Book Review: How to Haunt Your House, Book Two

How to Haunt Your House: Book Two

By Shawn and Lynne Mitchell

In their first book, Lynne and Shawn Mitchell took you through a gorgeous and macabre world of Halloween prop-building to haunt your house.  How to Haunt Your House, Book Two, we’re happy to say, is not a rehash of their first book, but a worthy companion that ambitiously expands on their haunting tutorials, while easily standing on its own with all new projects, styles and techniques, all presented in clear, glossy photos and instructions.

In their “dead”ication, the authors pay enthusiastic homage to all the things that go bump in the night. One can easily imagine being one the authors’ neighbors as summer begins to morph into autumn … “Strange lights are often spotted in the late, night hours and the occasional, stray sounds of owls, hissing cats and long, drawn-out cries of wolves will be heard echoing down the driveway.”

This successfully sets the tone for the lush and gothic world we are about to enter, and the shadows cast by their props begin to look just a little bit too alive…an effect we can produce by following their inspiring examples.

How to Haunt Your House, Book 2What’s Inside

So. What can you expect by this volume?

Well, how about a full tutorial on building (and deconstructing for storage) an entire scale model gothic mausoleum, complete with an old, rusty wrought-iron gate? Hard to believe it’s all achieved with wood frames, Styrofoam and PVC pipe!

Stock your kitchen with apothecary jars full of strange, glowing liquids filled with creatures you can almost (but not quite) recognize. Construct huge gargoyle columns, fashion a complete crypt that doubles as a hide-away for your electronic components, create foggy, bubbling cauldrons and turn store-bought props and mannequins into ghoulish hags and decapitated brides.

If that’s not enough, Lynne and Shawn devote a large section of their book on animated props. Using clear and detailed images, they show you the components you need, types of motors and connections, and suggested power supplies. Step-by-step, they take you through two motorized projects, one of a monster churning a pot by hand, and an undead creature turning its head in a cemetery.

A book on building and designing props would certainly be fulfilling, but all of these projects are unified with chapters on how to present an enthralling entrance, inside decor (with tips on lighting and accessories), and images and layout tips for a fully-stocked cemetery.

We’re impressed with their creativity, attention to detail, and willingness to peel back the moth-eaten curtains to teach you how everything is done. The ideas are presented with lush, full-page images and eerie backgrounds to keep with the mood.

We give it three thumbs up! (One for each monster hand.)

6 Creative Uses for Halloween Coloring Pages

Halloween coloring pages offer a fun, simple and inexpensive way to keep children entertained for a few hours. Whimsical ghosts, goblins, and jack-o’-lantern grins can be fun to color or paint, and kids always love coloring activities and craft projects.  It’s possible to find free Halloween-themed coloring pages online, which you can download and print, or you can purchase cheap coloring books from your local dollar store. There are several different ways of using coloring pages at Halloween.   Here are a few ideas of things your kids can create.

1.       Yard Decorations

It’s actually quite easy to print a coloring page to any size that you need. If you will like a six-foot tall black cat guarding your house after dark on October 31st, it is fairly straightforward to create. Many stained-glass or quilt pattern websites offer free pattern enlargers that can send your choice of coloring page to the printer in pieces, which can later be taped together into a very large design. Children can decorate these separate sheets, glue them to poster board, and add a stick to plant in the yard.

2.       Invitations

Halloween party invitations are always fun to make. You could get your kids involved by getting them to color your invites.  Another idea is to ask each guest to decorate their own invite for judging at the party. With each Halloween invitation you send, you can include a coloring page for a mask, a pumpkin, or other Halloween-themed items. When guests arrive with their decorated invitations, they can be displayed as decorations at the party for everybody to enjoy.  You then can ask your guests to vote for their favorite.  Make sure you have some candy or some sort of treat available to give to the winner.

Halloween Pumpkin Cartoon Character coloring page3.       Party Favors

Halloween coloring pages can be made into fun party favors. For instance, there are paper baskets that can be colored and folded into shape to hold fruit or candy treats, which kids will love making. The baskets will hold their shape better if the sheet of paper is glued to a lightweight cardboard backing first.

