Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Witches of Muckmire Marsh

A lovely sign that fall is arriving - though of course Jersey Macs are known as a very early apple. They are a wonderful eating apple but lovely in cider or a pie as well. Did you know that McIntosh apples are Canadian? They were first cultivated in 1835 right here in Ontario in Dundela

Now what to make from the crabapples? Jelly? Chutney, Crabapple Butter perhaps?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Halloween Memories from Grade School

Does anyone remember singing along to Halloween songs in elementary school?

Halloween Past

Imagine! Captain Kangaroo - Eleanor Roosevelt and Halloween all at the SAME TIME! 

My goodness, it has been too long since I posted here! I've been busy with my Tumblr account sending all sorts of pretty pictures. I wish I knew a way to send those here!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Faeries in the Woods?

I'm afraid I must beg your forgiveness for being away from my postings for so long. It's been a beautiful summer so far here in Muckmire Marsh but the gardens have needed so much tending and there have been so many other exciting things afoot. I am sorry, but on to new things:

As you may recall, my last post had some photos of lovely things I discovered in a walk about outside and one of them was a simply adorable little toadstool. I had hopes that a ring of them might appear, signaling the spot of a Faerie Circle... but alas the little dear fell victim to Ezmerelda's rather clumsy travelings and was unceremoniously squashed beneath the heel of her boot. To my great disappointment, it never grew back let alone spawning a circle so it could not have been a visit by the Faerie Folk anyway. But this morning I found what I believe is proof that they are near: a beautiful and delicate little circle of graceful pink toadstools.

How exciting!  It is most certainly the work of the Faerie Folk and looks to me from the tall throne-like seat at one end that it could very well be from visiting royalty!  I have been very careful not to disturb it of course. It's never wose to disturb nature in all her glory, but it is very unwise to disturb a Faerie Ring. Have you ever seen a Faerie? I bet you have and didn't even know it. There are Faerie Folk around all the time, but they most always remain hidden to us big brutes. You may have passed one thinking it was a moth or a cobweb. Or maybe you glanced at a pea blossom or a bit of mustard gone to seed waving gently in the breeze. Sometimes they tease by lighting up like a firefly at night, blinking just long enough to get your attention and then disappearing, or brushing against your hand disguised as a bit of milkweed fluff.

Of course Faerie Folk are impossible to photograph, and you would make them quire cross if you even tried, but with great respect I asked aloud if I might take a snap of these beautiful mushrooms and no ill came of it so I chanced a few. I could have sworn I heard a faint giggle in the wind as I crouched down on all fours with my camera in the most undignified of poses, but that might have been my imagination after all. As I stood to leave, I thanked them aloud (just in case any were nearby) and wished them well, inviting them to stop by if they liked. Being very small creatures they need to know they are not overlooked or thought inconsequential and they do enjoy an invitation though they rarely accept.Many an unwary or bad-mannered witch or warlock has woken to a nasty surprise of some sort after failing to keep this in mind and offending the little dears. I myself have always been very cautions about it .Showing respect by being courteous and polite is always the best policy but with the Faerie Folk it is an absolute necessity.

Well, here is the photo my dears - enjoy. I do hope they visit us at Creepstone Cottage one night soon. There is little lovelier than a midsummer night's  frolic with a band of merry little Faeries, though we probably won't remember it, thinking instead it was all just a dream.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A few quick Spring photos from around the cottage

Pretty blossoms!

I just love seeing the vines starting to come out in leaves - all shiny and green with touches of red!

I noticed this adorable little toadstool poking up out of nowhere this morning! Pity there's not a ring of them...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring is in the air!

The Witch Hazel is in bloom and doing a magnificent job. Brava!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spring Begins in the Marsh

What lazy witches we have been! After gorging ourselves on Valentine's Day chocolates and baked goodies, we settle down into a nice long nap... and slept through March! The good news is, winter seems to be waving goodbye and spring is showing signs of interest again.It's always so reassuring to know that whatever else happens, the slow step of the seasons continues on.

