Thursday, October 30, 2014

Foodie Friday-- Halloween 2014

Welcome to the 6th Annual Foodie Friday Halloween Party.
Halloween is a fun-loving kick off to the longer holiday season, a chance to indulge our inner child (and our real ones) and to play with vivid colors: russet, gold, burnt orange.
I'm thrilled that you're joining us for an evening of tricks and treats, magic potions,
soups for your cauldrons, and desserts that will haunt your taste buds.

Halloween is a favorite season for foodies. We fill our grocery cart with candy (our favorites, of course), carve pumpkins, bake cupcakes, and sip cup after cup of spiced tea.
Every Halloween, I open a poetry book and read an old favorite by Anne Sexton.

Her Kind

                                                                  BY ANNE SEXTON
I have gone out, a possessed witch
haunting the black air, braver at night;  
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite. 
I have been her kind.
I have found the warm caves in the woods,  
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,  
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:   
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.
                                                    -- Anne Sexton
 I'm delighted to share the 3 Most-Viewed Recipes
from last week's Foodie Friday.
 #1 Most-Viewed --
Served in a white Ironstone bowl, Homemade Vegetable Beef Soup is a hearty, heart-warming
meal on a crisp autumn evening.
A divine Orange Pumpkin Loaf is perfect with tea. 
#2 Most-Viewed Recipe
What happens when the nearest P.F. Chang restaurant is an hour away?
Butteryum has the answer with an aromatic, mouth-watering recipe.

 #3 Most-Viewed Recipe
From The Woks of Life: "Consisting of a flavorful, clear broth, shaved beef, tender Chinese radish slices, lots of cilantro and scallion, deep red chili oil, and chewy handmade noodles, Lanzhou Beef Noodle Soup (兰州拉面, lanzhou lamian) has the majority vote among 1.4 billion very culinarily-conscious citizens."

You're Invited to Peruse
from last week's Foodie Friday Link Party.
Ready to get your party on?
Are you contributing a recipe to this week's Foodie Friday?
 If so, locate the blue Inlinkz icon in the lower, left-hand portion of this post. Click on the icon and follow the directions. After you complete the process, you will see a red "x" beside your name. This allows you to delete your link if you made an error; the red "x" is visible to you only.
You can read an UPDATED guide to this linky party HERE.

f you'd like to share your food photos with a larger community, you are welcome to join the Pinterest foodie board, Consuming Passions. Leave a message on one of Foodie Friday's most recent "pins,"letting me know you'd like to join.
The Foodie Friday Link Party
Have a Safe, Spectacular Halloween.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

13 Spooktacular Halloween Recipes from the Foodie Friday Files

"By the pricking of my thumbs,

Something wicked this way comes." 

-- William Shakespeare, MacBeth

Ladies and gentlemen, take a deep breath.
Darkness falls swiftly during Halloween week,
and wild things howl at the moon.
'Tis the season when the crow flies after dark,
when spiders weave webs in your hair, 
and when spirits haunt your dreams. 
'Tis the season when candles burn in the kitchen and you study cookbooks, searching for ticks 'n treats. 

I'm pleased to share thirteen lucky recipes by thirteen talented bloggers, all chosen by the readers of Foodie Friday.

Are your cauldrons ready?

Cookbooks open?

Candles lit?

Let's join hands and sing together:

"Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble."

1. Gypsy Heart and Soul's  Witch Hat Cookies will weave a flavorful spell in your kitchen!

"Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake.
Eye of newt and toe of frog...."

2. Happier Than a Pig in Mud's Yummy Mummy Apple Pie is a combination of comedy and fine baking.

"Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches' mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravined salt-sea shark...."

3. Hyacinth for the Soul's Frightfully Delightful "Fingers" will tickle your funny bone.

"Root of hemlock digged i' th' dark ... 
Gall of goat and slips of yew
Slivered in the moon’s eclipse, 
Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips ...."

4. Graveyard Dip by Purple Chocolat Home  is an edible vignette,
one you'll want to make every year.

"Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble...."

5. Move over, Grumpy Cat! 
Celebrate Halloween with these adorable hand pies by Home Is Where the Boat Is

"How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags?
What is ’t you do?


     "A deed without a name."

6.  Posed Perfection's Acorn Donut Treats are elegant, festive, and 
flavor-filled. Perfect with coffee, hot tea, or a late-night snack.

"Be bloody, bold, and resolute. Laugh to scorn
The power of man, for none of woman born
Shall harm Macbeth."

We've got a trio of goodies by Home Is Where the Boat Is!