4.       Fabric Stencils

If you are looking for imaginative ideas for Halloween crafts, many craft stores sell crayons that color in lines that will work as an iron-on transfer for fabric. Children will love the idea of coloring their own Halloween pictures that can then be ironed onto an old T-shirt.

5.       Window-Painting Templates

Coloring pages can be taped to the outside of a window for a child to copy onto the inside of the glass with washable poster paints. This is a fun way to decorate your home for the exciting Halloween season.

6.       Moving Pictures

Young children will enjoy coloring a very simple shape that can be glued to a cardboard backing. This shape can then be cut apart and put together with an office brad that will allow parts to move.

Halloween coloring pages are a great resource to remember for all types of holiday needs. These handy lined drawings can be used with crayons, paint or markers. With our modern printers able to enlarge or shrink these coloring page shapes, they can be used in a wide variety of ways that can add to your yearly Halloween fun.

This article is courtesy of HalloweenPartyIdeas.org, which offers lots more Halloween party ideas for kids, including games, crafts and food.

Planning a Memorable Star Wars Party

The fancy world of the Star Wars series is a perfect party theme for all types of celebrations. Birthdays and Halloween are two main occasions to infuse life to the most popular visualized characters of the entertainment world. Organizing a Star Wars theme party is not at all expensive as considered by many people. Here are some ideas that can help you become an appreciated host of a Star Wars party.

Decide the Venue

You can decide to organize Star War Costumes for a birthday party in the garden area if it is a late evening party. This will help you have the natural effects of night and space for your party theme. However, you don’t get much scope of decoration in a garden area party. So, you can prefer to have the party indoor.

Design Invitations

Invitations for a Star Wars party can be easily designed at home using black cardboard paper and gel pens. A good idea is to obtain the print-outs of Star Wars clip arts from the internet and paste them on the invitations. The invitation should say something like ‘Welcome to the Galaxy’ and ‘Come and Wish the Young Jedi Who Was Born to Be the Chosen One’. Also, attach the party details to the invitation.

party venueDecorating the Venue

You can obtain Star Wars party decoration kits from a reputable online store like Celebrate Express. Or, you can use some simple ideas to bring in the effect. For example, cut the stars from the aluminum or tin foil and hang them from ceiling using wires.

You may also collect stones from the garden area and paint them lime green. Scatter these stones here and there to create an alien planet look.

Plastic glows available at online stores can help you create the right environment for the party. You can also use hoses and PVC pipes to decorate the doors and the walls as they create the right look of the space. Play the Star Wars theme music to enhance the party. If your child possesses Star Wars toys and figurines, you can use them too for the decoration purpose.

Party Costumes

Star Wars Party PackMake it compulsory or simply request the party guests to dress up in Star Wars costumes (or create them yourself). You must also obtain Star Wars costumes for yourself. If it is a birthday party of your child, the Jedi Costume are perfect ideas for him or her.

Foods and Drinks

The craze of Star Wars series has inspired the food and drink suppliers to come up with preparations inspired by this fantasy world. Yoda soda, Galactic pizza, Sebulba sun chips, Skywalker salsa, Wookie cookies and many more ideas can be used to arrange the food for the Star Wars party.

If it is a birthday party, the attraction should be the Star Wars theme cake. You can choose and order a Star Wars cake at an online store or learn how to prepare one at home.

Star Wars Cupcakes

Party Games

No party can complete without playing games and a Star Wars theme party has unlimited game ideas. Pass the Droid, Starship Relay, Light Saber Training; Restore the Galaxy, Keep up the Meteor, Destroy the Death Star and many such Star Wars game ideas are popular for the parties. You can learn about them from the online resources.

Party Favors

The Star Wars party favor bags may contain things like glow sticks, Star Wars stickers, Star Wars figures and toys and candies. You need to depend upon the online party stores to obtain impressive party favor bags for the Star Wars party.

