Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It seems people assumed the photos in my last post were from my own yard. Even my own mother thought so! I'd love to say it was true (don't you all want to own your very own hearse like the one the parking attendant was driving!?), but except for the giant spider (who is crawling on a, SPIKY flowering quince just next to the front door), the rest of the images are from a family who run a haunted house at their home each year.

Here's a bigger view of some of the characters I photographed.

Well, they did have a haunted house, or rather, a "yard haunt" until this year when they had to scale their display down considerably. It used to go all round their yard, through their side and back yards, and into their empty lot next door with nine or ten different scenes. This year it was all only two smaller scenes in the front yard and porch of the house and one larger scene in the front of the lot next door.

Here's a close up of one (well, two) of multiple signs that they had scattered about the display. I wondered about the signs when we stopped to take photos a couple of days ago, so when we went back tonight to trick-or-treat I asked the homeowner, someone we are acquainted with on a somewhat peripheral basis (I think they had kids who played some sport with some of our kids) and he told us that he'd been both vandalized and harassed by both neighbors and the city for having "trash" (meaning the decorations) in his yard. Sheesh. Some people just have their panties in a twist. I won't go on and on. I guess it's all handled for now. Hopefully he'll be back next year. All I can say is, for a yard full of trash, there sure were a lot of people visiting it.

We took a few more photos tonight.

The butler greeted us on the porch with a selection of beverages.

And of course there's always that one guest that gets drunk and drives his haunted carriage through the graveyard.

And a few Dia de Los Muertos spirits showed up early for the party. Or perhaps.... who could this be? If you head over to Beach Treasure, I think things will become clearer.

"Are all the spooks and ghouls gone yet Mom?"

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tonight I'm gathering up some spooky photos for the Creepy Bloglandia Ball. I love Halloween so much I'm playing on both my blogs, here and over on Beach Treasure. Tomorrow I planning on adding more posts once we've had the opportunity to all get dressed in our costumes. If you're new, welcome, and know that I've been putting up Halloween themed posts all month so feel free to browse back for more spooky, creepy, and seasonally fun photos.

But now, welcome to the party! There's a lot going on inside but don't forget to wander around in the gardens and grounds for more creepy fun.

This guy's been hanging around for awhile, waiting for the party to begin.

"This way to the haunted house!" Some people like to make sure everything's organized.

The cemetery is really going to be shakin' tonight. The skeletons have hired a DJ to play music through the night. "You put your right foot in, you take your right foot out, you put your right foot in and you rattle it all abo..... OW! What hit me on the head? Oops, someone shook a bit too hard! Anyone missing this right foot?!"

The gargoyles flew all the way in from Paris just for the festivities.

We've hired a parking attendant to make sure all the hearses, brooms, and other vehicles get taken care of properly. Don't worry about dents, he's very good. Been at the job for years! (and years and years and years)

And when the party is finally ended, we've planned to have a cleaning staff come in to "wrap things up". So now, come on inside, grab yourself a glass of something, and let the party begin!

Monday, October 29, 2007

We interupt your regularly scheduled evening to bring you BREAKING NEWS!-

Halloween is drawing near and so is the end of Lisa's visit. If we were going to spend any time playing with paper and glue and glitter before she leaves, it had to be soon. So ready or not, I dragged out some supplies and we started to dig through for ideas.

Lisa had seen a paper bag book for sale in a shop last week and she wanted to make something similar with fairies, like I did for my Sweet and Sinister Swap partner. She jumped right in. Meanwhile, I had the same problems I had last time I attempted something new - feeling overwhelmed and wondering how to begin and how to get the ideas in my head to translate into something physical. I spent a lot of time doing other useful tasks - playing with Joli, burning some CDs, making a pot of minestrone soup, rounding up bad kitties - while breaking my ideas into a few small initial steps. Eventually I got some wind beneath my sails and I made three ATC's. The first two are both Dia de Los Muertos themed.

Of course I couldn't wait until daylight to take decent photos. Here's another picture that has a bit less glare.

I painted the background for this next one and added a Halloween sticker witch. I tried adding some glitter to the clouds but it didn't look right (glitter was too "chunky"), so I rubbed it back off and added a few lines from one of my favorite witchy songs with a gel pen. I like the way it came out.

