My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A New Look in Progress & A Post-Halloween Update

Well, I hadn't planned it, but as you can see I got a little overly spontaneous and decided to try a new look for the blog, thinking I'd be able to play with it before committing to it. Wrong! Now I can't restore the original look. So please bear with me as I stumble around Blogger and try to remember how to navigate their page layout and get my blog goodies to work with my new template. And decide if this is even the template I want to go with! :-)

I took a lot of photos I'd intended to share in a Halloween post, but was unable to find time to squeeze them in between my ABC Wednesday and SkyWatch Friday posts and all the Halloween activities themselves. Plus it seemed frivolous with the trauma and tragedy of Sandy. But maybe a dose of frivolity isn't a bad thing these days, so - in hopes that it's not ridiculously late to be posting them, here are some of my Halloween photos and updates!

First, since I mentioned Superstorm Sandy... in my ABC Wednesday post I'd shared a link to one of the many lists floating around on the Web of organizations helping in the relief efforts following the horrific storm. But I wanted to share the two organizations that we chose to donate to, in case their missions, work and philosophies resonate with any of you as they do with us. Plus, since they're less well-known than the large organizations like the Red Cross (which is stirring up controversy regarding Staten Island) and the HSUS and ASPCA, I wanted to give them a shout-out here:

Food for Life Global
Chief among their projects is feeding plant-based food to the world's disadvantaged, malnourished, and victims of natural and man-made disasters. 

Best Friends Animal Society
Perhaps best known for helping animals through their world's largest No-Kill sanctuary in Kanab, UT, as well as for their many programs (spay/neuter, adoption, no-kill shelters, wildlife rehab, etc), Best Friends also assists local animal rescue organizations in disasters. They also received a top score from Charity Navigator.

And now here are a few photos of a home that went all-out with their decorations (wish I could have made it by there after dark!)...

Click photo for a larger version

This inflatable pumpkin coach made ghoulish noises, too!
The fence prohibited my fitting it all into one photo. :-(

This "ring around the ghosties"
was my favorite of their many decorations!

This cat was animated, turning his head from side to side

Part of their plentiful front porch decor, 
from which more ghostly noises eminated!

And now for another quick update... 

In my Halloween ABC Wednesday post I also shared a link to a second pumpkin hummus recipe, Pumpkincredible Hummus from Dreena Burton's Plant-Powered Kitchen. I had just found it so hadn't made it yet when I posted it, but I made it yesterday and it's delicious!! I highly recommend it! The lime juice, allspice and maple syrup were a flavorful touch, and it was deliciously creamy with the addition of the cannellini with a fun crunchy texture now and then with the pulsed-in toasted pumpkin seeds. Yum!!

And now here are some photos from our next door neighbors' Halloween costume party last Saturday, starting with their amusing invitation...

The party's info was written on the inside of the "coffin" lid, 
and the skeleton's head lay on an illustrated pillow 
complete with a gory smudge where his head lay! LOL

Our hostess Carol, dressed in a Flamenco dress from Spain,
and our neighbor Bob; aka Padre Bob that night!

Our host Doug, dressed as (and pouring) a glass of beer!
(BW the brewmeister loved Doug's costume!)

Speaking of whom, here is photo of BW and me that Carol took when we first arrived. It's blurry, but the best photo of our costumes I've got. BW, a big reggae and Bob Marley fan, is wearing a fairly self-explanatory costume, while I raided my closet to dress as Autumn. You can't see them in this photo, but I'm wearing earrings made of real golden aspen leaves and gold face glitter all around my eyes. (I was still finding glitter on my eyelids a shower and two days and later!)...

I took a separate photo of my Basket of Autumn Abundance 
since without my props, my costume was just a regular outfit! 

Carol is an aspiring vegan, so though some of the food 
was made of unspeakables, there were yummy vegan treats, 
Texas Caviar, chips & veggies, and 5-Grain Bread "witch fingers." 
(Carol shared the recipe so I'll post it once I've made it myself!)

An animated hand and a fun cookie jar
where the witchy finger breadsticks were stashed!

And my final update has to do with my comment replies. As many of you know, I used to reply to every comment, but had to suspend that activity when things got crazy with the house construction and move, and I've been unable to return to it. I enjoyed replying, as I appreciate everyone who takes the time to visit and leave a comment, and it was like having a conversation. But it's usually very time-consuming, most visitors don't return to read my replies, and it leaves me too little time to reciprocate blog visits. So I've decided, as time allows, to just answer comments that request an answer to a question or inspire me to respond for one reason or another. I may eventually return to answering all (or most) comments, but in the meantime I want everyone to know how much I enjoy and appreciate the comments you leave! 

