Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Dorrie and the Halloween Plot

And now, on Halloween itself here comes my final Halloween picture book review...

If you've followed this blog for a while then you will know that the books in the Dorrie series by Patricia Coombs are my top favourite picture books ever of all time! They are about a little witch who lives in Witchville with her mother the Big Witch and her black cat Gink. 

In this particular story, Dorrie and the Halloween Plot, (which is especially appropriate for today I might add) Dorrie wakes up and jumps out of bed in an extremely exciteable mood.

'Gink,' said Dorrie, 'it's Halloween!  Last Halloween Mother said she'd give me a flying lession this Halloween!'

However, Dorrie's mother is too busy to give flying lessons.  She is occupied with sewing costumes for the Halloween Pageant which is to be held in honour of the Sorceress.  She tells the disappointed Dorrie that she is to be a princess in the Pageant.

'A LITTLE PRINCESS! Oh no!' cries Dorrie.

Of course once the Big Witch has left for the pageant Dorrie can't resist trying out a little broomstick flying by herself. And so the trouble starts!  Dorrie realises that flying a broomstick is harder than she thought and ends up getting stuck in a  tree. However this turns out to be quite a good thing as she ends up overhearing a gang of Halloween Demons plotting to kidnap the Sorceress and steal the Book of Shadows. 

Because Dorrie is dressed in her princess outfit which includes a mask with ringlets attached to it, the Demons think she is a doll and plan to use her as a replacement dummy for the kidnapped sorceress...

....and so it goes on...

And as you might guess, Dorrie saves the day!

 I just love Patricia Coomb's drawings, and I especially love the way they are done using only black and white and two colours.  Just beautiful.

And on another note here's a HAPPY HALLOWEEN from Victoria Stitch!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Celestine's New House, Pumpkin Food, and Witch's Hats!

Do you like Celestine's new Halloween house?

She's been wearing her black cape a lot these past few days too. It keeps her warm seeing as the weather has suddenly taken such a cold turn. 

Last night Henry and I had our Pumpkin dinner party. This dinner party has been planned for a long time- ever since Henry was given some pumpkin seeds to grow by one of his friends.  For months I collected pumpkin themed recipes on Pinterest in anticipation of the event.  

Basically we wanted to see if we could create a meal where every single course, including appetizers, included pumpkin- the pumpkins we have spent months growing and which I posted a picture of in my last post.

This is what we came up with:

For the appetizer we created a pumpkin dip which I thought was delicious (but Henry wasn't so keen on) I can't really explain what it tasted like (it was full of yoghurt and pumpkin (obviously) nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice and whipped cream) but what I can say is that it had a very refreshing taste! It was nice with apple slices and seemed to go down well with the guests.

We also made some pumpkin crisps but to be honest they were pretty horrible.

For the starter we made pumpkin soup and savoury pumpkin bread which both turned out really well!  The bread was really crisp on the outside and nice and soft on the inside.  By the time we went to bed it was all gone!

For the main course we decided to make pumpkin ravioli. This was the most fiddly part of the meal and the bit which took the longest to make.  Henry was the one who made this and when he gave me a bit of the ravioli filling to try (it had roasted pumpkin, amaretti biscuits, breadcrumbs, Parmesan and fennel seeds in it) I thought it was disgusting! I mean who puts crushed up amaretti biscuits in pasta?!  So naturally I was a bit worried about this part of the meal. I was completely prepared for the ravioli to taste horrible but... it was delicious! I loved it.  It obviously made a difference once it was cooked and covered with a sage and lemon butter sauce. 

To end the meal we had a choice of three puddings.  This was mainly because one of our guests was allergic to nuts and we didn't realise this until we had already made the first pudding (a pumpkin praline cheesecake) so we had to make another nut free one.  And then I wanted to make some sort of pumpkin and chocolate pudding anyway because I just love chocolate. Also the ravioli left us with eight egg whites so we thought we had better use them up in some way, so voila! A pumpkin meringue pie!

So that was our pumpkin dinner party!  We all dressed up a little bit as well.  I wore my new witch's hat which Henry bought for me the other day. I saw it in a shop last year and really wanted it but didn't buy it so then bought it this year instead! It's purple satiny with feathers and a black netting veil and a rose on it. A fancy witch's hat! For fancy occasions!

Here's a photo of me modelling it and next to it is the same hat in green!  I absolutely love this colour green- it's one of my favorite colours actually, but I never wear green and it doesn't suit me as much which is why I chose purple instead. 

I have seen a lot of different witch's hats around this year.  Starry, stripy, scraggy, spiderwebby... 

I drew a few of my favourite ones I have seen out and about:

Also before October is over (I can't believe it, where has the time gone?)  I have to just give a mention to these amazing little pumpkin fairylights we bought a while back.  Amazing, becasue they were only one pound!  From the pound shop.  And I have already used them so many times in photoshoots, for decorating the dinner table etc.  Celestine likes them too.

Aren't they nice and glowy orangy?

