Halloween Revisited and a Few Lasting Impressions

With my youngest son away at university our household Halloween mojo has been split in two, severed if you will, covered in cobwebs and devoid of life.

fall garden, pumpkins, ghost

Fall garden, pumpkins and obligatory ghost

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I knew Halloween would feel different this year. My youngest has enormous Halloween spirit, and that spirit has momentarily left the building.

I shook off my wistfulness and set about decorating in my abbreviated style. We didn’t set up the inflatables this year, and there are no teenagers at home to “build” aย haunted house.

The light-catcher is up in the window, and my pumpkin collection adorns the table, now set with two places, not four. There are a few night lights lighting the way to the bathroom in the dark hours of the night. Both lights were gifts from friends.

We have pumpkins, of course. The squirrels planted a few seeds last fall, and most of the vines grew in the planting box.

My Halloween cards are also simple this year. I pulled out my Big Shot and a few watercolor postcards and made pumpkin leaf impressions. The transfers turned out really well with the extra moisture from the leaf absorbed into the paper. They have a nice, organic scent to them too, though I’m not sure it will last. Who doesn’t love the smell of chlorophyl?

The process is simple. While the leaves are freshly harvested, you sandwich the leaf against the water-color paper, then insert between folded scrap paper before running it through the Big Shot. The leaves have a lot of moisture, so the extra paper helps absorb it.

After drying, and pressing the cards between a hefty volume of Shakespeare, I hand-stamped a few images on the front and back of the card.

I found beautiful dragon postage stamps at our local post office in orange, purple, and gold. They’re the perfect finishing touch.

We attended one Halloween party this year, and as usual had a wonderful time. The theme this year: horror kitsch. We struggled with a concept, till one of the women at our favorite costume shop, Natasha’s Attic suggested the ghosts from the Haunted Mansion Disneyland ride. I love Natasha’s and the folks who work there. It’s a family owned business here in San Jose. ย They’ve been around since 1977. It takes me back to my theatre roots whenever I’m there.

Natasha’s pulled together vintage pieces for us from their costume shop. We bought shoes from a charity thrift store, donned wigs and painted our faces a ghostly tint. My friend Isaac suggested seed lights to add to the ghostly effect. I sewed one strand under my skirt and another strand under Mike’s cravat.

Mike’s makeup is superior to mine *and* he did it all himself. He applied latex, then makeup, and even bought a pair of “rotten teeth” for full effect.

With the horrific news of this past week, Halloween gave us a welcome respite from the madness. If I haven’t said it lately, thank you for being here. My heart sings a little song with each comment and like.

Happy Halloween!

47 thoughts on “Halloween Revisited and a Few Lasting Impressions

  1. I always love how you enter totally into the Halloween spirit, and I’m glad you’re maintaining standards even though your boy isn’t there. Lovely cards, gorgeous costumes. It’s not such a big thing here, which is a pity, because I’ve always wanted to try a full-on Dia de los Muertos sugar skull makeup โ€“ I think it would go great with my very short spiky grey hair!


    • Thanks, Kate! His hard to quantify sometimes why I enjoy this season so much, but there you have it. Perhaps you’ll have the chance to visit somewhere during a Halloween celebration or for Dia de los Muertos. I’m sure you would look fabulous!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Here’s that post I’ve been looking for! Happy Halloween. Love the costumes you came up with this year. I am always impressed that Mike gets into the fun with you. I know how you feel about Halloween without the kids. When it falls on a weekend, I could participate. It’s my daughter’s favorite time of year as well. My son had a great time decorating when he was here too. Alone, I keep the house dark. Your cards are so sweet . Mine will probably always be store bought. It will rain on Halloween as usual this year. Have a fun one. I’ll be thinking about you. Hugs, M


    • LOL! Thank you, Marlene. *I’m* impressed that Mike gets in on the fun. He didn’t used to, and now he fully embraces it. It really ads to my enjoyment as well. The next weekend Halloween is in 2020 so we have a bit of a wait. It’s hard on parents I think when it falls in the middle of the week. One of the local private schools used to make November 1st a school holiday. I think that is so smart. Who wants a bunch of under-slept, candy-crazed kids in the classroom?

