Thursday, October 30, 2008

Your Guide to Everything Halloween: Best Last-Minute Buys!

Need a quick, easy costume for your little one, and you don't sew, or maybe you just don't have time to sew with Halloween OMGWTF just two days away??

Enter this cute Mummy ensemble, including a mummy cap (3.99), bodysuit and pant set (7.99), "I love Mummy" bib (3.99) and even tiny Mummy booties (3.99)!


Staying in on Halloween and want to relax? Or do you just want a comfy Halloween costume? How about a look you can stick with all year? Try these picks from Sugar Skull, perfect for Halloween or any time:

Lounge pants (16.99) in cute polka-dot print, lined with colorful skulls.




Comfy Skull theme robe (24.99).

By the way, robes--nice comfortable ones, not the shiny, sateen ones that sell for the big bucks in the Halloween section--are perfect buys for throwing together a Halloween costume last-minute. A little creativity makes for a new look every year!

Keep your feet warm in style and go wild with these over-the-top Owl booties from Nick & Nora (left, 12.99). Or, for a more subdued look, the non-slip grip Xhiliration slipper socks match the colors in your Sugar Skull finds! (9.99).

Finally, save the most difficult Trick-or-Treater for last: Your guy! We all know they grumble about donning a costume, and here's the perfect solution to the problem: a comfy "Costume tee," also perfect for when you're both just lounging around the house--or when you want to play doctor! (doctor Costume tee for men, 6.99).



And the best part? All of the above last-minute Halloween items can be found at your local Target store! Bed-ridden? Glued to your computer? Kids got you tied up (literally?) Why not give your loved ones a Target gift-card for the Holidays? ( shown in $25 amount, available up to a whopping $1000 version online)!

Bella Sara Trading Cards


Bella Sara trading cards are the newest thing, with trading cards that are focused on girls and girls' interests (yay!), and their newest line, which just debuted October 7th, is known as Baby Bella, and introduces new Magical Friends.

Bella Sara's Baby Bella cards are for collecting and trading among girls who love horses (the Magical Friends), which in my experience is most little girls! The beautifully illustrated cards, which come in a package of seven, contain positive messages and affirmations for girls. For instance, here's the message on one of the cards I received from Team Mom for this review, "share your thoughts and feelings in writing", which is a perfect message for me!


But that's not all. Bella Sara cards also come with activation codes. Going online to the Bella Sara site, girls can enter their codes and put their horses in an online stable. They can even earn horseshoes, with which they can then "purchase" online digital items to brighten up their online stable in the Bella Sara bazaar.

My boys were never much into the trading cards, but many of their friends liked them, and before now the only ones that I knew about seemed geared towards little boys, with characters and creatures designed to fight each other. I like that the Bella Sara cards are more positive and affirming.

Bella Sara products are available in local hobby stores in your area, and you can also find them at Walmart, K-Mart, Blockbuster, Target and Toys R Us stores.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Your Guide to Everything Halloween: What's On the Menu?

Adult Only Get-Togethers

Try the Dracula's Kiss (pictured) for your Halloween cocktail party.

Midori (melon liqueur) is perfect for glow-in-the-dark cocktails like the Squashed Frog.

And, of course, there's always the classic Zombie, or its more feminine counterpart, the Voodoo Queen.


For Everyone

Speaking of Voodoo Queens, for Halloween Recipes you just can't beat Britta, the self-proclaimed Webmistress of the Dark.

My favorite recipe on her page, though I have yet to try it for fear of messing it up because her pictures are just so gorgeous, is the one for her Eerie Eyeballs. Please, if you try this recipe, let me know how it turns out! Is it as "easy" as she says?

Well, if that one's tough, there's no worries with the next recipe. I can vouch for it personally, as I make it every year for our Halloween gatherings with my favorite Pillsbury crescent rolls: Crescent Mummy Dogs (pictured, left).

Archie McPhee's, as well as some science shops and education supply stores, have inexpensive brain molds like the one used in the picture here. Use the brain mold for red jello, or ice for a cooler or punch (both very easy), or try something more complicated and serve up your own unique brain dish surrounded by a red sauce or jelly for impressive results.

