Category Archives: Halloween

October Books

After reading NOTHING in September (who AM I?) it felt good to get back into my reading groove again, especially since October means scary stories and Halloween reads.

The Crown Derby Plate by Marjorie Bowen

It’s so hard to talk about short stories because, well, they’re short and giving away a little sometimes gives away it all. But this one is about a china collector (I can relate!) who revisits a home where (30 years before) she bought an entire collection of Crown Derby china. She returns to recover the one missing plate for her collection. She encounters the woman of the home and admires the woman’s china displayed lovingly in the home…and things happen. I’d say this is a 6/10 on the creepy scale but it was a fun read nonetheless. I’d like to read more of Bowen’s work!

“The Diary of Mr. Poynter” by M.R. James

This one was weird. It was basically about…haunted curtains. Yes, haunted curtains. There was a scary moment, but that’s about it. I give it a 3/10 on the creepy scale.

“The Signalman” by Charles Dickens

This one stayed with me for a bit. It was about a train signalman who kept seeing signs of danger while he was stationed at work. Anything else would ruin the ending so, I’ll just say, it was haunting. 7/10 on the creepy scale.

“The One Who Saw” by A.M. Burrage

The buildup was better than the payoff but maybe that is the point. It’s about a man staying at a hotel in Paris and his encounters with a mysterious woman in the courtyard. I think it’s a 5/10 on the creepy scale.

Inner Witch by Gabriela Herstik

A friend and I were talking about witches and herbs and the moon one day and we decided to start a little group for all things witchy. There were about ten of us who met at a local bar to chat about Inner Witch. It was a good introduction because it provides a nice overview of witchiness and it does a good job covering the connections to the seasons (which is the thing I’m most interested in.) In some cases, the author kind of glosses over the cultural appropriation involved in witchery, and in others (ahem, smudging,) she doesn’t even acknowledge it. So, read at your own risk…

Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes

We read this for book group and I loved it. It’s a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story about a black boy growing up in Kansas with his mom and his grandma, and also two aunts. The first chapter opens with a tornado scene that is just spectacular and some of this other descriptions (of a dance, of his first day at an integrated school, of Chicago) are amazing as well. I’ve read a few coming-of-age books this year and it was nice to read one from another perspective. It got equally good ratings from almost everyone else in book group.

The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright

Someone mentioned this on Instagram and I’d remembered reading it so I thought it would be fun to revisit it. It holds up after all these years but I’m clearly not as easily spooked as I was back in grade school.

The Sundial by Shirley Jackson

I’m still making my way through this one. I kept putting it down for book club and short stories so maybe it’s a sign I should give up? I love the premise and I always find Shirley Jackson slow in an intentional way but for some reason this isn’t grabbing me like all of her other books have…I’ll report back next month if I continue on!

Are you reading anything good lately? I have one hundred pages to go in my book club book for tomorrow so today after work, I’ll be hunkering down with The Girl of the Limberlost and a cup of tea. Have a good weekend!

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Halloween Snow

It snowed on Halloween this year and we had to break out our winter coats already. I wasn’t ready!!! I am still not ready! The snow started on Wednesday and I walked through Austin Gardens on my way to work. It was really pretty with the snow falling on the brightly colored trees. However, tree branches were falling like crazy all day because of the weight of the heavy, wet snow on the leafy branches. Thankfully, I made it through the park unscathed. The snow is all melted now and temperatures are back to fall-like levels. And the fall colors are still pretty vibrant. Halloween is always pretty low-key at our place since we don’t get trick-or-treaters. I’m recovering from a cold (again!) so I spent most of the day reading scary stories and hanging out with Presley, who really enjoyed her costume…

Such a good sport, that old cat.

 

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Halloween Mail

I have been very behind in my correspondence–I was responding to letters from June, so it felt good to catch up with some of my pen friends. I think I like Halloween mail more than Christmas mail…maybe it’s just that it feels like there’s more time to attend to Halloween mail. At the last stamp show, I tried to collect some “scary” stamps. I was so excited to score the ten cent Legend of Sleepy Hollow ones, and I also picked up the Movie Monsters, Pharmacy, and Houdinis. I had the Alfred Hitchcock stamps leftover from a few years ago. Usually when I use vintage stamps, I leave the rest of the envelope blank so the stamps really pop, but I also bought a ton of great Halloween washi tape in Japan last year, so I was excited to use some of that too. Everything is still relatively simple…In my Halloween stash, I also found some unused decorated envelopes from one of Donovan’s mail art parties.I pulled this one out because it was basic enough to add vintage postage without too much distraction. The bats are from a torn napkin, so I slid the envelope into a plastic card sleeve (leftover from a birthday card I sent) and put the address on some vintage gummed tape that has the texture of bandages. (So spooky!)

