Tag Archives: Halloween

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Creative and Easy Halloween Costumes for Kids

Every Halloween, many of us wrestle with costume ideas for our kids. Some of us are talented at sewing and whipping up costumes, and also organized enough to be among those thumbing through Halloween pattern books in August (as my own mom was.) Some of us guiltily feel that we should be making our kids’ Halloween costumes, but start a little late, or are short on time or skills. Others of us would prefer not to buy a complete off-the-shelf costume, even as some of our children say they prefer these, for a variety of reasons. They can be expensive and end up little-used; their themes are often unappealing (overly commercial or overly sexual) and limited; buying one close to Halloween lands us in a loud, frenzied store.

For all but those who are in the first camp, I have a solution. It’s one I employed almost every year at Halloween: Combine the store-bought with the homemade by buying a base costume and embellishing it. The costume above is a dalmation, made from spotted children’s pajamas that we found. I added the rickrack trim to the neck. The ears are made from two triangles each of dalmation-print fabric and pink flannel, cut slightly larger than the desired finished size. Sew a triangle of each fabric together, right sides together, to form the ear shape. Turn each sewn pair right side out and run a pipe cleaner up its middle. Sew a few stiches around the bottom of each ear to close, and attach the ear with more thread to a child’s plastic headband and bend the pipe cleaner to shape the ear. This is an easy way to create ears or antennae for a variety of costumes. The face makeup completed the dalmation look. This was so simple, but a little bit of embellishment allowed us to be creative and have Anna have the costume she wanted, without taking a lot of time in the creation.

I’ve found that one myth of Slow Parenting is that crafts, foods and other items have to be made from scratch to be somehow “worthy”. I advocate that the most important thing for parents and families is to spend their time the way they choose. For some people, and in some years, that might mean creating a costume from scratch. But it shouldn’t feel mandatory. If something feels like a chore, despite our best intentions, I advocate switching models. Many of us admire crafters (and cooks and home decorators) like Martha Stewart, whose creations appear perfect and effortless, but public style icons can also have a way of making many people feel that they, too, need to perform similarly. In our frenzied world, most of us don’t have precious time to spend doing things that don’t bring us joy. In our family, that meant relying on a combination of store-bought and homemade ingredients to come up with Halloween costumes that were creative, easy, memorable and fun.

When Anna was one year old, I made a pea-pod costume, based on a pair of green footed dinosaur pajamas. Wonderfully, they had a contrasting bib of lighter green color in the front. Over that, I sewed five large green pom poms to form peas. I also made two tubes of felt and stuffed each and sewed them around the “peas”. I cut the dinosaur tail off the back of the costume. To the top of the green hat that came with the costume, I attached a “string” of curly green pipe cleaner. Another string was attached below the peas.

Here she is, almost one and on the move.

 

After two years of the beloved dalmation costume, when Anna was four, I made a sequined-line cape that turned a black leotard and tights into a bat costume. To make a scalloped-shaped cape, I folded a length of satin accordion style into eight parts. With the parts atop one another, I cut a semi-circle out of each end, and that gave it its shape. I glued a line of sequins along the scallops, and followed the directions below to complete the cape.

Another year, I made a simple 3-part western vest, with fringe sewn on (I used upholstery fringe) that went over a vintage 50s dress, so Anna could dress up as Patsy Cline. We pretty much continued the tradition of combining the store-bought, the homemade and the embellished throughout Anna’s school years.

Here are a couple of other quick costume ideas, for Halloween or any dress-up time. These are adapted from my book, Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World.

Tunic: Cut a hole for a head in a one-yard piece of fabric.

Cape: Fold over an inch of a piece of fabric at least 24” long. Sew a seam, leaving a casing to string elastic or a tie through.

Tutu: Cut strips of tulle approx. 4″ wide and 20″ long from a roll or a 4-yard piece. Loop each strip around a waist-sized piece of elastic or a headband. Thread ends of tulle through the loop and pull to tighten.

Crown: Wrap a strip or sheet of paper around a child’s head and tape the ends to attach. Cut a zig-zag shape around the top and decorate the outside.

Another idea, from Anna: If making or embellishing costumes is not for you, you can support artisans by buying homemade costumes on Etsy and elsewhere.

Happy Halloween!
Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

 

 

 

 

31 Awesome Pumpkin Recipes

 

Trick or treat! A pumpkin recipe for every day in October, including some that might surprise you.

