Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Countdown - 9 Days!!! (the Pinterest Edition)

There have been two things that have been a catalyst to upping my Hallowe'en game in the past year.

1. SoCal Valley Haunters.
A group of nutty Hallowe'en addicts in Los Angeles valley areas that do random make-n-takes, eat snacks, teach skills and drink more than is probably recommended with all the time spent using power tools. People call my obsession severe. People talk about how crazy my prop building is. They have no idea. Compared to some of these people, I might as well put a 99 cent store pumpkin by the door and be done with it, but everyone is so generous and encouraging that no one feels like a Hallowe'en loser at the events. They're awesome. If you're in the L.A. area, especially in the valley, and you're a Hallowe'enie, come join us.

2. Pinterest. Pinterest. Pinterest.
I'm an early adopter. I like to check out new things. I had two profiles on Ello that I've already deleted, because, what.ever.Ello. (seriously). I actually stood in line for a phone once (it was a Droid X and it was awesome).

I like to check out the new shit.

When I saw Pinterest, there was never a moment when I thought, "What am I going to do with this?" or "I'll never use this site." Oh, no. I pretty much became a full on addict the minute I got started. Yes, they were still in Beta.

I'm cool like that.

Anyway, my Pinterest pages went from 6 or 7 to 15 to 25 to 35 and now, 3 years later, I have 106 boards and 5,400 pins or so. Again, I'm not the worst. I have friends with 31,000 pins (I'm looking at you, Sandie). But granted, I have a little problem.

Of my 106 boards, 19 of them are Hallowe'en related (a couple of them are secret boards).

It's a great way of keeping track of ideas I want to use. I feel as though I have a Hallowe'en catalog on hand at all times. Which can be a tad scary because starting in August (as one fine Mr. Landsman will tell you), the packages start coming, and the UPS guy is kind of a constant presence.

I get inspiration from Pinterest

I learn stuff...
I plan what I'm going to make for parties

 I laugh. (Man, he even got the side curl hanging down. Dave Lowe is awesome.)

I laugh some more.

I think, "I could probably, maybe do that next year..."
Rhyolite Ghost Town

I think, "Have I got time to pull this together in the next 8 days?"

 And I wonder....

Monday, October 20, 2014

11 Days Until Hallowe'en! All Hallow's Read

In October of 2010, Neil Gaiman came up with the idea of All Hallow's Read, mostly because he felt there weren't enough book gifting occasions.

When I was a kid, I read through the entire Nancy Drew library, the V.C. Andrews treasury, and various supernatural "choose your own adventure" books.

I got through a few of Stephen King's less terrifying books ('Salem's Lot, Christine) before I couldn't sleep (see: IT and Cujo). I'm sure there were a bunch of other 1980s, "I was a Teenage Witch/Ghost/Psychic" books that were terrible and less memorable. As I am an avid, voracious, ravenous, insatiable reader, I love the idea of giving scary books for Hallowe'en, I've just never participated. Until this year.

This year I will be gifting my niece and a few other choice friends with spooky books. Her mom and dad are pretty voracious readers too, so I'm not worried about her at all.

Are you participating in All Hallow's Read? If so, what are your spooky book picks?

Friday, October 17, 2014

2 Freaking Weeks Until Hallowe'en - Fence Part 2

So, it's not like I've never built anything in my life. I took shop class in Jr. High. I built my raised beds. I've built stuff, ok?

I was clearly unprepared for this build. 

Oh, how I want to say that I threw this together like a boss. But alas, that was not to be. 

If you're ever interested in copying my fence, which is encouraged, I will highlight the items you should not do, for emphasis. Here's what I actually did.

