October 19, 2009


Autumn is my favorite time of year. The rich colors, scents, the crunch of leaves and the foods of the season. Having not had a party in eons, we were overdue in returning the favor to our friends.

I forgot how much time goes into the details. Join me in the preparations..............

The landscape designer in me had to begin outdoors

A hard frost ended the impatiens in our front door containers.

What a mess! No amount of scrubbing would have removed the remnants of impatiens goo. What the containers really needed was painting.........no time!

Burlap to the rescue, inexpensive, seasonal and hiding a multitude of sins. This combination includes; yellow mums, red cabbage, purple aster, pansies and cut stems of bittersweet providing a great drape. The potted plants were just set into the burlap. I love to insert faux elements, in this case faux bittersweet clusters. Entwined with the bittersweet foliage they look vibrant and real and are re-used for years to come.

Next was the sad and neglected hanging basket highlighting the lamp post. Out with the dead petunia's and other miscellaneous summer annuals. Keeping the moss lining intact I quickly inserted golden mini mums, pansies, pumpkins and faux lady apples.

Often using faux elements adds interest, texture and the use of materials that might not normally last.

Our 1940's era upper patio with fireplace looks forlorn.

The bronzey metal wall containers flanking the firebox were filled with roadside clippings. Add pumpkins, mums and battery pillar candles. See my Cardigan Corgi, Cooper peeking out from the wool throw?

These battery candles are my best friends during a party, in particular. Sixty, yes sixty candles were used everywhere! Framing a pathway from the parking at the barn to the house. Unlike lumanaries, they are flicked on and that is it..............no wondering if any have burned out, no worries if it rains..........nothing. Indoors I like to tuck them in unexpected places, never concerned if they are "smoking", knocked over or dripping onto an antique piece.

The entrance to the upper patio was enhanced with.........more battery candles. In this instance using "wedding columns" from 1910, previously filled with flowers and flanking an aisle for a long ago bride.

In outdoor containers they are illuminated at night.

Emptied and waiting...............

Wanting to try something unconventional, faux birch stems were inserted upright and adorned with faux bittersweet, real bittersweet branches, a hand full of fallen leaves and all along the back of the birch, a line of battery candles which up light the birch at nightfall.

The night before many hands came to help. Don't you love to see women gathering together to help? I sure do and could not have finished without these women. From the left Susan Olson ( see post on inspiring women ), sister Diane and Betty Chittenden, Susan's mother visiting from Nebraska.

By the end of that night the wine flowed, the pumpkin martini's experimented with, music turned up and the laughs constant...........wish we had a picture of all of us doing line dances thru the house led by Betty!

The day of..........sister in her Halloween "teeth" making an artichoke dip. (I could be taking this too far..........sister may kill me for adding this photo) Don't you think she looks 25 years old?! Don't be mad sister.........love you to pieces :-)

Getting closer to panic mode I needed an arrangement for the kitchen table and wanted to use the Benjamin Carroll terra cotta pots given to me by my friend and artist Patrick Roullier.
note: remember the hallway Patrick was going to faux bois for me? Well he finished, it is beyond my expectations and will be in a future post.

In my garage I had these metal "trees"

Wanting height at the table these were perfect. Supported by tuna cans (how elegant) so they would not wobble,I speared fallen leaves onto the trees spikes.

Rolls of kraft paper is handy to have around. "Nests" were formed to hold......what else......votive battery candles, providing a glow at eye level

Naturally needing to hide the tuna cans, voila!..........bunched kraft paper at the base

Inspired by Eddie Ross and his October 13th post on decorating the show kitchen for Grange, just had to add wooden spoons and a gift from Susan a hand carved "salt well". Doesn't it look like the sheep are moving towards a trough?!

A brass and copper scale from Argentina is filled with fresh pumpkins and faux fruit. Labels were peeled off fresh fruit and affixed to the faux to look real. You may be asking yourself "why faux fruit?!" Well..........I get really busy and it just stays put until they need to be dusted.

Almost time! Tables were set with finger foods through out the house so as to not crowd one area. One of my favorite pieces is a turn of the century Crane from France. Looks like he is about to pluck the cookies.

The finished kitchen table, quick, get in the shower.......I'm late!

And finally the hit of the night.........pumpkin pie martini's. Whew, these were fun to create! Reading thru multiple recipes and combining bits and pieces that sounded good I came up with the following inexact recipe.

Pumpkin Pie Martini's

In a large pitcher fill 2/3 of the way with heavy whipping cream (calories do not count when partying!)
To taste add;
-butterscotch schnapps
-pumpkin liquer
-pumpkin pie spice
Taste repeatedly until yummy
Dip the martini glass in a plate of whipped cream then dip in a plate of crushed cinnamon graham crackers

Even though I did not want anyone to leave...........this is how I felt the next day, and the day after that, and....................

Happy Autumn!

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