Archive for October, 2011

Comic Epitaphs from the Very Best Old Graveyards

This is a sweet, old slim volume from Peter Pauper Press.  Here are a few selections:

For a dentist:

Stranger tread

This ground with gravity

Dentist Brown is filling

His last cavity

On a music teacher:

Stephen and Time

Are both now even

Stephen beat time

Now Time beat Stephen

A Bedford Tombstone

Here lies my wife

In earthy mould

Who when she lived

Did naught but scold

Good friends go softly

In your walking

Lest she should wake

And rise up talking

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Do you like to cook? A collection of easy fall recipes to try

Brrr, it’s getting colder, isn’t it?  I thought I would gather the links to the fall recipes in this post, in case you feel like spending some time in the kitchen.  These are my favorites not only because they taste good, but because they are easy to make.

I also included some recipes from my Christmas blog, Cool Yule, because these flavors are so good for fall: pears, pumpkin, and figs.  Enjoy, and please share your favorite fall recipes with me!

Cheese Fondue

Pumpkin Pancakes

Vegetarian Chili

Baked Rigatoni with Pumpkin and Sausage

Gingered Pumpkin-Pear Soup

Orzo with Figs, Prosciutto, and Gorgonzola

Pear and Pecan Salad with Mixed Greens

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Watch It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown Free on Hulu

Watch “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” the classic Peanuts Halloween television special free online on Hulu.

Did you know?

  • It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was the third Peanuts animated television special.
  •  It aired for the first time 45 years ago on CBS on October 27, 1966, and thereafter was aired on television annually through 2000.
  • The director, Bill Melendez, also plays the part of Snoopy.
  • The theme music is by Vince Guaraldi (who also did the theme music for A Charlie Brown Christmas)
  • The 10 year old child actor who was the voice of Charlie Brown is now 55 and has a dog named Snoopy.
  • Children all over America felt sorry that Charlie Brown got a rock in his trick or treat bag and actually mailed in candy.

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Friday Night Cinema: The Wolf Man (1941)

The first and best of all the werewolf movies, starring Lon Chaney, Jr.,  Claude Rains, and the inimitable Maria Oupspenskaya.  This and Dracula (1931) are my all time spooky favorites.

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Fall Recipe: a classic cheese fondue for apples

A full cheese fondue set in Switzerland. Apart...

Image via Wikipedia

Aren’t the apples amazing this year?  Have you ever dunked Gala apple wedges into cheese fondue?  The combination is fantastic.

Here’s an easy recipe for cheese fondue that I’ve made successfully and really enjoyed.  I found it in Martha Stewart’s Living magazine a few Halloween’s ago.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 8 oz shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine (I have also tried apple juice)
  • Nutmeg (if desired)

Directions

Toss the shredded cheeses with flour to coat.  Bring the wine (or apple juice) to a simmer in a  sauce pan or fondue pot over medium heat.  Add cheese 1 handful at a time, whisking gently until melted.  Bring cheese fondue to a simmer but do not allow to boil.  Mix in a pinch of nutmeg (if desired) and serve.

You can substitute apple juice for the white wine in this recipe, if you like.  The resulting fondue is a bit sweeter, but still wonderful, and my son adored it.  I split the recipe and made half of it with wine and half of it with apple juice.  If you’re serving to kids, you might want to dish out a small ramekin of sauce for them on their individual plates so they can dunk — it’s a little safer for them than the fondue pot and the cheese will stay hot in small amounts.

I like dipping french baguette slices and apple chunks, but you could also try pretzel rods or sesame bread sticks, maybe a firm pear, or use a whole wheat baguette.

Have you made fondue?  What dippers do you like to use?

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A Trick or Treat Bag of Halloween Vintage Pin Up Girls

Who can resist the appeal of vintage pin up girls? They’re sweet, adorable, and innocently sexy, if there is such a thing.  Maybe they’ll inspire your costume this year — enjoy this little Halloween collection!

Betty Grable

Ava Gardner

Veronica Lake

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Macabre and Fun: Twisted Disney Princesses

If you think ghoulish is kind of cool, you have to check out Jeffrey Thomas’s freaky riff on the Disney Princesses.  Here are just two — visit his blog to see them all.

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Friday Night Cinema: Brides of Dracula (1960)

Sexy, campy, over-the-top Hammer horror films.  Gotta love ’em.

 

 

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Tips for creating a sexy, haunted bedroom

Why not decorate your bedroom for Halloween this year?

Do you decorate your home for Halloween?  Have you ever decorated your bedroom for Halloween?

There are a number of cute ways to decorate a child’s room for Halloween, if you wanted to do that, but I’m talking about your own, romantic bedroom.

No doubt about it, for women at least, Halloween has its sexy side.  Halloween costumes for women are definitely getting a bit more risque.  And why not?  If it’s in the confines of a club, or a party, or — gasp — your bedroom, Halloween is as good a reason as any to spice up your love life.  Personally, I think Halloween’s a lot sexier than Valentine’s Day, and way less pressure.

My bedroom philosophy — is it possible to have a bedroom philosophy? — well, my take on bedrooms is informed by wisdom from my mother, my doctor, and personal experience.  And this extends to Halloween, believe it or not.

My mother advised me not to put a television in the bedroom.

My doctor, who was treating me for insomnia, told me not to use my bedroom for anything but sleeping and making love.  Not reading, or working, or surfing the net, or all those other things people sometimes do.