In spite of my many, many stamps, I had Naoto pick up a few sheets of the latest USPS Halloween stamps. Have you seen them in person? They look fine on the website, but they have a bit of metallic shine that is very impressive in person. I’m looking forward to finishing out the month with those!

 

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Misdo’s Halloween Donuts

As with every other trip to Japan, this trip included many trips to Mister Donut. We didn’t go every day, but most days. For some reason, “our” Misdo in Sangenjaya didn’t have the Halloween donuts out when we got to Tokyo on October 23rd. I had researched Mister Donut’s seasonal donuts before we left (#priorities,) so I was very much looking forward to them. Thankfully, there was no donut crisis because we found the Halloween specialties when we visited Osaka.There were these cute mummy donut sticks that tasted like black tea with white chocolate on top. This one was definitely cuter than it was tasty…it was a little dry and white chocolate isn’t my favorite. We didn’t try this pink mummy one, but it was filled with apple whipped cream.And we didn’t try the Pon de Mummy, a white chocolate dipped classic pon de ring. This one was my favorite. It was a chocolate donut with chestnut whipped cream inside. Cute and delicious. Naoto refused to partake in the Halloween donuts, so he got a hot dog donut and a black sugar pon de ring…It was sort of a weird Mister Donut because it was a small satellite shop, so the donuts weren’t made in house like most Mister Donuts. It was a fifteen minute walk from our Airbnb so we only went once during our stay. But, I’m glad I got to eat these guys.

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Cocktail Perfected: Twentieth Century

Twentieth Century Cocktail, vintage cocktailsI’ve been working this week on decorating and pulling out some of my Halloween mail art supplies. I’m hoping to have everything done tonight so I can enjoy the season and maybe make a cheesecloth ghost or something. It was really hot on Wednesday, so I was able to finish the balcony. Temperatures dropped yesterday and leaves are actually falling, so I’m definitely feeling like getting cozy and reading spooky books this weekend.

Ok, so the Twentieth Century is not a true Halloween cocktail, but there is a hint of chocolate so we can consider it grown-up Halloween candy-esque. I had this cocktail for the first time at Fitzgerald’s a few years ago and it’s a favorite classic cocktail of mine. It was created in 1937 as a nod to the Twentieth Century Limited, a train that went between Chicago and New York City from 1902 until the 1960s. You might think it sounds weird with the creme de cacao and the lemon…it is strange but it works. Trust me.

Twentieth Century Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces gin

3/4 ounce Lillet Blanc (We use Cocchi Americano if we have that on hand instead.)

3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 ounce white creme de cacao

Add all ingredients to a shaker filled with ice. Shake until fully chilled and strain into a coupe. Enjoy on a chilly fall night. (Or a warm summer night…it works.)

P.S. Two true Halloween cocktails: Purgatory and Corpse Reviver #2

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In My Mailbox: Halloween Mail…Candy Included

Last year, Donovan surprised me with the best kind of Halloween mail, the kind with candy! She mailed a package of pumpkin Peeps with a little note taped on the top. It was so fun to receive and I’m trying to keep it in mind when I send out my Halloween mail this year. Happy October, everyone!

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Phantom Flight Night™ 2017

Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wineIt’s that time of the year again–Phantom wine time! Earlier this month we hosted our THIRD annual Phantom Flight Night™, our little wine tasting gathering where we compare notes on several years of releases of Phantom wine. This year, we tasted 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. (2014 is available now at Trader Joes and other wine shops!) Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wine Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wineThis year, I packed most of our Halloween decorations in the dining room since that’s where the party was. I labeled the bottles so we could easily identify the year and poured each person two ounces. This was the biggest Phantom Flight Night™ yet, so I had to borrow some wine glasses from Karen so we’d have enough for everyone. Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wineKaren brought her grandma’s wine glasses. As you can see, wine glasses (right side) were, uh, a little smaller back then. Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wine, meat and cheese trayKaren made her fabulous homemade pimento cheese and we served meats and cheeses and minestrone soup. The “other Karen” made Lucky Charms treats which were amazing. Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wine Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wine Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wineThis year, I printed some wine tasting wheels so we had some wine language to work with. I’m terrible at discerning different tastes in wine, so it’s nice to always have a guide and some Trader Joe friends who’ve had some wine tasting training. Even though I’m no sommelier, I still find comparing Phantoms interesting. The blend changes a little bit each year (for instance the 2014 blend is 42% Petite Sirah, 34% Zinfandel, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Merlot) and the finished wine is vastly different. Overall, 2012 came through as a favorite.

