Thursday, August 11, 2011

Shopping Season Begins

Small Halloween sections are starting to pop up in local stores, and it can only get better!

Online, I was happy to discover that Grandin Road has their Halloween Haven section up now. It's all wishing for me, but I'm going to spend some time here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Autumn & Skully Items in my Shop

I've temporarily opened my Etsy shop and have added a few fall/autumn and skull-print items:

Bag and Pouch Mosaic 2 Fall

If you mention that you came via this blog, I"ll throw in a a little extra something related to the best season there is.

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Show and Tell: Zombie Swap

I just mailed off a package for a zombie swap (zombie apocalypse preparedness, to be more precise) and figured I'd show off some of the goodies. I'm 99% certain my partner doesn't read this blog, but even so, I'll use the versions of the pictures that have any identifying info. obscured.

Tote: This is my favorite part. My husband designed the head for me. I added some Heat n' Bond to the back of the black fabric and glued the printout to the peel-off layer (this way, you only cut once), then he did all of the cutting for me (he is far more precise than I am).

After I made the parts of the bag (exterior, interior, pockets and straps), but before I sewed it all together, I peeled off the backing (and printout) and ironed the applique to the contrast panel.

I'm not at all girly (pink is not a favorite color), but I do love the juxtaposition of the zombie on the very girly tote.

All of the swap items were sorted (by category) into plastic zip-lock bags and placed in the tote, which fit perfectly into a "medium" flat rate Priority box.

One of the requirements of the swap was that we communicated to our partners the reason we included the items in the package. It was up to us to decide if we wanted this to be a serious or silly package, and we could also decide what kind of zombies we were preparing our partners for.

I found an aged index card graphic and added various bloody smears and splatters (5 or 6 different styles) and made one card per category. Most of the items could be used for any purpose but could also be used in a real emergency kit (power outages, etc.), so I explained what was in each set and what else in that category could be added to a real emergency kit.

I'm not going to share all of the contents, but I will show a couple of the sets. This is most of the Leisure set (there is also a CD), which contains portable entertainment: cards, dice, and rules for several games divided into three booklets. (They're multi-page booklets, printed on both sides and stapled in the middle.)

Because this swap is for knitters & crocheters, we know these crafts to be highly portable, helpful for relaxation and they yield a usable item when the work is done (hat, etc.), so yarn was a necessity.

Zombie-themed CD Mix
  1. He’s Dead, But He Won’t Lie Down (Gracie Fields, 1938)
  2. RE: Your Brains (Jonathan Coulton)
  3. Living Dead Girl (Rob Zombie)
  4. The Gonk (Herbert Chappell, Dawn of the Dead, 1978)
  5. Zombie Me (No More Kings)
  6. Zombies Ate Her Brains (The Creepshow)
  7. Return of the Loving Dead (Necromantix)
  8. Walk Like a Zombie (Horrorpops)
  9. Early Sunsets Over Monroeville (My Chemical Romance)
  10. Thriller (Michael Jackson)
  11. Here's a Litte Something For Ya (Beastie Boys) (not-zombie themed, but it mentions a shawl, and again - this is for a knitter or crocheter)

Health & Rest set: Everyone knows that during a zombie apocalypse, you might not get to sleep at normal times. And the sound of the zombies moaning might just drive you nuts. Also, in day-to-day life, naps are good. So I made a flannel eye mask for my partner and included some ear plugs, along with some other items: decaf tea, a compressed wash cloth, a mini first aid kit and a bandana.

One of the reminders on the card was to remember to pack all your meds, so I got a pill box and put a few stitchmarkers in each slot.

Food & Beverage set
  • Apocalypse Chow: How to Eat Well When the Power Goes Out - I have this book and thought it would be a fun addition. 
  • Spork
  • P38 Can Opener with directions
  • Various treats - candy, trail mix, jerky & chocolate milk straws (I really wanted to include chocolate, but it will melt in transit).
  • Finally, I put together some directions for making a stove out of tin cans, cardboard and wax.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Show and Tell: Skulls in the Kitchen

A couple of recent acquisitions to share! Both items were found in the last couple of weeks at HomeGoods stores, a new favorite.

The salt & pepper shakers... well, how could I resist? They were with a bunch of pirate-themed items (skulls & nautical motifs), which were fun but not what I'm into. They also had candlestick holders, which were fun, but I had to pick just one item, so these had to come home with me.

I don't have the packaging for the shakers any longer, but I did hold onto the brush package so I could look up the company. The brush isn't available, but the shakers are still available on their website. I now have my eye on the scrubby holder!

