Dead Man’s Party

This is my blog’s first Halloween! dead mans party 2

I mostly grew up in 1980s suburban America, which means a)loads of trick-or-treating and b)weird candy scares. Seriously, when I was a kid the local police would offer to x-ray our candy every Halloween, looking for razor blades and needles that never appeared. My parents never actually bothered to x-ray our candy (they would gladly risk our lives to avoid waiting in line on Halloween), but they did feel up every piece of candy we trick-or-treated. Not one razor blade or needle, and obviously no poison–I have four siblings and every one of us is still alive. As an adult, I suspect they were really just looking to steal a few of their favorite flavors from us. I do the same thing, but I’m honest/mean enough to just grab my “mom tax” without making excuses.

Just kidding. My kids are really nice, so they’re usually more than willing to kick me a piece or two from their haul.

dead mans party 1

As a grown-ass adult, I live in the Rocky mountains, in a basically suburban neighborhood, so every year we get a hundred to a hundred fifty trick-or-treaters. I’m a witch every year, as an excuse to sit on my porch in full goth regalia, munching candy. We get a lot of tiny kids, so I try not to make it too scary.

We have a dozen or so skeletons we put out every year–a human skeleton, some crocodile heads, and various other skeletal creatures–and every year I aim for a theme of some sort. I’m not super artistic, but I try. Last year was bayou themed, and this year I’m hosting a “Dead Man’s Party.” The kids helped. I’m very pleased.

 

I’m not sure how popular Oingo Boingo* was worldwide (they’re mostly famous for the “Weird Science” song), but I grew up with “Dead Man’s Party” in my head every Halloween. This year, we’re making it a reality. We bought party hats and kazoos for our skeletons, and come Halloween we’ll blow up balloons and spray some sparkles onto our spiderwebs. By then I’ll have a couple spotlights set up and ready to turn on. Those and our strings of purple lights will keep the party going all night long. The local toddlers will be terrified and excited.

*You may not know Oingo Boingo, but you probably know Danny Elfman from the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack, among others.

Lego Monsters

Mr. Robot remembered to get out the Lego monsters. A few years ago when Lego put out its Monster Fighers line I went a little crazy buying most of them. Now I’m glad I did–my collection was nearly complete when they stopped selling them. Back then they even had a Monster Fighters game on the Lego website. Which I never finished. Because I suck at video games.

What about you? Have you ever felt silly snatching up a deal and been so glad you did?

 

Ancestors in October

Ages and ages ago I wrote about painting my bathroom, and way back then I said I was planning to put up old photos of my ancestors. Then life happened and pictures didn’t. I finally got them all printed and framed, but they’re still just propped up in a corner of the living room waiting for Mr. Robot to put them up. He’s very patient and precise with that stuff, so once he does it they’ll look great and be very secure, but he’s been busy and sick by turns and hasn’t gotten to it. IMG_3932

Aw, well. I never claimed to be great at DIY.

October is a great time for hanging a shrine to my ancestors anyway, what with Samhain and Day of the Dead coming up, and I’m sure they’ll be up by then. (If they are, they fit perfectly with Bane’s craft-along “black and white” theme, so I could participate without thinking up something new. Here’s hoping.)

My ancestors are a mix of Deep South farmers (small farmers, not fancy plantation owners) and actual pioneers (the kind with oxen and covered wagons). Mr. Robot’s mom’s side were also small farmers, but we don’t have any old pictures of them. The pictures we have are from his dad’s side, who came over from Norway around 100 years ago. From their pictures, they were pretty fancy. Lots of well-dressed Victorians with fancy hairstyles. His ancestors look like this:

Mine look like this:

Yeah. I’m proud of my ancestors. I come from religious fanatics and explorers and feuding Southern rednecks, and I think that’s pretty cool. But seriously, look at those classy, attractive Norwegians. When I started this project, I never thought the hardest part would be making those two families look like they belong together.

Instead of picking my family’s most formal photos, I picked his family’s most casual because really, I had to put up Aunt Dess and her pet goat. I never even met Aunt Dess, but she and her goat are my heroes. So cute!

Evil Dead: the Cross Stitch

I finished my Dead By Dawn cross stitch. I still have to iron and frame it and hang it up, but it’s done. I love stitching–crochet, knitting, cross stitch–because it puts me into a focused, mindful state. Cross stitch is new to me, so this project was right at the limit of my skill and really made me focus. That was a lot of fun, but I also had some sweary moments of picking out (and once or twice cutting out) wrong stitches. I’m hoping practice makes me better at counting squares.

Still, I’m planning to dip back into crochet next. I found a nice shawl pattern I want to make and I ordered a hank of fancy wool to make it out of. I can’t wait for it to arrive.

onyx wool

I managed to finish the whole thing without actually rewatching the Evil Dead trilogy. I watched Little Evil and The Babadook and several documentaries instead. The Babadook was great, but the “babadook=unresolved grief” metaphor was a bit obvious. Little Evil is a horror comedy from Netflix and it’s a bit tame but fun and kind of heartwarming. A good cross stitching movie.

 

Cross Stitch Witches

I cross stitch! I’m a cross stitcher!

