Sunday, October 28, 2012

Is it Hallowe'en Yet?

Not unexpectedly, it has snowed again this year just in time for Hallowe'en Night. One feels badly for the disappointed children who, after putting so much thought and effort into their costumes, will have them completely ruined by the down parka now required either under or over that costume, not to mention the princess slippers and pirate boots that will have to be replaced with Sorels. But one feels even more sympathy for their parents, who will be forced to listen to the vocalization of that disappointment ad nauseum over the next four days.

Tuesday ...

The candy is ready and waiting by the front door. Far too many Sour Zombies, Intensely Sour Jujube Pumpkins, Skeleton Puzzles and Hallowe'en Screme Eggs have been purchased for the six children who will bravely make their way down the dark alley and long unlit driveway on that special night. It has been the same six children for a number of years now; every year, one child without exception will query, “Do you remember me from last year?” to which the reply is always the same, “Well, of course!” In spite of the fact he has never worn the same costume twice, his face is completely disguised by makeup, and he has likely grown three inches since last Hallowe'en - still, it's our yearly ritual.

The Hallowe'en Candy Bowl (a.k.a. the Christmas Turkey Stuffing Bowl)

This week, a thoughtful friend brought by two new additions to the Hallowe'en Collection, which were slightly modified so as to more closely resemble the insomniac  and her spouse. Quite an accurate likeness actually, right down to the insomniac's  maniacal grin and flashing gold teeth, and the spouse's look of horror as he attempts to come to grips with the thought of Forever ...

Together Forever

The final Giveaway this month is a $75 Gift Certificate from Insomniac's Attic, to be used towards any item (or items) of your choice (shipping not included). A comment on the blog entered through Rafflecopter will give you one entry; logging in through your Facebook account will earn you an additional two entries. This week, you can also get two extra entries by sending an email to the insomniac  with suggestions for future blog post topics, merchandise you'd like to see in the Attic, or just to say hello. In reality, you could send an email with nothing in it and still get two entries - this option has been included for those who dislike publicly commenting and/or Facebook. The contest closes on Saturday, November 3rd at 12:01 a.m.

Congratulations to Ms. Meeow, last week's winner of the Hallowe'en Treats Giveaway! Thanks for entering, Ms. Meeow;  the insomniac  hopes you'll think of her every time you have a cup of tea in the lovely Dracula Mug.

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. In closing, for those of us who will be suffering from the dreaded Post Hallowe'en Slump next week, a lovely quote by Charles Dickens to help lift our spirits: “I will honour Hallowe'en in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” Although it's entirely possible that quote might have originally read Christmas and not Hallowe'en. Still, a lovely quote.

Happy Hallowe'en - From our Haunted House to Yours!

The taxidermy also send their best ...

Goodnight, my pretties ... and Good Luck in the Final Giveaway. It's been a hoot!!

IA


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Sunday, October 21, 2012

All Tricked Out for Hallowe'en (and Possibly Christmas)

Through the years, many decorations originally purchased specifically for Hallowe'en display have invariably made their way into the Gothic Mansion's everyday decor; for the most part due to the insomniac's  somewhat lackadaisical efforts in removing them in a timely manner after the festivities have ended. Eventually, it just becomes easier to leave them out permanently, with the added benefit of allowing one an early start on the following year's decorating. Be prepared for a similar post in December, when one will attempt to justify her reasoning for leaving up more than a few Christmas ornaments year-round, as well.

Take, for example, the House Gargoyle positioned at the front door. Originally one of two purchased a few October's past,  he has since become a permanent feature and is decked out in a manner befitting whatever holiday is currently being celebrated. In December, it would not be unusual to find him sporting a tinsel garland with cedar boughs tucked between his paws and holding a sign wishing guests a Festive Yuletide Season. His companion, who used to overlook the pond, barely made it through the first winter before falling to pieces.  

The House Gargoyle, with some of this year's
abundant pumpkin harvest ...

The current Hallowe'en Wreath has been in use for roughly four years, starting out as a simple grapevine wreath sprayed a metallic gunmetal colour. The black ostrich feather and shredded lace were an added bonus included in an eBay purchase of vintage mourning trimmings - too tattered to do much else with, but perfect for the wreath. Fake Crow was in dire need of repair this year, as he had started moulting his onyx glitter and his ruby rhinestone eye was drooping a bit and needed re-glueing.

The black roses and leaves are covered with lots of Martha Stewart garnet glitter, which unfailingly makes a little glitter trail on the carpet during its yearly trip from the basement to the front door. The spray glue used for the glitter has started to turn a mouldy greenish colour in spots which, although completely unplanned, is quite delightful.

