Monday, October 31, 2011

Haunted Halloween Cookies

Happy Halloween!  Here are some Halloween cookies to help celebrate the day.  I now have  a nice collection of Halloween cookie cutters, and really had a good time decorating these cookies.  Most of them are Wilton cookie cutters.

I used the following cookie cutters: witch's hat, square, witch's cauldron, ghost, 2 simple circles, witch's broom, witch's shoe, tombstone, and skull/Frankenstein.

I really had fun with the witch's shoe, the black, creepy tree, spider webs, Frankenstein, and the tombstones!

Here's a close up of the shoe, cauldron and that cute little candy corn.  Most of the cookies are sugar cookies, but there are a few chocolate chip cookies; the candy corn, witch's hat, black tree, and Frankenstein.

I really enjoyed making this haunted tree.  I think a whole set of cookies decorated like this would be really interesting; such as a witch flying across a moon, pumpkins on a fence post, etc. 

Here's another close up, this one of a crazy witch's shoe, a pumpkin, tombstone, ghost, and broom.
I just love these eyeballs, an idea from  She is a truly amazing cookie decorator!

Here's a little Halloween quilt and another kind of witch's hat.

Well, I am now ready for Halloween...let the "Tricker Treating" begin!
Happy, Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween Costume Collection

As I stated in my last post, I really love Halloween!  I just couldn't wait to make Halloween costumes for my kids, and believe me, I had fun every year!  We always encouraged them to choose who or what they wanted to be.  They usually came up with some pretty unique ideas.  I think we only bought one pre-made costume over the years and that was because my daughter really liked a  unicorn costume that she saw in a catalog.  It was cheaper to buy it than to make it, so we ordered it.  She was thrilled, it was really cute, and I didn't have to figure out how to  attach a horn to her head!  whew!  I have nothing against buying a costume, but after my kids chose what they wanted to be, finding that costume was always pretty hard.  Besides, as I said, I really liked to make them!  I thought I would share a few of the costumes, hope you enjoy them....

My brother-in-law with my daughter.  I think a friend loaned him this great costume, and we joined in for the fun!  The braids were especially fun to make!

When my daughter was really little, we got to choose her costume for her, yea!  Here she is as a of my favorite costumes as a kid.  Fringe and make up....bliss!

My daughter (on the left) really liked "Curious George" and wanted to be this cute little monkey for Halloween.  My son, on the right, chose to wear the same costume when he was about 2 years old.  This costume and the pumpkin (last post) were the only two costumes that were worn by both of them.

Here's my little cow girl ...yee-ha!

Here is my daughter as "Dorothy" from the "Wizard of Oz."  I bet there have been a bunch of Dorothys over the years.  The "Ruby Red Slippers" were fun to make...she left a trail of red sequins through the neighborhood!

Again, my son was too little to choose, so I got to make a clown outfit.  I always wanted to make a clown outfit and a scarecrow outfit.  I got to make a clown, isn't he cute?  But, alas, no one ever  wanted to be a scarecrow...

My son as Santa Claus!  He was really excited about his costume, especially once I had the "padding" made!  He "Ho-Ho-Ho'd" all night long!

The evil Captain Hook...he doesn't look too evil, does he!

After our mini vacation to Holland, Michigan, my daughter wanted to be a little Dutch girl, wooden shoes and all!

My daughter wanted to be a "Genie" with all the sparkles.  Since we live in Michigan, we often have to "bundle up" on Halloween night and fit the costumes over these extra clothes to stay warm.  It can be a bit discouraging, especially with costumes that were not meant to have winter boots!  This picture was taken at school where she was able to wear the costume without all the winter "gear."

"Indiana Jones!"  We made a surprise trip to Disney World at the beginning of the school year and my son, who really loves all of the Indiana Jones movies,  got to witness the "Indiana Jones" production at Epcot.  We found the hat and the rest was pretty easy!  I was worried about the whip (a weapon!) so we taped it closed with duct tape.  There was no way that anyone could open it up!

"The Little Mermaid"  This is an example of having to "bundle up" under a costume.  I think she has a few layers under the costume plus winter boots.  Thank goodness we found some sparkly gloves!

My son the "Fisherman."  He even had a few fish hanging from his belt that you can't see.  He really enjoyed this costume.  At the time, he had only fished a couple of times, who knew that he would grow up to really enjoy the sport!

"Cleopatra" We all learned more about the history of Egypt!  When my daughter's friends asked who she was dressed up as and she told them "Cleopatra," the next question was, "Who is that?"  She was ready with a quick history lesson.

"John Quincy Adams"   Apparently, President Adams is a distant relative of our family.  For a class assignment, my son did a book report about President John Q. Adams and then decided to dress up as the president for Halloween.  When he went trick or treating, with his two friends, one dressed as a football player, and the other as a hockey player, he was asked a lot of questions at each house!

