halloween 2014

Halloween is such a fun holiday. Everyone gets to be whatever they want…and what a holiday to get creative!

Now, I’m not usually the type of person who goes all out on holidays, but this past Halloween I did.

My son, Finn, is so into holidays, especially Halloween, that this year we hosted a Halloween party. A Halloween party which has taken the entire past year to plan. We had  very few dinner conversations where Halloween decor was not the main topic of conversation… Finn is that serious about Halloween (clearly, I am too!).

A Halloween party for kids and grown-ups alike and what a blast it was! Complete with lots of handmade decorations and games – a bat pinata, driftwood burning man, witch finger cookies, a mummy head, and specimen jars are just a few of the things we made…and the dance floor (aka our barn) was complete with a disco ball (this we did buy – but what an investment!)…

I cut out bats to hang from the ceiling, made hanging ghosts from found (at the freebie barn of course) sheer curtains and metal hangers, baked witch finger cookies (made weeks in advance then froze) and caramel apples, created a bat pinata by covering layers of glue and newspaper over a blown-up balloon, designed a ‘catch the cat’ toss game (from found bucket and construction paper) and constructed a monster mash can (recycled cans and construction paper) toss, plus shadow puppets (card stock paper) for the kids and gauze-like curtains (also found for free from our dump), which we made c-r-e-e-p-y… Oh and so much more…blood dripping candles, ghost cut-outs, a ghost toss…the list goes on and on. I hadn’t realized how much I made until this post!

I also realized that I really like making stuff.

Staying up late, cutting, gluing, assembling..it was like being a kid again! I had so much fun! The best part would be Finns expression in the morning, when he’d look around to see what mamma made last night…all our ideas were coming to life!

Handmade decorations are not only re-usable and fun, they also save money and are way cooler than any store bought decoration! Plus, thanks to our local transfer station I was able to create many things for free! It also helps to have a brother in-law with a professional sound system and a partner who can do (and make and fix) just about anything! Now, this party was not all free, we did spend some money, but it was money well spent!

Here’s a few pics of what I’ve been up to these past six weeks.

bat template

Bat template. Cut-out can be hung from ceilings or on walls. They look great indoors or out.

creepy curtains

making creepy curtains

Finn helped me with the ‘creepy’ curtains. I was so psyched when I found an entire bag full of white, sheer curtains, for free at our local transfer station! Use old curtains, sheets or cheesecloth, cut small holes and strips into each. Spray with coffee to create an aged look…it works great! Then tack/hang up when dry. They are now packed away for next year, as are most of the decorations…

glitter skull and candles

I picked up this super cool glitter skull at a thrift shop for $2. The mason jars I had, but if you don’t have mason jars, just recycle glass jars and add tea lights (every inexpensive, yet effective!)

everybody dance!

Now, this sound system made the party, and we didn’t rent it, we borrowed it from my brother-in-law…but an i-pod or computer with speakers will do too!

brain speciman

This is just cauliflower in water colored with red food coloring. Great effect and cheap! Fennel bulbs work amazingly as hearts too. Cauliflower looks great cut in half with the leaves slightly peeled back too. Bummer, I didn’t get a photo of my knife stabbed ‘heart’…

slime and eyeball

One of our guests decided to use the glow-in-dark slime and eye balls together…gross!!

headless scarecrow

More free stuff (lucky me, I know) – the flannel, pants and boots I picked up at our dump too! The rats and spider were purchased. Now, while I am not an advocate for plastic, these decorations will be used for years to come…

eyes and owls

The owl cut-outs I made using a template and the eyes were very small stickers that I had enlarged and then cut out…another inexpensive idea. Copy, enlarge and cut-out!