The Definitely Hallowe'en, Occasionally Christmas & 
Sometimes Valentine's Day Wreath

The Hallowe'en Wreath is hung the 1st of October and remains on the screen door until eventually replaced with the Christmas Wreath - generally not until December 23rd, because this one is much preferable to that one. It has even been known to stay up right through to Valentine's Day, requiring only the removal of the glittered Beware sign and the addition of glittered red hearts to make it more seasonally appropriate.

Although the insomniac  prides herself on her ability to tolerate a considerable amount of dust, there comes a point when even she looks at the accumulation in the Gothic Mansion and shudders. Accordingly, the fake black ivy purchased for exterior Hallowe'en use quite some time ago, but which eventually ended up inside draped around Mucha's A Winter's Tale, was disentangled from the frame and brought outside for this year's arrangement in the bird bath. Before being returned to its now permanent spot around the picture (which looks terribly bare without it), it will be given a vigorous washing. It should accumulate a nice coating of dust by this time next year.

Dusty leaves in the exterior
Pumpkin/Rowan Berry display.

The large black owl purchased six weeks ago has finally  (much to the long-suffering spouse's relief) been removed from the Dining Room Table. One had originally thought he'd make a splendid replacement for the disintegrated gargoyle by the pond but, as the spouse pointed out, having a large black predatory bird sitting in the middle of the yard is likely to frighten all the other birds away. He will, however, become another “forever” resident on the veranda once Hallowe'en is over, because the spouse has already indicated he will NOT be coming back inside to sit on the Dining Room Table again. The insomniac  somewhat grudgingly admits he has a point - the Festive Yuletide Season is  just around the corner, and the family will  need somewhere to eat Christmas Dinner.

The miniature pumpkins were painted with Graphite chalk paint - hopefully, they'll last until December so they can be turned into a Christmas presentation, simply by adding a touch of greenery. The black Funkin with dripping red chalk paint didn't turn out quite as impressive as imagined and will not become part of any permanent display, but will instead be washed off for reuse next year. Should have stuck with the original plan of a stenciled red damask pattern instead of dripping blood ...

A favourite cobweb tablecloth ...

One also regretted deviating from the original plan of draping shredded black dyed cheesecloth across the front staircase, choosing to go instead with the imitation black spiderweb from the Dollar Store - because it seemed like less work. At the time. One had sort of forgotten how annoying that stuff is to work with, especially with chapped hands. Had you been walking past while the insomniac  was attempting to stretch it thin enough so it looked like real web and not just clumps of black fluff, you might have seen her flicking her hands somewhat frantically and muttering, “Get off! Get OFF!!”

The following day, the dye pot was hauled up from the basement and the shredded black dyed cheesecloth hung over-top the web. One fully expects that with the blustery weather forecast for the next week, every shred of spiderweb will be blown away. Should you be walking past when the long-suffering spouse is preparing the garden for planting next spring, it seems very likely you'll see him standing there, somewhat frantically flicking his hands and muttering, “Get off! Get OFF!!”

Fully expecting the paper lanterns to blow away
before Hallowe'en Night, too ...

During some of her rather lengthy computer sessions, the insomniac  has stumbled across a number of people who also enjoy shopping for seasonal Hallowe'en items with the intent to incorporate them into their everyday decor. And as she happened to read on an ankle she saw somewhere or other just recently, the following quote which sums it up quite nicely: Every Day is Hallowe'en. Which, in the insomniac's  case, sort of flows into Christmas. And then Valentine's.

This week's Giveaway is a slightly more grown-up version of a Hallowe'en treat bag. So even if you've decided not to attire yourself in some terribly ingenious costume and go out Trick or Treating this year, you can still enjoy tea and goodies on Hallowe'en Night in the comfort of your own haunt.

Hallowe'en Treats Giveaway

Bela Lugosi Porcelain Mug, Lindt Chocolate Pumpkins
Gourmet Pumpkin Spice Candy Corn, Hot Cinnamon Sunset Tea
Hallowe'en Edition of Kit Kat and Coffin Crisp Chocolate Bars

Real Crow not included - another item in the Everyday Collection.

Congratulations to Kathy F., the winner of last week's Giveaway! And remember Kathy, if you happen to forget to put away the Raven Candelabra until December, with just a touch of greenery he'll make a very festive Christmas presentation. Then in January, you might want to consider adding some glittery red hearts and leaving him out until Valentine's Day. By that time, he might as well remain on permanent display so you'll be that much farther ahead next Hallowe'en. A little decorating tip from the insomniac ...

