Oct 30, 2011

Dryer Vent Pumpkins

I thought I'd give a tutorial on how to make the dryer vent pumpkins I featured in my front porch decor post. 

dryer vent pumpkin

I got the idea from Courtney at A Diamond in the Stuff. She's made so many variations on the original - you should go check it out.

I used 6" and 4" plastic dryer vent to make two different sizes of pumpkin. I cut the vent with scissors and wire cutters, curved it around on itself, and hot glued the open ends together.  

dryer vent pumpkin

dryer vent pumpkin

I then spray painted them "Cinnamon" by Krylon. The stem is a cinnamon stick, and some moss and a leaf substitute for the real thing.

dryer vent pumpkin

dryer vent pumpkin

This is a really easy project - the hardest part is waiting for the paint to dry. I printed out "Boo" signs and glued them to two of of the small pumpkins to take to work.

dryer vent pumpkin

dryer vent pumpkin

Oct 27, 2011

Fall Decor - Porch & Mantel

I'm so far behind on showing off my front door all decorated for fall. The weatherman is already threatening snow around here. Though to be honest, it's only been 3 weeks since the gorgeous Thanksgiving weekend when I decorated. Not much time at all.

I started with the wreath that I showed you here. Simple burlap and some leaves and mini pumpkins.

I love how the ribbon subtly coordinates with the burlap instead of shouting, "Look at me! I'm holding this whole thing together!"

The problem with waiting until October to decorate was that the stores were moving out the fall decor and trucking in the Halloween. My local dollar store had about 3 feet of space allocated to fall. And most of that was scarecrows. I lucked out at Walmart - they were started to get rid of everything but at least it was on sale.

I used some leaf garland to outline the front door, adding in bunches of berries to give it some colour. I waited until after I was done to tell Tom that I used staples to hang it all up there.

I made some dryer vent pumpkins that I saw on A Diamond in the Stuff.  Check it out to see all the variations Courtney came up with.  I couldn't believe how many you can make from one length of vent. I have 12 of these things.  Anyone need a pumpkin?

I used Krylon "Cinnamon" to paint them. I also tried out "Paprika" but it was a little too red for my taste. I glued on some moss and stuck in a cinnamon stick for a stem, added a leaf and called it done.

Note: Do not leave your spraypainted pumpkins in the direct sun to dry. The heat will melt your glue and they will pop apart. Experience - I have it.

We were at the Newmarket Farmers Market that weekend and bought two gigantic mums for $8 each.

I love the colour so much. The plants were so big I really only needed one for the bucket so I'm still moving the other one around trying to find the perfect place. I have to get around to painting a monogram on that bucket some day.

So there it is. We have a very small porch so it can't get too extravagant. And it has been so rainy and windy that hay and cornstalks would be gone in a day.  I've already had to go hunting a couple of times for those small pumpkins on the chair because they've been blown across the lawn.


I got so caught up in the decorating that it made its way inside and I decorated the mantel too.

I hot glued some more leaf garland to the edge and sprinkled loose leaves and acorns across the top.

I tied small pieces of burlap around each candle with hemp twine for a rustic, country look.
The orange and yellow pumpkins are from Walmart ($1.50 each!)

I then just wandered around the house looking for things to add. A candle (cinnamon pecan swirl of course) with some raffia and a pinecone.

A vase with some more raffia and some twigs (potpourri in the bottom).

And then I needed one more thing to fill the space beside the vase.

Just a few minutes on the computer playing with font styles, an old frame that wasn't being used, and I was done.  I used a burlap background because burlap is my "jam".

We don't have a hearth but I did put a couple of small pumpkins on oversized candlesticks to finish off the area.

Do you see the mason jar leaf candles sneaking into the background?

And isn't it nice that the walls are suitably autumnal? I really want to paint them, but for now they work.

I'm linking to these great link parties this week!

