Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

This year Dia de Los Muertos overlapped with Halloween as my costume selection. I was inspired by a television special about a Day of the Dead celebration in Los Angeles. Specifically, I wanted to do the face. I wasn't really sure what the rest of the costume would consist of, I had a vague idea of maybe all black and white, until this morning when it all came together perfectly. I couldn't have been happier with my costume. I got tons of attention and comments from others about it too. It was really fun. And interesting how, as the day and night wore on, I started to sink into my new persona and see the world in a different way.

Hubby, Lisa, and I took Joli to Susanville's Uptown Halloween celebration. They close off the Main Street and the business owners and employees dress up and provide trick-or-treating for the kids. There is music, pet and kid costume contests, and of course lots and lots of kids and parents, most everyone in costume. We haven't gone in a number of years, since William has been too old to want to bother for awhile, and it was fun to get to mingle and mix with everyone we know in town and enjoy all the fantastic costumes. Of course the kids look so cute but it also delights me to see how many adults dress up. We have so few opportunities to "let our hair down" in our culture. I think this shows what a strong need there is for theater and play and magic in people's lives. I took a lot of photos of costumes (always with permission) but I don't want to presume to put photos of other people's kids up on my blog. Lots of creative folks out there though.

Of course we took plenty of photos of our little ladybug. She's usually happy to smile for the camera but there was so much to see and do - grammy, look! Go over there!

She was happiest when we let her crawl about on her own. Independent little critter. Just after this photo was taken, she actually took a number of steps by herself. She took her first steps on Friday but today she went twice as far, in part because I think she thought she was still holding on to her mommy's hand. She's really on the cusp of "getting it" - just in time to show her daddy when she sees him again in a couple of days after a whole month apart! She's learned quite a few new tricks while she's been here so she'll have lots to show off for him.

Lisa put together a change of costume at the last minute this year as well. She borrowed my Winter Witch hat and made it her own style. I think she makes a cute punky witch!

People weren't the only ones in costume. Can these two hairless chihuahuas be any cuter? (In an ugly cute way) The one in the shades was very calm but the little "skunk" one was shaking and clearly hoping it would all be over soon.

There were a lot of pet owners there with their animals in costume. Mostly dogs, small dogs. I had no idea there were so many small dogs in this town! But there was also a rabbit dressed as a witch. We originally planned on taking Rosie in her flying monkey wings but at the last minute we decided we'd have our hands full with Joli. Maybe next year.

It's not every day that you see a vampire dance troupe perform. In daylight. Hmmmm. They must have used extra sunblock beforehand.

And where there are vampires, "Bubba" can't be far away. (only Sookie Stackhouse readers will understand that last bit.)

William had football practice and couldn't join us for the Uptown activities, but a couple of his buddies came by afterwards, dressed him up, and off they went to show off their macho costumes to friends and neighbors.

Eventually it was time to come home, get into our jammies, and enjoy our pumpkins and some spooky television shows before it was time for bed. This is my pumpkin. It was such a perfectly shaped pumpkin I thought it needed a very traditional grin on its face. Joli is grinning because she learned to climb into this chair and every time she does it she thinks she's getting away with something she's not supposed to do!

Here are Lisa and Joli's pumpkins. Lisa worked on them for hours last night.

It was a lovely day, full of fun and friends, a few frights, and ......oh, yeah, CANDY! Let's not forget candy. There was definitely candy involved. But as you can see, it was a long and tiring day. We even tuckered out the witch's dog.

I hope you all had a Happy Halloween and a Blessed Samhain! 'Night.

If you're not too tired, there are a few more outdoor spooks for you over on Laume's Studio. And if you need more baby photos, check out Lisa's Halloween post on Creative Slave.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ghoul's Night Out

If you haven't been here before, I've been putting up Halloween themed posts here and on Laume's Studio all month long. Feel free to browse back to see Halloween decorations, ghost towns, spooky art, and all manner of things seasonal. But today, we've been busy getting ready for the Bloglandia Halloween party. Busy, busy, busy.

We had a lot to do to get ready for tonight and of course, tomorrow. Shopping for costumes, scaring up food and drink. It was tiring and thirsty work. So, we stopped for afternoon tea before coming home and getting back to work.

While we were at the tea house we spied a pumpkin.

Peek-a-boo! Oh, wait! That's not a pumpkin, that's a Joli!

Eventually twilight arrived. The crows are restless.

Creatures of the night are roaming about.

The skies are stormy. The perfect night for the start of a party. Welcome! Come on in!

