Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!!!

More pictures to follow later today: more pumpkins, a homemade witches hat, spooky decorations, treats, and more!  Happy Halloween Everyone!!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day 30--It's Halloween Eve!

It's 2am on Halloween Eve and I just finished decorating cupcakes and stuffing treat bags. Time for bed! I just wanted to jump in and say Happy Halloween Eve to you all!

I will be posting lots of pictures of the celebrations at my house over the next few days. And I am looking forward to reading about/seeing pictures of everyone else's fun!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Busy weekend coming up!

All of a sudden, we are mere days away from Halloween and I have a ton of things left to do!  The next few days are going to be really busy for me.  Among other things, I need to clean my messy house and buy a few last minute items for my Sunday afternoon pumpkin carving party.  I will have to do both before and after work today and tomorrow, since I'm not off again until Sunday.  

It's going to be a fast, busy weekend!  How are my fellow Halloween-heads' preparations going? Is everyone organized, ready, and calm, or are you more like me--racing around doing all kinds of last minute tasks like a headless chicken?!  One day I will (maybe) (haha) learn to manage my time better so that holidays didn't always find me in this situation!

Oh, and I'm eating too much Halloween candy. Again.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

South Carolina ghosts part 2: The Gray Man

There is a ghost story that comes from Pawley's Island,SC that I grew up hearing. My dad and his family moved to Pawley's from Chicago when he was five, and he lived there until he started high school. Naturally he heard this ghost story many times in those years, and he told it to me when I was a kid.

There is supposed to be a ghost around Pawley's Island called the Gray Man. He appears on the beach whenever a hurricane is coming, and seeing him is a warning to take cover inland. They say that anyone that sees him will have their property left untouched by the storm, even if their neighbors lose everything. Back in the old days before modern storm tracking the Gray Man is supposed to have been kind of like a visiting angel, doing a good deed for the locals.

Here is a great link I found that goes into more detail than I remember hearing about the Gray Man's story:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ghosts of South Carolina part 1

I have been eager to share some of the ghost stories I grew up with in my part of the world. I grew up in a tiny town about about a 40 minute drive from the coast, so I identify with more of the "lowcountry" legends and tales than some from other parts of the state. Here is a good link to one I remember hearing about as a kid. It's about a young woman buried alive on an Edisto Island plantation in the 1800s. People say you can go see the vault with the scratch marks on the door...and that the unfortunate girl haunts the property to this day:

It's tougher than I thought...

....taking pictures of my neighbors' Halloween decorations!

It feels incredibly awkward to point a camera at someone's front door, and I kept losing my nerve. I expected at any moment for someone to come out and and ask me what the hell I was doing! Had any of them been outside, I could have asked permission, but none were. And I certainly felt too shy to knock on anyone's door to ask if I could take pictures of their house. So my plan to post a picture tour of my neighborhood didn't exactly work out.

Halloween preparations continue, however. I'm planning a little pumpkin carving party next Sunday, Oct.30, with some friends. It's going to be BYOP, but I will provide the stencils, tools, and other materials needed. I plan to make hot spiced cider with rum, roasted pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin muffins for munchies.

I bought a cheap witches hat to wear to work on Halloween morning and when handing out candy later. It's a basic, cheap black hat (the only one I could find that fits my ginormous head!) but I'm thinking about hitting up the craft store today for materials to jazz it up a bit! Of course, I will post pictures as soon as I've done it.

I bought my Halloween candy the other day. Last year I bought my candy two weeks ahead of time and ate it all which meant another trip out to buy more. Oh, and there was that lovely 4 pound weight gain too! I will try to have more self control this year, although it's hard when my favorite candies are in the house (a rare thing). There are Reese's cups and Nerds, so far, and I love both!

I'll probably be picking up a couple more bags of some other types of candy later this week--no use doing it too early and having that much more temptation in the house! I give out generous handfuls to all the trick or treaters who visit. I love seeing their faces when they get a bunch of "good" candy, plus I feel the need to make up for some of my neighbors that don't give out candy at all. It's sad. When I was a kid it seemed like it was a rare house that didn't participate, but these days it's at least 50% (I blame the Southern Baptists). So I'm extra generous, and it's so much fun to see the delight on the kids' faces. I love it!

Those are the holiday preparations going on at my house right now. We're exactly one week away from the big day! Halloween is almost here!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pumpkins to frighten the neighbors

For the enjoyment of all the pumpkin carvers out there:

"At what point did the carving of pumpkins turn into a "cute" event? When did boys stop carving pumpkins and moms start? Where did we lose touch with one of the years coolest events?

Today we will seize back this ritual. Today is the day we throw away those safe, cute carving tools. Today we will buy a big, ugly, pumpkin so large one man cannot lift or move it. Today. We will carve that sumbitch into something ugly and plop it on the front porch. October 31st we will light it brightly enough to give visiting children suntans.

