Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More Discoveries at Stonehenge

It has been so exciting to hear of the latest news of Stonehenge! They have been doing some studies and conducting some digs and they are finding out more and more information all the time!

Have a look at this site with the latest story that I saw on Philip Carr-Gomm's blog:

Sun Worship

It is wild to note how long this particular site has been in use for worship and astrological observances.

For more interesting posts on Druidry, do check out Philip's site: Philip's Weblog

I've been to Stonehenge once several years ago and I am planning to return with my daughter in 2013.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pumpkin Bread Muffins & Buttercream Frosting

Here it is! The pumpkin bread recipe that is from my junior high school's home economics class, believe it or not! ;)
This is a timeless recipe that I just absolutely love and since I am about to bake this in the 3D Skull pan from Wilton, I thought I'd share it! I usually make this recipe into muffins and add some buttercream frosting I make from scratch also. Here they are as muffins with a little buttercream icing ghosts:

Now don't be scared of this recipe cause it's from scratch (meaning no box mix here). It is the most simplest recipe! You simply dump it all and blend! It looks bad when you mix it but it sure does taste awesome! My kids love them!

So without further ado...

Pumpkin Bread

1 3/4 Cups Flour
1 1/2 Cups Dark Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Cup Pumpkin (I use the canned Libby's, NOT for the pie making, just regular canned pumpkin).
1/4 lb (1 stick) Margarine or Butter. (Best to use butter)
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Baking Soda (not the powder, the baking soda)
1/2 Cup Chopped Nuts (walnuts work best)

Grease well and flour a 1 lb coffee can. (Yes, a real metal coffee can that's been cleaned and dried. You can actually bake in it and the original recipe called for you to do just that! Wild eh?!) I take Crisco/shortening and rub it all inside and then take a bit of extra flour and dust it and then tap the extra flour out into the trash. You can also use a loaf pan if you are wanting it to be a pumpkin bread loaf you slice.
Line muffin pan with liners.

That's the hardest thing to this one! ;)

Place all ingredients except nuts into a large bowl and mix with an electric mixer for 2 minutes.
Add nuts, stir by hand. Pour the batter into the coffee can or fill muffin cups about 1/2 - 2/3 full, depending on how high you like your muffins.

Bake in 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 25 minutes for muffins and 1 hour for the coffee can. The coffee can sits upright and I know, its weird but it works!

Should have a slightly rounded top, thin, tender, orange-brown surface, small, fairly uniform holes, fairly moist, and distinct flavor with even distribution of nuts.

If you make this in a loaf pan or other sort of pan or coffee can, you want to take it out after about 10 minutes of cooling down. Once it has completely cooled, for the muffins, I add a frosting ghost out of the buttercream frosting recipe from Wilton:



  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (for white frosting and not a cream color, use clear vanilla extract)
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
  • 2 tablespoons milk


About 3 cups of icing.


Step 1

In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

Step 2

For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

Step 3

For thin (spreading) consistency icing, add 2 tablespoons light corn syrup, water or milk.

Step 4

For Pure White Icing (stiff consistency), omit butter; substitute an additional 1/2 cup shortening for butter and add 1/2 teaspoon No-Color Butter Flavor. Add up to 4 tablespoons light corn syrup, water or milk to thin for icing cakes.

I use the normal recipe and again, I use butter and not margarine. I also add a bit of corn syrup to make it a little more softer and this I tend not to measure but just eyeball it to make sure the icing isn't too thick or stiff.

Now here's a trick I learned from a friend of mine when I went thru the Wilton cake decorating courses....(and if you haven't taken them, you should, they are fun!)...
Rather than put that icing into a pastry bag that oozes out the back end and gets your hand all messy with icing, you take a piece of saran wrap and lay out some frosting like you are going to make a burrito and then you wrap it just like a burrito, leaving one end open and the other is folded up. My friend/instructor called them 'bullets'. Then you put one of those couplings into the bag to fit it right and take the bullet and pop it into your pastry bag so that the open end of your bullet is towards the smaller opening of the bag. Squeeze it from the top after twisting it closed and see the icing come out the tip. You can then add one of those metal tips and then a ring to screw onto the coupler to hold the tip on and there you have it! Then, when the icing is gone, you open the pastry bag and slide out the used up saran wrap bullet and toss it! You can change colors much easier that way and the only mess is at the tip of the pastry bag! Nice eh?! Cool trick! Thanks Madeline!