"Betsy Ross"  I think this was our "history period."  This dress belonged to my daughter's great aunt.  She loved wearing it!

I don't remember why my son decided to be a Native American...but, as you can see,  I like to add fringe whenever I can!  haha

"Mr. Money Bags" from Monopoly.  A perfect high school costume!

Here is my son, as a college student, in a costume he designed.  I received a phone call asking" I need some pink pajamas!"  My response was, " huh?"  But, as you can see, he really does look like a bottle of "Pepto Bismal."   And the Halloween costume tradition continues...

I hope that you have enjoyed this little Halloween fashion show...I know that I have enjoyed the memories!

Happy Halloween one and all!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Spooktacular Halloween Village

The weather is definitely cooler with a crispness in the air.  The trees are turning magnificent, gold, rust, orange and all the colors in between, some leaves are falling, making walking a crunchy experience, and best of all the pumpkins are ready to be harvested.   This means that Halloween is just around the corner!!!  Yippee, I just love Halloween...I always have and always will!  My family is well aware of my fondness for fall and for Halloween.  As a kid, I loved to "Trick or Treat," carve my pumpkin, and sort my "loot,"  (candy).  I don't remember eating much of it, but, boy has that changed!  So, over the years, my wicked wonderful children have given me my creepy "Halloween Village."  This collection is made by Studio 56, and is so much fun, spooky!

The village is displayed along our dining room windows, so at night its lights are reflected in the windows.  This makes the village is even scarier!

Halloween Village by Studio 56.

The Haunted Cathedral- home of the "Screeching Nun", a distant cousin of the Singing Nun.

The Haunted Cathedral...lit and unlit

The Schoolhouse- Where little goblinettes learn the three "Rs"-  Reeking, Rioting, and 

The  Schoolhouse, lit and unlit

"Dead Creek Mill"-  Where "things" are ground up...don't even ask!  Let's just say that they don't grind grain... it's not fish , but definitely brain food.   (unlit and lit)

The eerie "Windmill"- the sharply honed blades really turn. 

This fellow missed his bus a long, long, time ago...the lamp light actually lights up!

These fellows are lit...literally!  I think I need to add a bar or pub to the village so they have a place to get a re-fill!

I have added fall trees, mainly maples and birch to the scene...along with extraneous pumpkins, gourds, and fallen leaves.

Every small town needs its own water tower, especially one that can advertise its own "Annual Pumpkin Festival!"

Yikes, the tree is alive!  This is one scary tree.  It reminds of the trees from the
"Wizard of Oz." 

Also, every small haunted village needs a witch to create her potions, brews, and concoctions.  Especially if the village doesn't have a pharmacy!  I wonder if she charges a co-pay?  As you can see, the fire lights up, but what you can't see is that she stirs her pot over, and over, and over.

The "Dead End Motel" is for out of town guests, or better yet, out of this world guests.  My husband, my son, and I once stayed in a motel like this.  It was truly a we won't, can't forget.  (and believe me, we want to!)

Yes, there are little boys and ghouls in this town and they definitely need a haunted, old tree house to play in, especially if they need to play "Dead Man's Bluff, Haunt and Seek, or Pin the tail on the Black Cat!"

 I need to think of a name for my village....maybe Verminville, Death Valley, or maybe even 
New Yuck City!

Thank you, my two little "punkins," for my "Spooktacular" Haunted Village.  I love it and I love you!

Hope you all  have a Happy, Haunted, Hairy, and Hellacious Week!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Our Book Collections

I love to read, I mean I really love to read!  If I get caught up in a book, I tend to forget everything else!  Like so many others, I have favorite authors, favorite books, and welcome a cold, rainy day when I can cuddle up and spend my day reading a wonderful book.  I have always loved to read and have sweet memories of our family forays to the local library to pick new books to discover.  But, I really like to own my favorites.  I thought that I would share some of our book collections.  I have separated them into two categories; one: a book series with ongoing stories and shared characters by the same author, and two: a collection of books by the same author with varied stories and characters.

The first real series that I was aware of are my Mom's favorite books.  She always called them the "Patty Books."  The books are about Patty Fairfield, a young girl of the early 1900's.  My Mom said that she has had them for most of her life and she is now 83.  They have been around for a long time.  My Mom gave them to me when she moved into an apartment, but still remembers them dearly!  We had a little family contest for my Mom's 80th birthday.  We posed a variety of questions to her and the family had to guess her answers.  Whoever was able to answer a question correctly, won a point.  After 83 years, her answer to "What is your favorite book series?, (and believe me, she has read many), her answer was "The Patty Books!  Still her favorite after all of these years!

The "Patty Books," by Carolyn Wells.

