October 21, 2014

countdown to halloween: ghosts of halloween past

Battening down the hatches for three days of wind and rain. It could be worse. I could wake up to find my pumpkins looking like this:

Here's to temperatures staying above zero.

October 20, 2014


So while I'm relieved that my outdoor props came through the season's first storm mostly unscathed, I know that this is only the beginning. It wouldn't be October in Nova Scotia without multiple wind/rain events and, true to form, the next one is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday and stick around until Friday morning. Which means I'll be waiting until Saturday before setting up anything else.

Otherwise, they might end up like this poor little guy. Spotted him lying in a nearby driveway on my evening walk.

Hope he recovers before the next storm.

October 19, 2014

countdown to halloween: ghosts of halloween past

As I prepare to go out and purchase this year's Halloween treats (the ones I've already bought and eaten don't count!) I thought a little reflection on treats-of-the-past might be appropriate.

The genius in this photograph was not in those sturdy costumes displaying a picture of the wearer's intended identity (as helpful as that might be). Nor was it in the nature of the treats themselves. No, the genius was in selling miniature bags of potato chips in large plastic bags that then doubled as trick-or-treating bags.  Brilliant. Today's large cardboard boxes simply don't have the same versatility.

October 18, 2014


First pre-Halloween wind/rain storm survived with only minor prop damage. Good to see I've learned something over the years.

October 17, 2014

new candy strategy

I like molasses kisses.  Not "love".  Just "like".  In a "take 'em or leave 'em", "eat them if there's nothing else" kind of way.  So I'm hoping that my strategy of filling the candy dish with these instead of with miniature chocolate bars results in a slower rate of pre-Halloween candy consumption.

They can't possibly disappear faster than the miniature chocolate bars did.

October 15, 2014

countdown to halloween: ghosts of halloween past

As I gradually put the pieces in place for this year's yard haunt, I sometimes reflect on yard haunts past.  I believe this photograph captures my very first "yard haunt". Where it all began. Twenty years ago. And as incredible as it seems now, I recall being immensely proud of my "pumpkin scarecrow".

My daughter seems less impressed.

October 14, 2014

countdown to halloween: ghosts of halloween past

This was an unusual Thanksgiving long weekend in that I spent it quietly at home. Most years, the holiday is an excuse for a road trip, several of which have taken me to Salem for the city's Halloween celebrations. The photograph below was taken on my most recent trip and has me thinking about a return visit next year.

Wonder if this guy will show up again.

October 13, 2014

October 12, 2014

countdown to halloween: ghosts of halloween past

It's the Thanksgiving long weekend. Traditionally, this is the weekend I do one of two things: leave town on a road trip or get caught up on Halloween preparations. This year, it's the latter. My goal this year has been to create a yard haunt without buying any new materials. Instead, I'm trying to use up all the junk/leftovers/odds and ends that have been accumulating in my shed and in my basement over the last several Halloweens.

It's got me thinking about simplicity. Sometimes the simplest creations are the most effective. Like this guy from a few years back.

Just a basic styrofoam wig head. Facial features deepened. Covered with a layer of paint. Creepiest guy in the yard that year. My neighbour thought it was my son. Not sure if he should be flattered.

October 11, 2014

it's back

After years of drought, my local liquor store is selling my favourite pumpkin ale. The best pumpkin beer I have ever had. One that actually tastes like pumpkin beer, unlike so many others (too numerous to mention here).  I feared this day would never come again.

The time for rejoicing is at hand!

October 10, 2014

round two

Pre-Halloween chocolate bars, round two. Wonder how long these will last.

October 9, 2014

countdown to halloween: ghosts of halloween past

October just isn't complete without pumpkin cheesecake.

While I don't make my own pumpkin cheesecake every year, I happened to notice a sale on cream cheese this week. And there is that leftover pumpkin puree in the freezer. I feel that the pumpkin cheesecake stars are aligning . . .

October 8, 2014

all pumpkin, no spice

At this time of year, I have a weakness for pumpkin-spiced . . . anything. Lattes, fudge, muffins, cheesecake. I've tried it all. So when a local doughnut food truck was promoting its pumpkin-spiced, freshly-made doughnuts, I just had to stop and try some.

And this may be it. The tipping point. The one food that finally cures me of my pumpkin spice addiction.

Because. These. Were. Horrible.

Several warm miniature doughnuts (that part was fine) covered in pureed pumpkin and graham cracker crumbs. That's it. No cinnamon. No nutmeg. No brown sugar. No spice of any kind. Clearly, these people have no understanding of the "spice" component in "pumpkin spice". I may need a pumpkin spice latte to help me recover.

October 7, 2014

countdown to halloween: ghosts of halloween past

A happy group from one of my first successful years of pumpkin growing (the unsuccessful years are best forgotten). Looking over this year's crop, I'm thinking I might make a change from traditional jack-o-lantern faces this year. Just not sure yet how much of a change . . .

October 6, 2014


The whole crop of 2014.  Harvested and reclining on the front porch.

October 5, 2014

new beer in town

Longtime readers of this blog may recall my arduous struggle to find pumpkin-spiced (or otherwise seasonally-themed) beer in my part of the world. I knew they existed. I had seen the pictures and postings. But they never seemed quite able to make the journey to the east coast of Canada. Varieties from other parts of the country arrived sporadically at best, less and less in recent years, and the occasional locally-produced pumpkin ale did little to fill the void, tasting simply like . . . beer. And not especially good beer.

Yet I never lost hope. And this weekend, when I spotted a new addition to my liquour store's limited seasonal selection, I had no choice but to buy it and bring it home. Where I discovered that it tastes exactly like . . . beer. And not especially good beer.

My search continues . . .

October 4, 2014

it's a love/hate relationship

So it was time today for the annual "first trip to Bulk Barn for Halloween candy". Halloween candy that I don't especially like but can never seem to resist buying year after year.

Having returned home with my collection of mellocreme "harvest mix", Reese's pieces, and candy corn, it quickly became clear which of these is the overwhelming favourite. The Reese's pieces will likely not last the day. As for the others, my love/hate relationship continues.

countdown to halloween: ghosts of halloween past

Taken several years ago at what was my favourite coffee shop in Sydney. Past tense, because following a fire more than a year ago, the owner chose not to rebuild.  I miss not just the coffee and treats, but also the whimsical decor and little festive touches, especially at this time of year. No trip to Sydney was complete without a visit (often several visits) to the Bean Bank. And after a late night yesterday, this would have certainly tempted me to start drinking coffee again.

October 3, 2014

countdown to halloween: ghosts of halloween past

Each year, I try to serve up something creative for dinner on Halloween night. Creative, but simple. This mummy calzone (looking rather bored) was one of my favourites.