Currently browsing 'halloween'

Witch Boot Boasts Halloween Blooms

  • September 23, 2011 10:14 pm
Halloween floral arrangement

This old witch's boot offers an orange and black display


Something old, something black and weathered. I was looking for the perfect container for this year’s Halloween floral display and found it with this great “shoe” from Midwest CBK on It looks like a boot that has weathered much in the life of an active witch.

Rides on a broomstick on chilly and wet nights and exposure to the blistering heat from cauldron flames surely contributed to their antiquated state.

The understated black exterior allowed sparkling pumpkin vines and purple spiral glittery twigs from Michael’s to stand out. The arts and crafts store once again outdid themselves on Halloween florals. I found high quality black glittery maple leaves, miniature black and orange pumpkin sticks, black glittery brambles and small black ravens to stick in the center of my orange zinnia flower.

I had a blast arranging this and I can’t wait to see what Michael’s has in store next year. The next challenge will be finding that perfect container.

Share any Halloween floral arrangement tips of your own that have made Halloween special. I’d love to read your comments!

Halloween 2011 Preview

  • August 1, 2011 5:32 pm


Witch candle

A witch holds a melting black candle

It’s never too early to start shopping for Halloween, and today marks the unveiling of Grandin Road’s Halloween Haven. The site offers to-die for merchandise that is gorgeous, functional and highly creative. The most fun of all is watching their video featuring several products from the new catalog.

This mini movie unfolds with witches cackling above a bubbling cauldron. One crone shreds a page from last year’s Halloween Haven catalog and tosses it into the brew, effectively beginning the horror scenes that showcase 2011 products. A mysterious woman in white awakens to find herself saying “help me, I can’t get out.”

She walks as if in a trance past zombies with flashing eyes and figures emerging from underneath tombstones. Next, talking busts greet her on either side of a castle entrance. “Welcome to our humble haunt.”

The witches help transition this scene into another by casting pumpkin seeds into the pot, which conjures an image of a laughing halloween pumpkin. His jagged smile stretches and contorts with each chuckle. For the next scare, a witch scoops up a black furry spider and throws him into the mix.

This action affects the mysterious woman in white by the appearance of crawling spiders over her shroud and hissing cockroaches. She is greeted by a writhing wreath made of snakes before arriving as a guest at an all-white skeleton wedding. Skeletal hands poke out of walls and a couple long past their prime join bones at the alter.

A few splashes of a viscous red liquid whisks this “victim” into another role as a vampiress mingling with other vampires. A beating heart dumped by the witches creates the next scene as the woman touches her chest only to find a scar and a mad scientist surrounding her. She is dressed as the Bride of Frankenstein and is trapped until she is once again transported to a mirror where she spies her face alternating between her own the very crones who have been whisking her along on these adventures.

She becomes one of these witches who cackle as they morph into printed versions of themselves on the 2011 Halloween Haven/Grandin Road cover.

I was impressed with this video, and although it was designed to sell products, the shots were so elegant, such as the actress’s face reflected in the cauldron or in a red wine glass, you feel as if you are along with her on the journey through Grandin Road’s vision for Halloween.

Here are my top picks from the various categories:

  • Animated and Lifesize Figures: Venetian Victoria Halloween Figure, Martha Stewart Dr. Shivers Mad Scientist, Lifesize hanging Faceless Specter Halloween figure, Martha Stewart Hectate the Witch
  • Lighted Decor: Morphing Halloween Pumpkin, Morphing Halloween Skull, Velma and Evander Interactive Talking Halloween Busts, Zombie with Light and Sound, Martha Stewart Come Closer if You Dare Bag Set
  • Collectibles: Katherine’s Collection Mummy of Isis doll
  • Hanging Props: Hanging Halloween Witch, Hanging Halloween Cocoon Man
  • Wall and Window Accents: Animated Halloween Haunted Magic Mirror, Set of two wall-mount Skeleton Hands, Spiderweb Cascade Halloween Valance
  • Tabletop and Entertaining: Martha Stewart Glass Eyeball Serving Tray, Martha Stewart Chip and Dip Tombstone, Vwine Vampire Halloween Snack Dish, Set of four Halloween goblets, 54-inch square checked Halloween tablecloth, Martha Stewart Coffin Candleholder, Martha Stewart Halloween Chemistry Drinkware
  • Costumes and Accessories: Bite Me Rat Halloween Handbag, Wicked Women’s Shoes
  • Autumn Harvest: Midnight Twilight Swag, Garland, Urn Filler and Lucas Urn


Pumpkins, scarecrows and apple decor are typical of what you might find at Cracker Barrel Country Store, but surprisingly, I have started paying attention to their Halloween stock in the last couple of years. The restaurant chain has continued with its Masquerade Party theme. Items like black and purple glittering cauldrons, bats and green witch hands with pink glittery “polish” adorn several new pieces. I bought the Witch’s Hand Blow Out Candle. It is elegant yet playful, with globs of the faux black candle melting down into her green palm and spilling out between her fingers.