By the way,under the brain picture in that last link are some excellent examples of Finger Cookies, which I have also heard referred to as "Witch's Fingers". if you skim down the page a way you'll find the recipe; to save you time I'll paste it here:

"Finger" Cookies
makes ~ 5 dozen
Yield: 5 dozen

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla
2 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup whole blanched almonds
raspberry jelly

In bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg, almond extract and vanilla. Stir dry ingredients together, then add to wet and stir thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

user posted image

Working with one quarter of the dough at a time and keeping remainder refrigerated, roll a scant tablespoon full (I used a 1 oz. cookie scoop) of dough into a thin log shape about 4" long for each cookie. Squeeze clost to center and close to one end to create knuckle shapes. Press almond firmly into the end of the cookie for nail. Using paring knife, make slashes in several places to form knuckle. You want them a bit thin and gangly looking, since they'll puff a little when you bake them.

Place on lightly greased baking sheets (or use silicone sheets or parchment); bake in 325F oven for 20-25 minutes or until pale golden. Let cool for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, melt jelly over low heat in a small saucepan.

user posted image

Carefully lift almond off of each finger, spoon a tiny amount of jelly onto nail bed and press almond back in place so the jelly oozes out from underneath. You can also make slashes in the finger and fill them with "blood".

You can also form toes - just make the cookies shorter and a bit wider and only add one joint instead of two. No almonds for these, just indent where the nailbed should be and add a bit of melted jelly to highlight once they are baked.


Note from Viv: You can also use store-bought frozen cookie dough for the Finger Cookies, and then follow the directions above for rolling and assembling them.

Your Guide to Everything Halloween: Last-Minute Costume Ideas You Can Make At Home!

Craft Magazine sent me these great costume ideas to share with you. Yes, You can still whip one of these creations up in time for Halloween!

Yes, really! Once you've compiled your materials, each of the costumes below can be made in a total of 4 hours or less! They're cheap, quick to make, and will hold up better than the store-bought versions.

Click the link below each picture for detailed instructions for each costume!


















Busy Bee!


















Arr, I be a Pirate!


















Lego My Costume!


















Sushi Sweetie

My Name's Viv, And I'm a Chocoholic



Prepare to envy me, everyone, for I have achieved chocolate nirvana, and it's name is Ghirardelli Luxe.

Okay, maybe that is a bit over the top, but I'm one of the lucky Mom Central bloggers chosen to tell you all about Ghirardelli's latest chocolate indulgence, and let me tell you, this blog tour absolutely rocks. I have five huge, delicious chocolate bars or rich chocolatey goodness to sample just in time for Halloween, and so you will have to forgive me, because I am SO talking (okay, writing) with my mouth full right now!

MMm.

Okay, so here's the story: Ghirardelli Chocolate Company recently introduced their new LUXE MILK line. These new Ghirardelli offerings are even more scrumptiously delicious than ever, made with rich and creamy milk chocolate and all-natural ingredients, so you can feel good about stuffing your face full of them.

Not that I am doing that, of course.

Not at all.

Then where did those empty candy bar wrappers come from, you ask?

Ahem.

That's beside the point. Moving on, now!

These new Luxe Milk flavors come in five varieties, so there's one for every chocolate lover (and who doesn't love chocolate?!):


  • LUXE MILK Solid
  • LUXE MILK Hazelnut
  • LUXE MILK Almond
  • LUXE MILK Crisp
  • LUXE MILK Duet
So far, my favorite is the Hazelnut, my husband loves the Almond, and the kids are going for the classic Solid, but we really love them all. The crisp is all crackly and the duet has, as you might guess, two rich chocolates in one bar. They are all, honestly, fabulous.

Now, I know your mouth is watering by now, and you are probably also getting seriously annoyed with me because I am chowing down here without telling you where YOU can get these new Ghirardelli Chocolate Company Luxe Milk Chocolates for yourself, but don't worry, it's easy!

They're available at Walmart, Borders, Walgreens and even Linens 'N' Things right now. And soon they will also be offered through Cost Plus, Target and your local Blockbuster (these chocolates go great with movies, by the way. Also, the World Series. Oh, and football. And then there's Halloween coming up...well, you'd better just stock up, because they go great with pretty much anything!).

