A Pumpkin Carving Party

Deviled Egg Monster Eyeballs

Wow.  Five months since a post.  Oh well, I was a little busy…but I’ll get into that later.  Now, a pumpkin carving party!

Someone in my work group decided that we (our studio) should get together and carve pumpkins.  As I’m newly moved to Richmond, and have an excellent space to do it, I volunteered to host a little party!  It was great fun, and it was wonderful to see all the creations people made.

Carved Pumpkins

Carved Pumpkins

I know this is NOT a good picture, but it’s the best I could get with my phone.  Some people used stencils from those carving kits, others went free-hand.  Mine is in the very back and is more surface carving than an actual jack-o-lantern.  I thought everyone did a really good job.  For our tools, we actually found the carving kits to be easiest and best to use.  We also had a surface carving kit, and I had some wire clay working tools (from a ceramics class I took years ago) that worked really well for details.  We also discovered that with the pumpkins that are mostly surface carved, you want to make sure you have an air hole or two for the candles (if you are using a real flame), and two candles give you a really good glow.  Otherwise, it can be hard to see the design.

I also set up a spread of food for our revelers.

Pumpkin Carving Party Food Spread

Pumpkin Carving Party Food Spread

I made deviled monster eye eggs, pumpkin bread, chili (with all the fixings), mummy dogs, and had candy and a veggie platter.  Drinks included blood orange soda, Ed Hardy Sangria, Black Cat Reisling, and Sparkling Apple Cider.  Everything was really yummy, especially the mummy dogs.

Mummy Dogs  Hot Dogs

Mummy Hot Dogs

They are so easy to make!  Take two cans of crescent rolls, and two packages of hot dogs (14 dogs in total), and cut the cresent rolls into thin strips and wrap them around the hot dogs.  You can leave a little opening for the “eyes”, but I didn’t bother.  Wrap about 4 strips around each dog, and bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees in the oven.

I was proud of how my eyeball eggs turned out too, except I wish I had a little more white showing.

Deviled Egg Monster Eyeballs

Deviled Egg Monster Eyeballs

A little food coloring goes a long way. I made the eggs as I normally would make deviled eggs, except I addded two drops of green food coloring to the yolks when mixing them up.  To complete the look, a toothpick with some red food coloring to draw on the veins, and a sliced olive for the center.

They are pretty simple recipes, and you can find them all (and lots of variations) online.

And one last picture- this years Halloween Hearth

Halloween Hearth 2013

Halloween Hearth 2013

I took some cuttings from some plants in my garden, and used my old Halloween decorations.  I know this picture is not very good, or show much detail, but it’s all I got for right now.  Soon I will share more pictures of my new house and garden… mwhahahaha!

This little party was so fun, maybe it will become a yearly tradition!

 

Making Fresh Bruschetta

Fresh Bruschetta

Ever since I had fresh bruschetta in Italy as a collegiate, I have loved making my own version.  Nothing I have made has matched the grilled bread I had in Assissi and Orvieto, but this is pretty gosh darn good too.

We had already picked up a number of heirloom tomatoes at the grocery store, and garlic from the farmers market.  Other ingredients I used were fresh grated parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, Ciabatta bread (or some other really good Italian bread), olive oil, fresh basil and sweet onion.

First, slice the bread and arrange on an oven sheet, and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Crush and mince the garlic and mix with olive oil, and brush the mixture on the slices of bread.  Grate a little bit of parmesan cheese over the bread, and toast until brown.

Making Bruschetta

Making Tomato and Onion Bruschetta

We cut up a small red, two orange, and one green tomato, the same amount of onion, and mixed in the left-over garlic and olive oil.  A little bit of salt and pepper, and a small handful of fresh basil cut up add a zing of flavor.  Mix it well, and spread it evenly on top of the toasted bread.

Fresh Bruschetta

Fresh Bruschetta

 

Yum Yum!

Meadow Monday: part three

Bee on Salvia

Happy Fall!  As of 10:49 AM on Saturday it is officially my favorite season of the year.  It seems as though Mother Nature flipped a switch this week, and all of a sudden we have much cooler days, the trees have started to turn, and the crops are starting to turn brown.  There’s a slight nip in the air at night, and the sky is a crisp blue.

This isn’t really a post about the meadow, but it is all about the outdoors around my house.

Pot Mums


Pot Mums

Mr. Lucky surprised me with some Pot Mums the other night.  We’re going to stretch it just a little bit and say that they were an anniversary present (since both of us sort of forgot).  They really do look just like they do in this picture- bright and colorful.  I plan on finding a spot for them in the meadow, towards the edge I think, and hope that they come back next year.

One thing I love about my lot of land, is that I can just walk around and see all sorts of things going on. The salvia in front is still a monster, and I love finding bees on it.

Bee on Salvia

Bee on Salvia

I chose this shot to share because you can really see the pollen sac on the leg of the bee.  I really want to propogate this particular plant, but I’m also really nervous because I don’t want to do anything that might kill it.  I’ve already lost two of them, and I would be heartbroken to lose this one.

I did successfully propogate another variety of salvia however, given to me by one of my friends.  Together we took a fair number of clippings, but only one survived out of the entire bunch.  It has grown quite nicely though, and took me by surprise.

