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!