This morning we chanced out of the cottage and took a peak at the still sleeping gardens - grey and dreary. 
A closer look however showed not all of our botanical friends were still dormant. Many trees and bushes have their twigs adorned with suspicious bumps that could very well be buds. There rare a few red and green shoots poking up from the the ground here and there - crocus and snowdrops to be sure. And last but never least - dear old Salix Discoulor has come all out in delightful little furry catkins living up to it's more common name of the Pussy Willow.

What a delightful time of year. We must all get outside and take it all in!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Valentine Blessing for You

 The rose is red, the violet's blue,
The honey's sweet, and so are you.
Thou are my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou'd be you.
You know, I always get a bit sentimental this time in February remembering all the lovely Valentines I have received through the many years that have come to past. Sometimes I even get a bit sad because I no longer have a beau to send me fancy cards, heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, sweet smelling perfume or bouquets of dead roses... but then I remember myself and realize the cads are probably better off as toads and quite happy to be hopping about the marsh instead!
My blessing for you is:
May you have your true hearts desire
And may you all be remembered by your loved one 
On this special day
For those who have nor yet found that magical someone:
May your days be filled with the love of family and friends,
May you find the partner you seek with speed and with care
And may your lover be all the more wonderful when you find them
For you deserve no less than the very best
And by and by you shall find it

Until then, enjoy my picture of a few of my favorite Valentines from over the years as well as the lovely poem above.
 Happy Valentine's Day, my dears! 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

RECIPE: Stuffed Green Peppers

Brrr! It’s been an extra a cold winter here in the Marsh! There’s been lot’s of fun in the snow, but lots of work as well keeping the paths shoveled and the walks clear. 

After a day out in the crisp, cold air, there’s nothing like coming home to a hot supper. In the winter, we often forgo the table and bring our supper into the living room where we eat snuggled up in our cozy chairs which we pull close to a crackling fie in the big hearth. There’s many good recipes for days like this: roast beef with carrots, potatoes and gravy; chili con carne and cheesy garlic bread; a hearty stew with lots of chunky vegetables; a nice beef barley soup; and perhaps Henrietta's personal favorite - stuffed peppers! For desert a warm apple crisp with a dollop of whipped cream or even a slosh of cold table cream on top. All reasons why we don’t mind winter one bit!

Here is Henrietta's recipe for the stuffed peppers. It's been simplified with items you can get from your local grocery store as many of our little friends don’t have gardens like ours and so may not have items like their own canned tomatoes on hand. Of course Henrietta usually makes several batches of stuffed peppers when the peppers are in season can be picked that day as this recipe freezes quite well to be defrosted and cooked later, but there’s nothing wrong with making them the same day with some lovely peppers flown into your grocers from a warmer climate.

What you 'll need: 
  • Six  medium-sized fresh green peppers
  • Half a cup of chopped Spanish onion
  • Half a cup of uncooked long grain rice
  • One teaspoon of Worchestershire sauce
  • One and a half cups of shredded Cheddar cheese
  • One pound of ground beef
  • Two cups of tomato preserves (a sixteen ounce can of stewed or diced tomatoes works fine)
  • One teaspoon of salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • Half a cup of water
  • Two cups of seasoned croutons

How to make them:
  1. Fill a large stockpot with water and add half of the teaspoon of salt, stirring to dissolve. Set the pot on a hot burner to bring it to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, using a sharp knife, carefully cut off the stemmed tops of the peppers much like you would a jack-o-lantern. Scoop out any seeds and membrane left in the peppers and wash the insides and out under cold running water.
  3. Drop the peppers carefully into the boiling pot of salted water and cook for no more than five minutes. Using a pair of kitchen tongs, fish the peppers out of the boiling water one by one and let sit upside down on a cooling rack placed over your sink to drain and cool a bit. You won’t need the stockpot of water again so feel free to drain it and set it aside.
  4. In a large, trustworthy skillet brown the ground beef and onions over medium heat. Add the remaining half teaspoon of salt, the dash of pepper, the canned tomatoes (complete with juice), the rice, the water and the Worcestershire sauce. Stir everything together well and then let simmer for fifteen minutes, covered.
  5. Turn off the heat and uncover your mixture. Stir in half a cup of the cheese just until incorporated. Now it’s time to put it all together!
  6. Place your drained peppers bottom side down in a high-walled baking dish (I’ve found soufflĂ© dishes or casseroles are wonderful for this recipe). Stuff each pepper with the beef mixture just until full. Top each pepper with croutons and shredded cheese. At this point you can let the casseroles cool and then take them to your freezer to await a cold day to be used, or you can bake them in a three-hundred-and-fifty degree oven for twenty minutes and serve them right away. 