I also painted some paper bags so I could make a paper bag book too and hung them to dry. We have a lot to do tomorrow - we have to treasure hunt at the local thrift store for costume accessories and we have pumpkins to carve. So this evening was probably our only opportunity - I'm glad we grabbed it.

If you want to see Lisa's fairy booklet, and you do, because it turned out really cute, check it out at her Creative Slave blog.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Our weekend was a bit more exciting than we'd planned - we were out of town for a football game on Friday. Got in some shopping and visiting family as well and it was all fun and lovely - until we went to drive home and discovered our car had something majorly wrong with the electrical system. No power. No juice. We all got a ride home with the tow truck driver. Over a hundred miles. Exhausting.

We mostly relaxed and recuperated yesterday, but we finally got some of our juice back by afternoon. Lisa had fun putting up the last of the Halloween displays. I emptied the bowls and other kitchen items out of a set of display shelves in my kitchen and while grandpa entertained the baby, she had a ball putting up as much of my Halloween village as she could fit in each of the boxes. Between no time, no space, and no area safe from cats, I haven't put it up in years, so it was a special treat for her to get to design it and for me to enjoy it. Here's the whole cabinet:

It was really hard to take photos of as it doesn't have enough natural lighting on that wall, and in particular inside each "box" for the camera to pick up details without a flash and with a flash it ruins the spooky effect. But here's a few up close shots, to show you all the little extras she designed - backdrops, scattered leaves, mossy "fog".

She made the spider web in the corner out of pipe cleaners.

Doesn't that fabric make a great background? She's decided to live in the house on the left and I'm going to live in the house on the right.

I have too many houses to fit them all up and so my one request was she design a cemetery scene and she could pick whatever else she wanted to display. I like how it turned out.

While Lisa had fun on her "construction site" (building a village!), I spent the time trying to dig the studio out from underneath all the piles and boxes so we might be able to spend at least a day or two crafting. Both Lisa and I are really anxious to try our hand at some ATC's but all my recently gathered craft supplies from the Sweet and Sinister Swap activity got shoved into the back of the studio at the last minute so the front of the studio (aka, the "guest room) had room for a portacrib and suitcases.

I decided instead of just shuffling the mess around, I'd take a larger view of the project. Years ago I bought a bunch of those large "fit-under-the-bed" sized plastic boxes - they were just the right size for the shelving allocated for them in the garage - to organize all my craft supplies. I started putting things in them by general category - a box for miscellaneous ephemera, a box of "nature" supplies, one for paint supplies, another for tools, etc. I managed to spread out all the boxes, sort a couple of cardboard boxes into them, and then abandon the project as being too dusty and hot to work on in the summer, too dark and cold to work on in the winter. Spring and autumn are too busy. Sigh.

I cleaned off the boxes and brought them all inside and in a few hours most of the boxes were completely filled from the items I sorted through in the studio. And I haven't even touched the rest of the craft supplies in bags and cardboard boxes in the garage! If I ever get my shit together, er, my bountiful treasures together, I'll be the most creative soul on the planet!

The flower supply was too large for a plastic box. I started collecting them primarily for fairy doll making. I loved making the few tiny fairies that started the collection. Now to make just a few thousand more fairies.

Lace and ribbon. I have more bags as well, as soon as I can find them, most from my mom. Except for gift wrapping, I had no idea what to do with them but they were too cool not to keep. Now I've seen so many clever inspiring projects online for them, I'm excited to have so many to choose from. (If only I'd seen all these ideas BEFORE I gave the thrift store an entire box of retro Christmas decorations and gift wrapping supplies last year - ARGH!)

The blue bag has crepe paper. Pipe cleaners, feathers and boas, and a couple of lace hearts. Not sure why they all fit together - not enough of any of them to be their own category.

This is my favorite box. STUFF. Flotsam and jetsam, much of it from cleaning out the remnants of twenty years of small children. And odd bits I've picked up at thrift stores or garage sales or, discovered simply laying on the street. Do other people collect "street junk"? I have a bunch of pearl buttons I found on the streets of Edinburgh that I'm saving for something special.

That's just a few of the boxes - there are more. But you get the idea. I had a lot of fun rediscovering all the goodies I have laying about willy nilly.

