Quick and Easy Scratch Marks Halloween Makeup

atch Marks Halloween MakeupNeed too look like you just had a run-in with a werewolf for Halloween, but don’t have a lot of time to spend painting scratch marks? Then try these quick and easy scratch marks. Continue reading

10 Couples Halloween Costumes Ideas

10 Couples Halloween Costumes Ideas With Halloween arriving next month, many people are already planning or making their Halloween costumes. One of the things I often get asked by friends to come up with is ideas for couples Halloween costumes. So without further ado, here’s a list of a few classic (and a few not so classic) ideas for couples Halloween costumes.

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How to Carve a Bruce Springsteen Pumpkin (or any intricate pumpkin)

How to Carve a Bruce Springsteen Pumpkin (or any intricate pumpkin) While Jack o’ lanterns are always nice, sometimes it’s fun to bring a little more character out of the pumpkin by doing an intricate pattern; in this example I’m using Bruce Springsteen. Continue reading

How to Make Halloween Spider Soaps

How to Make Halloween Spider Soaps Get your kitchen or bathroom ready for Halloween by making some Halloween spider soaps. Continue reading

How to Make a Witch’s Broom

How to Make a Witch's Broom It’s easy to learn how to make a witch’s broom with a little “broomcorn” and a twisty piece of wood. Continue reading

Iron Man Arc Reactor that Really Glows – DIY Cheap and Easy

Iron Man Arc Reactor - DIY Cheap and Easy This Iron Man arc reactor looks amazingly realistic, but is actually very easy to make and can be put together with just a few simple materials for around $5. Continue reading

Kahlan Amnell or How to Make a Medieval Sorceress Costume (Confessor Dress)

How to Make a Medieval Sorceress Costume (Confessor Dress)This dress works great as a sorceress costume, but is actually based on the mother confessor dress from the Legend of the Seeker show. Continue reading

Loki Costume Tutorial: The Coat

Loki CostumeThis is the explaination for how to make Loki’s coat, cape, and tunic. Continue reading

Loki Costume Part 1 – How to Make Loki Costume Bracers

Loki costume bracers

Here is the second part of the Loki Costume tutorial. These are the gold bracers. Continue reading

Loki Staff – How to Make a Loki Costume Staff that Actually Glows

Loki staffHere is the first part of the Loki Costume tutorial. It’s a fairly simple and inexpensive way to make a Loki staff that actually lights up. Continue reading

Harry Potter Costume Tutorial Part 2: Easy No-Sew Robe, Crest, & Glasses

Here is part 2 of the Harry Potter costume tutorial. This covers making the robe, the house crest, and a pair of glasses. Continue reading

Harry Potter Costume Part 1: Easy No-Sew Sweater, Shirt, & Tie

Easy No-Sew Harry Potter Costume Part 1: Sweater, Shirt, & TieThis is a quick and easy Harry Potter costume that requires almost no sewing, save for a small bit to attach the robe closure. It’s easy enough that kids can make it themselves.  Continue reading

Christmas Comes AFTER Thanksgiving

I’m a person who loves all the seasons, and especially loves them in order, but lately it seems as though Christmas is getting earlier and earlier every year. This very year, two weeks before Halloween even, Target was already running a Christmas shopping commercial. (For some strange reason, listening to Christmas carols while I’m carving pumpkins just doesn’t do it for me.) Seriously, Christmas commercials before Halloween? That’s just too early.

As far as I know, Christmas still comes AFTER Thanksgiving, which in itself comes after Halloween. It’s gotten to the point where our society’s economy is so reliant on people shopping for the holidays that a store’s entire year now seems to revolve around that mad rush of shopping and gift giving. The ironic part is that a large portion of the shopping being done involves purchasing items that were probably cheaply made in another country. Continue reading

How to Make Flowered Gourds

flowered gourdsThese are something I make every year. They’re just cute little table decorations and look great in a bunch. They can work for any of the autumn holidays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, etc. Usually they’ll last all the way through Thanksgiving before they start to rot (so long as they’re not kept in a very warm spot). Although one year I gave one to my grandmother and it dried, so she kept it right through Christmas!

The nice thing about these is that everything on them is real, except the silk leaves. (I tried real leaves one year and they ended up a crumpled, powdery mess by the end). You can usually find them by the bag at Michael’s or Joann Fabrics. If not, you can cut the leaves off one of those holiday leaf garlands.

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pumpkin

May the odds be ever in your favor

I’m probably not actually quite as obsessed with the Hunger Games as I appear to be (I save that for Legend of the Seeker), but I have to admit that I am having a lot of fun with the mockingjay symbol. I realize it’s not exactly a Halloween image, but I couldn’t resist. It was so perfect, it was just screaming to be carved.

