June 30, 2009
Unfortunately, those good intentions have yet to see the light of day. Mostly because there hasn't been much light during the day. At least not the kind that emanates from the sun. Of the past eleven days, the sun has shone for exactly one of them. The remainder have involved some combination of pouring rain, drizzle, heavy mist, or all of the above. Not ideal conditions for my workshop (aka my deck and backyard). But there is hope. As of this morning, a drying trend, with perhaps some sunshine, is in the forecast for Saturday. Only four more days. So it would appear that this week's project has become this weekend's project. Maybe.
I'm beginning to feel like a character in that Ray Bradbury story. The one in which the sun shines for one day in about eight years and everyone rushes outside to enjoy it. And then back inside again for another eight years. Sounds familiar.
June 28, 2009
While several suspects have been seen fleeing the scene of the crime, no charges have been laid due to a lack of tangible evidence.
However, security teams are in place and are confident that capture is imminent.
Further updates will be provided as this situation unfolds.
June 26, 2009
June 25, 2009
Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn't.
The pumpkin pie filling was my obvious starting point. There was some molasses left over from the gingerbread cookie part of the aforementioned recipe. And some pecans. Not left over from anything. Just waiting.
At this point, I had one thought: pumpkin-molasses tarts. And why not pumpkin-molasses pie? Simple. Pie crust is not my forte. But shortbread dough is. And shortbread dough makes delicious little tart shells. So I made a quick batch of the world's easiest shortbread dough.
World's Easiest Shortbread
1 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups flour
One the dough had been shaped into the world's easiest little tart shells, I turned my attention to the filling. I have no real recipe to include here because I just kept adding ingredients until it tasted good to me. But I think it went something like this:
1 cup pumpkin pie filling
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup evaporated milk
cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice to taste
I filled the shells, popped a toasted pecan on each one, and put them into a 350F oven. Then I waited about 20 minutes. Then I ate one. Or two.
June 24, 2009
June 23, 2009
So my Lost viewing was complete for now. But still the rain continued. I searched for another indoor activity. I could engage in intensive house-cleaning. I could clean out my closets and storage spaces. I could browse in a bookstore.
While at Chapters, a few books caught my attention. The graphic novelization of Agatha Christie's Halloween Party is one I've had my eye on for a while. But I've read every mystery that Agatha Christie wrote, and Halloween Party doesn't stand out as one of my favourites. Despite the victim and method of murder. An obnoxious pre-teen has her head held under water in an apple-bobbing bucket. Interesting to see in a graphic novel format, but not interesting enough to persuade me to part with almost $20. I came much closer to buying On A Raven's Wing. A collection of short mystery stories inspired by Poe or by some aspect of one of his stories.
And I likely would have gone home with it had I not spotted another book. Halifax Haunts. I hadn't realized it, but this is the book I've been waiting for.
I love historical "true" ghost stories. Especially those that take place in my own backyard. But detailed local ghost stories have been surprisingly difficult to find. I've been able to gather bits and pieces. A ghost walk here. A cemetery tour there. A Halloween event. A vague chapter or two within a broader collection of stories. But well-researched, detailed stories about the ghosts who inhabit my city? Not really. Until now. Steve Vernon has kindly collected, researched, written (and perhaps slightly embellished) 33 Halifax ghost stories. Some I've heard before. Some I haven't. The author ". . . decided to write the book as a Halifax ghost tour." And that's how I've decided to read it. He's even included maps if I need them.
So it appears I've got a good chunk of my summer activities "mapped out". Hilarious. I think the rain is getting to me.
June 20, 2009
Thank you, Mr. Macabre! I think I'm going to cry now.
This particular award appears to have originated with the Gourd Queen and ". . . is to be shared with anyone whose blog you just love. Whether it's their art, their interests, the things they share, you just simply love to visit their blog!"
According to Mr. M, this is what you do:1~Accept the award then post it on your blog with the name and link of the person's blog who shared this award with you. 2~Explain the award. 3~Then share the award with at least 10 blogs that make you SCREAM! Please tell what makes their blog so special to you. Be sure to let them know they have received the award. Also you can share this award again if you run across more bloggers that make you SCREAM!
Hmmmm . . . ten blogs. After receiving my last award, I hesitated over this part. And the zombie chickens have already begun to peck through my walls. This time, I'll try to stave off any unfortunate consequences by passing the award along.
I read and enjoy most of the blogs on Mr. Macabre's list. So in the interest of avoiding award duplication, I'll select ten others.
1~ My Ghoul Friday
2~ Rabid Reflections
3~ Grim Hollow
4~ The Drunken Severed Head
5~ Ghostly Pumpkins
6~ The Hallowe'en Tree
7~ The Shabby Hag
8~ Dark Destinations
9~ Magikal Seasons
10~ The Art of Darkness
These are blogs I read daily. Or whenever they post something. Whichever comes first. They never fail to brighten (or darken) my day.
If your blog is not on the list, it doesn't mean that I don't love you. I do. Really. I just picked ten whose posts have appeared recently in my reader. Please believe me. I don't want to have to join Mr. Macabre under the bridge of homelessness.
