Friday, September 30, 2011

Minions of Misery

I am delighted to announce that I have been awarded the "Minions of Misery Award" by October Boy!  This is a really fun project that I think, not only exposes all of us to some cool movies and books of the Halloweenish/horror genre, but it also gives us a peek at what inspires us as haunter and lovers of Halloween :)

As a award recipient, I am to feature a dark book, a dark movie and a dark secret about myself.  I did a lot of thinking about this over the past few days so that I can give you guys some interesting stuff to check out, and I think that I've come up with some awesome offerings :)  I hope you enjoy!

My Dark Book(s):

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark; More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones - written Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell.

As you can see, my selection is actually a series of 3 books.  These books were what my childhood scary story times were made of.  I don't know where we got these books, but they were legendary to all of the kids in my neighborhood.  We would actually sit in a dark room with a flashlight and we would take turns reading the stories out loud.  Some of the stories actually offered instructions to shout a certain line, take a dramatic pause or jump at the person/people that you were telling the story too.  We were awful at delivering these little extras, as we were all reading the stories for the first time together, but we had great fun doing it anyway :)


The stories are basically written versions of the scary stories that we heard for the first time somewhere in our grammar to middle school years. You know, the ones that a friend's older sibling said happened to someone they knew :)  "The Hook", "High Beams", and "The Girl Who Stood on a Grave", are all examples of such stories that I'm sure you have all heard a version of at some time or another.


Aside from the great stories, I would have to say that the illustrations were responsible for 50% of creep factor.  They are all black and white and very crude, but prefect... absolutely perfect!  The subjects look disturbing even if the story tells that they were harmless.  What our imaginations didn't conjure up, the illustrations by Stephen Gammell filled in.  I recently saw that there are some versions of the books that were illustrated by some one else.  The pictures are more cartoon-like and I find that it really softens the feel of the story that you are about to read.  I advise, that if you decide to pick these books up, that you get the version illustrated by Stephen Gammell.


My Dark Movie:

Legend (1985) - Directed by Ridley Scott; Starring Tom Cruise, Mia Sara and Tim Curry

This movie completely fascinates me.  It is the epic battle between light and darkness.  Mia Sara, plays Lili, who is a princess that meets up with Tom Cruise's character, Jack, in an enchanted forest.  Jack serves as a symbol of nature, Earth and light.  Lili serves as the symbol of innocence.  Tim Curry plays Darkness otherwise referred to as Dark Lord by his creepy minions in the movie. Let me just say, that you will not recognize Tim Curry.  The costume that he is wearing is out of this world awesome.  I actually purchased a copy of the DVD with extra footage showing how the make-up and prosthetics were applied, which was very cool to see (there's my inner geek coming out).  He made a VERY convincing devil character. 

When Lili ends up in Darkness's lair, she is enchanted by this beautiful, dancing, black dress which in a sense hypnotizes her and Lili magically ends up in the dress.  I WANT THIS DRESS :)  This is what fueled all of my Halloween costume dreams.  It is the ultimate "dark" attire.  Aside from that, the character who was the pinnacle of innocence, appears to become her total opposite, the pinnacle of darkness.  I have always felt that her transformation from innocent to dark, mirrors the transformation that we all make on Halloween night.  We all become something that we aren't.  We all get to play a different part, for one night...  then again, perhaps we are just showing for one night who we truly wish to be :)  (little epiphany there!).

Watching this movie is surely a Halloween tradition for me.  The story is haunting, the characters are haunting, the settings and the costumes are amazing.  Trust me, if you pick this one up, make sure that you get a copy that has behind the scenes footage.  You won't be disappointed!

My Dark Secret:

I really had to think a while on this one, and I don't really consider this a dark secret, but it is an interesting a creepy factoid about me and my family.  Apparently,  having paranormal experiences runs in families and apparently, my family is quite sensitive to the paranormal.
I had always heard stories about my mom's "crazy" aunt who saw and communicated with ghosts.  She could actually see what kind of clothes they were wearing.  Every house that she moved into (she moved pretty often) she would encounter new ghosts. I was always very interested in these stories and wanted every detail.
I guess that I really started realizing that I was seeing things in my teens.  I would often see things out of my peripheral vision and usually in the hallway of my parents house.  Some times it was a white flash, sometimes it was a dark flash and sometimes I would get an "emotion" with the vision. 