So ok...from here...I take the buttercream icing, (which is just fantastic and not too sweet), and I make lil icing ghosts with it. I'll take a few pics here this afternoon and put them up to show you. But they are very easy! Then I'll take a lil icing gel and make eyes and a smiley mouth. Just that little bit of icing is so well worth the effort to make it! Trust me! It adds a lil touch of yumminess to your pumpkin bread muffins.

A friend of mine inquired about a jelly roll log using this recipe of pumpkin bread and I have not tried it out yet. If I do in the near future, I'll let you know how it came out as I've been wanting to try my hand at making a yule log.

Hope you all enjoy this one! Not just for Halloween but great this time of year!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Moxley Manor Haunted House

Before I get into posting of my own set-up for Halloween and the big Creepy 18th Birthday Party for my daughter, I wanted to talk of Moxley Manor over in Bedford, TX.

Check out their site: Moxley Manor

This local haunt started out last year, and being a member of the DFW Friends of Halloween over on, I was able to get a behind the scenes tour of many of the local haunts, including Moxley Manor.

Moxley Manor on Facebook

Last year they were pretty good just starting out, I could tell they had some really great innovative and creative ideas for rooms and areas within the haunt. Part of taking the tours, gave me lots of ideas for my own place so I thoroughly enjoy seeing what others do.

I met the owner of Moxley Manor last year and everyone was so very friendly! This was one of my first few behind the scenes tours. It's located in one of those small shopping center kinda of places and I know, you'd think that might be an odd place but it's really not. I was so pleasantly surprised when I took the tour in there and saw all that they could do with the space and how much larger it is when you get inside. Much like other haunts that have taken over abandoned stores or malls like the Boneyard, turning them into something fun and even helping the local area and community out by bringing more people and money into what would have otherwise been a desolate and empty part of town.

Moxley Manor is located off of Hardwood in Bedford and there is a 7/11 just a block away that you can see from there. Isis, the bellydance studio is in the same shopping center, they are the bellydancers that perform at the Renaissance Faire, Scarborough, in Waxahachie during the springtime.

Our meetup group went back to Moxley later on for their Nightscare Before Christmas. Yessss, after Halloween, they changed up their haunt to make it a creepy Christmas haunt!! Wow! Talk about neat and what a great idea! Scary elves and Santas and weird Christmas music, it was just a blast!! They opened again for Valentine's Day and you'd be surprised how many couples came out there! Friday the 13ths, they were open and then during the summer, they opened up their doors again once a month or so for the kids to have fun....

All the while....they were changing things and improving things and trying new things out! I started to see the differences from each time I was there and I'd get turned around again and again! It was wild! I started to go out there more and more and my daughter went and took her friends for the Xmas theme and Friday the 13th. It was a blast! And then, we got to talk to the owner and my daughter and her friend are now volunteering there and having so much fun doing so!

As this year's Halloween season came closer, I saw alot more changes for Moxley Manor including the facade outside their doors. Inside, it was nothing like last year! Somethings remained but alot has changed and it's just unbelievable! The actors really got into their roles and didn't break them, the lines to get in keep getting longer and longer and I can so see why!

Since I am the ride for my daughter and her friend there, I began to just hang about and then eventually just jumped in to help out too with the front ticketing and entrance area. I got to see first hand how things got set up and people being let in and the rules read. The best part of it for me is to see the people lined up and all excited to get in and getting scared! Some of them would talk big and brave until they were let in and started down the hall to go into the darkness that awaited them. Oh then they were looking for someone else in their group to lead the way!! It was hysterical! Even better was to see some of them come running out at full speed from the exit of the haunt from being chased by the chainsaw guy!! I saw two guys take off across the parking lot and kept on going and never stopped!!

The shrilling screams of fear can be heard echoing all the way down to the 7/11!! People who stopped there to get gas were wondering where the screams were coming from and what was happening? They soon found out when they went down the street and came to Moxley Manor!

The owners, Richard and Rachel are great people as are the others who volunteer here. If you haven't come out, don't miss it! This is a great haunt that just keeps getting creepier and creepier!

I spoke to two girls last night that said they chickened out from going inside the haunt from just watching the video on Moxley Manor's site, check it out:

Gotta love it!

Now, something else...a theory of mine is that when you take props from old homes and places and you place them into a haunt and add in all the intense emotions of people screaming, running, shaking, and quaking in fear, it stirs things up! Spirits are all around us, some attaching themselves it is said to different items and when you add in all these charged up emotions by so many people, it is not surprising to start to feel a change and things may start to happen.
Hogwash? Umm no! Ripley's Believe it or Not? Perhaps!