Every year I love this party more. Mainly because it’s an intimate group of fellow wine lovers, but also because wine, snacks, friends…simple. It’s the perfect October tradition before the busy-ness of the holidays begins.

P.S. Here are the posts for Phantom Flight Nights™ of years past: 2016, 2015

 

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Phantom Flight Night™ 2016

sheet pan fall vegetables and chicken thighs, Phantom Flight Night Another fall, another Phantom Flight Night™. I just love this party…this year it was a small group, only four of us, enjoying Bogle’s Phantom wine from 2008, 2011, 2012, and 2013. Unlike last year, this bottle of 2008 was fine and delicious, though I can’t remember which one we liked the most. sheet pan fall vegetables and chicken thighs, Phantom Flight Night sheet pan fall vegetables and chicken thighs, Phantom Flight Night Simple decorations this year…sheet pan fall vegetables and chicken thighs, Phantom Flight Night We made this one pan Autumn dinner and it was amazing…apples, brussel sprouts, sweet potato…all the best of fall. sheet pan fall vegetables and chicken thighs, Phantom Flight Night It was a good night.

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KimBOOly HAUNTSegawa’s Mailbox

Paper Pastries Halloween MailMy mailbox was filled with a steady stream of Halloween mail last month. Margaret sent the package above, adorned with all of the fabulous spooky stamps of the post office’s history! Inside, there was a Halloween card and a tiny wooden casket filled with candy. I LOVE the creative use of the wax seals! Margaret wrote a blog post about creating the little candy caskets. Such a fun postal treat! I’m going to use the little casket in my Halloween decorating next year and I’m hoarding the envelope too. candy corn postcardSarah sent this fun see-through candy corn postcard. It was laminated into the postcard size, like the corn was floating. Japan Post Halloween postcardYuki sent this amazing Japan Post Halloween postcard. These seasonal cards are coveted by me and many other Japan Post lovers…I screamed with delight when I saw it in my mailbox! Japan Post Halloween postcardYuki sent the postcard in an envelope, but still used vintage stamps with special postmarks on the postcard. I’m sure the postcard will make a reappearance next year in my Halloween decorating. It’s too good to file away with my other mail. Halloween cardsAnd, above are the other sweet, charming, funny Halloween cards I received. punny addressesDanielle, who sent me two Halloween cards, addressed them in the BEST way! KimBOOOly Adami- HAUNTSegawa and KimberlEEK! ADOOMi-HAUNTED HOUSEegawa made me laugh for days. And that Parcel Ghost sticker–so good!

Thanks to everyone for making it a great mail month! Anyone else receive anything spooky in your mailbox?

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Cocktail Perfected: Corpse Reviver #2 

Corpse Reviver #2, Lillet, Aviation Gin, Cointreau, AbsintheI’m slowly recovering from the plague* so I figured, what better cocktail to feature today than the Corpse Reviver #2. It’s actually the second of the Halloween cocktails I promised you last month. I’d been reading about the Corpse Revivers (#1 and #2) in all of my vintage cocktail books for years, but never made one because of one key ingredient, absinthe. I hate the anise/black licorice flavor that is so prominent in absinthe so it seemed pretty risky to buy a pricey bottle of something I may not enjoy. But we took the plunge and bought North Shore Distillery’s Sirène Absinthe Verte and it’s been a worthy addition to the cocktail menu for the Corpse Reviver #2 alone.

Corpse Reviver #2

3/4 oz gin

3/4 oz Cointreau

3/4 oz Lillet Blanc

3/4 oz lemon juice (freshly squeezed!)

dash absinthe

Pour a dash of absinthe in a cocktail glass and slowly swirl it around to coat the inside of the glass. Turn the glass slowly and pay attention to get the absinthe as close to the rim as possible. I think this is the key to a good Corpse Reviver. You can’t really taste the anise flavors, but the scent of the absinthe adds an herbal dimension to the cocktail. Discard any extra absinthe (or use it to rinse the next cocktail glass.)

Add the gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, and Lillet to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled and pour into the prepared cocktail glass. Bring out your Ouija Board and see who you can conjure up from the dead.

*It wasn’t really the plague.

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