I grew up in a pretty crafty culture so I’m sure I cross stitched some small thing as a kid, but this is my first real project. My younger sister stitches geeky little sayings and she inspired me to try my hand. It’s not perfect–I’m a row off in a couple of places and had to improvise–but it turned out pretty well for a first try.  Even the back looks, well, not great but not totally terrible either. I consider it a win. I’m thinking of giving it to my parents for Christmas. Just so they know some of that crafting rubbed off on me after all. My mom loves anything holiday themed–any holiday–so she’d totally keep this and have my dad show it off every Halloween.

My next project will be a bit harder but I can’t wait to get started. I got a pattern for an Evil Dead sampler that I can’t wait to get started on. I used to have the original Evil Dead trilogy way back when VHS tapes were still a thing and I haven’t watched them since the world went all digital, so I plan on watching them while I stitch.

 

 

I basically googled gothy and geeky cross stitch until I found something perfect, and it happened to be sold through Etsy, by Pyro Dog Pins. I know there are a lot of free patterns, but now that I’m older and slightly less poor I try to support people’s creativity by paying for what I can. If this pattern goes well I’m seriously considering trying either the Bates Motel or the Big Lebowski patterns some time.

Lucky for me, Mr. Robot doesn’t consider adorable shotguns and chainsaws too creepy, so when I’m finished we’ll probably hang Dead By Dawn in our newly repainted bathroom. Yay!

Craft Along with GIY: Utensil Holders

I’ve been following Bane’s Craft Alongs over at Goth It Yourself but this is the first one I’ve done myself. August’s theme is Food and Beverage, which lines up nicely with a project I’d been meaning to figure out anyway.

I hope I’m linking it up right:

 

giy.jpg
Visit GIY to join the fun

For long and boring reasons I keep my utensils in holders instead of a drawer, and I’ve been thinking about new ones for a while. All my available options seemed boring and sad, so I cooked up an idea of my own.

Supplies: three cheap bamboo utensil containers, fine grit sandpaper, burgundy craft paint, several pieces of pretty scrapbooking paper, Mod Podge, a paint brush and an X-acto knife. Plus a couple paper towels, a plastic garbage bag to protect my table and an old magazine (used as a pad for my X-acto knifework).

Process:

I sanded the containers lightly and wiped them clean with a damp paper towel, then used one side as a template to cut my paper to size. Then I painted the insides with two coats of the burgundy craft paint.

I let that dry thoroughly while I watched Crimson Peak–so good!*–and then I Mod Podged the insides of each container for a little extra durability. Then I used Mod Podge to carefully stick the paper on the outsides of the containers and coated the whole outside of each with a thin layer of Mod Podge. I should have maybe pressed the paper on longer first, because I got a bit of crinkling at this stage. I suck at decoupage.

After a long break for dinner and family time I coated the containers inside and out with one more layer of Mod Podge inside and out and let them dry thoroughly overnight. I definitely need more DIY practice but this was easy and fun and I’m pretty happy with my new silverware holders.

*Don’t worry, I wasn’t watching Crimson Peak with kids around. They were on an epic park/duck pond trip with Mr. Robot.

Here are some close-ups of the paper. As usual I was torn between goth for me and non-goth for Mr. Robot and somehow landed at vaguely vintage:

 

Alice in Wonderland Pillows

I needed throw pillows. I have a bad habit of propping my feet up on the coffee table, and throw pillows make that more comfortable. Yes, I know, I could be classy and get an ottoman or a footstool or just put my feet on the floor where they belong, but I’m a rebel! I’m a spooky queen of the night and I put my feet where I please!

So right now I’m putting my feet on my brand new Alice in Wonderland pillow, delivered straight to my door by Cafepress.* I like Cafepress for stuff like this kind of basic stuff–their prices are pretty reasonable and I like browsing through all the designs for the perfect ones. The pillow inserts are a good amount of squishy and the cotton covers are pretty nice. they’re smooth and decently made, and the printing on all the covers is pretty crisp and looks like the online photos.

alice pillows.jpg

I’m not sure why I had Alice on the brain, but it turns out Mr. Robot and I both have entirely different favorite quotes from it. Perfect. His favorite is the left, mine the right. I love that they had a design with the longer version of the quote.

 

While I was browsing I also saw a pair of skull and crossbones Christmas designs I just couldn’t live without. I only ordered the covers (planning to just put them on the regular pillows around Halloween) but Cafepress sent me complete pillows, so maybe they’ll live downstairs in the rec room instead. If you look, you can tell the skull Christmas tree isn’t quite centered properly. That’s a tiny bit sad but not bad enough to send it back. I figure the two extra inserts they sent makes up for it.

 

*As usual, this post is not sponsored in any way.

 

Bat and Butterfly: Keeping House with Non-Goths

I’ve been revamping our bathroom. It’s slow going because I’m fitting it around a bunch of other obligations, but it’s happening. Piece by piece, our bathroom plan is taking shape.