Row 1, left to right:

Pumpkin challah from The Jew and the Carrot

Pumpkin cheesecake with white ginger chocolate from A Farm Girl Dabbles

Pumpkin pie with maple crumb topping from Kids Cooking

Pumpkin cookie cake from Hello Moye

Soft frosted pumpkin spice cookies from The Baker Chick

Row 2, left to right:

Chocolate chip pumpkin bars from Cook Woman Food

Rice cooker pumpkin sage risotto from Le Delicieux

Pumpkin ice cream from The Baker Chick

Roasted pumpkin with shallots and sage from Martha Stewart

Pumpkin butterscotch cake from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

Row 3, left to right:

Pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting from Family Bites

Pumpkin polenta pumpkins from My Recipes

Pumpkin crunch cake from The Picky Apple

Pumpkin garlic knots from Handle the Heat

Row 4, left to right:

Baked pumpkin oatmeal from Cooking with My Kid

Pumpkin whoopie pies with maple cream cheese frosting from Brown Eyed Baker

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles from A Bitchin Kitchen

Pumpkin spice cashew cheese dip from Lunch Box Bunch

Brown butter pumpkin cake with honey cinnamon frosting from Redeeming the Table

Row 5, left to right:

Homemade pumpkin spice latte from Confections of a Foodie Bride

BPA-free pumpkin pie from Mother Nature Network

Pumpkin cookies from Delicious

Baked pumpkin donuts from Sweetened with Honey

Pumpkin cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream from Made in Melissa’s Kitchen

More recipes:

Pumpkin pie cupcakes from Une-deux Senses

Pumpkin cookies with cream cheese icing from House of Hepworths

Pumpkin cinnamon rolls with caramel from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Pumpkin hummus from Naturally Ella

Arabian squash cheese casserole from Mollie Katzen

Adzuki bean pumpkin casserole from Scandi Foodie

With all these pumpkin recipes, you’ll probably have plenty of pumpkin seeds. Why not roast them? Pumpkin seeds are delicious and nutritious roasted, and they will give your home a wonderful fall smell.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

You’ll need:

Pumpkin seeds
Cookie sheet
Olive or other oil
Salt or
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon allspice, ¼ teaspoon cloves

Preheat oven to 275.

Rinse pumpkin seeds and remove any pulp.

Dry on paper towels.

Brush a cookie sheet with oil.

Place seeds on the cookie sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with salt or cinnamon, ginger and allspice mix.

Bake for approx. 20 minutes or until roasted, checking and stirring them after 10 minutes.

This recipe is from FED UP WITH FRENZY: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, which contains many other recipes and fun ways to enjoy all the seasons.

 

 

 

Make an Altar to Honor Ancestors for Day of the Dead

The Latin American, and especially Mexican, tradition of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a time to remember and celebrate loved ones who are no longer with us. Far from morbid, the day or days (which can encompass the widely celebrated Catholic All Saints Day  November 1st, and All Souls Day November 2nd) have a celebratory quality. In Mexico and other places, people play music, enjoy family, and make and enjoy special breads, pottery, puppets, paper cut-outs, dancing skeletons, and candy skulls. Brightly colored marigolds adorn displays, as the flowers’ scent is said to attract souls and bring them back.

While the holiday’s timing and spirit may seem to match Halloween, it’s actually different and predates it by about 1,500 years, to 3,000 years ago, when it was an approximately 40-day celebration based on two months of the ancient Aztec calendar and centering on the corn harvest in what is now August. Ancient corn festivals offered opportunities to share the harvest with the deceased.

Our modern culture is one of the few that doesn’t often recognize the role of ancestors or spirits. 2,000 years before the Aztecs, Babylonian festivals were devoted to the return of the dead. Much later, the Medieval Irish burned bonfires at Samhain (October 31 – November 1), the beginning of their winter, to entice dead spirits to visit. Dia de los Muertos offers a contemporary, colorful and meaningful way to honor those who have come before us and recognize that, while we can’t bring them back, their spirits and essences may live on with us.

Anna made an altar, or ofrenda, with her lovely 2nd grade teacher, Susan Falkenrath, to help her be more connected to a grandfather she didn’t know and remember a grandmother who had recently died. We still have the very light-hearted ofrenda in a prominent place in our house. (Traditional ones have a lot more temporary offerings on them, such as real food and flowers.) It does serve as a nice way to keep the departed close to us.

Her teacher had a cut-out form for the ofrenda‘s shape, but it’s easy enough to create your own with boxes and paper. Because ofrendas honor the lives of the deceased, Anna’s included her grandparents’ favorite foods, in clay form, their photo, and items about their work and play.

To make your own, you’ll need:

A shoebox or oblong tissue box and one or two more increasingly smaller boxes (large enough to work with your photo and frame – see below. Traditional ofrendas often have three tiers.)
Cardboard or a large flat box lid
Construction paper, wrapping paper or fabric
A photo of the deceased
Colorful tissue paper
Modeling or polymer clay
Branches or wire
Scissors or craft knife
Other items or mementoes, as desired
Paint and brushes, optional
Glue

Think about the ancestors you are honoring: What were there hobbies and interests? What was their favorite food?

