Tag Archives: Halloween

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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Summer Book Report, Part 2

summer reading, a good man is hard to find, we have always lived in a castle, a country doctor, consequences, convenience store womanI gave myself until the technical start of fall to finish my goal of reading ten books, and I’m going to call it complete. I finished my last book on Tuesday, and one of my choices is technically a short story, but…it’s all good. I’ve been reading up a storm, finishing all of these this month. (Don’t be too impressed…one book was a layover from August and the others are quite short!)

A Country Doctor by Sarah Orne Jewett (1884): This was for book group and it was kind of meh. The writing is really lovely, but many parts were too verbose and I didn’t feel the same connection to the characters that I have in other books. Oh, and it’s another single woman, finding her way in the world, struggling between career and marriage…I’m not complaining. I love those books. This just wasn’t my favorite.

“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor (1953): It’s a short story that I can’t believe I’ve never read. I can’t tell you anything. Don’t read about it. Just get it and read it. It’s perfection.

Consequences by E.M. Delafield (1919): Another spinster novel…I loooooved this. It took me almost a month to read it and I had to take a break from reading it to read for book club. But, every time I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. It is a tale of a misunderstood child turned single woman who makes many bad choices in life (a life constrained by society’s expectations and restrictions) and has to live with the consequences.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (2016): Oh look! It’s a book written this century! Naoto’s sister recommended this book to him a couple years ago and it was the book that got him back into reading. He read the Japanese version and I was a little bummed because it wasn’t available in English when he told me about it. Then, I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Work Over Easy, and I was reading this post thinking “huh, this book sounds like that one Naoto read!” and sure enough it was! I immediately ordered it from the library and read it in one day. I loved it so much, but it’s hard to explain why. Weirdly enough, it’s another book about a single woman who has made some “non-traditional” choices. I loved the main character and I loved how the author paints the perfect picture of life in a convenience store. (Sidenote: convenience stores are way better in Japan…perhaps I need to write a new Japan Does It Better post.)

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (1962): I haven’t read enough Shirley Jackson. “The Lottery” is one of my favorite short stories ever. This was the perfect introduction into my spooky October reading. The book was creepy and captivating and funny…and the first paragraph is one of the best ever written:

My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.

For book club next month, we are reading Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and I just started Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, another Japanese book that I read about in the New York Times review of Convenience Store Woman. Perhaps I’ll be back with a fall review soon! In the meantime, here are some of my favorite book club reads from October!

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In My Neighborhood: Empowering Gardens

empowering gardens inc, forest parkEmpowering Gardens is one of those unique places that makes me thankful I live in Forest Park. It is a local garden center with a mission to provide job opportunities for people with disabilities. Everyone who works there is so knowledgable and friendly. And EG offers such great plants, definitely heartier than some of the stuff at the big box garden centers. Plus, their prices are competitive, which means you can buy more and help a good cause.empowering gardens, fall pansies, fall flowers, garden center, mumsRight now, they have a gorgeous array of pansies which love this fall weather that we’re just dipping into, and tons of mums–tiny ones and giant ones in all different autumnal colors. empowering gardens, ornamental pepper, fall flowers, garden centerThey also have a few varieties of ornamental peppers, which are so cool! (I’m kicking myself for not buying this one.) They also have some ornamental cabbages, fall grasses, cold weather vegetables, and plenty more. Pretty much everything you need to give your porch or garden a boost for the new season. empowering gardens inc, forest parkHow cute would one of these be on a Halloween porch? empowering gardens inc, forest park, Naoto at Empowering GardensWe bought a couple of small mums and this really neat black plant…I need to clear off the balcony of all the dead summer stuff and I’ll share the living fall version next week. (It’s really a mess out there on my lanai!) I really wish I could trust myself to water the pansies because they have so many stunning colors! And, this Saturday, I’ll be at Empowering Gardens selling my cards at the Music, Art & Wine event! I’m so excited to participate in this event that combines my love of gardening with my love wine and music and handmade art!