The hand doesn’t look too ugly or bony/witchy, which makes it more realistic. I love these types of candle. They flicker, no mess and do not require any more effort than a AA battery. If you have collected several of these items, or purchased some of the next accessories, you will have a decent witchy wardrobe.

I combine all my Cracker Barrel pieces and make a sort of witch’s wardrobe in the corner of a bedroom. For example, the elbow-length gloves with lacy black and orange and stuffed witch hands at the end make for an elegant arch over a full-length mirror. A glittery black and purple hat sits on the mirror top, and witch boots sit on the floor at the bottom. It looks like her clothes are waiting for her to get dressed for the night and fly out the front door on her broomstick!

Different versions of these items can still be found this year.

For tons of great Halloween and Harvest deocrating ideas, check out Pottery Barn. Vintage, elegant, retro and rustic can all be found here. Among my favorites are the Cheese Board and Mouse Knives Set, Spooky Burlap Table Runner and a set of four Curiosity Appetizer Plates. These plates depict an owl, mouse, skull and raven with elegant cursive words like Nevermore on the raven and see me run on the mouse.

If you just want to put a few items out, then vase fillers will add a minimal spooky infusion into your fall mix. I like the Glitter Spider and Mini Skull Vase Fillers.


Looking for something no one else has? How about a Halloween circus? I was amused by these Vergie Lightfoot characters. My favorites are the Halloween Zebra (black, white and orange go well together), Black Cat Ringmaster and Circus Mice. City Flowers of Bellevue, Wash., offers a variety of top brands and exclusive finds. I certainly can’t afford it, but I was still amazed to see the detail that went into a 9-foot Halloween candy corn tree. This would certainly make a statement! I guess I will have to make my own.

Also featured are some new Midnight Sonata in G items from Katherine’s Collection. I love the new Steampunk spiders and skeleton figures and the Melancholia Bat Girl holding a box with a skull head. So unique! Several Patience Brewster and Glitterville items are also listed.


I don’t see anything on the shelves in Walmart or Target, yet, I think it will be shortly after Labor Day, but you can still shop at their Web sites. In fact, most of the items I liked were only available online and not in stores. From Walmart, I liked the new 6-foot tall Reaper Carriage with Horse and Halloween Ground Fogger Machine.

At Target, standouts were the Jack-o-Lantern Luminary Collection, Illusive Concepts Floating Ghost and Realistic Hissing Cat.

I’ll keep looking for more Halloween treasures. Be sure to leave a comment about your favorite haunts or a great new item you’ve seen for this year.


Neewollah Bingo

  • July 23, 2011 5:30 pm
bingo cards

A skeletal hand shows his hand

I’ve always loved Halloween, even as a child, and I recall being so excited to receive a grab bag full of games, records and toys. The one thing I kept from that gift was Monster Match, a game with several fun characters, like Morkel, a marshmallow like tree, Moon, a horned owl with rainbow-colored wings and bright blue eyes, and Neewollah, a craggy witch with an unforgettable name — Halloween spelled backwards!

The game was produced in 1983 by Design House Incorporated. I haven’t been able to find it anywhere since, so I’m really glad to have kept this throughout the years.

Making your own bingo cards with Halloween characters would be a fun activity to do at home.

This matching game is much like bingo, with different cards on which 25 haunting characters are printed. Players win by filling out their rows with buttons. When all spaces are filled either horizontally, vertically or diagonally, that player wins. Instead of numbers, players draw these characters and look to see if they are on their card.

Part of the fun for me was collecting the cards with the unique characters on them. Here’s to nostalgia.

bingo card

Monster Mash card


monster match

Players select cards for Monster Match


Classics Never Lose Edge

  • July 23, 2011 5:13 pm
board games

Ghosts! and Boooo-opoly are full of Halloween fun

Most gamers seek their action on a computer or flatscreen TV, but there’s something to be said for spending hours actually touching pieces, shuffling “monster money” and seeing images glow in the dark. Two of my favorite Halloween-themed board games are Ghosts! and Boooo-opoly.

Ghosts! was always fun to play as a child, and it hasn’t lost it’s allure today. The 1982 Milton Bradley game is billed as “a very creepy, sneaky, guess-who game,” and it is that, especially when played at night, where rows of ghosts emit a soft green glow among the bed sheets.

Each player is given eight ghosts, four of which are bad with a yellow sticker affixed to the backs, and four good, blue-sticker spooks. The object is to capture bad ghosts by moving horizontally or vertically next to their square to capture them, or move the good ghosts through exits at either end of the board, which is designed as a creepy castle interior.


Ghosts stand guard

The fun is in knowing whether the ghost is good or evil only after it has been captured. If a player captures all their opponent’s bad ghosts, then they lose the game. Or if you capture all four of the good ghosts, then you win the game. Good ghosts may also float out the exits to win.

Although the game is designed for ages 6 to 14, it remains one that adults will enjoy, because of its clean design and the guessing factor of determining which ghosts to trust.

Availability: I believe you can still find these on eBay. Prices range from $8 to $40, depending on quality.


