30 October 2009

Tombstones and a Special Treat

Tombstones in old churchyards can be so moody and romantic. One of the most peaceful places I have ever been is this church yard for the Unitarian Universalist's Church in Charleston. It really is a garden. There are plenty of shady benches where you can sit and contemplate mortality. Edgar Allen Poe used to do just that. This was one of his favorite places to visit in Charleston.

There is usually at least one cat in residence. I have shown you this picture before, but it is one of my favorites.

This tombstone would be interesting even if it didn't have a tree growing over it.
Ephraim Seabrook Mikell
Died after a short illness
May 5, 1896
A favorite with all who knew him

Moody and atmospheric even in bright sunshine with birds singing. Do you see the little guy perched on the tombstone.

These old tombstones are works of art in themselves and really should be appreciated. This one is so lovely, even the kitty is interested. (OK, so maybe she sees something in the flowers, but it is cute)
This lonely little graveyard is high on a hill in the Smokey Mountains. The path up to them is barely marked, we would not have found it except another hiker pointed the way. There are only a few graves and the stones are so old, they are illegible. Very spooky.
This is another old church yard without a church. These graves sit quietly out in the forest. Some stones lean a little but all are still standing. Most of the graves are from the Civil War era and shortly after. There are some beautiful carvings and sweet sentiments. I wonder who these people were, what were they like. Do they know their monuments are still standing? Do they care?
You can't really talk about Grave Yards without at least a few examples from the Necropolises of New Orleans. Their graveyards are all above ground crypts, quite literally cities of the dead.
Some of the tombs have been in use for a very long time. You can almost feel the spirits looking over your shoulder as you wander through the quiet "streets".
Lafayette Cemetery is one of the most famous.
I am a little behind with my posting, this photo of the dogwood is from the 26Th. Some days it seems to change between morning and night.

If you are looking for interesting bits to add to your Halloween cards and Scrapbook pages, Karen from The Graphics Fairy blog, has the front cover of an antique French tombstone catalog you can use at http://graphicsfairy.blogspot.com/2009/10/free-antique-clip-art-french-tombstone.html

Last and best of all my treat, a wonderful friend, Rhiannon from Random Spyder, http://www.randomspyder.com/ has been visiting us this week and she has gifted me with this lovely little doll. She says it is a "Pseudo Folk Art Pancake Rocker"
I say, "Rock On!"
Happy Halloween

21 October 2009

Mid October Inspiration

This little kitty's name is Akashia. Her heart is warm. Actually, all of her innards are warm. She has a cloth bag full of rice as stuffing in her trunk. This adds stability. It also makes her warm and cozy when you stick her in the microwave. When she comes out, I wrap her around my neck and she feels great. I got the idea from "Auntie Stress Annie" at http://dollmakersjourney.com/newsletter/auntie.html
I made the first doll exactly as shown (OK the pattern on the fabric was different, but you get what I mean). A couple of cat loving friends liked it so I came up with the kitty pattern. After a few winters of hard work, poor "Annie" split a seam, the fabric just gave way. Sad, but all good things..... Anyway, I did not plan on making mine a cat till I saw this cute fabric. What do you think? (Hint, if you are going to make one, use plain white rice. The more flavorful varieties will smell every time you warm them up).
While I was working on it, as you can guess, there were plenty of little stringy bits floating around and
the youngest member of the household got very interested. As I had plenty of fabric, I made her a toy too. It is stuffed with catnip, has a long tail to chase and has whiskers. Since it is head shaped instead of round, it wobbles when it rolls. She likes it (she is currently purring and keeping my lap warm).
Fall temperatures and colors inspire me. I want to make things! I am not the only one. Laura of "Gypsea Tree" http://lauragrace7.wordpress.com/ has been busy and my Sweet Hubby has been turning out all sorts of delights (as I showed you on the preview, this is a Guacamole Omelet). I have several ideas and supplies for more jewelry as well as cards I want to work on. Lots of my creative energy last week went
into a project for school, we had to make an instructive slide show. Isn't it nice when you can make homework into something interesting?
Fall is still tip toeing in slowly around here. The dogwood this week shows more red, but not much. These vines with berries are growing next to the Old Summer Kitchen. I don't know what they are but they are lovely. It is hard to stay in the house and work right now. The temperature keeps dipping into cold then back to mild. Our projected high today is 76 Fahrenheit, that is about 24 Celsius. There is a light breeze so some leaves are falling.
When we were kids, falling leaves meant fun. We would gladly help rake up the front lawn if we could jump and play in the pile. Our neighbor had a "Horse Chestnut Tree". It was big and provided shade for both houses. It also provided a supply of Horse Chestnuts each fall. Horse chestnuts look pretty much just like the lovely confections we used to buy in newspaper from the man on the corner in London or at the Big Christmas Market in Lincoln (chestnuts, mulled wine, music, mmmm!) then carry around to warm our hands and finally, when they were cool enough, eat. However, Horse Chestnuts are not edible. As a kid, I had no idea how good real chestnuts
are so I did not miss them. Horse Chestnuts come off the tree in green spiky balls. This stage is fun to throw. The spikes are just sharp enough to encourage caution, but not really sharp enough to do much damage. Crafty children could carefully peal off the outer spiky layer to reveal the nut in side. With the help of an old nail, you could easily put a hole through the middle to string for necklaces. We spent hours at it.
The "Horse Chestnut Tree" also supplied a lot of big soft leaves. Once the spiky green balls were collected, we used to pile the leaves near the porch and jump off the side into the pile (how did we survive
our childhoods?).
Back here in the South, Fall isn't just about the leaves. Summer is ending here too. This little Cicada exoskeleton looks as if he has curled up to for a winter's nap and the tiny little red bug looks as if he is wearing a tie for the Pumpkin Ball. Mushrooms are popping up all over and my camera stays busy.
I promised to share more photos of our Halloween decorations and here they are. As usual at my house, a mixture of old and new. The spiders came from children's parties from years ago, now they grace the pulls for the light each year. The kitty with the pumpkin glows with a soft orange light when you plug it in. It is vintage 1960's.
The treat bucket in the same photo is from the early 1990's (when will that count as vintage) and the irresistibly cute kitty pillow was 75% off on an after Halloween sale a few years back.
A vintage metal treat bucket from the 1950's shares the mantle with a glowing pair of Italian ceramic Jack O Lanterns.
I would like to leave you with a bit more inspiration.
You can watch Bugs Bunny and Witch Hazel in "A Witches Tangled Hare" at
Bugs Bunny and an Interesting Monster in "Primus"
at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOWgZW3di7w
Walt Disney's "Lonesome Ghosts" at
and a Donald Duck cartoon from 1954 titled "Trick or Treat" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skdVouumMk4
These cartoons were big excitement for this little kid. If you are not familiar with them, enjoy and be sure to let me know what you think.