PSI, Paranormal Society Investigators, a local paranormal ghost hunting team, investigated Moxley Manor this past summer! Check out their site and take a peek at what evidence they were able to capture!

Way to go Moxley Manor! Thank you for a great, creepy haunt! It's been a blast!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Just a Quick Blurb!

Just so you all are aware, the link lists on either side of the blog includes some great sites! These are updated and new sites are added as I come across them.

Please feel free to contact me if you have a good Halloween site or one that would fit the blog and you'd like me to add it, let me know! I'm happy to link up and hook to your site that helps others with their Halloween set-ups or to learn more about Halloween, Astrology or anything Pagan/Druid/Wiccan.

I've been helping out at the local haunt lately, Moxley Manor with my daughter and her friend, so I've been busier than normal. This time of year always has me scrambling and busy in setting up for Halloween. This year, there are a lot of new things that I am working on for my set-up, ie: Light show in the graveyard and of course the Hallowindow which we all just adore! I am getting the outdoor speaker for that on Saturday and hope to have it all set up and will see about taking some video thereafter for you all to see. It will be part instructional too as to HOW I did it. It's always grand to see someone's set up for these things but you never get to see how they did it nor hear about the trials or tribulations.
 I am all about sharing, so I'll be going over it as far as what I have and approximate costs. It's been a learning experience tho', I can tell you that! I have always prided myself in being in the know about the latest electronic gadgets and gizmos but it seems technology has really taken a flying leap forward, --again--, and left me far behind. Just using those words, is dating myself I am sure! So believe it or not, I had to learn from my son about quite a few things that I was fighting against getting and resisting. I finally had to bite the bullet tho' and say ok, Mr. Expert, show me!

It's all coming together well however! I promise vids tho', SOON! For now, I gotta fly and get ready to take off early tonight.

Can you tell I am excited? ;)

Oh and P.S...Skippy is in his new tank! YAY! More on him/her later!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Apple-Cranberry Crisp

Not necessarily Halloween, but for this time of the year, I enjoy making and eating this favorite that I found in a Quaker Oats brochure. I hope you may enjoy it as well!

Apple Cranberry Crisp

1 1/2 cups Quaker Oats (Not the quick cooking type, the regular old fashioned kind)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar (light or dark)
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup Crisco(shortening), melted
1 Tablespoon Water

16 oz can Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
5 cups peeled, sliced, & cored apples (about 10 medium, I use Granny Smith).

Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
For Topping: Combine first 4 ingredients. Mix well.
Stir in melted Crisco & water, mix until crumbly. Set aside. (I often double this part for I adore the crunchy part on top).

Cut and peel apples and mix with a wee bit of lemon juice to stop the browning from being exposed to the air.

For Filling: Combine cranberry sauce and cornstarch in large sauce pan/pot, mix well. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes or until sauce bubbles. 

Add apples, tossing to coat.

Spread in 9x13 glass baking dish. Crumble topping over fruit.
Bake 25-35 minutes or until apples are tender. Serve warm with whipped cream or Cool Whip or with ice cream if desired.

Makes 9 servings.

I love this ice cold too in the fridge and with Cool Whip is just awesome! You can play with this recipe a bit and often I will double it or just add a few more apples to be sure I have enough to fill the pan. It's a great fall food!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Almost October!

This is going to be a huge busy, busy time for me!
I've been shopping and starting to decorate already as I mentioned, I have to decorate the inside of the house along with the outside! WHEW! Big job!

So to start with, I am going to bring in all the containers of Halloween decorations from the garage. I have a few of them inside now and ordered some fantastic little things from Oriental Trading Company to include in the Trick or Treat bags. I also ordered some of the Zombie items from Party City for my daughter's birthday including, an eyeball pinata! I'll see about pics here for you but it looks great!
I am starting to move some Halloween items I had stored in my office out into the house. I brought out all the lenticular pictures that I had been buying all year long and have moved them upstairs. I was going to line the stairwell with them but I realized since these are the bigger pics, it would look better to line the walls with them upstairs in that one large room that we are not really using. Sort of like a gallery! I am looking forward to seeing that room set up and it should be pretty easy to do. I'll be looking for a fake organ cardboard set up to prop around the small Casio keyboard I have on a stand up there just for effect.