And now, for my final photos from Halloween night...

Carol, who clearly has a costume wardrobe 
that would be the envy of any community theater, 
came to our door dressed in her Buccaneer outfit!

BW wore his Rasta/Reggae costume to hand out treats,
while I went with the "Casual Witch" look, 
because what weary witch doesn't like to slip into
comfy black sweats and a t-shirt? :-)
The photo's dark in order to share the dimly lit ambience, 
and have the ceramic jack o'lantern I'm holding 
show up with his tealight-illuminated orange glow.

And now I'm off to continue Mehitable Day's reconstructive surgery! Feel free to share feedback on the new - and evolving - look, have a great weekend, and don't forget to "fall back" tonight! :-)


  1. What fun neighbors you've got! And an aspiring vegan among them too, seems like you've lucked out with your new neighbors. The party looks like a blast; all the costumes are great!

    Looks like people go all out for Halloween in your neighborhood. What fun!

  2. Rose! ~ Yes, we actually have an aspiring (or at least curious and interested) neighbor on the other side.

    The house I shared is not in our neighborhood (it's actually in walking distance of Dragonfly Cottage, but we happened to be driving by it on our way home from the library a couple of weeks ago and I had my camera with me!), but there are a few houses right here that get into it! Carol sure does! :-) And we are apparently THE NEIGHBORHOOD to go trick-or-treating in. We'd ordered 86 Bumble Bars and Panda licorice bars to hand out, but at the last minute we learned they had over 200 trick-or-treaters here last year!! So on Halloween day we ran to Safeway and bought more candy. Still vegan, but a lot more junky. And still we didn't have enough (it was a really beautiful, warm night, which brought them out in droves!), as we ran out of candy by 8:30 and had to turn off the lights, though the costumed hoard still roamed the street! I'm going to have to come up with a new plan next year, I can't afford to dole out that many expensive treats! Yikes! It was fun though, some of the costumes were really cute. One of my favorites was the Queen of Hearts (and she was really fun, too!) :-)

  3. You had a more exciting Halloween than we did — we had 9 trick-or-treaters show up and that was 7 more than last year!

    This is too late, but you CAN play with blog changes as long as you don't hit "save". Also, whenever you fool around with your blog design, download a copy of your old design first. That way, if you accidentally commit to a design you didn't intend, you can upload your old deign and everything goes back to normal. On the blogger template page, upper right, it says "backup/restore". Click on that and do what it says.

  4. Andrea ~ Well, that's quite an "improvement" in turn-out, at least! We had all of 4 trick-or-treaters at Dragonfly Cottage last year, and before that I'd have to go back to 1977 - the last year I lived anywhere that wasn't in the country or wasn't an all-adult apartment complex - that I lived in a house that had any!

    Yep, too late. What's odd is that I don't recall hitting "Save," and I did hit "backup/restore," but I think because I was using the old template, it didn't work. I like the new look, I was tired of the old one after almost 5 1/2 years, but I had a bit of a tizzy trying to find where to change fonts and colors and move gadgets back where I wanted them, and my header needed replacing altogether. This new one feels HUGE, but I guess I'll get used to it, and will have to come up with a new one for winter. I'll have fun switching out the background with the seasons!

  5. The new design looks good. I forgot to mention how much I enjoyed your and BW's costumes — especially BW's. Totally great. Are those his "regular" clothes or did he get them just for Halloween? I'm very impressed also, that you put the photo on your blog! I'm glad you did because it's pretty great. I'm afraid to ask this, but did you ever see the disguised photos I put up from the summer?

  6. I loved your sunrise photos, so am a fan of the new design. And it is in brilliant autumnal colours too.
    As you know I am having a hissy fit at blogger, so I can only wish you luck with your design process.
    We don't celebrate Halloween here - and this post made me a little sorry. A brilliant post - as always. Thank you.

  7. Andrea ~ Notice how, now that I've announced my new "comment reply policy," I'm back to replying to every comment?! LOL It won't last, I'm sure!