I'm just so happy to spread the word about the Ghirardelli Luxe Milk Chocolates, because I've enjoyed them so much, and I know you will, too. And the Luxe Milk candy bars are, as I mentioned, huge. You could eat just a couple little blocks of each one and get your chocolate fix, so these will really last you a while. We honestly haven't finished ours yet, despite some seriously dedicated chocolate consumption!
No Tricks Just Treats

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's Easy Being Green

This morning I took a a short hike, just 1 1/2 miles through the local park on the jogging trail.

After my walk, I came home and used my new Clorox Green Works all-purpose cleaner, and felt very green and environmentally conscious knowing I wasn't "messing with Mother Nature" since there's no toxic sludge sloshing around in there. Plus, I just like the clean, healthy scent my house has now.

And there's this crisp freshness to the air, so I have the porch windows open to catch the lovely Fall breeze.

I am just really appreciating Nature today.

Which reminds me: I want to tell you all about this new 30 Days to Natural website!


Three women, all Moms, are taking on the challenge of becoming more "green" in their every day lives. As part of the 30 Days to Natural experience, each woman was given a little Flip video camera (I love my Flip camera, best purchase I've made this year) to record her experiences while trying to go green and natural, as well as a full supply of Green Works products.

And what I like about the 30 Days to Natural site is, these women are real.

One lady, I call her "the skeptic" in my head, she's obviously struggling with the idea, and I love how relatable she is. She makes me laugh because she just has her hands full and you can tell she's wondering, "What have I taken on? Is this going to be too much for me?"

Then there's this Mom who is very athletic and active and fit, and makes me feel all fat and sluglike in comparison, and she's going natural for the obvious health benefits. I would SO love to see this woman eat a cupcake on video.

And the third woman, she seems most like me in my mind, because she is trying to do the "right thing" for her kids, and that's where the Natural products come in, and she's really working at it for them, and I think we can all understand that.

There's new videos posted on the 30 Days to Natural site all the time, and it's not just all about the Green Works products. For example, the third woman I mentioned above has set herself goals like going to the Farmer's Market and picking out lots of fresh produce in her quest to "go green."

I know that if you want to stop a bad habit, or start a new one, the common wisdom these days is that it takes 30 days. If you keep at something for a month, it's much more likely that activity will become a *new* habit, like hitting "reset" on your life. And that's what these women are trying to do in the 30 Days to Natural experiment. You can visit the site yourself and "plant a daisy" as a symbol of your commitment to change your life. Maybe it will give you a jump start, make you want to take on the challenge yourself and try out a more natural lifestyle for 30 days.

And that, as my nemesis Martha Stewart* would say, is "a very good thing."

So, anyway, there's lots of good information on the 30 Days to Natural site, and the video diaries are really engrossing because you get to know these women, so go take a look!

I'm going to go have a cupcake. ; )


*Not really. Of course I do not think of Martha Stewart as my own personal nemesis!

I actually think she is a robot sent back from the future to make the rest of us feel inadequate.

Win One of AMC's new High School Musical 3 Giftcards!


AMC Entertainment, Inc., which you'll all recognize from their movie theaters, just came out with a fantastic way to celebrate last weekend's opening of High School Musical 3. One of the world's leading exhibition and out-of-home entertainment companies, AMC is breaking new ground by becoming the first in the industry to introduce personalized gift cards, featuring the stars of the movie--and you!


The innovative gift card design lets you upload your photo on AMC's web site, putting your face alongside those of the celebrity cast members. The personalized cards make great gifts for seniors, new grads, or anyone in your family that loves the High School Musical franchise.


In addition to the personalized version, there are also 11 non-customizable cards, each featuring an exciting scene from the High School Musical 3 movie to choose from.

And, thanks to the folks at AMC, you can WIN one of their new AMC Gift Cards Featuring High School Musical 3, with a $25 value, just for reading Cool Moms Rule!

All you have to do to enter is visit the AMC site, pick which gift card is your favorite, and then leave me a comment below this post! If your comment is chosen, you'll win your favorite AMC Gift Card Featuring High School Musical 3!

We want to hear from ALL those High School Musical fans, so tell a friend about our giveaway. Anyone you refer (just have them mention your first name or email) gets you an extra entry in the giveaway!

Digg this post, or Tweet about it on Twitter for another additional entry.

