October 31, 2010

Have a "Happy Halloween!"

May kindness
always make your house
its favorite haunt.

Have a spook-tacular day!

With love, light,
and M&Ms,

Jay Jii


खुश हेलोवीन

Честит Хелоуин


Oíche shamhna shona daoibh

해피 할로윈

Happy Hallowe'en!



October 30, 2010

Frog Pumpkins & Harbor Colors

I set aside part of my Saturday morning for some pumpkin arts. Just a little bit of paint and a square of green felt was all that was needed to transform my pumpkin into a frog. He's all ready to sit on my doorstep for Halloween.

Of all the seasons of the year, I definitely think that autumn is the most beautiful. The colors are just fabulous. I love to go for drives when both sides of the highway are lined with trees dressed up in rusty oranges, hot reds, golden yellows, and deep browns. It makes my heart feel warm. 

After work yesterday, I had some time to visit Northport Harbor. As I walked the  length of the wooden pier, I got to see the boats moored on the docks and encounter seagulls perched on the posts. Both the harbor and the village looked lovely against the backdrop of the autumnal trees and I seized the opportunity to snap a few pictures. I stuck around long enough to see the sun set over the Long Island Sound and it put me in a great mood for this coming weekend. Here are the photographs; I hope you enjoy them!

"This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it."

~Psalm 118:24


October 23, 2010

Fall Classics: Chicken Gravy, Bela Lugosi, and the Texas Rangers

Every year at this time, I like to do a practice run of my Thanksgiving turkey recipe with a roaster chicken. It helps me to hone my gravy-making skills before the big show in November. I spent most of the morning in the kitchen, chopping onions, apples, and celery, pan-searing giblets, basting and butter-rubbing the bird. I love to spend some free time cooking. To me, cooking is a beautiful form of catharsis. 

Before long, the house was pervaded by those wonderful holiday food aromas and I was feeling overwhelmed by memories of Macy's Parades and Laurel & Hardy specials on TV--just perfect for a crisp autumn weekend. The gravy came out good (a wonderful, rich color from all of the pan drippings), though I did notice a few flavor adjustments that I need to make for the Thanksgiving feast. A few more seasonings. A little less white wine. That's exactly why I do the test run in October. :)

Some more Halloween crafts were also on the agenda for this weekend. This time it was a paper mache skull and some pom-pom spiders with beaded legs and googly eyes. Such things make me very happy and my foyer table is looking quite festive now. I'm looking forward to giving out candy next Sunday. Being that I am an amateur illusionist, when kids request "Trick or Treat," I take delight in being able to reply, "How about both?" I usually get a lot of guffaws and smiles when I proceed to swallow a sword or pass a lit candle through my arm. Such fun! Of course, I'm quick to remind them that it's all an illusion and not to try it at home...

I also got the chance to break out some of the black & white monster movie classics: Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man, The Mummy... These movies are really quite bad, but have a certain campy charm that is undeniable. It simply wouldn't be Halloween if Bela Lugosi didn't scowl at me from my TV screen at least once. "I bid you velcome." LOL!

And congratulations to the Texas Rangers for advancing to the World Series! I think that they are very exciting and I'm looking forward to seeing them in the Fall Classic (even though they did thwart the repeat bid of my beloved New York Yankees in the ALCS). I wish them good luck...

"I have set the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."

~Psalm 16:8

October 21, 2010

"One Monster After Another"

As I was browsing around in the Halloween Outlet store this evening, I was reminded of the title of my very favorite book from when I was a little boy. It's called "One Monster After Another" by Mercer Mayer.

After all of these years, I still have the book and I've kept it in good condition. It tells the story of a mailed letter and the things it goes through to get delivered. The thing that I always loved most about the book is the quality of the illustrations. Beautiful depictions of fairy-tale monsters: the Letter-Eating Bombanat, the Stamp-Collecting Trollusk, the Paper-Munching Yalappapus, the Wild & Windy Typhoonagator... So wonderfully imaginative. I got great happiness out of this book and I must have read it hundreds of times.

There was a time in second grade when each week one of the students had to read in front of the class. When my turn came around, I knew that I was going to read "One Monster After Another." I sat in front of the room, reading my book and joyfully holding up each page so the class could savor the beauty and wonder of the pictures. It was a labor of joy. When I finished reading, the class gave me a thunderous ovation--something that had never happened before during reading time. It felt wonderful. :)

May this evening be a beautiful chapter in the storybook of your life. Love & light…

“For in this hope we were saved.
Now hope that is seen is not hope.
For who hopes for what he sees?”

~Romans 8:24

October 16, 2010

Halloween Crafts & Old Postcards

Sometimes, when the mood strikes me, I like to take a drive over to Michael's Arts & Crafts supply store just to browse around for an artistic project. The last time I was there, I picked up a balsa wood kit for a car. I spent an overcast afternoon working on it and it came out good. I always say that the simple pleasures in life are the best and I feel very pleased when I create something with my hands.