To make the pattern, just print out a black and white image of the mockingjay symbol, then add an extra circle around the entire pattern, leaving in the black and cutting out the white.

The Origins of Halloween

Anybody who ever watched Hocus Pocus probably recalls Alison telling how Halloween is based on “All Hallow’s Eve” to refute Max’s conspiracy theory of Halloween having been invented by the candy companies. But where did All Hallows Eve and the belief that it was the night when spirits roamed the earth come from? The origins of that date back even further to an old European Celtic celebration called Samhain.

Samhain (pronounced sow-in in Gaelic) literally meant “Summer’s End,” as the Celts recognized only two seasons, summer and winter. (Samhain’s counterpart Gamhain or “Winter’s End” took place in early May, a tradition which evolved into the current May Day celebrations). Samhain occurred when the sun reached 15 degrees Scorpio, known as a “cross-quarter day.” It was the last harvest festival and was considered the Celtic New Year.

The Celts believed that darkness was a beginning. Just as they held that a day began at sunset rather than sunrise, so too did they believe a new year should begin as the seasons were going into a time of rest and darker days (longer nights). Being the new year, the Celts also believed that on Samhain night, beings from the spirit world could come out and mingle with the living. Hence the legends of zombies and witches and such that are associated with our present-day Halloween. Continue reading

220 Carved Pumpkins and Other Decor

This is a slideshow of the 220 pumpkins my brother, sister, and I used to carve for our annual end of the harvest Pumpkin Fest; everything from witches and skeletons to Lord of the Rings and Jimi Hendrix. We’d also go crazy decorating our house with anything we’d seen in a magazine. (Yes, we were kind of insane back then). Unfortunately everybody in the family got busy and we had to stop having the Pumpkin Fests due to lack of time. It sure was fun though.

Originally published October 18th, 2012 by Amber Reifsteck

Is It Too Early for Halloween?

I know it’s still September, but does that mean it’s too early for Halloween soaps? I sure hope not, because I’m having way too much fun making these to stop now.

I found some new molds made of that flexible silicon stuff I am SO in love with (it’s so much easier than trying to work with plastic molds) and they are just right for the upcoming season. Plus I also had a request again for the “spider soaps” I made last year in October, so I figured as long as I was doing spider soaps, I might as well do Jack-o-lantern soaps as well. The two kinds together having a rather charming, albeit slightly creepy (we have the spiders to thank for that) effect.

We also started harvesting our Jack-be-little gourds and all the various hybrids with different names, (but which look quite similar to Jack-be-littles making it easier to simply refer to them all as “Jacks”). So I will be bringing my flowered gourds to Canandaigua this weekend if I have enough time to finish them between now and then. I know several people have been looking for them. So wish me time (I need it more than luck at the moment!)

The Real Halloween

Everyone instantly recognizes the familiar signs: witches on broomsticks, black cats, spiders. We wait for the costumed trick-or-treaters to come knocking at our doors requesting sweets (well, out here in the country, we wait, but they never actually come). Carved jack o’ lanterns adorn every doorstep. This is Halloween, one of the most beloved Holidays in America.

For many people it is a day to step into costume and become someone else entirely. For others it is an excuse to show off their artistic talents carving squashes. And for still other it is an opportunity to perform mischievous pranks in effort to scare the living daylights out of another person. For most it is a holiday to celebrate the spirit of fun, though there are a few people here and there who condemn it as an evil holiday due to its emphasis on magic. Nothing could be further from the truth, however, as many of the more “evil” symbols associated with the holiday came centuries after the original celebrations.

Hundreds of years before Christ, the Celts ruled Europe. Like many of the ancient cultures, the Celts had holidays celebrating the changing of the seasons. Of all those holidays, the most import was the end of the year festival.

The ancient Celts recognized only two actual seasons, summer and winter. They also felt that the start of the day was at sunset rather than sunrise and consequently that the start of the new year should be during the darker months of the year. In the Celtic calendar, the end of summer, and thus the end of their year, occurred when the sun reached 15 degrees Scorpio. The festival was called Samhain, which was Gaelic for “summer’s end.” This date is roughly around October 31.

Samhain night was a time of remembrance of the dead, as the Celts believed that on the last day of the year, doors were opened into the Otherworld. This could also be a very scary time as the Celts feared that evil demon spirits might be able to pass freely through the open gates as well. In effort to keep evil spirits away, the Celts would dress themselves as demons and lead huge parades out into the hinterlands in hopes that any evil spirits would follow them and stay out of the villages, while the good spirits would easily be able to remember the way to their former homes. This custom eventually became the trick-or-treating we have today.

