Friday, October 31, 2008

Movie Love - Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's

image from

I am headed to another Halloween party tomorrow evening. A lot of the same people who came to our party will be there, so another costume is in order. Unfortunately, I left it to the last minute, and the party store was sold out of nearly everything. No short blond wig to be Marilyn Monroe, heck, not even a short curly red wig to be Mrs. Roper! They did have long black gloves, though, which reminded me of the megga style icon Audrey Hepburn is in Breakfast at Tiffany's. To complete the look, I just needed the following:

Boatneck black dress - check
Vintage pearl and rhinestone necklace - check
Long black gloves - check
Long cigarette holder - check (being borrowed from a very amused co-worker of my sister)
Heavy eyeliner and mascara - check
Someone patient and skilled to do my hair - check, check, and check (a sister and 2 cousins!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday World Travel - Brown Mountain Lights

image from flickr member noahwood

This marathon of super busy weekends has started to take it's toll on the Wednesday World Travel posts. My apologies! So this week, keeping in the theme of haunted travel, it's a short post on the Brown Mountain Lights. They are weird lights over the mountains in Burke County, NC. According to this site, there's a sinister explanation:

"A spooky legend explains the source. This story dates back to a night in 1850 when a woman disappeared in the area. Suspicion fell on the woman's husband, and everyone in the community helped search for her body. During the search, strange lights appeared over Brown Mountain, and many believed they where the spirit of the dead woman, coming back to haunt her killer. The search ended without success—and the lights ended with it. Shortly after, the husband disappeared. A number of years later, a woman's skeleton was found on Brown Mountain and the lights started to appear again."

While there, stay at the Fairway Oaks Bed and Breakfast. They have nicely appointed rooms and a great front porch with rocking chairs.

You can eat at Papa's Bar and Grill down the street from the bed and breakfast for the other meals and then play a round of golf at Silver Creek Plantation golf Course.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Parties - Halloween Party Decorations


Our Halloween party was a ton of fun. I perhaps went a smidge overboard decorating the house, but it was so much fun I couldn't stop myself. Above is one side of the mantel. The spooky potions are - from left to right - diet soda, water and a banana pepper, and buttermilk.


The other side of the mantel held spooky objects - acid green apples, a swarm of spiders, and bones.


Glowing pumpkins greeted the guests at the front door. The grown ups had a great time carving them before the party, while the child played computer games. He says the insides of pumpkins are too disgusting. I saved the spooky branches from our old foundation plantings we had to dig up this summer.


I made a mummy for the dining room since the buffet was in the kitchen. This is actually the second version of her because our crazy dog pulled the first one from the table and ate her. Candles around a flammable, toilet paper wrapped fake body was perhaps not the safest idea, but we were lucky and neither house or guests caught on fire.


For snacks, I made an all orange food buffet - cheese squares, beer cheese dip and pretzels, pickled carrots and orange peppers, cheese coins, and apricot keilbasa slices (not pictured). We displayed them in our very own kitchen graveyard, complete with headstones, creepy hands, and REAL grass.


Down the main hall, we hung black plastic trash bags that had been cut into strips and stretched. I got the instructions from Martha. Very cheap and easy, and extremely creepy to walk through. However, they really really annoyed the husband and dog after awhile.Link


The powder room downstairs had every inch draped with spider webs.


I also cut out a bunch of ghosts for the kitchen walls. Big impact for little effort and even less money. This picture was taken pre-party, but we draped all the furniture in white sheets as well.

It was a ton of fun planning the party and I think everyone had a good time!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dress Up - Clutches from Etsy sellers

There's something about fall that makes me want to switch to a teeny tiny purse. It might be that I no longer need to haul around high SPF sunscreen or gallons of bug spray anymore. These are several that caught my eye recently at Etsy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Recipe - Halloween-tini


The husband came up with this spooky looking drink the other evening. I think it fits the Halloween mood! It would look great made en masse and served from a clear punch bowl on a Halloween buffet.

2 ounces vodka
2 ounces cranberry juice
1/2 ounce blue curacao
wedge of lime

Shake first three ingredients with ice until cold. Pour into martini glass. Garnish with lime.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wednesday World Travel - Transylvania Dracula Tour

image from Flickr member Rigamarole

If you hurry, you can still sign up for the most awesome Halloween trip ever: A Dracula tour of Transylvania.

Highlights include the ritual killing of the living dead, sampling vampire treats, and touring Dracula's castle. You'll be guided through it all with your very own English speaking host, Sorin.