Pumpkins have gathered at the door to greet you.

One of the girls... er, ghouls have already arrived. It's not every day you see one dressed up in their ghostly pink party sheers! (She was a gift from my friend Shirley, isn't she cool!)

Would you like something to drink? I'd be happy to brew up a witchy pot of tea. Pumpkin spice flavor perhaps?

Or maybe you'd prefer something a bit stronger? Can you say "Midnight Margarita Party"? My daughter-in-law Lisa and I watched the movie practical Magic last night to get us in the mood. I found this great Dia de Los Muertos art label tequila and an appropriately colored mango margarita mixer.

Now, I'm off to check on some of the outside decor I've photographed for your enjoyment over on my studio blog. Please come on out there to take a look. And if you've stopped in early, come on by later tomorrow when we'll all be in costume!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Only Three Days Until Halloween!

Wait. Do we count the day of Halloween itself? Only TWO more days until Halloween! Or maybe, since today is half over..... Only ONE AND A HALF days until Halloween! But then, we won't really celebrate until Halloween night. Only TWO more days until Halloween! No, that's not true, because we're going to have to get ready and the costume contest uptown is in the middle of the afternoon. So. Only TWO AND A HALF more days until Halloween!

Well, whatever it is, you know Halloween is almost here when the vultures start circling.

No, I don't mean those vultures.

I mean these vultures.

Or maybe these vultures, gathered around their own gravestones.

William hasn't mentioned anything about trick-or-treating or watching scary movies or carving pumpkins. The only thing he did was ask if I was going to make our annual gravestone pudding. He asked several times.

I wanted to make the gravestones this year but I couldn't find a reasonably priced (i.e. - not in a set with seven other cookie cutters I didn't need and already have) headstone cookie cutter. Every year it's a challenge to find gravestone shaped cookies. Some years, like this year, I find one, some years I have to settle for something like a vanilla waffle cookie. I'll keep a look out and maybe I can find one by next year. Or, I'm thinking of making one.

I also need to find some new compote dishes. These (the four stemmed ones) have been in the family since I was a kid at least. Not sure where or when my mom got them orginally. For all I know, from her mom. But two of them had serious chips in them this year. And there aren't enough of them left - either I used to have more of them or I was so busy I never bothered trying to match them in years gone by. I saw some really cute, cheap ones the other day with black stems. They'd work for Halloween but be fine for use year round.

They're really easy to make. Chocolate pudding, Oreo cookies smashed up (either scrape off the white middle or buy chocolate middles) crumbled on top makes the soil. Gummi Worms crawling about. A cookie. Icing. I bought some icing gel this year instead of making it this and I had a hard time writing with it. Voila!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What are YOU gonna be for Halloween?

One of the reasons people love Halloween so much is because it's the one time of year when it's safe to dress up as anyone or anything you want. You can create a new persona, try out a personality opposite your regular one, meow like a cat, be a wallflower (literally - how would one make a wallflower costume?), go to the dark side ("Luke, I am your father!" - sorry, it's a rule, you have to say that every time), or maybe take a walk on the wild side.

When the kids were little, what they wanted to be for Halloween was the main topic of conversation in the household for at least six weeks before the BIG NIGHT. Of course they'd change their mind a dozen times, so I never actually created or bought anything until that last week, and then I spent the whole week putting together a half dozen costumes. Having no young children in the house any longer, nor invited to any costume party, we've only in the last couple of days started to give some serious thought to what we want to be for Halloween.

Joli already got to wear her costume to the football game on Friday night. It kept her warm and toasty and I think she got as much attention from the fans as the football players did (and it was a really exciting game - our team lost but William personally had a great game!)

Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away home! They live in San Diego but fortunately the rest of the poem does not apply!

She thought it was great fun that the benches were just the right height for her to "sit".

Noel sent me a picture of Nonny in her costume - she's gonna be a pirate. Last year she was a baby witch and looked so cute, but I think this costume fits her personality even better. Watch out Keira Knightly!

Lisa brought adult footed jammies for her costume but yesterday she decided that sounded too boring and she'd rather be something witchy. I think I might have enough witchy accessories to help her out.

A few years ago I was a pirate. That was fun. Several years before that I tried to make a water spirit costume with some turquoise gauze-y fabric draped with shells and.... let's just say it was a serious failure and leave it at that. One year both Jeff and I dressed up in Star Trek uniforms. Balding hubby (aka Jean Luc) got far more attention than me. I was obviously dressed as one of those "extras" that beamed down solely for the sake of getting killed by the alien of the week. But usually for the last ten years I've been a witch. I tell everyone it's the one day of the year I can dress as myself and I DON'T have to wear my suburban mom costume. Ha ha.

