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First, an item of business: yesterday, my humble little blog surpassed 20,000 visits!  That means, in the past two-and-a-half years, people have clicked over here twenty THOUSAND times.  Wow.  Thanks, everybody!  If I had my act together, I’d have thought of a giveaway.  Maybe for 25,000.  Any ideas?

Now, onto the fun stuff:

Have I mentioned how much I love Halloween?

Oh, I have?

Once or twice?

Thrice even?

So, yeah.  I love Halloween.

Jason took Nicolas out for some guy time today, so Kalen and I took the chance to spookify the yard.

I suppose introductions are in order.  That fellow on the right is Spot.  We acquired him years ago, when Nicolas was a toddler.  He was named (by Nicolas) after Rolie Polie Olie‘s dog.

The pirate on the left is a new addition to our graveyard family.  I found him at the thrift store last November.  I’m not sure who that extra skull belongs to, but we do have his twin brother up on the deck.

He’s keeping all the dead flowers from Garden Week!™ company.  Now that I’ve gotten the cobwebs up, I feel much less guilty about my lack of green thumb.  The dead plants fit the mood perfectly.

Kalen’s creativity added the perfect touch:

Nice spider placement, kiddo.  He’s got this creepy thing down.  Mostly.

Hey, Spot.  Are you glad to be out of that box?

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Last Sunday, after much agonizing over subject matter and scouring the internet for inspiration/patterns, we carved our pumpkins.

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There were vampires…

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…and skulls…

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…and Buzz (Go Jackets!)…

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…and even Count von Count, who declined to be photographed for this interview.  (All of the patterns were found on the internet, and I did not save links – sorry!  Except for Buzz…I created that stencil myself.)

You’ll notice I didn’t take too much care with the photography, because certainly, I would set these on the front porch soon enough for a quick photo session, as usual.  Yeah…did I mention the whole flu thing?  By the time it occurred to me to do anything about the pumpkins, it was Thursday.  I attempted to pick up my jack o’lantern, and my fingers went through its bottom.  Oh dear.  Upon closer inspection, we found that all four pumpkins were covered inside with a nice layer of mold and fuzzy, white “hair.”

We moved them out to the front porch, anyway, hoping we could at least light them on Halloween night, but by the next morning, they were caving in.  Since we haven’t set up a compost bin yet, they’re currently awaiting the garbage truck.  You should probably be glad I didn’t take pictures.

Jason and the boys are currently out for Round II of The Great Candy Grab.  Round I ended with shivers, followed by a halftime with a giant pizza and the first half of The Sorcerer’s Stone, our usual Halloween night movie.  The boys donned hoodies under their costumes and hit the streets to see what else they could haul in.

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How about those blasters?  I saw this tutorial linked on Geek Dad this week and immediately sent it to Jason.  (Not that I couldn’t – or wouldn’t! – make them myself, but he did ask what he could do to help.  He had fun with it, and he rarely gets to be involved in the Halloween costuming.)

In an effort not to pass Hamthrax H1N1 onto the entire neighborhood, we decided to leave our candy out on the porch for the neighbors.  In an additional effort not to let the first three kids get all the candy, I did this:

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The boys are back, not-so-patiently waiting to restart the movie, so off I go.  Once they’re in bed, Jason and I will cross our fingers and hope AMC is showing some wonderful old Vincent Price movie.

Have a safe and spooky Halloween!

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So, each week, I see this graphic on a couple/few of the blogs I frequent, and today I think, “Hey, that’s just what I need to eek out a blog post today!”

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  • I now have first-hand proof of the validity of the “wait until your child is free of symptoms for 24 hours before sending him back to school” rule.  Nicky’s fever broke at 2:00 this morning, and as much as I wanted to send him to school, so he could participate in his final drum circle group, I did the right thing and kept him home.  Several hours later, he looked miserable, and the thermometer registered 101.
  • The house is still a wreck, but Jason took down the LCD TV mount the previous tenants left behind (which was  likely only making him feel deprived, anyway) and replaced it with framed artwork.  Awesome.
  • The art (a tea towel from Bayeux, which my mother thoughtfully had framed for us), inspired me to clean off the mantel underneath it and spookify at least a little of the house. (Sorry about the shoddy photo.)

