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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

October Tricks and Treats: An Introduction

My husband loves Halloween. Loves it. He's the guy who can never wait until October 1st to decorate the house with pumpkins, witches, bats, spiders, and skeletons; who wants to plan an annual Halloween bash replete with monster-themed cocktails, Halloween music mixes, and a costume contest; who can't wait to settle in for a scary-movie marathon; who yearns to buy a graveyard full of creepy animatronic zombies for the front lawn.

And then there's me. Just kinda eh about the whole sha-bang. I don't mind some decorations--it's nice to be festive. But a party? Not interested. I'll sit through a screening of The Exorcist (his pick for scariest movie ever made) but I'd much rather watch The Skeleton Key and then go to bed. As for the animatronics, I finally came around a couple years ago and gave the go-ahead for a talking witch, but only because she recites lines from Macbeth.

5'8" Spell Speaking Witch Animated Halloween Prop
"Round about the caldron go; / In the poison'd entrails throw. ... / Swelter'd venom sleeping got, / Boil thou first i' the charmed pot! / Double, double toil and trouble; / Fire burn, and caldron bubble." Also, we call the witch Hecate, and named her cat Graymalkin. And I used a Sharpie to write those lines in the book she's holding since, disappointingly, it comes a blank page. WHAT? Missed opportunity, manufacturers!

Does that make me sound like a wet blanket? I'm not. I just happen to love different things, non-Halloween things. I love autumn. I love crisp air, leaves changing color, picking apples and pumpkins, wearing sweaters, wrapping chilled hands around mugs of steaming deliciousness, cuddling with my husband in front of a fire, lighting fall-scented candles, switching to vanilla-scented body lotions, celebrating my November birthday. Those are the things that put a smile on my face.

And our kids? Not surprisingly, they love it ALL. Especially Halloween. Really, though, what's not to like about Halloween if you're a kid? "Wait, I get to leave the house wearing whatever I want? I get to pretend to be someone or something else? People will...give me CANDY? Yes! Count me in!"

In 2013, on a whim, I resolved to actively try liking Halloween more. I mean, is there any reason witches and spiders can't have a place ON a steaming mug of deliciousness? Surely not. I decided to contribute to the festivities in my house in a way that also made it sort of exciting for me. What resulted was a month-long countdown, of sorts, to Halloween, wherein the girls and I would cook or bake or craft something either Halloween- or autumn-themed each day. When I started on October 1st, I didn't think long-term, didn't know I'd end up doing something each day. It just sort of happened. And, living in the age of Facebook, I snapped pictures of our creations and posted them there.

It wasn't elaborate stuff in most cases. Some days the girls and I painted little $1 crafts from A.C. Moore, or I'd leave them glue and leaves and a big sheet of brown paper to decorate as they wished. Other days I cut their sandwiches in the shape of bats or pumpkins. One day I forgot about it so I quickly sliced up a piece of American cheese and arranged it on a plate in the shape of a spider's web and fashioned black olives into spiders.

On days I had more time, I found fun recipes in magazines or online and made ghost meringue cookies or pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (those were FABULOUS!) Some endeavors were a big hit-- green candy melt-dipped peanut butter cookies decorated to look like "monster toes" and "acorns" made from Nutter Butter bites and Hershey's Kisses, par example-- and others were big misses -- the perhaps aptly-named "boo beverages" of orange sherbet, banana, and orange juice, for instance.

I hadn't planned on making the practice an annual thing, but last year my daughters started asking me in late-September what sorts of surprises I was planning for October. I didn't want to disappoint them, and remembered the fun we'd had the previous year, so I decided to go for it.

Interestingly, surprisingly, it wasn't just my family who enjoyed it: several of my Facebook friends told me they looked forward to my posts, enjoyed seeing what daily things I came up with. A couple people were inspired to make some of the treats with their own kids. Some people sent me links to projects or recipes they thought I might like to try. The daily posts connected me to people I care about in a way I hadn't even anticipated.

This year, my third, I've decided to bring that spirit to my blog. Here, I can share not just the picture of the finished products, but also the recipes and directions when appropriate. As I indicated, in most cases, I don't come up with the recipes or directions. I find them in magazines, on Pinterest, on blogs, through friends. As I post, I'll always credit my source, but they will all be in one handy place for your reference and mine, here on the 'ol bloggy blog.

Some of my favorite go-to inspiration sources and some new goodies I bought to cook up my themed fun in style
Pictured (clockwise from left): Taste of Home Special Editions 2013 Ultimate Halloween; Taste of Home Holiday Halloween August 2010; 
Better Homes & Gardens Best of Halloween Tricks & Treats, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; Spider Spatula, HomeGoods; Halloween apron, Kohls
So I hope you will join me this coming month as I enjoy autumn and count down to Halloween, a holiday, it turns out, I DO like.

1 comment:

  1. I am so excited to read your post this morning. Also, Miss M is just eh about Halloween, but Little J is all about it. Today, she grabbed the circulars in the paper and pulled out all the coupons for candy. Smart girl.


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