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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Why I love Halloween

Halloween is this Thursday and I am so excited!

I think I am going to make a small "alter" dedicated to those who have passed.  If you didn't know, it is the day that the veil between the planes is the weakest, and those who are dead may enter our plane and walk among the living.

Why do I love this month?  

The crunch of leaves under my feet
The smell of fresh pumpkin when carving
Wearing sweaters and boots, but maybe not the jackets yet
The magic in the air
The smell of pumpkin seeds roasting in the oven
Apples in everything

Some Halloween fun I've had this year:

- Attempting making caramel apples, and failing, several times.  Ok, maybe not so fun.  But homemade caramel is soooo much better than the stupid Kraft caramels.  I finally got a good recipe, and then can't get it to set up before sliding off the apple.  I think I need to call someone at the Food Network.

- Fun nail art.  Not the easiest to do, but worth the effort!

- Carving my pumpkins

Some great Halloween facts:

- The word Halloween comes from All Hallows Eve, which was from the Catholic Chuch (All Hallows Day or All Saints Day on Nov 1) to replace Samhain "Summer's End", which was the pagan new year.  Many of the Catholic holidays have corresponding times with pagan holidays to make the conversion to the Catholic church easier and more desirable.

- Jack o Lanterns were originally turnips, rutabagas, or potatoes carried as lanterns

- We wear costumes so that the evil spirits get confused and think we are one of them.

- In Alabama, it's illegal to dress up as a priest

- Harry Houdini died on Halloween in 1926

- During the celebration of Samhain, Druids would light fires to ensure the sun would return after the long, hard, winter.  Druid priests would throw cattle bones on the fire, therefore it became known as a "bone fire" which is now "bonfire"

- A full moon on Halloween is extremely rare, but we will see one on Oct. 31, 2020.

3rd Halloween Event: Theatre Bizarre

What an amazing event.  The amazing Masonic Temple in Detroit is transformed into 7 stories of incredible stages of fire juggling, fire breathing, burlesque, freak shows, comedians, peep show, ghost train, music, and the most breathtaking costumes you have ever seen.  No words - just pictures.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Blake's Cider Mill, Winery, and CiderHouse

Last night we visited Blake's Orchard & Cider Mill.  It's a great place that started as a small farm, then grew to a large farm, and now offers a "pick your own" orchard with dozens of types of apples & pears, and lots of other kinds of veggies and fruit.  They also have tons of squash and pumpkins to choose from.

They now offer 3 locations and have opened up the Blake's Winery & CiderHouse.  Yum!

I went with my friends Donna & Joe.  Donna got the flight of wine, which she said was way too sweet and wasn't impressed with (and this is coming from a woman who drinks Reisling!)  I ordered the flight of ciders. They didn't have the specialty ciders, and they told me the guest cider was just like the Gentleman's, so I basically had their 3 normal ciders.

The Semi-Sweet was pretty flavorless.  It tasted like a cross between a dry wine and sparkling water.  Seriously.

The Original Gold & Delicious was good, and reminded me of Woodchuck Original.  The sweeter of the 2 I had left.

The Gentleman's Dry was delicious.  It was perfectly crisp and apple-y, with just a hint of sweetness.  I had every intention of bringing home a 6-pack, but they only sold wine bottle sized for $12.99.  To be honest, while I love to support local businesses, it tasted just like Woodchuck Crisp, and I can get twice as much in a 6-pack for $10.99

To add to the Halloween fun, they also have Spookyland (not super spooky) with some great props that talk and sing, a petting zoo, corn maze, 3D house, tunnel of terror (warning: Vertigo), and some play lands.  For an extra price, there is also a 3-story haunted barn, haunted hayride, and Zombie Hunt (shoot live zombies with paintballs). 

If you are planning on going to any of these haunted attractions, let me give you some tips:  1) Blake's website says EVERYTHING closes at 6.  It does not.  The farms do, but the haunted activities don't go on SALE till 6.  Then I would make sure you are in the attraction line early.  They start at dark, which was about 7:30 2)  There is an option to buy VIP, which is $15 extra and a separate line.  If you are going late, buy this.  For the zombie ride there were 20 people per cart.  They took 15 VIP and 5 regular tickets per cart.  If you can get in line early (we were first) - don't buy it.  It won't get you in that much faster. 3) If you are with kids, there is haunted stuff at both Armada locations, even though the first one told us that ALL of the haunted activities was at their barn.  But the second location only provided a kiddie haunted house.

This is me getting ready to shoot zombies:

And to top it off, on my way home late at night, I saw 2 lit jack-o-lanterns in my neighborhood.  It was the first I've seen and it made me very happy!  As soon as I have an hour, I am sooooo carving mine!

