Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone has a Happy Halloween! We spent the morning carving pumpkins. I made a howling werewolf, Bean made a silhouette of Tiana kissing the frog Naveen from Disney's Princess and the Frog, and my sister carved a spooky face. Unfortunately, I had to run out and buy a carving kit this morning because we couldn't find last year's, and I had to try two stores, and only lucked into picking up the last one to be had at Target. This evening, we went to a church Halloween party and "Trunk or Treat" and then went trick or treating door to door in a nice neighborhood with full size candy bars. Bean had a wonderful time. I love this time of year!

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-legged beasties
And things that go bump in the night
Good Lord, deliver us!
- Traditional Scottish Prayer

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spooky Fun Treats

I love crazy theme food, especially at Halloween. I usually end up buying the Halloween flavors of Jones Soda. (My favorites are the Buried Pomegranate and Creepy Cranberry!) However, most fun Halloween treats are loaded with sugar. This year, I found a fun themed, good-for-you Halloween treat... Scarrots! Scarrots are snack size packages of baby carrots in cute Halloween packaging. They even come with tattoos featuring baby carrots dressed as a ghost, witch, Frankenstein's monster and Bride of Frankenstein, vampire, red devil, mummy, and skeleton. They are adorable and hilarious! And they are 100% products of the USA, both the carrots and the tattoos, which can be very difficult to find these days.

Each small pack has funny trivia on the back. For example, on the Frankenstein's monster package it says:
"What do Frankenstein and baby carrots have in common?
They're both misunderstood. They both lack human emotion. They're both sweet at their cores. But unlike Frankenstein, baby carrots are not made by scientists. They're aliiiive!"
The witch package says:
"Is it true that when you shut off all the lights...
And say "baby carrots" in the mirror six times while eating baby carrots, witches will fly out from under your bed on broomsticks and cast a spell on your Halloween candy? Only one way to find out."

These Scarrots have the cutest images on the bags and would be a fun surprise to stick in a kids lunch box. After all, how often do you get a Halloween treat that's fun AND healthy?

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Good Witch

Two of my favorite fall movies are The Good Witch and The Good Witch's Garden. Catherine Bell is fantastic as Cassie Nightingale and I love Chris Potter as Police Chief Jake Russell. When a mysterious woman moves into the local haunted house in a small town, residents wonder whether she is a witch. When she opens a shop called Bell, Book, and Candle, the mayor's wife starts a campaign to get her out of town. Will Cassie be able to work her magic on the town and be welcomed into the community?

In The Good Witch's Garden, the entire town is preparing to celebrate their 200th anniversary. Cassie offers to host the party at her home, the oldest in town. To help make ends meet, she opens her home to guests as a bed and breakfast. However, there's something suspicious about her guest. Will she be able to keep her home and help the community? Perhaps with a little magic.

I love these stories. They are romantic and magical stories that can be watched by the whole family. Not only do my sister and I enjoy watching them, but so does Bean and even her grandpa. Hallmark usually plays them in October because the end of the Good Witch takes place on Halloween. They are well worth watching.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Secret of Kells

I recently discovered a fabulous movie called The Secret of Kells. It is the story of a young boy called Brendan, who live within the walls of Kells. He meets an amazing illuminator from Iona, who has fled to Kells when his abbey was destroyed by the Norsemen. To help brother Aiden finish illuminating the book, Brendan, along with Aiden's white cat Pangur Ban, ventures outside the walls of Kells for the first time. He meets a fairy called Aisling who aids him in his search for berries to use for ink. As the Norsemen move ever closer, Brendan, with the help of Aiden, Aisling, and Pangur Ban, must decide what is more important: following the rules of his uncle and staying inside the walls, or finishing the book, which will enlighten the world in a time of darkness.

The story is great, and the animation, inspired by images within the Book of Kells are beautiful. The movie is a good one for families, although young children may be frightened by the images of the Norsemen and Crom Cruach. If you love Celtic art and stories that blend myth and imagination, then this movie is for you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Halloween Movies: The Classics


When considering movies to watch for Halloween, don't overlook the classics. I grew up watching classic monster movies, such as Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolfman. They are black and white with sometimes odd music tracks. They aren't generally scary, but they are a lot of fun to watch. Here's a list of some of my favorite classic monster movies. Personally, I always felt sorry for the classic movie monsters, especially the Mummy... he just wanted somebody to love.