Monopoly is given a Halloween Twist

If you like Monopoly, then you will love Boooo-opoly by Late for the Sky, especially if you also are a Halloween fanatic. The same premise applies as in the original game, but with a monstrous twist! The money features a witch, Dracula, Frankenstein, skull, mummy, cauldron, jack-o-lantern and frightened person for the $500 bill.

Properties have appropriately haunting names such as Mummy Manor, Caramel Apple Corner  or Dreadful Drive. Six player pieces come with the game. They are adorable and detailed. You can be a caramel apple, bat, witch hat, pumpkin, cat or ghost as you make your way around the game board.

Positive cards include money won for winning a jack-o-lantern carving contest, for example, and negative would be getting caught soaping windows, which requires a penalty fee. Players receive $200 every time they run through the graveyard, and whatever money is on the board from player fees if they land on free candy. Just don’t get sent to scared stiff too often, which may make you lose three turns and pay up $100 to get out of “jail.”

Houses are black, and it takes purchasing four before you can replace them with a full moon, allowing you to charge exorbitant prices to anyone unlucky enough to land on your property.

spooky hollow

Spooky Hollow is an expensive place to visit

Part of the fun is saying the names, like landing on Bats in Your Belfry. The Halloween catchphrases are enough just to get me in the mood for all things October.

Availability: Prices are about $24.95.

free candy

This caramel apple is lucky to land on free candy


Halloween Art

  • June 27, 2011 2:28 pm

 Whimsy and Wonder: Enter the world of Byrum Art

Story and photos by Marla Hinkle 
The Halloween


Sherry and Ron Byrum
Sherry and Ron Byrum talk about their Halloween art


 A sea of tree  leaves wave  in the wind, transforming the rolling Ozark hills into a glorious quilt of orange, cranberry and gold. The landscape is a perfect October scene upon entering Mammoth Spring, home of Halloween and folk artists Ron and Sherry Byrum. 

The couple’s yard exhibits a warm welcome to autumn. Spinning ghosts, spirits in a circle and a graveyard share some of the same whimsy and wonder found in Byrum’s paintings.
Leaves scuttle on the porch steps as Sherry opens up the doors to their home.
First is her craft room, an inviting space full of warm sunlight that casts a friendly glow.
Halloween cards dangle from bare black branches of her Halloween tree. Paintings and artwork populate nearly every corner.
A huge sheetrock painting of a magical witch lounging on a crescent moon with star bursts dripping all around hangs above the bed.  An original acrylic painting sits on the piano. “Glimpse of a Witch” is  perfect for collectors who love details of fall leaves and a black silhouette of a witch flying by the full harvest moon.
On the fireplace is a Halloween ornament with a haunted house scene painted all around and a sculpture of a menacing hell hound with fangs.
The dog was part of an artist challenge where all participants designed around the same theme. Daisy, the Byrums’ sweet-natured dog, served as a muse for this piece, although she is adorable and not the least bit frightening. If you see a friendly beagle in one of his paintings, it’s probably Daisy.
Two of Ron’s favorite works are ” Haunted Tree House” and “Hay Rides.”
“I love the colors in these paintings and the harvest and autumn themes.”
In “Hay Rides,” a witch drives a team of horses past a two-story farmhouse lit from the glow of a burnt-orange sunset beginning to fade into clouds outlined in the glow of a full moon.
Another witch flies up to this moon and beyond a field and tree with golden leaves. The tree house in Ron’s other favorite is spellbinding. The root system provides steps up to windows that are lit with all sorts of frightful nocturnal activities. Witches frolic and stir a cauldron that spews up its mystical brew.
So where does he find inspiration? From his imagination, Ron said.
“I just start with a blank canvas and let the drawing come out.”
Her husband was born with this talent to draw and create, Sherry said. Ron was raised near Elizabethtown, N.C. His parents were deeply religious and hardworking, he said. Art was just not something that was understood as a viable career choice for him.
“My mother would say something I drew was pretty, but what was its purpose? She told me I was wasting paper.”
But his artistic drive never left him. Sherry is from Houston and the two met in eastern Texas and have been married 30 years. Sherry has always believed in Ron’s ability and talent, she said.
“We’ve done a lot of different jobs before finding our niche,” Sherry said.
Painting houses was one job, along with a commission in Memphis, Tenn., for a record store. The couple lived in Memphis before moving to Mammoth Spring 10 years ago to escape city life.
“What we really become known for was our yard art,” Sherry said.


Halloween ornament

This ornament is painted with a full Halloween scene


witch and leaves

An original artwork is displayed on the piano


Hellhound challenge

Daisy is transformed to a hellhound for an art challenge


daisy the beagle

Daisy listens as the Byrums talk about her role in their art




ghost spinners

Ghosts spin in the October wind


haunted yard
Ghosts form a circle in the back yard

People began asking if the Halloween yard signs featuring witches were for sale. The spinning ghosts that appear to turn and fly in the wind were a design of Ron’s that was bought by Impact Plastics. The company sold the corrugated plastic ghosts to Walmart, but the design was altered so the ghosts do not spin, Ron said. The retailer no longer sells this product, but the spirits live on in the Byrums’ fantastical yard.

