Thursday 31 October 2013

Happy Hallowe'en!

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate ~

The first one says, "Oh my, it's getting late"! ~

The second one says, "There are witches in the air"! ~

The third one says, "But we don't care"! ~ 

The fourth one says, "Let's run and run and run"! ~

The fifth one says, "I'm ready for some fun"! ~

Ooo, Ooo went the wind and out went the lights and five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.

Can you believe I remember that song from kindergarten?  Now, that's scary!

Sunday 27 October 2013

The Hall Faux Window

I've had quite a few questions about the antique window I hung in my back hallway. ~

This hall is so long and narrow that it's difficult to furnish and can easily feel like the green mile when you are walking down it.

Years ago I bought a pair of leaded glass windows and was looking for a way to use them in the house. They were in rough condition with gouges and many, many layers of paint. ~

All those layers of paint worked to my advantage when it came time to do a worn paint look.  I dabbed a darker grey paint in the recesses and drybrushed a lighter grey over it all, lifting the brush slightly when I came to the dark grey spots. ~

To create the illusion of a real window, I hung a couple of pieces of wallpaper with a birch tree design on the wall. ~

These windows are heavy and had to be screwed into the wall studs.  A big thank you to my nephew Corey for tackling that job!

With four cats in the house (3 that are certifiably insane!) a key holder is a recipe for lost keys.  Last year I had painted a planter box for the porch and it is ideal for holding keys.

The planter cost $2 at the Salvation Army Thrift Store.  It was hand carved, solid wood and started out looking like this.  Well, like this without the first coat of grey paint. ~

A bit of scrap paint and a 25 cent rub on and it looks like this.  If you want to see how I did the paint treatment click here. ~

No cats stealing the keys for hockey pucks and it works with the aged window.

Throw down a mint condition, pure wool Persian rug that I bought at auction for $5 and we have some interest in that area. ~

I'm still looking for an old piece of wood to fashion into a windowsill.  I think it will be great fun to play around with dressing the window and sill up for the holidays!

I'm sharing this with:  Fall Junkers United  Wow Us Wednesdays  Cottage Style Party  From Dream To Reality  Tuesdays With A Twist

Friday 25 October 2013

The Effect Of Colour On Light

When I decided to have a steel roof installed, I had to make some concessions to allow for the extra cost. The skylight in the hall would have to go in the interest of saving labour and the expense of a new one.

The hall leads to a side door that is really only used by me to go to the chicken coop.  It has a coat closet and the entry door to the laundry room.  It's also the entry to the main floor bathroom and so seen by my guests.  With the skylight gone, the hall was so dark that I tripped over something in there in the daytime!

The only remaining light source was this tall window at one end. ~

Here's the hall in it's previous gold incarnation.  In my defence, it was done in my early divorce days when dark and gloomy seemed appropriate.  The picture was taken in the summer on a bright, sunny day and the overhead light is on.

The room is full of shadows. ~

I haven't finished working in here.  The baseboards aren't installed and the doorknobs will be changed.

The walls and high ceiling are painted in Benjamin Moore CC-50 White Down. ~

Even with the light off, on an overcast October day, the colour reflects the bit of light coming in the room. ~

I've hung an old, leaded glass window for decoration.  The glass reflects more light from the laundry room window. ~

The hall even has kitten approval.  This isn't Maeve.  Can you believe it is one of my foster kittens grown just as big her?  ~

The room has gone from dark, gloomy and lacking in interest to a bright and cheerful space. ~

None of the photos have been altered.  It would rather miss the point to lighten them, don't you think?

Colour is a powerful tool in making a space more inviting!

I'm sharing this with  Power Of Paint Party

Sunday 20 October 2013

The Last Of The Roses

The weather report says there is a possibility of snow flurries this coming week.  I clip the last of the roses and, once again, the season of living like a duchess, with flowers in every room of the house is over.

