Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Christmas Embellishments

mailing tubes covered with old sheet music and copies of old engravings

adding embossed stamps, old trims and rhinestones to give each one character

unadorned angel

"gussied up" angel

now embellished with old trims and jewels and of course a crown

love his new rhinestone and silk ruffled vest.

French inspired burlap stockings now enhanced with rhinestone details

Yes , I know it's Halloween, but our Christmas Open House is this Friday and Saturday!  When I purchase Christmas at market, I try to find a few things that we can embellish and make a little more special for our customers.  We have made the mailing tubes to look like old parchment paper and will add gold floral elements to the ends and tie into a Christmas tree with special wired ribbons.  Many of these have been custom made for a very special customer's tree, but some are still available for sale.  We will be using them with music inspired Venetian masks and a wide black and cream music note ribbon for the tree in her living room.  I have embellished them with trims from an old trim book that was discontinued, rhinestones, torn gold doilies, ribbon,  gold glitter and crests.   While it is hard to see in the pictures, they have a lot of sparkle and should be very glittery in the tree.   Simple muslin angels now sparkle with new embellishments and will be joined by the Santa elves at the Holiday Open House this weekend.  We are  closed on Thursday to set up the store and will open at 10 am on Friday morning all decked out for the  Christmas season. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Drying Hydrangeas

With the high winds from Sandy coming last night, I decided to come home from work and cut some of my hydrangeas before they were blown away by the wind.    These endless summer hydrangeas are white all summer long and then when October arrives, they turn these burgundy and green colors.  They dry easily.  I just cut them and bring them in to the laundry room sink, where I can shake the bugs off. After making sure they are bug free, I simply place them in a container.  This time I used a French wall  basket and just tucked them in to fill the opening.  I hung them on the old shuttered mirror  doors in my hall to the dining room.  They dry beautifully and can now be enjoyed until next spring.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Easy Decadent Brownies

There is a lot of talk in blogland about Oreo Brownies right now, especially using the Oreos with the seasonal orange filling. Basically, you bake  the oreo in a brownie batter.  But  my favorite candy is the Reese's Peanut Butter cup, so I decided to try this concept with them.  Using a prepared Ghirardelli Brownie mix, mixed according to directions, I layered the following in a parchment lined  9 by 9 inch baking pan.  First I pressed a roll of Pillsbury Peanut Butter cookie dough in the bottom of the pan.  Next I layered a bag of Pepperidge Farm toffee chip and pecan cookies and then topped them with the peanut butter cups.  Finally you pour the brownie mix over the top and bake according to the package directions.  I lined the pan with parchment paper so they would come out easily.   Let them cool completely before cutting into squares.  If you look closely at the brownie, you can see the pecan toffee layer and the peanut butter cup.  But they soak up the batter and become a soft gooey center of the brownie.  I warmed them a little in the microwave to re-energize that  chocolate gooey-ness and topped them with salted caramel ice cream.  Heaven on a plate!  Now I have to give them away, so that I don't eat them all.  Help me please!
Just imagine the possibilities with this recipe - what's your favorite candy in a brownie?!!!  We will be joining Foodie Friday at  Check out some great fall food ideas.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Last Roses of Summer

David Austin roses on top of old parchment books- dreamy textures together.

velvet pumpkins and roses -perfect fall combination

If you remember- our roses were absolutely dead dead dead  early this summer from the mistaken dose of herbicide they were accidentally sprayed with.  After digging out all the infected dirt and replacing it with topsoil, new roses were planted. By August, we started enjoying some blooms again.  Our Indian summer last week was great for them - hot days and cool nights they love.  But temperatures have fallen drastically and their blooming days are almost over.  I had to capture their beauty one more time before Mr. RTH prunes them back and covers them for winter.  My favorite rose, the pink David Austin rose, is an amazing flower.  So many perfectly shaped petals form that gorgeous rose. Mr. RTH- the maintenance man's favorite is the deep red tea rose.  He hates growing the old fashioned David Austin roses - says they are too temperamental- but he grows them for me. If he had it his way, we would only grow tea roses!  Growing roses is his passion- he loves to cut them and bring them in and place them in a water glass for me - never a vase mind you! Its kind of a cute gesture- sort of like a cat catching a mouse and dropping it as a special gift at your back door!  Arranging them is my job - one that I love to accept!  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Lake Bluff's Ghost Walk- America's Ghostliest Town

 Coastal Living named Lake Bluff the 4th happiest seaside town this year, causing much debate about "exactly which sea we are located on"  by many other happy towns actually located on a sea!
Co-anchors on the Today Show actually interviewed the editors from Coastal Living about this ranking and when Lake Bluff was discussed - the editors loved our " lively history" - especially during Prohibition when our coast line was a great spot to smuggle   alcohol .
Using this honor that was bestowed upon us this year, we are embellishing it a bit
on our bi-annual ghost walk!  Were there actually sea monsters sighted
 in Lake Michigan off  Lake Bluff's happy shores?

Was she murdered or did she die dancing the tango in one of the large hotels once standing on  Center Avenue? Find out this weekend!

Remembering all those that have paved the way for us - especially those who fought Prohibition!

Dinner party setting for Mad Men

eye balls float in red food coloring in water with a party light floating to give a  scary glow.

dead kale heads have centipedes crawling around and again  is lit
with battery operated mini party lights.

glow in the dark eye ball lit with a battery operated mini party light. Centipede and dried chili give a sinister feel to the plate.

bloody latex hand around the vase - filled with dyed red water and a celery root!


Love the way the celery root looks in the water!  Purple lights on the bar in the background.

dinner anyone?

bar covered with sixties bar ware, spider webs and purple lights

See what happens when you smoke! 

eyeball hi-ball

mad men with red votives and dripping blood on the background shelves - lit with green flood lights

let's party
vintage hearse is waiting and ready for Ghost Walk victims
Our little town is full of lively history - some true, some embellished  and some not so true.  Every two years the Lake Bluff History Museum produces  a Ghost Walk, depicting scenes that are somewhat historical? really? sea monsters in Lake Michigan?????   This past year we were awarded the honor of being named the 4th happiest seaside town in America by Coastal Living Magazine!  So Lake Bluff's history - especially stories about the lake front- will be the focus of this year's walk.  It also seems that the fictional character, Don Draper, from Mad Men, was based on a gentleman  that actually lived  in Lake Bluff on North Avenue in the 1960's.  Rumor has it that he was responsible for the Marlboro Man campaign and worked for Leo Burnett in Chicago.  According to the script for the ghost walk,  Don Draper and his Mad Men team have been hired to fix the PR problem that Lake Bluff has regarding sea monsters, missing dogs, etc.  So Don and Betty Draper  are having a dinner party with their cronies  to discuss the situation and determine what can be done.  I was asked to stage the dinner party in the Baytree Bank Lobby!. A 1960's dinner party was not complete without Old Fashioneds, Martinis and cigarette smoke.  While I did use 1960's bar ware, the table still needed to be a little creepy since its a Halloween Ghost Walk,  Gummy eyeballs, centipedes and lots of red food coloring  were used to set the scene.   Two niches in the  back wall were filled with "mad men" photos and red votives. Celery root, cling on  bloody hands and red food coloring fill the candle lit vases on the table.  The glow in the dark eyeballs are lit with battery operated party lights and are tucked into little nests of red lettuce garnished with dried ancho chilies.  All of this lighting will look great as the sun goes down and a dark spooky evening begins.  Should be  a fun couple of evenings - Saturday and Sunday nights, the 27th and 28th of October.