The steep backyard leads up to a graveyard and grim reaper. A ghost circle is particularly eye-catching at night, Ron said. Light in the center changes colors and projects onto the white sheets. Halloween decor continues with a birdhouse that looks as if it could be a haunted mansion, Sherry said. Ron has constructed about 50 birdhouses ranging in size from two to four feet tall. 

 The couple loves gardening as well as art. Sherry is a member of The Haunted Gardens, an online group  that discusses tips on growing varieties that would fit into a magical garden, such as moonflowers and black tulips. Sherry also grows 100 varities of daylilies, many of which are orange. 

Lights decorate her house year-round. She begins with clear lights in August, adding purple and orange in October and replacing these colors with red and green for Christmas. Sherry’s creativity is mirrored in a painting titled “Haunted Lantern House,” where purple and orange lights are strewn around the branches of a tree house. 

Sherry is the resident computer guru and social networker, with Facebook, Myspace and a blog, The Hive. Both artists create computer graphics with animation. She designed her husband’s Web site and began selling his artwork on eBay in 1999. The volume of work includes nearly 100 listings. Networking with other Halloween artists has been gratifying, Sherry said. 


“Everyone is so nice and supportive of each other’s work.” For Halloween, the Byrums participate in Spooktacular, an event where business owners hand out candy for the holdiay downtown. 

The Byrums belong to several art groups on eBay, including  Halloween and the Society of Ecletic Halloween Artists. Byrum’s artwork has been published in the following magazines: 

  • Celebrate 365
  • The Witches Digest
  • Ye Olde Witches Brew Magazine

Also, Country Sampler will feature Ron’s work in the November 2010 issue. Byrum was one of three artists whose work was chosen for a magazine ad. 

Sherry said talking to other artists and focusing on her art without the interruptions of a full-time job are perks. For Ron, he has more time to enjoy  his art and work “without a boss.” However, the couple still experiences some pitfalls of the starving artist syndrome, he said. 

That’s where his experience in painting houses comes in handy. Ron incorporates techniques like faux finishes and painting vine and design motifs on walls. Painting on woodwork is another skill he employs to make a countertop resemble marble or Arkansas stone. 

Charles and Sue Vaughn, owners of Riverbend Nursery in Mammoth Spring, are clients. Sue said she was pleased with the job Ron did in painting her walls to appear like stone and countertop to resemble marble. Knotty pine and hand-cut rails were used in the chairs. He painted plywood to match chairs to get a light oak look. The kitchen island countertop Ron painted looks country antique and  is one of Sue’s favorite areas that Ron painted.  

Another large project for Ron was at the McCullogh House, a 14,000 square-foot mansion in the woods where he hand-painted rooms and completed a lot of the woodwork. 

Byrum said he doesn’t do one activity too long before starting another. 

“I think Ron has Attention Deficit Disorder,” Sherry said. 

But the pair shares some clear-cut goals: They would like to offer their paintings in different formats and larger sizes, which is something they have explored at Starting an art show in Mammoth Spring is a project Sherry would like to develop. 

Although the Byrums celebrate all holidays with gusto, Halloween is their favorite. The artists offer a few Christmas paintings. Some still showcase some Halloween friends. Ron gives an impish grin when he talks about some of the more unusual Christmas/Halloween pairings, such as a bat flying a holly-trimmed garland to decorate a Christmas tree as a cat, crow and beagle and grim reaper are captivated by the tree’s glow. A moon wearing green ear muffs and a jack-o-lantern smile completes the holiday mix. 

Haunted Snow House is one I have up in my house all winter. Bats and ghosts fly above the home while snow softly falls on a quiet graveyard. 

Ron said he planned to complete at least six new haunted house pictures in the coming months. 

“I never do the same thing twice.” 

Leaves continue to blow across yards and downtown Mammoth Spring as I prepare to leave the magical world of Sherry and Ron Byrum. Driving down Arkansas 9  throughout the hilly region dotted with lakes, farms and huge oak and maple trees, one can almost see a witch stirring her brew behind  a tree house filled with merry visitors, or a skeleton sitting  out on a front porch rocking chair, waving as you pass by. 





haunted birdhouse

A haunted birdhouse perches in the bush




fantasy witch

A magical witch decorates the bedroom




halloween tree

Sherry's Halloween tree decorates her art studio




kitchen vine

A painted vine creeps along a kitchen wall




faux marble

Byrum painted a surface to resemble marble




Haunted tree house

Witches frolic around a haunted tree house




tree witch

The witch stirs her cauldron





Haunted Snow House

Ghosts fly around in the snow




Snow Witch

The snow woman displays her witchy attire


Gothic Elegance

  • June 27, 2011 2:12 pm


Gothic elegance was the 2009 Halloween theme. I’ve tried to add some sparkle and shine with glittery black tree branches, a witch corner, a special display for a corpse bride and a Halloween village. It took me about a week to put all this stuff back, but it’s so much fun to arrange in different ways each year. I was happy to discover a new witch bust, one of my best finds, from upscale retailer Horchow. I got her on sale and couldn’t be happier with the vibrant colors and black glittery accents that add to her menacing allure. 