Now, pink is just about my least favorite color. I don't own any pink clothes (except for the pajamas that also have margaritas on them) and don't decorate with pink. However, they only had the one brush in stock, so it had to come home with us.

We don't have a dishwasher, and anyone that knows me well knows that I hate doing dishes. However, I've been trying to get into the habit of making sure all of them are clean every night before bed. It really is true -- taking a few minutes every day (or even after each meal) is so much better than waiting until they pile up. I've also been on a candy-making kick (caramels and marshmallows so far) and it's essential that you a) start with a clean kitchen, and b) get everything into a sink of hot-hot-hot, soapy water the second you're done with it. Having fun accessories in the kitchen makes it all more fun. (So many of my tools are orange - it's not Halloween-themed, but it is chipper!)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Now this is just sick

Valley Glen, CA (aka Van Nuys?) is on a mission to outlaw Trick-or-Treating  by the year 2015. Get a load of this announcement in their recent newsletter:

Here's the text, if you have a hard time making it out:
What's happening at City Hall that affects Valley Glen
Halloween decorating...On March 15, Councilmember Mark Newhauser introduced a motion, with Coucnilmember Mary Ellen Simmons, to regulate Halloween home decorating throughout the city. This increasing popular trend offends the general public with themes including witchcraft, the occult and gore.

"It's unsightly, disturbing and a horrible influence on our children" says Councilman Newhauser "It's a small step in our goal to stop the dangerous tradition of "trick or treating" all together (sic) by 2015."

The motion calls for a design committee that homeowners would have to submit ideas to for approval. Newhaurser adds "Traditional fall decorations such as pumpkins, pleasant sunflowers and happy scarecrows will probably be unaffected. Any carved pumpkins with faces although would also have to be approved."
Seriously? Let's skip right past all of the other inane bullshit and jump to the part where they want a committee (probably paid for out of the homeowners' taxes) to approve each and every jack-o-lantern. The whole thing is ludicrous and an example of bad, bad leadership, but that part? Moronic.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Crafted Monsters

If you're a crafter and you love Halloween or monsters in general, hopefully you've already discovered the great selection of monster patterns!

Before Giftmas 2009, I discovered Danger Crafts on Etsy and all of her fabulous knitted monster patterns. I immediately ordered several, although I've only managed to knit one. She's on Ravelry, as well. (The benefit to ordering from Etsy is that you can order a collection and save a little money. The benefit to buying via Rav is that your purchases go into your library and stay there in case you lose them. Oh, and there are some freebies, too. I've made several Monster Chunks!)

There's a new book, too: Big Book of Knitted Monsters, The: Mischievous, Lovable Toys, which I am planning to order next paycheck.

Anyway. I knit Olivia here for my honorary niece, M. Olivia was pictured with a tutu (which I tried to make, but so failed at) and M was into ballet, so I thought she'd get a kick out of it, even though there ended up being no tutu. Well, she loves this toy. It's not necessarily connected, but now she's totally into monsters, so I've been happily planning another monster for her (no harm in planning way ahead when it comes to Giftmas knitting). I didn't have time to knit a monster for her this year, so I got her Little Monsters Cookbook instead.

Have some monster-loving kids in your life? Even big (adult) kids? You? Okay! In addition to Ms. Danger's patterns, check out:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

More treats onna stick

I'm so into lollipops (or any food on a stick) that people have started to send me links. This does not make me sad. My Amazon wish list has a nice selection of books on it (I'll share some links below). I've also started a nice collection of chocolate molds, for sticks and pretzels both, most of which have been presents. I'm dying to try the brain sucker molds my husband got for me, and the Halloween pretzel molds my family gave me. Pics to follow, I promise!

My sister-in-law, "C", sent me the link to this darling treat: Halloween Cookie Suckers. I'm snagging one of the blog pics so you can see that the link is totally worth a click.

The mummies are candy-covered Oreos! Of course, anything with candy eyes is automatically cool, but this while arrangement is excellent! Directions are linked on the above page.

Once upon a time, I made regular candy-melt lollipops for my nephew's birthday party. I stuck candy eyes on blue starfish and bam! Doubled the coolness/cuteness factor.

If you like treats "onna stick", check out some of the following:
Candy molds


PS: I know it's been awhile. The entire actual Halloween season, and then some. What can I say? I'm not a consistent blogger! I'm not even going to promise to post more often. I do have some things lined up...just need to get some pictures taken.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I've been AWOL! Contest Winner, etc.

Way back in August, I held a little contest. Andrea would have won anyway, being the only person that guessed, but she was also right! The movies were Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein (although they really just meet the Monster) and Them. Andrea's prize will be on its way to her shortly. Congrats!

