Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Weekend Screamer

That's what they're calling it.  Who comes up with these names, anyway? They just get more and more ridiculous. Remember Snowmageddon? Feh.

So, yeah, we had a late-October Nor'Easter during which the temperature dropped low enough to produce snow and ice.

Now, I know this is seriously unimpressive compared with the 12 inches+ that other parts of the Northeast are digging out of, but for us, it's unheard of.  First an earthquake, then a hurricane and now this.  What's next?  Avalanche?  Dust storm?  Volcanic eruption?

So, obviously, snow was not a problem for us.  We got some ice (seen forming on the clothesline up there) and enough snow to be rather pretty and make us all giddy for about 24 hours (we love snow, you see) but the biggest problems were the uncomfortable cold and miserable sleet.

I was amused by the juxtaposition of the flip-flops, left outside from just a week or so, sheltered by the ice encrusted table above them.  And I also like using the word, "juxtaposition".

Since everything was shut down and cancelled (including field hockey--BONUS), we hunkered down with a steadily blazing fire and forged ahead with our Halloween weekend festivities.  Dutch Blitz was not originally part of those plans but it was a nice addition to the pot roast, pumpkin scones, old Disney Halloween specials (on VHS no less), and Sleepy Hollow.

We ended the evening staring semi-conscious in front of the fire.  It was one of the most relaxing days I've had since the last blizzard.  I was feeling so mellow I decided to unearth my knitting needles and go through a stash of yarn and needles my aunt had given me at least three years ago.

I felt like Ma Ingalls, sitting by the fire, sorting through yarn and knitting.  I spent quite a bit of time refreshing my memory as it's been quite a while since I last clicked a pair of needles.  I found that casting on and knitting came back to me like riding a bike.  Purling was another matter.  I had to look online for a tutorial before I finally remembered it.  Then I spent another long chunk of time just experimenting with stitches, yarn and needles.  What happens when I knit every stitch in every row?  What if I knit a row, purl a row?  What does a 2 x 2 rib look like?  What if I use this rather fluffy, bulky yarn or this thin, feathery stuff?  What kind of difference do these tiny needles make as opposed to those thick, chunky ones?  It was really fun and rather therapeutic even though I have nothing tangible to show for my work.

This, my friends, is a Scotch Egg.  They were our favorite snack in England. 

I apologize for the poor quality of these photos.  Honestly, sometimes I think that should be the title of this blog.  We were in a darkened chip shop and I could not figure out which setting to use on my camera!  Anyway, last night Redheaded Snippet, Daria, a friend (who famously appeared as Lady Marmalade during our Clue Halloween party two years ago) and I went to a Harry Potter Quizzo at our favorite British chip shop (called, funnily enough, "The British Chip Shop,")!

Lovely Lady Marmalade and her Ploughman's Lunch

We were The Blast-Ended Manky Old Skanks' Boots and we tied for first place!  And then we got robbed of first prize when the "sorting hat" determined the winner by putting both teams' names into...himself...and pulled out the other team's name as the winners.  Boo Hiss.

Redheaded Snippet daring to try some Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans

The "winners" got free brunch for four and we got $20 in gift cards to our other favorite British shop,
The English Gardener, a mug filled with yummy British sweets, and two boxes of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans.

We had a lot of fun with the Bertie Bott's, even though we've had them dozens of times.  It's like jelly bean roulette.  Hmmm...what's this dark grey one?  Licorice?  Dirt?

Mmm...definitely not licorice...

Ugh, and I don't think it's dirt either...

*GASP* It's pepper!  Redheaded Snippet also got the vomit-flavored and rotten egg ones but saved the earwax one for Calvin.  Somehow, I got the earthworm one TWICE!  Dis-GUSTING!  And I don't want to know how they tested that one for accuracy!

I'd say the Harry Potter Quizzo was the perfect way to spend Mischief Night, the perfect preview to Halloween!  And now there is nothing left to do but start the annual Halloween beef stew in the crockpot, get Calvin into his costume and trudge all over Mom's neighborhood in his wake!

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Pre-Halloween Edition Part II

round button chicken
~Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life~ Every Thursday at Like Mother Like Daughter
So, after spending most of the weekend lolling in front of fires, sipping cider, roasting marshmallows and reveling in wanton Autumness, we now find ourselves in the thick of our typical end-of-October nuttiness.

We're only a week from Halloween and play-off season is about to begin.  Thus, 'tis been nothing but  costume preparation and field hockey from sunup to sundown around here.  And as soon as play-offs are over it will be a mere few days until Thanksgiving!

