Saturday, November 3, 2012

Halloween Train

I am not really one for the inflatable Halloween decorations. They always look like someone threw up all over your lawn when they are deflated during the day. Some of them are cute but usually, eh, I don't care for them. Most are very expensive and if you get the tiniest of holes in them, you are done.

But...saying all that, I could not resist the Halloween Train when I saw it a year ago! It's huge! 17 feet long and it moves and has lights too. It was just too neat and I got it for the back of my yard as that is where I put the kiddie kinda of decorations as I have been moving more and more to the creepy and eerie and scary out front.

I did get it somewhat on sale and of course you can probably get it much cheaper now. I got it from Seventh Avenue who I believe are owned by Swiss Colony, the people who bring you all the luscious goodies and snacks around Christmas time!

When we first got the train, there was a hole in it and the one fan that inflates it with air, was not attached correctly. It was twisted so much that part of the train was tipping forward. So we returned it and got another one. This one was perfect!  This is my favorite part of it where the ghost rises up out of the tombstone and then goes back down!

The skeleton engineer waves his hand and then Dracula rises up out of the coffin in the caboose. It's all very cute!

It all fits into one storage bin neatly and came with ties to help hold it down. :)
So far it's lasted two seasons!

How-to for Hallowindow

When I first saw Hallowindow on the net, I was just amazed at how awesome these Halloween animations are! I really wanted to set it up in my window for Halloween and I could not wait to do so! These are really great and a new one comes out almost every year!

This is how I set it up for my house:

For the screen, I took a king sized flat white sheet and ironed it, (and thinking of starching it but so far haven't had to) and I then tapped in some grommets up at the doubled over top area and I put a few in on the sides.

Then I got some teacup hooks and tapped them into the wall up at the top of a window where I wanted the sheet to hang. The teacup hooks on the side help to hold it taut and if needed I just used some tape. I was careful however not to draw this too tight as you will get ripples.

For the projector. I made sure I had at least 2500 lumens and I was able to get a refurbished Epson projector from Fry's Electronics.

For outside sound, I use an outdoor wireless speaker.

Now from here, you can either hook up your dvd player or if you are like me and want all of the animations to loop and play together and like to have an order to it or add in the small clips as well, you could either burn a disc or what is even better is to put it all together on iTunes for your iPod!

How to do this? Well I downloaded the files from Hallowindow once I purchased them and then moved them to my iPod. You have to take those files and send them thru a program called: Aimersoft Video Convertor (I use Ultimate version) and you can then go get those videos from the folder where you put them at on your computer, and load them into this software. Then there is a selection on the right that you choose which sort of device you want to convert them to. 

There is also a place to edit the video. So for this set up, I knew there was writing on the video and I am doing a reverse projection, so all the lettering has to be in reverse in the video so that when you project onto the screen, it will look readable to the person on the other side. It's wild I know, but it works.

So once you choose the device and do any adjusting and editing of the vid that you want to do, then you choose where you want these new files to be saved to, this is located at the bottom in really tiny font and address bar. After you pick or make a folder for them, you click on Convert and wha~la! Video file has been altered and ready to go for your iPod.

So go to iTunes and go get the converted file from where you saved them at on your hard drive and load them into your iTunes. Make a playlist and then Sync your iPod to it.

So to hook-up everything, I had to use a Belkin cord/adapter and one of those usb to electrical outlet adapters. This is an iPod AV cable that I am using. A word of warning, be sure and pick up the right cable for your device. I recently picked up two more of these cables and got the wrong ones as they won't support my iPod Classic, only the iPod Touch and iPad. So be sure you have the right one before you buy it. (As of 09/28/14--they run about $45) Also another word of warning, if you are using the iPod Classic, I believe Apple is going to be doing away with this device as they are pushing the iPod Touch more so as Staples told me that Apple is not going to replenish the Classic with them at all and these are still hard to get and are out of stock in a lot of places. Best Buy just told me that Apple is discontinuing them too.  So, with that, I believe these specific cables will also eventually be hard to come by. So get them now while you can.

 So the set up is from the iPod to the projector with the yellow visual cable and then to the outdoor speaker with the red and plain audio cables and of course the other cable coming from the iPod is for a USB charger to keep the iPod charged while it is running so I used an adapter plug, this one from Kodak but any one will do that works with an iPod to plug into the electrical outlet.