The zombie silhouettes went up on the garage door windows, two of them a couple nights ago. They usually come with some double sided tape but I forgo these and instead, I use velcro so I can attach and reattach each year! I purchased a roll of velcro from Walmart and just snip off what I need, matching the two sides together so you don't have one large piece sticking to a tiny bit.
Then, I just leave the little velcro pieces up on the top inner windows as it can't be seen and then just take down and put up as I need to. The fuzzy side is what gets put on the windows and the curled-comb-teeth side is on the plastic sheet of the zombie silhouettes. I normally use the ghosts here but I decided to change it up! They are not as long as my windows so I got some black construction paper and taped that to the bottoms so it does not look too odd. Turn on the garage light and you can see them glow and the effect is pretty good! I am thinking of cutting that black paper to a few tombstone type of silhouette so it's not just this black block at the bottom....ooooooOOooo eh?

My daughter got the idea to theme each room. I had been thinking that too and so she wanted to put spiderwebs up in the dining area that is an empty room right now. So I added to that idea with changing the bulbs with black light ones and then using all sorts of different colored spider webbing above it! We'll add a bunch of spiders all over it and that room will be about done!
I've already added a black square table here too, that I'll put the few Halloween houses I do have onto it for a little display and I'll add the small stereo also for our party music.

The kitchen will be all witch and laboratory/potions and shrunken heads area. The living room, we are thinking vampire theme but I am not sure how much decor I have for vampires. The entranceway will have some ravens and crows, the stairwell is snakes with the bust of Medusa that I just purchased from Grandin Road on the table at the bottom but I may move her along with the table to the middle landing so you can see her better.

So lots to take care of yet!

Outside this weekend, we are going to put up the Halloween inflatable train in the backyard that we picked up from Seventh Avenue! WOW! From the pics, it really looks great! It is measured at 17' feet long! I haven't opened it up yet but we'll be doing that this Saturday. Also, the car comes out of the garage and the gazebo gets put up and then we work on the Hallowindow! That will be in the front room so we won't have to worry about the haunted cave inside the garage becoming an issue with the projector.  3 big things! Going to be one busy, busy month!

I am going to start to make some more Halloween lanterns too for the garden out of the glass jars and tissue paper. Forget where I saw this unique crafty idea but I think it was in Martha Stewart's Living magazine. I did decide to cancel all those subscriptions for those magazines too and just purchase what I want when I see them. Much cheaper that way, especially with most of them I just want the Halloween issues.

Next up, we'll have to figure out the menu, aside from the pizza and soda. I have to figure out what I am making and when to make it all.

All the above aside, Eric from DFW Friends of Halloween is going to be keeping me busy with all the walk-thrus of the local haunts! We have so many local haunts here in the DFW area, it's just incredible! I missed Haunt House AGAIN! Grrr!! But I will be down at Screams this Friday night for sure. Saturday is supposed to be at Reindeer Manor and Necropolis I think it is, both of which I have not seen  yet so it's gonna be hairy getting to them and fitting them in!



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Can you believe it?

It's already 40 days til Halloween!! So much to do and so little time left!!
I am also having a Creepy 18th Birthday Party for my daughter as her birthday is in the middle of October and I will already have most of my Halloween decorations up. So that means that I have to decorate the inside of the house as well! Normally, the inside of my house is trashed with all the Halloween containers and whatnot that did not get outside or utilized, plus all the Halloween candy that needs to be kept cool so it does not all melt in the garage under our afternoon sun that bakes things in there. But this year, I'll have to hide all that and decorate my rooms inside the house.

I've already put up some plastic signs on some of the doors inside the house using the DO NOT ENTER black tape with eerie green lettering. Plus, other signs that say Enter At Your Own Risk or Danger and things like that. I am using them to help block off some rooms that I don't want the kids to go wandering into during the party. Some doors will have full door covers to change it up. So far, it looks pretty cool! We've hung some of the shrunken heads in the kitchen, not all of them as I have a nice big collection of them since last Halloween when I first started to collect them just after the holiday was over. I'll see about getting some pictures up so you can take a peek!

Most of the decorating will wait until after I return from an extended weekend trip. The big decorating won't begin until October 1st as that is when I can put things up outside.

Early preparations for Halloween include bagging the candy. All candy gets put into a ziplock bag so that each person gets the same amount as well as it helps me to keep track of how many kids have come by. Last year, I had 253 kids come thru my haunted cave!! Amazing! I also give away a bunch of other things for the smaller kids like glow bracelets, Halloween bubbles, little stuffed animals and stuff like that. We also have bottled water and cookies and cupcakes.
This year should be even better than last year with the new props and decorations I will have up!  One year we did a Haunted Cafe complete with mummy dogs and chili and pumpkin pie with Cool Whip. But it made the inside of the garage, where we had it, smell funky, plus, it was a bit too chaotic so we did not open that again for everyone in our neighborhood. We do still make the chili however for ourselves and I'll be putting up the recipe here for you all.