I went to Michael's again this past Sunday looking to make some Halloween decorations. As I cruised through the seasonal aisles, I found fake pumpkins and spiders and bats--all good stuff for my front yard, but not exactly the activities that I wanted. Then I found it. It was another balsa wood kit for a 14-inch high skeleton, and it was only $2. It wasn't intended to be a Halloween item (I found it in the same section as the model airplanes), but I thought it would be fun. I quickly grabbed it up and headed home, knowing that I was in for another crafty day.

It took me most of the morning to cut out and sand all of the tiny bones. Gluing it together proved to be somewhat of a problem as the frame was very delicate and kept falling apart. By mid-afternoon, the glue had finally cured and I was ready to paint. This was also difficult due to the narrow spaces between the bones that were hard to get to with the brush bristles. After all was said and done, it came out wonderful. I now have a hand-made decoration for my foyer table!

In the evening, I was digging through some dusty boxes that my grandmother had stored away years and years ago. Among the mold spores, I uncovered a small batch of postcards that date back as far as the 1950s. The quality of the old paper is grainy to the touch and the cards smell musty from so many decades of being packed away, but I think that the images they show are fantastic. They have that old-fashioned character and charm that a printing press could deliver in those days. The fact that the pictures appear autumnal in nature also fits in perfectly with my current mood. I don't recognize any of the names on the backs, but I'm grateful to those people who were unknowingly 60 years ago sending me a little treasure that would arrive in 2010 (sort of an unexpected time capsule). I hope you find these postcards as cool as I do. Cheers!

"And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior."

~Luke 1:47


October 12, 2010

Richter's Orchards

It's beginning to look a lot like...


With all of the pumpkins and faux spider webs popping up in the neighborhood, I suddenly found myself with an extreme craving for an autumnal favorite, MULLED CIDER! I quickly made the ride over to Richter's Orchards. It's a charming place with its narrow, winding driveway, its groves of fruit-bearing trees, its ramshackle tractor, and, of course, its seemingly endless supply of local apples and cider. I bought a gallon of cider, a package of mulling spices, and a bundle of Red Delicious apples. On the way home, the bag tipped over causing an avalanche of fruit from my back seat that continued to tumble around on the floor for the length of the drive. Luckily for me, the plastic cider bottle didn't explode on impact. :D

Back at home, my mouth watered as the cider bubbled and steamed on the stove top, the scent of mulling spices wafting through the air making the house smell heavenly. I anxiously poured the spicy elixir into my mug and sipped--Ah, a draught of warm autumn, golden chrysanthemums blossoming in my chest; it was like drinking a blessed vessel of "Home for the Holidays." :)

May this day be the apple of your eye!

"I came that you may have and enjoy life
and have it in abundance, until it overflows."

~John 10:10


October 10, 2010

White Post Farm Fall Festival

As I glance at the wall in front of me, the calendar there declares that it is "October." While we can all agree that it is definitely autumn here in NY, this weekend's weather thus far has felt more akin to ideal beach fare. I guess this qualifies as an "Indian Summer." On Saturday, with the sun shining bright and no crunchy leaves anywhere to be found, I headed out to White Post Farm for their annual Fall Festival.

Now, as far as Fall Festivals are concerned, White Post Farm does an incredible job. Upon entering the grounds, one comes to the "Welcome Stage." This is where a cowboy emcee named Sheriff Buddy Flip greets guests and announces all of the day's events; beyond this point lies an entire corn maze of activities. First, a patch of pumpkins of all shapes stretches across an area the size of a football field. Along the right side of the field is a row of booths selling fresh baked pies, handcrafted jellies, cookies, chrysanthemums, harvest decorations, roasted local corn, as well as booths where children can paint pumpkins and "play in the hay."

Next on the itinerary is White Post's Animal Farm & Hand Feeding area. Here, I met Lemurs and Spider Monkeys, Llamas and Zebras, Deer, Cockatoos, Rams, and, my favorite creature of the White Post menagerie, the Dromedary Camel. For a few dollars, I purchased a bucket of pellets that I was able to feed to the animals a handful at a time. This part of the Festival also gives pony rides.

As I continued to walk through this huge farm complex, passing wooden playgrounds and picnic areas, I came across a development of miniature houses. Each structure is no bigger than the average backyard shed and is complete with a picket fence and shrubberies. This delightful scene instantly made me smile.

The next festival feature is the Sing Along Hayride. It is a relaxing, tractor-drawn trip along a path through tall corn stalks that passes haunted houses and giant spiders. All the while, a speaker system serenades the riders with campfire songs. Yee-ha!

Toward the rear of the farm is the area where all of the performances take place. There are stages set up for clown shows, autumnal games, singing chicken acts, an animal band jamboree, though I think I most enjoyed the Pork Chop Revue (a pig/hog show). I was completely sold when I saw a pig in sunglasses sing "Old MacDonald." Overall, the White Post Farm Fall Festival offers a fun day! I like to go every year; it's a great start to the season...

"He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God."

~Micah 6:8