I may not have reached the level of Elton John's floral arrangements but I've had tulips spilling out of vases. ~

Peonies have brightened window sills ~

and apple blossoms in an old, transferware teapot have filled the library with a heavenly scent. ~

There have been lilacs, gladiolas, orange blossoms, paper whites and sunflowers.  The gardens have been generous and I have been surrounded by beauty.

The last roses are tinged with frost and far from perfect, ~

but they will stay on my desk until the last petal falls. ~

For a few more days, I'll hold winter at bay.

Friday 18 October 2013

Tip For Freezing Pie Apples

Here's a little tip I got from my cousin Kathy many years ago. She's married to a rancher in Alberta and can whip out a meal for an army on a moments notice. What would a ranch meal be without pie?

In the fall, when apples are abundant and cheap, Kathy cut them up and put them in a pie plate. She added the seasonings. I use sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. Then she popped it all in the freezer. ~

Once it's frozen solid in the shape of a pie plate, slide the filling out into a freezer bag and pop it back in the freezer.

When you want to make a pie, you just slide the frozen filling onto your bottom pastry. ~

Add your top crust and give the apples 15 or 20 mins. to thaw. ~

Bake as you normally would.  Yee haw, we have pie! ~

If you know any cute cowboys, you can send them on over here and I'll feed them all the pie they can handle!

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Malala's Book Is Here!

One day last week my friend Wendy called me and said I had better get over to her house because "my girl" was being interviewed by Diane Sawyer for 20/20.  I don't have TV and I sure did want to see that show! I had seen her speech to the United Nations on her sixteenth birthday, but I wanted to see Malala Yousafzai in an interview situation where the words would be her own.
Once again, Malala showed herself to be wise beyond her years, eloquent and committed to the cause of education for all children.  Diane described Malala as, " electrifying inspiration" and "unbreakable". ~

I ordered the book I Am Malala and it was a riveting account of conditions in the Swat region of Pakistan throughout her life, her life within her family and the course of events that led Malala to the fateful day when a Taliban gunman shot her at point blank range.  It's a story of miracles that converged to save her life and allow her to continue to speak up for the 50 million children, worldwide, who are denied the right to a basic education.

Of course, I know Malala isn't really "my girl".  But, she has become "everyone's girl".  She has transcended gender, nationality and religion to touch millions of people.  She has given courage to children who live in seemingly hopeless situations.  She has moved governments to action by shining a light on a shameful situation and has shown us what true courage and dedication to a cause is.  She makes me want to be a better person.  For that, she will always be "my girl".

I highly recommend this book, co written with Christina Lamb and published by Little, Brown & Co.

She says she does not  want to be thought of as the "girl that was shot by the Taliban" but the "girl who fought for education." 

I will always think of her as the girl who showed us, all that is good in mankind. ~

Monday 14 October 2013

Some Days It's All Worthwhile

Almost two weeks ago my little, brown hen was spared from the chopping block and came to live with me. She had survived nearly being pecked to death in her old flock and she was afraid of everything.  She hid when my chickens were in the pen, ran away from me and slept alone in the quarantine coop.  I was beginning to wonder if I could ever get her integrated into my flock or would this Ann Boleyn lose her head as well.

When the others were free ranging Ann looked longingly through the fence at them. ~

I didn't know if she would run away or get into a scuffle with the other girls, but decided it was time to let her loose.  It took a bit of time and no little amount of persuasion to get her to venture out into the vegetable garden. Every sound sent her running back to the pen. ~

When I realised she'd gone under the rose bush with one of the other girls, I grabbed my camera to show you that I had finally got her to make contact. Ever so quietly, so as not to frighten her, I crept up to take a picture of Ann with Molly. ~

Three weeks in isolation at her old home and two weeks of isolation here and this is the first time I'd seen that chicken relax.

To my great surprise, she slowly and gingerly stretched her neck out toward Molly.  She started to coo and kept going until she touched beaks. ~

And then, her eyes began to droop, her head to sink to the warm earth and she slept. ~

The poor wee thing had been so lonely that she overcame her fears to be with the others.  Every bit of extra work and worry was worth it to me to see that moment.  I didn't know that a chicken needs to be able to touch another.  I didn't know they would coo out of happiness and relief.

