The Hallows are coming…

I grew up in Salem, MA, yep, the good ‘ol Witch City. I can tell you it was nothing like it is today although, Halloween was always a prime holiday. It was the best place in the world to trick or treat, and I can say that now, knowing that there is a serious lack of decor and festivities in other places. I lived on a suburban street corner growing up and we kept track of how many trick or treaters came to the door (with which there was spooky music, pumpkins galore that Marth Stewart would adore and maybe a few ghosts…) over 100 just within 1 hour I can tell you! If you ran out of candy, you best be prepared for a trick! There wasn’t a house in the neighborhood who didn’t jump on the Halloween bandwagon. I remember haunted houses through backyards, spooky music playing, scarecrows that came to life just as your hand reached for the candy bowl! Eeeek!!! It was all so terrifyingly fun! Everything was handmade from costumes to tombstones. Even as I became to “old” to trick or treat, I made sure Halloween parties were a smash and costumes were over the top creative. I couldn’t help myself, that was what you were supposed to do after all! I couldn’t shake the embedded “Salem Halloween” vibe from my soul.

My first Halloween that I stayed at home for was seriously disappointing. I remember preparing the apartment we lived in with ghouls delight and putting out the pumpkins all carved with sarcastic grins and mysterious gazes complete with eyebrows and ears! And then, waiting for trick or treaters to arrive and, and, and…..nothing, not a soul! We lived close to a school, in an area with kids and no one came to snag our treats! I was utterly disappointed! Where WAS everyone for Halloween??? Did I miss the newsletter? The report on having No Halloween this year! GULP! Argghhh! I made my husband (then live-in sweetie) go outside and trick or treat a few times at the door, he could see I was devastated. I stayed up past midnight watching all the scary movies I could just to suck all the Halloween-ness  out of the night and get lost in the fact that Halloween didn’t seem to happen where I lived. I thought about moving. I thought about driving around to see where everyone was and hand out my candy from the car. The next day, I brought the lack of Halloween up to other folks around, they didn’t see it? Apparently, Halloween wasn’t an ornate extravaganza that occurred in every household and most didn’t even celebrate, even as kids. Curses, what a sin!!!

I still get JAZZED for Halloween, it’s the simplest and biggest holiday for me. The decor, story telling, pumpkin carving, creativity, the air, fall food and sweets, what is there missing? So when Halloween comes around where I live now (just maybe 15 minutes north of Salem) I treat it with lots of oomph! Now, with a 9-year-old to boot, who was brought up with some serious Halloween heritage, we make sure we dawn our unique Halloween style….and cast that spell to others who didn’t get to grow up in the witch city. We may be the only house with pumpkins a glow, the only one with a few spooks that blow in the breeze outside or gather WAY too much candy to hand out for the lack of trick or treaters that dare to explore our dead-end street….but my daughter still waits for the few who do make it, as her favorite part is handing out the candy and seeing some great costumes. The wandering around gathering treats isn’t bad either, but she adores watching little faces lite up when she answers the door in costume and makeup and makes sure they say “Trick or Treat” and has a sweet dialogue with them…She enjoys Halloween, it’s not about Candy, it’s about spirit, the change of seasons, imagination and fantasy.

This year, we’re hosting a trick or treat kick off party. Our pumpkins and decor won’t go un-missed and we’ll be sure to have a few tricks up our sleeves as well. I hope you have the Halloween bug! Do you have any traditions or spookiness to share?

Happy Haunting!!!

* I made the above window Silhouettes. I drew a hauntingly image inspired by some I found on the interweb and then cut them out. I used double sided tape to attach them to the window. The Spider has a web that was drawn using and Expo erasable pen. Totally inexpensive decor Under $5-.