Here’s a few highlights below:

corpse bride doll

A lonely ghost carries her lantern in search for the living


This is a Katherine’s Collection doll from the Shiver Me Timbers collection. The title is Lady of Balete, but I think of her as a modifed Corpse Bride. This one is unique. Her left hand had two fingers broken off of them when I ordered it, so I hot-glued them together in the hopes it would look like some wax from her candle dripped onto her hand. 

Also, I wasn’t satisfied with the lips, which I thought looked a little snarly, so I tried to match the color and paint them a little more thicker. This is one of my favorite dolls. She embodies a lost spirit, but doesn’t really look too perturbed, just relaxed in a dreamy state between this world and another…

These two dolls complete each other’s web. Both are from Katherine’s Collection. Mr. Snidely sports a dapper top hat and spider staff, while Griselda shows off her colorful attire with a hairdo reminiscent of the Bride of Frankenstein. Both watch over a bag of baby spiders waiting to crawl out all over the living room floor. 

spider dolls

Mr. Snidely and Griselda watch over some baby spiders crawling out of their bag


A black owl was a perfect door greeter. The Welcome royal Halloween banner featuring a skull wearing a crown was another spooktacular purchase from Target, as well as the werewolf bust at the bottom with flashing red eyes. Both were from the retailer’s Halloween Heraldry collection, an affordable take on gothic glamour. 

royal Halloween ban

A black owl greets visitors at the door


This is one of the buffet tables I use for the Department 56 Snow Village Halloween collection. This is my city scene, the commercial district, complete with a motel, movie theater, wax museum, brew pub and costume shop. Lugging the village out and unpacking all the styrofoam boxes consumes the most of my time, but it’s worth it to see the village come alive each year in new designs and districts. 

town of Halloween

The village is busy on Halloween night


pumpkin candolier

A pumpkin candolier lends a glow to festive ornaments


It’s a shame the Radko’s Shiny Brite line does not include Halloween items anymore. These pieces offer a nostalgic, retro-look to any scene. I was lucky to find this candolier on eBay. It provides a soft orange glow to any dark corner. 

candy dish, nutcracker

All the spooks find a spot on the bookshelf


A bookcase offers a landing spot for some decorative pieces without a theme. The candlestick is a part of a Masquerade collection by, surprise: Cracker Barrel. The franchise has offered some unique pieces like this that fit into a sort of elegant party theme each season. This candlestick is fun to use. All you have to do is pick it up and drop it to turn it on and off. 

Next is a Jim Shore Headless Horseman, alongside a candy dish guarded by a raven and another candlestick from Hallmark. This one flickers and glows and is battery operated. I especially like the face featured in the candle flame.

mantel scarf, fireplace

Fireplace fiends gather to celebrate All Hallows Eve


A butler and the evil mistress of the mansion flank some colorful comrades decked out in beads and feathers. 

ghostly boat ride

Tattered ghosts wail at sea


I didn’t think this picture would ever be completed. It started out as a cross stitch pattern called Skeleton Crew. I had never been a cross stitch fan and was dismayed to find out it was 17-count (super-tiny) holes cloth to stitch these in. Well, I tried and after one hour, it felt like I was going cross-eyed. So for months I put the pattern out of sight and thought about throwing it away. A trip to Hobby Lobby and a walk down the acrylic paints aisle gave me an idea. I bought a canvas and some paints, in addition to these distressed frame that looked like it had been battered at sea. 

Next, I placed the cross stitch pattern over the canvas and traced it with a pencil. I then painted the outlines and added a few embellishments. In the original, there is no moon, bats, or hill with a spooky tree on it. I’m glad this image is preserved now, because I believe it would have taken me 15 years to complete the original way.

scarecrow doll

Autumnal friends gather for the season


I used these items to hide some cords. They make a fun group. The scarecrow is from a shop in Branson, Mo., called Mulberry Mills Gifts & Floral, which carries a lot of works by local artists.

dinner table, Halloween theme

Bone Appetit


The table is ready for a Halloween feast. For the spiderweb effect I looped some webbing around my kitchen table lights and spread them out to the ends of the table. 

A pork tenderloin mummy wrapped in phyllo dough rests is ready to escape his sauerkraut bed. This was easy to make. 

warped picture

A queen turns into a medusa monster


Yet another masterful offering from Target. This picture is one of the best of its kind I’ve seen. The queen’s image changing into a maniacal cat/medusa figure that scared more than a few visitors to my house. 

This clear skeleton server looks like the real thing as its used to scoop up some thick Witch’s Brew.

spooky punch, skull hand

A skeleton hands out some Witch's Brew


green witch

Mean and Green


One of the more serious witches I’ve encountered. This Horchow witch I was talking about above was a wonderful addition to my collection and didn’t break the bank, since it was on sale the week before Halloween. 

I really like this witch’s expression. She grimaces as she grips her broom handle, ready to fly. 

purple witch on broom

Up, up and away


witch, grim reaper, vampire, Jim Shore

Harbingers of Halloween, a witchy weathervane joins the grim reaper and a vampire.