Subscribe to my feed and comment for yet another entry.

Finally, if you have a blog, write a blog post about our giveaway and include the link in your comment, or add my button to your blog (or both!).

Please leave a new comment for each additional entry method you choose.

All together, you could have as many as 6 entries into the giveaway! Wow!

Good luck, and thanks again to our friends at AMC for sponsoring this AMC Gift Card Featuring High School Musical 3 giveaway!

Hey, this giveaway is featured on Bloggy Giveaways!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Your Guide to Everything Halloween: Music Sets the Mood

Whether you're having a Halloween party or just handing out candy to Trick or Treaters on Halloween night, nothing helps to get you in the mood better than a little spooky music!

Here are my picks for the best Halloween music!






You can create your own list on Playlist.com, or browse through other playlists for inspiration!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Announcing the Winner of the Halloween Party Pack!

Wow, we had 98 entries into the Halloween giveaway! You all are definitely the coolest of the cool Moms. Thanks for entering! I was just tickled pink by all the enthusiasm this contest generated. I will definitely be doing more holiday giveaways now that I know that you all love them as much as I do!

Now comes the fun part: I get to award the prize! I just love giving stuff away. Okay, drumroll....

Aaaannnnd, according to the

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

12

Timestamp: 2008-10-22 16:14:09 UTC

Our lucky winner is comment #12, written by PS:

Somewhere in our last move we lost all our Halloween stuff. Either I put it someplace strange or the movers took it! But I CANNOT find it and the kids are demanding decorations! Cute cat by the way!!

Congratulations! Please get back to me with your shipping address so that we can get your prize right out to you.

Thanks again, everybody!

~Viv

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Your Guide to Everything Halloween: Serve Swamp Stew!

I received this recipe for Swamp Stew in my inbox today, and I just had to share it with you all right away! It's from a new book, called Enchanted Thyme, by Ariane Smith (more about that below the recipe). You can double-click on the picture below to "biggify" it.

~Viv


Children's author and storyteller Ariane Smith, whose recently published book Enchanted Thyme is bubbling with healthy recipes, has added another spell to the Halloween experience through her stirring, family-oriented brews. Her mesmerizing tales were on display at the October 11 FoodNetwork Wine & Food Festival at Chelsea Market in New York City, where she performed along with well known chefs such as Bobby Flay and Rachael Ray.

The recipe does not call for toads or spiders but depends upon less exotic fare found in a typical coven. Chef Michael Wilson, whose well appreciated spell casting abilities have been directed towards a series of recipes in the book, concocted Creepy's Swamp Stew especially for Enchanted Thyme.

The boo-k incorporates many such recipes that can be made by children eight and older or as a family project.

Monday, October 20, 2008

New Frank TV begins tomorrow night!

I had the opportunity to preview some episodes of this season's Frank TV on TBS, and I really enjoyed them.

If you aren't familiar with the show, Frank is comedian Frank Caliendo, whose impressions are spot-on. I've liked him for a long time, since his original days as a stand-up comedian. He's worked with the NFL broadcasts, and my favorite impression will always be his John Madden, but his Presidents Bush and Clinton are also really good, as well as his imitation of Fox NFL co-star Terry Bradshaw. He has all the mannerisms and speaking patterns down pat.

This season, Caliendo is joined on Frank TV by two new-to-the-show impressionists, Mike McRae and Freddy Lockhart, who really help to flesh out the show.

The first season of Frank TV premiered right during the writer's strike, and I think the timing was unfortunate because the show really deserves good ratings. I know you'll like it!



Here's a little clip to give you a sneak peak. Remember, Frank TV's airing tomorrow on TBS at 11 PM, and Tuesdays at 11 will be its regular time slot. The first episode is entitled "Frankapalooza!"



About Giveaways


By the way, I post all my giveaways here at Cool Moms Rule! over on Prizey, a contest promotion website. If you aren't already a member, I highly recommend you check Prizey out.

If you just like to enter giveaways, you can subscribe to their feed, and have current contests from your favorite blogs show up right in your email.

If you are a blog that hosts giveaways, I find that Prizey does a great job of getting the message out to interested folks, so that they can find your blog and enter! Listings are free. If you want to go the extra mile, you can put up a Premium listing, with a photo of the prize, by earning points on Prizey or paying a small fee ($5).

