Tuesday, October 4, 2016

An Accidentally Scary Halloween Window

Here's one of two* Halloween windows I decorated last year for my friend, Peggy's shop in downtown Rockport, Texas.  This is the scary one.  My goal was to come out with eye-catching windows that wouldn't scare the little kids in town.  Well, I tried.  But it turned out pretty scary anyway.  I got the only not-scary mask in our small town, and when the blacklights came on, he just couldn't help it.  He became scary.  Here's how I made this window:

1. Make an adult-sized dummy by stuffing a long-sleeved shirt and blue jeans with packing material like air bags, bubble wrap, craft paper, whatever you have handy. Set him up in a chair or dress him on a dressmaker's form.  Be sure there is some kind of support for him up through the middle, to attach the head onto.  You can add things to make him interesting, like the cowboy boots, silver-buckle belt, and bolo-tie I used.

2. Get a plastic pumpkin and turn it upside down.  Place a life-like mask on the front of the pumpkin so the opening and handle are at the bottom.  Depending upon the mask, you might need to get some small pieces of paper and draw eyes on them (black dots will do) and tape them inside the eye holes. Then put a hat on him.  I used an over-sized cowboy hat, which is available here in Texas where the sun is really strong.

3. Affix the head onto the body.  You might need a lot of duct tape for this.  Here's where your inside body support is important.

4. Run a straightened-out wire coat hanger through the inside of each arm, with 4 or 5 inches sticking out of the cuffs.  Stuff a couple of rubber gloves--I used purple ones-- and put one on the end of each arm over the wire.  You'll want to put the bottom of each glove down into its shirt cuff and probably do some more duct-taping.

5. Here's the magic: Run a fishing-line from the ceiling down to each wrist and tie so the arms are held aloft by the string.  It's starting to get scary.

6. Place plug-in jack-o-lanterns of different sizes, on each side of your dummy.  For a better look, replace the bulbs with orange or "flame" colored Christmas bulbs, and set them at varying heights.  You can set them on boxes draped with black fabric or t-shirts.

7. At the front of the window, place a blacklight so it shines up onto the dummy.  Then attach 2 blacklights to the ceiling over the dummy, each pointing at one of his shoulders.

8. When nighttime comes, turn off the indoor lights in the room, turn on your window lights, and prepare to be scared.

This was a fun window in the daytime.  It looked kinda cute.  But at night it was downright ghoulish.


*Click here for the other window--cute, even at night.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Window Full of Halloween

Last October I decorated the store windows* for one of our local downtown shops.  It occurred to me this year, that window decorating is a great way to have a home Halloween display that doesn't get stolen at some point during the month.  Here's how this one was put together.

1. Start with a yard decoration, like this Blo-Mold ghost, and replace the light bulb with a green one, or purple or orange, or whatever enhances the subject best.  I tried a blacklight screw-in bulb, but it was way too dim.  You can add something to make it special, like the cowboy hat here.

2. Then get a plug-in jack-o-lantern, and replace the clear bulb with an orange or "flame" colored Christmas bulb.  Set it on a box covered with a decorative cloth so it's a little higher than the Blo-Mold.  This one is red gingham.

3. Blow up a LOT of party balloons in a Halloweeny color that complements the other items in the window.  Since orange was the most important lower color in this window, lime green balloons were perfect.  Fill the bottom section of the window with balloons.

4. When night rolls around, light 'em up and watch them glow.  Be sure to darken the room for an eye-popping effect from outside.

*Click here for the other window--the scary one.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Rack It Up - Recycle for Your Jewelry

Repurposed Cabinet Door

My friend, Alice, makes some wonderful wall-mounted racks for hanging jewelry by repurposing cabinet doors and shutters.  She adds assorted knobs and drawer pulls from her large collection, which has the most interesting shapes, sizes, and colors.

In the upper photo, she painted and distressed an old cabinet door and below, she used a shutter.  Her customers have used these for ties, belts, and kitchen towels, also.

Repurposed Shutter

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Carrot-Poppyseed Salad

Main-dish vegan carrot salad with poppyseed dressing on a bed of fresh spinach.