      I love that your children embrace Halloween. I know it’s a conflicted day for you so I understand any reticence. I never opened the door when I lived alone. It’s definitely a celebration to be enjoyed with others when possible.

      I love making those cards, Marlene. There is something so fun about seeing the leaf appear in brilliant green against the starkness of the white watercolor paper.

      Hugs xo


  3. If this is what it looks like when your Halloween mojo temporarily leaves the building, I’m almost afraid to imagine how it might look in full tilt! ๐Ÿ™‚ I do love your decorations, though โ€” especially the adorable crochet pumpkins, and your beautiful handmade cards. And what can I say about those ghostly hitchhikers, except to ask forgiveness in advance for not stopping to offer you a ride? You both look wonderful … in the most ghoulish sense of the word, of course. Thank you for all the smiles you bring, dear one. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh you have no idea! I used to have to hold my son back with a strict “not until October 1st” rule or we would have Halloween decorations up for two months. He loved it! He and a friend assembled a haunted house on the front deck using black plastic sheeting from a hardware store. He loved growing pumpkins with me and when very young, Santa would put pumpkin seeds in his Christmas stocking. We grew several varieties together. I had a neighborhood Halloween party for the kids for many years, and was heartbroken when they announced that they were done with that, thank-you-very-much. I recovered, and realized I now had time to make costumes again and attend adult parties, so all is well in Halloween land.

      I may be the only woman in town with *two* crocheted pumpkins. My friends know me well.

      I’m not at all offended if you don’t stop and offer us a ride. I wouldn’t offer us a ride either. xo Thanks for the smiles, Heidebee.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I would have LOVED growing up near your house! But isn’t it a pity when the local kids grow up and move on? Plus, these days parents are more leery of letting their children wander amid black plastic sheeting, alas. How wonderful that you and Mike have found a way to carry on the festivities, though. And if you need a back story for your spectral selves, here’s another great post I just read:



        • Thanks for the link, Heidebee. This made me laugh: “Which of these descriptions is correct? Either these authors are taking creative license, or there is a supernatural Macyโ€™s somewhere.” Ha! I find these stories fascinating.

          In the end, we had over 400 children at our door. When things really started hopping, we sat on the deck and handed out candy from there. It was one of the mildest Halloweens in recent years.

          Liked by 1 person

          • 400 CHILDREN!! Wow, dear Alys … that sounds both wonderful and exhausting. Expensive, too, I would imagine! But I bet you’re still smiling from all of the adorable costumes. ๐Ÿ™‚ xoxo

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Fantastic costumes. I know how you feel, when the nest is empty, you wonder why you should decorate. But you do it for yourself. I have a party tomorrow night, I think I will be a zombie hiker. Happy Halloween and Happy Birthday month!


    • Oh I love the idea of zombie hiker. I hope you’ll share pics on your blog. What fun! Empty nesting is a whole other thing. You spend years bending your life around little people, and suddenly it’s just you again. Last night Mike got out there and set up some lights. There are still plenty of neighborhood children who enjoy the tradition. We don’t want to let them down. Thanks for all your good wishes, Karen.


  5. Wow! You both look absolutely fantastic. Not a particularly big thing here in France but my eldest daughter went to a Halloween party in the U.K. at the weekend dressed as a bad fairy – I don’t wish to enquire exactly what that entailed. It’s Mr. Tialys’s birthday on the 31st but he will be working in the U.K. so younger daughter and myself will take ourselves off to an American themed burger restaurant which does make a bit of a thing of Halloween and then we’re going to come back home and watch a horror film.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We go a little crazy here in the US, though I do remember celebrating when I lived in Canada, too, many years ago. I love that your daughter dresses as a bad fairy, and agree it’s probably best not to ask too many questions.

      How were your burgers at the Halloween joint? What horror film did you watch?


