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Samhain

Liam as 10th Doctor with sonic screwdriver

Happy (Celtic) New Year!

We had a really busy Halloween this year, with easily 1,000 kids trick-or-treating us between 6pm and 9pm. We actually ran out of candy around 7:30 and had to send my niece out for more! The best costume this evening were an adorable UPS man – a little guy in the brown UPS coveralls and ball cap with an Amazon.com shipping box (with shipping label!) for a candy container. There were many lady bugs, fairies, superheros, Marios and Luigis (but only one Princess Peach), and the Scream mask was definitely the go-to costume for those who couldn’t pull together anything else this year. There were also lots of older teenagers and young adults roaming the streets and trick-or-treating – many more than in the past two years. I guess the fact that Halloween was on a school/work night this year didn’t slow anyone down.

I’ve posted a picture of Liam as the 10th Doctor. This picture was taken at the end of the evening, so the outfit isn’t as cool as it was earlier when the tie was more straight and the shirt was tucked in, but you can see the resemblance, especially with the TARDIS bag and sonic screwdriver in hand. Liam said that a few people recognized his outfit right away and only one asked who he was and seemed confused by his answer. Success, I’d say.

It was three years ago today that we closed escrow on our house and spent our first night camping out with sleeping bags and air mattresses in the back room. Since Halloween/Samhain marks the end of one year and the beginning of another in the Celtic calendar, it seemed appropriate to take possession of our house on that date, and we were happy when it worked out that way. It was definitely the end of one era and the beginning of another, so every Halloween, when we invite friends and family to help us celebrate my favorite holiday, the house seems happy.

Speaking of the end of an era, today is the last day of October, which means that my One Post Per Day challenge for the month is complete. I’ve really enjoyed blogging every day, much more than I thought I would, and I very much appreciate all my readers and commenters. I’d like to continue blogging, but will probably cut my frequency down to 2-3 times per week so I can start posting on the Stir the Embers blog on a regular basis again. Feel free to check us out over there at http://www.StirTheEmbers.org

Halloween 2011 Update

We finished decorating for Halloween today (nothing like waiting until the last minute!) and got pretty much everything done we wanted to get done today. We put the green lights behind the hedges in the front of the house again because I really like how eerie the shadowy green light looks shining up on the front of the white house. We also hung up the new strings of pumpkin lights, set the tombstones up on one side of the lawn, and moved our zombie into the front yard to look like he’s coming up from in front of his very own tombstone. We need to get more lights in the front yard for next year, though, because although the house looks pretty good in the daylight, at night it is just a little bit too dark to really see all the decorations. We’ve got a big pile of glow sticks that will get us through tomorrow, but we need better lighting.

I’ve been wanting to do a Nightmare Before Christmas theme since we moved into this house three years ago (on Halloween Night, natch!) but we haven’t been able to pull it off yet. When Liam and I make our annual trek down to Disneyland the week after Thanksgiving, I’m going to take a bazillion pictures of the front of the Haunted Mansion to get some ideas of how we can make our own “haunted holiday” decorations, because how cool would it be to decorate the entire house October 1st and leave it up until January1st?

We carved our pumpkins this evening too. I picked out two medium-sized pumpkins to go in front of the two columns on the porch, but Liam picked out a strange, gourd-like one that is sort of yellowish with vertical orange stripes. At my suggestion, he decided to use the “Pickled Brains” template from the Pumpkin Masters book since the design looks like a brain floating in liquid. Unfortunately, the stripey pattern on the gourd made it really hard to see the design imprint when it was time to carve, so after he and I took turns trying to make it work, Grif took over and fortunately saved the day. It doesn’t look exactly like the design on the template, but it is pretty cool, especially with the color-changing flashing light my sister bought him to put inside it. The strangest thing about it, though, is that it smells for all the world like cucumber-melon body wash. I’m calling it the spa pumpkin.

Now that I know how to add pictures to the blog, I’ll take lots of pictures of the house in the daylight and at night and post them tomorrow.

Steampunk Halloween 2011

Our steampunk outfits for a Halloween party

Grif, Liam and I went to a steampunk-themed Halloween party this evening. I’ve heard it said that steampunk happened when the goths discovered brown, and I definitely fall into that category, being a big fan of all things neo-Victorian and goth. I didn’t really have a chance to cosplay goth much in my younger days because I was too busy doing the Elizabethan/Renaissance/pirate scene, but now that there are so many resources for neo-Victorian, goth and steampunk costumes, accessories, and ephemera, I’m having a marvelous time.

I’m so glad Liam and Grif like to play dress up with me because, as Winnie the Pooh once said, it’s much friendlier with two (or more). Liam and Grif have their top hats from Thomas and Shannon’s Victorian-themed wedding a few years ago, and they both look so dapper in their suit pants and collarless shirts. I bought an extravagant hat from Victorian Trading Company a few years ago (the one I’m wearing in my profile picture), and I try to build outfits around it and a gorgeous, black wool riding coat from the same company that I wore to officiate the same wedding. And yes, I wore the black leather bustier.

I’m still learning my way around WordPress’s bells and whistles, but I’ll post a picture of the three of us if I can figure out how to do it.