  1. I marked every 6 inches on the furring strips.
  2. I sorted the 45 strips into 3 sets of 15.
  3. I drilled a 3/4 inch hole at every mark. Every 6 inches. On 15 strips - 180 holes. Just in case you were not aware, math means that a 3/4 inch pipe will not fit into a 3/4 inch hole.
  4. I tested the PVC to make sure it would go through the holes. It didn't.
  5. I went back to Home Depot and got a 7/8th inch drill bit and opened up all of the holes. 
  6. I tested to make sure that the PVC would go through. It did. Tightly. 
  7. I thought, "Perfect!".
  8. I strapped together two of the strips and used the first strip as a jig for the second strip.
  9. I added a third strip, zip tied all of these together and numbered each set. Then, I drilled 7/8th inch holes in every other hole. This would be my top bar.
  10. I started spray painting the PVC, because my wrists were sore from the drill.
  11. My lovely husband (thank you!) cut all of the 10' PVC into 5 1/2 and 4 1/2 foot poles.
  12. I then sanded all of the strips with the help of a friend (Chris, thank you!!!).
  13. A friend (Troy, thank you!!!) heated the finials and added them to the tops of the 5 1/2 foot poles.
  14. We started to put the PVC into the holes. It was too tight. WAY too tight.
  15. A friend (Lydia, thank you!!!) and I dremeled out EVERY SINGLE HOLE. Just in case you're counting, 30 strips with 16 holes each and 15 strips with 8 holes each = 600 holes. Could I have been any less efficient? Don't think so.
  16. Then another friend (Derek, thank you!!!) and I drilled out screw holes on the sides of the strips so that the whole thing would stay together.
  17. I got the wrong screws (hex head) despite spending 20 minutes in the screw aisle and had to send Derek (see above) to the store to get new screws.
  18. Two other friends (Erin and Justin - oddly enough my newest and my oldest friends - Thank you!!!) and one husband (thank you!) started putting them together. Finally.
  19. They were such pretty holes, at first. 2 strips zip tied
  20. I used all of the spray paint in Home Depot to repaint the poles (because they were completely scraped off due to dragging them through the holes) and the strips.

I now have 15 - 8 foot sections of fencing that are going up tomorrow. 

This is the pre-painted photo. You'll have to wait (AGAIN) for the fully painted photos.

This easily could have been a 12 step, rather than an 18 step process. Like a boss.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

16 Days to Hallowe'en - The Harvest Festival

The autumn season is the time for our harvest festivals in the Northern Hemisphere. You will notice that while some festivals celebrate the first harvest, other celebrate the final harvest.

Many of them also have an aspect of fertility ritual embedded in them, which is to be expected as a fertile harvest portended a fertile population, and vice versa.

While festivals can range from early July to late October (or January to March in the Southern Hemisphere) depending on region, most cultures have traditionally feasted following the harvest and before the winter hibernation. Here are some of the many harvest festivals from around the world.

Bagach - end of the grain harvest/birth of the Virgin (Belarus)
BĂ©nichon - blessing of the harvest (Switzerland)
Bhogali Bihu - celebration of the end of the harvest (India - Assam - celebrated in January/February)
Chuseok - thanking the ancestors for the harvest (Korea)
Dozhinki - celebration of the end of the wheat harvest (Belarus, Poland, and Russia)
Dree Festival (India - Apatani)
Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia - celebration of the grape harvest (Argentina - celebrated in February)
Gawai Dayak - celebration of the rice harvest (Sarawak, Malaysia and Indonesia)
Guldize - end of the corn harvest (Cornwall)
Homowo/Sesebumo or "To Hoot at Hunger" - Sesebumo is the last festival of the Homowo festival at the end of the corn harvest - (Ghana) and Iriji (Nigeria)
Incwala - first fruits festival (Swaziland)
Kaamatan - end of the rice harvest (Sabah - Malaysia, Borneo)
Lammas/Lughnasadh - beginning of the harvest (Celtic/Pagan - UK)
Maras Taun - end of the rice harvest (Belitung, Indonesia)
Nabanna (Bengal, India and Bangladesh)
Niiname-sai - "celebration of the first taste" (Japan)
Olivagando - olive harvest festival (Italy)
Onam (Malayali, India)
Oseniny - end of the harvest season (Russia and Slavic countries)
Pongal - celebration of the first fruits (Tamil Nadu)
Samhain - Gaelic/Pagan/Wiccan end of harvest celebration
Sukkot - Feast of the Ingathering (Jewish) Today is actually the last day of Sukkot!
Tet Trung Thu - celebrating the farmer spending more time with the family after harvest season (Vietnam)