Petrified.  Lurking.  Spooky
(peace. love. serene)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Last flowers in the fall garden

Fall Gardening

So I am trying to fit in my garden clean up amidst all of my fall and Halloween fun.  I have to pull out some of the veggie plants and annuals (looking pretty brown).
Other than that, I need to know what to do.  Do I fertilize the garden?  Do I do the lawn as well?  Should I put all of the leaves in the garden for protection?  The only thing about that is it's a pain in the butt in the spring to carefully rake them out while the tender spring flowers are coming up.  I've muttered several non-ladylike words after breaking flowers.  Ugh.

But the great part is that I'm finding all of these new little flowers!  I don't know if it's all the rain we had a couple of weeks ago, or the unseasonably warm October, but check these out!

The phlox was long over, and there are new flowers!  I guess I should be more diligent about cutting off the expired flowers and maybe I would have had these a lot sooner!

The morning glories had a few flowers (only planted late August), and then BOOM they went crazy!  These are the small purple ones, but the sky-blue ones grew to my roof, and into my rose of sharon tree.  Will the MG vine hurt the tree by wrapping?  I wish I had a picture of that, but they were closed by the time I went to take a picture.

My poor little late-blooming Dahlia laying on the sidewalk (they were great all summer) - I really need to bring this inside and put it in a vase!

This was the best surprise of all - this plant is in my herb garden because it is my wonderful pineapple sage.  It smells so yummy, and is wonderful in recipes.  I had no idea it would be growing 4 feet tall - next year I will put in my regular garden to give the rest of my herbs a chance at those soil nutrients.  But I REALLY didn't know that they would grow these really cool red flowers.  This picture doesn't do it justice.  It is reminiscent of bee balm, which is also technically an herb.  I wonder if they are related? (I can't find anything online that says that).  Bonnie plants says they will attract butterflies and hummingbirds.  I've also included their picture so you can see the flowers better.

Bee balm also started to regrow, which I KNOW I should 
have gotten to sooner.  Does anyone know how to use Bee Balm in cooking?  Ive heard of tea but I haven't tried.  I know it's part of the mint family.

This is more plox - my really cool pink and white checkered variety.

Believe it or not, this is foxglove coming back.  Isn't that an early to late Spring flower?  I guess the plants really do think it's Spring!

And this is the last of the veggies - 
which made an excellent omelet!  : )

Garden on!  Peace.  Love.  Serene.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

2nd Halloween Event: Halloweekends @ Cedar Point

USUALLY one of my favorite days of the year.  Halloweekends at Cedar Point.

We ran into a bit of a glitch this year.  It was THE busiest day that some employees say in 3 years, all summer included.

We all still had fun.  We rented a great condo on the water with a view of the park - much improved from the utterly crappy hotels around there.  Seriously, if anyone from the Sandusky chamber of commerce ever comes across this post, you should be embarrassed.  The hotels are overpriced, and I've literally had roaches in my presence.

We had glasses for beer and wine before the park.  This was the only wine glass we could find ...

We got to the park a little bit late after having a great BBQ at the condo, and only ended up getting to go on 2 rides.  If anyone plans on going to Cedar Point EVER, you should buy a FAST LANE Pass.  You can skip the line on almost all of the rides.  It's $75 and very much worth it (on top of your regular ticket).  Oh, buy it online the day before because by the time we got there they were sold out.  They only sell a limited amount.  They also have a super pass that lets you into any ride for $95, and a FRIGHT LANE for all of the haunted houses for $70.  We've never been to one of the haunted houses there because the lines are so long.

Liz just made the height requirement for the mine right.  You heard right, folks, one of the two rides we got to go on was the mine ride!

Great decorations throughout the park.  This giant beast was animatronic, with a speaker.  The character was saying things like, "Don't make me get up."

Sea wasn't allowed to wear his hat on the mine ride.  His hair was HIGH.  This picture doesn't do it justice!

The guys thought the beer line was too long, so they sat down to order from a waitress.  Then they were told they had to order food.  They each had one bite before leaving.

Waited 2 hours in the parking lot before getting out.  It was ridiculous.  And this van figured out a great way to get their GIANT carnival bear home.

Back at the condo, Sea & Franny curled up under the princess blanket

It was a good day, with our much needed hidden flasks (did I mention that the front gate didn't even ask to look inside my very large backpack?  Is anyone else slightly disturbed by that?)  It was beautiful weather, and the CarnEVIL and FRIGHT ZONE walkthroughs are always great.

Peace.  Love.  Serene