I started discussing these things with my immediate family and found out, to my amazement, that my dad and my brother had similar experiences.  My brother actually remembers seeing a dark figure sit on the end of his bed when he was young and thought that it was my mom, but said that one second "she" was there, and the next she was gone.  My dad told me that when my brother and I were young that my mom would be tucking us into bed or reading us a story in our room, as he was trying to go to sleep in their bedroom and he would experience the same bed vibrations that I had.  I still wonder who it was in that house that seemed to be a very maternal spirit.  I wish I knew.  Unfortunately, that house was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina.  I still catch glimpses of things from time to time and even my husband has admitted to seeing "things" around the house, but the activity is nothing like it was in my parents home.

There is more that I can tell, but I'm afraid that this entry has reached epic proportions all ready :)  I'll save my other ghost stories for another time ;)

So, there it is, my contributions to the Minions of Misery!  I hope that I have done it justice :)  I really, really enjoyed doing this!

I'll be making my selection of 3 bloggers to pass it on to over the weekend :)

Happy Haunting everyone!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Flying Ghosts Projection

This is another inspiration from Disney's Haunted Mansion; projected flying ghosts.  After leaving the attic section of the HM, the Doom Buggie swings around backwards are you enter the graveyard section of the ride.  The first thing that you see, are projected ghost, whizzing out of the cemetery area and up into the "sky".  This effect has always fascinated me and for 3 years, I have talked about putting this effect in my haunt.  

There are a few tutorials on the web, with different methods on how to created the effect, but none of them were quite the effect that I was looking for, some required a projector or a disco ball and just seemed really complex.  The other day, my husband suggested this method ;)

We bought this:

$20.00 from Party City.   

Here is what is on the inside when the globe is removed.  A simple light.




I took the globe off and began the tedious process of prying off all of the colored caps, using various sized screw drivers... not safe, I know, I cut myself once, but only once and there wasn't even a drop of blood, so all is well ;)



This is the globe without the caps.  



Then came the even more tedious task of cutting out tiny ghost shapes on paper.  I came up with four different designs.  Two to fit the larger holes and two to fit the smaller ones.


See, I told you they were tiny!  

After I had my tiny ghosts, I traced them out on pieces of thick black industrial tape and stuck them in random spots of the globe, covering some of the openings. 


All of the openings on the top and bottom of the globe were covered with a solid piece of tape, so that no extra light leaked out.  Also, I did not cut out "ghost tape" for every single hole.  Solid tape was placed on these as well, so that the ghosts appear to be flying in a random pattern.





Of course, we had to take it one step further and add a hidden Mickey :)  I had a piece of Mickey confetti that was the perfect size for the stencil.


Here's the test :)  It's shot inside and in a small bathroom, so the projections are smaller than they will probably be outside.  The further the globe is from the wall, the bigger the projections get.  We will just have to test it out once we get the graveyard up.

Without any further ado ;)  Here are my ghosts!

video

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Halloween Stuff


I've been slowly collecting some very cool store bought Halloween merchandise this year. 

First up, plastic skulls from Walgreens, $5.99 each.  You  cannot beat this deal people!  These things are highly detailed and cheaper than many foam skulls out there.  I know that Pumpkinrot used these on some of his ground breakers last year.  




Next, PUMPKINS!!!  The one on the right is from Wal-Mart and the perfect one on the left, Winn-Dixie.  The one in the middle is a ceramic one from Lowes.  I think that it was $20.00 and they were all different.  Some had different stems, some had different faces and even different shapes.  Very neat find :) Oh, and the little one was left on my porch as a surprise from Mom and Dad :)

This guy came from Target.  I didn't really give it much thought in the store, but my husband just had to have it, and I'm glad that he did.  $20.00 and you get a very heavy gargoyle.  He looks like something that would be on top of an old cathedral :)  Creepy!