How to make the Haunted Cave? Well, here is a slide show my son made of how some of it was put together. Hope you all enjoy it!

We'll be making another one for this year with clearer pics and more detailed how-to's!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Returning Halloween Village & Train

After much consideration, I decided to return the Bradford Exchange Halloween Universal Train and the Frankenstein Castle and cancel those subscriptions as well as end the ships from Pirates of the Caribbean and Flying Dutchman subscriptions as well.

The main reason was that they did not fit in with the other houses and items that I had purchased as the scale was completely off. I really do love the ships however and so I'll be keeping them and once I get the rigging in place, I'll go ahead and do a review on them both.

I did really like these items that I am returning but they are just so small and the train would have looked a bit goofy with these huge witches dancing around within the standing stones on the hill that I have set up already.

I do have to say, that the Bradford Exchange is most kind in that they allow up to one year to return their items! WOW! That's really nice! I just needed to get a return shipping label and so I emailed them and they promptly sent me the labels once I identified which items I was wanting to return. How grand of them!! I thought for sure I would be stuck with some of the items but no! :) So kudos to Bradford Exchange!

I am keeping the subscription with them for the Rudolph Christmas village and for the Nightmare Before Christmas village for my daughter. I will end the Rudolph one however once I get the next shipment. I just wanted to be sure that I did receive Bumble and the Christmas tree along with the Misfit Toys, Hermie and Yukon as well. :) So I'll have to look over everything to be sure and then come Christmas time, I'll set it all up and see what I am missing and what I would like and not.

So thank you Bradford Exchange for being so gracious about it all! It is deeply appreciated!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Props Won at Ocean City, MD!!

During vacation to Ocean City, MD, I was down on the boardwalk in the arcade playing those coin slide games. I am pretty good at it as is my daughter and my mother was too. All a matter of timing! Most times we go to Jersey to the shore there and in their arcades they have tons of things you can win with all the tickets you get from the arcade so I never really go looking for things of what I want as there is always something, but I do like to try the new coin slides.

Last year, I won this cool spider figurine!

So this year, I spotted a new coin slide machine, The Wizard of Oz!! I love the Wizard of Oz! Of course, I had to play it. The trick to this one is to slide the playing cards that had the characters from the movie on it and get them to fall along with special large coins aside from the smaller tokens that your quarter got changed to. If you were able to get all 7 of the Wizard of Oz character cards, you got a bonus of 5,000 points. I was able to do so and then I began to look throughout the arcade to see what I would like for the 19,090 points I had accumulated along with what the kids were able to get here or there.
I looked around and realized they did not have near as much for purchase as Jersey did. I finally found this cool looking skull and bones lamp but I kept thinking about if I would really use it? Aside from Halloween no...and it wouldn't really fit with my setup either. So eventually, I found the jackpot! Heh heh...I found a whole display case full of Halloween props!! WOO HOO! I was in heaven! It was very high however and I could not see into the case too well nor see how many points it cost for each item. I got the manager however and we found a list they had made and the lady went upstairs to see what she had up there to offer me and anything else that might not be in the cage once she found out about my setup and how much I adore Halloween!

I was able to get a large foam rubber python type snake, a foam rubber black raven, a foam rubber big toad, two chains with small skulls hanging from them and 3 smaller snakes plus a few little trinkets for my daughter and son.

It was really cool and I had an absolute blast!

We also went thru the haunted house and captured some video of it but it is really hard to see it as it was so very dark in there and I didn't have an IR camera. :( It was one of those that was a ride and it was well done! Definitely worth going in!
These snakes are alot smaller than that first one. The first one is very thick and that rubber foam type of stuff. I love it!
Below you can see how long that chain is, about 5ft and there is a close up of the skulls.

I am not too sure where I want to put those chains with the skulls at but I got two of them and I look forward to putting together this year's setup!! :)

More reviews to come!! You won't believe the shrunken heads I've picked up!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Favorite Pumpkin Pie Recipe

I love making pumpkin pie in the fall and around the holidays. For the past several years instead of a birthday cake, my daughter has asked me to make her a pumpkin pie. :)
She loves the pumpkin pie I make and it's not totally from scratch as I don't use the little pumpkins just for baking, I go with the good ol' Libby's Canned Pumpkin.

The recipe for this is on the back of the can but I'll copy it here! It's amazing and my all time favorite as well!

