Facebookpreview Halloween2015

Halloween 2015

This Halloween we wanted to create a spooky haunted forest but still keep it light and playful enough that it was still warm, inviting and not too gloomy.  

Some dead tree branches from the yard were perfect for making a huge impact – and the best part is that they cost NOTHING!


When you bring lots of natural elements into the decor everything falls into place. Sea shells, leaves, branches, pine cones and any other natural element can cover your decorating schemes for all the seasons and holidays.


“Creepy Cloth” is a very loose weave gauze-like fabric that can be draped from almost any surface to create a delightfully creepy look. Here we have draped it on our picture frames (two professional artists in the house and we have EMPTY picture frames….we’re cuckoo!).


A simple branch in a flower pot with some floral foam and a centerpiece is born!


Birds perched in random places makes it feel as if they have landed there themselves, and that we are being quietly outnumbered by some spooky guests.

 


Orange and black is such a traditionally Halloween color scheme, but it can feel a bit tacky at times. With the right balance and some natural elements some Halloween elegance can be attained.

A bird and some silk leaves on each place setting helps tie the buffet decor to the table. We found our birds at Dollar Tree.

We like to bring out the ornate silver charger plates and accessories for a Halloween look because it feels like they could be right out of an old haunted mansion!


We found some lovely salad plates with a subtle embossed leaf pattern covering the entire surface of the plate. The natural leaf pattern makes them ideal for autumn decor and because they are plain white instead of fall colors they will fit in beautifully with Spring and Easter decor as well.


Here is a look back at last Halloween with our buffet in burgundy and black. 

As always, thanks for stopping by! Likes, shares, pins, follows and comments always greatly appreciated!

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Facebookpreview Pineappolantern

Pineapp-O-Lantern: A Tropic’alloween Treat

Who says you can only make a Jack-O-Lantern out of a pumpkin? 

Not me! 

Allow me to introduce you to a frightfully fun Halloween treat that makes a great presentation when serving a fruit plate, or fruit and cheese platter or even an awesome Halloween breakfast!

I’m calling it a Pineapp-O-Lantern: A Tropic’alloween Treat!
Instagram PineappOlantern3

It’s basically the same process as carving a Jack-O-Lantern, so I wont bore you with an in-depth how-to, but I will share some tips.

I went the traditional route – cutting the top to make the ‘lid’ of the Jack-O-Lantern and then scooping out the contents, but I’ll definitely be doing things differently the next time I do this (see tips below).

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A much more efficient way (and what I ended up doing about half way through digging and scooping pineapple) would be to make the ‘lid’ cut at the top, and also chop the bottom off the pineapple so you can approach it from both ends.

Then you’ll only need to run the blade of your knife around the inside edge of both ends, hollowing out a cylinder and sliding it out. This will leave you with nice hollow shell for carving a face, as well as a nice neat tube of pineapple to core and slice for serving.

All that’s left to do is carve a face, and pop in a battery operated tealight candle (I got my candles 2 per pack at Dollar Tree, batteries included and they even flicker like real flames!).

Instagram PineappOlantern4

 

 

This project is great for bringing some whimsical Halloween fun to an unexpected place like a fruit platter, and I love that the pineapple top looks like spooky spiked hair!

EXTRA TIP: It’s not just for Halloween! Change the facial features slightly and you could carve a tiki face into the pineapple for an awesome display for a luau or other tropical themed summer party!

Instagram PineappOLantern

Well hello there Mr Creepy Pinapp-O-Lantern face!

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Pepper Pumpkins and Mashed BOOtatoes

Pepper Pumpkins and Mashed BOOtatoes! 
I actually made them this year, and here are the pictures to prove it!! (and illustrated six step how-to guide and recipe below)
Every holiday season I start decorating and preparing just a little bit earlier than the start of the season — which lulls me into falsely believing I have plenty of time to prepare and create all the fantastical holiday projects that dance through my head.  Yet somehow I go from being the early bird planner to the last minute loser every year without having any idea what happened to all the time between.
For YEARS I have planned to make stuffed peppers carved as Jack-O-Lanterns and mashed potatoes in the shape of ghosts that I rename mashed “BOOtatoes” but somehow Halloween passes before I can bring my Halloween dinner visions to life.
Well this year it finally happened! We made my Halloween dinner dreams come true! It was fun, festive and most importantly DELICIOUS.
So, here is the recipe we used and the step by step pictures along the way. This is recipe was created and tweaked to be more healthy by my mom, the lovely and talented artist Peggy Hickey.
Stuffed Peppers
Ingredients
Peppers
3 Orange Bell Peppers
1 half pound (85% lean) chopped beef
1/4 cup dry uncooked oatmeal
1 half a small onion diced
1 tablespoon Gravy Master
Sauce
1 can (16 oz) tomato sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Steps illustrated below!
Preheat the oven to 385 F degrees.
I started with the lovely orange peppers that I see in the store every year, only this time I bought them early, forcing myself to make this meal before the peppers went bad. 
I treated the little orange peppers just like pumpkins — cutting around the top as a ‘lid’ just like when carving a Jack-O-Lantern.
This made it quite easy to pull all the seeds out in one easy step.
Cut the seeds off the ‘lid’ and clean out any stray seeds inside.
Toss the seeds, but keep the ‘lid’ for later.
Then the fun part of carving the ‘face’.
Channel your inner child and give each pepper it’s own playful or spooky personality.
Don’t make them too scary or you’ll be afraid to eat it!
Make the stuffing by combining:

