Make a Halloween Ghost Family Display

Ghost Family Display
Atti has been really into ghosts lately. He saw a SuperWhy episode with “The Ghost Who Was Afraid of Halloween” and ever since then that’s the only thing about Halloween that interests him. This year he’s begged to dress up as either a ghost, or Papa Drac from Hotel Transylvania, which breaks my crafter heart. But, Halloween is all about giving the kids what they want, eh? So I figured I better incorporate some ghosts into our plans.

I’m kind of obsessed with this little ghost family. It’s one of those rare projects that actually turned out even cuter than it was in my head, and DOES NOT take drawing or painting talent. If you can draw a blob or paint a smiley face, you can make this project.

Step 1
I used a piece of plywood I had sitting in the garage and drew a bunch of blobs on it. I wanted a Bear ghost, a Me ghost, and an Atti ghost, and you can see from all my rogue Sharpie lines that it was not done in a first try. I couldn’t figure out if ghosts would have hands, and then how I would draw those hands with my laughable drawing skills. A little googling for inspiration showed me that ghosts are just blobs and don’t need hands. They don’t even need arms if you want to get down to it. You really just need a few blobs with smiley faces and that will be enough to get the job done.

Step 2
Cut out your ghost family only on the outermost line. The inside lines you’ll put on with a Sharpie after you paint it. You just want to cut out the silhouette. A jigsaw is the way to go for this, just remember that you can’t make right angle turns with it, so plan your cuts accordingly. You want to come in to the corners from the outside.

Step 3
Then it’s time to paint. Along with not being an excellent drawer, I’m not a very good painter, so I kept that simple too. I just spray painted the whole thing white, used a Sharpie to draw the bodies back on, and painted on the faces. A very light touch with a sponge in gray paint will emphasize the edges and make the ghosts look a little less flat.

Step 4
Now it’s time for hardware so these ghosts can stand up. You need another piece of wood to act as your kickstand. Mine is scrap wood from another project spray painted white to match the ghost. Attach it to the back with a hinge, but be careful you don’t use screws so long they go through the plywood. Like someone I know.

Step 5
You need a way to keep the hinge from opening up all the way and falling flat on the ground. So I used two hooks, one screwed into the back of the ghost and the other screwed into the kickstand, with a piece of chain keeping them connected. Now the hinge can only open as far as the chain will let it.

Ghost Family
This is one of those decorations that you could find in a catalog and spend too much money on. Or, you could just make it yourself. We are all so delighted by having a ghost family that matches our family, I think any family would get a kick out of that.


Spooky Potion Bottle Ornaments

Potion Bottle Ornament
Last year the Halloween trees never made it out of the garage. I was still recovering from my time in the hospital and I had zero energy to dedicate to optional tasks, no matter how much joy those might bring me. So this year, I’m bringing Halloween back with a vengeance. And first up is a little refreshing for those Halloween trees with a new ornament. This is the perfect “non-crafter” craft since it’s just putting glitter in a bottle and slapping on a label, so if you have a Girls Night Out or a Harvest Festival or PTA night or something where you have to entertain a whole bunch of different skill levels, this project is perfect for you.

Step 1
Collect your bottles. I got mine at the craft store, but this is a great opportunity for upcycling. Any bottle will work, you just need a way to close it, preferably with a cork. Then you let your creativity go wild filling the jar with something that looks spooky. I used a variety of glitters in different colors and sizes because these are going on a very glittery tree, but I think raiding the backyard would yield some interesting results, and same for anything from the hardware store to the pet store to the dollar store. These would look awesome full of bird seed or even little plastic spiders.

Step 2

Pop the cork back in place with a little hot glue to keep all those little glitter pieces in their place. Don’t be shy with the glue either because this has to be in place firmly enough to hold the weight of the bottle.

Step 3

Use a little more hot glue to secure a screw eye into the cork. Or lid. These are easy to find at the hardware store in the section with the hanging supplies. A little dab of glue to keep it from pulling out, then just screw down into the cork.