As a child, I liked to read a variety of books.  But, my favorite books were "The Happy Hollisters," by Jerry West.  As Amazon describes the books, "This series recounts the adventures of a young American middle class family solving mysteries from their home on Pine Lake in Shoreham. The Hollister family includes five children, their parents, a family of cats, and a dog. Pete is the oldest of the Hollister children and is 12 years old. Pam, or Pamela, is ten years old, loves sports, and is very adventurous. Ricky is a red-headed, rambunctious 7-year-old and Holly is a 6-year-old tomboy. The youngest is Sue, age 4.  Their father, Mr. Hollister, owns a general store named the Trading Post, where he sells hardware, sporting goods, and toys. Mrs. Hollister tries to help her children solve mysteries and is always ready with handy tips for solving clues."
This was my first foray into "mysteries" and believe me, I thought that they were really scary, especially when the Hollister children were about to "nab" a "crook."  Recently, I re-read one of the books and loved it.  However, the "Scary Factor" was missing!  I guess I grew up!  But, I was pleased to appreciate that the intrigue was mild, just enough to interest a little girl who was ready for a new genre of books. 

I looked forward to Christmas and my birthdays when I usually received a new Happy Hollister book.  And yes, I started a trend that to this day I have difficulty controlling....I couldn't put the book down until I read the last page!

My husband really liked Kate Seredy's books.  His favorite is "The Open Gate."  As described on Amazon,  "This is a wonderful story that takes place just prior to WWII. It starts out with the family living in a big city, in a modern apartment with all the latest gadgets. The grandmother, who lives with her son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren, would like to move back to a farm, but knows she can't by herself. Just as the story opens, the father has lost his job and isn't sure what to do next, but decides to take his family on a vacation at a new lakeside vacation home development. On the way his mother tricks them into going to an estate auction at a farm. While there the father unintentionally buys the farm. They decide to stay for awhile and see how they like it. The rest of the book tells about all the experiences they have on the farm. It is a very good picture of what farm life was like in the late 1930s and a heartwarming story about the interactions of these city slickers and their new farming neighbors. "

The books are wonderful with very memorable characters!  I think that the books are out of print,  I had to contact a an antique book seller to find the "Open Gate" for me to give to my husband for a gift.  Of course, this was 30 years ago long before ebay! (I just checked and it is available both on ebay and Amazon.)

When my husband and his brothers were sick and had to stay home from school, their mother, my wonderful MIL, read to them most of the day.  Amazing, huh?  Their favorite books to listen to were the "Little Britches" books by Ralph Moody.  They are the story of  a young boy who moved with his family to Colorado because of his father's poor health and the need for him to find a better job.  Ralph Moody tells the story of his life from his childhood through young adulthood.  I absolutely love these books and have read the series at least three times!  I think that they are considered books for upper elementary students but believe me, they are a fascinating read.  My children have read all of them and we even have the books on CDs

We started reading to our kids when they were very little, and they learned to love a good book, too.  My daughter really liked her books.  When she was little, a few of her favorite books were:  Popcorn by Frank Asch,  It's not Easy Being a Bunny by Marilyn Sadler, and her favorite, But No Elephants, by Jerry Smath.  But, I think that her first favorite book collection was Curious George.  To this day, she still loves Curious George and has a nice collection of stuffed animals, calendars, and bric-a-brac.

My daughter started out loving the Berenstain Bears and my son quickly joined in.  I really liked these books, too.  There is always a good lesson to be learned as a part of the story.  We met the Berenstain Bears at Cedar Point, in Sandusky Ohio, an amusement park.  They used to have a Berenstain Bear World which was wonderful.  We enjoyed the TV shows, especially the Christmas show, and of course the stuffed animals.  I was a bit amazed when I pulled the books together for these pictures, to find out that our kids have over 100 Berenstain Bears books.  Yes,they have all been read many, many times!

My children being read to by their Grandpa....a joy that they will always remember!!

I am not sure who liked the "Little Critter" books better, my children or myself!  I think that I really enjoy these books because Little Critter is always getting himself in trouble and his parents never get mad and just love him no matter what!  He really cracks me up!   (The Grandma and Me book epitomizes my MIL and my children!)

Steven Kellogg's books are not just wonderful stories, but beautifully illustrated.  My son really enjoyed these books, and we spent hours just looking at the intricate illustrations.  My favorite is The Mysterious Tadpole, but I think that my son's favorite is Johnny Appleseed...and here's why.....

My FIL, the landscape architect, had an apple press.  Each fall, he would visit each grandchild's classroom with his cider press, dressed up as Johnny Appleseed,  tell the story of Johnny Appleseed, and make cider with the students.  It became an activity that the kids really looked forward to.  But, I think that my FIL had the most fun!