Age Appropriate

I’ve been thinking a Iot lately about the concept of age-appropriateness or what makes something age-appropriate, particularly in reference to me and my clothes. Three things have really brought the issue into focus for me this past week: 1) I have lost almost 25 pounds since starting my new healthy eating and exercise program, and I’m starting to be able to wear some clothes I haven’t been able to fit into for awhile; 2) Now that all the holiday catalogs are starting to come in, I’ve been thumbing through them and getting ideas about how to update my wardrobe; and 3) I’ve been invited to a steampunk-themed Halloween party this weekend and I need to rifle through my closet to see what, if any, of my costume pieces currently fit and what I can throw together if they don’t fit.

I’ve always had a fairly individual sense of style and have never been shy about wearing what I want to wear regardless of whether or not it is fashionable or “in.” My closet currently holds everything from flowy broomstick skirts to thread-bare blue jeans to cardigan sweaters to fitted sheath dresses, with a wide range of shoes and accessories that (sort of) coordinate. As an overweight, broke, stay-at-home mom, I’ve tended to stick with jeans, sweatpants, t-shirts and sneakers over the past few years, but now that I’m getting healthier and feeling better about myself, I’m ready to start expanding my wardrobe and dressing a little nicer.

This is where I’m stuck, though. I’m 46 years old and not getting any younger. I know that age is only a number and I really don’t feel old most of the time, but just because I will soon be able to wear the same size and style of clothes I wore in my 20s doesn’t mean I should wear those things. I’m not ready for elastic-waist, polyester pants and sensible shoes, but I think I’ll leave the mini-skirts and 4-inch stilettos to the younger gals. I’m not ready to be old or look old, but I don’t want to desperately cling to my youth either. I’d like to age gracefully and move into this more mature phase of my life with humor, style and good taste, and I’m not really sure what that means for me right now.

I guess what I really want to know is if the leather bustier fits, should I wear it to the Halloween party? And if it doesn’t, what should I wear (that I currently own and that currently fits) instead?

Halloween

I love Halloween. What’s not to love? Cosplay, creepiness and candy are some of my favorite things! Luckily, we live in a neighborhood that goes all out for Halloween and usually has between 750-1000 trick-or-treaters come through, so to say I’m in heaven would be an understatement.

I don’t really have a theme for my Halloween decor other than “old fashioned witches.” My go-to outfit over the past several years has been my witch costume and since I’ve collected lots of witchy-themed items over the course of my adulthood, this is the one time of year I can put them all on display without frightening the neighbors too badly. (Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, mind you.) But I’ve been thinking about going with a different theme this year and in the future. I’m torn between a Nightmare Before Christmas theme (which has the added bonus of working for Christmas as well!) or a Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead, for the Spanish language impaired) theme.

The Nightmare Before Christmas theme would be great for two reasons. One, which I’ve already mentioned, is that we could put up the decorations October 1st and leave them up through December 31st. The other reason is that, if done well, a Nightmare Before Christmas theme would seriously tweak the neighbors, since most of our neighborhood turns into Candy Cane Lane for the entire month of December. We have a big, white house on the corner with columns in the front, so we could totally pull off a Disneyland Haunted Mansion Holiday theme with the right props and decor, and I think we’d be one of the most popular houses in the neighborhood.

The other theme I’d love to do is Dia De Los Muertos. I really love the idea behind this Mexican holiday (death and our dearly departed loved ones are to be celebrated, honored and remembered fondly) and no one in the neighborhood is using bright colors, flowers, and grinning calaveras (skeletons) in their Halloween decorations currently. It would be a nice contrast from all the orange and black and it really celebrates what I feel is the reason for the season.

One thing I don’t get about Halloween decorations lately is how gruesome is supposed to be frightening. Dismembered body parts covered in blood are indeed horrible, but when I see that stuff I feel more nauseous than terrified. Why does gross equal scary?

So, if you’re trick-or-treating in our neighborhood this year, stop by and say, “Hi!” I’ll be the one in the witch outfit handing out candy, grinning from ear to ear and thoroughly enjoying my favorite holiday of the year.

The Search for the 10th Doctor

Liam wants to be the 10th Doctor for Halloween this year (I love my budding geek!), so he and I spent the better part of the morning today shopping the local thrift stores for an appropriate brown or blue pinstriped suit. Interestingly, we came across many suit jackets that looked great and fit him well, but none of them had matching pants, so it was a wash today. We’ll try hitting a few highly recommended Ventura thrift stores tomorrow.

If we’re going for authenticity, we really should get a brown pinstriped suit, as that is what the 10th Doctor wore most often. I really expected to find more blue suits than brown ones, so I was surprised to find several brown jackets today. I haven’t even tried the retail stores yet because I’m hoping to find something that will work for less than $50 since he will most likely outgrow whatever we buy in the next six months or so. As much as I’d like to throw a bunch of money at this costume and get him an absolutely excruciatingly correct version of the outfit down to the camel overcoat, I will be happy at this point to find pants and a jacket that match. Oh, and the shoes … do I really want to drop $50 on a pair of Converse All-Stars he’ll outgrow before summer or will the Target knock-offs do?

We ordered the a flashlight version of the 10th Doctor’s sonic screwdriver from ThinkGeek yesterday (love those folks!), which should be here in the next 7-10 days, so assuming we can find a passable suit and shoes tomorrow we’re on track for Halloween.