Mr. Robot is not goth. He loves and accepts me enough that if I really really needed to paint our walls black and perch gargoyles everywhere he would support me, but he wouldn’t really enjoy it. We compromise–some things are lighter than I’d like, some things are darker than he’d like, and on some things (taxidermy and fantasy/horror landscapes) we agree.

mysterious marshAs for the bathroom, we’ve agreed for ages that it looked boring and a bit shabby, and a few months ago I discovered that fantasy shower curtains exist and my plan began to take shape. I was tempted by the graveyard scenes and spooky woodland scenes, but that was too much for Robot and the kids, so we settled on a green “mysterious marsh.”

Putting that up inspired us to finally replace our faucet (very old and starting to fall apart) and finally buy a proper soap dispenser and a few other odds and ends. Mr. Robot and I usually agree when it comes to vintage looks, so I’m aiming for a cross between Plantation style (bright colors and dark accents) and “old farmhouse” style. Lucky for us, oiled bronze and antique touches seem popular right now so stuff we both liked was easy to find.

The next, and biggest, step was the painting. I finally found a Saturdafaucety to paint the walls “Simply Seafoam” green and one of these days I’ll get the doors painted “Churchill Hotel Vanilla.” We don’t have the time or money to replace the worn floor or ivory-and-blue countertop, so we picked the paint to work with those.

One of these days I’ll probably get a new light fixture and maybe some matching towel racks, and I already have a plan for decorating the walls. I want to put up some vintage black-and-white photos, with black frames and mattes to look like antique scrapbook pages. I was searching the internet for vintage photos to buy and then realized how silly it is to buy photos when I already have a bunch of antique photos of my actual ancestors I should use. I’m excited to get it done, but I won’t have time to start for at least a week. I’ll be sure to update with the final results.

The paint color changes with the light and my camera had a hard time deciding how to capture that shade. The bat was my touch–vynil sticker on the mirror–and the butterfly was Mr. Robot’s choice. I’m actually the one who bought it, years ago on a whim, and I didn’t know he even cared about it. As soon as the walls were dry, though, he was eager to get it back up where it’s always been. Now the butterfly and the bat are friends.

Inspiration: Art Deco

For many of us goth lasts a lifetime, but there aren’t a whole lot of sites and shops for the not-so-gracefully aging (fat, not an hourglass) goth. It’s not just the size issue, though. It’s also that as I get older I have less time and energy for extreme or fussy fashion and more money for good fabrics and interesting home decor, and dedicated goth shops are often short on those. I still have fun looking at all the youth-driven stuff, especially cybergoth and gothic lolita and dark mori, but when I’m looking to buy I often look elsewhere for inspiration.

Lately I’ve been all about Art Deco. In some ways it’s the opposite of the dark medeival castles and ornate Victorian fashion and decor goth usually draws inspiration from, but it’s not such a crazy connection. The dark woods, rich greens and reds, and Egyptian accents of Art Deco decor goth up pretty easily. And in the U.S., the Art Deco period (mostly the 1920s) is also the era of Old Hollywood and famous Prohibition gangsters so it has a certain decadent, dangerous aura I’ve always liked.

The wide open spaces and geometric styling aren’t so common in modern goth decor, and I don’t see a lot of goths running around in flapper dresses and pearls, but there’s a lot to like in Art Deco. Plus, there are a lot of haunted and abandoned Art Deco era buildings these days, so goth points there.  It’s always been a popular and “grown up” style, so it’s not hard to find good ideas and quality products inspired by this era.

How about you? Does Art Deco do it for you or leave you cold? What are your unusual inspirations?

 

Assorted Entertainments

While the winter storms have come one after the other, piling up snow and icing the roads, I’ve been snuggling up in my memento mori blanket and catching up on all sorts of entertainment.

memento-mori-blanket

Over the last few weeks I’ve watched the new Dirk Gently series twice. I read the books back in the day and I felt this series was true to the spirit of the original while creating a whole new storyline and cast of characters. But don’t let kids watch it unless they have a high tolerance for blood and weirdness.

This week season 4 of Bates Motel came to Netflix, so that’ll keep me company for a week or two while I work on my skully lap blanket. I found some silvery grey yarn in my stash and decided to alternate that with the red. So far I’m excited about the color combination.

silverlining

My music has been tending toward the moody and atmospheric, like Tones on Tail and Dead Can Dance. All of that put a very specific song in my head, only I couldn’t remember what it was called or who did it. Took me an hour of googling to figure out it was Scott Walker’s Farmer in the City. This time I made sure to find out what album it was on (Tilt) and download it so I wouldn’t forget again. If you like avant garde music or somber chanting stuff, which I do on occasion, you’ll like the album.

I’ve also been in a reading mood. I just finished a nice dark fantasy novel inspired by Alice in Wonderland (called, unsurprisingly, Alice). The pacing was a little off for me, taking a long time to wind up and then rushing to a conclusion, but I was into the dystopian world the author created and I’m a sucker for stories that blend grimy cityscapes with magic and fantasy, which this book does well. I always found the dream logic of Alice in Wonderland creepy (especially in the original books and the Disney movie) so this explicitly dark take feels natural to me. There’s a sequel I’ll have to get to one of these soon days, but I’m finishing Broken Monsters first. I’m liking that one so far as well.

So that’s what I’m up when I’m not working. How are you keeping busy lately?