October 31, 2012

Moon Clouds

Happy Halloween my spookies! Hope you and your kiddos will be eating LOTS of candy tonight and having a fabulous time.

October 30, 2012

The Vintage Tea Party Book

P1030019Oh friends. When I saw ‘The Vintage Tea Party Book’ in the shop I was in, I just sighed. Not in happiness. In defeat. I mean, really. Like there was going to be ANY WAY I was going to be able to walk away from it.

Unfair. It’s unfair that this very nice British lady had to write this book JUST FOR ME, so that I had no choice but to bring it into my home. Oh and her name is Angel Adoree! I’m not sure she’s an angel...a naughty imp is more like it, trying to tempt me with tea treats and beautiful pictures and tea party know-how.

P1030016No, I do not usually serve books on my tea tray. Nor do I really serve tea like this on my wedding china, except in my mind, but the book could not just be photographed, my lovelies. It had to be staged.

P1030042You learn things in this book! Many useful and beautiful tea-esque things! Like how to make a Bottle Butterfly display! And how to make this bird mobile, which would have been a fabulous Halloween decorating idea, if I had had it together a little sooner with this post. Oh well, would it not look oh so lovely anyway, as a fall décor item? Yes. Yes it would.

PicMonkey Collage1I asked Andrew if he had any thoughts on this book. He said he had not a single thought about it.  But then he couldn’t help himself and said, “Life is too short to squander thoughts on such trivialities.” I can tell you what he was really thinking. I can promise you he was thinking, ‘I can’t believe she spent money on this.’

YES I DID. Because this book is so enchanting, so delightfully illustrated and photographed and so unique ~ my friends, if you have a tea loving special friend or family member, you would be doing a Very Great Thing indeed if you gave this as a holiday present. A VERY GREAT THING INDEED.

P1030045I loved every page of it except there’s a part at the end of the book that details retro hair and makeup ~ I didn’t care about this so much, I’d rather have had another recipe.

But the book is already so chock full of savory and sweet treats,

P1030039cool and interesting craft ideas,

PicMonkey Collageand fun tea lore,

P1030021Even a section on old-fashioned tea party parlor games! If you want to be very posh and tea festive, you spell parlor thusly: PARLOUR.

P1030037So I can’t quibble really at the hair & makeup section at the back. Sometime Julia and I might want to try it out for a party!

P1030044P1030043P1030033P1030034ENTHRALLED. I am enthralled, enchanted and enlivened by this confection of a book. You all should know that when I start throwing out the alliteration and likening a book to a food item, I am deeply in love with it. I’ve taken to carrying it around with me from room to room, just so that it will always be nearby when I want to flip through it…

GUESS WHAT THERE’S MORE!!!! OMG I was linking to the book and I just read that THERE’S ANOTHER BOOK that just came out this October!!!! ‘The Vintage Tea Party Year’!!! Detailing tea parties for occasions all throughout the year! If Andrew doesn’t get it for me for Christmas I will…cry until he gets it for me for my birthday in January.  (Ok this is confusing. It’s available, but doesn’t go into wide release until Spring 2013. I can’t wait that long, I’m gonna pay the 5 extra dollars and get it sooner because, well JUST LOOK AT THE COVER!!!)

I’m freaking out right now. (Also very freaked out by Hurricane Sandy. Be well and be safe, East Coast friends.)

October 29, 2012

Banana Cake

I'm so sorry, these pictures really are not the best, but we were nearly done eating this banana cake and I suddenly realized that I needed to get it photographed quickly before it was gone, and these days, the light is really really poor in my kitchen. Darn you grey clouds. Ok, I will attempt mightily to avoid complaining the weather in each and every post. It's not even that bad yet.

This recipe is a Pinterest creation! I pinned it and then I made it! (original recipe here) Yay for me! But more importantly, yay for all of us, because some of you are gonna make this lovey of a cake and then you'll be as happy in your tummy as I was when I was eating it.

I don't know if anyone else recalls a banana cake made by Sara Lee. Sara Lee sells different items regionally. Well waaaay back in the day, they made some frosted cupcakes and a banana cake, and both of these offerings were divinely delicious. This banana cake reminds of that banana cake, and it's a taste I never thought to have again.

I was a teensy dismayed when I baked the cake and took it out of the pan. It's a bit...flat. Not a tall rise, as there is only one egg and not much rising agent. If you wanted some tall, fluffy creation, you'd have to double the recipe and make it into a layer cake, which would not be hard at all to do. 

But the smallness of it...that's ok. It really was perfect. Moist and banananey. The kicker of this cake though, IS THE FROSTING. Oh the frosting. Do you see those little specks? VANILLA BEAN, my friends. You can use either straight vanilla, or vanilla paste or a vanilla bean. I had a bean, so I used a bean. And this frosting, oh MY GOODNESS, this frosting. It's just incredible. I walked in to see my family and a couple of our close friends, who were over for the evening, and said (after I had sneaked a bite) "I don't want to brag, but this cake is going to BLOW YOUR MIND." (and they all agreed with me because they are very nice.)

But really! Julia took a bite and then did a doubletake. My friend asked for seconds. ANDREW ATE IT happily and he doesn't like cake, remember?

This cake was utterly delightful, (which as some of you know, that's my favorite word, next to awesome) and is pretty much the highest praise I can bestow upon something. I'm going to stop going on and on and just give you the recipe.