Famous Pumpkin Pie
(Makes 8 servings)

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 large Eggs
1 can (15 oz) Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin (Note here, be sure you do use the pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie mix)
1 can (12 fl. oz) CARNATION Evaporated Milk
1 unbaked 9-inch (4 cup volume) deep-dish pie shell (I use Mrs. Smith's or Pet-Ritz)

MIX sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

POUR into pie shell.

BAKE in preheated 425 degree F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F; bake 40-50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

NOTE: Do not freeze pie, as this will cause the crust to separate from the filling.
1 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice may be substituted for the cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, however, the taste will be slightly different.

I never use the pumpkin pie spice as they are correct, it will taste different and just not the same.
If I don't have a deep dish pie shell, I will use two shallow pie shells but just bake it a lil less time. We do prefer the deep dish pie shell however, either Mrs. Smith's or Pet-Ritz as I like to use a name brand I recognize.

Do be sure and check the expiration dates of your ingredients too. It will make a big difference in the taste of your pumpkin pie.
We also like to put the pie in the fridge for several hours once it has cooled enough. Even better is overnight so it gets really chilled.
Add some Cool Whip and it's just awesome!

If you follow those directions, you will have a really delicious pumpkin pie!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Halloween Stores/Vendors

Just a quick note to all those who may find this blog and do not see your store on the links to the side, please drop me a note and I'd be happy to add you!

I've been trying to remember who all I have purchased things from as I shop all over the internet and locally and other places I travel to and would like to include everyone I can! :)

Feel free tho' to write me or ask as I still have to get to many of you I believe on Facebook!

Nudge away tho'! I appreciate each and every one of you for putting out such great props and decorations for Halloween and keeping the spirit alive and for such creative and innovative new things each year! It just keeps getting bigger and better all the time!!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Witch Hand Tray

As I start to think more about Halloween and the big party we are putting together for my daughter, I began to look thru all the great Halloween sites online for props and partyware.

One of my other favorite sites is: Grandin Road. They are more on the expensive side of things for Halloween decor and props, however the quality is exceptional! It comes down to one of those, 'you get what you pay for' type of dealies. I have never been disappointed when I have made a purchase from Grandin Road!

Each year, they do a great Halloween section on their site, this year it's Halloween Haven and they put out a catalog just chock full of all sorts of props and a few costumes even! Last year, I bought this huge lantern from them and this year, I have purchased some battery black taper candles and most recently, the witch hand tray.

I just couldn't resist this one! I had realized I didn't have much in the way of partyware or display for food so I thought I might pick up a few items here or there. This came in a huge box, with a smaller one inside that was the actual items itself, just well packed! The black tray has a more ceramic feel to it and the hands are more like a porcelain feel. It's sturdy and definitely not cheap plastic.

I loved the decorative edging all the way around!

Just a fun piece to have for displaying nuts, candycorn or crackers or such. :) The hands are not too high either but its enough of an accent, and just really cute!
Grandin Road has quite a few items this year that has me droolin! :) I always make sure to check out their clearance section as well, especially after Halloween where you can purchase many things leftover for a much better price!

I adore them!

Lughnasadh 2011

I would be remiss if I did not speak about Lughnasadh. August 1st marked the day of this sabbat, another fire festival for Pagans, celebrating the Sun God, Lugh. The word means the commemoration of Lugh. It is the time that marks the start of the harvest. Lugh was the leader of the Tuatha De Danann in Irish legend. My ancestry dates back to the Tuatha De Danann and the Sidhe.

I have always felt a bit special in that my birthday, July 31st, is on Lughnasadh eve. This year, we also had yet another Dark Moon occur on Saturday and Sunday night, lending power to the special time of the year as well. It is a time of beginnings and endings and yet, with all endings, come beginnings again.

This is the time of reaping and revelling in the pinnacle of summer. Realizing the reality of life and death as summer reaches it's high point and knowing that soon, it will be fading off and the cooler times of Autumn will be upon us and thereby, the death, in a way, of many things. To me however it is not a true death, but a sleep instead. Preparing for the long winter ahead, the dark times, many things go dormant and go to sleep only to reawaken once again in the spring. The cycle of life.

Again, there is much dancing and celebrating at this time of the year.

I won't go into a lot of detail and rewrite what so many other wonderful sites have out there on each of these celebrations. So I'll just be touching on them lightly.