The speaker then will go outside and we plug it in although you can use batteries. It's an amazing speaker!

I placed the projector on a small laptop table on wheels so I can move it around if need be and make your adjustments. We have it sit across the room to be sure the image is large enough for the double windows.

I keep the room's door shut so the cats don't mess with the screen. They love to get in there and fool around and or get in front of the projector  and cast their shadow onto the screen! They like to watch the animations almost as much as we do!

(Update: I took a twin sized flat sheet and stapled it to a wooden frame out of 2x3s cut to fit the new window I am using. We'll see how it works this year!--09/28/14)

Last year, this worked like a charm! I have about 30-50 people outside on my front drive watching the animations every Halloween and many of the neighbors like to take walks in the evening and some will come to watch the window animations! :) The past years, we had about 100 people in the street and driveway at one time! One of my favorite parts of Hallowindow is having zombies strutting by!

Hallowindow also sells small clips for Christmas so I have a special window display for then as well! :)

Be sure and check them out here:

My only issues are that I have two windows side by side with a bricked area between them and not a single large window. So when I move, I am going to be sure I have a nice front window just for this!

Thank you again to Hallowindow for a creative and most imaginative set of animations! I love them!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Quick Shout to Moxley Manor Haunted House

I wanted to give a quick shout out about Moxley Manor Haunted House in Bedford!
I have had the utmost pleasure and sheer fun in volunteering the past two years at this haunted house.
Last night was my last night working there for the season and I have to say WOW!

If you have not gone down there and checked them out, please do so! I love so many things about this place and not just cause I worked there! Great attention to detail and alot of hard work and dedication brings this haunted house to the forefront of haunts for me. I have enjoyed watching it transform and change over the past few years from season to season and sometimes month to month!
Don't think you have seen it once and that's it, oh no! It is completely different than last year as they have added a phobia section on to really creep you out and touch on your fear buttons and send you screaming out the door!

I worked at the front, helping to read the rules and make sure all had wrist bands and I would time the groups going in. It was sooooo much fun to hear all the brave talk while waiting in line only to watch the transformation into utter, stark fear once they stepped into the first hallway! Many would wrestle themselves in order to not go first through the dark doorway of sheer terror, or they would go screaming to the floor if one of the actors came out and scared them!

From creepy clowns to the undead, it is one place that will get your scare on for sure!

Is Moxley Manor scary? Oh yesss it is! Intense and just a heart-pounding, blood-rushing, great haunt!
Don't miss it!

They will be open every night from now, including Halloween night as the last night for the Halloween season. But don't think the scare is over then, be on the watch for they will be open during Christmas and Valentine's Day! Check their site for select dates and times!

Thank you to everyone at Moxley Manor for a great experience!

Even more Tombstones & Props!

I've been busy keeping an eye out for really good deals on the internet for tombstones. I have been wanting to really fill out my graveyard this year and so I went completely bonkers in buying unique tombstones that I don't normally see as well as those that I just really liked alot and would not cost me an arm and a leg.
I've made my own several years ago but they are starting to show age and wear and tear and many will have to be remade. I am already reinforcing them with wooden stakes as well as adhering pvc piping in the backs of them all using Great Stuff to hold the pipe or the stake to the styrofoam. That has always been a struggle as I used to just wire them to a garden stake but the floral garden wire cuts into the styrofoam. I've also used zip-ties and those were ok but again, they would just compress and cut through the styrofoam.

Once I learned about Great Stuff, I began to use that and so far, it's working out well!

But until I can get into making my own some more, I picked up more new ones this year as well as some of the cemetary kits:

Now that cemetary pic just above, is ok. I liked the design on the tombstones but they were all plastic and with no way that I could see to get them to stay up on the ground. Unless I was missing something, I knew there was no way they would hold up to the strong Texas wind I get ripping across my cemetary. So these got Great Stuffed with wooden stakes. The skulls and hands and feet were ok, nothing to write home about. I'll use them but they were disappointing.

I picked up some dangling jack o'lantern lights from ebay. These looked really cute like that and blowing in the breezes and I was looking for more of them. They hooked right on up onto the gutter with gutter hooks and I thought looked really cute out back!