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  • My toes are cold.  (Surprising to no one who knows me, I’ll wager.)
  • I think I might just try NaBloPoMo again this year.
  • The black light bulb we put in our front porch fixture every year always makes me think of Space Mountain.
  • Bench Monday makes me happy.

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First, I must begin with the cuteness.  How adorable are these two?  I love the poses.

Bumblebee (a Transformer, NOT a Power Ranger) is on the left, and I believe the Sith on the right needs no introduction.  They’re thrilled that they can now put these costumes in their dress-up drawer for further play.

So, I was feeling a bit ho-hum about Halloween, usually one of my favorite days of the year.  The boys, as I mentioned in a previous post, had their hearts set on these particular costumes, which I certainly couldn’t do justice to myself, for the price.  Dh’s costume required slightly more effort.  He went as Dr. Acula, a reference from one of his favorite television shows, Scrubs, for which I had a minor flash of brilliance, in regards to his badge (I love Photoshop!):

I hadn’t had any grand thoughts for my own costume, and after buying costume pieces for all three guys, I wasn’t keen on spending money on anything for myself, anyway.  I figured I’d go as a vampire victim, to complement Dr. Acula.

On the morning of Halloween, however, after seeing several great themed groups of costumes on The Today Show, it hit me.  I wasn’t going to be a victim of Dr. Acula, per se.  I could be something way better.  But did I have the right pieces to make it?  Five minutes later, I had my answer:

That’s a Hanging Space Bag, six red shop rags, a dowel, and some fish tank tubing.

Shortly thereafter, Dr. Acula had his bag of blood.

This is the kind of creativity I live for when Halloween rolls around.  We’ve all decided that we’re all going to try to dress in theme together next year.  I hope the boys are still up for it when next year arrives.

I’m still giddy with the fun of this year’s costume, though.  The high may just last until next October.

Hmm…don’t ask me where the title came from.  I’m feeling punchy this morning.

Yesterday was pumpkin-carving day!

Kalen was the only one of us who didn’t want a template.  He guided me through the design of the face: round eyes (check!), eyeballs crossed (check!), round nose (check!), toothy grin (check!).

Nicky wanted a ghost and loved the first template we found.  I promise you, the pose in this picture is 100% his own.  He arranged himself carefully before picking up his jack-o-lantern, glancing over his shoulder and smiling “just so” while I got my camera out.

I think Jason enjoyed our trip to Seattle.  I designed this template at his request.

And, to continue my obsession with the presidential race, I downloaded a template from Yes We Carve.

The shiny pumpkin faces are a result of the advice I read to spray the cut parts of the pumpkins with cooking spray to help them last*.  It had the added benefit of easy pumpkin-goo cleaning from the faces, but I’m not so sure I like the shininess.

*The second part of the advice is to keep the pumpkins in the fridge at night, but I’ve been strongly discouraged by my hubby.  For some reason, he isn’t keen on throwing out our food in the name of pumpkin preservation.  Halloween scrooge!  😉

An update on my Halloween curtains:

Ten of twenty webs crocheted.  Five happy, fuzzy spiders crocheted and awaiting fuzzy pipecleaner legs.  All yarn is left over from previous projects, and the buttons are from an irreparably stained shirt of Jason’s.

In direct opposition to the verse at the end of yesterday’s post, I bought the boys’ Halloween costumes this year.

Every year, it’s a dilemma…make or buy?  My preference would usually be to make, but it doesn’t always happen that way.  Sometimes it is a matter of “I just can’t make something look as good for the same price.”  Sometimes I actually realize my limits.  And sometimes, I do make them, usually with Mom’s help.  This year, the boys wanted to be Darth Vader and Bumblebee (a Transformers character).  I got both costumes, on sale, for around $20 combined at Party City.  Could I have made them?  Probably.  Would they have looked as authentic?  Definitely not, especially for the price.  So this year, we bought.  And the boys are thrilled.  Ecstatic, even.  And isn’t that the point?