Jim Shore has produced some excellent Halloween pieces. I remember thinking that this Witch Weathervane was a departure from his more family-friendly, Disney characters. Definitely a figure you won’t forget.


A dapper skeleton dances to his own beat


I tried to place these skeletons together in their own scene. The cloth figure is by Joe Spencer, and the Boney Bunch skeletons are from Yankee Candle Co. 

Some of these were about $14. I was amazed to learn about three weeks after I bought them that they were sold out in 2008 and were going for more than $100 on eBay. Glad I got mine when they first came out in August.

witch, purple

Dressed to thrill


The witch with the purple hat is from December Diamonds. I have long admired this company known for its mermaids and mermen ornaments. I thought this was a well-crafted piece with colors that pop and little details like her coffin purse. 

witch on broom

This witch is a vision in purple


This owl witch and Lenox Moonlight Enchantress completes my witchy-themed corner. Lenox used to make some outstanding Halloween figurines, but lately, they mainly produce Disney pieces. Nothing wrong with that, but these more traditional Halloween collectibles are my favorite. Just give me a witch who is unknown, not a character in a movie or cartoon, but one that looks like she could be someone you know, or at least a real Halloween haunt.

welcome mat, haunted

A Haunted welcome


Lowe’s really surpised me this year with their Halloween decor. The company doesn’t usually have Halloween props, but they did this year. This welcome mat is from the store. It’s the perfect balance of creepy and elegant.

witch, butler, dracula

Team Halloween


Dracula, a gruesome butler and haggard witch await trick-or-treaters. I made the small wreath in the background out of black feathers and beaded branches.

My house has a black mold on it — perfect for Halloween. I didn’t have to produce that effect on purpose!

October roses, fall

Sun rays create a haunting ambiance


The landscaping usually looks unassuming, but I thought this picture of soft sunlight stretching its rays out over the roses, ghost and pumpkin cast an eerie light on the scene.

Jack-O-Lantern glow

Glowing Jack


I placed this jack-o-lantern decoration on either side of my garage over lights to give it an other-worldly glow when trick-or-treaters walked up the drive. 


Grave stones line the walk


I place tombstones I’ve collected over the years in the landscaping. Usually I trim back the weeds and dead hostas, but I was hoping the unkept appearance would make it look more like a real haunted house. 


Orange Glow


I bought one tree at Lowe’s this year and added some orange and purple lights to my dwarf alpine spruce tree. 

costume, wig

Checking out the moon


The flash wasn’t on in this photo to show the orange glow cast by the trees and pumpkin. That’s me checking out the scene. 

I am usually a blonde for Halloween, since I have naturally dark hair. It’s a fun change, and that’s what the holiday is all about, to step out of your comfort zone and become someone else.

Dreadful Decor

  • June 27, 2011 2:07 pm

Gravely the butler awaits trick-or-treaters
Gravely the butler awaits trick-or-treaters

I’ve collected Department 56 Snow Village Halloween for 11 years, and I have watched the town grow each year. Nearly every item you could think of spotting in a real town — from stoplights to construction cones — has been developed by artists. The villages became a monster of sorts and start to take over the whole house. I don’t have room to display in now all together, so I’ve set up tables in other rooms, including the kitchen, to allow for more space in spreading out different sections of the village.

Some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way have enhanced my decorating experience. Some are purchased from Department 56, and others are fashioned from found objects or floral leftovers from craft stores. We’ll take a tour of this year’s village at Village Scapes. Enjoy your visit!


Haunting The Home

One of my biggest challenges is grouping odds and ends I’ve found throughout more than 14 years of collecting. So I try to envision areas of the home where each piece would most naturally fit. For example, I have my collection of wine bottle candle holders and kitchen witches in the kitchen, and spooky black feathered owls with red eyes sitting on top of the topiaries by the front door.

Color schemes are another consideration. I found a regal looking owl with purple glitter around its eyes, and propped him a small chair. For added color, I arranged a purple bead garland around a candle and tucked the ends under the chair.

I find these spangled wreaths at a Lilli’s, a home and garden decor shop in Eureka Springs, AR. They add a sparkle to any scene. I used one an orange garland around a lamp and let the ends hang down to form colorful tendrils. This was the perfect complement to an Evangeline Ghastly doll, who was dressed all in black. I placed her and her horrific cat under a lamp.

Evangeline Ghastly
Evangeline Ghastly and her Halloween cat are ready to haunt the house


black owl
A regal looking owl sits in his chair



Purple is the color for 2010. I’ve seen it at most major retailers, including Yankee Candle Co. The all-purple display in the store caught my attention, along with a large black crow in a purple bird cage and wine bottle tea light holders that look like they are lit from black lights when a candle burns.

I found the perfect welcome mat with purple lettering at Pier1 Imports. I love the bat shape instead of the traditional square.

bat mat
Bat Mat


Sleepy Hollow Winery
A bottle from Sleepy Hollow Winery keeps a grim reaper company in the kitchen


purple cage
A crow sticks his beak out of a purple cage



I don’t have many vintage or retro Halloween pieces, although I’m starting to collect those. I think this crescent moon with a cat and pumpkin dangling down the side is a wonderful addition. It is designed by Halloween artist Scott Smith/Rucus Studio for Bethany Lowe. The piece looks at home alongside a black fluffle bird and mean green witch bust.