Aside from all the vampire related activities, there are lots of sightseeing stops in this lovely portion of Romania. Stops include Peles Castle (haunted), the Bridge of Liars (haunted), and the Turda Salt Mines (haunted).

Above 3 images from Visit Transylvania

As an added bonus, the trip is free if you meet the following requirements:

You don’t have a reflection in the mirror
You decompose when sun light strikes you
You’re over 200 years old
You can use your wings to fly to Transylvania

Recipe - Hearty Fall Breakfast


The husband is better at breakfast than I am, so usually he's the one manning the frying pan on the rare mornings we get to eat together. We jointly came up with this breakfast meal, though, on the first chilly morning of this fall season.

2 cups red or yellow grape tomatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
salt and pepper

2 pieces of toast
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
4 slices bacon
2 fried eggs

In medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and saute until hot and just beginning to pop, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Top each piece of toast with 1 Tablespoon mayonnaise, 2 strips bacon, and 1 fried egg. Serve alongside the hot tomatoes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Holidays - Halloween Ideas from Better Homes & Gardens

Better Homes and Gardens has some great Halloween ideas. I love the eyeball canapes pictured above. Pretty time intensive, but they look so great grouped together. I was also pretty tickled by their Gruesome Glasses and Garnishes slide show. I've picked my favorites from it below.

All images from Better Homes and Gardens.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Recipe - Sour Milk Scones

image from Flickr member alexhung

I got an email from my cousin this week which said a friend of hers was looking for a scone recipe and she thought of me because I make great scones. I didn't realize I had any kind of scone reputation, though I do think my recipe is quite tasty.

1/2 cup milk, any fat content
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups flour (not sifted)
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 Tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
white sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 425.

Stir lemon juice into milk and let curdle (yes, it looks gross, but just trust me). Should take 5-10 minutes.

In large mixing bowl, stir flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda together. Add chilled butter pieces and work into a fine meal by rubbing between fingers or using a pastry blender or 2 forks to work the butter into the flour mixture.

Pour soured milk into butter and flour mixture. Mix with a fork until combined. Gather dough into a ball and flatten into a 7 inch diameter disc on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Brush with melted butter and dust with sugar. Cut into 6 wedges with a sharp knife. Bake for 10 minutes until golden.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday World Travel - Edinburgh, Scotland's Many Ghosts

image from Flickr member Paulus Maximus!

I spent a wonderful week in Edinburgh last year. So far, it is my favorite city. It has a large reputation for being the most haunted city in Europe. We didn't have any supernatural experiences during our stay, but we didn't seek them out either. There are plenty of places to visit in the city to get your fill of spooky stories or occurrences, though.

image from Wikipedia

The first place, and possibly most haunted area of Edinburgh, is Mary King's Close. A close, for us Americans, is like an alley off a main road with houses and businesses. Mary King's Close is famous for supposedly being walled up, with all its inhabitants still alive, in order to stop the spread of plague. Pictures taken in the Close show weird orbs and streaks of light, and people have reported seeing and even feeling all sorts of spirits in the area.

Day 9 - Edinburgh at night
image from my flickr account

Edinburgh Castle is also a very haunted spot. With centuries of history behind it and a dungeon on site, it's had ample opportunity to attract spirits. My favorite story is the ghost of the dog that wanders the grounds. They say he was buried in the on site pet cemetery, which is in a beautiful spot overlooking the city.

image from Flickr member LucaAlbricci

The Last Drop Tavern was the last bar on the way to the old city gallows. Surprisingly, according to here, the tavern's ghost is a little girl.

"The Last Drop Tavern ghost appears as a young lassie who wears medieval clothing. Sightings of her hauntings have been witnessed in the bar and the cellar.

Customers are not left alone in the pub, but staff who are in the bar or cellar alone when drinkers are long gone have noticed that the girl ghost comes out to play! She whispers out the employee name when there is no-one else in the building - well no-one still alive!"

Finally, you can bed down in the haunted rooms of The Royal Terrace Hotel. It's home to a ghostly nurse, several spectral children, and a dead man who still likes to drink at the bar. However, the hotel's sumptuous rooms might make up for the possibility of a supernatural encounter.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Movie Love - Steph's Top 5 Halloween Movies

What better way to get in the spirit of a holiday than partaking in some seasonal films. For wusses like me, however, there are limited choices for Halloween movies out there that won't give me night terrors for...the rest of my life. So, here are my top 5 fun Halloween movies, (mostly) terror free.

Number 5: Ghostbusters

As I am writing this, I am listening to the theme song to Ghostbusters. The entire soundtrack was a family favorite on long car trips during my formative years. I have a soft spot for the goofy guys just trying to keep New York ghost free.

