Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sense of the Season: Halloween & Fall

by April Garza

Before you know it Halloween and fall will have come and gone, so don't miss out on brightening up your home with the rich palette of autumn. It doesn't have to take much time or money, even these days.
Here's what I did this year to give you an idea...

Outdoors, the short list:

- mums (three is a good number)
- a pumpkin (or two)
- lights (orange for fall)
- a cute sign or

You may be heavy into Halloween and turn your yard into a phantasmagorical display of ghosts, bones and tombstones, but if you're more like me (a single person with a full time job and limited space) a few simpler touches work fine, too.

As a last errand on my day off, I stopped by a local farm stand and got three potted mums and a huge pumpkin. The pumpkin caught my eye because of its long curvy stem and a curl of vine still attached that gave it an extra point of interest. I like mums in a variety of colors - one each of purple, rust and a bright yellow work well together, autumn colors but with just a hint of summer, too. My advice on mums and pumpkins is get the biggest you can find; it might seem you went too big when you have to load them into your car, but when you get them home you'll inevitably wish they were even bigger.

I've got a park bench on the porch so I put the pumpkin and one mum on it, then the other two mums down below and a little over to the side. (Lining up things in a straight line like a shooting gallery never looks right to me. But do whatever suits your fancy.) If I had a front stoop with stairs, like at my last place, I'd put one mum on each step, all to one side, and the pumpkin on the top. (Mrs. Edison, two doors down from me did that and it looks nice, only she went for four mums all in dark gold. Whatever floats your boat, as my dad used to say.) I had some extra terracotta pots that fit so I put the mums in those for a more finished look.

Personally, I'm out of the pumpkin carving stage of my life, so I just leave mine in tack. That way it lasts longer, weather conditions accommodating, until Thanksgiving.

At the after Halloween sales last year, I picked up a couple of cute signs. One goes on my front door. The other is a 3-tier hanging sign linked by chains- "Beware! Turn back! Tricks this way!" - that I hung on a garden hook right by the entrance to the front porch. It twists and shimmies in the wind - not a bad effect to spook the trick-and-treaters.

Lights go along the railing of the porch. Mine are plain orange with large bulbs. I loop them around the railing. You might go in for fancy lights shaped like skulls or ghosts, but the orange ones can stay up till I replace them with Christmas lights. The less fuss the better with my busy schedule.! I plug them into a timer so they're on when I get home. It's nice to see them as the days get dark so early now.

Indoors, the short list:
- Halloween statues
- pumpkin mugs
- candles and holders
- maple leaf garland
- table runner

Okay, this is my downfall. I love Halloween so I have a collection of cats, pumpkin people and ghosts in all kinds of figurines from wooden to stuffed dolls. I've purchased them through the years at discount stores and sales. How many? At last count thirty ranging in size from 3 1/2 inches to about 2 feet high. (I've promised myself to stop buying them, but I seem to find a new one or two each year.) These all fit - so far! - into two file boxes (which are great for storing holiday decorations because they're so inexpensive and easy to write on). These chotckies get scattered around the house on tables, bookshelves and desks in groups of threes or more. (The more in the group, the bigger the effect.)

Next, I've got a few mugs shaped like pumpkins in different sizes (queen of variety here, remember?) that go on a shelf in my kitchen.

Add one table runner in fall colors to the kitchen (or dining room) table, two pillar candles on brass holders in different heights and a big bowl of pine cones and/or gourds. (You can buy the gourds at the farm stand, too, but last year I got some really great looking artificial ones on sale a craft store.)

If you love candles, there's no better time than fall and winter to add more to your decorating scheme. Scents like cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar cookie, or any made in red, cream, or white candles will fit in with your fall decorations and - you guessed it - can be left in place throughput the Christmas season. Of course, who can resist a candle scented in pumpkin spice or mulled cider I'm getting hungry! (Time to get back to work anyway.) If your appetite's whetted fr some fall food favorites, remember to drop by the Lotti and check out our latest menu. Or check out the virtual menu here on our blog spot, complete with some great recipes.

Happy autumn!

DISHING DE JOUR: gossip from the McKenna Lotti

Postcards from Budapest, Bucharest, Monaco and Istanbul were received from former Lotti manager Hilary Samuels who tells us that her studies, through a private European university, are keeping her on the run. She also mentioned that while the coffee in Europe is great, she still misses her morning non-fat, Lotti Espresso Mocha deluxe.

N. Edison dropped by to say that, after reading this month's "Sense of the Season" column, she wants April to know that yellow mums contrast well with her redwood house siding. Although she thinks April's three colors of mums looks nice, "simpler is better" (and she's quoting April there) in her book, too.

Speaking of mums, they are three for $18 down at Bob & Suzie's Farmstand. They said all colors of the mums are going fast, so stop by soon.

The big news in McKenna is that Frank Poore, down at the realtor's office, finally sold the old Neilsen place. The two story, three bedroom bungalow and its 2 1/2 acres out at the end of Old Mason Road was purchased by none other than Kat Duarte. The paranormal romance/erotica author has a new book coming out in December (Angel Gets Her Wings from Eternal Press, December 7th release), but everyone in town is talking about her first book Rise of the Wolf which was set right here in McKenna. Some of our residents (former and current) had their names used for characters i the book, including our own April Garza. April says it's all in good fun and that is was done with everyone's permission to help promo (which means "promote" or "advertise" in author talk) the opening of the new Lotti here. She wanted to remind everyone that Ms. Duarte writes fiction and not to believe the town is overrun with werewolves or vampires or to think anything went on between Hilary and her boss, Nathan Sutton except business. (And not the behind the scenes kind in the book!)

Don't ask me to confirm or deny any of this. I write up the gossip, but I don't pretend to understand half or what's going on in town.

Your reporter,
Cyndi Swanson

P.S. I don't know why we're not reading that book for the next Cafe Klutch discussion. Go figure. I got myself a copy anyway. And if you want to, go to Eternal Press and get a copy, too.