Tuesday 31 October 2017

A Grave Affair

Last weekend My Rare One and I donned our spookiest black rags, our biggest witch's hats, hopped on our brooms and flew down to southern Alberta for a couple of fabulous Halloween events! A Grave Affair was held on Friday night and Lost in Transylvania took place on Saturday night.

Our favourite vampiress of graveyard pallor, Lynne of Insomniac's Attic, created the perfect macabre, gothic ambiance for both events. The two hosting restaurants each provided an array of delicious food and special drinks to fatten up our skeletal frames. A fun psychic/fortune teller graced both evenings and we met some great new people too!

Lynne created an absinthe bar for the first event, A Grave Affair. At one time, absinthe was the infamously evil alcohol of fin-de-siècle Paris, beloved of poets, artists and bohemians. Distilled from anise, fennel, wormwood and other botanicals, its unique colour resulted in its nickname, "the green fairy." By World War I, absinthe was banned throughout Europe and the USA as a "dangerously addictive psychoactive drug and hallucinogen" (Wikipedia) although its effects appear to have been greatly exaggerated by the fearful bourgeoisie. However, it does have a high alcohol content, so it should only be taken in moderation.

Serving absinthe requires a fascinating ritual of preparation, which Lynne expertly performed. First, the green absinthe is poured into the bottom of a "reservoir" glass. A special, flat absinthe spoon is then placed to rest horizontally on top of the glass.

A long, rectangular sugar cube is put on top of the spoon. Here's the bowlful of special absinthe sugar cubes that Lynne used --

Then the glass, spoon and sugar cube are placed under one of two long silver spouts on an "absinthe fountain," seen in this next photo. The fountain slowly, oh so slowly, drips ice-cold water onto the sugar cube, dissolving it through the perforations of the spoon into the absinthe below. Adding sugar water in this way to the absinthe both sweetens it a little, taking the edge off its natural bitterness, and dilutes the absinthe, so it's not as potent when the alcohol hits your system.

Here's a photo that My Rare One took of one of the two absinthe fountains at the event. Oh, that eerie glow! I am so thrilled to have had the opportunity to drink absinthe prepared in the traditional manner! It's a rare experience and a special treat indeed.

And speaking of treats, the Rockyview Hotel served up a staggering assortment of delicious appetizers, prepared by their charming young Chilean chef who popped out of the kitchen to greet everyone later in the evening. His artistry culminated in this chocolate coffin brownie in blood-red cherry sauce. Mmmmm! It was, of course, to die for!

Thursday's post -- Lost in Transylvania! And here's a little teaser . . . ALL WILL BE REVEALED! So don't miss it!

[Photos #1 and #4 by Insomniac's Attic Facebook, photo #2 from Wikipedia, photos #3, #5 and #6  © My Rare One, October 2017]

Friday 27 October 2017

The Big Night Is Almost Here!

Light your candles.

Get out your Book of Shadows.

Call your Familiar to your side.

Oh what the hell, call ALL your Familiars to your side.

Put on your most enchanting dress and jewelry.

Splurge on a new hat.

Pick out a new broom too, while you're at it.

Get all your pumpkins in a row.

Yeah, baby, yeah -- you're back in business!

You've been waiting all year for this!

So get ready to fly with your sisters!

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Some Good Advice

I don't know WHY witches have the BAD reputation that they do. I suspect THE MEDIA has something to do with it.

Nothing but malicious propaganda. FAKE NEWS!

In reality, witches are WONDERFUL people. And they are FABULOUS cooks!

They're ALWAYS considerate of other creatures' gastronomic needs . . . .

Witches have INNATE GOOD TASTE when it comes to interior decorating too.

And witches are NOT bad drivers, no matter WHAT lies you may have heard.

You've probably got MORE IN COMMON with witches than you could ever DREAM!

So, go on, take a CHANCE! It could turn out to be TRUE LOVE!

Monday 23 October 2017

Feed Those Little Monsters

With . . . what else? . . . Halloween pancakes!