This cute, lighted spider I got from Walmart. He has these great spirals cut-outs on his body and I really liked him alot...until....I went to take him out of the box!! OMG! This was a bit of a nightmare to put together and keep together. I might have gotten a broken one but it seemed the legs did not match up to the slots at all and while trying to put it together, it broke. We managed to get the couple of odd legs tied to the body and one of the legs hangs up in the air and it really has a great look! Nice price, great idea, poor tech/ease of putting together.

Garage door magnets are the best! I picked up two different sets and I really like these alot! It helps to decorate the large metal garage door and I can move them around as I wish to and they have no issues with the rain nor the wind. Perfect and fairly large enough to cover a 2 car garage door so it looks nice, not bare and not too cluttered. Love it! I got these from Collections Etc!

Circle of Glowing Green Ghosts!

It has been a very crazy and busy past several weeks! I have so much to share with you too!

One of the first coolest things I wanted to post about is the circle of ghosts. I have had this set of white sheets for a long time, many years actually. I first made this with the typical 5 flat sheets and folded them over to a triangle and then tied the two opposite ends together as if the ghosts are holding hands. Originally, I had placed these over styrofoam balls mounted on a tall wooden stake. This was a quick fail as the styrofoam wouldn't stay on the wooden stakes and kept falling off and my poor ghosts kept losing their heads! I had tried to create this when I lived in Las Vegas and was very disappointed that it did not work. I tried many different things but couldn't get anything to work so I gave up on the idea temporarily until I could learn how to build it better. So I just packed the white sheets away into a Halloween box and I left the 'hands' tied together.

So now that I got older and wiser...I learned what might work better!

Some of the problems with the wooden stakes were that they were too thick and your ground needs to be very soft and not have any rocks. Yea....good luck with that!
The other problem of course is using styrofoam balls on wood. I've since learned how to connect these two things but....I think this is an even better idea!

Here in Texas, where I live, I get a lot of strong gusty winds and I battle as it is to try to make sure my tombstones do not get blown away. But each year as I unpack my Halloween boxes, I come across these set of sheets. This year, now that I know how it is here and I've learned some from the past, I thought about how to go about putting them up so they would stay and not lose their heads.

I decided to use shepherd hooks! Those with the points on the top and my kids' dad suggested instead of the stryofoam balls, to use pumpkins. I thought hey, why not use the white craft pumpkins for the heads and then I thought to add a green flood light in the center.

This really came out great and really kinda creepy to me! The shepherd hooks work really well and can withstand some pretty good wind if you get them into the ground good and deep. I draped the cloth right on over the tips and then cut a small hole in the bottom of the white craft pumpkins that I got on sale from Michael's Craft store. I then pushed the pumpkins over the top and because of how the shepherd hook tops are, the pumpkins don't even move!

I got the shepherd hooks from Home Depot, but they ran out of the ones I wanted so I had to improvise with a tiki torch pole and then added the 'arms' with curved brackets and zip-tied them onto the poles.

The green flood light is the best as you can see here in this pic! It really gives it a great eerie look! I did not paint nor carve faces out of the pumpkins either because I thought it really made it more spooky to not do so.

This has to be one of my favorite newest props that we put together and I was so happy to finally be able to use my ghosts!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Attack of the Zombie Gnomes!!

Dun-dun-dun! Look out! Here comes the zombie gnomes!!
Quick! Hide!
Here they come! Waddling and groaning to a neighborhood garden near you!!
These zombie gnomes are getting sold out fast! So don't waste anymore time in getting these scary guys! Creepify your garden!

Don't be surprised if the Ogres come out too, peeking up through the ground!

The top hiding gnome was picked up from Collections, Etc, the two zombie gnomes you can pick up on ebay and this ogre above was from: What on Earth. Each of these figures/statues were well made, nicely detailed and excellent prices! Be careful with the green gnome as his price is increasing on ebay! He was a hard one to get!

Again, be careful with sizes on these things! The ogre is BIG! Be sure to get out your tape measure when a site lists the sizes on an item so you can always have an idea as to how big or small something is that you are ordering from the internet! Looks and pictures can be very deceiving!!

This is always such a fun time for me in ordering new Halloween stuff! :)

New Tombstone Props!