Pumpkin carving is reborn."


Warning: you must have a sense of humor and/or cannot be too easily grossed out or offended to enjoy this site!  I think it's a load of fun, but then, I'm weird.

Tomorrow, a picture tour of my neighborhood Halloween decor!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Here comes the color!

We are finally beginning to get some autumn color here in my part of the world. Our peak will not occur for another couple of weeks, but it's definitely starting to look like fall:

These photos were actually taken last October in my neighborhood. I have had such a busy schedule that I have not gotten any new ones this year. Thursday I plan to change all that; I have the day off (Friday too) and I will take the camera when Ginger and I go for our morning walks. Not only are the trees beautiful this time of year, but lots of my neighbors have fall and Halloween decorations up. I will be posting a photo tour of my neighborhood to kick off the weekend!

Monday, October 17, 2011

For all the gothic crafters out there...

I still haven't gotten back on the ball with my Halloween Countdown posts.  I've had an incredibly stressful couple of weeks at work, and have been feeling generally demoralized and uninspired when at home.  I'm determined to pull myself out of this funk this week! There is no reason that work stress should spoil my time at home, and I am resolved to somehow learn to leave it behind when I leave work each day.

So getting back into the spirit of the season, I wanted to share a link to one of my favorite crafting websites. The archives will make great reading for anyone who loves gothic, unusual crafts...or just has an oddball sense of humor! I love these guys:

Check out the archives. They have some really wonderful, fun projects for crafters of every skill level. My favorite issue is #13 Samhain: Broken Bones. I am dying (haha) to make a "Conmemoracion" and this might be the year I begin one. It will be a good deal of work, but the results are so lovely!

For a much easier, cheaper, less work intensive project (from the same issue) I like "Dollar Store Death".  I'm considering having some friends over for a little pre-Halloween craft party, and how much fun would this be?! Maybe we could even go on a dollar store excursion early in the day to gather supplies.  I think it would be a blast!

There are several other Samhain issues of The Anticraft. I suggest grabbing a cup of coffee, tea, cider (any cozy, autumn-y brew!) and spending some time wandering through the archives. There is lots of fun reading there even for the non-crafty sort!

That is my offering for today, the 17th of the Countdown.  More fun and goodies tomorrow!  Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

In search of a hat....

A witches hat, that is.

I have been looking all over the internet for either a nice ready-made hat that comes in specific sizes or else a tutorial for making my own. The problem I'm having is that all the hats for sale say "one size fits most" and well....I have a big head! And as far as making my own...I am really more interested in decorating a hat than attempting to make one totally from scratch.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Ideas? Websites or retailers to recommend? I'm running out of time here!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day 10 and falling behind!

It's day 10 of the Halloween Countdown blog party and I feel bad that I've missed a few days. I originally intended to try to blog every day during the month of October, but I realize now that was a bit ambitious. My job has been tiresome and stressful lately, and now GB is sick with some flu-like bug. I am crossing my (sanitized) fingers that I don't catch whatever he has. So I will still try to blog every day, but if I miss a few I'm not going to beat myself up about it.

That being said, here are some pictures I took yesterday and today to show some of my ongoing preparations for Halloween (and fall in general):

These are some little artificial flowers, leaves, and berries I stuck in the glass mosaic jars that live on my kitchen windowsill.

These are the pumpkins I bought on Friday afternoon. I love the tiny one with the long stem!

I tried and tried to get a picture of Ginger posing in front of the pumpkins. She refused to cooperate. She finally laid down beside them, looking irritated at me for trying to get her stay still and look at the camera. This was the best I could get!

I'm so over that camera thing.

Another way I am getting in the spirit of fall is by cooking big batches of chili and soup, and then freezing half. So far I have made pots of vegetarian black bean chili and vegetable beef soup, and I have several quarts of both stored in the freezer. Today I am making chicken soup for my sick sweetheart. So far a stock is simmering with local/organic/free range chicken pieces, garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, sea salt, and pepper. Here is a picture taken as I was starting:

I will continue to work on building a flavorful stock for a day or two, then strain it and add back some deboned chicken, carrots, peas, celery, shallots, more garlic, and egg noodles. It should be just the thing for my sick guy!

Those are my seasonal activities this week. Happy Day 10!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Getting ready

I finally got my pumpkins for this year! Three nice ones from a church sale in my neighborhood. I spent a ridiculously long time making up my mind which three to buy. I have a definite motif in mind this year for my jack o'lanterns, and the pumpkins I picked had to be just right.  I think I got good ones!