Sometimes for an extra treat, Henrietta sprinkles a bit more cheese on them just as they come out of the over for a wonderfully stringy and gooey topping!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Footprints in the Snow

This morning as I built the fire in the hearth to make my morning tea, I glanced out the front kitchen window and saw that some had walked by Creepstone Cottage sometime late last night, leaving a trail of footprints in the newly fallen snow. As I sipped my tea and nibbled on a warm buttered scone, I mused about who it might have been and a little poem began to form in my mind. 

It's not very good poetry but I thought I'd share it with you anyway and so here it is:

In the cold winter months
When white blankets the ground
And the Nettlewart vines slumber on
I wonder who's passed
In the quiet dark night
Leaving tracks I discovered at dawn

Who was it that walked
Down the path past my gate
Shuffling along without stopping to rest?
Was it friend? Was it foe?
Was it someone I'd know?
Was it someone I'd want as a guest?

Were it not for the snow
I guess I'd never know
That they came by this way at all
But still I must wonder
Who's footprints are yonder
Where they came from, are going and all

Dear Traveler Who Came
(I do not know your name)
Should your travels return you to me
Give a knock on my door
Stamp your shoes on my floor
And stop in for a cookie and tea

Thursday, December 16, 2010

RECIPE: Henrietta's Peanut Butter Balls

Waiting to be chilled before being rolled in icing and coconut.
I'll tell you a little secret about Henrietta, one of her greatest weaknesses is anything containing peanut butter. It follows that every Christmas, she makes sheets and sheets of these wonderful little morsels, often doubling the recipe. She's had great fun trying endless variations (a few of which are below), and many friends of the witches love to get a small tin full of nothing but these scrumptious treats as a holiday gift.

The only real secret in making the rolled darlings is to keep your ingredients cool once they are mixed to avoid sticky situations, and to keep the wet to dry ingredient ration in balance. You don't want a dry ball that cracks, nor do you want a wet ball that looses its shape.

Try them for yourself and do let Henrietta know if you come up with any fun variations. She'll use any excuse to make another batch and none of us here at Creepstone cottage mind one bit!

What you will need for the basic cookies:
  • One cup of smooth peanut butter
  • Two tablespoons of butter at room temperature
  • One half a cup of finely chopped dates
  • One cup of icing sugar (some people call this confectioners sugar) 

How to make the cookies:
  1. In a trustworthy medium-sized bowl, stir the peanut butter and butter together with a sturdy wooden spoon until well blended.
  2. Add in your icing sugar a little at a time until it is completely mixed.
  3. Carefully stir in dates until incorporated.
  4. Grease your hands with a bit of butter and use them to form the mixture into bite-size balls.*
  5. Place the dear little things on a baking sheet lined with wax paper or tin foil.
  6. Chill the trays in your refrigerator until they are firm and well set (about an hour).
  7. Coat the balls as desired
The traditional coating is to roll the chilled balls in a thin icing made of milk and icing sugar, and then in sweetened flaked coconut. Let these set again on the wax paper covered baking sheet in fridge.

Another fun coating is chocolate or butterscotch. Instead of chilling the balls in your refrigerator, place them in the freezer until quite hard. Then roll them in gently melted semi-sweet chocolate or butterscotch chips, turning them to coat evenly. Let set on wax paper covered baking sheet in fridge.