Number 4: Sleepy Hollow

Ok, I have to admit, this one DID creep me out when I watched it. Christopher Walken is a freakin' scary dude. However, it didn't stick with me and I was able to sleep undisturbed that very evening. Christina Ricci is by turns sweet and creepy, and Johnny Depp works his strangely androgynous charm to great effect in this very atmospheric movie.

Number 3: The Omen (1976 version with Gregory Peck)

I watched this on a dare in high school, and it did give me nightmares for weeks. It is a classic piece of film, though. And I have a thing for Gregory Peck, which tempered the horror of the movie (except the dog scene...shiver).

Number 2: It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

A classic for anyone raised in the 1980's. It used to be de riguer every Halloween to be entertained by Charlie and Snoopy while we traded candy post trick-or-treating. I'm not sure if it is played on TV anymore, more the shame.

Number 1: Hocus Pocus

I should probably be embarrased, but I LOVE this movie. If I am on the couch sick, this is what I want to watch. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker (very pre-Sex in the City), and Magee from NCIS as a teenager make up part of the cast. It's an engaging story for all ages. However, if small children are watching, I'd skip forward when you see the cop. Unless you want to have a discussion about what 'virgin' means with your 5 year old.

Hope you enjoy all the great Halloween movies out there!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Recipe - Lemon, Garlic Lamb Shoulder Chops


Lamb is notoriously hard to find in my local supermarkets. When I can find it, I'm usually not impressed with either the price or selection. I was pleased last week, though, after a lengthy hiatus from my regular store, that they had begun carrying lamb shoulder chops. They are a very tasty and economical cut from a lamb, so I snatched up a package. However, if you Google search 'lamb shoulder chop,' nearly all the recipes that come up will be for a regular lamb chop. So, if you ever run across this cut in your local grocery, I'll share how I cooked mine to save you the trouble of sifting through thousands of irrelevant recipes. I cooked this just for me, but it could easily be increased for more servings.

1 shoulder lamb chop
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, and garlic in a shallow dish. Place the lamb in the lemon marinade and turn to cover both sides. Let marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes.

In a medium skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium high heat. Remove lamb from marinade and dry with a paper towel, making sure to remove any garlic pieces. Reserve remaining marinade. Cook lamb 2-3 minutes per side for medium rare, 3-4 minutes for medium.

Remove cooked lamb from skillet and set aside. Add reserved marinade, scraping the bottom of the skillet to incorporate any lamb drippings. Allow to boil and reduce by about half. Pour over lamb and serve.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Holidays - Free Halloween Desktop Wallpapers

I found the cutest site for Halloween wallpapers. You have to have a yahoo ID, though, and I am sure they'll spam the heck out of me, but who can walk away from dogs dressed as ghosts?! Some of the other options were pretty cute, too. Below are a few of my other favorites.

All images from Yahoo Greetings

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Parties - Halloween Party Invitation

Halloween Invitation

We're hosting a Halloween costume party this year. I love designing and making invitations and I wanted this one to have a Halloween feel, but not be the typical ghost or skeleton cliched invitation. I got the cute bat image from Briarpress and used Word to create the invitations. Then I printed out the invites on our home printer on cream paper, 3 per page. I cut out each individual invite and glued them to a piece of black card stock cut 1/4 inch larger than the cream paper. For an orange accent, I cut a 1/2 inch strip of decorative paper and glued it below the bat image. I posted pics of the assembly step by step here, if you ever want to make a similar invitation.

Look for more posts about the party in the coming weeks, including the decorations and menu!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wednesday World Travel - The Stanley Hotel

In the spirit of the season, I'll be focusing on scary travel destinations. For full disclosure, I would NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS actually go to one of these places. I am already a big wussy with an overactive imagination, so going to any of these places would just be asking to have a nervous breakdown. However, you're into that kind of thing, there are tons of cool places to go to have the daylights scared out of you. I could think of no better place to start than the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado.

image from Wikipedia

Located near the gorgeous Rock Mountain National Park, stands the hotel Stephen King based his novel The Shining on. It has plenty of hauntings, including the founder of the hotel, F.O. Stanley, who is said to still roam the billiard room, his favorite place during life.

image from the Stanley Hotel

Perhaps a run in with the ghosts in room 418. It likes to make strange noises, and sleep in the bed when no guests occupy the room.

Or you might see the mustached man in the window, looking out at the guests.

image from Flickr member Orbisonitrum

Then, if you need to settle your nerves, have a red-rum cocktail in the Stanley bar.