Decorating, Cooking, Party Ideas, Travel, and a Halloween addiction

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Harvest Moon

The Harvest moon was actually the 23rd of this month, but I just thought of sharing it with you all....
It was called a harvest moon because it provided so much light that farmers could keep harvesting their crops through the night.

"The harvest moon comes soon before or soon after the autumnal equinox. It is simply the full moon closest to that equinox. About once every four years it occurs in October (in the northern hemisphere), depending on the cycles of the moon. Currently, the latest the harvest moon can occur is on October 7.
When the night of the harvest moon coincides with the night of the equinox, it is called a "Super Harvest Moon."[1] In 2010 in the contiguous United States, the harvest moon happened in the early morning hours of Sept 23, only 5 1/2 hours after the autumnal equinox, creating the first Super Harvest Moon since 1991.[2]
Often, the harvest moon seems to be bigger or brighter or more colorful than other full moons. The warm color of the moon shortly after it rises is caused by light from the moon passing through a greater amount of atmospheric particles than when the moon is overhead. The atmosphere scatters the bluish component of moonlight (which is really reflected white light from the sun), but allows the reddish component of the light to travel a straighter path to one's eyes. Hence all celestial bodies look reddish when they are low in the sky.
The apparent larger size is because the brain perceives a low-hanging moon to be larger than one that's high in the sky. This is known as a moon illusion and it can be seen with any full moon. It can also be seen with constellations; in other words, a constellation viewed low in the sky will appear bigger than when it is high in the sky." from wikipedia.

I watch the moon cycles, and I thought you all might  enjoy this too.

Next month is Hunters moon{ sometimes called blood moon} , more on that later

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Free vegetable stock!

I don't know about you all, but I LOVE free stuff. In my opinion, you just can't beat free!
 But I digress....
 As I'm sure some of you have realized by now, I cook approx. five nights a week. Partially because it is a heck of a lot cheaper, but also because it is WAY healthier. {plus I'm a pretty good cook if I do say so myself!}
I wanted to share this idea that I reinterpreted . When I was cooking for a living, I had the privilege to work with some classically trained chefs. One of the main things I learned was that in the classic French kitchen, there is no waste. Every part of an animal or vegetable is valuable. The way I applied this to my home kitchen is in the form of vegetable stock.
I hate store bought stock for two reasons.....1- it has a ridiculous amount of sodium in it, 2- it is way over priced.
The simple way to solve this is make your own. -with scraps.
Here's what I do....
over a week or so save all of you veggie trimmings in a big tub or Ziploc. The main things you want to have are onion, carrot and celery.  Those 3 are referred to as Mirepoix in french cooking, and are the foundation in basically any soup, stew, or sauce . So the tips, stalks, peelings, rinds, and any ugly ones or ones that are on the verge of spoiling throw in the bag. Any thing goes except things like lettuce and cucumber. I also do not add eggplant bits or winter squash bits. But parsnip, zucchini, tomato, green beans are all good bets.
Try to keep the bag in the coldest part of the fridge to prolong its life until you feel like making it.
Throw everything into a big pot and add twice as much water as you have veggie scraps.
Add in herbs. I use a combo of 2 bay leaves, 2 tsp oregano,1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp savory,  dash of sage,  1/2 tsp basil, and salt and pepper {whole peppercorns are best]
 Go easy on the basil and sage because their flavor will take over the whole pot.  This step is one that you just learn what flavor after making it a few times
Boil for 10minutes then reduce to medium heat and simmer for a few hours.
strain everything through a wire mesh strainer. throw away veggies. Use stock in soups, sauces  or anything else you would normally use water in , but want an extra kick.

Although I am now a vegetarian, I was cooking meat in the not too distant past.
 On a side note if you want to make a beef or chicken stock, this method would work as well, just add in 1 chicken carcass {leftover from a deli- roasted chicken perhaps} or beef shank bones.