Some of Henriettas other variations include:
  • Substituting mini chocolate chips, crispy rice cereal or raisins for the dates
  • Rolling in toasted, crumbled peanuts
  • Rolling in holiday coloured sprinkles
  • Rolling in white sprinkles for a snowball look
  • Rolling in melted white chocolate
  • Rolling in crushed corn flake or crispy rice cereal
Henrietta is also fond of putting each peanut butter ball in a little paper baking cup for a nice presentation. These come in many festive looks including plain white, berry red, holly green, sparkling gold or with joyful, printed Christmas designs.

HENRIETTA HINT: If you find the mixture is sticking to your hands but you are certain you have the right dry/wet ingredient ratio, it may be you are too warm yourself. Wash your hands off and then cool them under the coolest tap or well water you can get, or in a bowl of ice water. Re-grease them with butter and carry on.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

RECIPE: Auntie Patricia’s Christmas Shortbread

These old fashioned cookies are an absolute favorite at the cottage! A melt in your mouth buttery treat with a hint of maple flavoring, what sets this simple recipe apart from other shortbread is the use of brown sugar and no cornstarch. We’ve read where these are sometimes known as Cornish Shortbread, but we’ve not seen any evidence the recipe originated in Cornwall. The taste is so satisfying and hearty, It’s best not to over do the decorations with heavy icings so use candied cherries, glace fruits or a sprinkle of colored sugar instead.

What you’ll need for the cookies:
·         One pound of butter at room temperature
·         One cup of golden brown sugar (lump free if you please)
·         Four cups of flour
·         Red and green candied cherries cut into halves
·         Colored decorative sugar

Instructions for the cookies:
1.       First thing to do is to preheat your oven to 275 degrees. Then get out a good sized mixing bowl and place your butter in it.
2.       Next, cream your butter using a nice. Flat wooden spoon or if your new fangled, your electric mixer. Mind that you just cream it – don’t liquefy!
3.       Once that is done, add your brown sugar and cream it into the butter.
4.       Then slowly add the flour a bit at a time until everything is combined. (Be careful not to over work the dough or your cookies won’t be quite right.) By this time you should have a soft dough, but if you find it is too sticky, add a bit more flour. If it is a bit too soft o work, gently lay a dam tea towel over the dough and chill it for a while in your icebox or fridge.
5.       Lightly flour a large board and your most faithful rolling pin so that you can roll out your dough to an even ½ inch thickness.
6.       Cut the dough into shapes with either your best cookie cutters or the bottom of a juice glass. (Henrietta finds circle and round flower shapes work best though diamonds and stars do well too.) Gather the unused portions of dough form around the cut cookies and save them for another batch.*
7.       Cut a rectangle of parchment paper to the size of your most beloved baking sheet and fit it to lie flat. Transfer the dough cut outs to the parchment paper carefully using a thin, flat spatula. Space them about 1” apart.
8.       Gently press half a candied cherry into the center of each cookie or decorate with colored sugar as you fancy.
9.       If you find your kitchen is very warm and the dough is very soft, you can always place the tray of cookies in your freezer for a few minutes at this point, or even set them outside on a garden table (or other surface where the animals wont get to them) for a few minutes before baking them.
10.   Place the cookie tray in your preheated oven, but not for very long! They should bake until the bottoms are just ever so slightly browned on the bottom but still a bit soft and ivory white on the top. It is very easy to burn or over cook them so watch them very carefully.
11.   Remove them from the oven and let them sit still on the cookie sheet on a cool counter. After a few minutes, transfer the cookies from the sheet onto wire cooling racks and let it until completely cool.

Keep stored in a sealed, airtight container, or freeze them until you need them.

*HENRIETTA HINT: Always try to cut as many cookies at once as possible because every time you roll out the leftover dough scraps, the resulting cookie gets tougher. If you use more than one cookie sheet, you can have one being filled, one in the oven, and one cooling.

We're back!