18 October 2009

Mid October Preview

10 October 2009

Treats and tricks, Halloween

Is your mouth watering? This is another example of how spoiled I am. Raspberry pancakes! Served with a nice pot of Earl Grey tea (Twinnings, of course). My little corner of the world is most certainly civilized.
Last week I promised more photos of Halloween decorations. We are lucky enough to have several items from my Sweet Husband's childhood. This pirates costume from the 1950's probably looked adorable on him. Do you remember these big masks with the little eye holes? I remember a Cinderella costume with a similar mask (pretty with plastic blond hair of course). I also had a witch costume one year where the witches hat was molded as part of the mask. It was not round, so if you can imagine this black cone stood up in front but when I turned around, you could see the inside of the mask at the top. I didn't care. There was a magical excitement involved in putting on a costume like this.

If I close my eyes I can see Monroe (the street we lived on back then) it is dark, but every house has the porch lights on. Most have Jack O'Lanterns out front. You had to lift the chin of the mask a little to go up and down steps.
It was always at least a little chilly, some years we had to wear coats over our costumes (if it wouldn't fit underneath) so the mask had to be a good one or no one could tell who you were pretending to be.
I remember my big sister Margaret taking us around. I am sure there were more fun things for a teen to do, I don't know if my parents made her take us, or if she volunteered, I do know that she made sure we had fun and she kept us safe. Wouldn't it be wonderful if a teen aged girl was all that you needed to be safe now? Margaret paid attention with us as to what treats came from where. Back then, we still got home made treats from a few people. If we knew them, we could eat the treats (not before we got home and had them all inspected even then, 1960s for me,
there were a few spoil sports out there).
These trick-or-treat bags were kept from my Sweet Husband's childhood. I carried some a lot like these. Some years it was a pillowcase. Some years stores would use treat bags instead of plain brown paper for the week before Halloween.
Close your eyes again and remember with me (or imagine) you can smell the wood smoke from peoples chimneys. There are big dry crunchy leaves on the ground, maybe a light sprinkling of frost or even snow. There are little groups of giggling children running from house to house (with grown ups or older siblings calling to tell them not to run). We knocked on the door and called "Trick or treat, trick or treat, we want something good to eat". The we waited with glowing faces and sacks held open to see what sort of delights might be dropped in our bags. Some years we also took little cartons for UNICEF. Pennies were collected then taken back to church and sent to UNICEF. I think the idea was that we should trick or treat for UNICEF instead of for candy, but we did both and no one seemed to mind. I hope we always said "Thank you" I do remember doing so. I remember Mrs. Norda trying to guess who we were, there was always a twinkle in her eye, since we were there with Margaret, it would be easy to guess, but we didn't
think about that. All we thought about was fun.