For the beef - Get a few pounds of beef shank bones {shank is used because of the connective tissue and marrow} smear them with tomato paste and then roast in the oven to improve the taste before adding to your stock mixture

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Autumn tablescape

These are a few of my favorite things....
Well, my first table With a whiff of fall flavor to it at least.
The framed phrase was one of the first things I bought for our house when we moved in. ....1/2 price at Bed Bath and Beyond.The candelabra was $8 at Earthbound trading co. {one of my favorite places to shop} The rest is Goodwill and Dollar store finds... Except the books. Those are first edition Chronicles of Amber, and the broach was my granny's. I just love the sparky fall color faux gemstones. I am going to add in some mesh leaves or bittersweet berries once I find some for a good price. Maybe something like this...

I have ALOT more decorating to do for fall. I have been looking forward to this since like July! Also I have been finding sooooo many cute things for fall. More to come on that....

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Meet my new friend, Farnsworth

Isn't he the cutest!
Two things led me to Farnsworth...
One, would be his obvious good looks, and the other is how little he cost me.
Honestly, I would have paid $15, but he was only a third of that... a measly $5.
 How I ask you could I leave him sitting on the shelf?  I gave his ankle a dab of glue and his rear end a brush of black paint, and he is good as new.
 And he has been placed in a starring role in the living room. Right next to my chair.

As for the name...
Hopefully someone out there watches either Futurama or Warehouse 13... But the actual person was fascinating in his own right.... see here

More fall finds later this month!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Halloween Party revised lists

Remember when I laid out my ideas  here?
or here?
or even here?
Well, it has come down to this main thing.... 5 of my best and dearest friends are not going to be able to make it because of various work/ moved 3+ hours away etc. reasons.......Boo-hoo 
So I am now faced with the decision, do I just invite a half dozen or so people over for a small pumpkin carving dinner party or do I keep my same plans and hope that it won't seem too empty .

I am totally into the whole vintage theme I had committed to, but if only like 12 people are coming, there is not really enough people to do some of the party games, and to eat all the food I had planned.

My current menu looks like this

deviled eggs with little devil faces made out of pieces of red pepper

fleetah - a spinach and cheese creation my MIL makes -listed as "decomposed specimen"
like this only like a pie not little balls

cheese platter
with an aged chedder, a gooey brie and a crumbly blue cheese with figs, grapes, and crackers
{maybe olives}
something like this... dark fall colors

pumpkin seeds
-from my jack o lanterns-roasted w/ olive oil ,salt, and chili powder

mini grilled cheese
{on that tiny pumpernickel loaf you can find in the deli section of the grocery store, with halloween shapes cut out of the top slice of bread so you can see the cheese peeking through}

hand pies
with a savory veggie filling and a pumpkin pie filling

"Man Toes" Pretzels
{shorter stubby version of these, with lttle rosemary "hairs"}

Tombstone shaped cookies
popcorn balls
carmel apples and pears

spiced old fashioned doughnuts

Beer and Hard Cider
with a spiced autumn tea for our non-alcoholic friends -;p

as for the entertainment...
Pumpkin and squash carving with maybe some bobbing for apples
 and pin the tail on the cat after a few hard ciders!

Or should I just have a "viewing" of a Halloween movie  after dinner..... What do you think?

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Remember when I posted my list of proposed Halloween crafts back here?
Well somethings are for sure off the list but a few have held on for the duration. One of which are these little cuties. I got the idea from Ms. Martha Stewart, and they look pretty cute albeit not as professional as hers.
Here is a before pic of the jars. Actually it was just after I got started. You can see a little bit of paint on the left hand one where I jumped right in before taking the "before" pic. Not the first time that's happened ;p
These were assorted Dijon, jelly, pickle etc. jars that I saved just for this project. So that totals up like:

  • jars: free already had them leftover from condiments

  • raffia- whole bag was $3.00 but only used maybe 5 cents worth

  • paint: already had some from other projects, bout 2 for 1.00 each
total- 5.00 spent  only 1.00 worth of materials used

 I will absolutely be able to find a use for the rest.