With and moon
A jolly moon offsets a grim witch


A black bowl I use for potpourri made the perfect spot for a painted gourd with mouth carved into a bat shape. A little bit of moss added underneath provided an accent to the bright orange. Several household items make the perfect props for your Halloween pieces. You could use cake stands, serving trays and apothecary jars to display collectibles.

Even a grapevine floral design came in handy. I had four kitchen witch ornaments, but I didn’t want to display then on an ornament tree or have them hanging in the way, so I fastened them to the filler in this grapevine cone. I think they look like they belong flying among the twisting green vine. In fact, the girls look so good, I plan to keep them up all year.

kitchen witch
Four kitchen witches fly on a fork, spoon, whisk and spatula, casting their cooking spells


These food-themed dolls from Katherine’s Collection add a whimsical touch to the kitchen. One is placed on the fruit stand — next to other bad apples — and the corn is one the veggie bin, and lastly, the pumpkin carver sits atop a pumpkin.

gourd scene
A haunted village scene is painted on this gourd


apple man
Rotten to the core


pumpkin man
The pumpkin carver


corn man
The corn stalker



I believe in decorating every room in the house for Halloween. This prevents my whole living room looking like a store, as one blunt visitor put it. Spiders aren’t usually a welcome sight in the bathroom, but this one from Bath & Body Works is adorable with her orange bow and black body. Best of all, the spider loofah can help you stay clean in spooky style.

spider loofah
Spider girl joins me for a bath



The store went all out for Halloween this year. The Harry Slatkin candles were scrumptious smelling. My favorite was Creamy Pumpkin, which sold out at the local store in the first two weeks it was out. Slatkin has also designed a haunted house candle holder that is bewitching when the candles glow, as the interior is painted orange.



boo mansion
These haunted house windows present a warm orange glow


Even the dish towels were creepy. I hung them over the kitchen cabinets to showcase their creative names: Ice Scream Cone, Scarrots and Terrormisu.

kitchen towel terror
Towel terrors



A large mirror in the corner of a bedroom gave me the idea to create a witch’s dressing area, with two arms and a boot attached to the mirror frame. This is the only Halloween decor in the bedroom, but it’s simple enough to not overwhelm the space and lend a playful touch to the holiday.

witch boot
The witch’s boot is ready for her to slip on for an evening of fun


witch hands
Lacy orange sleeves complete the witch’s outfit



Smaller pieces tend to get lost among large busts, dolls or pumpkins, so I placed them on bookshelves and try to think of some creative ways to display them. It’s really fun to place them in seemingly ordinary spots in the house. The effect is a little more startling when a ghost or skull head pops up in a fern, curio cabinet or window.

rats and nutcrackers
Black rats scuttle along a bookcase shelf



Halloween nutcrackers are not as prevalent as their Christmas counterparts, but they are equally charming. The Frankenstein on the left is from Target, and the one on the right is a Jim Shore design. I scattered some black velvety rats and gray sisal rats along the sign for a creepy effect.

Skeleton key and witch ornaments hang from a DVD case, which allows them to command more attention than lost on a tree of ornaments.

A small ghost could have been lost in the crowd, but he stands out as a surprise. He is tied to a pull cord on window blinds.

skeleton key
Skeleton key and witch hang out together


Ghost cord
A tiny ghost dresses up a blind cord



Spiders, spiders everywhere! I knew something special had to be done with two large spider dolls that were displayed separately last Halloween. I had found a great bench from the previous year at a store closing sale, and I thought this would be perfect for the couple to sit in front of the fireplace.

An ordinary spider web that retails for $2 formed a backdrop. Plastic spiders were placed in the web to resemble a steady stream of them crawling from the “power couple.” I opened another bag of fuzzy spiders to create a total spider homecoming.



spider couple
A spider couple is surrounded by Halloween friends


A home wouldn’t be complete without Dracula stopping by for a visit. This year the count settled into a corner and folding a wing around his red wine.

dracula red wine
Dracula takes a drink



Cooking Cauldron

  • June 27, 2011 2:01 pm
cabbage beef soup
Cabbage Beef Soup is filling in a pumpkin bowl


Pumpkins make the perfect bowls. Even if you aren’t making a pumpkin-based soup or stew, the cheerful orange globes create instant October ambiance. I decided to prepare one of my favorite soup recipes on this September night. No chill is in the air yet, but I’m already in a fall state of mind. This hearty mixture is extremely filling. Cabbage, celery, onion and kidney beans also make it a healthy choice. Most of the fat may be eliminated by purchasing lean ground beef or draining the fat from the meat before adding it to the pot.

Sodium was slashed in half with the use of Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes with low sodium. A healthy dose of garlic powder adds enough salty flavor to prevent a bland taste. Enjoy this recipe all throughout the year, but especially on rainy or cold days. There’s nothing as comforting as a good bowl of soup.