Party theme idea
In an attempt to post something on Halloween during the actual season (close enough), I've had this open in a browser tab for a week, hoping to get a chance to post it: Superstition Party

Finally got a copy of Martha Stewart Living, October issue tonight. Have not had a chance to go through it yet, but I buy a copy every year, sight unseen. I also picked up the magazine special, Halloween Handbook, The Best of Martha Stewart Living. This one I did flip through. Since I have every issue of the October mag for the last 13 years or so, plus a couple extra random ones, the original book and the other specials, I didn't find much new (but I haven't looked in detail yet). If you don't have the back issue collection like I do, this might be of some interst to you.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Decorate: Window Treatments

I think this swag will eventually be moved to the library, but for the party, the entry room was the perfect place for it. Both this and the curtain pictured below were gifts from my bestest bud, Heather, who has long understood my obsession with Halloween and has given gifts accordingly.

This curtain isn't as easy to make out, but I was trying very had to get a picture of it without revealing the room beyond!

I was pretty bummed to realize that I did not have one window in the house that this would work for, but I had wanted to obscure the door to the utility room (the door is off the hinges because of the cats -- this is where one of the litter boxes is), so when John suggested tacking it up, I immediately agreed. (This won't stay up year 'round.)

Top pic: in the window sill, an assortment of skulls guard the party favors (in the cauldron), gifts for other August-born guests that don't live close,  and a card from an off-season Halloween card swap.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Cake Was Not a Lie

You can all officially be jealous of me for this. I asked my sister-in-law, "C", to make my birthday cake this year. People, this cake was nicer than my wedding cake, which was a lovely flavor but had icky frosting and... well, that's an old story. Too bad SIL-C, as I call her online, was not decorating cakes when John & I tied the knot!

I searched online for cakes that appealed to me and provided pictures to SIL-C and set her loose. I wanted the topsy-turvy style, even though they're very trendy right now (I generally eschew trendy stuff), a general color scheme and Halloweeny accents. We settled on mainly chocolate cake, with the middle section being cherry chip (a family favorite). She seriously came through, with a beautiful piece of edible art that was yummy, too.

Another angle, so you can see the giant spider on top of the cake. There were candy eyes and pumpkins  around the trees (also edible) . Plastic spiders, bats, ghosts, cats and pumpkins completed the look. Oh, and the little skulls? They're beads.

I just love the details: the coordinating cake-board (sitting on one of my cake stands), with  the spiderweb "doily."

Mid-party status. That's a lot of layers!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Entertaining: Movies & Games

Remaining on the subject of my recent Halloween-themed birthday party:
There's no sense in getting too attached to your agenda. Things happen and the evening might not go as planned. Guests show up late, have car trouble, and might need a ride to an auto parts store. People might just end up really getting into the conversation and you don't necessarily want to interrupt it to start a movie.

We had planned on a "double feature" as the central part of the evening, but it didn't go off quite as planned. We had video games set up in another room, and the targeted audience of the first movie were not in the "theater room" (or left early). We got started much later than usual, but again, not necessarily a bad thing: people really seemed to enjoy the food and there was a lot of animated conversation going on, so we just went with the flow.

The big surprise for the evening (for some of the guests anyway) was my birthday gift from John. He got me a very late-model HD projector and build a HUGE screen for it (102"). We've been using it for the better part of a month to watch DVDs (Dr. Who on a screen that big? Fantastic.) If you've been reading the blog, you might remember that we even made up tickets to go with the invitations.

When there was a lull in the conversation and a lot of the food was gone, we announced the start of the movie. After two families left and another arrived, we stopped the first movie and had a brief intermission, then started the feature film of the night.

In Sunday's post, I mentioned a contest. Here it is: Images from the two movies we showed at the party are below. If anyone can name them both, they're guaranteed a prize: some of the drink charms and a copy of the music mix party favor. Put your guess in the comments -- make sure there's a way for me to reach you (blog link, email address, something.) If you only know one, guess anyway. If no one gets them both right, I'll go to a single correct guess. (Guests who were at the party are exempt. Besides, they already have the CD and I'll give them drink charms if they want.)

Movie #1
Hint: This might not be what you think it is. This was a movie for the kids, so it would be classified as a comedy. (That's a really big hint.)
Movie #2
Hint: There might be a bit of a hint on the ticket.

If you know, or think you know, what either movie is, please comment! I'll give it to the weekend. If there ends up being only one correct guess, for either film, that person will win the CD and drink charms. If there is actually more than one correct guess, then I'll do a drawing on Saturday or Sunday.