 Last but not least the JOL wind chime.  He came from World Market, for $14.99.  I cannot wait to hang him outside.  I'm even considering putting a flicker candle in his head :)
That's it so far, but I'm sure that there will be more purchases :) Get out there and take advantage of these great deals!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Under the Weather

Apologies for my lack of posting or responding to comments lately.  I'm struggling with allergies, which I think might be turning into a sinus infection, thus making me very tired and cranky =(  This is the only thing that I do not like about the cooler weather setting in, it triggers allergens that affect me. =(

But don't worry, there are still lots of Halloween activities going on at 2nd Street Cemetery. I bought a couple of new very cool things that I will have to post when I'm feeling better AND the other day, we received the 2010 Home Haunter's DVD set from the lovely Frog Queen :)  I'll be watching that while I'm on the mend and crocheting my Halloween scarf :)

Pictures and post and replies to all of your wonderful comments will resume soon :)

Until then, here is a picture of our puking pumpkin from last Halloween :)

Hauntingly Yours,
The Countess 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Get Your Pumpkins Early...

Sounds like the country is suffering a pumpkin shortage this year:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/17/hurricane-irene-pumpkin-shortage_n_967979.html?ir=New%20York&icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl7%7Csec3_lnk2%7C96765
This isn't the first time though my friends.  In 2009, there was a shortage of canned pumpkin: http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/17/libbys-warns-of-a-canned-pumpkin-shortage/

It made me a very nervous person last year in the middle of September when canned pumpkin was no where to be found.  The first time that I saw it on shelves a few weeks later, I grabbed 4 cans :)  I didn't know what I was going to make, but I knew that I needed them :) 

So, get out there and get your pumpkins! I actually acquired 3 this weekend :)  My mom and Dad surprised me with a mini one, which has a beautiful stem on it, I bought one when I went to the grocery and yesterday, a friend surprised me with one that is the most flawless pumpkin I have ever seen. 

Pumpkiny pictures to follow :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Halloween Radio

For all of you Halloween fanatics out there, I have made a very cool discovery that I think you will all enjoy :)

Halloween Radio: http://www.halloweenradio.com/

Now you can listen to Halloween themed music ALL DAY LONG!  The best part... you can send them your song requests at requests@halloweenradio.com

So far, I have heard many familiar favorites such as, Grim Grinning Ghosts (from Disney's Haunted Mansion),  Ghost of John (sung and played by Kristen Lawerance), different selections from Midnight Syndicate, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Purple People Eater, Ghostbusters, Monster Mash and various other songs some that I have never heard of before, but they are all Halloweenish fun :)

I need to think up some good ones to request :)  What's your favorite Halloween song/music?  Who's your favorite Halloween music composers?

Of course, the Haunted Mansion music is a must for me, plus Midnight Syndicate (mainly their Vampyre album), Phantom of the Opera, Kristen Lawerance is a new favorite for me, and Night on Bald Mountain (thanks to Fantasia ;)

So, go check it out!!!!

Master Gracey Laid to Rest...

Master Gracey will finally take up residency in my graveyard :)  I have always been fascinated by Disney World's Haunted Mansion.  It's mysterious and quirky and has fun little surprises... just like Halloween.  It's the perfect marriage of creepy and fun that I think makes this attraction so popular.


The epitaphs on the tombstones always stuck with me.  As a kid, I remember making a tombstone that said, "Here lies good ol' Fred, a great big rock fell on his head". 

Lately, I've had Master Gracey's epitaph stuck in my head, so I figured, why not pay my respects to the lovely Haunted Mansion?

For the design, I've stuck with the shape of the original one.  The fonts are not exact, but they are about as close as I could get.  I went so far as to print out the "farewell" from an actual picture of the original tombstone, because I couldn't find a script font that looked very much like the one that was used.


I've changed it by adding some art work.  I think that any HM fan will recognize the details are those of the infamous HM wall paper.  I wanted to incorporate as much of the HM likeness into the tombstone as I could, thus the wallpaper details.