Cabbage Beef Soup

1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 medium head cabbage, torn into bite-sized pieces

2 ribs chopped celery

1 medium diced white onion

1 16-ounce can kidney beans

1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes

24 ounces beef broth

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt

Salt and pepper, to taste

Brown ground beef and drain. Add remaining ingredients in a large pot and bring to boil at medium heat. Turn burner to medium low and simmer about 45 minutes.

Servings: 8

The pumpkin used in the above recipe performed double duty as the bowl and ingredients. The scraped out pumpkin flesh was just wasting away on the cutting board, so I thought it could be used for making bread. Real pumpkin versus canned is more difficult to work with, but the taste can’t be compared. I found the pumpkin similar in texture to zucchini bread — moist and soft. I used the innards of one pie pumpkin, which is on the small side, so I would use two pumpkins next time. Chocolate chips are optional, but I always like the pairing with pumpkin flavors, as in pumpkin cheesecake with a black bottom crust.

Candy corn and melted Almond Bark drizzled on top add a little color and extra sweetness to the bread.

pumpkin bread
Candy corn adds a festive touch to Pumpkin Bread


Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 stick butter

2 eggs

1/2 cup semisweet morsels

1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon Grand Marnier

1/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients. Melt butter in microwave for about 35 seconds. Let cool to room temperature. Add sugars and butter. Beat eggs and stir into mixture. Scrape the insides of a pumpkin, carefully discarding seeds. Place in blender and puree, or mash with a fork. Add pumpkin to mixture and stir in chocolate chips, vanilla and Grand Marnier.

Bake for about 350 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Servings: 1 loaf

The following recipe features canned pumpkin in place of the real thing. It still tastes good, but it doesn’t have that fresh pumpkin smell. The texture is a little more smooth. This version makes two loaves, but in recognizing Halloween, I decided to use one of my pumpkin cake pans to decorate this one in the form a ghostly white jack-o-lantern with candy corn pupils and teeth. A little leftover almond bark served as the icing, and melted bittersweet chocolate completed the mouth and eye areas.

This is easy to make and fun to decorate.

pumpkin bread
A ghostly white pumpkin stands out in the “cemetery”


Pumpkin Bread

1 1/2 stick unsalted butter

2 1/2 cups sugar

4 eggs

24 ounces canned pumpkin

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup coarsely chopped black walnuts

3 squares almond bark, for decorating

3 squares bittersweet chocolate, for decorating

Heat oven to 350 degrees; grease two loaf pans. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy in a large mixing bowl. Stir in eggs and pumpkin. Blend flour, soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon. Stir in nuts. Pour into pans and bake about 70 minutes.

Let bread cool. Melt almond bark in microwave at 30 second intervals until all lumps disappear. Melt chocolate squares. Spread almond bark over face area and chocolate for eyes and mouth. Decorate with candy of your choice.

Servings: 2 loaves


Chocolate Cauldron Pot de Creme

Creamy and rich dark chocolate was the perfect alternative to some of the sweet Halloween candy I’ve been munching on this month. I love dark chocolate and I’m always looking for new dessert recipes. I had some small black containers I use for salsa and other dips that resemble cauldrons, so I thought about filling these up with some treat for the October season.

The dessert was scrumptious tasting but lacked a little bit of decoration, so I added a witch’s broom made from a pretzel rod and crushed shredded wheat for the bristles. The broom looks like it’s stirring the cauldron by magic, without the assistance of a gnarled witch hand.

6 ounces semisweet chocolate

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup milk (at least 2 percent)

5 egg yolks

2 tablespoons sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 pretzel rod

4 to 6 shredded wheat squares

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

5 chocolate wafer cookies, crushed

Melt chocolate in the microwave at 30-second intervals until smooth. Whisk together egg yolks, sugar and salt, slowly adding the hot cream mixture into the yolks. Add chocolate and stir until combined.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spoon the mixture into ramekins. Pour enough water in baking pan to reach halfway up the side of ramekins and cover with foil. Bake about 35 minutes or until edges being to firm. Let cool. Chill in refrigerator for about 2 hours.

Assemble broom by crushing about 4 shredded wheat squares in a small mixing bowl. Add 2 tablespoons peanut butter until “broom” holds together. Attach to one end of the pretzel and insert into chocolate mixture. Add crushed cookie

mixture to center of the pot de creme for garnish.

Servings: 6.

chocolate cauldron
A peanut butter broom swirls in a chocolate cauldron



Monster Head Caramel Apples

Caramel apples are good without any decoration, but Halloween allows for more creativity with extra candy. For these monster heads, I crushed Oreo cookies and used peanut butter M&Ms and candy corn for the eyes and mouth. The caramel was extra creamy with the addition of some heavy whipping cream I had left over from the above recipe.

4 to 6 apples

1 14-once package caramels

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Place sticks down into core. Melt caramel along with cream, checking at 30-second intervals to make sure contents do not bubble over.

Roll apples in caramel; add desired candy coating. Place on wax paper to cool

Servings: 4

caramel apples