It's been a long time since we've posted, but we are back at last! For those of you who are unfamiliar with our witchy ways, we generally sleep through most of November and this year was no exception.

October was a splendid month but busy, busy, busy. So many parties and events, so much to do and see. Priscilla and Henrietta made a visit to Toronto on their way to the annual All Hallows Eve Party and met lots of lovely people including a charming couple dressed as Alice and the Hatter from Wonderland.

The party itself was a smashing success and we danced around the bonfire until dawn munching on baked apples, candy corn, roasted pumpkin slices and lots of other goodies. Well done, sisters! We were so sleepy and contented by the time we arrived back at Creepstone Cottage, we barely had the strength to change into our night clothes, sip on some warm milk, and put ourselves to bed for a good, long sleep.

As we slept, the cottage and gardens did too. We had finished harvesting what was left of our fruits and vegetables before Halloween, and hung all the herbs we had left in the pantry to dry out for winter so the garden was ready for its long winter slumber. The nettlewart flowers have long since fallen away leaving their crisp brown vines woven over the outside walls and the pumpkin patch gave up the last of her golden fruits some time ago. Lord Oak and Lady Elm threw off their colorful fall robes piece by piece to ready for their wintry naps while Scotty, Fraser and Douglas (who stay awake and green all seasons) watch over them quietly.

We had the presence of mind to put up the storm windows and latch all he shutters tightly before we went to bed and Hyacinth made a lovely charm for the stove and fireplace that kept them lit and slowly burning so that the cottage wouldn't get too cold while we were in dreaming upstairs. Imagine our delight when we awoke to find it was December already and the cottage and marsh were covered in a sparkling blanket of fluffy, white snow! Even the spare pumpkins we left on the back porch now have jolly white caps on.

With December of course comes Christmas and after a good hearty breakfast (three days long, mind you) we are now bustling about getting ready for you know who to visit on the eve of December 24. We can't wait!
 In the following days we'll post some of Henrietta's favorite Christmas cookie recipes as well as some lovely poems, crafts, cards and other fun holiday thingamabobs.

Happy December and keep checking back!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Balls Falls Thanksgiving Festival 2010

This photo of our trip to Balls Falls for the Thanksgiving Festival this year was just sent in by a Mr Jeff Winger. Henrietta is looking proud as a peach in her new hat and dress and Priscilla is stunning as always in a new lace skirt. Granny and Tessie seem to be having  marvelous time of it and teh Wizard... well, he looks confused as always!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

RECIPE: Caramel Apple Pie

Hello darlings, Henrietta here with a new recipe for you to try! I recently found this delightful looking concoction on a wonderful blog called Orange and Black - the Spirit of Halloween. The author of the bog had discovered it in the Apple a Day Cookbook by Janet Reeves. I must confess this is one cookbook that isn’t in my collection but I do love apples so it seems time I found a copy! The recipe sounded delicious and many of the blogs followers had tried it with success so I made up my mind to do so as well.

The perfect opportunity came when the Princess invited Priscilla and I over for dinner and a spooky movie last week, after our visit to Balls Falls. We volunteered to bring desert and agreed this pie would be the perfect thing. Priscilla whipped up the pie in no time (I was having quick nap after our long flight home) and we took it with us, baking it while we dined on a lovely feast set out by the Princess. 

As we sipped tea and talked of our days adventure, the enticing aromas of cinnamon, caramel and apples came wafting through the castle and beckoning us back to the kitchen where the pie was cooling. It was irresistible! I’m embarrassed to say we could wait no longer and sliced the pie up before it was properly cooled. The result was steaming clumps of apple, caramel and pastry. We should have waited longer and let it set but it was delicious all the same. It’s a lovely pie, and surprisingly not too sweet. The Princess declared it the best apple pie she had ever had and even had seconds. Priscilla and I agreed – it’s our favorite new recipe for Fall.

Here it is then, with a few alterations by Priscilla – Caramel Apple Pie.