Just like other theme parties, you must start preparing for the Star Wars party few days in advance. You can take suggestions from people online who share their experience of Star Wars parties on the web. A well-organized Star Wars party will be remembered by you and the party guest for many years.

How To Plan and Execute a Memorable Star Wars Party is a Guest post by Lea Jones who is an online freelance writer and also the owner of a Star Wars Costume online store. In this post she’ll give some tips about Executing Star Wars Party for the upcoming Halloween 2010.

Beading Jewelry for Halloween

Each year I try to find interesting Halloween jewelry but all I find is lots of cheap trinkets.  So last April I decided to take up beading.  Now I make my own amazing Halloween jewelry.

String of Skulls Bracelet

If you can thread a needle and tie a knot, you can bead! One of my favorites is this ‘String of Skulls Bracelet. Its simply a matter of stringing an interesting set of beads for the main line, then stringing smaller sections and sewing through one little bead at set intervals. Its quick, simple and great looking.

A slightly more interactive stringing job produces this unusual ‘Pumpkin Shroud Wine Jewelry’.

Pumpkin Shroud Wine Jewelry

Beware though as beading can become addictive.  Suddenly you’ll find the simple stringing isn’t enough and you’ll want to try your hand at more intriguing stitches.  Written and video instructions are available all over the Internet and can produce items fairly simple such as my beaded ‘Vampire Bite Choker’ or the somewhat more difficult ‘Bat Wing Bottle Jewelry’.

Bat Wing Bottle Jewelry

Vampire Bite Choker

I love the fact that I can design my own beadwork items or purchase other people’s inexpensive patterns online.  Along that line take a look at my creations and patterns at www.DebrisDeCollette.com and have a bloody good Halloween!

Add an Italian Twist to Your Halloween Recipes

Halloween has in recent years spread across the Atlantic to the boot shaped peninsula known as Italy.   Although the Italians do not celebrate Halloween per se, they do have their own rituals and festivities which are not all too far off.

One of these festive and colorful holidays is All Souls Day.  It comes on the day after All Saints Day which is November 1st and honors the fallen Saints.   However All Souls Day honors all those who have died.  It is an Italian celebration which is not focused on death, as in a morbid fashion, but on honoring loved ones who have passed on.

Although these two holidays are not the same, there is one major similarity – the use of food.  Just as our Halloween involves the practice of handing out food to children as they come knocking on our door, the Italians also incorporate the practice of food giving to children on All Souls Day.   However, in their ritual, the children leave food and lit candles outside to “guide and feed” the souls of those in purgatory who revisit the home during the night.  In some regions the tradition is for children to leave their shoes outside the front door only to find them stuffed with gifts later.

bones of the dead halloween recipeOne popular cookie sold in bakery stores throughout Italy is called, Bones of the Dead.   Every region in Italy seems to have their own unique version of this cookie.

A very simple Tuscan version of this cookie is as follows:

BONES OF THE DEAD

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1/2 cup hazelnuts chopped

2 cups sugar

2 egg whites

juice of a lemon

Instructions:

Combine the flour, egg whites, sugar and juice in a large bowl.

Next, add in the nuts and mix together until a dough consistency forms.

Roll the dough into the size of 2 inch wide logs and cut in 2-3 inch lengths.

Flatten or shape to resemble bones.

Lay flat on a floured cookie sheet (spray the sheet with cooking spray and then lightly flour)

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes.

Let cool.

For a Chocolate Chip Version:

Ingredients:

2 egg whites at room temperature

2/3 Cup confectioner’s sugar

1/4 cup fine semolina flour (plus more for later)

2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup chopped almonds.

Instructions:

Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form.   This can be done with an electric mixer on high speed for about a minute.

Slowly add in half the sugar while beating until whites are stiff.

Fold in the rest of the sugar, flour, chocolate chips and almonds and mix gently.

Line your cookie sheet or pan with parchment paper.  Otherwise grease and lightly flour the surface.