The bar area was complete with cobwebs (taken down and will re-use) and inexpensive wine with new labels! I downloaded templates, cut-out and glued on…it takes a bit of time, but well worth it! If possible, rinse the bottles (careful not to wet the labels) and store for next year!paper skeletonsThis idea, the paper skeleton, I just LOVE!  I couldn’t figure out how to fold paper in order to have it come out as garland, so I ordered it. I actually ordered two, it made more sense with the shipping costs and now I have garland for next year too! The rest consists of paper and one white balloon…so much fun!

shadow puppets

Shadow puppets! Great for any kids party. These fabulous templates I found on the crafty crow. That is such a great site!! I designed the holders out of recycled paper towel tubes and toilet paper roll (my idea)…

spider ice

The mandatory spiders frozen in ice! So effective! Put water in ice trays, place spiders in each holder, freeze and voila! If children are involved, be sure they are not too small – choking hazard!

red slime

Red slime…another mandatory item…looks a lot like blood…that expression is purposeful!

cat siloette

Don’t forget your windows…paper cut-outs are another effective, yet inexpensive way to decorate! I found this image, had it enlarged, then cut out on card stock paper…

spider web

Panty hose leg filled with stuffing and spiders…creeepy…stuffing I picked up at my freebie barn.

monster mash

This was so fun! I was up very late one night making each of these ‘monster’ cans…I designed each can, yet the idea is an old one! Try it. I used plastic eyeballs and table tennis balls…again, plastic items which will be packed away and used for more projects/games…The large skull in the background was an enlarged image from one of Finns Bones books…

cat toss

This was fun. It’s a toss game. I called it ‘Catch the Cat.’ Object, see how many hula hoops you can ‘catch’ the cat with…this was a fun project to design!

skull under cover

Use what you have. I had a cake plate, so why not put a skull in it! Place it on a bed of moss with some over sized ants crawling out of its mouth and well, you have a creepy table piece…

stuffed ghost

This is another effective idea! I found it through Martha Stewart, though I altered it to fit my needs and budget.  I used a wire hanger (from the dump) as the head and stuffed that too, thus allowing a sturdy support and ‘built-in’ hanger…I also added cut-out black construction paper eyes and moth and glued them on.  So much fun!

mummy head

I made a mummy head like this years ago and still love the idea. The head cost me $4 at a local cosmetic supply store, then it’s covered with paper towels which have been stained with coffee, then dried. Applied with corn syrup…a messy, but thrilling project. It looks amazing with coffee stained gauze surrounding the base, served up on a sliver platter!

witch finger cookiesAnd finally these incredible witch fingers!  This idea has been on my mind for years now and I was so pleased with the results that they are definitely going on my ‘next years’ list! They are really almond cookies, with almond slivers as nails and raspberry jam (I substituted jam for the red food gel) as the ‘glue’. Very convincing. Bonus, these can be made weeks in advance and frozen. Simply create the ‘finger’, shape, mark, and press an imprint of the almond (remove almond before baking) on the tip, then bake. Cool on rack, then store in airtight container in freezer. No need to defrost either. Simply remove on the day of the party, apply jam and press nail on. Yummy!

Almost forgot the pinata! This took some time, but oh so worth it!

bat pinata

Do you have a favorite Halloween recipe or decorative idea? If so, please share below, my list is never ending…

Happy Haunting.


mixed nut bars on the run…

Fall is in the air…leaves are turning crimson, mustard and golden…smoke fills the morning air and being outside to enjoy it all is a necessity.

And so is snacking. Healthy snacking.

I always have snacks. Ask anyone that knows me and they’ll confirm, I always have food and beverages on hand…one never knows when hunger will strike, right?

That little tummy grumble is inevitable (especially with busy little ones), so why not be prepared with a tasty treat?

Especially one which will not only satisfy any budget, but will also appeal to the desires of both sweet and savory lovers…everyone wins…

Plus, it’s easy and only requires the most basic of ingredients and a few minutes of your time.

You’ll need one sauce pan and one baking dish.

Simply melt and mix ingredients in sauce pan…

Spoon into baking dish and bake.

That’s it!

Easy clean-up too (no one ever seems to mention the clean-up part of cooking and baking)…

These little nuggets are way better than any store bought protein bar, you know all the ingredients (and most likely have them on hand), plus, you’ll save money baking these beauties at home, so why not whip up a batch for your favorite people?


Mixed Nut Bars*

Print this!