Ingredients you will need for the pie:
·         Pie pastry to line a nine inch deep dish pie pan
·         Four cups of apples, peeled, cored and sliced
·         One and a half cups of brown sugar
·         One half of a cup of softened butter
·         One half of a cup of all purpose flour
·         One eight a teaspoon of salt
·         Two teaspoons of cinnamon
·         One half of a cup of chopped pecans

Instructions for the pie:
1.       Start by preheating your oven to a toasty three hundred and fifty degrees.
2.       Then line a sturdy nine inch deep dish pie pan with your pastry. Trim and finish the edges of the pastry. I haven’t included a pastry recipe because I find each cook has his or her own favorite – but if pastry isn’t your strong point feel free to buy a frozen pie crust, I won’t tell.
3.       Arrange the apple slices in the pastry-lined pan.
4.       Sprinkle the apples with the pecans and salt. Set aside.
5.       In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, butter, flour, salt and cinnamon until a paste-like consistence forms.
6.       Pat the brown sugar paste mixture on top of the apple slices to form a top crust.
7.       Place pie on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for fifty minutes.
8.       Remove pie form oven and transfer onto a cooling rack.
9.       Let sit to cool until just warm (at least 45 minutes). I know it’s a chore but do try and wait if you can. We let our enthusiasm get the better of us and sliced it early but the result was mounds of pie instead of slices!
10.   Serve with freshly whipped cream or a rich vanilla ice cream.
Let us know how your pie turns out and if you agree it’s the perfect desert for a crisp cool day.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A New Dress for Henrietta - Part I

As you may know, Henrietta's favorite color is purple and many of her favorite dresses are purple as well. For years she has proudly worn one long purple dress in particular. It is made of simple cotton broadcloth which has grown soft and comfortable from years of washing. It's edges are a bit frayed and it has been patched several times. She always thought of some of the patches as proud reminders of how much she has done in the dress, even dressing the patches up with sequins and bold colorful stitches.

This year, as she was looking at photos of herself with Priscilla and Tessie at Balls Falls, she began to notice that the purple in her favorite dress has faded quite a bit. The edges had frayed considerably and it needed mending in a variety of ways and places. The old zipper up the back was sticking, the neckline had ripped a bit, the sleeves had threads pulling at the hems and the seams at the waist were straining a bit (probably the result of too many pumpkin tarts).

Poor old thing, she loved that dress and it had been worn through many a good time, but the more she looked at the picture of herself next to the fashionable Tessie and the grand dame Priscilla, the more she began to feel a new dress was in order. Something with a bit more stylish and polished. Something dressier that befitted one of her favorite occasions. All these years she had been wearing a simple house dress and an everyday traveling cape and hat, and never thought a thing of it. Suddenly she was ashamed to look so dowdy and ordinary for such an extraordinary occasion. She made up her mind to go to the fabric store with Priscilla and pick out a snazzy new cloth to make a dress from.

When they got to the fabric store, it wasn't long before Henrietta found just what she wanted. It was a bolt of cloth nearly the same shade of purple as her old dress but it had a silky sheen to it that shined in the light. There was a subtle pattern woven into it that resembled scaly snake skin and best of all it was marked down half price! They had the nice lady at the counter measure out lengths and lengths of the new fabric to make sure there was enough for the full skirts Henrietta enjoyed plus a little extra in case it was needed for embellishments. Then they visited the racks upon racks of brightly colored threads for all sorts of things - all lined up from red to violet. They found a shade of purple that matched exactly and then picked up  new zipper and some pink rick rack trim and checked out in the most merry of moods.