Any harvest festivals that I've missed out on?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

17 days till Hallowe'en - Fence Part 1

So, here's how the fencing began, as a big giant pile of wood furring strips and PVC.  That rug on top is not for Hallowe'en, that's for my bedroom so my silly little dog stops sliding around my bedroom like a fuzzy little hockey puck. One of these days, she's going to dislocate a hip.

So, what you see there is 55 - 1" x 3" x 8' furring strips. Generally, they are $1.89 a piece at Home Depot, but because I agreed to take the picked-through ones in the carrel, and not make them bring out a fresh pack of them, the manager discounted them to .99 cents a piece. Woot.

The PVC is 1/2 inch schedule 40. They are in 10 foot lengths and are $1.89 a piece as well, but I got a bulk discount, so take off, $10.80. Woot again. On the bottom of the cart is 4 -10 foot lengths of 1 inch PVC, at $3.64 per piece.

Since that wouldn't fit in my car, I rented a truck at Home Depot for $19.99. Such a deal, you wouldn't believe.

Then, from King Architectural Metals, I ordered these plastic fence finials. They were .33 a piece at a grand total of $40.

I also bought some screws and brackets, they came in at about $20.

I had a bunch of random black spray paint (from whence it all came, I know not) which I completely used up, so I did have to buy a bit more. I will probably buy even more. I'm not going to include that in the price yet, so stay tuned for more pricing.

The pumpkins for the end pieces were $3.00 at Target, so $21 total on those.

Here's the breakdown:

Furring strips - $55
PVC 1/2" - $216
Truck rental - $19.99
Pumpkins - $21
Finials - $40
Screws and brackets - $20
Never having to build Hallowe'en fencing again - $priceless

So the total so far for fencing was $372. Compared to 120 feet of pre-made metal fencing at $1,200, it's quite the bargain, and with this, I can take it down and stack it up in the garage for next year rather than having a cemetery fence around my property year round, which I'm sure my lovely neighbors would just adore.

As I noted before, I've tried cheaper options. They were cheap, they looked cheap, and frankly, they didn't work. So I'm pretty happy with this outcome.

Stay tuned for the build in progress, helpers, and well, that "measure twice, cut once" is a real thing that should probably be followed a little more closely by people like me...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Word Wednesday - Hallowe'en

Hallowe'en, if you hadn't noticed, on this blog, is spelled with an apostrophe. Every time. Because Hallowe'en is spelled with an apostrophe, whether spell check believes me or not.

Hallowe'en, while it has its roots far further back, is associated with the Christian holiday of All Hallows or All Saints Day, which occurs on November 1st. The night before the celebration of All Hallows is All Hallows' Evening, which was frequently contracted to e'en. So, from there we get All Hallows' E'en or Hallowe'en. 

So, let's go back and figure all of this out.

Hallow means to make holy or sacred, to sanctify or consecrate, to venerate. So, hallow, as used in Hallowtide or Hallowmas is a synonym of the word saint.  All Hallows = All Saints.