Dracula - Bela Lugosi as Dracula, probably the least scary and most dapper of movie vampires.

Frankenstein - Boris Karloff is fantastic as the monster. The laboratory set in this film was also used in Young Frankenstein. "Look! It's moving. It's alive. It's alive... It's alive, it's moving, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, IT'S ALIVE!"

Bride of Frankenstein
- A worthy sequel to Frankenstein. The bride's brief appearance is very humorous. "Alone: bad. Friend: good!"

The Wolfman - Lon Chaney, Jr. as the Wolfman and a cameo by Bela Lugosi as the gypsy werewolf who infects him. "Even a man who is pure at heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright."

The Fly & Return of the Fly
- Andre, a poor, unfortunate scientist, accidentally merges himself with a fly. In the sequel, his son makes the same mistake. Vincent Price does a fabulous turn as Andre's brother in both films. "Help me! Help meeee!"

The Creature from the Black Lagoon
- A scientific expedition searching for fossils on the Amazon River captures a mysterious creature. The creature escapes, but returns to capture the beautiful Kay, his unfortunate new love. The sequel, Revenge of the Creature, features a first appearance cameo by Clint Eastwood. "We didn't come here to fight monsters, we're not equipped for it."

The Invisible Man - A scientist is determined to find a way to become invisible. He succeeds, but the formula makes him insane. He goes about terrorizing the countryside. "Don't worry, the whole world's my hiding place. I can stand there amongst them in the day and night and laugh at them."

The Mummy - The mummy of an ancient Egyptian prince, Im-ho-tep, played by Boris Karloff, is brought back to life. Ten years later, under the guise of Ardath Bey, Im-ho-tep returns to claim his lost love, Ankh-es-en-amon, who has been reincarnated into a beautiful young lady. "Death... eternal punishment... for... anyone... who... opens... this... casket. In the name... of Amon-Ra... the king of the gods." Good heavens, what a terrible curse!"
"Well, let's see what's inside!"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mommy Holly and Wild Olive giveaway

Check out Wild Olive's blog for a fun giveaway: a $15 gift card to Mommy Holly's shop!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Halloween Movies for Kids, Part 3

Now we've made it to the movies that would be appropriate for teens. Some of these movies may be a little young, but most would be great for a party with teenagers. I've separated them based on rating, with PG at the top and a few select R rated films at the bottom.

Rated PG:
Twitches & Twitches Too - Two stories following twin witches Alex and Camryn, who learn that they were separated at birth and possess magical powers. Will they learn to use their powers in time to save Coventry and their father?

Nightmare Before Christmas - I can never decide if this is a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie, but it is certainly a classic. Follow Jack Skellington and his pals from Halloween Town as they try to make this the best Christmas ever! This would probably also be good for some younger children, but does have some scary monsters.

Corpse Bride - While not strictly a Halloween movie, the story of Victor and his accidental marriage to a Corpse Bride is full of spooky humor and misadventures.

The Good Witch - This film would be acceptable for the entire family (Bean loves it) but, the romantic relationships and town problems would probably bore most kids.

Young Frankenstein - This ridiculously campy film pokes fun at most every Frankenstein movie ever made. It's fun and silly with a fantastic cast. Who doesn't love Mel Brooks films?

Ghostbusters & Ghostbusters 2 - Another pair of campy horror films. The Ghostbusters must uses their skills to prevent ancient evils from raising hell in Manhattan.

Beetlejuice - When a young couple discovers that they are ghosts, they must learn how to haunt their house to get rid of intruding New Yorkers. Can they do it without the aid of the unpredictable Beetlejuice?

Rated PG-13:
Blood and Chocolate
- The story of a young werewolf, on the threshold of adulthood, who is torn between her loyalty to the pack and the graphic novelist she's attracted to.

Covenant - This is kind of the boy version of the Craft. A good story with some great action scenes.

Cursed - Although this movie is available in PG-13 and an unrated version, it's a good werewolf film. I haven't seen the special unrated version, but the regular film would be appropriate for most teens.

Practical Magic - Follow the Owens family of witches and their cursed love lives. Can Sally save her sister Gillian and escape the curse?