For me, I was on vacation, at the beach and enjoying the ocean in the heat of the day this year in celebration. Water has such a calming, soothing effect and I definitely needed to feel that at this time. I arose very early to watch the sunrise up over the Atlantic ocean and took some video that was just simply gorgeous! I always wish I had more time to go swimming. I normally don't go down to Ocean City, Maryland, I tend to lean towards the Jersey shore and I'll be posting of it over on the Travel blog that I need to get busy with. :)

This Lughnasadh was bittersweet for me but I was touched by all those who wished me a Happy Birthday. :)

I also got to thinking about something someone said to me last week on the phone about all that I have accomplished thus far in my life and sometimes, I forget just how much I have and Lughnasadh was a good time to reflect on that. I also reminded myself of those things I have neglected and that I do need to get back to and already, I am taking the time and strides to do just that. :)

Today, I won a book from Moon Books on Facebook,"Old Gods New Druids"  and I look forward to receiving it! So a big thank you to them for their generosity in giving away such wonderful books! I love to read more of my ancestors.

Haunted Tree Man

These have to be one of my favorite props! I bought two of these from Spirit Halloween a couple years ago. I had gotten one of them on discount although I can't remember the reason, but when I got them, I was just ecstatic! They are over 5 foot tall and made of wire, styrofoam and what looks and feels like colored thin garden tape. It sits on a pole that fits into a square black stand. The arms and legs/trunk are bendable so you can pose it as you wish.

Recently, I saw an ad on BuyCostumes' site for a BOGO! Buy One, Get One free on all their clearance items and guess what was in their clearance section? Yup! The Haunted Tree Men!!! I was like oooOOoohh these normally run about $100 apiece! I've always wanted at least one more and visions of creating a whole forest of these guys really got me excited!

I tend towards odd number of things rather than even so I can stagger better and not be so balanced. But, in this case, I went ahead and ordered two of them! I got them in just last week!

Taking them out of the box, the legs/trunk are shoved up inside the rib cage and you have to pull it out, carefully. The tape on these tree men is not too secure in some places and it can tear and loosen. I don't mind this because I got to see how it was made and it also meant that I could easily do simple upkeep on them too! I learned how to do floral design and worked with sticky green floral tape a long time ago when I sold Home Interiors and so it would be a cinch to fix up any spot where the styrofoam might be showing thru. These particular men do not have any areas that look like I need to touch them up or work on them. Tag still in place, they are brand new.

They do not light up at all but for those who might want to, it would not be hard to insert two led lights from behind into the eye sockets. I won't do this myself, only because I don't like to jeopardize the integrity of the piece and I think that it would be better and more creepier to not have lights in the eyes. On suggestion of my neighbor's grandson however, I did order a color changing glowing heart that I will be wiring inside the chest of each Haunted Tree Man. At first, I didn't think it would be a good idea to have a heart inside it. He had suggested a gory, beating heart, but I found the glowing hearts that change color instead and I thought of how creepy that would be to see when you enter the dark tunnel.

These Haunted Tree Men also have some long straw hair and a few bits of creepy material hanging off them like spanish moss. They are on the top of the list for one of the creepiest props!! I highly recommend them!

You can also find half of a Haunted Tree Man that you would hang instead of having the stand and pole.  I like the stand and they are great to place in areas that need filler and add depth and atmosphere! I would not use them outside however. I am not too sure how they would hold up to the weather and I know for me, I would have to stake them down as I get high winds whipping across my graveyard. So these are better off being protected within my garage as part of the entrance to the Haunted Cave.

I love the versatility however of these guys. You could easily add things like lights or spiderwebs or just about anything! I plan on placing a few lighted strobes to illuminate them at a glance as well as the hearts inside their chests. I think it will have a most creepy effect!

A note of my preferences on Halloween props

Over the years, I have become a huge Halloween enthusiast. Call me a nut or creepy or haunted even but I seem to have become really focused on creating that perfect creepy, atmosphere for Halloween night! With that said, I felt urged to create this blog and start to review some of the props and items I pick up along the way for those of you out there who are wanting to do something similiar for your own Halloween haunt!

I often have my neighbors drive slowly by my house in the month of October as I begin to set up something new nearly every day if not every weekend at the very least. Many will wave or stop to say how they are so excited and looking forward to coming by my place on Halloween night or to say how good it is looking so far. We do have a contest in my neighborhood although I don't normally win it because many of my props do not get put out there until Halloween day itself so that I don't have to worry of anything being stolen.

What my neighbors do not see is that I really started in September, inside my garage! That's where I have created a Haunted Cave and start to put it together as early as September. This stops me and my family from feeling overwhelmed with it all as I do a little decorating and working on things each weekend.