Our Halloween decorations are a mix of old and new. A brewery called The Shipyard produces "Pumpkin Head Ale" a tasty treat for the grown ups and the bottles are worthy of display. The paper Pumpkin and Halloween post cards are vintage and tons of fun.
I'll show you more decorations next week.

Little Spontaneous is not scared of Halloween, we had a scary thunderstorm the other night. She took refuge under a chair. Doesn't she have the most expressive little face? She did get thoroughly cuddled after I took the photo. How could I resist.

The season is changing slowly and gracefully. My Sweet Hubby suggested that I should post a photo of the dogwood each week as it progresses into winter. I think it is an excellent suggestion, so here is the first. If you look you can see the little red berries and some leaves are starting to turn red.

Here in the woods, this time of year, mushrooms are popping up all over. My front lawn, at first glance,
looks like it has been used for putting practice. There are little white mushroom balls all over it. I took this one on the way back from our walk the other night. It was starting to get dark. Isn't it magical? The next picture really is of blue mushrooms. I don't know what causes the color but these are very blue. The big one looks, from the top like a blueberry doughnut, perhaps just a little ghostly.

The creative process is messy. I took a little time out from work and school to play with my sewing machine. My project is almost done, I just need to finish up with some hand work. Shall I show you next week what it is?

Another treat, German Apple Pancakes. The pancake is literally a pan cake, it forms the bowl. The filling includes apples and bananas and cheese and all sorts of lovely spices, topped up with a little dab of lemon curd. The tea cozy is one we brought back from the UK, it is currently keeping another lovely pot of "Twinnings" Earl Grey, warm (yes, I am spoiled rotten)!

Last, but not least. The other night, when I got home from work, I was greeted by this adorable sight. My Sweet Hubby and that silly cat. It makes me smile. Most evenings are getting a little chilly so snuggling is once again a very good idea.

I hope your evenings are snugly and full of purrs.
See you next time,
from Kat's little corner of the woods.

06 October 2009

Wooly caterpillars

There is an old wives tale that says something about how if the woolly caterpillars are fat and furry, the winter is going to be a cold one. I don't know if this guy has heard that or not, but he is fine and fat and furry. Do you think we should go get some extra wood? Somehow I always associated caterpillars and butterflies with the spring. This is most certainly autumn and here they are. All these photos were taken within the last week or so.

We have had a bumper crop of butterflies lately. I have photographed three different species just on our road. The
orange and black is dressed up for the season. The midnight blue looks ready for a ball.

This part of South Carolina brings in the fall, ever so gently. It slowly sneaks up on you. I anxiously wait for the first yellow leaves then the first of the red. It is often cool enough in the mornings to snuggle up. Soon, it will be time to bring wood up and cut it for the fireplaces. My Sweet Hubby brought the afghans down from the attic. I love to stretch out on the couch under a cuddly throw. Anyone who knows me, will know that I

hate to be cold. I do, however, enjoy being just a little cool, IF I can cuddle. Spontaneous the cat is quite popular right now.

There are so many interesting things to photograph right now. Green has been our dominant color all summer, I am ready for change. I have photos of three different kinds of mushrooms from our walk the other day. Just this morning, as we walked out to the car, I spotted yet another kind, these have red and white caps. I did not stop to shoot as we were already running late. If they are still there, I will try to get them for next week.

These little puff balls look like some sort of confection (no
worries, I would never pick wild to eat, I am very protective of my own skin). The other two types really look like they should have fairy's near by.

These two posts have some good examples of what I mean.


Maybe I will have to go fairy with my trusty little camera again soon (I still have great nieces that have not been turned into fairies yet and I want to make some paper dolls too).

After the mushroom photos, comes another great use for mushrooms, Pizza. No mushrooms on this, just pepperoni and lots of cheese. My Sweet hubby has the hand made stuffed crust down to an art form. Good stuff!

Below that is another great example we found at Earth Fair in Augusta. I read about it in Martha Stewart's Halloween Magazine. She recommends it for it's spooky appearance and even spookier name.
When I spotted the cheese, Jennifer, our favorite cheese guru let us have a taste and we were hooked. It is Morbier. The stripe is vegetable ash, I know, that sounds just a little odd, but you really should try it. Way back when they started making this cheese, families that did not have enough milk to fill the mold all at once would put the mornings milking in, then a layer of fine ash to prevent it from forming a skin. In the evening, they milked again and put the rest on top. Part of what makes it so interesting is the fact that the morning milking tastes different from the evening milking, so the two halves taste different. I think the story is kind of romantic. Can't you just see the little cottage with one cow in the back?
Last but not least, we have Jack o'lanterns on the steps. The Halloween decorations are up and I am already dreaming of pumpkin pie.


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