Step 4

Then it’s just a matter of decorating the bottle. I kept it simple with a little label, but you could go big with ribbon and fake spider web and anything you can imagine. Here’s my genius secret for these labels: just go to and use one of their templates. This is not a sponsored post or an ad. I was in the middle of designing something from scratch when I realized I needed to go to the website to download their template and discovered a whole mess of them already made up for me. So I shrugged, figured ‘why reinvent the wheel’ and just printed off what was already available. I had to make some size adjustments to get them to fit on the bottle, but that’s because I picked weird shaped bottles.

Potion Bottle

To hang these, just add some string through that eye screw and tie a knot to make a loop. I have mine tucked into the branches of my whimsical tree and it’s amazing how much they add to the overall look of the tree. Adding a big splashy ornament is just what they needed to look brand new.


Super Why Halloween Costumes

Super Readers
I had so many big plans for our Halloween costumes this year. Atti has never shown the slightest bit of interest in the holiday, so it didn’t occur to me that he might actually have his own plans for the day, but this is the year things clicked for him. He’s been talking about Halloween all month, begging to watch the Halloween episode of Super Why every day when he comes home from school, singing his Halloween songs, and reciting his Halloween stories. I asked him if he wanted us to all dress up like Super Why characters and his smile nearly split his face.

Alpha Pig
The Super Readers all travel around in little vehicles called Why Flyers, so I knew I could make my little guy even happier by turning his wheelchair into a jet that travels through story books. I basically sewed a big inner tube with wings, and this is so his favorite part of the costume. I think he might actually keep playing with it after today. It made me wish I’d made it a little sturdier.

The Super Why Family
When we went shopping for fabric he stroked each bolt and announced, “That’s for Super Why! That’s for Princess Presto!” He sat on my lap as I sewed and sang songs about teamwork. But he won’t wear the pig nose, or the goggles, or the hard hat. He loved the idea of dressing up, but he’s still not a fan of it in actual fact.


Halloween Craft: Witch and Skulls Mobile

Halloween Porch Mobile
Every good Halloween house needs a little spooky something to greet Trick or Treaters, but since I still have a little guy, I’m not really a fan of Halloween houses that cover the front porch in gore. Finding something that’s cool and spooky but not gross can be a hard task, which is yet another reason why it’s so awesome to be a crafter. This project will take you 30 minutes not counting the time it takes for paint to dry, and you can have it up and making your front porch festive in an afternoon.

Halloween Mobile Tutorial Step 1
Most of the work of this project is done by just shopping for the right stuff. I picked up this witch hat and three skulls from my local Michaels. They came as unpainted paper mache figures, and a quick coat of spray paint took care of that. I used spray paint, although any paint you have on hand will do, just because it was super fast, I had some handy, and I really loved the glossy look it gave my witches hat. I sprayed a coat of black on the skulls as well, particularly on the inside, to serve as a base coat.

Halloween Mobile Tutorial Step 2
Then I sponged on the white so that the skulls would have a little depth to them.

Halloween Mobile Tutorial Step 3
With the paint dry it’s just a matter of assembly. Take out your morbid aggressions by stabbing your skulls in the head with an exacto knife. Then use the back of a paintbrush to make the hole bigger.

Halloween Mobile Tutorial Step 4
Thread whatever you’re using to hang the skulls – this black silk cord in my case – on to a large needle. Push it down through the hole you’ve made and pull it out through the jawbone. Take the needle off and tie a knot in the end of the cord, large enough so that it can’t pull back out through your hole. Do this for your other two skulls too.

Halloween Mobile Tutorial Step 5
To make the witch’s hat look like a witch was wearing it, I used this cool green and tan excelsior basket filler. Run a line of hot glue on the inside of the hat and carefully push the excelsior into the melted glue. Careful about burns! The glue loves to seep through the excelsior when you’re not paying attention.

Halloween Mobile Tutorial Step 6
I thought the whole thing could use a little color, so I found this great glitter ribbon to make a hatband out of. I left long tails to dangle down the back.