Well that's all for now, I'll be back before the end of October with my final Halloween children's picture book review, It's a good one! And also once I've worked out what's wrong with my blogger account- there's something not quite right here and it took me hours to just upload this post!... hmm

Have a spooky week!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Pumpkins and Dewdrops

So many things to post about!  Firstly what do you think of Celestine's new Halloween quilt? It's all purple and green, witchy colours.  Celestine likes it very much. I think it will stay around a bit longer than Halloween!  I kind of did it as a side project, sewing bits together whenever I had a spare bit of time.  It's nice to have something on the go that you can just pick up and don't have to think too hard about.  Here are all the pieces laid out below.  I find a great tip is to stick all the squares in the order you want them onto a sheet of paper with sticky back tape and then peel them off as you go... works well for me anyway!

And here's a little Halloween mobile I made too.  I found these great sequins for a pound in Wilkinsons.  I especially love the ghost and pumpkin shapes! They're so cute!

The mobile didn't take too long.  On Saturday we had friends round and had a crafting session just for fun. The idea was to make a full size Halloween mobile but mine ended up being miniature.... those sequins were just too perfect not to use!

On the subject of pumpkins, Henry and I have been growing our own ones this year in the garden.  They are finally picked and ready to use and last night we chopped the first one up and made it into soup!  They're surprisingly easy to chop- I always think they're going to be really tough. Here they are in all their glory:

We have lots of plans for these pumpkins.  Along with soup we also want to make pumpkin bread, pumpkin dip, pumpkin crisps, pumpkin ravioli and pumpkin praline cheesecake!  Not all for ourselves I might add! We are going to have a pumpkin themed dinner party for Halloween. Let's just hope the guests like pumpkin!

Here's Celestine sitting on her own little munchkin pumpkin. She sure does love that munchkin pumpkin! It's her new favourite place to sit and read.

All this talk of pumpkins reminds me that I saw some amazing pumpkin sprinkles (for cupcakes) in a shop last week. I didn't buy them but I did look at them for a long time! There were black bat shaped sprinkles too.  I've just never seen such a thing! Maybe I have been shopping in the wrong places all my life. 

Tonight I plan to make a pumpkin house and we are making the pumpkin ravioli to freeze for Saturday.  Yes, my life really is just one big pumpkin right now.

That's probably enough talk about pumpkins for the moment- oh wait just one more picture...


Ok new subject.  Here are some photos I took this morning whilst out walking the dog. It was such a misty morning. I loved looking at the dew drops hanging off everything. 

That's Celestine in the second picture by the way just in case you can't tell what she looks like from behind.  She's wearing her black pointy hooded cloak, walking into the mist.  I'll take more photos of her in her cloak soon...

I love all the beautiful and intricate photos you can take in this kind of weather though I'm kind of hoping it gets a bit sunnier again soon. Sunshine makes me feel happy.

What have you been up to? Are you going to carve any pumpkins this year?

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Only a Witch Can Fly

Halloween book number four: Only a Witch can Fly by Alison Mcghee, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo.

You've probably already come across this book but just in case you haven't I thought I'd review it here because it's really worth knowing about. 

When I first got this book (which was Christmas 2011) for some reason I didn't pay it that much attention. I have no idea why! Maybe it was overshadowed by other presents of maybe it was just because I was in too much of a Christmassy mood to read about witches... Anyway, when I picked it up again some time later this year it had a completely different effect on me.  This time I really found myself sucked in to the mysterious and eerie but also comforting atmosphere. 

The story follows a young witch girl who hasn't yet flown a broom. One night she wakes up and creeps out of the house to try.

'You stroke dear Cat and slip from your home,
your home in the woods by the fire, 
cauldren and hat, brown velvet Bat,
the too-small robe you once wore.'

The whole story (which is written as a sestina) has a feeling of quiet anticipation to it.  It also has a lulling sort of quality to it that makes you feel like whispering and creeping around.  This is helped along by the illustrations which are rendered beautifully in brown, green and black.  These colours lend themselves very well to dark shadowy night time scenes.

Of course the little witch does end up being able to fly and there are some fantastic sceens of her flying way up above the dark moonlit fields and across the starry sky. It makes you as the reader really really wish you could just get on a broomstick and fly away too!

And then, at the end, the little witch lands back to earth to be greeted by her family who have all woken up and got out of their beds. This adds to that comforting and 'safe' feel which is important to have in a picture book.
Delightfully spooky!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Celestine's Halloween Costumes

And now (drum roll please!) as promised, here are the Halloween outfits Celestine (and I) have been working on!

From right to left we have: Green and Purple witch outfit. (I love that colour combination) Pumpkin outfit (my personal favourite) and lastly Red and Black witch outfit. 

Which one do you like best?

click to enlarge

Celestine says her favourite is a mixture of the two witch outfits.  She likes the colour of the green and black one but the tutu style of the red and black one. She's picky. 

Since making these costumes Celestine has been wearing them continuously.  They have been very useful for carrying out a number of witchy activities. Such as...

Thinking up mischevious spells....

Having tea parties with her pumpkin tea set...

...staring into her crystal ball...

....and flying across the night sky on her broomstick.

The pumpkin tea set by the way (for any miniaturists who may be reading this post) is by Sally Meekins.  I bought it a couple of years ago and it is one of my most precious miniature items I own.

Here it is in full:

Whilst we're on the subject of miniatures I thought I would show you a couple of my other Halloweeny miniatures...

potion bottles...

...and an adorable little teapot with a pumpkin tea cosy (it actually has a hollow spout!)....

If there is time we hope to make a couple more Halloween costumes, though Celestine's new obsession is designing couture witch's hats so we will have to see...