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deliciously creepy williams-sonoma skull tabletop – on sale!

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Even though every magazine in our house is featuring decadent spreads of Thanksgiving bounties, we are still living in the moment of the upcoming Halloween feast! Every year we drool over some of them amazingly creepy serving dishes and tabletop gear that hits store shelves, but usually refrain from indulging. Williams-Sonoma has some hard to resist, tastefully gothic diningwware this season — from black ceramic skull mugs that Dr. Lector would love to an apron fit for an Osteologist. We’re especially charmed by these bone cocktail picks, which will make any egg on a tray taste devilish. Best of all it’s all marked down now, 20% less. Order fast to enjoy by the 31st!

From our partners

real life test kitchen: jamie oliver’s apple pie recipe that never fails

This is an update to one of our favorite posts!

Apple pie is one of those things I never thought I would make myself. It seemed like something that would require a great deal of skill and patience, not to mention equipment — none of which I have! But then a couple of years ago I stumbled across Jamie Oliver’s Apple Pie recipe. It’s one of his “top ten” favourites in this book Jamie’s Dinners. I don’t know if it was the lovely photo or the casual way the recipe was written, but it seemed like something I could handle with my limited baking skills — and it was! I have since made it three or four times. The secret to the recipe is lemon rind — added to both the crust and apples, which you saute on the stove for a bit with brown sugar and cranberries. Also, because it is “rustic” style, the crust doesn’t have to be perfect. Just patch up those holes.

What You Need

for the pastry
2 cups of  flour
10 tbs butter
1 lemon rind grated
• 2 egg yolks
2/12 tbs sugar

for The filling

1 large Bramley cooking apple
4 eating apples
3 tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
a handful raisins
1/2 lemon’s zest
1 egg yolk with splash of milk.

How To Make.

1. Preheat the oven 300.
2. Make the pastry in a food processor by mixing up the flour, sugar, a pinch of salt, lemon zest and the butter into cubes. Add egg yolk and tiny splash of water. Mix until it resembles bread crumbs. Then use your hands to mix together into a dough.
3. Divide your pastry in half. Roll out half onto a flour dusted surface until it’s about a 1/4 inch thick. If it tears, just patch it up. Lay the pastry into a butter metal pie pan.
4. Wrap the remaining dough in plastic wrap and put both in the fridge for a while.

Make the Filling:
1. Quarter and peel the apples and cut them into small slices.
2. Add them to a pan with sugar, lemon zest and raisins. Add a tbs spoon of water.
3. Simmer for about 5 minutes until apples are just tender.
4. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

Finish the pie:
1. Take the pan and dough out of the fridge.
2. Pour the cooled down apple filling into the pan.
3. Roll out the remaining half of the dough and place on top of the filling.
4. Brush the top of the pie with egg and milk wash, then using a small sharp knife, make a couple of small incisions in the center.
5. Bank for 45 minutes or so.
6. Serve hot with ice cream!

Angela M.

From our partners

painting gourds: colorful, metallic or creepy?

As tempting as it may be, we don’t put up any Halloween decorations before October 1st, otherwise our home is likely to become a spooktacular playground before school even starts. Fall is just the best time of year when it comes to seasonal decorating.

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To things started this year, we’re going to buy a few dried out gourds and attempt this easy D.I.Y. from Inspired by Charm. Turns out that you can buy dried gourds for next to nothing: Curious Country Creations sells ten for $10. While Michael at Inspired by Charm opted for a multi-hued gourds, I think we may go the metallic route (like you can see on Dream on a Little Bigger) and create something we can sprinkle on the mantle or dining room table until Thanksgiving. All you need is spray paint and some imagination.

Or, perhaps we’ll turn one or two into a spooky lantern, like the ones from Meadowbrook Gourds.

Got any other gourd decorating ideas? Let us know.

From our partners

reflections on maine: a heaven without strip malls

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Every year, as July turns into August, we make a pilgrimage up north to Maine, specifically Mt. Desert Island and the enchanting wilds of Acadia National Park. Seven days there does wonders to revitalize your mind and spirit. We unplug (thus, no Shelterrific posts for a week), disconnect and take lots of deep breathes to savor the freshest air imaginable. One of the most charming things about MDI is that there are no franchises or chains of any kind (there may be one Rite Aid, but that’s it). You don’t realize the effect constant strip mall signage and box stores collections have on your senses until you step away from them. It’s so delightful to having nothing but locally owned and operated businesses to choose from. Sure, you may have to pay a little more for that gallon of milk, or drive a little farther to get a pint of blueberries, but in the end, you’ll be happier because of it.

At the center of this extremely local-centric region is Acadia, which is truly one of this country’s treasures. (In fact, a USA Today poll recently declared it the most popular national park, which means the house rental demand will be even fiercer next summer!) When you’re in MDI, you weave in and out of the park land all day long. It is the only national park that has private land and small towns scattered throughout, which is a nod to history: It was donated by the Rockfellers about a hundred years ago, and some families still have estates within its boundaries. This year we rented a piece a property overlooking Sommes Sound. There were no car sounds, no lights from neighboring residences, nothing but quiet. Our days were spent exploring the park by foot, boat, or horse-drawn carriage. At night we cooked lobster in a big pot and then made s’mores by the fire pit for dessert.

Here are a few recipes and local wares that have become a part of our lives every summer. Even if you’re not fortunate enough to journey to MDI this year, you can always eat some cobbler and dream.

Real Life Test Kitchen: How To Boil A Live Lobster

Real Life Test Kitchen: Grilled Pizza With Mozzarella and Corn Pesto

Real Life Test Kitchen: Blueberry Crumb Pie

Obsession: Lobster Rope Doormats

Steal This Idea: Rainbow Painted Stairs at The Naturalist’s Notebook In Seal Harbor

From our partners

rolling with laughter: customized pins add flair to baking

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Isn’t it a wonderful world when a young Polish designer who lives outside of Warsaw can suddenly find herself a design blog darling? I heard about Zuzia Kozerska and her beautiful, engraved baking pins via This Is Colossal and was even more enchanted after clicking through to Zuzia’s Esty page. A baker and a designer, she wanted to make pastries that were fun and delicious without spending an entire weekend slaving over them. Using a laser engraver (take that Star Wars fans!) Zuzia discovered a way to engrave wooden rolling pins with whimsical patterns, like cats, robots, dinosaurs and even charming Polish phrases (like “sto lat” — a birthday greeting which means 100 years). “It all started with my niece birthday, she is absolutely nuts about cats!” says Zuzia on Etsy. “I knew without any hesitations what would be the first pattern I would make.” Made from locally harvested beech wood, the pins cost about $42 plus $13 shipping from Poland. They arrive in a carefully wrapped box with local postage stamps to show off their country origin. Without a doubt, this is going on my holiday gift list — I do have some Polish bakers in my family!

From our partners