When your hat is totally decorated, push a hole through the top of it just as we did for the skulls, and thread all three cords from the inside of the hat to the outside, so that you can gather them altogether on top of the hat. Tie a knot right where you want the hat to stay and put some hot glue on the bottom of your knot. Push the hat into the glue so it will stay up high where you want it and not collapse down on the skulls. Tie another knot in the strings to hang the mobile from and cut off the extra.

Halloween Mobile Closeup
This still manages to look grown up and fun without potential scaring any of the littlest trick or treaters. Maybe when Atti gets bigger I’ll discover a love of gore, but I won’t need it if I have stuff as cute as this.

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Halloween Craft: Caramel Apple Yarn Balls

Caramel Apple Decor
Way back when I first made my Halloween trees, I wanted to do some kind of caramel apple inspired ornament. That resulted in one of my favorite craft fails of all time, and the idea was filed away in the back of my brain. It’s been percolating away for years and I’ve finally cracked it.

These little yarn covered “caramel apples” are so simple to make it’s great for kids who want to help make a Halloween present for their teacher, or just if you need to keep small hands busy while you’re working on anything else. Who cares if the yarn isn’t neat? Caramel doesn’t exactly stay where you put it either.

Caramel Apple Tutorial Step 1
Take any size styrofoam ball you want, and cut off a wedge to make a flat side. This is just so that it can stand up if you want it to. I used a bunch of different sizes of balls to make an interesting looking grouping, but I wish I’d gotten even more extreme in my choices.

Caramel Apple Tutorial Step 2
Cut a square of green felt big enough to come about halfway up the ball. Use silk pins – those metal pins with flat heads – to pin the felt in place. You will need to push and pull a little to get it to not wrinkle. Flat objects going over round objects can be a bit complicated. Just keep pinning and you’ll get there.

Caramel Apple Tutorial Step 3
Use another pin, this time with a ball head, and push it through the center of the bottom. This makes your “blossom” for the apple.

Caramel Apple Tutorial Step 4
Push a popsicle stick through the other end. Dip the end in a little glue before you shove it into the styrofoam and it will stay there for good. Then start wrapping your caramel colored yarn all the way around it using pins as necessary to keep it in place until it dries.

Caramel Apple Tutorial Step 5
Keep wrapping all the way around. Once you get to the bottom half and the ball begins to curve down, the yarn doesn’t want to stay where you put it. Keep using pins to hold the yarn until it dries.

Faux Caramel Apples
So if these were real caramel apples, the exposed apple part would have to be at the top by the stick and the caramel would be covering the bottom. Because you dip the apples into the caramel that way. But I decided to flip it because it was easier to deal with the felt that way, it was easier to deal with the yarn that way, and I figured that you’d still get the idea. In this made up world the caramel is apparently poured over the apples. If accuracy really matters to you, then you’ll have to work harder to get the felt to lie flat, cut a slit in the felt to fit the stick through, and try to coil the yarn on the flat surface and over the edge of that, and all that must mean that you really really care about how your caramel apples are caramelled. But hey, there are things I really really care about too. No judgment.


Halloween Craft: Haunted Mansion Inspired Plaque

Haunted Mansion Inspired Plaque
My favorite kind of Halloween decor is the neo-Victorian, Edgar Allen Poe, Haunted Mansion, decayed glamour kind of decor. The glitter and bright colors are lots of fun, but I love the cold elegance of the dilapidated luxury. But of course, for something that’s only going to be displayed for a few weeks a year, I’m not going to pay for actual dilapidated luxury. I’ve got to fake it. This plaque is made out of, essentially, play doh and a wooden board, but looks like something you’d totally find while you were waiting in line at Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion.

Halloween Plaque Tutorial Step 1
Using an air dry clay (I used Crayola air dry clay in white), cover a wooden board. I found a wooden plaque cut in this great decorative shape, and it’s really what’s doing 90% of the work here. The clay shrinks when it dries, so it will crack. Add more layers, filling in the cracks as you go. I found that watering the clay down to a paste really made this job easy. Build up a few layers so you’ve got at least 1/4″ thick and all your cracks are small enough to be stable. Let it get good and dry. Like, three days dry.