If you do sign up at Prizey, please list Cool Moms Rule as your referral! That lets me earn extra points which allows me to put a premium listing up on Prizey for my readers here.

Thanks!

~Viv

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Wow! A YEAR free at Sittercity! Don't Miss This Giveaway!



Viv and Cool Moms Rule are proud to have been chosen to offer this FANTASTIC giveaway to our readers!

Thanks to Sittercity and Mom Blog Marketing, we are able to offer you an incredible giveaway. I'm really happy about this contest, because it's something so many of us Moms need--babysitting! If you're like me, you are very picky about who you allow to watch your kids, and finding a sitter you can trust can be difficult these days. That's where Sittercity, a top-quality nationwide baby-sitting service, comes in.

Sittercity.com, America's largest and most trusted online sitter network, makes it fast, safe and simple to find the perfect sitter. With hundreds – even thousands – of babysitters and nannies right in your own neighborhood, Sittercity.com puts the best local sitters literally at your fingertips. Find the perfect sitter with Sittercity's four-step screening process and detailed sitter profiles that feature background checks, reviews from other parents, references, distance from you, availability schedules, photos, training and certifications, and more.

Your perfect sitter is just a click away!

And now, Sittercity wants you to have 12 free months, YES, you read that right, an ENTIRE YEAR, FREE! You can win one year's membership totally free of charge (a prize package worth $95.88), just by entering our giveaway.

All you have to do to enter is visit the Sittercity website, and then leave your comment here with the number of sitters available in YOUR area.

You can earn additional entries, too, by:
1. Following Cool Moms Rule on blogger.
2. Subscribing to my feed
3. Twittering this post
4. Putting my button on your sidebar
5. Blogging about this post

That means you could have as many as SIX total entries into this giveaway! Don't forget to leave a comment for EACH entry method you contribute.

And that's all there is to it!

And here's an added bonus for Cool Moms Rule readers: Just enter the code Sitter10 on the Sittercity website and you'll receive 10% off your membership!

I'll remind you about that win the contest is over, so you can still get that discount even if you don't win the grand prize.

You must live in the U.S. to enter this contest. Deadline for entries is November 1st. So enter now and use those additional entry methods to keep on entering until then! We'll announce the winner on Monday, November 3rd. Don't forget to check back then to see if you've won.

Good luck!

~Viv

Hey, this giveaway is featured on the
Bloggy Giveaways Carnival
from Don't Try This at Home!



My pretty kitty takes the prize!


This is one of my THREE cats (yes, I know, I am this [] close to being the crazy cat lady!), and the newest addition over at The Cheezits: Fancy, our "good luck" black cat.

Colby and Cheddar entered her in a contest over at Everything Up Close:

“Oh HAI! Dat cool pink collar with the black skulls would look BOOtiful on our sister kitty, Fancy! She's a black cat and she needs a new collar for Halloween. We hopes we win!"


And Fancy won the collar from Miss Moustache!

So, to us, this PROVES that black cats are good luck, not bad!

I'm posting about it here as well as over at The Cheezits, because Everything Up Close really does have some wonderful giveaways. For example, right now they are running a new giveaway for a beautiful apron, and I believe the contest for some lovely Etsy necklaces is still going on.

In addition, Everything Up Close also lists other contests running around the blogosphere. I personally have subscribed to to the site's feed, so I can keep track of all the prizes up for grabs.

So go take a look! And, if you sign up for a contest, tell them Viv sent you! : )

~Viv



Thursday, October 16, 2008

Celebrity Halloween Costumes!


Redbook Magazine is running a segment on their online site where you can judge the Halloween costumes of various celebrities and rate the best and worst ones.

One of my personal favorites? Seal and Heidi Klum, above, who went all out on their ensembles!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Halloween Party Pack Giveaway!


We're running a special Halloween giveaway here on Cool Moms Rule! Up for grabs is a Halloween party prize package, shown above.