I also spent some time yesterday stringing orange lights outside our front door, and assembling various decorations for our house. I will post pictures of everything tomorrow. For now, here is a picture of last year's pumpkins:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The return of Dark Shadows

I have vague memories of watching reruns of the 1960's soap opera Dark Shadows as a kid.  It seemed so delightfully creepy when I was little!  Actually, it was probably a low budget campy kind of deal, but I was young (and it was in reruns then). Although it probably wasn't all that great, you have to admire the kind of creativity that makes a gothic vampire soap opera!  I love lots of shows from that era, especially the corny ones like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie.  Nothing is more boring to me than the kind of shows that we have today: reality tv.

I read recently that Dark Shadow is being made into a movie now.  It is going to be directed by Tim Burton and stars Johnny Depp.  I am not a big JD fan (his characters are so over the top and overdone sometimes it puts me off--I feel the same way about Jim Carrey) but this looks good!  Apparently JD and TB both have fond memories of watching the show at young ages, just like me.  And when I saw this article (and it's just-released first cast photo) I got kind of excited!  Unfortunately, it won't be released until May.  I think it would make a better movie for autumn!

Here is a link to the article:

Dark Shadows press release

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Favorite books for Halloween reading

I am a seriously avid reader, and I thought it might be fun to pull together a list of some of my favorite Halloween books. I am not a huge fan of horror as a genre (I got the whole Stephen King thing out of my system as a teenager) but there are lots of books that I enjoy reading this time of year that aren't necessarily "horror" novels. Or if they are, then they're classsic horror. Here is a short list of some of my seasonal favorites:

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

I love Neil Gaiman. He seems so very hip to me (being British helps, I love British writers) and I love the way his imagination works. I think Fragile Things is my favorite of his books. It is composed of short stories and poems, most of which could be considered appropriate with Halloween approaching. My favorite story is "October in the Chair" which is dedicated to Ray Bradbury. My first experience with the book was with the audio version (read by Gaiman!) played in my car during my work commute two years ago. It took me a week to finish listening to it, and it was early October. It was really enjoyable to have Halloween stories read to me again--something that I hadn't experienced since I was a kid in grade school! It really set the mood for the season, too. Best of all, I had checked the audio book out from the public library, so it didn't cost me anything! My favorite story was (and is) "October in the Chair" which is dedicated to Ray Bradbury. Other favorites were "Fifteen Painted Cards From a Vampire Tarot", "The Fairy Reel", and "The Monarch of the Glen". Dreamy, surreal, and sometimes grim, it's definitely a favorite of mine for Halloween.

I also like classic authors who wrote horror and suspense: Wilkie Collins, Daphne Du Maurier ("Rebecca" is my favorite story by's creepy any time of year! Did anyone else want the narrator to just kill that awful Mrs. Danvers already?!) Washington Irving, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, and Edgar Allen Poe. I am just beginning to read HP Lovecraft...and so far I am not a fan. Though to be fair, I've only read a few tiny snippets of his work here and there one day on my lunch break at work. So I will have to give it a serious chance before I pass judgment. Lots of people that I consider to have good taste really like Lovecraft. We shall see.

One more book I thought of that seems appropriate for Halloween (you may have seen the movie) is Midnight In the Garden Of Good and Evil by John Berendt. It involves a murder in Savannah (it is based on a true story) and there are several scenes that involve an old black woman practicing voodoo in a graveyard and casting spells. Her character was based on a living person, that was married to a voodoo "doctor" from Beaufort, South Carolina. I grew up reading stories about them, so the book feels somewhat local to me. It is listed as a true crime novel, but it gets a bit spooky with the murder, the murder trial, and the voodoo lady. A fun read, too.

Those are all of the books I have come up with for now. I think Halloween reading/book suggestions will be a regular part of my Blog Party posts...maybe once a week? It seems like a fun topic to explore for the month of October!

What do you like to read this time of year?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Beverages for October

I couldn't resist this case of beer at the grocery store...the artwork lured me in!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Welcome October!

I am so happy that October is here! September was most decidedly not my month, and this last week has been especially bad. I am ready for a fresh new start!

Today is the beginning of the Countdown to Halloween blog party hosted by Yesterday I attended the opening of our farmers' market annual fall festival. I planned to begin this party by posting pictures taken there, but alas, I forgot my camera. There were so many inspiring sights: heaps of pumpkins, gourds, late summer produce, bales of hay, crates of NC mountain apples, scarecrows, fair-food vendors, herb and perennial plants for sale, crafts, mums in all colors, jams, jellies, locally produced wines, piles of fragrant muscadine and scuppernong grapes, huge stalks of sugar cane as thick as my forearm...oh, all sorts of things! It was also a beautiful day outside. All that, and I forgot my camera. I was so mad! I did take pictures of the stuff I brought home. I only bought a few things, since money is tight at my house right now:

The first fall decorations to make an appearance in my den.

More fall decorations

The last of the heirloom tomatoes at the farmer's market.
These lovelies came from the NC mountains.

Tonight there is a chill in the air, and the sky is full of bright stars. It definitely feels like fall has arrived!