Halloween Plaque Tutorial Step 2
While my plaque was drying I also made these decorative flourishes. They’re just a couple of snakes that I rolled to follow the line of the wood plaque. You don’t want to let them dry on the plaque, because of the shrinking and cracking problem, so let them dry thoroughly before moving them.

Halloween Plaque Tutorial Step 3
My flourishes cracked as I was sanding them. I wasn’t being very careful. If you make the same mistake you can just glue them back together. This is one project where messiness and breakage only work in your favor.

Halloween Plaque Tutorial Step 4
When everything is thoroughly dry, glue the flourishes to the plaque. I used Gorilla Glue, making sure to get both pieces wet before applying the glue for the best possible adhesion. I found Gorilla Glue to be the best because it expands, so it compensates if your flourishes or plaque surface aren’t perfectly level, or if breakage makes it so your pieces don’t fit perfectly.

I also used an exacto knife and the back of a paintbrush to carve our family name into it. I just used my own writing, but if you’d like something else you could used stamps or even a computer font to trace the letters on. Then just carve off your pencil markings or stamp marks.

When the glue is dry paint the entire piece black, making sure to get in all the crevices.

Halloween Plaque Tutorial Step 5
Now it’s time to paint. I used a couple different grays and a khaki brown to make a stone look, and in the center is a blending gel. This helps the colors to blend together and look less like awkward sponge pounces.

Halloween Plaque Tutorial Step 6
When you sponge the paint on around your carvings, it’s best to keep your dauber on the dry side. You don’t want the paint to flow into your carvings. Be patient and take your time layering the paint on. If things begin to look a little flat or muddled in one spot, come back in with a little more black or khaki to create more dimension. Use the blending gel to blend your edges together so that the finished product isn’t covered in these little sponge dots.

Halloween Plaque Tutorial Step 7
Keep layering the sponge painting, dry brushing every once in a while to blend the colors and soften the sponge edges, until you’re happy with the final look. Touch up the black of the letters if you need to.

Halloween Plaque Tutorial Step 8
Add a coat of sealer to protect the paint finish.

Spooky Halloween Plaque
It wasn’t part of my plan, but I ended up painting this nearly the same color as my house. It blends in just about perfectly. If I didn’t know it was made out of crayola clay and acrylic paint, I’d think I actually meant this plaque as an actual decoration. Which is kind of perfect. It’s just real enough to look neglected and decayed, which is exactly the look I was going for.


Halloween Crafts: Countdown Calendar

Halloween Countdown Calendar
Here we go, friends! The holiday season is upon us! From here to New Years I’ve got projects lined up to make the dark part of the year festive and I’ve come up with some of my best stuff ever. Since Halloween is the first holiday it likes to sneak up on me and then I’m chasing the calendar for the rest of the year. But this year I’m on it, with a little help from my countdown calendar. I have a million advent calendars for Christmas, it was about time I came up with something for my second favorite holiday.

Halloween Countdown Calendar Tutorial Step 1
I got this wooden plaque from my craft store, but just about any surface you can imagine will do. Using a pencil and ruler, the first thing I did was mark out a section that would become my chalkboard. I centered it along the width, and positioned it near the bottom, but not all the way near the bottom, so I’d have plenty of room for decorating.

Halloween Countdown Calendar Tutorial Step 2
Since the chalkboard needs to be as smooth a surface as possible, I kept all my decoupage and stamping away from it. I mod podged some old dictionary pages around my square and stamped on a diamond pattern.

Halloween Countdown Calendar Tutorial Step 3
The back and edges got painted bright orange, and then I covered the edges with glitter. Because that’s the best thing about the holidays. Be careful to keep that glitter away from your chalkboard space!