Back at the cottage, Henrietta couldn't wait to get started so after a quick snack of pumpkin cookies and a spot of spiced tea, she careful spread out her old dress on her lap. She had always liked the style of it and apart from the slightly too-tight waist, it fit her well. Why pay for a new pattern when she could use her old dress as a guide to making the new one? She carefully parted the well worn seams with a small tool called a seam ripper until the dress was separated into 11 pieces, and then using a hot iron, gently pressed all the pieces flat. The new fabric which had been carefully folded down the middle, was smoothed out onto the long craft table in the back room of the cottage and the pieces of the original dressed were laid out on top of the fabric and pinned in place. Using a heave pair of metal scissors, Henrietta patiently cut around the old pieces, using them as a pattern to create new ones, leaving a little extra allowance near the waist for pumpkin tarts past and future. When all the pieces had been cut and the old fabric folded and stored, she sat down at her faithful old Singer sewing machine and began to stitch all the bits of the dress together. That was when things began to go horribly wrong.

First she pinned the edges of the fabric together so that the shiny sides faced each other and she stitched the shoulders together. She pressed open the seams with her iron and and then she began to line up the side seams, but the back of one side was far longer than the other. She realized she had matched up the wrong pieces so she took her seam riper and began to undo the work she had just done. After a bit of confusion, she lined up the proper seams and sewed them correctly, once again pressing to finish. She then pinned together the 5 great, long, pie-shaped pieces that made up the skirt, but again something wasn't right. Some pieces were longer than others and didn't seem the right fit at all.

She went back to the remains of her old worn dress and reassembled the skirt. It all seemed so much clearer when she could see where the zipper had been to mark the center back and so forth. To make the bits easier to identify, she took a piece of soft, white, triangle-shaped tailor's chalk and labeled each piece of the new fabric so she knew exactly where it should go. Using this as a guide, she pinned together the new skirt once more and found to her joy that they all matched up. She deftly stitched them together, leaving the back open a bit for the zipper, and then lining up the center front of the skit to the center front of the bodice, she stitched the top of the dress to the bottom and tried it on for size.

Something seemed odd to her. The shoulders seemed too far forward and it was pulling across the back. The  bosom was down near the waist and there were great extra pockets of fabric under the arms. Priscilla could see the disappointment on her cousins face and kindly suggested that perhaps it would hang better once the zipper was in. Henrietta wasn't convinced but determinedly went back to work at the sewing machine, pinning and sewing the zipper in place as well as adding a pleasant Peter Peter Pan collar to finish the neck. She had never made this kind of collar and consulted a few sewing books on how to draft one up and attach it to the dress. After a few trial and errors, she succeeded and tried the whole dress on again.

It still wasn't right. The front was baggy and the back was tight. The neck was too open and the collar wouldn't lie flat. She put the dress on inside out and Priscilla tried to help by pinning in darts (slashes in the fabric that help a dress to fit to the wearer). Henrietta became cross at herself for putting the collar and zipper in too early. What if the bodice had to be reconstructed? All that work would be for for nothing. Luckily she had resisted the urge of putting the sleeves in as well. Despite Priscilla's best intentions, the bodice wasn't fitting any better. What could be done? The trip to Balls Falls was less than 2 days away and with her old dress reduced to scraps, she didn't have anything suitable to wear at all.

Suddenly a thought occurred to Henrietta: in an ivory tower not far from Balls Falls lived a clever and crafty princess who was an old friend of the witches. Being a great beauty, she had an eye for style and being a princess she had a great understanding of how clothes should fit and be worn. She also made the most delicious chocolate zucchini cake! Henrietta made up her mind to go and visit her old friend and beg for help getting the dress done. With a little luck, she might get a bit of zucchini cake as well!

...To be continued.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Doesn't anyone still wear a hat?

Hello dears, Henrietta here!

I feel a bit of a neglectful old girl for not posting before now, but it's that busy time of year again for us! Priscilla and I spent hours on Saturday going through all sorts of little shops looking for hat pins. It wasn't easy, I must tell you. We saw wonderful glass beads, beautiful feathers and dazzling rhinestones, but store after store had no hat pins. Who would have thought these little, metal delights would become such a precious commodity?

It's very windy riding a broom and being fans of a wide-brimmed look in the hat department, it's quite necessary to affix them on securely. The unfortunate things is even the most obedient and well-trained hat pins tend to wander off on their own, getting helplessly lost. All of the wonderful old silver pins Auntie Willemeana left us have one by one gone missing. This culminated last year at our annual Balls Falls outing when we found ourselves without a single pin to protect our points!Luckily the ever resourceful Priscilla came our rescue.