But beware what ravenous spirits you may thereby arouse . . . .

Thursday 19 October 2017

Christie Biscuits, Part 2

[photo © Debra She Who Seeks, August 2017]

Continuing on from Tuesday's post, here's a few family photos taken over the years that feature the Christie Biscuits ad loitering in the background:

This one probably dates from World War II or very shortly thereafter. That's my Mom leaning against the car, taking a break from waitressing or cooking in the hotel, judging from how she's dressed. She was the chambermaid too!

This is my grandma and me in her flower garden in the mid-1960s. You can just see the "u" and "i" of "Biscuits" peeking out from behind some trees that were growing there at the time.

And finally, here's a great autumnal shot of the ad, probably taken in the early 1980s. That's my grandpa in the red baseball cap, sitting in the garden amidst the empty flower boxes.

During my brief stopover in Saskatchewan this summer, I was so glad to see that Christie Biscuits still faithfully abides all these many years later, like a dear old family friend.

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Christie Biscuits, Part 1

During World War II, my maternal grandparents sold the family farm, bought an old country hotel in a small Saskatchewan town and went into the hospitality business. I spent a lot of time at this hotel when I was a kid. I have some good stories and fond memories of those days.

Here's a great photo of the hotel that I found on the internet, looking exactly as I remember it:

[photo by Lawrence Hutchinson, taken in 1981, found here on Flickr ] 

But the topic of my posts today and on Thursday is not actually the Queen's Hotel per se but instead, the brick building in the photo which you can see to the right of the hotel, on the other side of my grandma's flower garden and hedge. This large commercial building was built in 1907 for J.P. Beauchamp & Co. as a store. In later years, it served many other functions, including as a telephone operators building and a community hall. But no matter its purpose, the building's most notable feature was always a huge painted advertisement on one side for Christie Biscuits, Purest of All Pure Foods.

One of the small prairie towns in which I found myself this summer was precisely my old Saskatchewan stomping grounds. The Queen's Hotel is gone now, an empty lot all that remains. The hotel burnt down in a 2003 fire that occurred about 15 years after my grandparents ceased owning the business. And of course, my grandma's flower garden is long gone now too. But look what's still standing!

[photo © Debra She Who Seeks, August 2017]

And on the side of the building, the antique painted ad still proudly proclaims its Christie Biscuits slogan. Okay, so maybe it's faded now and has seen better days but then again, haven't we all?

I assume that ad was painted in 1907 when J.P. Beauchamp had the building constructed. Given that his corporate name was painted right above it, this theory seems plausible. So now in 2017, the building and the ad are both 110 years old.

In Thursday's post, I'm going to share some old family photos of the Christie Biscuits ad that were taken over the years.

Friday 13 October 2017

Lady of the Lake Teacup Truck

Whenever I'm in Brandon, Manitoba, I stop at one of my favourite places -- the Lady of the Lake Shop, Cafe and Pub. It has been a beloved gathering-place in that small prairie city for at least 20 years. My Mom, sister and I have enjoyed many happy times together at this store and restaurant in days gone by.

A couple of years ago or so, this marvelously whimsical "Teacup Truck" first appeared outside its doors . . . .

As you can see, every square inch of this old flatbed truck is covered with broken china mosaics, cups, saucers, teapots, decorative plates, china figurines, doodads, baubles and junky gewgaws!

This is my favourite side of the Teacup Truck. I hate to think of how many hours of work with a glue gun it took to create this!

Here's a couple of closeups of the driver's side fender and hood. I can make out six teapots (I think) and one pitcher . . . .

. . . and a teeny-tiny rack of billiard balls, which I love!

The Teacup Truck sits outdoors all year long in the sun, rain and snow. I'm pretty sure the vehicle doesn't run and was towed to its current location. From the Lady of the Lake website, here's a "before" photo of the Teacup Truck prior to its artistic rebirth. I believe that the woman who is waving while standing on the running board is the store owner.

[All photos © Debra She Who Seeks, July 2017, except for the last photo © Lady of the Lake]