Many props, I have made myself. I am not into the gory, bloody part of Halloween too much. I fancy myself more along the lines of Edgar Allan Poe and the macabre! That is more creepy and scary to me than a bucket of blood.

With so many great props coming out each year, it is so very tempting to waver from the theme that I am trying to create. I have deviated slightly but eventually, as I try out props each year, I will discard, give away pieces that just didn't work out. Even this past year, I picked up an assortment of lenticular pictures, those holographic moving/changing portraits that alter as you look at them at a different angle. Doesn't really go with a cave, but I loved them! I am not sure what I will do with them exactly but I am sure I will figure something out.

I do have a graveyard out front on the lawn and many of those tombstones I have made myself out of thick styrofoam that a friend got for free for me and I painted them myself and wrote a few of the epitaphs while others are from famous poets. I lean towards the poets for my graveyard or a few of the more well known people.

Ok enough rambling for now about my props! :) Lets move on to the newest acquisitions!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Halloween Village Started - Frankenstein Castle/Laboratory

As Halloween is drawing closer and closer, I am going to start to take some pics of props and things that I've picked up and share them here with you all.

I have recently this year, started to build a Halloween village complete with a train and two ships that I already have. Most of these are from the Bradford Exchange and Hawthorne Village collections but a few are from Dept 56. The problem in combining these two is that the scales are off and not compatible so I am not too sure how I will handle that except to perhaps put the smaller together or towards the back for depth.

I am waiting on the Dracular car and train tracks before I can go over to Home Depot and pick up a piece of plywood so I can start to build it! :)

This is the most recent piece I received, Frankenstein's Castle/Laboratory.

It came in a nice thick styrofoam packaging and they took time to wrap Frankenstein's monster with a bit of softer foam as well. I love these houses as they have such great detailing!

They are a bit pricey however and I won't go too far in a collection/series as I only want to get certain pieces for sure and then will cancel the subscription. You can get them in monthly payments which is really nice and convenient. Just be sure if you do not wish to have your card charged automatically, you CALL Bradford Exchange to place your order and tell them you would prefer to have yourself billed. They may want to charge you at first for a few times but then you can call them and switch it over. I don't prefer to have my card charged willynilly by them as they are want to do with no warning. I prefer to pay on my own.

Oh and be careful when you do go to order a series, I would definitely call them and talk to them on the phone about it first to find out how long the series has been available and make sure that all the pieces are available! Sometimes if a series has been around for a long time, some of the pieces may no longer be available. I ran into this when I was wanting to get the Nightmare Before Christmas village and when I went to do so it was no longer available. So I gave up on the notion as it was so expensive on ebay for the whole collection that people were selling. Then, a few months later, I saw the village being offered again at the Bradford Exchange! I got all excited and called them, only to find out that no, they only put it back on like that because they had a few extra pieces to the series but I would not be able to get the whole thing and they were not going to be making more! :(
It was a bit of false advertising in my eyes then that they would be offering the series for a subscription when not all are available. So be careful when you start a series to collect!
They do come with a certificate of authenticity as well. Be sure and locate it taped onto the outside of that styrofoam packaging and not toss it out by accident! :)

On this piece, the castle does come with a lightbulb and cord to light the whole thing up. I don't have it put together in these pics so the yellow windows is just looking like that from the flash and they are painted yellow. I was a bit disappointed in that the windows are not real open windows and the chain on the front drawbridge seems like a very fragile fine gold chain instead of a dark black and thicker one that it would be. But eh, not looking for perfection or to be that picky but it's just the little things I wanted to note for you.

I know this will look great once I get it set up on the platform! Once I do, I'll get a better feel as to which pieces I may be keeping or what series I'll continue with and those that I may either move to a separate set up or sell.

Oh and as for the Nightmare Before Christmas? Bradford Exchange started that series over again, brand new and updated it to glow in black light!!! Of course, I had to get that for my daughter who loves Nightmare Before Christmas! :) Our first piece, Jack's house will be the first to arrive in that series!

I just checked online at their site (which is very convenient when wanting to check on your order) and I saw the Dracula car and train tracks won't arrive til September.

Oh and so you have it, here is the number to call The Bradford Exchange as this number is hard to find on their site as they nudge you to email them instead: 1-866-907-3607

They have alot of different themed trains and villages and collectibles. Check them out:

The Bradford Exchange

I saw they have Harry Potter series but I didn't care for how they have the buildings and scenes on pedestals and more like a diorama. It would have been great to have had Hogwarts and other key buildings from the movies and to have created the entire Harry Potter village!

 Aye can dream! ;)