Here are some (belated) images from Halloween:
The best part about this time of year? Pumpkins! Oh, how I love pumpkins. I love the delicious desserts and savory dishes they flavor, I love the aromatic, spicy sweetness many pumpkin themed products entice me with, I love the adorable round shape and bright, friendly orange color. There is nothing about pumpkins I do not enjoy.
When I was a little girl living in Pennsylvania, my family squared off a plot of land in our backyard that we used to plant vegetables & fruit. I eagerly anticipated the pumpkins, daydreaming of the dozens of squat, orange squashes that would sprout. Instead, only one pumpkin came to fruitition, a big fellow I lovingly dubbed Jack, named from Jack Pumpkinhead from Return to Oz, my movie du jour. It took a while for my parents to convince me to let them carve him (even though I don’t think he was meant to be a jack-o-lantern, as I recall him being very tough to carve. He was probably a cooking pumpkin, but honestly, I cannot recall). as I had grown quite attached to him and the thought of hacking him up was suddenly cruel and violent. Even though I gave them my consent to turn him into a jack-o-lantern, my distaste for pumpkin carving was born. When I purchase a pumpkin now, it is expressly for the purpose of baking or cute pumpkin decoration.
Giving bunny ears to Jack the pumpkin on Halloween night, 1992. In case you’re wondering, I am dressed as a dead pirate.
Of course, my aversion to pumpkin carving does not keep me away from pumpkin goods. I am still partial to pumpkin themed food, such as the delicious pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese frosting and delicate sprinkles from My Sweet Cupcake:
Delicious pumpkin confectionery, you will be mine!
There are no adequate words in the history of human language to describe the scrumptious tastiness of this cupcake. Firstly, the cupcake was extremely moist, a vital must have for me when it comes to all cake related goods. It was gooey, almost custard in texture, so fresh and taunting, daring you to have another.
Secondly, the cream cheese frosting and center sprinkles were just the right amount, no showboating here. I am not a big fan of frosting, especially piled on top such a simple piece of baked goods. The cupcake itself should be the highlight and able to handle its own without the need of frosting, which should compliment the cupcake, not be used as a crutch for flavor. Sprinkles can seriously kill a cupcake for me if they’re used too liberally, but this cupcake had just enough for an extra crunch of sweetness.
Easily one of the best cupcakes I have ever eaten, second only to my friend Sarah’s that she baked for her daughter’s first birthday. I probably gorged myself silly on at least five cupcakes that sweet, sweet day…
A close up on pumpkin-y perfection.
Question: What do you like about pumpkins?
Planning a Halloween party or just trying to get into that spooky spirit? Here are 13 ideas to ensure you have the most horrifyingly happenin’ Halloween:
Send out Halloween cards to all of your friends & family. Bonus points for making your own! You can use all of the great Halloween pictures in your local ads and newspapers that market costumes, candy and other Halloween styled images to decorate your cards with. Save on card stock and use the inside cardboard of empty cereal & tissue boxes! Print your own return address labels and add a little pumpkin or bat clipart for that extra spooky touch.
Planning a Halloween party? Plan some Halloween games: Horror movie ‘Who am I?’ and Halloween Jeopardy!
Horror movie Who am I: For each party guest, take a note/index card, write the title of a horror flick OR a famous horror movie monster/villain
and tape the card on the back of your guests. Have your guests ask questions that may only be answered with yes/no (20 questions style) as they try to figure out who/which title you have assigned them!
Halloween Jeopardy: Assign five categories (examples: Gothic novels, spooky songs, vampires, famous witches, horror movies horrible sequels), each category containing five questions each with a bonus point number facing your “contestants” Have your guests answer in the form of a question, and have a bonus category & question waiting so that guests may wager what they have already racked up in the main round. It’s a lot of fun! Make sure to have someone keep score and a way to judge who gets to answer questions (bells, whistles, raising their hand, shouting out an assigned word like, “BATS!”)
Make some delicious Halloween treats like the delectable devilish delights from Eerie Elegance by Britta Peterson.
Rent your favorite movies from Netflix. If you’re having a party and would like some background noise/imagery, you can check out which titles are available for instant view and have the movie streaming on mute on your computer for added atmosphere. Suggested titles:
Night of the Living Dead
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
House of Wax (original)
The Phantom of the Opera
Another great idea is to set up a YouTube playlist with your favorite Halloween videos. I recommend:
Grim Grinning Ghosts
Betty Boop’s Halloween Party
Garfield’s Halloween Adventure
Betty Boop in Minnie the Moocher
The Skeleton Dance
Get your soundtrack in order! Plan ahead for your party by making a folder in your iTunes or personal files that has all of the spine-tingling tunes you want to play OR bookmark some online radio stations that specialize in the kind of music that helps you get into the Halloween mood. Play your Halloween playlist when you’re getting dressed or setting up for a party. I’m listening to various stations on SHOUTcast radio right now!
You don’t have to bankrupt yourself to decorate your home. A bag of cobweb fluff at the craft store can go a long way when you add your own personal touches like sticking cheap, plastic bugs or even some of your action figures in them, wrapping them up mummy-style! Remember those empty cereal and other boxes made from cardboard you have all over your house? Cut out spooky shapes (spiders, ghosts, fangs, pumpkins, masks, etc) paint them and hang them up! Black & orange crepe paper is also an inexpensive look that goes a long way. Showcase your collection of Gothic literature & film, facing them outward towards guests as added mood decoration.
Wear a costume every day! You don’t have deck yourself out if your costume is elaborate or a bit on the adult side, but wearing an out-of-the-norm accessory while you’re out & about is a constant reminder that Halloween is right around the corner and keeps the excitement bubbling at the surface!
Themes! Hosting a Halloween dinner or party? Have a theme like a decade, or a theme that emphasizes on one aspect but lets your guests have a lot of creative freedom. Examples: Hats, wigs, bejeweled, gods & goddesses, masks, monsters, historical figures, comic book characters, etc.
Read up on ghost stories! Books I personally recommend Weird USA collection (psst! You can get them cheaper on Amazon!) Do some research about your town/city’s weird history and share it with others!
Throw a midnight Halloween tea party!
Go pick some pumpkins, take a train or hayride and run through a corn maze! Discover where these things are happening in your area!
Dress your pets up in costumes, take their pictures and post them on the internet:
Mr. Destiny dressed as a little girl for Halloween 2005
Question: What are you doing to get in the mood for Halloween?