It's a bit ambitious, since it will require a good bit of carving, but I know that it will be well worth it when it's complete :)

Carving begins this weekend!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

While We're on the Subject of Breakfast Food...

I found a healthy option that is still FULL of pumpkin/fall goodness :)  Wanna know what it is??? Pumpkin yogurt! I know, so simple, why didn't we think of this before?  Not only is it great for breakfast, it's also a delicious snack.  Here's what you need:

1 cup vanilla yogurt (I use Dannon Lite & Fit... only 110 calories per 8 oz.)
Pumpkin puree
Cinnamon
Granola (I use Nature's Path Organic Pumpkin Flax Plus... Lots of Omega 3's and delicious pumpkin seeds!!!)

Mix desired amount of pumpkin into the yogurt.  I used two heaping spoonfuls... but you can adjust it according to however much pumpkin flavor you want.  Then add cinnamon to taste.  Sprinkle in a little bit (not too much, granola can be high in calories, but if you just don't give a darn, just go crazy with it ;) of granola in just before you eat it; if you put it in too far in advance, it gets soggy.

And that's it!  Easy, cheap and delicious :)

Hope you all enjoy it! 

I PROMISE my next post will not be food related ;) 

New pictures of props are next!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

VICTORY!!

I FINALLY got my hands on the much coveted Pumpkin Pie Poptarts :) 

If you can find them (I found mine at Target), they are definitely worth the purchase.  They taste like a slice of Pumpkin Pie :)  I only wish that there was more room for filling!  A girl can never have too much pumpkin filling :)





Saturday, September 10, 2011

On A Roll!

These are from last weekend, but I figured that I'd share them anyway :)  Pumpkin cookies and oh boy were they delicious!!!  I used a preexisting recipe as a springboard and added Pumpkin goodness to them.  The recipe is below if you'd like to try them for yourself. :)

Happy Haunting!



Roll-out Pumpkin Cookies

  • 1 c. {two sticks} of REAL unsalted BUTTER, softened
  • 1 1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 c. pumpkin
  • 1 tsp maple flavoring 
  • 2 3/4 - 3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • ginger 
  • cloves
Cream together softened butter and confectioner’s sugar.  Add egg white, pumpkin and flavoring.    In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and salt, then add little by little to the mixture.  Mix till all ingredients are combined.

Roll out on parchment to about 1/4 an inch thick, use flour for dusting as necessary.  Then, cut and bake at 400 degrees for 7-8 minutes or until the edges start to turn golden in color.  

Important Notes:

* I didn't measure how much of the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger or cloves I added.  I just guessed at how much it needed.  If it I had to estimate how much of each I put, I'd say 1/2 a tsp. to a whole tsp. of each.
*This is a no chill roll out cookie recipe, meaning you don't have to chill the dough before you roll it out to cut it with cookie cutters.
* The flour measurements are approximate.  I'm really not certain how much I put in the dough.  The original recipe calls for 2 1/2 - 2 3/4 cups, but since I added the pumpkin, it required a little more.  So, start with about 2 3/4 cups and add flour until the dough is not sticky and can be rolled.
*I used Wilton Halloween cupcake stencils for the faces.  I placed the stencil on the cookies before I baked them and dusted the cut-out with cinnamon. You can find these stencils at Michael's or on Wilton's website.


Glaze
1 c. confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. maple flavoring 
Milk (add milk little by little to get desired consistency)
cinnamon
ginger
nutmeg
cloves

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl, saving the milk for last.  Add milk a little at a time to gain desired consistency.  You can drizzle it on your cookies, but I used a silicon bristled bbq brush, to brush it on.
Allow to dry and enjoy.

The original recipe for the basic sugar cookies, can be found on this amazing blog: www.sweetsugarbelle.com/

Enjoy!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Countdown Stone

This must be the year of revamping props.  I've all ready given Jack a make-over, and now, I've decided that the countdown stone needed a make-over too.

