Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

To celebrate Halloween, I made a recipe from Ladies' Home Journal's October 2013 issue--"Monster Cookies":

They're a mashup of chocolate-chip and chocolate-chocolate chip dough, studded with broken-up bits of Halloween candy:

And some mini-pretzels for a salty crunch:

The two doughs are smushed together, so they have a kind of a "Frankenstein's Monster" look:

The only thing I wouldn't do again is use Candy Corn. It tended to melt:

But they are yummy! I've got my handouts ready for the little goblins:

And although I don't dress up the pugs--they don't like it--Pao was kind enough to let me snap him in his sunglasses:

Happy Trick-or-Treating!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fall Decorations for the Front Door

For Halloween, a lot of my neighbors have decorated their front yards and doorways with glow-in-the-dark ghosts and animatronic witches and other crazy things. They're fun to look at, but for my own house, I prefer something more classic, less plastic. This year it's two big pumpkins, a lot of fall foliage, and two odd, witchy-looking brooms I found on a walk down an alley:

(Hi, Mu Shu: We see you!)

 I'll carve the pumpkins into Jack-o-Lanterns for the 31st.

Then I'll probably fill in the arrangements with more gourds.

As "Gourdon Gecko" might have said, "Gourds are good."

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hutch Re-Do for Fall

Now that it's autumn, I've re-dressed my hutch to reflect the change in seasons. This was its summertime look:

And this is how it looks now:

I've dressed my garage-sale bust with a fall wreath:

And plopped some wisteria pods and leaves in a pitcher:

And lastly, added some fake fruits:

It's rather slouchy and tossed-together, as if I just came in from a walk through Nature:

I love the way the afternoon light slants in on the hutch:

It's Fall, y'all! My favorite season of the year. Toss on a sweater, and let's have a pot of tea.

Monday, October 28, 2013

This Shape

With yesterday's post, I realized I've never come clean on my obsession for the classic Greek urn. I'm nuts about the shape.

There's always a foot, and a bulbous body, a bit of a flare at the lip, and sometimes--not always--there are handles. Mostly I find them at junk shops and yard sales. I paid $40 for this one, below, but most of my finds are under $10--many under $5. I have urns in unidentified, beat-up metal:

And silver plate:

And glass:

And sterling silver:

And pottery. I found this beauty at Goodwill for just $1.79!

I use this little one for storing makeup stuff:

This big one comes in handy at parties, holding ice and cold wine:

This one is often out in the garden with a glass gazing ball resting in it:

But mostly, they sit around looking decorative. Family portrait!:

Love 'em all.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Flea-Market Urn

This weekend I went to a new flea market in town that's being run by a public high school. They're raising money for the students since so many things that used to be offered have been cut.

I found this gorgeous, cast-iron urn for only $8. It weighs a ton and stands about 12 inches tall.

Right now, it's holding one of my other current obsessions, the quince.

For Halloween, I may fill this full of (fake) creepy crawlies and leave it out on the front porch.

But for now, it's beautiful holding the yellowish-greenish fruit:

I couldn't just plop them on the countertop, right? Because, y'know, I want to help out the public-school system.

Friday, October 25, 2013

A White Chair

Lovely Daughter #2 had this chair. I think she might've "inherited" it from her boyfriend.

But then she went to grad school and left the chair behind. Various housemates used it, until it ended up in her sister's garage.

Today, I liberated it, brought it home to my house, and cleaned it up. It looks great with a pug plonked in it:

Something about the clean, white lines and the rounded edges really sets off the looks of the dogs:

I'm smitten with this chair.

It may have to stay at my house for a while.

At least until I fully investigate all the ways it's good for showing off pugs.

It has this delicious honeycomb surface, which you can see when you move in close:

Those curves! I love how they hug the pugs.

Hey, Won Ton, when did you get white whiskers?

That's okay, buddy; now you match the chair.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Almost-Candied-Quince and Apple Pie

I've never cooked with quince, but a recent L.A. Times article by Russ Parsons, and a fall-food challenge in my ladies-who-cook group changed that.

Quinces look like blocky, green pears. They are easy to peel:

They look like a pear inside, too. But they feel like an apple that's gone all woody and punk-y. I nibbled a raw piece; they taste like wood, too.

But I trusted Parsons: cooking simply transforms this fruit. Slice up the quince:

Pour over the slices a sugar-water (or sugar-water-wine) syrup infused with cardamom seeds, cinnamon stick, cloves, and orange zest:

Bake the slices in the heavenly, spicy syrup until they turn rosy pink and almost translucent:

Ohhh, delicious!

Parsons suggests different ways to use the almost-candied quince, including serving it with cheese, or folding into a clafoutis, or stirring into Greek yogurt. I decided to create an apple-quince-cranberry pie:

YUM! The pale slices of apple commingle with the pink slices of quince, studded with the ruby cranberries here and there:

 The ladies and I ate it all up.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Blue Ball Jars

 I got a package in the mail recently. It was these:

Blue Ball Mason jars, replicas of ones made 100 years ago:

I don't can or preserve food, but ohhhh, I love that blue color:

These babies may never hold food in them, and that's okay:

They are gorgeous all by themselves:

Come winter, they may hold candles for a snowy winter-scape on my hutch:

Or I may just put them out, as is, to admire how the afternoon sun lights them up as it slants through the windows:

It hardly matters.

What's important is, they make me happy.


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