she? Is the story in her imagination? It’s a good topic to discuss with your kiddo; I for one can’t tell if the story is supposed to be a fable about a real little witch girl or if it represents an ordinary little girl’s dream of flying!

Do you fancy your witches in Technicolor?

‘Room on the Broom’ by Julia Donaldson (of ‘The Gruffalo’ fame), is one of my all-time favorite Halloween books. FABULOUS story about a witch picking up an assortment of animal friends, who come in handy when fending off a hungry-for-witch-with-a-side-of-fries dragon. Julia (nice name!) has an amazing way with rhyme structure:

Fun for toddlers, fun for pre-K and K kiddos, fun on up to age 7 – it’s hootylicious. I wonder if I can put “licious” at the end of ANY word and have it make sense – I am now going to make it my personal mission to make the attempt. Anyone want to join me?

October 24, 2011

DIY Halloween Haunted House

One more week until Candy Day! I used to teach preschool and I remember so well the day one of my students asked me, ‘Miss Melissa, when is it going to be Candy Day?’ And I was like, ‘Huh? What’s Candy Day? Oh, you mean Halloween.’

Kids know what’s important.

Last weekend Julia decided that Saturday was Pajama Day and donned her cozy sweater over her nightgown all day. I promise that VERY SOON I am going to make Andrew write a post with me wherein we debate the validity of what we now call “The House Sweater”. Stay tuned, it’s going to be riveting!

Little J and I decorated a Halloween house made from an empty cereal box, while we left Exacto knife-wielding-window-cutting duties to Andrew. The end result looks a bit . . . rustic, shall we say, but Julia loves it and has been happily playing with it ever since so I chalk this up to a successful craft activity!

I am not an expert crafter. I’m not even a mediocre crafter. For those of you who are like me, I have to tell you that GLITTER IS YOUR FRIEND. Afraid of glittery mess? Fear not my spookies! Glitter makes any kind project oh so pretty! And shiny. I think I have the mentality of a small kitten – dangle something sparkly and shiny in my face and I’m like, ooooooh.

Basically all we did was paint an old cereal box with acrylic paint (regular kid poster paint didn’t cover well enough). Be careful with acrylics! They ain’t kidding around with the permanent warnings! We glittered it while the paint was still wet. Then we waited for it to dry before we cut the back off the box and cut out windows and doors, but you could certainly do that step first, if that appeals to you more. Then we decorated our Haunted Housie with bat stickers that I picked up from the craft store. (a.k.a., the place that scares me.)

If I were really cool I would have added a roof like this, but I think that might be another realm of craftiness I have yet to achieve. What about you, my spookies? How are you decorating (or not decorating) for Halloween? Or are you just throwing candy corn at the walls and calling it good? I think I might try that next year. . .

October 21, 2011

Cool Stuff I Like

It’s almost here my friends!! I’m referring to the big H-A-L-L-O-W-E-E-N of course. Don’t you feel like October/November/December is just one whirlwind rush from one holiday to the next? There’s hardly any time to breathe or slow down! So let’s make a mental promise amongst each other to BREATHE and SLOW DOWN. I feel better already.

The leaves are really starting to turn, swirl and pile up around here. It’s looking very picturesque pretty, and I’m trying to pause and enjoy it, instead of racing forward in my mind and getting all prematurely anxious about the long, cold, grey months ahead. I get seasonally SAD so I’m really happy that this year I’ll have the blog to keep my positivity on track and have a forum in which to deposit Happy Thoughts and Cheery Resolutions. And cozy books to read!

On the Cool Stuff List this week, I found a ton of All Things Apple, to go along with my Appley Dappley post.

Over at The Kitchn, I was stoked to see 10 Recipes Using Apple Butter.

Speaking of apple butter, I am so in love with this kind. I’ve eaten nearly a whole jar.

Apple Dumplings! (via The Kitchn, which was full of apple goodness this week.)

A whopping load of Apple Pie recipes from Country Living.

Gabrielle, from Design Mom, has a great apple votive making tutorial.

I love this Apple House Playset.

Very darling apple costume!

Cool Book of the week: ‘The Apple Cookbook’ by Olwen Woodier. Everything applelicious you could ever want to make is in this book! I have an AMAZING apple storybook to share with you but it is so gorgeous, it needs its own post.

Have a FANTASTIC weekend! We’re going to try to get to a pumpkin patch and hopefully not get rained out! And Andrew is going to try and make me watch a gazillion scary movies. Sadly, my tolerance for horror films is not what it once was. To retaliate, I told him as soon as Halloween is over, we're watching 'Downton Abbey'.