Gingerbread Mania…

Every year since I’ve known my hubby, we’ve gone to his mother’s to participate in the decorating extravaganza of Gingerbread House making. This is not your Martha Stewart process of decorating, more like a wham bam, get it done while you can process. I do like to take my time, pay attention to detail and try to be somewhat inventive in the process but I’ve learned a lot from these Gingerbread excursions, let me tell you.

His mother use to live in NYC, so we’d drive out to see her and drive home for 4-5 hours while trying to maintain construction of a wavering gingerbread house..Oh my! That was fun! Some years she came to us. I have a Wonderful kitchen AID mixer, and the mom in law loves to use it! (I can still peel off Royal Icing from hard to reach places of that machine.) When our lil girl had a better handle on the g’bread construction process I left a lot of it up to her and something she does with her Grandma. I’ve learned the creative process is different for a lot of people. I’m visual and take pride in my creativity. I would say, my hubby’s fam is more about spending time together and not the end result, but laughing and having fun. Not bad, right? So about that letting go part, I let my daughter come up with her own ideas (granted I may toss in a couple of what if’s or hmmm, or your could try to see possibilities) and so the combination and polar opposites of the creative process of gingerbread construction comes through, in her eyes, her vision…..this year being almost 9. This is my daughter gingerbread house done independent of adult help, minus a few of dad’s royal icing patches….She had a wonderful time (as you can tell)!

The day continued with a tree purchase and decorations and always, always with her topping the tree!!!

And later on I got to tend to some Holiday knitting for a small little person in the family! Isn’t the Gnome cute!!! It’s the Gnome-baby from Ravelry! Created in some Patons wool.

There was also some more small gift knitting for a fun Aunt. A single lady who has a great sense of humor. Last year she was the recipient of the lacy blue knitted thong. This year it’s a chapstick cosy… the form f a penis, HAH!!! You gotta love the stuff you can find on Ravelry, really now, a penis chapstick cosy, I know have a line of her co workers who want one.

My sad news for some holiday projects was that I never got some pics. One of  the Urban Homesteader Ponytail hat, which kicked serious butt. And the other an American Girl Doll poncho for my nieces new Julie doll she was getting this year. It was similar to the Ravelry pattern, but not quite… Now that’s quite a busy day filled with some chuckles and grins-love those kinds of days!

She Wore A Gooseberry Beret (input Prince reference here)…

Per the child’s request a Hat for her. She’s stylish and unique, a future fashion diva and a beret adds flair and happens to boast wonderfully with a pair of jeans tucked into your new tall suede boots! She’s a blast from the 70’s!

The pattern in the Speedy Cabled Beret, you can find it on Ravelry! I just used Lion Brand Wool Ease Chunky, it was super soft, thick and looked lovely when completed! I’m thinking of making more for gifts, myself, friends…seriously it was so quick and FUN ta boot!



When the Weather Gives You Rain, Make Rainbows…

We celebrated a birthday this month. It’s been 8 years, boy the time goes by. Due to all the rain this year and the kids growing like weeds my small home was unable to accommodate them so we had a birthday out this year. We did a paint your own pottery party and it was fun and the ladies were just the right age to enjoy it, plus I didn’t have to clean up anything, how awesome. Although, I really prefer having parties with family and everyone at home in the yard. This is the second time we’ve had a birthday “out” the other time was due to construction on the house and I have to say I can see why some folks get use to having parties at other locations, they are convenient but there’s just something so natural about having them at home and letting the kids create and be guided by their own instincts for a birthday gathering.

I decorated the cake the morning of, a little behind schedule you see. I had my 8-year-old helper and mom pop in to help and we each had a different vision of what an artists palette cake should look like, so we compromised and it did turn out cute. Nana and the birthday girl even made some quick edible paint brushes from licorice and fruit leather, which I was secretly asked to keep some aside for snacking on later….