Cover and wrap your boxes in construction paper, wrapping paper or fabric, so that there are no openings.

Glue the boxes, one above the other, smallest one on top.

Use the box lid or cut a rectangle of cardboard, 1-2” or more larger than the photo all around.

Glue the photo to the cardboard or lid. If desired, paint or paper the cardboard first and/or decorate the frame of the photo with drawn pictures depicting the ancestor’s hobbies, or with construction paper cut-outs of skulls.

Place the cardboard or lid behind the largest box, if large enough, and glue to secure it, so that it shows above the boxes. If the cardboard is smaller, follow these directions:

Cut 4 pieces of cardboard, 2” x 1”. Fold each in half. Glue two to the front and two to the back of the photo cardboard, to make L- shaped feet. Glue the bottom of the “L”s to the top box, so the photo stands up.

If desired, construct an arch out of paper or branches and place it around or in front of the photo, poking the ends into the top box to secure it.

Because it’s traditional to offer the deceased their favorite food, in addition to bread, fruit or candy. have fun making miniature clay food and placing it on the tiers of the altar. Some altars also include soap, so the loved ones can “freshen up” after their journeys.

Make other clay or paper decorations, as desired, perhaps representing more of the loved one’s interests, to place on any of the tiers. You may want to add real or paper flowers anywhere on the altar, or make a string of paper cut-outs (papel picado) and string them across the top of the arch or the picture.

Here are some nice examples of papel picado:

 

Enjoy wonderful pictures and stories of Dia de los Muertos in Oaxaca from Slow Clothes.

Enjoy more ofrenda photos.

Feliz Dia de los Muertos!

Photos: Public Domain (first two), Chuchomotas, Susan Sachs Lipman, esacademic.com

 

 

Book Provides Inspiration for Halloween Fun

As an unabashed enthusiast for all things Halloween, I loved Maggie da Silva‘s very charming and thorough ebook, Real Family Halloween Fun. Maggie is also the author of The Real Family Camping Cookbook, and her flair for providing complete information in a fun and accessible way is again evidenced here.

Maggie provides everything you need for a memorable and fun Halloween. There are ideas for lots of different costumes, including last-minute ones, from unicorn to superhero. Thorough guidelines take the reader through every step of throwing a Halloween party, including themed decorations and music, invitation text, traditional and obscure games ranging from fortune telling to Halloween hunts, and fun and unique treats like Witches’ Fingers and Mummy Mealoaf. As a pumpkin lover, I’m “dying” to try the pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

Maggie’s holiday spirit is completely infectious. I especially enjoyed her forays into Halloween history and her section on old-fashioned and forgotten Halloween fare, such as Barnbrack and Colcannon from Ireland, and Boxty and Soul Cakes from the U.K. Real Family Halloween Fun is rounded out with crafts, lore and even poetry, which succeeds in putting the reader in the Halloween mood while taking much of the guesswork out of bewitching celebrations of any scale.

For more information on downloading, see Real Family Time.

23 Things to be Happy About in October

I tend to be happy most months and seasons, and completely enjoy the continuity and mystery of the turning year. That said, there is just something a little extra-special about October, which starts tomorrow here and which some of you are already enjoying. What are some items on your Happy October list? Here’s mine:

Crisp air
Pumpkins in fields, farms and stands
Long nights
Scarecrows
Curling up with books and tea

Bountiful harvests
The slant of sunlight
Apples and cider
Riotously colored leaves
Fall movies
Meals with friends

Sweaters and socks
Gloves, mittens and hats
Leaves crunching underfoot
Birds in flight, migrating
Fireplace fires
Stock, johnny jump-ups and even mums

High school football
The smell of bays, oaks and wood duff
The prospect of Halloween
Children in costumes
Picking up sewing projects
Being at rest

 

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

A Roundup of Halloween and Fall Fun

Everyone seems to be inspired by Fall and by Halloween, which comes at the exact height of the season. There is no shortage of wonderful blog posts and ideas about play, creativity, and celebration of this pivotal and lovely time of the year. I’ve gathered a few:

Fall’s bounty and beauty are explored by Mom in Madison

A roundup of Fall outdoor activities comes from Your Wild Child

Backyard Mama brings us ten ways to enjoy Fall

Make shrunken apple heads with Active Kids Club

Create a Sugar Sprite tradition for Halloween candy with Stephinie on Rhythm of the Home

A wonderful compendium of Halloween herb and food history and lore comes from The Herb Companion

From The Squirrelbasket: Halloween traditions, superstitions, and pumpkin carving

DIYLife weighs in on composting Fall leaves

Shivaya Mama describes experiencing peace and joy through watching children’s delight at jumping in Fall leaves

Have a glorious Halloween and Fall!

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

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