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Halloween decorating and making your own spell book

I hate scary movies, but I love creepy Halloween decorations. Go figure. 

So every season my son and I dig out the skeletons, skulls, and other creepy-crawlies to liven up the front yard. I really wanted to do something different this year – less cheesy. Less cheap scare, more Fall, with a touch of the hair-raising, in a subtle way. But, it didn’t happen. I had hoped to have a hoard of time and money to shop for new things. Neither happened. So, we went with our usual. 

The only part of the outdoors I am really happy with are the crows. Why? Because the pizza delivery guy told me that this one scared the hell out of him! I don’t blame him. (Have you seen Hitchcok’s The Birds??)
Here’s a couple of the indoor vignettes…

The only real fun I had with decorating for the 31st has been the “mad-scientist lab,” as I like to call it. I saw this idea on Pinterest and more or less just stole it!

To think I bought these apothecary jars for a baby shower I hosted last year! This one now holds my son’s rubber snake!

These lovely cloches were scored at Great Gatherings during a 75% off sale! I got such a deal on them! And doesn’t the skull look creepy in there!
I found these jar labels online. Gotta love free printables! I can’t remember where I found these. If you Google search images for Halloween printables, you’re bound to find them!
Another snake in a jar, with little mice scampering over things on the table!  I wish I had a realistic looking frog! How can a household with a 7-year old boy not have a fake frog??
My only real project was making this spell book. This was also an idea found online – and easily recreated! Below are the simple steps (so simple you don’t really need steps, but I’ll list them for you all who insist on complete tutorials)!
I bought this big dictionary at a local used bookstore. Only $1.00!! And fortunately for me, it already had a black board cover. Look for a thick book – it doesn’t matter if its old, you can make it look old.
1) Find a big, thick book, with black board cover. If you can’t get a black cover, paint your cover black.
2) I used a wet sponge to moisten all the edges of the pages. Let it dry. 
3) Design two sheets to look like an old spell book. Again, there’s a lot of wording examples on the net. I found both of these “recipes” on the net. I used an old-fashioned gothic style font and designed using Adobe InDesign. I downloaded the free skull and snake images from The Graphics Fairy
4) Next, open to the center of the book. Spray each side with spray-mount glue and stick down your newly designed sheets.
5) Then, I antiqued the page edges and two new sheets with Annie Sloan’s dark wax. I just brushed a small amount on with a paint brush and it looks beautifully old!
6) I took my wet sponge again and went over the edges of the pages and started to roll them with my fingers. They dried slightly rolled up and look great!
7) Last, I grabbed an old black ribbon, cut a forked end, and just draped it across the open book, and tucked the other end under the book. I didn’t even attach it, as I don’t expect anyone will be touching this evil-looking thing! (insert bewitching laugh here)
And that’s it – the hardest part was driving 30 minutes to the used book store!
Now that the house is all decked for Halloween, I can’t wait to take it all down and start putting up my Christmas things! Damn, two more weeks until Trick-or-Treat.
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Halloween Fireplace Mantel Display

The air is cooler. The leaves are beginning to turn. And football has started to dominate many a household’s flat screen. Autumn is here, and with that comes one of my favorite times of the year – Halloween! While I dread most horror flicks, for some reason I love spooky decor. Even those animated ghostly figures, or zombies seemingly crawling out of the ground delight me. Something about those things tickle a spot inside me from childhood.

When I was a kid growing up in Allentown, Pennsylvania, we had this one neighbor who’s house was surrounded by really tall hedges. Literally the hedges formed a perfectly square-shaped fence. You couldn’t see in – and you couldn’t see out over those hedges. And honestly, no one gave much thought to those hedges any time of the year, except on Trick-or-Treat night. Suddenly those hedges became home to the BEST place to get your scare on! The wonderful folks who lived there turned their front yard into a fright fest – filled with live people dressed in mummy wraps, Dracula capes and other monsters. Each year, a man complete with white face and fangs would lay in a coffin perfectly still with his eyes closed. We would creep over (knowing full well from the previous year what was to come) and approach him. The moment we were close enough to see his chest rise up and down, he would jump up and reach out to grab us! Dear God, that gave us all a huge scare, but we loved it. Well, I did anyway – certainly there were some kids who cried. Rookies.

So all these years later, a part of me really wants to deck out the yard with all kinds of scream-inducing Halloween decor. But, the kiddos in my hood are still too young. Even my 5-year old, who wants to be a big boy and does his best to seem brave at the Halloween store, is afraid of the crawling hands and bloody appendages. I’m sure what I have in mind would put him and the other youngsters in nightmare territory. So, my dreams for the spookiest yard in the neighborhood are on hold.

However, I did decorate my fireplace mantel this weekend. I simply had to because I found this creepy black and white framed picture recently at an auction. The auctioneer referred to her at Aunt Ethel. Who knows what this lady’s name was – I’ll be calling her Scary Mary. Come on – she’s scary, right?

I wanted a mostly black and white mantel, and decided to keep the majority of orange pumpkins on the floor.

I kind of like how the black-lighting of the sun makes those crows look like silhouettes!

That gourd looks like science project under the glass dome jar! (I found another use for my yard sale Reader’s Digest books, too.)

I picked up this fabric cat at a local consignment shop this past year – knowing it would be brought out for Halloween. Something about those button eyes give me the willies! Like the dolls from the movie Coraline! I think its a Tim Burton movie – enough said.

I really wanted to use owls this year, instead of crows. However, I couldn’t find old ceramic owls to paint, and didn’t want to go out and buy owls just for this occasion. So, I recycled the crows from last year’s Halloween party. (I’ll be blogging about soon)

This is one of those solar powered patio lanterns. I would have loved an old-fashioned gas lantern – but again, the budget for new was out. Between Scary Mary and the pumpkins, I was tapped out.

The tree branches were snipped off a dead tree in our  neighborhood. The mason jar is filled with salt, the other is filled with burgundy popcorn. The labels came from Target. The skull was another purchase from last year. I painted the little vintage shutter I found at a thrift store.

Mini pumpkins and gourds – just love them!

Faux pumpkins – I learned my lesson last year – do not put these outside. Unless you want to visit the neighbors a few blocks over to retrieve them after a thunder storm.

And of course – Charlotte can’t resist an opportunity to get in on a photo shoot! She wouldn’t smile for the camera though. Too busy thinking about pumpkin pie!

Overall I like how it turned out. But, for some reason, it doesn’t feel complete to me. I need a white taper candle for the antique holder on the left. And it feels bare in the middle. Although I refuse to hang a banner, or fake cob webs.

I have a wood pallet in the garage that I want to take apart and make into signs. Perhaps I’ll paint one and hang it across the middle section. Maybe it should say, “Come back in 5 years for the fright of your life!” Because I am just getting warmed up.  (insert witchy cackle)