  6. Wow, impressive for an empty-nester. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Love the cards and costumes, so very creative. My decorating is minimal at best, a mere nod to the season. A pumpkin or two, a spider and a ghost by the mailbox. Happy Halloween to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Eliza, I think we all celebrate in a way that makes it special to us. Before having children, my decorations were minimal as well. I see things easing back to that degree, but I hope I never lose my love of costumes. And now it’s November! This year is flying by.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh happy days, it started with an email from you followed by this post ๐Ÿ™‚ The only way I know if Halloween is coming or here is by your posts, just another way I’m missing seeing you on line…….. Your costumes look particularly spectacular this year – the addition of the seed lights is genius and Mike’s teeth – arrrrrgh! ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m wondering if Mac did something spooktacular back at his dorm? The cards look particularly successful as well Alys – it seems you have mastered this art of leaf printing. It’s very you โค (Which reminds me, I have all the bits cut out for the folding card pattern you sent me and must decide on a design for them soon) I'm most pleased to hear you continue with a downgraded version of the holiday despite the absence of your fellows. It would be tragic if you just stopped altogether! There will be times when you will reunite to share this holiday together and you can go nuts again – that's what we do at our favourite time of Christmas when we get to spend it together ๐Ÿ™‚ xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pauline, I like being your Halloween barometer. That makes me smile. Those teeth came in a $10 pac of grease makeup, but ended up “making” the costume. He looked ghoulish whenever he opened his mouth. I mailed both boys a bag of Halloween treats, but I’ve not heard back on any Halloween activity (nor do I expect to). I *want to* be a fly on the wall…sort of, but so it goes. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I love making these leaf impressions. The watercolor postcards were especially effective, so I didn’t waste a single card.

      I’m looking forward to seeing your z-fold cards, Pauline. They’re quite fun to make as you get several surfaces to play with.

      Will you all be together this Christmas? I hope so. xo


      • I remember the period you are going through with your young men. My girls both went through a time of needing to experience their independence which necessarily meant keeping me at a distance. However, at the first hint of trouble they were back needing mama again. And then one day you wake up and find are included again. It’s all just part of the process. I am working on some z-fold cards currently, just a couple to include with gifts at Christmas – they are fun as I keep seeing more possibilities to include more bits and something I thought might take an hour has grown into a couple or maybe three days work ๐Ÿ™‚ It involves gnomes though so I’m happy. Yes, the three of us will get one of our increasingly rare times of just us together this Christmas. Jo is flying in early and Dan is taking time off work too, we will have ten whole days to enjoy. There will be sewing lessons, crochet and lots of talking. Oh, and Siddy walks. Are you making plans for Christmas yet with your family? xoxo


  8. Your cards and costumes are always fabulous and this year is no exception. We’ve never been to a Halloween party as a couple so I live vicariously through you two ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m so impressed with Mike’s makeup job. I’d like to say that he gets right into the Halloween spirit, but it looks like the spirit has gotten into him – lol


    • LOL, Sara! I think you’re right about the spirit getting into Mike. I love that.

      Maybe you two can start a tradition and throw a party of your own. I had a children’s party for years, but rarely had time to dress up. As they outgrew it, dressing up for adult parties was a nice way to transition our love of the season, and my love of costumes. We’re lucky that two sets of friends have parties most years. One year we attended three and it was too much. We were exhausted. I liked having one party to attend this year, and found it infinitely more relaxing and fun.


  9. Happy Halloween!! I am glad that you have something to celebrate. I certainly know how much you love pumpkins ๐Ÿ˜˜ and you have to have them all out on display. I love the crocheted ones too. The empty nest gives you time to be creative for you ~ your cards and your costumes. (The fairy lights are the perfect touch.) I wonder how much of the College your son decorated!
    Halloween is slowly being taken up here. A few houses in our street are decorated with ghostly things. I love to see the influence of the kids, the hand drawn notes and slightly wonky spiders in webs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Anne! I’m slowing catching up here. I hope you are doing well.