1 half pound (85% lean) chopped beef
1/4 cup dry uncooked oatmeal
1 half a small onion diced
1 tablespoon Gravy Master

Fill each pepper pumpkin with the meat mixture.
Don’t pack it too tightly or it may not cook evenly.
Put their lids back on and pop them in the oven!
Bake for 45 minutes at 385 F degrees.
I DARE you not to smile back at them when you see their little faces smiling out from the oven –it’s not possible.
While they are in the oven, start the sauce by combining the following:

1 can(16 oz) tomato sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Combine tomato sauce, brown sugar and apple cider vinegar in a small pan. Heat until the sugar dissolves and it’s nice and hot. Don’t overcook.
Serve with mashed potatoes spooned into ghost shapes and use peppercorns as eyes and mouth. 
You could use a pastry bag for the ghostly mashed BOOtatoes, or you can artfully dollop the potatoes – snowman style.
I used a plain ole spoon and placed a large dollop on the plate, then a medium one on top of that and a small one on top. Pay extra attention to the peak on the top dollop because that will make the ghosty head. 
Open the top of the pepper pumpkin and pour sauce inside the pepper so it oozes out creepily.
This sauce is tangy and sweet and a perfect compliment to the peppers.
And thats it! 

I’ve wanted to make this meal for so many years, and we finally did it! 

Okay…full disclosure. We made these on November 4th !! 
But in all fairness, the Halloween decorations were still up, and being after Halloween meant no trick or treaters to interrupt dinner, and we had lots of leftover candy for dessert!
Also, we are always looking to create healthy meals, and ground beef does not typically make it into our meal plans. Peggo had the great idea of adding the oatmeal to the stuffing with the rationale that the beef may raise cholesterol, but Oatmeal lowers it, so they cancel themselves out! While that science may or may not be completely sound, the oatmeal does bulk up the meat filling so you get a nice big portion without feeling too terribly guilty!

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Cheap Plastic Tablecloths into Lovely Festive Decor!

Using cheap plastic tablecloths in unconventional ways to make a bold decorative statement with color indoors or out!

They look so good in the package with their bright colors that will surely brighten up your party table, but then you unfold them and they are so thin you can see right through them, and they are covered with unsightly fold lines — a party table nightmare!

But, there are some really great ways to use these table cloths to really make a bright bold party statement on a tight budget!

The following is not so much a tutorial as it is a few pictures of the process I used to make Halloween bows for the back of chairs.

The basic instructions are to just cut the table cloth to ribbons — literally.

I found it quickest to unfold the table cloth only partially so I could cut several layers at once.

Then I notched out the ends for a decorative ribbon finish.

Then I tied the ribbons into bows or in this case, decorative faux bows. 


For the Halloween bows I tucked some orange raffia in the bows to give a bit of color so it wouldn’t look too dreary even for Halloween.

This is basically just a way to make lots of cheap colorful bows to decorate for the holidays. I plan to use pink and red for Valentines Day,  green for St. Patty’s day, and pastel colors for Easter. I used black and orange for Halloween and red for the 4th of July (shown below) and I plan to use red again at Christmas with lots of pine boughs!
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Dunkin Donuts

Oh..My…God…..

Dunkin Donuts that look like Pumpkins.

It’s like the universe designed a perfect mouse trap for me..

It turns out that the hospital where we are visiting our Evie every day is right next door to a Dunkin Donuts….

….and they have donuts that look like PUMPKINS! 

Oh Great Pumpkin! How could you do this to me?

Impossible to resist.



Stress and carbs — both dancing an intoxicating Pasodoble’ in my body. 