Friday, September 10, 2010


readers, ignore this its just for technorati .


Autumn Vegetarian feast

Once again, I got really excited about making this and didn't take any pictures along the way.... bad blogger, no cookie.

This was a fairly straight forward and very healthy meal. Here are the recipes:

 Stuffed Acorn Squash
1 acorn squash
1onion diced
1carrot diced
1 rib celery diced
1 apple chopped { I used Gala }
1/3 c. raisins
{ you could substitute, brown rice, amaranth, quinoa or your preferred grain}
2 Tbsp butter or oil to cook veggies in plus some to butter the squash
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450. cut acorn squash in half, remove the seeds and pulp. Brush the flesh with butter and lightly salt and pepper it. Place in a roasting pan with a small amount of water in the bottom. Place pan in oven for 15-20 min. 
Saute the veggies over med-high heat in the butter/ oil until the onions are translucent . Add the apple and apple cider vinegar. Reduce heat. Add the cereal/grain in its dry form plus the water needed to cook it per the package instructions. Once the cereal has plumped add in the raisins. Stir and add cinnamon, ginger, salt and pepper to taste.
Remove stuffing mixture from heat. Check the acorn squash; when it is almost done remove from oven add in the stuffing and then finish baking in the oven an additional 10 or so min.

To accompany the squash I also made a big tray of roast veggies. This is one of my favorite dishes. I love having just this for dinner, no entree needed.
Roast Veggies
3 Idaho potatoes cut into steak fries
2-3 Sweet potatoes cut into steak fries
8 ounces white mushrooms quartered
12 or so cloves of garlic
2 carrots cut into steak fries
olive oil
salt and pepper
Toss all veggies in olive oil. place on baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper
Roast in a preheated 450 oven for 20 min or so .
note: these taste better if you let then get a little dark around the edges. the natural sugar in the sweet potatoes caramelizes and is delish.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


If only we could be so easily entertained.
This is Mcgee, My in-laws kitty. He is 1/2 Maine Coon, and has no clue how big he really is. :p
Hope you enjoy the cuteness!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Owl Mirror

I am in LOVE!!!! with this mirror..
The best part? Half off baby!
I am super excited to get this just in time for the fall. The colors are perfect for the seasonal decor I am going to start bringing out. Not to mention I love owls. They are a bird sacred to Athena, and one of my Granny Gran's favorite things.  This is the only thing I bought for myself in Key West, except for a book from a thift store, which  hardly counts seeing it was only a dollar.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Curtain Rod Rotation

I forgot to take a before picture...sorry.
I just got so excited to finally do this project I just started right in.
I am in a love-hate relationship with my living room windows. I honestly cannot figure out what to do with the bizzaro shape of the "eyebrow" windows. At least I think that's what they're called. The house came with your basic c shape adjustable curtain rods, plastic mini blinds, and valences. Thanks to our lovely Florida sun the mini blinds on the Living room side of the house are toast, literally and figuratively. Once they went it was all down hill, the cats wanted to play with all the now dangling strings and the valences being only 8" long were to short to conceal the damage.
At last I decided to matters into my own hands. I bought this rod at the Depot. I know, it's -GASP- polished brass. but I knew I could fix it up proper.
I couldn't figure out how to take that pic... ;~p
I gave it a good coat [well 3-4 thin coats to be precise] of SHOCKER oil rubbed bronze spray paint. I am so predictable. Here is a close up of the end detail. Not to fancy, but neither an I. Next replace the curtains that are hanging on it.
I wish I could show you how cluttered it looked before. This is SUCH a big improvement.
For those of you wondering, yes I cut out poster board and taped it up there to block the sun. With out it, it's nigh impossible to see the TV without a glare. As far as the decor up there, pay it no mind, I am still trying to find something that looks like it fits in for that spot.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Buttermilk Biscuits here we go....