Oct 22, 2011

Soupfest - the sequel

Last Saturday was the Holland Marsh Soupfest I wrote about hereIn previous years the entrance fee has been $5 and $10 for unlimited (3 oz.) samples.  This year the price has gone up to $20 and you were only allowed 10 samples.  You were given a card on a lanyard that the soup vendor would punch each time you had a sample.  So two dollars per sample.  A little steep?  I think so.  It’s sad that a fun community event has turned into a for-profit enterprise. 
The soup vendors were set up in two large tents on the grounds of a local winery.  Even with the higher price there was still a great turnout.
I love that I caught the EMS guy eating some soup.
My first soup?  Hamburger Vegetable.  It had plenty of vegetables, sausage, and ground beef.    (Just a note: I don't have man-hands, that's my husband's hand in most pictures - I made him hold my soup cup every time I wanted a picture of it.)
I thought it was pretty good, though the version I made here was better, in my opinion.  Then on to the carmelized onion & carrot.  Oh my.  This was a good soup.  
I like how they shredded the carrot rather than having chunks of vegetable.  It made the two flavours blend smoothly.  I hope the recipe for this one shows up on the website. 
There were also local bakeries present selling loaves of bread and fancy desserts.  Check out the peasant bread! 
It comes from a place in Barrie called Laurie's Sweet Treats.  Here are the lovely ladies who were working the table (Laurie is on the left). 
Had to buy a loaf of cheese & chive peasant bread and a couple of pumpkin whoopie pies. 
Back to the soups.  A local mexican restaurant was featuring tortilla soup.  Spicy broth, chunks of chicken and avocado, cheese, and strips of tortilla chips. 
What's not to like?  I also snagged one of their menus so we can visit the restaurant sometime.
My favourite soup was a corn chowder from Hogan's Inn in King City.  Best soup in the place, hands down.  Maybe the best soup I’ve ever tasted.  It featured corn, chorizo sausage, shredded chicken and smoked paprika. 
I’ll admit I came back for seconds - or thirds - on that one.  I could have stayed at that table all day.  But I was already looking like a stalker (right Shannon?) so I moved on. 
Other soups that I remember seeing but didn’t try were borscht, purple carrot, lamb vindaloo, vegetable, roasted red pepper, corn chowder with double smoked bacon, and butternut squash. A nice selection, and since most of the meats and all of the vegetables come from local area farms, a great way to celebrate our local farmers.
Between the two tents there was a farmers market with fresh produce, cheese, jams, pies, and meat for sale. 

You could even buy peameal on a bun if you were still hungry.  I bought some more whoopie pies from a different vendor (chocolate and pumpkin cream cheese this time) and some Halloween cookies for Bella and Alex when they come to visit next weekend.

 Our last stop was at a table featuring 220 products made with maple syrup. 
I snapped a couple of shots of the caramelized syrup with Bailey’s or whiskey and the jams, but I was most interested in the maple pepper sauce (no picture, sorry).  The owner gave me a tiny taste on the end of a fork… and right there my face exploded.  It was so hot!  Apparently the bottle has 100 scotch bonnet peppers in it.  Feel free to look up how hot those little suckers are.  She gave me some crackers and cream cheese to help calm the burn, but my eyes were still watering so badly I could barely see.  She recommended that the sauce be added to other dishes rather than eaten by itself.  Ya think?  So I didn’t buy that. Though I will admit, before my head caught on fire, the mix of sweet syrup and hot pepper was nice.
We wandered over to the winery (to get out of the cold) and to sample some wine.  I myself don’t like wine but my sister was very fond of a red they were featuring. 

We bought a bottle of chardonnay for a friend and headed back out.  There was a booth set up at the entrance run by Gibson's Garden Accents, a couple selling handmade iron garden art and bird houses with interesting details.  A portion of their profits go to help establish health care facilities for leprosy sufferers in developing countries.  I wish I had taken more pictures of the sculptures but here is what I snagged. 

I love the use of doorknobs and bathroom taps on the bird houses.  And the hummingbird is made from either a curtain rod finial or a baluster basket (I think).
There were some cooking demonstrations and art for sale in the main building.  We popped in for a minute so I could grab some pictures.  And I really wanted to see the inside because I love that mountain lodge style. 

We would have stayed longer but I could see our shuttle rounding the corner of the building so we had to go.  That’s right – we had a horse-drawn wagon shuttle us to our car.  So much fun.  Except that it was slow moving and it started to rain halfway along the trip.  I of course was all about protecting my camera, so I didn’t get any pictures of the horses or the wagon.
All together it was a lot of fun and we’ll definitely go back again next year.  After all it’s become a family tradition now.  Check out my beautiful family. 
That’s my husband, my sister and her husband, and my cousin and his wife.  They look like they love each other but I think they were just trying to stay warm. J

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