All Hallows/Saints is the Catholic feast day celebrating all of the saints, known or unknown. According to the site Catholic Online
The origin of All Saints' Day cannot be traced with certainty, and it has been observed on various days in different places. However, there are some who maintain the belief that it has origins in the pagan observation of 13 May, the Feast of the Lemures, in which the malevolent and restless spirits of the dead were propitiated. Liturgiologists base the idea that this Lemuria festival was the origin of that of All Saints based on their identical dates and on the similar theme of "all the dead". 
Pope Gregory III, attempting to disassociate the day from the Roman Lemuria festival moved the date of celebration to November 1st.
This usually fell within a few weeks of the Celtic holiday of Samhain, which had a theme similar to the Roman festival of Lemuria, but which was also a harvest festival."
Today, the Festival of All Saints' is celebrated by both Protestant and Catholic Christians, though Protestants generally consider it a day of remembrance for all Christians or all parishioners at a particular church. While I am very familiar with churches with the name All Saints, I was not aware that there is a village in Kent called All Hallows, quite a few churches throughout the U.S. and Europe called All Hallows and even a few Catholic schools. You can even go hang out at All Hallows Beach in Kent, but it doesn't look very spooky.

So, back to Hallowe'en.

Hallowe'en is the night before All Hallows/Saints. Originally, a vigil and fast was held the night before any Catholic feast day. The Synod of Seligenstadt (1022 CE) mentions vigils on the eves of Christmas, Epiphany, the feast of the Apostles, the Assumption of Mary, St. Laurence and All Saints, and the fast of two weeks before the Nativity of St. John. But as the Catholic Church commemorated more and more feasts, the conclusion of vigils became increasingly disorderly and, according to St. Jerome (347-420 CE), suffused with "improprieties". At midnight, after the fast had ended, people would pour from the churches and end their fasts with food and drink and rather noteworthy carousing.

In response, the church reduced the number of vigils and began holding them in the afternoon rather than the evening. However, it seems that the improprieties of the All Hallows evening vigil sustained for over 1600 years! Sorry St. Jerome!

Next Wednesday, the harvest festivals throughout history!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

24 Days until Hallowe'en - Soapbox Edition


Can we all agree on the outset that not every woman wants to be "sexy _________" for Hallowe'en? Great.

Can we all agree that sexy costumes may be great for some women? Great.

Having said that, WTF is going on here?

Sexy lobster?

Sexy pizza? Really?

What on this green earth is sexy about an ear of corn?


Please, for the love of Maude, no.
By the way, when you hit up the same website for sexy men's costumes, this is what you get....
Really? I'm no expert, but is this supposed to be sexy?

More douchey than sexy, really.

Um. OK.

Now for the piece de resistance - I know we're not exactly going for practical here, but if you were on a SWAT team, which outfit would you be more likely to survive in? I know that garter is really going to protect her in a firefight - also, the armband. Very practical.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Countdown - 29 days!!!


Hallowe'en is 29 days away and I am not ready!

The building I work in is termite tenting this weekend, so I have Friday off, which is a very fortunate thing. I will hopefully be able to get up early to work on the fencing before the heat starts tomorrow. Then I will go on to the monster mud portion of the day. Thankfully, I have an air conditioned craft room to work in through the afternoon heat.

My goal is to have the fencing finished by Sunday night. Check back here Monday morning for news on that front.

You're more than welcome to join me on the farm this weekend for fence building and spray painting and in return, I will provide all the coffee you can drink, fresh from the coop eggs, and Eggo Pumpkin Spice waffles for breakfast all weekend!

Keep it scary!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Countdown to Hallowe'en - 30 DAYS!!!!!!

It has begun!  The big countdown!

Despite working my ass off the last couple of weekends, I am definitely not ready to start setting up the yard yet. Not until the fencing is finished and in order for the fencing to be finished....

I'm gonna need a lot more black paint. A LOT MORE.

I'm doing 120 feet of fencing which is actually going quite quickly. I've set up a little system for running off the holes - not sure if you can see it but each piece of fencing will have 3 cross bars - so I've tied the three together with zip ties so that they are all in line with each other for the vertical posts.

These are nearly finished and it's a matter of painting and then screwing everything together.

I should be able to set up by the 11th of October. That's relatively late for me, but not too late. Of course this weekend is, once again, going to be in the high 90's in the Valley. So I will likely start work early in the morning and get inside before 11 a.m. to work on the other props inside until it's cool enough to work outside again.

Tomorrow I'll share some of the props I've been working on inside the house.

Happy October everyone!