Banana Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting (via Butteryum)

Cake Ingredients:
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 mashed super-ripe bananas (about 3/4 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Frosting Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or the seeds scraped out of 1 vanilla bean, OR 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)
1 and 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar

Directions for cake:
Cake may be mixed by hand. Preheat oven to 375 degrees if using a metal 8 x 8 pan, 350 degrees if using a glass pan. Cream together butter, sugar, sour cream, and egg. Add vanilla and mashed bananas. Add flour, salt and baking powder ~ mix well. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a tester inserted in middle of cake comes clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Directions for frosting:
Cream butter and confectioner's sugar until smooth. Slowly add heavy cream, mix until smooth. Stir in vanilla until incorporated. Spread on cooled cake.
(Recipe may be doubled to fit a 9 x 13 pan.)

I can't wait until I can make this again!

October 27, 2012

Jerry Seinfeld Halloween

I had no idea this book existed before yesterday. Julia's teacher had it and let me borrow it.

OMG the funny. It's fine for ages 6 and up, but truly it would be best for the 8-10 year old range. Because by then, a kid has had a few years under his or her belt when it comes to suffering the indignities of unwanted forms of candy and costumes that don't quite measure up to the lofty ideals of imagined Halloween perfection. 

This pretty much makes my Halloween happiness utterly complete.

October 26, 2012

Cool Stuff I Like

I might have to re-think my Halloween costume, my spookies. Not sure if I can find a medieval looking dress to be Queen Elinor (from the movie 'Brave'). I might have to be a Hawaiian flight attendant instead. Andrew thought it quite hilarious that I was able to walk into my closet and instantly come out with two potential costumes...just from my CLOTHES.

COOL STUFF, my spookies:

I'm SO proud of my dear friend Aadip ~ check out his fabulous article on raising a daughter.

November is Picture Book Month! Check out the festivities at Pictureboookmonth.com

How fun would this doughnut tree be for an Autumn or Halloween gathering?

Mr. Printables.com has the cutest toy and activity printouts.

This site has uplifted me and helped me rethink my parenting more than I can adequately say here.

Darling string of lights from Ikea.

Spaghetti Pie.

Smencils. (psst! the perfect stocking stuffer! yes, you should be thinking along those lines.)

Spicy Apple tea lights.

Cool Book of the Week: 'Old Black Witch' by Wendy and Harry Devlin. I mentioned a few weeks ago on Facebook that I had ordered this fabulous book from Purple House Press. Well it came and I think we've read it at least 5 times since then. Julia LOVES it. I wouldn't classify this one as a Halloween book per se, although it does suit itself perfectly for this time of year.

Old Black Witch!
I can tell you we're going to be reading this book all year long, it's just perfection from beginning to end. Old Black Witch is a cranky old biddy who finds herself disturbed and unhappy when a little boy and his mama buy the house she's been asleep in for 200 years and turn it into a tearoom. But she soon discovers she has a knack for creating delicious tea treats and figures that she can be a cranky old witch AND make & serve blueberry pancakes like nobody's business. You all must seek out this newly re-issued treasure. I'd been waiting for a year for this one to become available and I seized upon it like a mad woman when it came back into print!

HAVE A LOVELY WEEKEND! Pumpkin carving. Lots of pumpkin carving. No more scary movies. I watched this one and this one last weekend and they both scared me so much I'm afraid to walk down my hallway now at night.


October 25, 2012

My Happy Place

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 Yes, friends, it's true. EVERY YEAR I will be sharing Japanese garden posts with you. (here's the one from last year, you should go see that one as well because I have different angles of the garden, and pictures of the koi fish, and I even reference a book! Hey I do that once in awhile! But not today, so don't get excited.)

I had high hopes for this the fall color in the trees year because all of September was sunny, with clear, cold nights, which makes for better changing leaf color.

If I had all the money in the world, I would buy it. Actually I'm trying to figure out how badly I want to purchase a photographer's pass, which would allow me access in the winter, when the garden is normally closed. If it doesn't snow this year, I'd feel stupid. But if it does snow, then I'd be getting the coolest pictures ever...it's a dilemma that I will have to ponder further.

Today I have nothing more to say, because I expended all of my energy editing 182 photos and trying to decide which ones to show you, so now I'm mush in the head. More so than usual.

I leave you with this:


October 24, 2012

Super Cute Baby Board Books

Well looky look look what I found at Target the other day! 'I Can Do It Myself' and 'Now I am Big' by Stephen Krensky and Sara Gillingham. These babies stopped me in my tracks! I got both, as you can see, one for my toddler nephew and one for a baby girl of some dear friends.

The graphics are so pop! And bright! And cheerful and fun and I think they'd be Very Engaging to a baby or toddler. And who wouldn't be impressed at learning how to blow one's nose? I'm still impressed when I blow my own nose and it doesn't wind up all over my face. I so vividly remember last year and the year before really trying to get Julia to understand the concept of blowing air through her nostrils, not her mouth. I'm not sure she's got it yet. She does, but she blows so daintily and gently that nothing comes out.

I digress. But nose blowing, yeah, that's a SKILL. Which these darling little board books so happily demonstrate for us, all the small-yet-big toddler accomplishments in a tiny tot's world. Totally, totally impressed that Target had these. Oh Target. Could I love you ANY MORE than I already do??