So yes the color is a bit scary! But boy, what a fun cake to make and so fun to see everyone’s surprise when you cut into it. The kids thought it was so amazing and I must have told all the adults how to do it…I’m not a fan of food coloring (this cake used the food coloring gels) but once a year and the punch of these colors is enough to last till the next cake. I first saw this cake at but if you google rainbow cakes, you come up with all sorts of photos to peruse. I didn’t succumb to the  diet version with the soda that the link above suggests, I just added the coloring to the batter and went from there.

It was a lovely Birthday party, and turned out to beautiful day of course, the only one after weeks of rain. At least the ground got to dry up a little and later that afternoon about two dozen mud pies were made in the yard and baked a few days on our picnic table. I had to do some cleaning afterall, quite a feat compared to a birthday, but it was so awesome to watch them go to town on that mud!

Moving on from Halloween…

My absolute favorite holiday, halloween. The flow of fall sets in, the leaves get crunchy and pop beautiful colors and warm cider and cool air begins to become routine. Although it’s darker earlier and less sunlight can often lead me to a funk, I love the comfort of settling in, of keeping house, and creating whether it be crafts, food, or family fun.

We’ve relaxed into our new fall flow of schedules and for me having grown up in Salem, MA the witch city, Halloween is extra special to me. It’s not celebrated quite as it use to be, you may see a handful of kids in a pack and one street designated as a trick or treat destination, but I still love the spirit of halloween and here is how we celebrated.

Finding our pumpkins to carve at the farm…

Birthday parties with haunted walks through the woods by candlelight…

Kicking off Trick or Treating with some real food! Brains to start…

Our vampire bat waiting for dark…a mama made costume, complete with reflective seams, so she’s seen going house to house via her wings…

Hope everyone had a safe and happy halloween!!

Owlet complete!

Finally, I’ve finished the oowlet and that included sewing all the buttons for eyes! (No buttons are o the back as they’d get stuck in the little persons hair.) But thankfully it’s done! It’s very cute, but I with it were a bit larger and the fit isn’t quite right. I followed the pattern to a T, even going up a size from what the measurements called for and it still seems snug. I bet I’ll be making another for her in a year and handing this one down. It’s knitted with Cascade Eco wool and the pink is most accurate in the image above. A quick knit especially for a sweater, it was the pattern size 4 (9-10years size, 15 owls.) It was made for an average 7 year old with 2″ in the pattern to spare…Guess it’s meant to be snug!

Now I’ll begin making one for me…in blue not hot pink, and NO, we won’t be wearing them on the same day if I can help it! I’m wondering thought if I’d get better wear out of it as a cardigan instead, hmmm, decisions, decisions! She loves it though! I’m glad her mama could finally knit her a wearable item other than a hat!

Sketch Firday for Illustration Friday

I love the idea of setting a deadline for a project. For being able to have completed something, submit it and enjoying the journey along the way. Illustartion Friday, a site that let’s you know a word theme for the week and every friday (or earlier) you can post how you interpret that word. Use different mediums, genres, and concepts. It’s like a little test kitchen for yourself, they even have a childrens area that they can submit their art, how cool is that.

I have yet to be successful in completing a final project and posting it at Illustration Friday, but this blog is where I can keep you posted when I do get lucky one week. I am disciplined, really, I am. I’m just slow at summing up and posting individually about things I get done…

The above two concept sketches were for illustration friday: the first was the word “Welcome”. When I walk through the woods near home there are all these little nooks and crannies that beckon your feet to follow. I love finding somewhere new in something that looks hidden. You move a branch on the darker side of a forest to reveal a beautiful sunlit lake and budding flowers.

The second word was “Infinite”. All I could think of besides the universe was the assembling piles of laundry I had to look forward to. UGH! I rather have worked on the sketch more than the laundry, but it was staring at me and I hate piles of chaos so in it went!

Check out the word of the week at Illustration Friday and think of all the new and exciting concepts you can. It will surely ignite and inspire some creativity and it’s exciting to see everyone’s posts at the end of the week and the amazing artistry, detail and concepts folks can some up with!