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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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Halloween Mail

Halloween mail, La Familia Green glow in the dark button, mail artI’m behind on my Halloween mail because I got sick this week and I was down for the count for a few days. But, earlier this month, I got a jump start on sending some festive mail out to a couple of cat lady pen pals. I had these glow-in-the-dark cat buttons from La Familia Green that I wanted to send in a slightly more creative way than just sticking them in a plain envelope. I was inspired by the peek I had of my Presley patch from Margaret, so I decided to use a cellophane envelope instead. Halloween mail, La Familia Green glow in the dark button, mail art 2I used washi tape to attach the button to the card and wrote my note. I tried to place the buttons on the middle of the card, where the machine wouldn’t be canceling the stamp or printing the bar code on the bottom. Halloween mail, La Familia Green glow in the dark button, mail art 3I stuck it all in the cellophane envelope with an address label and added postage. Since the envelope was lumpy, I added the extra twenty-one cents. Halloween mail using cellophane envelopesI also used a cellophane bag to attempt to protect the googly-eye “bra” on my mail art to Kathy. Thanks to a Halloween mail art party with Donovan, I’ve have a huge stack of Halloween envelopes to work through. Now that I’m feeling better, more spooky mail will be written. Better late than never, I guess.

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Cocktail Perfected: Purgatory

Purgatory Cocktail, Old Overholt rye, Chartreuse, BenedictineI am embracing the Halloween spirit this week, finally finishing decorating and reading a few spooky short stories. We are reading “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle” for book club this month. One of our book club members sent over Edith Wharton’s “Afterward” as a bonus suggestion since our stories are so short and everyone loves reading a good “ghost story” this time of year. I highly recommend “Afterward” and this post has some other great suggestions if you’re into Halloween reading.

I have a couple of good cocktails to share this month for Halloween. These aren’t Pinterest-y cocktails like a Witch’s Brew or Candy Corn Jello Shots, but classic cocktails that always put me in the mood for ghost stories, scary movies, and ghoulish mail art.

The first cocktail is Purgatory, a rye-based cocktail with warm, herbal, and spicy notes. It’s potent, especially considering it’s a 4 ounce pour, but there’s nothing like it on a crisp fall night.

Purgatory Cocktail

2 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey (I like Old Overholt. It’s budget-friendly!)

3/4 oz Chartreuse

3/4 oz Benedictine

Add ingredients to a mixing glass with ice. Stir until chilled and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Drink slooowwwwwwly while reading about headless horsemen, the return of the dead, or Casper the Friendly Ghost.

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Packing Tape Postcards for Halloween

packing tape postcards Halloween, Angry Chicken InspiredI started reading blogs in 2007 when a coworker told me about Angry Chicken. Angry Chicken is a personal blog by Amy Karol where she shares a variety of things from homeschooling and sewing projects to homemade deodorant and cake recipes. I love that it’s an unpredictable range of topics and that there are no sponsored posts. (Not that there’s anything wrong with sponsored posts…it’s just nice to have a break from them once in awhile!) I was so fascinated with her blog that I stayed up late one night reading all of her posts from the beginning. It’s one of the few blogs that I continue to read after all these years.

Over the summer, I was inspired by this post about packing tape postcards. I love how her three girls sandwiched anything and everything between two strips of packing tape and made it a postcard. Simple, but genius. I thought it would be fun to try but I was out of packing tape and kind of forgot about it until last week when I broke out my Halloween mail stuff. I have loads of confetti and ribbon and some chunky copper glitter that I felt would make a perfect Halloween packing tape postcard. packing tape postcards Halloween, Angry Chicken inspiredI only made two, but I hope to make a few more before fall ends. I forgot the glitter in Margaret’s, which is fine…there’s no right or wrong, but I love how the glitter pieces fill the void. I also didn’t write messages on them, but next time I will. My postcards ended up being about 5×7 inches so I used a Forever postage stamp on them (stuck on the outside of the packing tape!) And because I didn’t write a message or sign the postcards, I stamped my return address on them with StazOn ink, pretty much the only thing that will dry on the slick packing tape surface.

I can’t wait to make more of these! It would be fun to make one with bits of ephemera from a vacation or an event. For now, I’m just hoping to make a few more fall-themed ones.

P.S. I finished my 31 Postcards in 31 Days project on November 1st! Yay!

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