Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Halloween Decorating and Party Planning

I have collected a few books over the years that I pull off the shelf and peruse quite often throughout the year to get some inspiration. I love looking at the pictures and descriptions on each page, drinking in each one and letting it swirl around in my mind for a while.

Lately, I've been feeling some burn out. Lots of things I want to do, things I plan to do, things I need to do... but I have NO motivation at all. I've started things, only to leave them collecting dust after only a few minutes of starting. I will walk out into the garage with the intention to work on something, only to just sit there staring at it and not DO anything at all. Normally by June or July, I have several new projects completed. This year I have nothing, except that one batch of tombstones that I gave away.

So, I decided it was time to pull the books out and hopefully give myself a little spark of "something" to get back into the swing of things. I scanned the covers of the books that I love to look at the most, and a few pages of each. If you like Halloween books, these are definitely worth buying. I got most of them from Amazon.com.

One of my absolute FAVORITES out of my collection, is "Halloween - A Grown-up's Guide to Creative Costumes, Devilish Decor & Fabulous Festivities", by Joanne O'Sullivan. This book has it all... really cool, beautiful costumes you can make yourself, simple and elegant decorating ideas, party theme ideas with matching invitations, stories, history, and recipes. The section I loved the most was for the New Orleans Voodoo Cocktail party.

The book is very well written and artfully laid out, making it an excellent choice for Halloween party planners. I highly recommend it.

Another book that I look through MANY times during October while planning the party is "Halloween Treats - Recipes and Crafts for the Whole Family" by Donata Maggipinto. There are so many delicious recipes in this book that I find it really difficult to decide which to try. GREAT photographs accompany the recipes and instructions and many of the crafts are perfect for children to help with.

"Halloween Parties: How to Throw Spook-Tacular Soirees & Frighteningly Festive Entertainments", by Lori Hellander, is an awesome source for some fresh and contemporary party ideas. There are several different themes included and it's loaded with recipes and ideas.

From cute and slightly country to spooky and cool to vintage and beautiful... "The Big Book of Halloween, Creative &Creepy Projects for Revellers of All Ages" has it all! I LOVE this book by Laura Dover Doran. There are lots of great ideas for Halloween decorations for both inside and outside the home. She mingles scary stories that would be perfect for sitting around a campfire with wonderful snippets of history, myths and quips. Loads of pictures grace this book with personal stories from other people, their traditions and festivities surrounding Halloween. Recipes, costume tips, and even some do-it-yourself prop instructions are all in there. This is definitely another must-have for Halloween lovers.

Jill Williams Grover's "Scary Scenes For Halloween" totally delivers some spooky goodness for Halloween. I've used MANY of the ideas from this book over the years. Ideas for children's AND adult food and decorations are included and the photos are just wonderful to look at. Some really neat and simple prop instructions are mixed in with some candy displays that will TOTALLY wow the kids and adults alike. This is the first Halloween book I ever bought for myself, and I am completely in love with it.

Below are some of the other books I have and look through often. Some of them are super, some are so-so, but all are great for ideas in some way or another.

Garage of Evil - Network!!!

Steve-O started up a network on Ning.com for the Garage of Evil members to join, post and get to know each other better. If you're not a part of it already, you MUST check it out. If you don't, Steve-O will come to your house in his underpants and sing Yankee Doodle Dandy while juggling bowling balls at your front door.

One note of warning, this network for the Garage is for PROP builders and haunters... not for sharing Jello-mold recipes and showing off your pets/soccer awards/goth/fetish stuff. The occasional mention of BOOBIES will occur!! It also is not to replace the GoE Yahoo Group which we lovingly call the "treehouse", but to supplement it.

Now join, or else!


Monday, August 18, 2008

How far I've come over the years

I was just going through some old photos, and I found it amazing how much progress I've made in my display over the past 9 years. I didn't really get into doing anything outside the house until 1999 other than an ape dummy and JoL's. I had a LOT of inside knick knacks and decorations all over the inside house though. Anyway, here's the before and after shots of the differences in 1999 and 2007.

The outdoor part, 1999:

And 2007:

First foam tombstones, 1999:

Much improved 2007:

First props that stood up - scraps of 8-foot long quarter-round and tree limbs hammered into the ground, masks, stuffed clothes and gloves, 1999:
And 2007's handmade heads and hands with PVC frames and duct tape double bodies:

My 1999 party decor in the nook:

And 2007's version of the nook:

Which leads me to my ultra-boring version of my dining room in 2000:

2007's less "bright" version:

The extent of my 1999 decor (aside from orange flowers and other crap) in what's now the office:
And how the office is done in 2007:

A look through the kitchen in 1999:

And what a difference a few years makes in 2007:

Imagine if you will, a lot of white wall... and no spooky ambiance above these two clowns in 1999:

Now the same wall in the family room in 2007:

Everything about my display and party has changed, and thankfully for the better. This just goes to show, for those of you who are still intimidated by doing your own thing, that you CAN do it. It only takes patience, lots of trial and error and being able to follow instructions. A tiny bit of artistic talent is a plus, but it's really not all that necessary to pull off a decent look. It's taken me a long time to get to where I'm at with the whole haunting thing and I've been working on it diligently for the past 10 years now -- and I STILL have a lot to learn!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Cauldron Light cover

I was looking through some old pictures, and I ran across some for a light that I modified for Halloween in my breakfast nook. Someone asked me how I did it, so I took some pictures of the assembly when I removed the light fixture to replace it with a new one. I don't bother with it anymore, but I figured I'd share it here since it's not on my website.