The original countdown stone was made of plane old white Styrofoam.  I cut the numbers from some thin project board, which really was not the best material for an outdoor prop, as it is foam covered in paper.  The thinness of it is what attracted me to it, but after replacing the numbers last year, after having only used the stone the previous year, I was ready for a new more efficient design.  Also, the numbers were attached by thin strips of Velcro, which was always a bit of a pain to change every morning, in the dark, before I left for work.

About a month ago, I was cruising the Internet and saw a small Halloween countdown, which was basically a stand with wooden blocks that displayed the numbers.  To change the amount of days left till Halloween, one would simply turn the block over to the correct number.  That one little countdown got my gears turning.  I had finally formulated an idea for my new countdown stone.

After a bit of figuring, I realized that the tombstone would have to be extremely thick to accommodate blocks.  So, I settled for making small panels with one number on each that could be fit snugly into a cut out on the tombstone.


To make removal of the numbers easier, I cut a hole in the back of the stone, so that I can simply poke the numbers out.

I only cut a small hole, so that the rest of the number would fit flush in the stone and not fall out the back of it.

I also took a bit of artistic inspiration from my husband's Nightmare Before Christmas shirt that he was wearing on the day that I was working on the stone and carved the bat-winged skull on the top.  I love skulls with wings :)

This project was not "difficult", but it did require a bit of planning and a lot of measuring and re-measuring.  It was important to have the hole cut out straight and what I mean by straight, I mean that I had to make sure that I did not tilt the blade of my razor when I cut the hole out.  Also, I had to get the number panels cut out exactly too, so that they were big enough to fit snugly and small enough to fit at all :)

I'm very, very happy with the way that this turned out.  I cannot wait to paint it this weekend! 

Be sure to check back to see the finished product!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Home Haunters

I am beyond excited!  I just ordered my first collection of the Home Haunters DVD, from the Davis Graveyard Etsy shop :) http://www.etsy.com/people/DavisGraveyard

I cannot wait to see the creativity of other haunters from all around the world :)  What a great Halloween treat to myself!


Kuddo's to Chris and Jeff Davis!  You guys are awesome for putting this together every year.  I cannot imagine the amount of time it takes to get it all edited.  I'm starting to think that ya'll have figured out how to stop time :)



Saturday, September 3, 2011

Gorey Urn

This year I decided to pay homage to Edward Gorey in my haunt.  I began with the idea of making a tombstone devoted to him, yet when I did a little research, I discovered that Mr. Gorey had been cremated. Not to be deterred, I started searching for an urn.  Luckily, I found one at Hobby Lobby on clearance for $7.00, because there were a few broken pieces on the lid, which actually made it perfect.  It was originally red, which didn't look bad, but I wanted it to flow with the graveyard that I all ready have.  So, I painted it gray, gave it some black shading and stenciled his name on ;)  Now, for the placement of the urn in my haunt.... first, I must tell you a bit about Mr. Gorey...




Edward Gorey was quite a quirky writer of macabre stories.  I was always fascinated by the introduction cartoon that he had drawn for the TV show, "Mystery".

 It was bizarre and immediately grabbed my attention when I was very young.  A few years ago, I saw a drawing from the cover of his "Ghastly Crumb Tinies" and looked it up on line to see who the artist was.  Low and behold, it was Edward.  Some of his stories are cringe worthy, just because the subject is a bit shocking, such as in the Ghastly Crumb Tinies, which is a poetic sort of story about the untimely demise of different kids: "A is for Amy who fell down the stairs. B is for Basil assaulted by bears. C is for Clara who wasted away. D is for Desmond thrown out of a sleigh...".




To keep with the tradition of the quirky strangeness that made Gorey famous, I have decided that instead of setting the urn safely on a pedestal, that it will be lying on the ground, as if it had been knocked over,  with the top thrown off and ashes from our fire pit, strewn about ;)  I think that Mr. Gorey would have appreciated this ;)  I cannot wait to see the reactions that this will create :)


Gorey image from: www.darkecho.com

Friday, September 2, 2011

I WANT IT!

I didn't want to let this guy go, but at $149.00, I just plain couldn't justify it.  What a shame!  Maybe when he goes on sale ;)

Thursday, September 1, 2011