Tuesday, October 16, 2018

#16 of 31 Days of Halloween: Baby Costumes

Babies don't get to choose their costumes, but some parents can't resist dressing them up. I *love* babies in costume. Our own daughters had their turns being pumpkins, teddy bears, and tiny fairy tale characters before they started to have their own opinions about what to dress as.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Little Pumpkins

I love all the varieties of tiny pumpkins. Easy, comfortable and cute as heck.

I also love the clever pairings: parent-child costumes: 

Cute, scary or funny? 

Monday, October 15, 2018

#15 of 31 Days of Halloween: A Nightmare Before Christmas

Most of the iconic faces of Halloween have been around a good long time. Pointed witches hats. Square jawed-noduled Frankenstein monsters. Caped vampires. It's a season that's truly about oldies that are goodies.

But there is one iconic figure of Halloween who's a little newer. Jack Skellington was created in 1993, when his film The Nightmare Before Christmas debuted.

Now you can buy decorations of him in any Halloween store alongside your ghosties and non-clothes-wearing skeletons.

He fits right in of course, being from Halloween town. He's our bone-thin hero, who is taken by a mad whimsy and has to remember who he really is.

The film is memorable for its quirky animation, mixture of creepy themes with sweet romance, and, of course, the songs. 

We've got a blow up of Jack's head for our front lawn this season, and a statue of Zero who hangs out on our sofa, freaking out our living dog. I think Jack would approve.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

#14 of 31 Days of Halloween: Hocus Pocus

We're a family of traditions. They may not be the typical traditions, but certain things we do every year, like our yearly Extra Life marathon gaming fundraiser, our post-Halloween pumpkin smashing, and our New Year's eve meal consisting only of appetizers.

Hocus Pocus, the movie, is becoming a new one of these traditions.

I hadn't seen it in years when it came to the Retro Film series at the Carolina Theatre in Durham, one of my favorite haunts.

We took our youngest to see it and all three had such a good time, but we're planning to watch it every year during October, just like we do with the Charlie Brown special.

Bette Midler's rendition of "I Put a Spell on You" in front of a crowd that thought she was part of a show when she was really a witch still thrills.

The weird little walk the three sisters have when they move together.

Billy the Zombie. I'm wondering if Johnny Depp studied this performance to create Captain Jack.

It's the perfect mix of all my favorite Halloween things. It's silly. It's funny. It's creepy. It's scary. Oh wait, I think I just started quoted the theme song to the Addam's Family.

Well, that's accurate enough. :-)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

#13 of 31 Days of Halloween: Creepy Treats

I don't always get to have a Halloween party. Halloween does fall, after all, right at the end of the quarter, when my grades are due. Life has other demands, sadly.

But I have from time to time gotten to have a shindig to celebrate and one of my favorite parts is making cute and creepy foods to enjoy.

Things like these: 

And these: 

Of course, mine don't come out quite so professional looking. I'm an author, not a baker, Jim! They do, however, go great with my Raven themed tablecloth and pumpkin candles and they never fail to make our guests smile with delight. 

Got any favorite creepy treats I should try? 

Friday, October 12, 2018

#12 of 31 Days of Halloween: The Great Pumpkin

One of the family traditions we established as soon as my husband and I married was yearly watching of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." It's a cartoon we both remember fondly from our childhoods, one of those things we both watched on network TV with our parents as a marker of the season.

At first, we tried to do the same: watching for when it aired and making a point of being in front of the TV on that day, but with modern options for streaming and disk and such, we quickly came to the conclusion that we'd rather schedule our watching when it was convenient and pleasant for us. (The twenty-first century has its share of problems, but I'll take freedom from network scheduling for entertainment as a total win).

It's a quiet cartoon. Sweet and innocent in a lot of ways. We get to see Lucy be a good big sister even though she thinks her little brother is a fool. We get to see Snoopy indulging his imagination in adventures. That whole idea of the "most sincere" pumpkin patch gets me right in the feels. I still hope that the sheer power of Linus's faith bring The Great Pumpkin into existence. I love that he built his own mythology that fit his world view of what kind of behavior should be rewarded.

Good job,  Linus. We need more sincerity in this world.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

#11 of 31 Days of Halloween: My Family's Haunted Trail

My family--the larger, more extended one, especially my mother's side--doesn't do much for holidays. We get together. We eat. If there are gifts to be exchanged, we do so, money allowing.

But Halloween is an exception. Starting when I was in high school or maybe early college, we started having a Haunted Trail each year in the woods my grandfather bought back in the day. How elaborate it is depends on the time and energy my uncles and cousins have one any given year, but it's always worth seeing. I have some very creative family and friends of family.

I enjoy professional haunted houses and trails, too, but the one my family does is special, of course. Some highlights of past Haunted Trails:

  • Hell: There's generally a table where someone is playing poker in hell. Who it is varies according to what's going on in the world at the time. I still remember the Saddam Hussein one. Elvis is a frequent guest, too, probably more because we're fond of Elvis than that we think he belongs in Hell
  • Gilly Monster: one year, one of my uncles made a gilly monster costume by sewing leaves and
    forest debris onto a poncho. He laid on the ground with this camouflage pulled over him and was invisible until he moved and grabbed my ankle. I'm not sure my heart ever came back down out of my throat. 
  • Scarecrow Forest: I have one famously skinny uncle, Traditionally, he's hidden among a line of stuffed scarecrows. No matter how hard I try, I can never figure out which one he is until he moves. Yikes!
  • Bright Side: One year, "crucifixes" were built along one ridge, with little ledges to stand on. This came about because of a family-wide love of Monty Python, and was the site of a famous singalong. 
  • Zombie Pit: a trench covered with wood slats to look like graves. Costumed friends or family pop up creepy hands or sometimes even fully costumed zombies rise up. Always very spooky!
It's not every year anymore. But it's always worth it to me to make trip back home and get my pants scared off with friends and family. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

#10 of 31 Days of Halloween: Pumpkins

I'm not quite so Basic a white girl as to be a connoisseur of all things pumpkin. My favorite latte of the moment is gingerbread, thank you very much. And I don't even like pumpkin pie, though I do like pumpkin bread from my local co-op.

But you know what I do love?

Actual pumpkins.

Jack-o-lanterns are fun, but I'm not that dextrous with a knife, so mostly I admire the handiwork of others in that regard. But I love pumpkins themselves.

I'm especially loving lately all the varieties I can buy. There are traditional orange ones in a variety of sizes (including adorable mini pumpkins, that are probably actually not pumpkins, but a squash of some kind), but there are also ghost white ones, gray ones, and wide flattish ones they're calling "fairy tale" pumpkins, presumably in homage to the one the fairy godmother transformed into a coach for Cinderella.

Pumpkins are the only produce I buy that I have no plans to make anything out of of. I buy them because they please me aesthetically. They feel so nice and solid in my hands. The perch there like mushrooms (which I also love unreasonably much). They smell of fall.

I had big plans this year to plant a pumpkin patch of my own, but didn't get off my butt in time (June is when I get lazy, right after school is out; and it's also when you're supposed to plant pumpkins if you want them in October). Maybe next year will be my year for my very own very sincere pumpkin patch.