Halloween Party Pack includes:
Kooky Curtain (fringed bat design)
Cute purple hanging Halloween spider (he makes a loud, "BOING, BOING" noise when bounced on his string!)
Adorable candy basket with plush bat design
Pumpkin Picks in Cauldron holder (36 picks)
16 (2 packs of 8) colorful halloween plates with a pumpkin/bat/ghost design
And I'm adding:
Jello Jigglers Halloween molds (set includes bat, ghost, pumpkin, black cat & witch's hat molds)

Note: authentic black cat not included! ; )

This isn't really the best picture (for instance, the bat basket is REALLY cute!), but I wanted to get this post up because we are ending the giveaway on the 21st so that we can get it all out to you in time for Halloween! I'll try to update with better images soon.

To enter:
Just comment on this post with why you want to win the party pack!

For extra entries:
Add my button to your blog, or
Post this giveaway on Twitter, or
Subscribe to my feed, or
Any combination of the above!

For any of your extra entries, be sure to post an additional comment telling me about it!

And please, everyone, remember to include your email address!

Contest ends October 21st at midnight EST. Good luck!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Your Guide to Everything Halloween, Part III: More Homemade Halloween Decorations

Jack O'Lantern, Take 2!




You might remember that I wasn't too happy with my last pumpkin creation. Above, and below in the video, is my second attempt. Rather than using a pre-made template, I based this design on the logo for a band the Owl loves, called Mushroomhead.

I had to do some emergency repair on this Jack O'Lantern, by the way: the Funkin pumpkins, I'm discovering, t
hough they are designed to last a long time, are also much more rigid than a real pumpkin. IMHO, they definitely need more "give" to them! One of the narrower solid pieces on my pumpkin actually broke off because it was too close to the cut out sections on the pumpkin, which would never happen on a real one.

I handled it by replacing the broken section with toothp
icks covered in paint to approximate the pumpkin's light color, and I'm really happy with the result! Though you can see the repair in the pic above, it's not noticeable in the dark with the Jack O'Lantern carving lit up by a battery-powered color-changing light (Funkins recommend not using candles inside).

Take a look at the video!


video


This mummy pumpkin glows in the dark!


Mummy Pumpkin

I found this idea in the Better Homes and Gardens Halloween issue, and I customized it to look the way I wanted. The basic premise is a pumpkin that is wrapped up like a mummy. Theirs was cute; mine, made with a black pumpkin and 3D squishy eyes instead of craft googly ones, is more appropriate for older kids.

What you will need:
Cheesecloth (option: fabric stiffener)
Glow in the Dark Paint (I used DecoArt)
Pumpkin, real or craft one
Your favorite craft glue (I used Fabri-Tac)
Googly/squishy eyes (I used party favor eyes from Target--the rest will go in my loot bags)
Popsicle stick or similar to use as paint spreader

Treat cheesecloth with fabric stiffener, if desired, and let dry. Cut some of cheesecloth into 4-6 strips--for my small pumpkin, I used strips about 3" by 8", folded in half by width to make them 1 1/2" wide, so that they were opaque on the pumpkin. You may choose to make your strips 4" by 12" if you are using a real pumpkin.

Cut four small strips of cheesecloth, approx 2" long, to use around the eyes.

Glue eyes on pumpkin.

Apply craft glue to back of cheesecloth strips. Folding the cheesecloth in half, in the first step, helps to keep the craft glue from going right through the cheesecloth. Apply long strips above and below eyes, wrapping around pumpkin and leaving top and bottom uncovered. You may want to run one diagonally through the eyes, like I did. You want some overlap over your pumpkin, and it's perfectly okay if the strips aren't straight. Use the shorter strips to fill in the spaces above and below each eye.

Once the glue has dried, coat the strips with glow-in-the-dark paint. I suggest using a popsicle stick or a plastic knife (like you get with carryout food) to spread the paint over the cheesecloth.

Once the paint has dried, turn out the lights and Ta-da! Glow in the dark Mummy Pumpkin!


Note: One of the hardest parts of making this simple decoration, for me at least, was cutting up the cheesecloth. It kept tearing and fraying. BHG suggests using fabric stiffener on the cheesecloth after cutting it into strips. I did not use fabric stiffener because I wanted to use materials I had on hand for my homemade decorations this year. However, if you choose to use the fabric stiffener, I would recommend using it before, not after, cutting the cheesecloth, so it will be easier to cut without fraying.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Follow the Halloween Haunting!