Today I have some grocery shopping to do, and I promised William I'd make our traditional Graveyard Pudding, and then it's back to sorting and, knock on wood, if we don't run out of time, I'll manage to get the dining room table cleared off and Lisa and I can be crazy creative tonight! While eating pudding.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lisa was restless today, worried about things back home in San Diego (her house is safe, I mean worried about her friends and the situation in general), so we decided to take a drive up to the mountain town of Chester. It sports a lot of little tourist shops and both a quilt shop and a large craft and fabric store.

We had lunch at a favorite spot. This little stream runs just down from the restaurant.

I did a good job of talking Lisa out of buying too much fabric (I didn't want my son accusing me of being a bad influence), but I wasn't quite as successful at talking myself out of purchasing a fat quarter or two (or twenty or whatever, I didn't actually count them. And no, they weren't all fat quarters. There were a few half yard or full yard cuts too, depending on what I thought I would be using them for.)

I hadn't been up to these shops in ages, so there were a lot of new (to me) bolts. Apparently I was in a "OOooooh, SHINY!" mood as all the prints above (except the red and gold batik) have a metallic glitter. And the white polka dot is more of a pearlescent than metallic shiny.

Oh, more glitter on the red one in the middle left side. And can you read the cute words on the two in the bottom righthand corner? It looks black in the photo but the one in the bottom left corner is actually a dark green.

The harlequin (even more shiny) and the red print on the top are my two favorites. More black and reds as I have a collection of them going.

Here are the Halloween prints I found. I really like the batik dancing skeletons. And the polka dots , which I thought were some that Jaye bought and showed on her blog that I'd admired, but it turns out that they're different prints.

Jaye is sort of obsessed with polka dot prints and although she's got me beat, I still love me a polka dot. And a stripe. I really liked these and bought enough for a whole lap quilt if the spirit moves me. The black and blue cobweb print matches but I'm not sure if I'll use it with the other prints or not.

Along with fabric I went crazy with these sheer and double sided ribbons. Turns out, expensive ribbons. But they were SOOO CUTE! That's reason enough, yes? I bought the polka dot ones to match the polka dot tulle I bought for fairy costumes, the large yellow one has bees on it, which matches some bee fabric I have plans for, and the two double sided ribbons for Halloween projects. I also bought a box of brass fasteners because I thought they'd be fun to play with, and some tiny candles. The black and verdigris "chain" candleholders I found for a $1 at the thrift store before we left town. I thought I'd paint them black for my "Poe" mantel display next year but I think I like them the way they are.

We stopped at the thrift store because I saw this outside their sorting area as we drove by and I made Lisa turn around and go back. A way cool, fold-up, orange and black, rolling shelf. $2. The orange paint on the top of shelves is in bad shape but I can scrape and repaint it with a fresh coat of glossy orange. Do you like how Joli is practicing her Vanna White skills?

If shopping and beautiful scenery and new fabric and a cute grandbaby wasn't ENOUGH for one day, I also got two goodies. I got "Boo'ed". Last night the doorbell rang and as a car sped off in the dark, I opened the door to a bag of Boo goodies (popcorn balls and candy) on my front step. It's sort of like a May Basket - you leave it anonymously, although unlike a May Basket, you're supposed to then go Boo someone else. I'll have to gather up a few fun Halloween items and Boo someone I know will enoy it. I got Boo'ed and turned around and Boo'ed a couple other people a few years back and it was fun.

This evening when I came back from Chester I found a swap bottle in my mailbox. I joined a Halloween bottle swap with some friends. For those of you who haven't done a bottle swap, you buy (and drink the contents of) a plastic beverage bottle, cut a "door" in the side, fill it with goodies, tape it back up, slap a label on it, and mail it. The post office women always get a kick out of them when I bring one in to mail and look forward to delivering my bottle in turn. They turn it around and try to see all the candies and other goodies inside it.

Usually we use large two liter bottles but this time we decided to use small "water bottles". I can't believe how much my swap partner Marilyn was able to fit into it!

There was this cute green witch wind sock and an even cuter metal witch on a spring. She'll be a perfect addition to the other witches hanging above my kitchen sink. There's a little ceramic potion bottle (that arrived intact, amazingly!), a spooky sucker, and a container of Halloween Kissables. Kissables are one of my favorite candies and I didn't know they made Halloween ones! I'm so hiding these so I don't have to share them.