      We had a wonderful Halloween night with close to 400 trick-or-treaters. The weather was mild so we ended up sitting on the deck for the last hour to pass out candy to a polite and appreciative crowd. I’m happy to hear that your neighborhood children are embracing the season. That must be a lot of fun. xo


  10. The cards are lovely, thank you for showing us how to do them. And you both look great… I mean, terrible… .
    I’m a late starter when it comes to Halloween as it was unheard of when I was a child growing up in (former) Yugoslavia. But after I left I had the good luck to go to an American school (in Algiers) for a year and I really wanted to take part in this celebration of all things that thrill and scare us. In recent decades I have seen it grow in Europe, not always in a good way as I find the marketing of throwaway tat by supermarkets not a little depressing. Since I’ve had children I’ve carved a pumpkin every year with some input from the kids as to the design. I always use the flesh to make soup though I’m told these bland carving pumpkins are not really meant to be eaten. But you know, with chili added and vegetable stock I can make soup that will make my nose run!
    Have fun tomorrow. I better remember to buy some sweets!


    • I’m playing a bit of catchup today. I’m sorry to take so long to get back to your comment. I enjoyed reading your personal history with Halloween. It’s quite different in other countries so you’ve had the unique opportunity of experiencing it in a variety of ways. I agree that the throwaway culture is a big problem. We’ve always tried to make our costumes from items repurposed from second hand thrift stores, or we rent and return.

      As for pumpkins, they really do vary in taste, texture and size. The carving pumpkins have tougher skin and some the small ones are inedible, where as the sugar pies making great pies and other pumpkins are excellent in savory dishes and soups. Talk about a versatile fruit (or vegetable) depending on who you ask.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Your enthusiasm for Halloween is really terrific! You must make it very fun for friends and family and I’ so glad you shared photos with us. We need as many lighthearted occasions as we can possibly gather. Good for you!


    • Thank you, Debra. I’m sorry to take so long to get back to your comments. We do have fun year after year, with decorations, costumes and the festive spirit of the season. We gave out candy to close to 400 children Halloween night. They’re all so cute and sweet and polite. It was a wonderful day. It’s hard to believe it’s been less than a month. So much has transpired since. I hope you are doing well.


  12. My goodness, you are unrecognizable in those amazing costumes! I am glad you entered into the spirit, even without the boys at home. Yes, we need some fun to keep us from going insane. Have a great November Alys!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. My goodness–and this is the scaled-back version of Halloween?! It looks pretty amazing to me. You’ve been keeping very busy–I understand the need to do so, and to distract from the news of the world . . . having fun and adding a little beauty to the world (the cards and the decor, not the scary costumes!) is such an important antidote.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hello wonder woman! I can’t even imagine with your schedule how you have time to do any decorating !! You might think you’ve not done much but you’ve done a might bit more than most Canadians did this year. It all looked great and a good haul of pumpkins too. Our weather was pleasant enough, chilly but no snow. I’ve heard, that most parents here plan for visits to mall’s, school parties and the like -vs- door to door Halloween night. Here, a winter jacket is a necessity under your costume. It can kind of throw a wet blanket on a cute costume if you can imagine.
    You’re costumes were so amazing. That’s a wonderful shop, it’d be hard to decide what to rent.
    I fancied all the 1940’s hair-do wigs. I think the 40’s were stylish. Let’s start an old trend, hat’s and gloves everyday ๐Ÿ˜€ Next up for you, Thanks Giving…..eeep! Then Christmas, which I love. xK

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember having to wear a coat over my costume in our days in Ontario. The weather could be nice one day and then quite cold the next. Mall trick-or-treating is a thing here, too. It’s certainly safer from the perspective that children aren’t walking the street after dark and risking being hit by a car. It’s also nicer for little ones who should probably be in bed early.

      Natasha’s Attic is great fun and the people who run it always so nice and helpful. I think the next big push will be new year’s eve parties, though Halloween is definitely their bread and butter month of the year.

      Liked by 1 person

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