Kimba over at a Soft Place to Land has created a Mr. Linky list with some great Halloween blog posts you'll want to check out! If you have a blog and are writing Halloween posts, you can link there, too.

Don't forget to follow the links back to Cool Moms Rule! We'll be having lots more Halloween posts for you all to enjoy, including: more home-made decorations for the big night, the best Halloween deals, quick and easy costumes, party foods, favor bags (and what to put in them), and a look inside our own Haunted House!

~Viv

Friday, October 10, 2008

Your Guide to Everything Halloween! Part II: Halloween Party Invitations

Cheddar and our new, emergency back-up cat, Fancy, help with Halloween preparations

We are hosting a spooky Halloween party the weekend before Halloween for the kids, so that was my main focus in searching for supplies. For younger children, I recommend not scheduling your party on Halloween night unless you want to take the kids Trick or Treating in your own neighborhood during the party and it's okay with the other parents.
My kids are older than many of yours, so I knew their friends weren't planning on Trick or Treating, but I still planned for the weekend before Halloween so they could spend Halloween night with their family.

I chose a more mature theme of spooky gothic influences for our Halloween party. You may prefer to go less spooky and more friendly and fun, depending on the ages of your children.

I found stationery for our invitations at our local Walmart. It's simple computer paper with a border that appealed to me--black, thorny outlines around an orangeish frame. That's the paper I picked, on the left.

I had thought about making the invitations with stamps and card stock, but this paper made it even easier for me to create the invitations. All I had to do was print them up on the computer with plain black ink.

Next, I came up with the prose for the invitations with a little creativity. I wanted our home to seem like a haunted house that we were enticing our unwitting guests into entering.
I spent some time finding the right font (Gothic small caps, continuing with my Gothic theme) and playing around with the wording. I added some dead black roses from Photoshop. Here's a printed invitation in the picture to the right. Notice how the strikethru font, which is an easy option in Microsoft Word or Photoshop, adds to that "unwitting guests" idea. By the way, I prefer using my Mac for work like this, but our printer is hooked up to the kids Windows-based computer. What's nice is Photoshop files transfer easily between platforms.

Here's what the invitations say, in case you can't read the font in the pictures!

Grab your Ghastly Garb and Follow the Other Victims Guests!
We Invite You to Join In a Night of Ghostly Revelries at the Old Mausoleum.

Featuring Gruesome, Gory Games
Maniacal, Monstrous Movies
Horror D'Oeuvres
Beastly Beverages
Fiendish Food

Saturday
October 25th
From Twilight (8:00 PM)
Until the Witching Hour (Midnight)
I also used R.I.P. down at the address and phone number, and then used strikethru to make it R.S.V.P. I'm excluding the address here since I doubt any of you will be able to make it to the party ; )

But I wasn't done with the invitations. I wanted a unique way to present them. Since the kids were handing them out at school (which, by the way, is a no-no in some elementary schools, so be careful! Mine are in middle school in high school), I needed to either dress up the envelopes or skip them altogether and save some cash.

I actually bought envelopes but came up with a better idea that fit right in with the whole gothic flavor: I folded the envelopes over and sealed them up with blood-red sealing wax!

I found a sealing wax set from Barnes and Noble that had the red wax I wanted. It came with a heart seal, not at all appropriate for a Halloween party full of tween and teenage guys! But I love stationery and sealing wax, so I had seals to substitute. I ended up with a "scribe" seal, which has an old-fashioned quill pen imprint.

I also thought of tying the invitations up with red ribbon before sealing them, but the boys thought the ribbons were too "girly." I still think that would be a great idea for those of you with daughters, though!

On the reverse side of the invitations from the seal, I wrote the names with a flourish, using a black calligraphy pen.

Oh, and to prove I am not Martha Stewart, I got the date on the invitations wrong and put the 24th! Which I realized only AFTER they were sealed. Doh! The boys are telling their friends Mom messed up, as usual. : P

I set out an invitation, sealed with wax, on top of a styrofoam tombstone, with some of my other Halloween decorations in a nice tableau for all of you, but my very floofy cat, Cheddar, decided he wanted to be in the picture, too! (We have three cats now: floofy cute Cheddar, tough guard cat Colby and emergency back-up girl cat, Fancy.) Anyway, here's the final product! Ta-da!
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