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. Goodnight, my pretties ... and Good Luck in this week's Giveaway!

IA


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Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Haunting of the Gothic Mansion

One of the movies filmed at the Gothic Mansion over the years was the 2001 Showtime feature “Sightings: Heartland Ghost”. The insomniac  felt that October, being a somewhat spooky month, might be a seasonable time to share with you a few scenes from the movie.

A brief synopsis ... Jeff and Pam Mason, a young couple in High River, Kansas (filmed in High River, Alberta) are certain the 19th century house they've moved into is haunted. They contact Derek (Beau Bridges), the director of a reality TV show called Sightings, to investigate. Derek and his crew move into the house and with the help of a paranormal investigator they uncover the house's history, tracing the original owners back to the last days of slavery. Although Derek is a disbeliever, after witnessing levitating toys, moving objects and strange apparitions, he concludes the house is indeed haunted by the ghost of the young girl Sallie. The movie is based on a True Story.

Before we begin, allow the insomniac  to quell your fears by assuring you that no William Morris wallpaper was harmed in the making of this film. Well, with the exception of one small piece ... but the set decoration crew touched it up with some paint and it looks almost as good as new. We regard it as kind of a memento, really.

We begin, as should all good ghost stories, with “It was a dark and stormy night ...”

Fake ivy leaves were found in the garden for, literally, years afterwards ...

The movie took roughly one month to shoot, during which time the family moved into a nearby apartment building, allowing the offspring to continue attending school during filming which, as expected, they were not exactly overjoyed about. They were thrilled at having Cable TV for a whole month though, after having been deprived of that luxury for Practically Their Whole Lives. And at the end of the shooting, the eldest was quite pleased with his new BMX bike that was purchased with a portion of the earnings, and which he had been forced to live without for Far Longer Than Any of his Friends.  As was the youngest, who was finally able to get the Sony Playstation she'd been wanting Since Forever.

Looking horrifyingly similar to when it was first purchased ...

This room (commonly referred to as The Fireplace Room) was repapered by the set dec crew with a lovely olive green Morris knock-off. And though the insomniac   might be considered a bit of a wallpaper elitist, she decided to leave the knock-off paper up after filming as it was a considerable improvement over the original burgundy hand-printed Morris paper she had chosen. Through no fault of the wallpaper really, but more due to the fact it's quite difficult finding anyone with the skills necessary for hanging unpasted, hand-printed wallpaper.

Little Sallie, the Heartland Ghost

Note to the Offspring:
The clock on the mantel belonged to your great-grandparents.
Don't sell it.

Spoiler Alert

The semi-naked man was messing around with the scissor-wielding man's wife.
Which he now regrets.

The eldest offspring's bedroom shown decorated above for filming the turn of the century scenes, and below for the present day scenes during renovation by the Mason family. Throw a mattress and an Xbox in the middle of that mess and you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between the film set and his actual bedroom.

Rubbish everywhere. Yup, almost identical.

At the time of filming, most of the rooms in the Gothic Mansion had already been papered. But the set decoration crew were very clever, creating fake walls with layers of peeling wallpaper which, when removed, left the original wallpaper intact. Well, except for that one spot where they attached the candle sconce.

Ugh ...

After years spent stripping and staining the woodwork, it was coated with some sort of wax so as to look exactly as it did before all the years spent stripping and staining. Most of the wax coating was removed when filming was complete. Pretty much.

The insomniac  overheard rumours of how the set dec crew achieved this dirty, dripping effect on the walls, but chose not to dwell too long on those stories. Ignorance is bliss, as they say.

Only a fool who'd never seen a horror movie before
would go up those stairs, right?

Here's a lovely shot of the eldest offspring's room going up in flames, which was hopefully achieved through the use of special effects and not actual fire. One preferred to remain in the dark about that particular technique, as well.

A perfect example of why it's never a good idea to visit the set during filming.
Because then you worry - as does your insurance company.

Same room after being burnt to a crisp.
The eldest thought it was cool and asked if they could leave it that way.

The insomniac  refrained from visiting during the day while filming was in progress. Not only was it extremely disconcerting seeing one's home in that condition, perhaps even more unsettling were the hundreds of complete strangers traipsing in and out of it. But she made a point of popping by in the evenings with homemade cookies for the Security Guards. Her own form of insurance, if you will.

It almost seemed as though fourteen years of restoration had never happened ...

One certainly wouldn't want to live in that  haunted house ...

The most horrifying shot from the movie has been saved for last. Prepare yourself, as this will undoubtedly cause you many sleepless nights for years to come. It would seem likely the reason for one's chronic insomnia can be attributed to this very scene.