I mentioned yesterday that I love Halloween.  I owe this love to Mom and Dad.  Mom often made our costumes, and sometimes bought.  I remember fondly both our handmade witch’s costume and my Gene Simmons mask.  (I was in Kindergarten, I think?  Maybe first grade?  That my mother let her five-or-six-year-old daughter wear a plastic KISS mask is just awesome.)  The house was always decorated.

When I was about four, I had a Halloween party for my little friends.  Daddy dressed up as the Incredible Hulk.  (Back then, there was always an “Incredible” preceding the “Hulk.”)  Mom made a shiny, round jack o’lantern pinata.  I ran through the house, screaming gleefully with my friends, eventually hiding under the dining room table from Dad in his green body paint, torn jeans, and an old blouse of mom’s that he had put on and ripped at the seams, just like Bruce Banner.

Dad also acquired a fabulously creepy old man mask, with matching gloves (gnarly old hands).  Every Halloween, he would wear a black suit, the mask & gloves, a cape, and a top hat.  We had half the kids in the neighborhood convinced that our “Uncle Creepy” visited every year in October.  He would sit in Mom’s old bentwood rocker on the front porch, next to a cauldron of candy, and move ever so slightly.  Sometimes, the garage would be decorated, Mom would dress as a Vampiress and lie on a spare twin bed brought out for the occasion, and – after we’d patrolled the neighborhood for candy – Heather and I would hide behind a sheet, rattling the snow chains.

But I digress.  I love dressing up for Halloween.  If I had my way, we’d dress in theme each year.  I managed to get all four of us in one theme only once:

The boys’ costumes were white thrift store turtle necks and king sized pillowcases, draped with cheesecloth.  Jason’s and mine were courtesy of ebay.  Nicky hated this costume once we got it done – seeing his own face painted really freaked him out!

Another triumphant year for handmade costumes in theme was 2004.  That Halloween fell in the brief period where both boys’ love of Thomas the Tank Engine overlapped.  I really didn’t like the two-dimensional Thomas costumes available on the market, so Mom helped me with this one.  She also adapted an Uncle Sam pattern to make Kalen’s Sir Topham Hat costume.

Apparently, it was all a little much for Nicky…

I was so darn proud of that Thomas face.  LOL

Last year, we split the difference.  One reused, handmade costume for an excited little boy, and one store-bought Dementor costume for an excited bigger boy.  (Note that this was also the year their mother was on-the-ball enough to have them dress up while it was still daylight for a decent outdoor shot.  I finally got it right, on the 8th Halloween…)

My hand still isn’t at 100%, but I’m working on things a bit here and there.  In an effort to do something crafty this week, I decided to try my hand at these gift bows, made of magazine pages.  Easy peasy!  Not that gift bows are expensive…you can get a bag of dozens for just a couple of dollars, but I love the reused quality of these, and they’re so colorful.  Each one is completely unique.  And they look great with my favorite models.

A close-up of the bows themselves:

This first batch was made from an educational software catalog and one of those coupon magazines that come in the mail.  Apparently, Mom’s been busy over at their place and has knocked out quite a few as well!

I’m easing myself back into crochet, too.  I followed a link from one of my favorite blogs to a newish group on Ravlery, devoted to devotees of Lisa Gentry’s crochet and knit designs.  I wasn’t previously aware of Lisa’s designs, but she has some cute things, as well as the distinction of holding the world record for fastest crochet!  They hold a monthly contest in the group, and October’s contest is for Lisa’s design of a spiderweb and spider.  I adore Halloween.  I love decorating for Halloween.  I decided to use Lisa’s design as inspiration for a set of spiderweb curtains for our sidelight windows.  I’ll need to do about twenty of these small webs, soak them in fabric stiffener, then put them together.  (Still not sure how that’s going to happen.  I want them to be able to fold up, accordian-style, for storage.)  Of course, there will also be spiders.  But here’s what’s done so far.

I’m using Bernat Baby Coordinates.  Because I had it.  😉  And because I like the bit of shimmer the yarn has.  Thread would have been ideal, but I’m trying very hard not to buy anything new unless we need it.  Reminds me of a verse I read a couple of years ago:

Use it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do, or
Do without.

I’m not going to go too far, but “making do” seems particularly appropriate these days.

My boys

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