June 19, 2009
There was a time when I saw this photo as the solution to a Halloween costume dilemma. My daughter wanted to be a ghost. Nothing elaborate or grotesque. Just a standard, basic, white- sheet ghost. In retrospect, she may have watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown a few too many times that October and was feeling inspired by the costumes. But no matter. A ghost was a traditional choice and certainly an improvement over Barney the dinosaur or a giant M&M. So I was happy to oblige.
My sewing skills are almost non-existent. But then I saw this photo (and accompanying instructions) and felt that this was a costume that even I could handle. I excitedly purchased a white sheet, white gloves and white make-up.
And that's when things began to go downhill.
My daughter has never liked the feel of Halloween make-up on her face. Nothing. Not even a little. She could not be persuaded. The white face make-up was out. But luckily, she had a back-up plan. She would simply put the sheet over her head and cut holes in it. (There was that Charlie Brown influence again.)
On went the sheet. Out came the scissors. Holes were cut. But not nearly big enough to walk safely through a dark neighbourhood. A little bigger. A little bigger. Perfect.
And that's how a simple yet brilliant costume idea ended up like this.
June 18, 2009
June 17, 2009
June 13, 2009
A new ceramic jack-o-lantern. Thanks to another successful Saturday morning of yard sale-ing.
But with great joy comes great regret. I usually come home from yard sales wishing I had purchased something that I passed up. This time the items in question were two monster head candles. Generic monsters. Had they been anyone recognizable, I would have grabbed them immediately. But these looked like they had been through some tough times and had some type of pet hair stuck to them. So I just bought the ceramic jack and turned toward home.
And then, as I spent part of the afternoon removing cat hair from my furniture, I regretted my decision. Perhaps they would have fit in nicely after all.
June 12, 2009
The pumpkin plants that were started indoors last month are happily thriving. They are, in fact, "growing like weeds". Or at least like the weeds that surround them. Thanks to two days of almost nonstop rain.
There was some concern, however, over the seeds that were planted directly outside. Two days after they went into the ground, they were visited by a late frost bent on destruction. There were a couple of anxious weeks. There was repeated checking of the patch in recent days, searching for signs of life. And then, a glimpse of yellow. Much rejoicing was heard when the first plant broke the surface yesterday. They're tougher than they look.
June 9, 2009
I was so proud.
And yes, it had to be somewhat friendly to avoid traumatizing "Barney". Who, nevertheless, is standing at a safe distance. But really. . .
The absence of anything resembling hands may be the most disturbing feature of all.
June 7, 2009
June 2, 2009
On a recent yard sale-ing expedition, I uncovered back issues of Martha Stewart's magazine and bought a few of the October issues that I was without. Turning directly to the food section, my eyes stopped at this recipe:
Pumpkin-Gingerbread Ice Cream Sandwiches
• 1 cup whole milk
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 1/2 cup Milk Caramel
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 6 large egg yolks
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup canned solid-packed pumpkin
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Chewy Gingerbread Cookies
1. Bring milk, cream, milk caramel, and cinnamon stick to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Remove from heat. Cover, and let stand 30 minutes. Return to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; discard cinnamon stick. Set aside.
2. Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. Put yolks and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until pale and thick, about 4 minutes.
3. With machine running, add hot milk mixture in a slow, steady stream. Add pumpkin and vanilla, and beat until combined. Pour mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl set in the ice-water bath. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Sandwich ice cream between gingerbread cookies just before serving.
Even if I had an ice cream maker . . . Making my own milk caramel, straining it into an ice water bath . . . And there are still the gingerbread cookies to make . . . I just don't think I want a homemade ice cream sandwich that badly. I closed the magazine, put it on the shelf, and went on with my life.
But it wouldn't let go.
Wherever I went. Whatever I did. Thoughts of pumpkin ice cream sandwiched between chewy gingerbread cookies haunted me.
So, always seeking the shortest distance between two points, I decided to make my own version of homemade pumpkin ice cream. Using two ingredients: vanilla ice cream and pumpkin pie filling. And this is where things got a little experimental.
I started with two tablespoons of ice cream and added two teaspoons of pumpkin pie filling and switched on the blender. Too pumpkin-y. I added more ice cream. Not pumpkin-y enough. The Goldilocks approach finally resulted in the perfect pumpkin ice cream. Then I added cinnamon and nutmeg and allspice until it tasted even more perfect.
On to the gingerbread cookies.
And it's not that Martha's recipe didn't look delicious. Of course it did. But I played it safe and used my own gingerbread recipe instead. (The time for trying new recipes is not while counting the seconds until eating an ice cream sandwich.)
2 cups flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp each allspice and baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup molasses
1. Stir flour with spices and baking soda. In another bowl, beat butter with sugar until creamy. Beat in molasses. Add dry ingredients and mix until dough forms.
2. Preheat oven to 350F. Add spoonfuls of dough to parchment-covered baking sheet. Use tablespoons if you want large sandwiches; teaspoons if you want small ones. Bake 10 minutes until the cookie edges start to brown. Flatten with a spatula just before done. Cool completely.
If all has gone well, they should look something like this.
The rest requires no explanation. I put some ice cream between two cookies, pressed them together and ate them. And they were all I had imagined.
There is one point that I cannot stress enough, however. The cookies must cool COMPLETELY before adding the ice cream. I was a little impatient and the results are obvious. I include this as a reminder so others don’t have to suffer as I have suffered.
June 1, 2009
One can of orange spray paint - $5.99
One stick torn from an abandoned gate - Free