After almost everyone had gone home, a couple of the guests (Melanie & her 8-year-old daughter) hunkered down on the floor and played a round of Zombie Dice. It went really fast because the 8-y.o. got 12 brains on her first turn (you need 13 to win the game). I joined them for a round of Cthulhu dice (same link), and then Melanie's husband joined us for a second round. That game also went fairly quickly, as it was designed to, but I was right: it's way better with more people.

We decided that we would have to have a Cthulhu/zombie game night in a few weeks. (Melanie & Richard got me the Zombies!!! game, not realizing that I already had it. Now they own a copy, too!)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Make: Drink Charms

Well, the last couple of weeks have just been nuts! We had some pick-up scenes to shoot for the movie, then my actual birthday, which John & I spent quietly together. Then a madcap week of prepping for my first birthday party in absolutely ages. In the middle there, somewhere, I redid the Chartarum website (you should check it out; I'm very proud).

Finally, last night, it all came together. Of course, I didn't get everything finished, but those are now ideas to be used for future parties - no reason to be upset. The guests who came either loved the idea of a Halloween part in August, or understood my excitement and played along. There were even some Halloween-themed gifts!

I'm back to blogging, but with keeping two other sites going, I may not be able to post quite as often as I did previously. But I will still try to get a couple of posts in a week. There will be a flurry of party-related posts, and then I'll back of to a minimum of two posts a week. Now that Halloween stuff is starting to hit the stores - online and brick & mortar - I'm sure I'll have plenty to share once I run out of Show & Tells from around the house.

Now, on to today's topic; Drink Charms. I don't think I've ever been to a party - even a small family gathering - where a beverage glass or bottle was held aloft and the word's "is this mine?" were uttered. John & I did a bit of driving and spent a little more than usual laying in a nice variety of cane sugar sodas (no HFCs). I didn't want any of it to go to waste; so, at almost literally the last minute (about an hour before guests started to arrive), I gathered up some materials and made a big pile of these drink charms.
While I was at a store earlier in the day, I thought I'd look around for some wine glass charms or something. No luck. Then I spotted some pony-tail holders in the dollar bin. They wouldn't quite work, because there were two smallish loops, each with a giant bead. But it gave me an idea, which didn't click in place until the eleventh hour.

I have a TON of beads and buttons. I make stitch markers for knitting and have done other beading besides. I also recently purchased some elastic beading cord and DING! A light bulb went on. Sadly,  the majority of my beads were far too small for this concept to work, and I didn't have a large enough variety.

Then I remembered this large bag of plastic beads and charms I had tossed into a bin of things I set aside for swaps or small surprises for children I know. Aha!!! That was it.

I cut lengths of .8 - 1mm elastic beading cord (available at any craft store, I would think) and started stringing a bead or charm on each and knotting them securely.

The key is variety. I wanted each one to be easy to remember, but didn't figure people would remember nuances of shades, so I only used one of the 6 different shades of purple.

An assortment of plastic charms is even better. It's much easier to remember "sea horse" or "the bat-phone" than faceted-orange-bead. I had a few left from a purchase I made years ago (while I may lose craft supplies, I never throw them away), but mostly had to go with brightly colored round and shaped beads. I recommend a quick stop on Etsy and search (under supplies) for plastic charms or gumball charms (may be your best option).

The drinks table (right). In the cauldron were vintage flavored sodas (Frosties, Bubble Up, Dad's Rootbeer, etc.), available at World Market (their logo was on the box)

The green tub was filled with several varieties of Jones Soda. We had a hard time finding it locally so ended up buying a couple of mixed cases at World Market as well. The flavors were limited, but people did NOT seem to mind. The little black tub in the back held bottles of water.

You can see the dish of drink charms on the table with the totally unnecessary bottle opener (all the bottles had screw-off lids, although the vintage ones did not look it). I wasn't quite as prepared as I thought; I forgot all about diet pop! Some kind friends stopped an picked up some on the way. Which reminds me: Mel, if you're reading this, please tell me how much I owe you for the ice & the other pop! The only person that lost track of their drink was me, but it was just a bottle of water and I sorted it out eventually.

If you made it this far, congratulations! The next post is going to contain a bit of a contest, and a handful of the leftover charms (I made too many) will be part of the prize.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

Hi, everyone! It's my birthday and I wanted to pop in and, um, wish myself a Happy Birthday. Also, to say that I'm going to take a brief break from posting. The next week is going to be very busy!! I'm having a small party on Saturday and there is much to do.

In the meantime, I invite you to check out the Chartarum Facebook page. (Chartarum is the name of the movie project I'm involved in.)
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