Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Beginning of Fall

I want to start this post by mentioning how busy I've been over the past six weeks and make reference to how fast time goes, but that's how I always start my posts and it's getting a little tired.

So, I'll just say "hello" and jump right into it.

I made another Halloween Tree a few weeks ago using a black decorative tree that I bought on sale after Halloween at Michael’s last year. The branches are made from covered wire that can be bent and arranged in different directions. I wanted this tree to be distinct from the one that I made back in 2007, which you can see by clicking here. That first tree has skull, pumpkin, and bat ornaments, and a trio of witches and their black cat gathered around a tombstone at the base.

Halloween Tree 2011

For this new Halloween tree I made crows (one is hanging as an ornament and another is sitting on a blackened pumpkin at the base of the tree), pumpkins, apples, ghosts and an owl from Sculpey brand polymer clay. Unfortunately, I didn’t read the Sculpey baking instructions prior to putting the first batch of ornaments in the oven and they ended up burning a bit, hence the blackened pumpkin that the crow is sitting on at the base of the tree. The bottoms of the apples are slightly scorched, as are the bottoms of the ghosts, which makes it look as if they were floating low over muddy ground before finally floating up to settle in their haunting spots in the tree.

Halloween Tree - top
Halloween Tree - owl
Halloween Tree - pumpkins
In the photo above you can see one of the blackened pumpkins that was burned in the oven. I made other pumpkins but they were so charred that I had to throw those out. I was much more careful with the second batch of pumpkins, as you can see!
Halloween Tree - crow

Has it really been 4 years since I made that first tree? It seems like only yesterday. Maybe that’s why I felt so confident in relying only on my memory for baking my Sculpey for this new tree rather than actually looking up the directions. Lesson learned. Both of my Halloween Trees are now on display in my living room along with my other spooky seasonal decorations.

Anyway, you may have noticed that the quality of the photos of my new Halloween Tree are much better than my first tree. Finally, 7 long years after buying my first digital camera, a simple little Olympus point-and-shoot thing, I now have a new camera. It’s a Canon EOS REBEL T3 digital SLR and, boy, does it take some beautiful pictures. My new Canon can also make high definition videos which opens up a whole new world of possibilities. I bought a tripod, too, because I am terrible for moving the camera when I take a snap, and I have plans to make some short stop-motion animation films so I’ll need my hands free to move things around.

But rather than get way, way, way ahead of myself, which is what I always do when I have a new toy and a never-ending supply of creative ideas and plans (I love planning!), a few weeks ago on September 18th I started out with my Canon by taking a few sunny morning shots of flowers out in the garden.

Flowers 1
Flowers 2
Flowers 3
Flowers 4
Flowers 5

There are so many interesting little details in these flowers. I love that the resolution of the original photos is so high that when I zoom in while viewing them on my computer, I can see the specks of pollen on the flower petals.

Flowers 6

These flowers look like they ran to hide when I started clomping around the garden in my rubber boots and were too scared to come out from under the chair to have their picture taken. Either that or they’re napping in the shade.

And then there’s the fruit. The tomatoes were almost ready to be picked when I took these.

Ripening Tomatoes 1
Ripening Tomatoes 2

The black currants, on the other hand, were not fit to be picked at all.

Black Currants

These are some sad looking black currants. A nice snack for the birds, perhaps.

And finally, a lonely gooseberry. I was only able to find three on the whole bush.


The weather was awful this summer in St. John’s which is why nothing really grew or ripened normally. I’m already planning for next year, though. I want to grow some of my favourite vegetables, namely pumpkins, butternut squash, zucchini, carrots (the regular orange kind but also purple and yellow), beets, and garlic. And more tomatoes, of course.

I picked the ripest tomatoes and used about 14 or so of the smallest ones on September 24th to make a roasted red and green tomato and red pepper soup.

Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

It was so, so, so good. I only made enough for two small bowls but it was worth it. I picked the remaining tomatoes this week and gave them to my father who used them to make green tomato sandwich spread.

I’ve made so many baked things over the past couple of months that I’m having trouble remembering everything, but I know for sure that I made the following:
  • Mini apple raisin cinnamon rolls;
  • Chocolate brownies with walnuts;
  • Chocolate and pumpkin-walnut marbled brownies with chocolate drizzle on top. These were made with leftover pumpkin puree from Halloween 2010 that was found in the deep freeze but they were ridiculously good nonetheless;
  • Oat and apple muffins;
  • Blueberry and currant bran muffins;
  • A small cherry, blueberry, and apple cake;
  • Banana chocolate chip muffins;
  • And mini banana bread loaves. 
Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures of any of these, despite having a new camera. I’m going to make some Halloween themed chocolates and chocolate-covered pretzels this weekend to bring in to my coworkers, like most of the things I make. I want to try making my own pretzels at some point, too. I'll try to remember the photos this time.

If I was kept in a darkened room with no windows and no access to the outside world, I swear I'd know that autumn was on its way simply by the insatiable baking itch that always comes over me this time of year. But if I did look outside, I'd instantly know the time of year because when else do the garden gnomes and other assorted decorative wee folk come together? Here’s a photo of my garden denizens' annual fall council meeting which they are holding before they make their way into the shed for the winter.

Garden Gnome meeting

Notice how the Disney Seven Dwarves are off to one side keeping to themselves. But you can't really expect such icons of the silver screen to hobnob with the regular wee folk, can you?

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