Sugar that goads and fuels the anxiety spikes like a matador’s red cape — then dropping off to the side suddenly so the bull has wasted it’s energy charging at the empty cape, exhausting and subduing  the beast into a comfort-food induced nap. 

Carrie Ann, Len and Bruno would all rate the performance a perfect ten.

It’s like tossing a marble on the roulette wheel of health…

But…look how pretty…

I want to go to there.

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Spooktackular Halloween Cereals

Okay, confession time. 


Before today I had never tasted Franken Berry or Boo Berry cereals! It’s crazy, right?

Well, in the midst of my quest to appreciate all the tiny everyday miracles in life, and celebrate everything, a Halloween breakfast party was born.

When we saw Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Franken Berry cereals there amongst all the Halloween goodies at Aldi at a frightfully low price, the little kid in me reached out and grabbed them and slipped them into the cart when the adult me was not looking.

I am so glad my inner child was a little miss grabby hands this time.
Even the boxes make me smile. They are so Boo-tiful.

This is one very easy way to make a new family tradition and give little ones great Halloween memories just by making a VERY easy breakfast party any time in October.

As for me, I am still learning how to use my camera, so I took pictures of all of the spooky breakfast treats in their natural habitat (our kitchen table).

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Mooning over the October Moon

There is nothing quite like the October moon.

I have many fond memories of going for evening walks (physical training for a trip to Disney World) and as we would reach a certain point on the road we would round the curve and see the October moon, low in the sky, HUGE and gorgeous.

The crisp Autumn air would dance with the balmy end-of-summer breezes, creating miniature tornadoes swirling through piles of leaves, making orange red and yellow kaleidoscope patterns in mid air.

It’s one of the many sensory delights of the season that remind me that the world is a beautiful place.

Listen to the song ‘Moondance’ by Van Morrison while looking at the October moon this year — it is something everyone should experience at some point in their lives — truly magical.


Pssst!!  For those of you who were expecting some coarse humor about the kind of mooning that refers to exposing ones buttocks…I apologize for misleading you. All I can do is offer you this peach as some small consolation.

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Disney Haunted Mansion Painting in Progress

It’s time for a peek into the artist’s studio!

Here’s what I am working on right now… It’s pretty much finished… but I need to get away from it for a while and see it with fresh eyes..

I love Disney, I love Halloween..

Put ’em both together and this is what comes out…

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Is this a phone call from a ghost?

The audio of this clip has not been edited or manipulated in any way.

We received this message on our answering machine on a blustery day in October. We have no idea what it is or who it is from, but it is definitely the creepiest message we have ever gotten — ever.

Though there is likely a perfectly reasonable and logical explanation for this message that does not involve ghosts, goblins, Heffalumps or Woozles, it’s October — let’s get our spooky on!

Do you know what (if anything) is being said in this recording?

Happy Halloween!!

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A Murder of Crows, Unkindness of Ravens


Nevermore!

One of my favorite natural Autumn occurrences is when flocks of black birds flying south for the winter make a stop at our house. It’s always just a little bit scary, but exciting! While they are visiting,  the trees are alive with movement. The chatter of the hundreds of birds is like no other sound I have ever heard – it surrounds you.


They often swoop down in large numbers – in perfect  synchronization and cover the ground as they peck at the grass, covering it like a black carpet – swooping up and down from the trees in unison. 


But the most dramatic moment, by far is when somehow at the exact same moment every single bird decides to fly away.

The loud chattering suddenly goes silent and still and the there is a whooshing sound as they all take flight. Hundreds of them in a perfectly choreographed exit – it’s breath taking.


Somehow I always manage to be outside to see this show at least once a year and I feel very fortunate that I get front row seats to this spectacle of Autumn splendor.

This annual event definitely inspired this years Halloween decorating.

Dollar Tree sells little black birds every year for Halloween and this year I finally picked up a few. 

I could not be happier with the results. Every time I walk into the dining room and see them I am reminded of my favorite Autumn experience. 

It’s also slightly unnerving every time I rediscover their eerie presence in the house! 

Just a few of them with “creepy cloth” (a loose weave mesh cloth sold at Halloween) and the look is complete. It’s a huge impact for very little cost or effort!

The color palette  brought down to just black and burgundy with a few orange pops of color really heightens the drama and amps up the creepy factor.
Fun Facts:
A group of Crows is referred to as a ‘Murder’ of Crows.
A group of Ravens is referred to as an ‘Unkindness’ of Ravens

I’m not sure what kind of birds are inhabiting our dining room,  but the names alone make the birds a creepy addition to the Halloween decor and seeing them in the house is delightfully unsettling for this spooky time of year!

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