Create bone shaped cookies with the dough, about 3 inches in length and 1 1/2 inches wide.  Place on the cookie sheet.  Remember these will expand so space accordingly.

Bake at 300 degrees F for about 30 minutes until cookies are dry.

Let cool.

Drizzle  with a melted chocolate mixture of chocolate and butter.  Either dip the bottom side in, or drizzle with the chocolate.

Let dry and enjoy!

Other Halloween Ideas Using Italian Food

If you want a more familiar Italian theme food for your Halloween party, try these:

HALLOWEEN CANNOLIS

The easiest way to create cannolis is to buy premade shells.

For the filling:

10 oz. ricotta cheese drained

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup chocolate chips

Orange food coloring

Always fill the cannolis the same day you plan on serving them.  If you make them in advance the shells will become soggy.   You can make your filling the day before, and then simply fill the shells just prior to your party.

Mix all the ingredients except the chips, until it is light and airy.  You can use a mixer or food processor, such as a cuisinart 11 prep or for this.  Or you can just mix it by hand the good old fashioned way.

When finished gently fold in the chips.

Fill the shells with the mixture.  A tip is to pour the mixture into a plastic bag and then snip one of the corners, thus creating a makeshift pastry bag.   Use this to squirt the filling into the shells.

This recipe can also be used during other holidays, such as Christmas and makes a great Italian Christmas gift or contribution for attending parties.  Instead of orange food coloring try green or red.

As with many Italian desserts, remember to serve with coffee or espresso.  Especially dry cookies, like the Bones of the Dead cookies, are great when dipped in a latte.

If you do not make your own espresso using appliances like an Alessi espresso maker, to prepare your espresso, regular coffee should suit your guests just as well.

This article was contributed by Liz T. Krause, publisher of simpleitaliancooking.com.  Although she grew up in an Italian household, it wasn’t until later in her married life with her Italian husband that she began to appreciate the joy of Italian cooking.

Fairy Costume Ideas

Image credit: Pinterest, Jennifer Howard

Fairy costumes have always been popular for Halloween parties. Go to any dress up party and you’re sure to find young girls and women (and men, particularly on the heels of Lord of the Rings elvish popularity) dressed as fairies.

The reason is easy to understand: fairies and elves have a classical and exotic look.

Moreover, the ample varieties in fairy costumes make it easy for women to dress uniquely, truly expressing their own fairy “flavor,” whether that’s sweet and winged, sexy, traditional, or kick-A, a la The Hobbit’s Tauriel.

And let’s not forget the accessories! (Can I get a “yes please”?) Awesome ears (see image at right), butterflies, flowers and more – you can do all of this and add your own special creativity to your gorgeous fairy costume.

If you are planning to attend a Halloween party this year, or host your own, choose one of the stylish designed fairy costumes and be truly magical. Here’s how.

Choose Your Fairy Style

There are many varieties of fairy costumes available in the market. But don’t stop there – you can craft one of your own.

Credit: costumedirect.co.uk

Buy a basic skirt and tank top (try Etsy for cool selections) and add on whatever you’d like that’s truly magical.

You can opt for a classical gothic costume or a sensuous sexy fairy costume, or choose a famous fairy, such as Tinkerbell (aww!).

You can even be one of Sleeping Beauty’s protectors – remember the three fairies in the cottage? Or be a bippety-boppety-boo fairy godmother.

Glamming Things Up

Credit: Etsy, CuffandCrown

Depending on what you choose, your costume should be elegantly designed and feature skirts, silk flowers, traditional pointed ears, wings and other matching decorations and accessories. You can also shop separately for accessories and add them to the costume to give you a unique fairy look.

Hint: You’ll find some COOL stuff at consignment and thrift shops, including filmy pieces of material and nifty shoes. And you’ll save beaucoup bucks!

Be Original

Whatever you choose for your fairy costume, remember: today, anything goes for Halloween. And we do mean anything!

Grab some cool ears, something filmy, and you’re good to go. After that, it’s all up to you and your imagination.

Now hurry and grab me a pumpkin – I’m late to the ball!