Ann is a full fledged member of the flock now and proudly perches with her sisters when I close the coop up for the night.

Sometimes, it's the little things that I'm most grateful for. ~

I'm sharing this with Inspire Me Monday

Friday 11 October 2013

Chef Philippe Bertineau's Cranberry Sauce

Several years ago my sister, brother in law and myself spent Christmas in a lodge in the Haliburton area. I'd never been fond of cranberries, even though my mother used to pick them herself where they grew wild on an Indian reserve near our house.  She was allowed to do that because my dad was an honourary chief of the tribe.  But, that's another story.

On this particular Christmas, the lodge had a French chef prepare the dinner and my opinion of cranberry sauce was changed forever!  Nothing would do but my sister and I must find the recipe and chef Phillipe Bertineau of the Benoit restaurant in New York had the perfect one.

It's a simple recipe and is best made a day or two before serving so it has time to set up well.

You will need ~

1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup port wine
3 whole cloves
2 star anise (you can substitute 1/2 tsp. of fennel seed or anise seed for each star anise)
1/2 tsp. coriander seed
1 -2 cinnamon sticks (or substitute 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon per stick)
2 tsp. cracked peppercorn
1 cup sugar (you can substitute 1/2 cup agave syrup per cup of sugar)
12 oz package of cranberries. (I use organic cranberries)

Put the wine and port in a pot and bring to a boil.  Mix the spices.  I crush the seeds a bit so the flavour is released easier. ~

Make a little cheesecloth pouch to hold the spices so you don't have to strain them out of the wine later. ~

If you are as lucky as I am you have a lovely kitchen string holder that Fiona from Just Paint It White sent you all the way from England as a surprise gift.

Want to see inside her house?  Of course you do. ~

photo courtesy of Just Paint It White
That's enough gawking at all that British charm.  Back to the cranberry sauce.

Add the spice bag to the wine and port and reduce heat to simmer, uncovered, for 10 mins.  I give the spice bag a little swish around in the wine every so often. ~

Discard the spice bag and add cranberries and sugar to the wine/port.  ~

Bring the cranberries to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 mins. or until the sauce has thickened.  If you are using a natural, liquid sweetener such as Agave syrup, it takes another 10 mins. of simmering to get it to thicken.  Your sauce will continue to set as the mixture cools.

Yield is 3 cups, which is 10 servings.

You will wow your guests with your culinary arts when you serve this condiment with your Thanksgiving turkey! ~

And, is there really any need to tell them that chef Bertineau created the recipe?

If you want to see a video of him cooking and with his chef wife, click here.  They really are the cutest couple!

I'm sharing this with   Party JunkFrom The Farm Blog Hop

Thursday 10 October 2013

Sauteed Green Beans

We are into the season of turkey dinners and holiday entertaining.  Sauteed green beans are a perfect side vegetable to fowl, beef, pork or fish.  The preparation is simple and can be done a day ahead, ready to be heated in a saute pan in minutes.

You'll need whole, fresh green beans.  My local farm market yielded these lovelies this week. ~

Wash the beans and snap the vine ends off.  Bring them to a boil in water and cook for 3-4 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork but still el dente. ~

Drain and plunge the beans into an ice water bath to stop the cooking action.  That's the prep all done. These stay nice and crunchy in the fridge overnight.

Heat olive oil, crushed garlic, salt and pepper in a frying pan.  I've added some basil to the oil because I think just about everything tastes better with basil in it! Toast slivered almonds in the oil. ~

It will only take a minute or two for the slivered almonds to become a lovely, golden brown. ~

Toss the beans in the pan, stir to coat in oil and heat through.  At medium heat, they will be ready to plate up in 2 - 4 minutes.

It's a quick, easy and colourful addition to any festive meal! ~

Don't you just feel like you are in a French bistro looking at that plate?  sigh

I'm sharing this with Thursday Favorite Things Blog HopThe HomeAcre HopFreaking Awesome FridaysFrom The Farm Blog Hop