Rated R:
The Craft - Sarah's always been different. When she arrives at St. Benedict's, she falls in with a group of outsiders, and together they can make real magic.

Sleepy Hollow - By far the bloodiest retelling of Washington Irving's classic story, Johnny Depp is fantastic in the role of Ichabod Crane, no longer a simple schoolmaster, but an eccentric investigator sent to solve the mysterious murders in Sleepy Hollow.

**These last two are a fabulous retelling of classic stories, however, both contain nudity, sex and extreme violence and should only be watched by older teens. I would recommend watching them before allowing teens to view them.**

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
- The best of the Frankenstein movies, this is a fairly faithful retelling of the classic story of obsession.

Bram Stoker's Dracula - The closest to the book of the Dracula movies, this story also incorporates the myths and history surrounding Vlad the Impaler, the main inspiration for the book.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Disneystrology

Have you heard about the new book combining beloved Disney characters and astrology? In Disneystrology: What Your Birthday Character Says About You, astrologer and author Lisa Finander has identified 366 unique Disney character types and paired them to appropriate birth dates. Each page features an illustration of the character, the three words that best describe that character, a description of your personality, what magical gifts that character bestows, the keys to your success, and which film the character first appeared in. My family and I each checked our birth dates and found the information to be surprisingly accurate. We had a lot of fun comparing each others characters and traits.

For instance, my character is Princess Atta from A Bug's Life.
Three words - "Destined, conscientious, and thoughtful."
Personality - "Fate plays a strong role in your life. The subjects you study early on prepare you for your occupation as an adult. Responsible, cautious, and creative, you realize that your best friends are those who allow you to express your silly side. As you grow older, your life gets easier because you have learned to trust your own wisdom and abilities."
Magical gifts - "Atta brings you the gifts of awareness, courage, and open-mindedness. When presented with novel ideas, she teaches patience and encourages you to convince others to give it a try."
Keys to your success - "Developing your own style of leadership."

I'm truly enjoying this book, which has helped me to see some of my favorite Disney characters in a new light. Check it out and see how much like a Disney character you are. It may surprise you!

I was provided with a copy of this book by Quirk Books for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Halloween Movies for Kids, Part 2

For children in elementary school, there are a lot of movies available, but it can be tricky to decide which ones are appropriate for your child. After all, you don't want a movie that's too scary, but you don't want one that's too young either or they won't be interested. Here's a list of movies that Bean enjoys. I'll try to make a note of which movies are a little scarier and which are good for most ages.

Mickey's House of Villains - Mickey and pals throw a Halloween bash at the House of Mouse, complete with old Disney favorites and new ones too.

Casper - Casper the Friendly Ghost meets some new friends. An "afterlife therapist" and his daughter move into Casper's home to remove the ghosts, but the ghosts don't want to leave. This movie may be slightly scary for young children. Casper Meets Wendy is less scary, but somewhat annoying.

Scary Godmother: A Halloween SpooktakularThe Revenge of Jimmy - These two films show that monsters are just people too, and that you just can't stop Halloween!

Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein & the Wolfman - Alvin, Simon and Theodore get mixed up with Frankenstein's monster and bitten by a wolf in this hilarious double feature.

The Magic School Bus: Creepy, Crawly Fun!
- Educational and fun, the kids in Ms. Frizzle's class learn about sound, bats, and spiders in this Halloween flick.

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad - While I don't generally watch Mr. Toad, the Legend of Sleepy Hollow as sung by Bing Crosby is not to be missed.

The Haunted Pumpkin of Sleepy Hollow - Two school kids try to escape from the Headless Horseman and keep him from reclaiming the pumpkin containing the original Legend of Sleepy Hollow manuscript. Catchy music and simple animation make this a fun film.

Under Wraps - A mummy comes back to life on Halloween to search for his lost love. A young horror movie buff and his two friends try to help the mummy, dubbed "Harold", in his search.

The Halloween Tree - Unfortunately, this movie is only available on VHS, but it is a wonderful retelling of Ray Bradbury's classic story, with Leonard Nimoy as the voice of Mr. Moundshroud.

Halloweentown & Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge, Halloweentown High, and Return to Halloweentown - A fantastic series of 4 movies about a family of witches. The stories follow the misadventures of the oldest daughter, Marnie. The grandmother, played by Debbie Reynolds, tries to encourage the family to learn about their ancestry and use their magic. These films are one of my favorites.