New Salvia

New Salvia

The mums I planted two years ago are doing well again- they came back for the second year in a row!  I’m happily surprised that they keep coming back on their own with absolutely no help from me.  They too are becoming quite monstrous.  I wonder if there is anything I should be doing to make them look better though.  In particular, when should I remove the dead stems?  Should I deadhead the plant?

Monster Mum

Monster Mum

Walking around the back of the house, I noticed I was being watched.

Being Watched

Being Watched

There’s a pretty white cat with a raccoon colored tail who frequents our meadow.  If I move too fast or too closely to the meadow, it will take off.  It pleases me to know that this animal is taking some pleasure from our meadow.

Untouched Photo

Untouched Photo

And just because it was such a gorgeous day, I took this picture and didn’t do anything to it except add the watermark.  You can see where the scrub pines aren’t looking so good.  The one closest to the center lost it’s top in the bad storms we had a while back.

Here’s a peek at a project that I’ll be working on in the house for the next several months:

Project Door

Project Door

Yes I am painting all the doors in the house.  None of them were painted when we bought the house, and as I’ve been painting rooms, I try to paint the doors and trim in the room as well.  However, for most of the first floor, I had the house painted before we moved in, and I did not pay for the trim work sooooo…. I will slowly take one door off at a time, paint two light coats of bright white high gloss paint, and put them back.  My total tally of doors to paint:  22.  Actually painted to date: 6.  And 5 of those doors were painted ages ago, *Sigh.  This will take some time. But hey, at least it’s pretty easy to do and it will look great.

The Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello

Monticello

Last weekend, Mr. Lucky and I traveled to beautiful Monitcello in the heart of Virginia for the Heritage Harvest Festival.  It all started when we saw a groupon with a discounted ticket price for the festival- and thought that might be cool to go to.  It was an absolutely wonderful experience.

Heritage Harvest Festival

Heritage Harvest Festival

We really didn’t know much of anything going into it, except from taking a look at the schedule online.  We saw lots of free talks and demonstrations that appealed to us, and liked the overall tone and theme of the event focusing on sustainable farming.  There were a number of lectures that you could pay extra for, but I thought they focused more on people who are actually farming and homesteading, so I didn’t even consider attending any of those.  There really was plenty going on though, and we never felt any slump besides being tired from running around in the sun all day.

Two things I really wish that I had remembered to do:  wear a hat and bring extra water.  Most of the vendors had sold out of drinks and many had sold out of food by around 2 PM.  I think that there were probably a lot more people there than they had anticipated–although it never felt crowded.  The only time I really felt the crowd was when standing in lines for food.  We probably waited close to half an hour for a bbq sandwich, and another twenty minutes for a glass of ginger hibiscus tea.

After parking, signing in, and taking the bus over, we explored the grounds.  There were several tents set up on the main part of the lawn (pictured above), and many smaller tents with vendors and demonstrations scattered throughout.  It felt as though there was a lot of thought into the placement of booths.  Everything flowed with lots of space in between.  I didn’t take many pictures, but I couldn’t help but take pictures of some of the plantings.

Spider Plants

Spider Plants

Growing up we had spider plants in our front yard.  I would love to get some seeds and plant them in the meadow.  Technically, this plant is an annual, but it can self-sow to come back year after year.  Can you see in the picture some thin and long pods that seem to dangle from thin strings?  Those are the seed pods, and you can collect them before they open up.  Of course, I did not touch these plants.

We also saw these huge cockscomb plants- some of the biggest I have ever seen:

Huge Cockscomb

Huge Cockscomb

The largest plants were about two and a half feet tall.  The flowers were about as big as my hand.

Mr. Lucky and I also spent some time wandering through the gardens.  We did not take the garden or house tour, so I don’t have much history on it, but they were impressive.  Oh and the view!

Garden and View

Garden and View

Did I mention that it was an absolutely perfect day?  A view like that is one of the reasons I chose to go to college on that side of the state.  Another beautiful view with the orchard and vineyard in view:

Orchard Vineyard and View

Orchard Vineyard and View

We listened to one lecture on “A Journey to a Sustainable Suburban Home.”  It was really interesting, but did not really give us much practical advice for starting our own.  The big takeaway was just start something!  Even if it you just start with containers (and large plastic bins work quite well), plant something.  Thankfully, we don’t have an HOA to lay down any rules about what we do with our yard.  I also just found out that they’ve passed an ordinance in Fredericksburg (city proper) that residents can have up to two chickens (with a permit) and bees.  I think this movement is really catching on…

Monticello

Monticello

I was so glad to see so many people there, and everyone seemed genuinely interested in locally grown foods and sustainability.  We taste-tested loads of yummy apples, tomatoes, and “historic colonial recipe” chocolate.  We ate the best donuts we’ve ever had (also organic!) and saw so many different seeds and plants for sale!  Lots of books and authors were there as well.  There were a bunch of activities geared towards kids, and a beer garden from a local brewery.  The only thing I wish to have seen more of was more vegetable or vegan options to eat.  Most of the food vendors carried meat dishes, and no substitutes.  There was a donut shop, a pie place, a crepe vendor, and a frozen fruit pop stand.  But nothing with really good looking veggie dishes- a little strange I thought.  I will say though that the frozen nectarine pop was perfect.  :)

If you have any interest in farming, growing your own foods, or just eating more locally- this is a great festival to visit.  Anyone in the state of Virginia should make it a destination.