October 20, 2011

Appley Dappley

I have to tell ya, for a girl who lived on a Pacific island for the first half of her life, I’m STILL adjusting to the fact that apples growing on trees is a phenomenon that doesn’t only exist in books! Guavas, papayas, bananas and coconuts – those I can accept as legit tree-growing fruit. Apples? PEARS? Cherries? Seeing these guys not just in trees, but in whole ORCHARDS, totally blows my mind, it really does.

For my daughter, the apple is easily her favorite fruit. Apple was her first word! AP-PUL. AP-PUL. She went around saying it all day long. I think it became her favorite fruit because she realized she could say it, and then we’d get all excited and go get her an apple. Public service announcement: apples enhance lung function. I don’t think there is a body part that apples don’t enhance, actually!

So how you do like your apples? In pies or muffins or cakes? Do you like them in PANDOWDIES, BETTIES, BUCKLES, SLUMPS or GRUNTS? Or do you prefer your apples in cobblers or crumbles? My husband thinks I’m making all of this up, but oh no kids, I assure you I am not. (Note: each link will take you to an actual recipe.)

And here’s another oddly named (charmingly eccentric?) one for you try – this recipe shown below is called Apple Dappy and it’s from ‘Cooking with Apples & Pears’ by Laura Washburn.

Apple Dappy

This is a traditional British dessert from the West Country, little known, but highly deserving of a larger audience.


1 lb. tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and diced
freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

For the Pastry:

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of fine sea salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons clotted cream or heavy cream, plus extra to serve
1/2 cup milk
sugar, for sprinkling
a small square or circular baking pan lined with baking parchment and lightly buttered.

To Make:

Put the apples in a saucepan with the lemon juice, sugar, and butter and cook, uncovered, over medium heat until softened. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and pulse a few times to blend. Add the butter and sugar and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Leave the motor on and add the cream and half the milk. The dough should be soft and sticky. If it is too stiff, add the remaining milk.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface. You need to roll it out to a 8 x 12 inch rectangle and it should be almost exactly that, not more.

Spread the cooled apple mixture over the dough and roll up from a long end, like a jelly roll. Mark 7 equal pieces on the roll, then cut it into slices with a sharp knife. Arrange the slices, cut-side-up in the baking pan, with one in the center and the others around it. They should not actually touch as the dough will expand during baking.

Sprinkle generously with sugar and bake in the preheated oven until puffed and golden, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, then serve warm with clotted cream.

Serves 7.

I had never heard of Beatrix Potter’s ‘Appley Dappley’s Nursery Rhymes’ until I purchased the entire Potter set at Costco a couple years ago. It is SO DARN CUTE!
‘Appley Dappley, a little brown mouse, goes to the cupboard in somebody’s house. In somebody’s cupboard there’s everything nice, cake, cheese, jam, biscuits, – all charming for mice!'
Sooooooo, WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE APPLE TREAT? And who wants to try the grunt recipe? Or the apple dappy? (I do.)

October 19, 2011

Ghosts Eating Toast

Kids, this is my favorite Halloween book. ‘Three Little Ghosties’ by Pippa Goodhart and AnnaLaura Cantone. Notice I said MY. Julia used to adore it last year as well, but this year her scare-o-meter has become more sensitive – she ran yelling out of the grocery store the other day because there was a skeleton hanging up inside the store entrance. And when we went to the craft store a couple weeks ago, she buried her face in my side and refused to look up because there was some kind of ghoul, or maybe it was a skeleton/Scary Thing with glowing eyes – she was FLIPPED OUT.

BUT – I have to assert that this book is hilarious and you should check it out! Julia says she still thinks it is really funny, she just finds the pictures too weird right now. So I’ll have to enjoy this book with you. I have to stress that last year it was her favorite Halloween book and it really is a hoot!

The gist is that three little ghosts are eating their favorite snack of toast (remember the nursery rhyme?) and taking great delight in being ever so naughty. They like to play ‘tricksies’ on anyone they can find, be it a witch, ogre or monster. Then they giggle ‘HEE HEE HEE’ with great glee.

Off they go, causing merry mischief, until they happen upon a little boy who scares them more than they scare him. Oopsie.

So they run away home to their mamas, ‘sucking their thumbsies’ and get a scolding.

Naughty little imps.

Soooo, what’s your favorite Halloween book? And what’s your kiddo’s favorite Halloween book? Are they the same book?