I'm getting a wee bit ahead of myself...suffice it to say we've been busy.

But not too busy to find contentment, even if we have to be a little more intentional about slowing down enough to find it!

So Pretty it makes me Happy

None of these photos do justice to what greets me whenever I look out the window or step outdoors.  Today, the leaves were floating around like we were inside a giant snow globe.  You know, but with leaves instead of snow.

Neither can photos capture the crisp nip in the air nor the dreamy smell of wood smoke lingering from our fire.  Wood smoke is my favorite scent in the world.  If someone could bottle that smell and put it in perfume or candles, I would make them rich!

Oh yes.  We're those kinds of people.  The kind you begin to wonder about a bit after you've seen their...enthusiastic...Halloween decorations.


See what I mean?  Daria made those eyes for me when we threw a Halloween party two years ago.  They look great from the inside all day and from the outside all night.


Progress on Calvin's costume continues.  Can you guess, yet, what he is being?  For those interested, we found a skateboarding helmet at Goodwill for $1, plugged up a few holes and spray painted the whole thing a metallic bronze color.

Daria then found patterns for the decorative elements and traced them onto and cut them out of brown foam sheets and glued them to brown stiff felt.  The raised bits were treated with antique gold Rub and Buff.

(Sorry about the poor quality of these photos; some numnut left the camera on the "sport" setting after Redheaded Snippet's last game).  The above (epaulet-type thingies, an ear flap and a helmet medallion) are also made of brown foam, brown felt and rub and buff.  Their purposes will become clear later...

Here we have gauntlets, made from the same brown foam and having been stamped with eyelets, being coaxed into a forearm shape, another ear flap, some Mod Podge and the all-important plate of biscuits and muffins.

This isn't quite finished.  It's not glued together properly, just enough so we can get a general idea of the right shape and placement of all the pieces.  But it's looking pretty cool, isn't it?  Do you know now who he's going to be?


I'll give you a hint: he's going to be wearing a long red wig and a long red beard...

Now can you see it?

And, finally, one last shot of the very real work space in its entirety, complete with teacups and biscuits.  I think this is going to be one excellent costume, but I will be glad to have my life (and my dining room table) back when Halloween is over!

Where has your contentment been found this week?  Join in and let us know!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Pre-Halloween Edition Part I

round button chicken
~Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life~ Every Thursday at Like Mother Like Daughter
Today's PHFR is brought to you by nothing cohesive.  Just deal.


Redheaded Snippet got to attend a friend's Sweet Sixteen party, the theme of which was Alice in Wonderland.  This was her Cheshire Cat interpretation.  She wore this crazy orange and black striped costume that has been in the family attics for at least 30 years (and that we girls always called the Cheshire Cat costume) but she wouldn't let me get it in the photo.


 This doesn't make me happy, per se, right now, but it will.  I'm showing you some future happiness.  I will be very happy when this is completed.  It is the beginnings of Calvin's Halloween costume.  We're in our annual Halloween flurry of activity, putting a costume together.  Any guesses as to what Calvin is going to be?  Bet you can't tell...

Funny (and hopefully not tragic)

I did something today I never thought I would ever do.  And I still can't believe I did it.  I bought meat out of a truck sitting in my driveway.  Doesn't that sound insane?

The story was this guy is a restaurant supplier who had a surplus of quality meats and was going door-to-door to unload it all.  I called The Viking, he said check it out, it looked like good stuff (and the company's website checked out) and the price was right.  I may not be able to sleep tonight, wondering if we're going to be getting another visit in the middle of the night from a professional burglar who uses a fancy-looking refrigerated truck as a cover for casing out homes to rob, but it looks like we got some good steaks!


This is what my dining room table usually looks like this time of year.  Costume central!  This is after I'd tidied up a bit.  Daria has a strict no photos policy (something about outstanding warrants or something) but she did deign to let me photograph her very gifted hands.

Where did you find contentment this week?  Join us and share!

Monday, October 17, 2011


I can't help myself. I just love tricking out the blog for Halloween.

It's just for a few weeks and then I'll come to my senses again.

Trick or Treat!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Tag Team Edition

round button chicken
~Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life~ Every Thursday at Like Mother Like Daughter

Today's PHFR is brought to you in part by frogs, dogs, hogs (of the Guinea Pig variety--get it? Pigs? Hogs?) and Calvin (formerly known as Man-Cub--we're trying out a new blog name).

Still with me?

Calvin (Man-Cub) was given an Art/Nature activity this morning that required him to go outside and snap photos of things that capture the essence of October.  He didn't get into it very much, but he got a few cool shots.  Then I asked if he'd like to contribute to this week's PHFR and he went around the house taking a few more shots.