This year I feel like being someone else. If I had thought about it (and been able to conjure up some extra time), I could have made my fairy costume for next year's festival early enough to wear it this year. The only problem is that costume will be designed for hot weather and we are definitely having mountain autumn weather for Halloween.

We watched a special about Halloween on television last night - sorry, can't remember the channel or name of the special. It was an hour show about different aspects of Halloween and the way it's celebrated in the Los Angeles area and it was really interesting and well balanced between the fun and the serious sides of it. Search your local listings, it was worth the hour. My favorite segment was about a big Dia De Los Muertos celebration and it showed lots of people dressed up as skull people. It reminded me of Kan'Nal's skeleton dancers/singers we saw on stage that I was never able to get a good photo of because I couldn't get close to the stage without pushing through people at that point. Anyway, I saw that segment and thought "That's what I want to be for Halloween!" Not sure if I can pull it off. For one thing, glasses get in the way of any sort of mask or face paint. But, maybe. Tomorrow the thrift store will be open and we're going to go see what we can dig up.

What are you going to be for Halloween this year? Do you dress up every year? Do you dress up all day or for another day (at work or school?) or just for the evening? Do you only dress up if you go to a party or trick-or-treating? What's your favorite costume you've ever worn? What's your favorite "genre" - scary, pretty, sexy, obscure, or unusual? I want to hear - tell me, tell me! Or blog about it and then give us a link in the comments.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Holiday Photos #26

It's been months since I have posted holiday photos, you probably thought I'd given up and moved on. Nope, just keep forgetting. But it's perfect timing for the next set of photos as they are from our two visits to Greyfriars Cemetery in Edinburgh, one of them while on a ghost tour. It was a place of interesting contrasts being a very peaceful place and yet having the spookiest crypts and masoleums we saw on the entire trip. William really liked the place and took dozens of photos trying to capture a ghost on camera. He didn't get anything visual but he did get an unexplained bruise on his shoulder in the shape of a hand after being chosen to stand in the spookiest corner of the spookiest crypt in the entire cemetery. Brrrrrrrr-rrr-rrr!

Here's William in front of one of the dark stone..... they're too big to be called gravestones but you couldn't go inside some of them. Not sure what they would be called.

A close up of one of the columns above.

This guy was the creepiest thing in the entire. You could walk in and around this fellow and it was very unsettling. I was torn between wanting to take photos and wanting to put some distance between us and him. If you recall, I was having trouble with my camera focus. I have a photo with better focus but I can't find it. Hmmmm.

And yet, look how pretty it is with the shady trees, the green grass, the apple blossoms carpeting the cobblestones.

Another creepy display of skulls and cherubs and that screaming guy.

William's just being silly - it was far too heavy to lift.

Another one with skull and crossbones and ...... you'll have to click to enlarge it to see what that is up on top. I like the ivy coming in over the top of it.

And if there weren't enough skulls on the tombs and gravestones, this guy was set into one of the stone retaining walls.

Yet another, can we say ostentatious, display of cemetery.... er.... art?

This gentleman in the long leather duster was our ghost tour guide. Doesn't he fit the part? He was both educational and entertaining. It was a twilight tour and his company was the only one allowed to take us through a chained and locked gate into the Coventers Prison.

This was a prison for thousands of Scots who, after the British invaded (apparently, yet AGAIN) refused to give up their church and pledge allegiance to the Church of England. They were imprisoned for years and most of them died here from starvation and exposure. A few hundred survived and were finally allowed the relative freedom of being put on a ship to the New World to become indentured servants, only to have the ship sink at sea with no survivors.

Here's another photo of it from through the gates. The evening before at twilight our tour group was allowed to actually enter the prison and go into the most haunted of the crypts you see lining the left wall.

The person in charge of holding the prisoners was an official by the name of MacKenzie. He had the audacity to build himself this fancy tomb and be laid to rest in the very same cemetery as the prison where he had been responsible for so many people's misery and deaths. The story goes, since a homeless person accidentally fell through the floor of the tomb, disturbing his bones, MacKenzie no longer rests very peacefully.

Here ya go, just one more photo before we go find ourselves a warm, well lit pub to have a pint and take the chill out of our bones.