Buttermilk Biscuits here we go ,
sift the flour , roll the dough,
clap your hands and
stomp your feet,
Move your butt, to the funky beat
Feel good

For those of you who do not live with a human music encyclopedia, let me introduce you to one of 
Sir Mix-A-Lot's lesser know songs "Buttermilk Biscuits".  Yes, that Sir Mix-A-Lot, the one of "I like big butts and I can not lie" fame. This is the perfect song to sing while rolling biscuit dough. - Even though these babies do not call for buttermilk.
On a side note, my great grandmother, Granny B, {yes, everyone called her that, and no, she's not a rapper, her last name was Bessette} used to drink buttermilk every single day in a glass. With no sugar or anything. Not to be insensitive, but in my opinion this greatly contributed to her overall sour mood .
Back to the biscuits
Let me just say I love biscuits and gravy. There is no version I do not love. I have even enjoyed a frozen breakfast pizza that was biscuits and gravy themed. Even so, when making sausage gravy vegetarian, it is delish and practically guiltless.  

Melt 2-3 Tbsp of butter in a pan, and then add in the same amount of flour. Cook the roux for a couple of minutes to take away the raw flour taste. Add in 3 cups Milk {skim even works} and simmer until it begins to thicken. Crumble up 8 thawed tofu breakfast sausage pattys{I use Morningstar Farms pattys, not links} into the mixture continue to cook until sausage is warm through. Salt and Pepper to taste, a few drops of maple syrup is good to add in at this point if you need a bit of sugar with your breakfast.
For the Biscuits-
Sift together 2 c. flour,4 tsp baking powder,1/2 tsp salt. Cut in 3 Tbsp Butter/marge/spread. When the mixture is the size of peas, add in 3/4 -1 c. milk all at once. Mix well, turn onto a floured board, briefly knead, roll  1/2 " thick and cut into circles. Bake at 450 for 12 Min. approx 1 doz.
I decided to damn the cholesterol and have it with eggs and home fries .
I didn't break my diet on this at all. Partially because it's so low cal, and partially because I was stuffed until dinner!

Friday, September 3, 2010

New Chairs -yipee

I have been longing for new chairs for the last year. My old chairs were free, and given to us when we did not have any, but let me just say - I am sooo glad they are gone!
I have been keeping my eyes peeled looking for bargains at Goodwill, Craigslist, and the curb in my neighborhood on trash day.  All to no avail. I saw these great chairs on Craigslist last week and was instantly smitten. Why? Not only do the have a great shape to them but a thick cushy new foam seat, but were only $5 each. FIVE DOLLARS!!!!!!
 I got six. Even though I really only need four for my current table, I figured that in the future, six is a more practical number. As far as the fabric on the cushion goes - It is very good quality, and fairly neutral.
That thin burgundy striping is not enough to bring me to recover them just yet.  My house is mostly blue-green colors, but with the fall colors coming out and then the Xmas decor after that.  The soonest I think I will even notice that it doesn't really go is mid-spring.
 And who knows, I may change the paint by then ;p

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I love Craigslist!

I got this big hunka hunka bookcase for just $45. Originally from Ikea $150.00 see here.
I now have a place to store all my books- yay. I cannot take all the credit though, My sweet hubby actually found this for me . I already have it jam packed....

 Originally my plan was to have my father in law help me build a whole built in bookcase wall.
 I had 4x 12w x42h camed glass cabinet doors from an old display at work, and wanted to incorporate them into the "design".  BUT if you have ever priced out materials for a 8' built in, you know it is not cheap. Materials only = $400 plus a couple of days to build it. I know that in the grand scheme of things it's really not THAT much money. But I did not want to shell that out, and then still have a ton of work ahead of me, before I could enjoy it.  So here is my lazy girl alternative-
This was my first Craigslist purchase, and I have to say, I am very pleased.

Jack Flat's

I love Jack Flat's! Everything is yummy and big portions.This grouper sandwich was absolutely divine. I can also reccommend the Jack Flats Burger, from my meat eating days.

All in all a fun place to hang out, decent prices, great food, and a dozen big screen tvs.