Halloween Countdown Calendar Tutorial Step 4
I added the rest of my decorative elements at this point, basically just because I had the glitter and glue out. I decoupaged cardboard letters with coordinating paper, pulled out some of my special glittered cardboard letters, and painted and glittered some wooden Halloween shapes.

Halloween Countdown Calendar Tutorial Step 5
Finally, with all of my glittering done, I painted on the chalkboard paint.

Halloween Countdown Calendar Tutorial Step 6
When the paint is thoroughly dried and cured, you’ll need to condition the chalkboard before using it. Just rub a piece of chalk all over the area and then erase. This distributes a layer of chalk dust evenly and then your markings will erase easily instead of leaving ghostly impressions. A little sequin trim completes the look.

Halloween Countdown Calendar Tutorial
I know I’m getting older because I still feel like we’re just getting this year started, and yet here we are in the final rush to the end. This calendar is cute and festive, but it will also make sure that I don’t spend Halloween night covered in glue and stray threads as I try and get all the costumes done in time. There’s no excuse for letting it sneak by me now.


Recipe: Caramel Apples

We’re racing out the door to go charm the residents of Bear’s nursing home, but I wanted to make sure I got this up for you before I left. I’ll write out the recipe when I get back from the party, but if you need a way to keep your kids occupied in between school and trick or treating, may I suggest… Caramel Apples!! Put those anxious and sugared up hands to work making even more sugar!

Happy Halloween everyone!!


Tutorial: Spooky Bird Diorama

Bird on a Wire Diorama
Do birds freak you out? Just me? Well, obviously not just me since Hitchcock made a movie all about how freaky birds are, which I’ve never seen because they creep me out. One by one birds are lovely little expressions of freedom, but in a group, menacing. So I wanted to make a little Halloween diorama celebrating that creepiness.

Halloween Diorama Tutorial Step 1
I am really not a great painter, so don’t be intimidated. The secret to the gradated background is by using a Floating Medium. I picked out four different colors ranging from navy through gray and down into a pale ice blue. Starting with my darkest color I dipped my brush in the floating medium and then into the paint and painted a stripe. Repeat that for all four colors and let the floating medium work the colors into one another. It’s kind of a magic effect.

Halloween Diorama Tutorial Step 2
Use a dry paintbrush and go over the paint one final time to blend in any brush strokes and give it a feathery look.

Halloween Diorama Tutorial Step 3
While that dries, make your birds. You can really use any kind of clay that you can harden, but I used an air dry clay.  Pinch off a small piece and roll it into a ball. With one hand, pinch to make a head.

Halloween Diorama Tutorial Step 4
Then with your other hand, push in to make the back and tail.

Halloween Diorama Tutorial Step 5
Give it any fine tuning necessary and let it dry.

Halloween Diorama Tutorial Step 6
Paint the birds black if necessary, but if you use black polymer clay and bake it, you can skip this step.

Halloween Diorama Tutorial Step 7
Drill two small holes in each side of the inside of the frame. Glue an end of wire inside each hole. Then glue your birds onto the wire.

Bird on a Wire Halloween Decoration
I love the bleakness of that sky up against those birds. So spooky. Did you know that a collection of crows is called a murder? A murder of crows. How are we not supposed to be terrified by them?

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DIY Star Wars Halloween costumes

We love to dress up for Halloween, and we love to dress up as a family. And I also like to incorporate Atti’s wheelchair into the look. Which means that Halloween requires a lot of creativity. This year ended up being surprisingly simple.

This might be the best thing I’ve ever made. A toddler R2D2 costume for a little boy in a wheelchair. Try and avoid squealing. You won’t be able to do it.

So obviously if Atti is R2D2, then I have to be Princess Leia, and you can too. I made you this video to show you how easy it is.

And then I can’t leave out Bear, especially when his costume is the easiest. Han Solo only needs a vest and boots. It’s so simple!

These costumes are all so easy, and none of them require patterns. They’re perfect for a beginning sewer and you’ll feel like a stud when you tell people you made them all yourself.