With under 75 days left until Halloween, these could not have arrived at a more perfect time!
Check out the new tombstones I've purchased below. These are all differently sized tombstones to help fill out the graveyard as it seemed to be a bit empty and not that creepy. I've set them all up together so you can get an idea of sizes.
Now these looked really cool in the pic online but it was hard to know just how big they really were as the site did not have any measurements. I got them for about $5 and so I thought, well, no matter how big or small, they look great! They look really old! Here's a close up:

And then I went and picked up these others:

Now, to give you an idea as to sizes of these three sets of tombstones:

Most of my tombstones are handmade from sheets of styrofoam that were roughly cut with a knife and then spray painted gray and handpainted epitaphs with black. I didn't really do anything fancy with them except for the Celtic Cross that I hand cut and then stamped on some celtic knotwork. It didn't come out too well but it only added to the aged look too.

I didn't like to have too many tombstones in my graveyard as many kids like to go in there and take pics. But I've slowly been adding things to it and making it more full. These show in the pictures here in this blog post, I scouted the internet for and bought them. I decided this year I will probably enclose the graveyard with some more fencing and filling in with more tombstones. I realized most of my tombstones were about the same size so it was good that I picked up smaller ones so I can mix them up. I'd really like to pick up a few of the more odd shaped ones too, an obelisk or such. Time and money is needed for those! I'd love to make them too and looking for a good styrofoam cutter. I've looked up a few vids on how-tos and it doesn't look so bad.
Eventually, I'll redo most of my old ones.

The one tombstone I bought, is a 3 in one, nesting/stacking set, take a peek:

I also finally broke down and picked up a cross tombstone, something more gothic looking.

I need a few more. I do have the cheap Celtic cross tombstone that everyone probably has too. So these are the recent ones anyway! Once the whole graveyard goes up, I'll put together some pics of those. I've gotten alot more props in here recently. Most of these I picked up from either Ebay, or Collections Etc.
Collections Etc really has some great deals and cheap prices for decorations and different type of household and garden things. Some of the tombstones I also picked up from Amazon. I absolutely adore Amazon and pick up some great things there and if you are part of their Amazon Prime, (paying a fee once a year for membership) then your shipping for many items that are offered as Prime, is FREE! Free shipping is awesome AND! you can get the item usually in just 2 days! It's so fast! I love it!

You can really get some great deals if you keep an eye out after Halloween and even all year long! Stores/vendors are always looking to get rid of the old to make way for the new stock.

More to come!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Free n Fun Halloween Stuff

Check it out! From Oriental Trading Company!

Along with all their great deals (I just placed a nice order for a few things), they have on their site some free things for Halloween!

Don't miss out on these from Pumpkin Stencils to Coloring pictures to Recipes!

Gotta love it!!

Click here:
Free and Fun Halloween

Monday, July 2, 2012

On Sale Props from Seventh Avenue!

It's getting to be that time of year again! I've been snooping around the internet to take a peek for any Halloween props and decorations that might be going on sale. Only 121 days left til Halloween! That will go by very quickly!
This is about the time of year when stores are starting to discount and try to get rid of some of their old Halloween items to make room for the new!

Also in July, Cracker Barrel, the restaurant and country store, puts out their Halloween items so be sure and stop in there and get your early selections made and purchased before they are all gone! I'll be going down there this week/weekend to check it out.

Michael's craft store also usually starts to bring out their Halloween decorations about this time of year too, so keep an eye out!

Not to make a really bad pun, but this tombstone caught my eye as it's eyes follow you and light up and it makes some sound! It also came with a lil spider webbing and a small little skull fence.

 I was able to pick it up very cheaply from Seventh Avenue (check out their link to the right) along with some Christmas items that were on sale too!

Plus, I couldn't resist the bag of rats...
Unfortunately, this item did not come with batteries but I looked it up as to what type (cell batteries) and ordered some new ones from Amazon and expect them in on Thursday so I can try it out.

A few other fun items for Halloween I picked up, have not arrived yet.

Already thoughts and plans are being sorted out for this year's set up for Halloween! I know I do owe a nice tutorial on youtube yet for the Hallowindow and a full explanation and how-to here and I will get to that for sure this year!  I can't begin to say how many compliments I have received on the Hallowindow projections! I have a lot of work to do to organize and add to them as well this year. Many projects!

For now, I hope everyone is enjoying their summer!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Short Halloween Poem

When autumn winds begin to blow,

When jack-o-lanterns start to glow...

When mummies crawl out of their tombs,

When witches cannot trust their brooms!

When goblins lurk on your welcome mat...

It's Halloween--Hold on to your hat!