Here is the sign at the office of the ghost tour company. You might enjoy visiting their website. But if you'd prefer something a little less spooky, you can head on over to Laume's Studio to see a whole bunch of goodies that came my way today.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dem Bones, Dem Bones

Today us girls had to go out to the post office to mail some Halloween swap bottles. Since we were out, we stopped for our free Starbucks - only good for the rest of the week as the grand reopening is planned for Saturday. Then we trade free coffee for coffee available for twice as many hours a day - in particular, after sunset. It seems a fair trade.

We stumbled upon some Halloween decorations on sale (Already! Apparently they're in a hurry to start stocking the same aisles with Christmas decorations) so we decided to pick up a few more things for the yard.

Joli helped us sort out the bones.

The head bone's connected to the leg bone, the leg bone's connected to the hand bone, the hand bone's connected to..... uhm..... another head bone. So, not a complete skeleton. Still, fun to play with.

Here Grammy, let me give you a helping hand. HA! Get it!? A "helping HAND"! I crack myself up.

The yard looks really great now. I wanted to take photos to show you but by the time we were finished up -

It was dark already.

Still, I took a couple of photos anyway.

Don't they look like they're really lit up inside in this night photo? I wish we had someone standing near them in the picture so you could see how huge the one in the middle is - it's easily over three feet tall. Lisa filled these all up with leaves she raked out of the front yard. And the tree hasn't even dropped a fraction of it's leaves yet.

I'll take more photos tomorrow in the daylight. Over at Laume's Studio there are some photos of inside decorations.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

An October Walk

This weekend's stormy weather put a new carpet of leaves all over the lawn so before all the leaves blew down we went for a walk along the local river trail. It was a beautiful walk that left everyone tuckered out and hungry. We refueled on some Mexican food and then put in some long hours shopping. No, not fun shopping. List-in-hand necessities shopping. So I'm too tired to do two posts tonight. I put up quite a few photos of our walk on Laume's Studio blog and I'll just direct you there for a display of beautiful autumn scenery.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Deluge and Decorating

Friday I tried to finally get a few Halloween decorations up outside. We gave up when the clouds went from spitting to drizzling on us. We were getting wet plus, I tried to pull a big sunflower out that was getting in the way of people walking on the sidewalk and discovered that using my body as leverage to get it out without a back up plan when it gives way is a baaaaad idea. Hey, I thought I'd feel the roots starting to pull free in time to adjust my weight but no, it just suddenly went POP! I went sailing backward into the street. Fortunately I ended up with only bumps, not breaks. Again. If you'll recall, I went flat out on the sidewalk on Main Street at the beginning of the week. Maybe I should take this as a warning that I'm supposed to pay closer attention to how I plant my feet. I'll tell you one thing, even when you come up just bumped and bruised, it hurts. William takes these kind of falls dozens of times every football game. No wonder he's sore all weekend and then some. He still thinks it's fun. I think it's fun to WATCH.

Speaking of football, the storm finally broke loose, wouldn'tcha know it, just as we were leaving for William's game. The rain kept up the entire time.

This is how I watched the game, from underneath a very large umbrella. It was actually a nice way to keep those bright stadium lights out of my eyes, but I did have to be careful not to stick my umbrella in anyone else's eye!

Today was cold but dry and I got a few things put up outside. Gravestones, pumpkin stakes, some garlands on the fence, of course my Halloween arch over the walkway, but that's up all the time, and some cute signs by the front and side door. I still have a little bit more to do around the front door but it'll have to wait until I can get some spider webs at the store tomorrow.

Do you like my peach... er, pumpkin tree?

Joli thought being outside was great fun.

I still want to do a bit of gothic candlework on the mantel and a couple other spots, but the bulk of the decorations are up. It's so pretty, I wish I could have been organized enough to have had it up weeks ago! Oh well, nothing stopping me from keeping it up past Halloween. It doesn't really have to come down until I'm ready to put up Yule decorations!

Just as exciting as getting the house decorated, I also went through my holiday boxes and sorted everything out down to the last little bit. I've got all the craft supplies in one box now instead of strewn at the bottom of different boxes. I dug hopelessly for things I knew I had weeks ago when I was making some gifts. Next year I'll know exactly where to look. I've got little vignettes all grouped together and when I'm ready to pack them all back up, they'll stay together so that next year it will be easy peasy to decorate. I also weeded out things that didn't fit my style any more or didn't have a place to be displayed. Lisa took some of it and the rest went in a box for garage sale.

I finally did something that I've wanted to do for a couple of years now. And not only did I finally manage it, but it ended up being much grander than I'd expected. Here's a peek:

If you'd like to see more, click on over to Laume's Studio.