You see she had been enjoying a pumpkn spice tea while chatting as I organized the kitchen in anticipation of stuffing the Thanksgiving turkey. I had bought a brand new package of skewers with sparkling sharp tips and I had washed and laid them out to dry. I prefer the long, metal skewers to sewing up a turkey with kitchen twine and a needle. It's something my mother taught me and I've never been convinced the other way is any better. Priscilla asked about this and I shared my technique with her, demonstrating on an old tea towel.

Later that morning as we gathered out hats and brooms in preparation for th journey to Balls Falls, Tessie broke the news that all of our hat pins were missing in action. Luckily, Priscilla recalled the long, metal skewers and thought that if they worked in turkey skin and tea towels, they would work just as well in satin or felt. We swore each other to secrecy and thrust the things through our hats. To our great joy they worked quite well, thought perhaps not as pleasing to the eye as they could be. Priscilla remarked that it being Thanksgiving, they were quite appropriate and thought them a novel fashion choice. (Mind you, she's a witch that can make a potato sack look like a Paris original with a bit of work.)

Well my dears, I am proud to tell you all that after much searching we found some new and unadorned hat pins and are looking forward to adding jewels, beads, feathers and more over he next few days so that we will have them for Thanksgiving this year. Do look for them if you run into us at the festival, though if you look closely you may a few turkey skewers in with the mix just for fun!

Here's an interesting looking little book on hat pins. I must confess I haven't read it myself but I am intrigued. Perhaps it would do for a stocking stuffer this Christmas for Priscilla? Shhh! Don't mention it to her so we can keep the surprise.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Panorama of Witches!

Click HERE to see the interactive version of this photo!
Clay Morehead is a talented photographer who treated us to a unique photograph of ourselves last year at the Balls Falls Thanksgiving Festival. Using a very special camera that we had to stand quite still for, he made a marvelous and magical photo of us called a panoramic photo - a wonderfully weird image that you can spin about and see not only us, but everyone and everything around us from the ground to the sky to all the lovely people standing about admiring our stunning good looks!

Would you like to see it? I bet you would! Just click here and you will be taken to Mr. Morehead's  posting at the Port Colborne Camera Club. Once there, right click on our photo and hold the button down. Roll the mouse about to see how the word around us looked at that precise moment in time. Isn't it exciting, my dears? And if you'd like to see more of Mr. Morehead's work, do visit his blog at .

P.S. You'll notice Priscilla was experimenting with what she believed was a new high-fashion hairstyle featuring tumbles of black and white tresses. She realizes now this was perhaps a misjudgment but at the time thought herself quite stylish. It's best not to mention it to her as she is rather sensitive about it. Thankfully she's let her unnatural auburn grow back in!

Monday, September 6, 2010

THE PUMPKIN by John Greenleaf Whittier (1850)

Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun,
The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run,
And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold,
With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold,
Like that which o’er Nineveh’s prophet once grew,
While he waited to know that his warning was true,
And longed for the storm-cloud, and listened in vain
For the rush of the whirlwind and red fire-rain.

On the banks of the Xenil the dark Spanish maiden
Comes up with the fruit of the tangled vine laden;
And the Creole of Cuba laughs out to behold
Through orange-leaves shining the broad spheres of gold;
Yet with dearer delight from his home in the North,
On the fields of his harvest the Yankee looks forth,
Where crook-necks are coiling and yellow fruit shines,
And the sun of September melts down on his vines.

Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and from South comes the pilgrim and guest;
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored;
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before;
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye,
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?

Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune,
Our chair a broad pumpkin, — our lantern the moon,
Telling tales of the fairy who traveled like steam
In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!

Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better
E’er smoked from an oven or circled a platter!
Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,
Brighter eyes never watched o’er its baking, than thine!
And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,
That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,
And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,
And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky
Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!