7. Prepare for Halloween with "Deadly Morsels and Twisted Treats" by Home Is Where the Boat Is.

"Round about the cauldron go,
In the poisoned entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Sweltered venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' th' charmèd pot."
8. Warm up with Witch's Brew Stew by Home Is Where the Heart Is

"I conjure you, by that which you profess,
Howe'er you come to know it, answer me:
Though you untie the winds and let them fight
Against the churches; though the yesty waves
Confound and swallow navigation up...."
9. Whip up a batch of deliciously cute Cauldron Cupcakes by Home Is Where the Boat Is 

First Witch: "Speak."
Second Witch: "Demand."
Third Witch: "We'll answer."
First Witch: "Say, if thou'dst rather hear it from our mouths,Or from our masters?"
MACBETH: "Call 'em; let me see 'em."

10 Virtually Yours by Kelly Stilwell's shared 4 Easy Halloween Cupcake Recipes, each one unique and unforgettable.

"Be lion-mettled, proud; and take no care
Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are:
Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until
Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill
Shall come against him."

11. Views from the 'Ville's Pumpkin Spice-Filled Molasses Cookie Cups is a keeper, one of those recipes you'll pass down to your children.

"Come, sisters, cheer we up his sprites,
And show the best of our delights:
I'll charm the air to give a sound,
While you perform your antic round:
That this great king may kindly say,
Our duties did his welcome pay."
12. Simply Sweet Home's Oreo Ice-Box Cake will serve a crowd, perfect for Halloween parties, and it is so versatile, your family and friends will enjoy it year-round.

"Make the gruel thick and slab.
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron...."

13. Shakespeare and the Three Witches would approve of the magic in A Life Well Red's Icing Spiders and Sugar Web Cupcakes. Here, food and art combine deliciously.  

Congratulations, Bakers!
"Oh well done! I commend your pains,
And every one shall share i' th' gains.
And now about the cauldron sing,
Like elves and fairies in a ring,
Enchanting all that you put in."

See you at Foodie Friday (the link will be available this Thursday evening, Oct. 30th, at 7 p.m. Central), when your favorite autumn recipes from last week's link party will be unveiled. 

Quotes: William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Adventures in DIY Outdoor Solar Lighting

Outdoor accent lighting has always fascinated me. 
Years ago, when we lived at the ex-funeral home, we got an estimate for outdoor lighting, but before we could make a decision (we mulled it over for a few weeks, as the estimate was pricey), the owners were suddenly impossible to find. They were reputable, too. I never found out what happened to that business. Now, it's gone.
This was before the days of Internet shopping, and I ordered a few solar path lights from a catalog. They were puny little things, barely emitting a glow, no bigger than a firefly.
Fast forward a decade or so. LED and Solar lighting had made a huge leap--best of all, it had become widely available at DIY stores, such as Lowes, Home Depot, and at many online stores, from to Frontgate.

Outdoor accent lighting had become so popular, you couldn't open a design magazine without seeing enchanting dusk and night-time photographs. 
But what if the homeowner isn't keen about messing with electricity? How to illuminate inaccessible places?

Solar lighting was our solution. It's not as bright as low voltage lighting, but it wasn't dangerous to a novice like myself.

There are different lights for different effects. Path lights, solar and battery-operated string lights, and fixtures for "wall washing" and "highlighting."

Below, you can see an example of highlighting. This was achieved by staking three solar lights around the base of a tree (one of two in our front yard) and angling the lights at the trunk and branches. I chose a fixture with a bright 70 lumen output.

An example of battery-operated sting lights. I found these at Home Depot. You can also find them online.

You can see the string lights in the distance--they're bright and warm.
That's another thing--you can choose "warm" or "cool" (colored) solar lighting. 

I was beguiled by Solar Mason Jars. I hung them from little, metal shepherd's hooks.

You can make your own, too.

Solar lights can also be staked in flower pots--don't they make a charming centerpiece?

At night, solar lights add a glow along the driveway. I bought the path lights on sale and had no qualms about mixing finishes or styles.  However, I tried to group the fixtures. The solar "Mason jar" lanterns went along the front walkway. I have two different styles of path lights--the more traditional ones are black and were placed in the flower beds; the "transitional," bronze lights line the driveway.

A Few Tips
* Take advantage of end of season sales.

* Place the fixtures at dusk to achieve the best lighting angle.

*Be creative--a product for "wall washing" can work on anything you wish to highlight, such as shrubbery and statues.

*Take pictures to make sure your lights are evenly spaced.

*Don't be afraid of mixing styles. But you'll probably want to be consistent with cool/warm lighting.

*To extend the use of your fixture, periodically wipe the solar panel.

(Not a sponsored post--just trying to chronicle my adventures in solar lighting.)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

An Elegant Renovation of a 70s Waterfront Maine Home

Houses in Maine are noted for their charm, but some possess a bit of magic.

Backlit by blue sky and water, the quaint Dutch Colonial had great bones and a great view. There were many ways to update this home, but the owners wanted to preserve the style and add a quiet, timeless elegance.