The following movies, while some of my favorites, can be a little dark and scary at times. If you haven't seen them, I would recommend watching them first to make sure they are appropriate for your family.

When Good Ghouls Go Bad - When Danny and his dad move back home to Walker Falls, Danny discovers that Halloween is cursed and everyone is afraid to celebrate. This movie may be better for older children.

Hocus Pocus - I love this movie! The Sanderson sisters have been brought back to life for one day, but to stay, they must cast a spell to reclaim their youth. Only Max, his sister, girlfriend, and an immortal cat named Binx can stop them.

Tower of Terror - A fun movie based on the story created for the Disney Parks ride Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

The Haunted Mansion - Another ride-based movie. This one features a family trapped in a mansion full of ghosts and the hi-jinx they undergo to escape.

The Little Vampire - A campy story about a family of vampires and the little boy who helps them find redemption.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Halloween Movies for Kids, Part 1

Every year, we start watching our vast collection of Halloween movies on the first of October. Okay, okay, so some years we start just a few days early. We love Halloween movies and collect several new ones every year. I'd love to share a few of our favorites with you.

For toddlers, I would recommend the following:

Rolie Polie Olie: A Spookie Ookie Halloween - This movie has Rolie Polie Olie, Book of Pooh, and Out of the Box, all wonderful Disney Halloween stories.

Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie - Roo and Lumpy must overcome their fears and save Halloween for the Hundred Acre Wood.

My Friends Tigger and Pooh: Hundred Acre Wood Haunt
- Piglet's friends must help him overcome his fears. Also includes a Handy Manny Halloween.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Treat
- Mickey and his pals have to get to Trick or Treat Tower before the moon is full to celebrate Halloween at Pete's party.

WordWorld Kooky: Spooky Halloween - Pig sleepwalks and scares everyone into thinking he's a ghost and Sheep shares all of her costume and then must find something to wear herself. I love WordWorld and it's mix of letters, spelling, and fun.

Spookley the Square Pumpkin - Poor Spookley is different, but maybe being different is not such a bad thing after all.

Max & Ruby's Halloween and Max & Ruby: Perfect Pumpkin - Both movies feature 1 Halloween episode and then 3 non-Halloween episodes. Max and his sister Ruby are cute and sweet, although Ruby can be bossy and Max doesn't talk very often.

Franklin: Franklin's Halloween - Franklin tries to create a scary costume for Mr. Mole's Halloween party.

Maurice Sendak's Little Bear: Halloween Stories - Little Bear discovers what really makes those spooky night sounds.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Halloween is coming.....

It's hard to believe, but I've already been thinking about Halloween for the last two weeks. It may just be my favorite holiday. I've started planning costumes and thinking about having a party. I've even started making decorations. My sister and I recently found a fun new book called Witch Craft: Wicked Accessories, Creepy-Cute Toys, Magical Treats, and More! It has a ton of easy to make, creative crafts to haunt your house. There are projects for crafters of all ages and skill levels. The projects include several treats: such as the Witches' Brew punch, and my personal favorite, Peanut Butter & Jelly Skull Sandwiches; and also several tricks: beaded Spider Earrings, and crocheted Vampire Bite Necklaces. I love the Plushie Poison Apples and Fuzzy Bats and think that the crocheted Good Little Witch is absolutely darling. I'll probably end up making most of the crafts in the book before too long. I started with the crocheted amigurumi bone, but I still need to put the face on it. Bean loved it but now thinks we need a dog to go with it!

Then, since I had a ton of yarn left over, I looked for more patterns on the internet. I made a little amigurumi ghosty, but I still need to put a face on it too. Next, I thought I'd try my hand at making a crocheted spiderweb. The white sport weight yarn looked far too heavy, rather like those rope webs that people create for their porches. So, I used some fuzzy grey-green yarn that I had laying around. The web looks fantastic and is huge, all dusty and dirty looking. Currently, I'm making a web using size 10 crochet thread. It should end up being a rather large doily, and while it's not very delicate, it's not too heavy either.

Anyway, it's a start and I'm sure there will be more to come over the next few weeks. I'll try to keep you updated on my progress and may even end up putting a few things on Etsy. We'll see. At least it should be fun!

I was provided with a copy of this book by Quirk Books for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.