My son always enjoyed Bill Peet's books.  His imagination is creative!  These are books that I enjoyed reading to my son which is always a plus for a parent!  I think that some of his favorites are Eli,  Chester, the Wordly Pig, Big Bad Bruce, and Smokie.

An amazing picture; Grandma and Grandpa in my son's single bed reading to him before bedtime.  Oh, yeah, his teddy bear, Tommy, and Hulk Hogan were there, too!   (Of course, Grandma is reading a Bill Peet book!)

The "Value" book series really introduced important historical figures to my kids. 

My daughter liked Shel Silverstein's books which introduced her to poetry.  She started writing poetry for fun, which was amazing to me.  Poetry is something that I found daunting as a child, so was grateful that these books seemed to make this genre less intimidating1

Yes, I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder, and so did my kids.  These were my books as a child, but they have been read by all of us.  We even traveled to Walnut Grove, MN, and saw the location of the Ingall's homestead.  We saw where the dugout was located on Plum Creek, and enjoyed a wonderful outdoor play "Wilder Pageant" of the Wilder books on the open prairie.  It was a wonderful trip.

My daughter "discovered" Leon Uris as a teenager, as did I.  She read Exodus, and was hooked!  These books are all amazing and once read, will be remembered!  I am so glad that she was able to enjoy them as much as I did!

Sue Grafton's books were my first Mystery series after The Happy Hollisters...yep, there was a big gap.  This series follows the life of Kinsey Milhone, private detective, as she solves crimes.  I really like these books, because Kinsey Milhone is a very likable character. 

Johnathan Kellerman is my favorite mystery write.  His book series follows Alex Delaware, a child psychologist who assists the police in solving crimes.  Jonathan Kellerman has also co- written books with his author wife, Faye Kellerman.  Faye Kellerman has her own book series, also mysteries, but the focus is on Peter Decker, a police detective married to his second wife, Rina.  Peter tries to solve crimes, while  living the life of an Orthodox Jew.  At times, he seems to be pulled in two different directions.  I have enjoyed all of the Kellerman books and used to wait with anticipation for their release.  I would save these books to read during summer vacation, or ask for them for Christmas gifts.  Recently, I bought my first Kellerman book to read on my Kindle.  Don't worry, I enjoyed it just as much!!!

Like so many people, I really enjoy reading John Grisham's books.  But, my favorite is A Painted House, which was quite a departure from his other books.  Another amazing author!

I have read only a few of  Michael Crichton's many books.  I really enjoyed Congo, Sphere, and Rising Sun.  I saw the movie Jurassic park which was and still is amazing.  His foray into television has also been remarkable, ER is a favorite!  He is a very talented man!

My family really enjoyed Patricia Cornwell's book series about Kay Scarpetta, Medical Examiner.  According to Wikepedia, "The Scarpetta novels include a great deal of detail on forensic science.   The initial resolution to the mystery is found in the forensic investigation of the murder victim's corpse, although Scarpetta does considerably more field investigation and confrontation with suspects than real-life medical examiners. The novels generally climax with action scenes in which Scarpetta and her associates confront, or are confronted by, the killer or killers, usually concluding with the death of the killer."

I really love the Mitford Series, by Jan Karon.  I have read all of her books, and can't wait for more of her "Father Tim" series.  The "Mitford" books are about a small fictional town and it's local minister, his author wife, their adopted son, interesting locals, and the trials and tribulations of life in a small town. These books are uplifting with spiritual Christian messages.  They truly make you smile!

On a completely different note are the fun to read books by Janet Evanovich!   After my daughter had her tonsils out when she was in college, her aunt gave her two books to read during her recovery.  These were the first two Janet Evanovich books and we quickly had to run to the bookstore to get more.  This series is about a bail bonds woman, Stephanie Plum, and her life trying to catch criminals who skip bond.  It details her relationship with her mother and  father and her hysterically funny grandmother.  She has two love interests, a penchant for cake and doughnuts, an unpredictable sidekick, and is always getting herself caught in unusual circumstances.    They are very funny books!  A must read for all!!

I had a hard time narrowing my book collections down to a few to share.  I did not list any of the "classics", as everyone is well aware of their value as a" great read"! Some of my other favorite book collection authors include:
Fannie Flagg
James Michener
Sidney Sheldon
Scott Turow
David Balducci
Maeve Binchy
Irving Wallace
Judith Krantz
John Jakes
I thought I would share a few of my favorite books and hopefully you will respond with a few of your own.  I am always looking for a book to read and would really appreciate your recommendations!

Some of my favorite books:

Daisy Fae and the Miracle Man by Fannie Flagg
Light a Penny Candle by Maeve Binchy
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
A Painted House by John Gresham
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Exodus by Leon Uris
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Christy by Catherine Marshall
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Rocket Boys: A Memoir by Homer Hickham
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Hawaii by James A Michener

Happy Reading!!