The front elevation received some minor architectural tweaks: a few (but not all) shed dormers were replaced by gables. It appears as if several second story windows were enlarged to give a little breathing room, add sunlight, and capitalize on the exquisite view. On the first floor, a gently curved bay window replaced a glassed-in greenhouse-type room. The entrance received my favorite tweak--the front door's transom was removed, and a new, covered porch (love the shed roof) added cozy, welcoming curb appeal.

Now that the architecture had been updated, it was time to refresh the color scheme. Creamy, neutral paint was such a brilliant choice as it created harmony between the house and its setting. Next, the driveway was reworked to lend a feeling of anticipation as visitors drove up. A circle drive established better traffic flow for parties and family gatherings (no traffic jams!).

In this classic setting, you won't find a massive three-tiered fountain or lavish, sculpted landscape. Rather, a timeless elegance casts its spell. Natural materials, such as crushed gravel (rather than pavers) lend a laid-back feel. This handsome house refuses to take itself too seriously, yet at the same time, it exudes serenity and an undeniable beauty.

Don't you love the flag in the center of the new driveway?
Traditional Exterior by Atlanta Architects & Building Designers Historical Concepts

At a glance, you can tell that "dog lovers" live in this home. Visitors are greeted by the family's four-legged spokesperson, and stone canines guard the low, stone wall around the entry courtyard. The original yellow paint on the siding was replaced with white, making the dark shutters stand out, and at the same time, the soft palette didn't compete with the iconic setting and its sweeping views of the bay.

When you're remodeling, there are so many things to consider. Do you break up the straight lines? Do you keep everything symmetrical or add a daring touch of asymmetry?

Like many coastal and waterfront homes in Maine, this house had both symmetry and asymmetry. And it's the subtle additions and subtractions that make or break an exterior. I love shed dormers, but in this case, on the front elevation, gabled dormers, also white, gave the house an extra boost of charm, along with a sense of history. (Both styles were skillfully applied in the front and rear elevations.)
On the second floor, it looks as if the remaining shed dormers were replaced and enlarged. 
Traditional Exterior by Atlanta Architects & Building Designers Historical Concepts

I don't know if the bluestone was original--but no matter, it's perfect for this courtyard. Roses add color and elegance to this informal cottage garden. The potted shrubs are just the right size. Love the weathered bench and the open casement window!
Traditional Exterior by Atlanta Architects & Building Designers Historical Concepts

At one point, the front door was painted white. (Notice how the topiaries are much shorter?)
Traditional Entry by Atlanta Architects & Building Designers Historical Concepts

The door was repainted at some point--perhaps the addition of a gorgeous brass fox door knocker prompted a change? I can't decide if the door color is blue-black, dark blue-green, or something else, something my "eye" can't detect. The screened door allows for sunlight and watery breezes to stream into the foyer. Don't you love the dog paintings, walking sticks, and wall color?
Traditional Entry by Atlanta Architects & Building Designers Historical Concepts

A stairwell window was tweaked, offering a stunning view of Casco Bay. More dog-themed
paintings line the curved wall.

New windows were added to the dining room--a fantastic way to take advantage of the incredible view.
Traditional Dining Room by Atlanta Architects & Building Designers Historical Concepts

Is this a sunroom? I'd love to curl up in a chair with a cup of tea and a sketch pad, my Yorkies sleeping all around me.
Traditional Exterior by Atlanta Architects & Building Designers Historical Concepts

Shall we walk around to the back of the house?
The rear elevation received more updates.
Traditional Exterior by Atlanta Architects & Building Designers Historical Concepts

Dated picture windows were replaced with simple paned windows. More dormers were added. Again, the shed roofs were replaced with gables. And each gable was pushed forward, giving more interior space--and much better views. I love the mix of shed and gabled dormers. What a beautiful compliment and contrast this brings to the rear elevation.The most dramatic change was the creation of a sunroom. Corner windows were removed, and a tasteful, seamless addition extended the living space. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the bay.
Traditional Spaces by Atlanta Architects & Building Designers Historical Concepts

If you look closely at the above photo (find the center triple-shed dormers and look left, at the arched, gabled window), you can see the foyer's tall, arched window--remember the sunny stairwell?
Inside, sunlight and magnificent views.
On the exterior, the window is gabled, echoing the dormers.

I'm in the middle of tweaking my own 70s style home, and I drew quite a bit of inspiration from this project. We're mortar-washing the existing bricks and adding cedar shake siding here and there. We're updating the windows, trying to be  mindful of the setting, views, and overall mood.
I've moved back and forth between shed and gabled dormers--at the moment, I'm favoring copper-topped arches and eyebrow windows. A bay window (right side of the porch) will add space to the breakfast room.

Proposed Front Elevation
(Same footprint as original)

The side elevation may or may not receive dormers.

Three or Four...the verdict depends on how much light we need.
As for the style...


...or shed dormers.

And the rear elevation...same footprint, different windows. We're mulling over the muntins!

I hope you enjoyed the tour! Have a wonderful weekend.

Historical Concepts on Houzz

Shared at Metamorphosis Monday.