I still cheat sometimes and read a little in there, but mostly I try to keep it as a relaxing space.

I have a child, and if you have kids, you know that kids are going to gleefully invade your bedroom every chance they get.  Have a playdate, where do they all go?  Your bedroom.  At least that is my experience.  They all love Mom’s room. Why, I don’t know.  Maybe it just feels cozy.  In fact, that’s how my son contentedly describes it.  And that’s fine.  You know, if they’re sick, or had a bad dream, they’re coming in there. Might as well be a place they feel comfortable.

But, most of the time, it’s still MY room.  My bedroom only has a bed, a side table, a slipper chair, and some paintings, and that’s it.  Except at Halloween.  When I introduce a little theater. Blame it on my dramatic bent.  But I love Halloween, and bedrooms are perfect for staging a little gothic fantasy.  My child loves it.  But guess what?  So does my main squeeze.

Think your boyfriend or husband (or girlfriend or wife) won’t go for it?  Try it.  Surprise him (or her) this Halloween, put on the costume and everything.  Just imagine a setting where you might get ravished by a sexy vampire.  All you need is a sense of humor, a little creativity, and some nerve!

Here are some decorating tips for creating a spooky but sexy Halloween bedroom…

String up Halloween lights around the ceiling and windows.  They look like Christmas lights but come in Halloween colors.  The bulbs on mine are half orange and half purple, and the wires are black.  Are they ever fun!  They create a warm, flattering glow that creates just enough light.  You can get them at Target or party stores.

Of course, candle light is romantic, too.  What about a pumpkin scented candle?  The smell of pumpkin is warm and spicy, and for most men, chemically, a real sexual turn-on.  Just don’t get the Yankee Candle pumpkin version because in my opinion, it’s much too strong.  Target has a pumpkin scented pillar candle that is more pleasingly subtle and it’s only $2.99.

Switch out your curtains to keep the room dark.  I used Room Essentials black cotton curtains from Target, less than $20.  They look awfully spooky but they’ll come down after Halloween.

Add some chic, sexy, but spooky props.  Keep it darkly romantic.  You don’t want cutesy orange and black Halloween decorations, or gross zombie stuff.  Go for the black, purple and silver party and home decor accessories that are all over the place. Think: candelabras, glitter pumpkins, drapey black fabric, black feathered birds.  I bought some drapey, net black fabric from Party City and Merrifield Garden Center.   Also there are some cool black lace items, like table toppers, with cob web motifs.  Elegant but spooky.  Are you serving champagne or martinis?  Dark chocolate dipped strawberries?  You can find some fun Halloween goblets and plates for just a dollar or two.  You can find many inexpensive Halloween decorative items at Oriental Trading Company, Michael’s crafts store and Party City.  For more luxe items, check out Christmas Attic in Old Town, Merrifield Garden Center, and Pottery Barn.

Create a spooky-sexy bed.  If you’re like me, and you have an impossibly girly, all pink bedroom 🙂 you might need to make a few alterations to set the Halloween mood.  I think simple is best for the bed.  You don’t really want anything distracting from you and your lovely costume.  You could go for all white cotton, ghostly sheets.  Or you could splurge on some black or deep red satin sheets.  Whatever you think would look best with your vampire, witch or she-devil costume!  JCPenney had a queen set of black satin sheets for just $29.99.

Don’t forget the mood music!  So, if you’re going to all this trouble to create a spooky scene and wear a costume, and everything, of course, you are going to need a soundtrack (not to mention a babysitter).  So I suggest you make an iPod playlist and add some really evocative, moody, but sexy music.  I like a lot of older alt pop, like Bryan Ferry (Boys and Girls), Echo and Bunnymen, and Cat Power, but you could also try new cuts from bands like Metric.  Whatever feels right for the mood.  Just NOT Monster Mash.

Do you have any Halloween decorating or costume tips?  Leave them in the comments!

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This Halloween, consider slavery-free chocolate

Hersheys Chocolate

Image via Wikipedia

I have recently learned, sadly, that most of the cocoa exported for the manufacture of chocolate candy comes from farms in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, Africa, where child slavery is rampant.  One estimate is that of the 200,000 children working on cocoa farms in sub-standard to brutal, horrific conditions, 12,000 of them are slaves.  Adults are also subject to slavery and abhorrent conditions on cocoa farms.

All the major brands use this cocoa, and the U.S. is the largest importer.  Until U.S. chocolate manufacturers use their power and influence to stop child slavery and improve working conditions for all workers in a meaningful way, I would suggest that you not buy name-brand chocolate, or candy made by name brand manufacturers like Nestle, Hershey’s and M&M Mars, and choose organic chocolate or fair trade chocolate instead.

It saddens me to write this because I have used these brands all my life.  But this has been a long-standing problem and these corporations do have a choice.  The problem was addressed by Congress with legislation and there is a World Cocoa Foundation that is attempting to remedy the problems associated with cocoa farming, but as of the last reports in 2008 and 2009, very little seems to have been accomplished to bring real relief to these young children.

Here are a few fair trade brands of chocolate you may want to try that are available at stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.  I don’t eat chocolate, so I can’t vouch for their taste, but let me know if you have tried these:

  • Trader Joe’s brand chocolate and cocoa
  • Whole Foods brand chocolate
  • Valrhona
  • Newman’s Own Organic chocolate chips

If you have insights to share on cocoa, chocolate, and what the industry refers to as “the worst forms of child labor,” please add them to the comments below.

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