I contributed a few as well, so this is a collaborative effort:

Pretty a la Calvin

He took this one.  These petunias (I think) are blooming rather late this year.  I would not think a ten-year-old boy would be interested in flowers, but he insisted this be his first Pretty photo.

His other pretties (from his assignment):

Though I can't make it out, he says there's a cute squirrel in that tree.  And cute, after all, is a cousin of pretty!

Pretty a la Mama

I'm sure a more experienced gardener can tell me what this plant is (it's probably noxious/invasive/forbidden with my luck), but I have no idea.  I love it.  It sprang up, unbidden, along the fence.  I'm waiting to see if the berries deepen to a red color but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be cutting swags of it to hang somewhere around the entrance of the house.  Freebie!

We planted this Burning Bush about three years ago and its color seems to intensify with each passing Autumn.  I love the red berries on it, too.

I wouldn't necessarily call this pretty, but it does have a creepy beauty to it.  We have spiders that become very active spinners around here come October--perfect for Halloween!

This web runs through the bottoms of the dead Lilies and Black Eyed Susans all along the fence.  Its size is quite impressive, but I couldn't get a good shot of it.

Calvin's Happy

Silly, stinky Nutmeg, Hobbes to my boy's Calvin.  She really is a good dog, despite the passive aggressive barking, the perpetual foul odor and the constant threat that she may explode with a sneeze of stomach-churning proportions.

Calvin loves her so much.  She makes him very, very happy.

He likes this photo (and thinks it's extra cute) because you can see her tongue.

Another one of Calvin's beloved friends, Flame.  He lives with his sister? mate? Orange Toes in a tank in Calvin's bedroom.  This should show you how much his mother loves him.  That and the fact that they eat live crickets and are still allowed to stay.

Calvin will kill me for not remembering just what kind of amphibian Flame is.  I do know that he is poisonous and so I am always screeching, "DID YOU WASH YOUR HANDS???" every time he has to feed him or change the water in the tank.

This makes Calvin happy because it makes him proud.  This is a Sleeping House he made for Gram's Yorki-Poo, Aggie (short for Dame Agatha Christie, isn't that a riot?).

I have no idea what put the idea into his head nor whether Aggie will actually use it.  But he is very proud of his creation (I think this may have something to do with his visit to The Masonic Temple in Philly the other day and his subsequent fascination with the Masons and building things).

Mama's Happy

Last night I did penance for carelessly leaving an opened can of pumpkin out to go bad by buying a new can of pumpkin and making pumpkin biscotti.  It's not the best pumpkin biscotti in the world, but it's definitely a good jumping-off point.  And that tea: Revolution Tea's Earl Grey Lavender!  Whoever thought to pair Earl Grey with Lavender was absolutely brilliant!  This is one of my favorite teas and when Daria and I spotted three boxes on the shelf at Genuardi's yesterday, we bought all three of them!

Ahhhh, the breakfast of champions!  If you're the champion of sitting at the computer and sorting socks and then making a thumpin' good roast beef for supper, that is.

Funny, according to Calvin

Meet Miss Bessie Moo.  Strictly speaking, she is Redheaded Snippet's guinea pig.  But Calvin loves her almost as much as his sister does and very generously and conscientiously takes care of her while Redheaded Snippet is at school during the day.

Being, by nature, rather stupid, Bessie is pretty much a constant source of laughter in our house.  One of her most famous tricks is climbing up on top of her igloo (just inches away from the always-opened hatch on the top that she is too dim to notice) and jumping off it to flip it over.  Apparently, she loves doing this repeatedly at around 2:00 in the morning.  Calvin was trying to capture her doing it for this photo, but she was, in his words, "being a moron."

Calvin thought this Walking Stick crawling around in front of the kitchen window this afternoon* was funny.  He also thinks it's funny that studying him can be considered educational as we are studying insects in Science this term.  Don't get me wrong, he's relieved and glad about it, but he still thinks it's funny, like he's getting away with something.

*Incidentally, just as I was typing this, a small movement at the window caught my eye and I looked up to see that Mr. Stick had returned!  His ears must have been burning!

Pretty, Happy, Funny and Real, according to Mama

And there he is, the boy, the legend, the smirk: Calvin, formerly known as Man-Cub, my ten-year-old miracle, my pupil, the raspberry seed in my wisdom tooth, my PHFR partner for the week.  It doesn't get much more real than this!

Join in the fun!  Where can you find contentment this week?  I promise, if you keep looking, you'll find it!