1 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup butter

1 beaten egg

1/2 reaspoon vanilla

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup mixed nuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, or peanuts, coarsely chopped

Grease an 8X8 inch baking pan; set aside.

butter and sugar

In medium saucepan heat brown sugar and butter over medium heat until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.Cool slightly

melted butter:sugar

Stir in egg and vanilla. Stir in flour and baking powder until just combined. Stir in nuts. Spread battter in the prepared pan.

nuts added

in pan

Bake in 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool slightly in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars while warm; cool completely in pan.



Want a little extra love in your nut bar? Sprinkle with grated chocolate or mini chocolate chips for the last few minutes of baking…

Everyone will thank you.


*Better Homes and Garden’ New baking book 1998

these old drawers

0. drawer in place

While walking past the wood pile, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted two drawers. Two drawers that were obviously old, yet useful and practical for what I had in mind.

These beauties in disguise were tossed atop dilapidated doors, scraps of wood, disintegrating decking, bait tainted pallets, broken chairs – wood rubbish – they were part of the enormous pyramid shaped mound of wood – known around here as the ‘wood pile’.

2.drawer 1  3.drawer 2

I knew, instantly, I had to have them. They had to come home with me. Just like this had to come home with me a few weeks ago too…oh, the things I drag home…

So, I stepped carefully onto a few bits of heaped rubble and then steadied myself while leaning in to reach them. I picked each one up, inspected more closely and decided, yes, they are worth taking…they were haggard (obviously), but I saw their potential; train track storage.

1.both drawers in place

Finn loves trains. Train play is so much more fun now that Finn has a train table (Michael built it). Assembling wooden train tracks on floors which are anything but level (we live in a 200+ yr. old Maine farmhouse), is a struggle no child or parent should experience – children’s train tracks should not require shims…nor elicit tears…

So, now that the train table has been built (thanks Michael!), a whole new love of train play has ensued and more storage was needed…especially since we’ve recently scored all this track and plethora of bridges; also picked up for free during one of our weekly jaunts to our local transfer station

free track

We had quite a bit of track and accouterments already, though train play can always be expanded upon…

In come these old drawers…

They were the perfect width, depth and height to fit under the newly built train table. And the best part of all was that one of the drawers already had partitions! Organizing the  track types, while making them easily accessible has never been easier!

4. inside drawer 1

Yeah for the dump! (:

A bit of wood putty, a light sanding, two coats of paint, a little help with the castors and some fun contact paper and Finn now has some super cool track storage, which fit perfectly under his custom train table…and best of all, they make organizing and accessibility easy and fun – especially for a three year old!

Recycling and re-inventing at its best!

6.castors going on5.finished 7.drawer in use


1.both drawers in place

Try this idea under a bed or anywhere low drawers would fit…storage solutions made affordable, easy and fun.


spring on the coast of Maine

Spring is a busy time of the year around here…lots needs to be done in preparation for the upcoming (and exciting) summer season!

The lawn mower needs to be tuned-up, the garden needs attention, flower beds are cleaned and baby seedlings need to be transplanted – wood still needs to be hauled and the fire still burns…Here’s a peek into what we’ve been up to as well as a look around what surrounds us …

1.finn with pitchfork

2.Finn spreading seaweed

Finn helping to gently turning the soil, then spreading locally collected seaweed…

Spring cleaning time…washed pots for transplanting, drying in the sun…recycled from the transfer station, of course.

3.transplanting potsFinn is never one to sit and watch, so he filled the pots with potting soil…

4.finn filling pots

Mission accomplished…

5.pots filled

A few parsley plants being transplanted…

7.tansplants going in

6.parsley plant in hand

Next, morning glories…

8.morning glory seedlings

Tulips just beginning to open outside our front door…

9.tulip opening

10.tulips and greenery out front

Lichen ever growing on rocks in the back.


Lilac blooms in the fog.

lilac blooms

Spinach growing in the backyard garden.

spinach in the garden

And the centuries old Linden tree, standing tall in the original ‘front yard’… apple trees ’round the back. Early one foggy evening…


Peonies pushing up…I love peonies.


Spring in Maine.

Foggy, misty, cool, warm, sunny, breezy, calm … fire still burns through the night.

Ahhhh, spring…

Enjoy the weekend and Happy Mother’s Day!