Here's the actual bottle, filled with a generous supply of pumpkin confetti. I spilled it twice before I remembered not to turn the bottle over with the open side down. Duh. She included two cute Halloween fabrics that I've never seen before - that's an amazing feat!

And the most awesome goodie of all - an ADORABLE little wallhanging that she MADE FOR ME! Is that cool or WHAT! This is staying up all year long. I'm going to get a wooden dowel and make it into a little broom and hang the wallhanging by the broom. I'd have been thrilled if the bottle contained nothing but this one cute homemade goodie. Okay, maybe this and the Kissables. Hehe. Thank you Marilyn!

If you'd prefer a spookier post, I've finally added a new holiday photo post at Beach Treasure - perfect timing to share spooky Greyfriars Cemetery in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I decorated the mantel today. I'd cleared it of the regular decorations (although there aren't currently any "regular decorations" as I haven't replaced any yet since painting), and I've been setting possible items up there for a couple of days, but hadn't yet tried to put it together. I'd wanted to do a gothic candles/skulls/ravens theme. I got the candles, skulls and ravens but not so much the gothic. I moved stuff around several times and really didn't want to take away the items I knew weren't "gothic enough" - in part because I liked them and in part because I really didn't have anything more gothic-y to replace it. Instead, on a whim, I added the banner and that pulled it all together. Sort of whimsical/Nightmare Before Christmas. Not what I'd planned, but I like it. I'll keep a lookout for treasures so I can do an Edgar Allan Poe look next year.

It came as a surprise to me that I couldn't decorate the fireplace as I had in the past - as we now USE our fireplace. For twelve years we've lived here with no heat except a woodstove, so if we were going to start a fire, we started it in the woodstove. We NEVER used the fireplace. Not once. I always intended to, for the atmosphere, but it just never happened. The fireplace was just for looks and I hung things in front of the glass fire doors, spread things out on the hearth. Now the woodstove is gone and we have a gas heater. And since we still have several cords of wood stacked outside, we use the fireplace when all we need to do is take the chill out of the air. It's very pleasant although I had to explain to city boy hubbby that a fireplace is NOT a woodstove. You can't start a roaring fire in the fireplace and then go off to bed. It's got to be timed for when we're here to keep an eye on it.

Here's another photo of it with a flash. To see the details you can click to open it.

We had a baby gate wedged up here to keep Joli from redecorating the tree or scurrying around the corner to play in the "kitty pool" (water dish). Lisa had the idea to make a pumpkin barricade instead. We think it looks a lot more decorative than the gate. All Joli has to do to get over it is to pull the little white pumpkin down and climbe over that end of it. Instead she stands there and tries to get her leg up over the large pumpkins. We'll see how long before she figures it out and we have to go back to using the gate.

We also finished decorating the front yard today. It looks great. There are a few photos (it got too dark and I have to take more tomorrow) over at Beach Treasure.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

October walk along a mountain river

the river

cottonwood leaves

the trail


up or down

leaves and branches

shadows under a bridge

colors against the canyon wall

canyon wall up close

sun through the firs

Saturday, October 20, 2007

If you were to drive down my street this evening, you'd catch a glimpse of some lights through my window and do a double take. What are those crazy people doing NOW!? They've already got their Yule tree up?!

Ah, but if you get a little closer, you'll see it's not what it appears to be. It's a Halloween tree! Not one quite as spooky as Ray Bradbury's Halloween tree though.

This one is just the right amount of spooky.

I've wanted to make a Halloween tree for a few years now. I've had a teeny wire table top one, with teeny decorations. I still have that one and I plan to put that one up too. But I wanted to make a bigger one. I have a small black and orange tree, about a foot and a half tall perhaps. I figured I'd use that one and put some of my larger decorations on it. Then I found a seven foot tree complete with lights on sale after the New Year for ten dollars. I couldn't pass that up, now, could I?

I was a little worried I wouldn't have enough ornaments for it but it turns out that all those little bits and bobs are much easier to put on the tree than on counters and shelves all over the place. It went up fast and if I had a problem with ornaments, it was that I had too many! As you can see in the first picture, it attracts wee people, so I put unbreakable things all around the bottom few feet.

I did a bit of decorating outside as well. I put a photo up on Beach Treasure.