They painted the kitchen yellow!
With stenciled apples!! And orange checkered curtains!!!
And is that a Kitchen Witch hanging on the wall? Oooohhh Nooooo ...

It was briefly debated whether to close this post with a photo of the insomniac  and Beau Bridges in front of the Gothic Mansion, taken after filming was complete. But although Mr. Bridges was very charming and quite photogenic, the insomniac  is not. Photogenic, that is. Oh, fine - not especially charming either.

This week's Giveaway is completely unrelated to this week's post, although one is certain she could locate the orange checkered curtains and Kitchen Witch somewhere in the basement, and would be overjoyed to include them with the winnings. Thrilled, even. Should you decide to waive this generous offer, the Giveaway does include a few items for that spooky October gathering you're planning for this month. Bear in mind, everything shown below would display much more advantageously with a pair of orange curtains and a Kitchen Witch thrown into the mix.

Hallowe'en Entertaining Giveaway

Black Raven Candle
The Raven Napkins & Paper Plates
Raven Candelabra (black tapers included in case you've run out)
Bats, Spiders & Moons (for artfully decorating your table)

The winners of last week's Giveaway are Rhonda S. and Becca N. Congratulations to you both, and please enjoy the fruits of your baking labours responsibly.

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. Goodnight, my pretties ... and Good Luck in this week's Giveaway!

IA


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Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Joy of Hallowe'en Baking

October and November are hectic here in the Gothic Mansion, as every member of the insomniac's  immediate family, herself included, celebrates their birthday during these two months. Add to that a wedding anniversary (thirty-one years this past week) and the obligatory Thanksgiving extravaganza, it makes for a very busy time in the Mansion's very tiny scullery.

The eldest offspring, whose birthday occurs mid-October, allowed his Sainted Mother to plan his Hallowe'en themed birthday parties right up until the age of nine, after which he started demanding laser tag and pizza, like the rest of his friends. The youngest offspring, whose birthday falls on All Saint's Day, enjoyed Hallowe'en themed parties right up until the legal age of eighteen, after which she started celebrating at the bar, like the rest of her friends.

In preparation for the parties, the month of October was spent shopping - for decorations, prizes and candy for the goody bags, and searching for publications with unusual food ideas suitable for experimentation on unsuspecting party guests. The insomniac  has accumulated a fair number of these publications, commonly found in grocery store checkout lines and bearing such clever names as “Spooktacular Recipes and Party Ideas” and the like, all of which she has saved over the years and are likely worth a great deal in the collectibles market.

Indeed, the insomniac's  birthday cakes were legendary. She would be quite remiss in leading you to believe her baking creations even remotely resembled the following examples; the term legendary being used in the more unsavory  sense of the word.

The insomniac's  version turned out nothing like this ...

Nor this ...

Despite the fact the offspring haven't celebrated their birthdays in the Gothic Mansion for quite some time, the insomniac  has yet to do away with the yearly Hallowe'en shopping spree. When the time came to gather up the Giveaway purchases in one central location, it was evident that more shopping had been done than previously estimated. Accordingly, one Giveaway has now multiplied into two: the first with a somewhat sophisticated Black & White Theme; the second with a more traditional Black, Orange & Green Theme.

Black &White Hallowe'en Giveaway Contents, L-R:

Bone Sprinkles, Damask Skeleton Baking Cups, Cupcake Tattoos, B&W Sprinkle Set
Skeleton Cupcake Combo, Skeleton Cupcake Wraps, Black Baking Cups

Traditional Hallowe'en Giveaway Contents, L-R:

Hallowe'en Cookie Cutter Set, Creepy Sprinkles Lab, Green Damask Baking Cups,
Batty Bats Treat Toppers, Ghost Icing Decorations, Coffin Sprinkles

This week's Giveaway ends on Saturday, October 13th at 12:01 a.m. EST, hopefully allowing one enough time to figure out how the Rafflecopter winner selection process works. Names of the winners will be announced on Sunday, October 14th, along with details on that week's Giveaway.

The insomniac  is going to text the youngest offspring today to see if she can attend her father's birthday festivities this evening, along with her eldest brother who is currently in town on a short hiatus from his extremely remote job near the North West Territories. This celebratory meal will, as always, be finished off with the insomniac's  infamous Devil's Food Cake. She might also attempt to coerce her youngest into a Hallowe'en baking session sometime next week - for old time's sake, you understand. Rest assured, the end result will look NOTHING like this ...

For baking of this quality,
you should go to the Martha Stewart website.

Definitely not the Insomniac's Attic website.

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. Goodnight, my pretties ... and Good Luck to you all!

IA


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