As the Celtic new year, Samhain was one of only two days that people could extinguish their hearth fires (the other day was Gamhain, now often known as May Day, which meant “winter’s end.”) It was considered unlucky to let the fire go out any other time of year. The druids (Celtic priests) would build huge bonfire on top of hills to give thanks for the bountiful harvests of the light half of the year and to encourage the sun to return after the dark half of the year. It was considered very good luck for people to restart their hearth fires with coals taken from the druids’ bonfires. The Celts would carry the coals home in hollowed out turnips. To keep any evil spirits at bay, they would carve scary faces in the turnips, a practice which eventually evolved into our current tradition of carving pumpkins.

With the coming of Christianity, the holiday began to change. The Christians originally planed to convert everyone and leave the old ways behind, but they soon found that some of the Celtic customs could not be so easily washed out. Knowing that the Celts would never embrace the Christian faith as long as they still held so closely to their own traditions, the Christians decided to meld the Celtic beliefs with their own in a sort of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” effort to ensure that the Celts would be converted. The two most notable examples of this were the greatly revered Irish goddess Brigid, who the Christians turned into their St. Brigit, and Samhain, which the Christians turned into All Hallow’s Eve.

Keeping with Celtic tradition, the Christian holiday of All Hallow’s Eve was the one night of the year when the spirits of the dead could walk the earth. However, they gave this holiday the set day of October 31 to remove the pagan astrological associations. They also labeled the druids as devil worshipers to prevent them from restoring the original holiday traditions. (There is no devil in Celtic belief) In time the new holiday’s name was shortened to Hallow’een (this spelling is often seen on vintage Halloween postcards), and eventually the apostrophe was removed altogether giving us the Halloween spelling we have now.

As time progressed, different generations and cultures have added their own traditions to the holiday giving us the familiar celebrations we have now. Perhaps this year as we carve our pumpkins and don our costumes, we should take time to reflect on those people so long ago who did the very same things. In doing so, we will be remembering those who have gone before us, and thus we will be celebrating the day just as they did so long ago, albeit without the fear of evil spirits.
Copyright © Amber Reifsteck ~ The Woodland Elf

Vintage Halloween Postcards

There is something absolutely irresistible about vintage Halloween decorations. They have a charm that no other vintage holiday trimmings can match. The best example of these delightful vintage Halloween items are not even decorations, but postcards of a lost time when people used to send as many Halloween (or Hallowe’en as it was spelled at the turn of the century) cards as Christmas cards. They represent the true era of Halloween, when the holiday was about parties, and trick or treating in costumes, and just fun games of the season.

There are no frightful demons, evil monsters, or psychopathic murderers, just good clean Halloween fun. Witches and black cats are often shown in a mischievous manner, but never in the evil ways horror films of today portray. The most well known Halloween postcard artist was Ellen Clapsaddle. She’s also one of the most popularly collected artists today, no doubt due to the absolutely adorable images of children, jack ‘o lanterns, and friendly witches.

While I don’t collect original cards (I would rather send the money to Heifer Project), I do love the images scanned onto the internet. Here are a few of my favorites that bring back a sense of good old fashioned Halloween, the way it should be.

Paper Mache Ghosts

Paper Mache GhostsThe secret to making fabric ghosts hold  their shape is a little flour and water. These are loads of fun to make  and look great displayed as a group or on festive Halloween wreaths.

You will need:

  • Flour
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • A saucepan
  • Paintbrush
  • White fabric
  • Balloon or fish bowl
  • Black marker
  • Cheesecloth

To  begin, you will have to make the paper mache paste. Adding 8 parts  water to 1 part flour, boil the two ingredients together in a saucepan. When it reaches the boiling stage, remove the pan from the heat  and stir in a tablespoon or 2 of sugar. Let mixture set until it is  cool, it will thicken into a paste as it does. When it has completely  cooled, it can either be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator. It will usually last about a week before it starts to mold.

Cut a square of white material; muslin or another similar material  works well. Adjust the size according to what you want to use the ghost  for. These are equally fun as tiny ghosts to decorate a wreath or as large  ghosts to suspend from the ceiling. Paint the mache paste onto both  side of the material. Prop the balloon or fishbowl up on a box and drape  the mache covered fabric over it. (If making smaller ghosts, use an  aspirin bottle to drape the fabric over.)

As the fabric is drying, cut a square of cheesecloth. Don’t worry if  the ends fray, as it adds to the ghostly effect. Paint the cheesecloth  with mache paste. Drape the cheesecloth over the white fabric, turning  it so the ends fall in between those of the white fabric.

Let the ghost dry completely. The white fabric and the cheesecloth  will stick together as they dry. Once the ghost has completely dried,  remove it from the balloon it was draped over. It will hold its own  shape now. Using the black marker, draw two eyes, and the ghosts are  ready. The eyes can also be painted on. They can be reused year after  year.