I took a cheap plastic cauldron from Wal Mart and drilled holes in it randomly. I cut a big circle out of the bottom of it as well. Then I cut it down the seam, but not all the way down, so it's still held together at the base.

Now, I took the light fixture down to replace it with a new one, so I wasn't able to work with it on my desk originally - I had to use a ladder and work with it hanging from the ceiling. :) Anyway, I managed to get the cauldron around the light fixture and I used hot glue to close the seams back up. The hot glue comes apart fairly easily for quick removal of the cauldron after Halloween. I also used some black electrical tape on the seam INSIDE the cauldron, so that the light didn't show through the seam.

My light fixture has holes on the top for heat ventilation, so I used them to help secure the cauldron on there level. I drilled some holes along the rim of the cauldron and used some scrap wire to create hooks to secure it.

I wanted something to cover the top and help with color, so I used some green stretchy spider web stuff to line the top edge of the cauldron. It's VERY important to NOT cover the top of the light fixture itself. You don't want it to over heat and cause a fire hazard.

Now it's all done and ready to be lit up.

The green webbing really made the cauldron stand out. The hole in the bottom of it helped illuminate the table below, and the little holes all around it cast an almost disco-ball-like feel in the room. I got lots of compliments on it and I am currently thinking of making some table lamps from thrift store lamps using this same method.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The search for inspiration

Today, or yesterday as it were since it's now after midnight, I decided to take a break from my life and went for a walk. I was only planning on being gone for at the most an hour... but I ended up staying gone for 3 hours, just walking and enjoying Mother Nature's offerings. I was actually on a mission to get some good photos of banana spiders, but for some reason, there were none to be found. Although, my son found a nice one the other day and snapped a pic of it for me.

Anyway, I did run across some cool stuff today. First, I'd like to introduce you to the path I jog when the energy levels kick in. These shots were taken in the spring and show only about a half mile of what I run.

The first thing I ran into that caught my eye, was this big ol' locust thing. They're always back there along the trail except in the winter. This one is eating a button bush plant.

Then I walked a few more steps and encountered this curious little guy on the ground. When I put the camera down low to the ground, about an inch from him to get a close up, he kept walking toward the camera and touching it with his antennae. He kept following the camera, it was kinda neat. Then suddenly he jumped up onto the camera while I was holding it. After I got him off the camera, he just kept following the lens like he wanted to eat it, so I gave up and moved on.

I passed some green passion fruit getting heavy on the vines. The flowers were beautiful this spring.

Then I came to my original destination, the Slough. It's a trail along a creek in our neighborhood. When you step off the boardwalk, and cross the chain barrier, the first thing you see is this sign. The path starts off wide, but gets narrow toward the end.

Anyway, I walked a couple of miles ... I'm not sure how long the trail actually is, but like I said, I was gone a long time from home today. :) I had a nice little companion for the walk though. This blue dragonfly stayed with me the whole time I was on the trail in the woods. He'd fly up a ways, land and then I'd try to take a pic and he'd fly on a little further. I think he was taunting me since I LOVE dragonflies so much. I did finally manage to get one decent non-blurry picture though. His body is about 4 inches long and the top of its body is a royal blue.

Along the path, there were lots of these pretty little moths and purple flowers.

Finally, I came to the end of the trail where there is a little foot bridge to cross the water. Over on my left on the other side of the creek, sunning on a fallen tree, was a gator, about 4 feet in length. He seemed very unconcerned with me. Usually they take off into the water at the sight of a human.

After that, I emerged from the forest, crossed the soccer field and headed to the dock.

I got down to the gazebo and got a nice, but scary surprise up in the rafters. There was a HUGE spider resting up there on the ceiling of the gazebo. When I say huge, I mean it had the leg span of my hand. I totally got the shivers just looking at it up above me, like it was waiting to pounce on me as soon as I looked away. She just stayed there, in that one spot the entire time. And that was perfectly fine with me. I wish I'd had the good camera with me for this pic. This is as close as I could get with the zoom on the little Cybershot.

I managed to get one halfway decent picture of this butterfly that kept fluttering around me. It only took about 30 tries...lol

Finally, I figured I should probably get back home as it was dinner time and I'd been gone much longer than I thought I would be. So I stopped to get some pics of these colorful little birds that were twittering in the holly and crepe myrtles. They flew all around me, not really afraid. I stood within 3 feet of them.

In the last quarter mile before getting home, I stopped to say hi to a friend. This is one of our resident ducks that visits our house for free food.