    I'm glad you liked our Halloween costumes, and I agree - BW's was great, and he had a lot of fun wearing it. The pants were the inspiration for the costume, which we built around them. They had been Robyn's husband's pants, which she gave to BW after they didn't sell at our last yard sale. We ordered the hat and dreads ensemble from Amazon, but the "dreads" consisted of about 6 long curls at the back of the hat! When I complained and asked for a refund, I not only got one promptly, but was told I could keep the thing. So we bought a much better dreadlocks wig at WalMart and used it with the hat and curls. The t-shirt was the major expense (also bought from Amazon), but BW assured me that he would wear it beyond Halloween, especially "when we go to the Caribbean." LOL He wears earth-tone shirts with no pictures nor words on them, so if he wears this wild tie-dye shirt in public, I'll be amazed. It's really pretty though, so I might have to borrow it!

    I posted the photo reluctantly, but felt compelled to share a photo of our costumes. I like the last one though - I think from now on I'll only allow my photo to be taken in low light with no flash! LOL And as you are aware, I've seen your "disguised" photos of us now that you blabbed about it! :-)~

    Ellie C ~ Thanks, I'm glad you like it! I still think that header is way too big, but there doesn't seem to be a way to center a smaller one in the space provided, and to fill the space from side to side, I'm having to use a large photo. I'll see what I can figure out when I change it to something more suitable for winter.

    I have routine hissies over Blogger's incredibly annoying spacing issues and their ridiculous use of HTML, so I know what you mean! I sure hope you can get help ridding yourself of that vexing, obnoxious spammer!

    Maybe you could start a Halloween tradition in Aus! I have a blogger friend from France (where they also don't celebrate it), who lived in the US for years before moving back to the French countryside and opening a vegan B&B with her husband. They celebrate Halloween, and threw a party for their kids and their friends, but she said the French children had a very hard time wrapping their mind around the concept of scary treats and decorations, trick-or-treating, or the haunted house they'd set up! :-)

  8. TW! New layout looks good to me....very classy! Great always ;-)...and the tasty treats made my mouth water. Looks like everyone was in a festive mood!

  9. Am loving the new look of the blog, such beautiful colours. Well what an action packed Halloween you've had. Loved your two costumes (that basket should be a table centre piece!). I think BW's will go really well with his Christmas hat :O)
    I LOVE the sound of those recipes; pumpkin houmous sounds so me. As opposed to the licquorice bars - dear god woman, were you trying to drive the little kiddywinks away? :O) We don't get trick or treaters where we live - we're tucked away in a corner - besides, I'd just send David and Charlie to the door - a good deterrant if ever there was one :O)

  10. What a lot of fun to see this delightful celebration!

  11. Spud ~ Thanks, Spudly! I'll be changing it out for the different seasons, which will be fun, but I'm really in love with these Fall colors. The tasty treats were yummy - I forgot to mention the kale chips, which Carol had made fat-free. It took all my self-control not to grab the bowl, take it into a dark corner, and hoover them all up myself! :-) I hope you'll try one of the pumpkin hummus recipes, I think you guys would really like it!

    Barbara ~ LOL, I came upon that Santa hat the other day. Fear not, it will make an appearance during the holidays! ;-) As for the black licorice, you'll be self-satisfied to know that at one point in the evening, I polled several batches of Trick-or-Treaters on their opinions of black licorice. I'd say it was a 3-1 majority against. One bunch of junior high age girls was funny - when I asked if they liked black licorice, they all shook their heads no. But then one piped up, "Actually, I don't think I've ever tried it." When asked if she were willing to, she said yes. And after that, two or three others chimed in that they didn't believe they'd actually ever tried it either, and that yes, they'd go ahead and give it a whirl. They must have mothers like you at home who have been talking smack about black licorice! LOL!

    Reassuring to know you have effective Trick-or-Treat deterrents in your household should the need ever arise!

  12. The new blog template is especially pretty when it's opening because it immediately opens with a full screen of just the photo with fall leaves and it's gorgeous. It seems like all the goodies are there so if something is missing I can't see it but we know I'm NOT the most observant person in the world!!

    I really enjoyed seeing the spread of food at Doug and Carol's party. It was so appetizingly set out. Doug's costume was a hoot! I wonder it a beer would dring beer!

    I totally understand about the comments. I find going back to look for replies takes time away from looking at new posts so on the rare occasion when I do ask a question, an email or phone reply would probably be faster for all. I know you're reading my comments and that's what matters!


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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