This recipe makes a regular appearance at our house, as a main-dish big salad. We eat it on a pile of baby spinach leaves. The recipe serves 2 as a main serving and 4 as a side dish.


1/4 cup poppyseed dressing*
2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup raisins
2 oz. cubed cheese (Monterrey jack is good, so is cheddar)

fresh spinach or lettuce leaves
In a large bowl, toss ingredients together.  Can be served on a bed of lettuce or spinach.

Serves 4

*Poppyseed Dressing

1 Tbsp. honey or vegan sweetener
1 pinch onion powder
1/8 tsp. ground mustard seed
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. poppyseeds
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Combine ingredients in a jar. Put the lid on and shake well before using.

Note: Here's a recipe for a larger amount of this dressing: Golden Poppyseed Dressing, which is nice to have on hand for other salads, like Waldorf, Avocado & Orange, etc.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Tarnation Kitchen Runner Rug

Here's a runner-sized variation on the Tarnation Rectangle Rug pattern.  It's a great size for a hallway, RV floor, or in front of the sink in your kitchen.  I like to use a runner long-ways in front of a back door or door into the garage, as a long walk-off mat.

The runner measures 75 inches long and 21 inches wide.  This rug used tarn made from 14 t-shirts in a variety of sizes (some very large, some small).

Here are the modifications to the original free pattern, to get a runner like this:

1. Chain 153 for the foundation or base chain.

2. Use standard single-crochet (U.S. terms).

For more variations on the Tarnation Rectangle Rug, see the following posts:
Carmel Macchiato Tarnation Rug
Drip-Dry Tarnation Rug
Plarnation Rectangle Rug

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Fringe Benefits: Free Napkins From Shirts

You can recycle your worn-out flannel shirts to make excellent cloth napkins.  They're comfy, absorbent, and free!  Here's how to do it.

1. Cut napkin-sized squares from the front and back panels of the shirt.  12" square is what I use, in order to get 4 napkins from one shirt.  This makes a smallish napkin (cocktail-sized), but it still works fine for daily meals.  If you want them bigger, like 16" square, you'll probably only get one or two from the back panel of a shirt.

2. Once you've cut your squares, fringe the edges.  To do this, pull parallel threads off an edge until there's about 1/4" to 1/2" of fringe created by the loose ends of the threads going the other direction.

These napkins wash like a dream.  Sometimes an extra thread or two will try to liberate itself from an edge after washing.  In that case, just peel it off and throw it away (or compost it if it's a natural fiber).

Friday, April 15, 2016

Cherry Crumble

I make fruit crumble every night.  This recipe-for-two is fast, easy, and it provides a healthy helping of walnuts and fruit, without any refined sugar.   You can use most any kind of fruit, fresh or frozen.  I don't recommend strawberries, though--they turn into soupy mush.  For cherry crumble, use 1 cup pitted cherries and a pinch of ground nutmeg.

Here's my recipe for basic fruit crumble.

serves 2

1 cup fruit, cut in bite-sized pieces, fresh or frozen
2 Tbsp maple syrup
3 Tbsp rolled oats or 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
½ cup walnut halves or pieces
2 Tbsp butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/16 Tbsp salt
1 tsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp spice, such as cinnamon or allspice,
            only a pinch if using nutmeg

Place fruit in a 2-cup measuring cup or small bowl.  Add maple syrup and stir well.  Let sit while making the topping.

Spread oats in a microwaveable dish and microwave on High for 1 minute (not needed for wheat flour).

Place walnuts and oats (or flour) in a small blender or food processor and pulse 3 times to finely chop the nuts and oats.  Add butter, then sprinkle the salt over the top.  Pulse three more times.

In a 3-quart microwaveable bowl, place cornstarch and spice.  Drain some of the liquid from the fruit into the bowl and stir until smooth. Add the fruit, and stir to coat all the pieces.

Dump the crumble topping over the fruit and lightly spread to cover it all.

Microwave on High for about 3 minutes.  If your crumble comes out too runny, try adding 30 seconds next time.

Fruit Combinations
Apple + 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
Blueberry + 1/8 tsp vanilla extract or a pinch of  gr. vanilla bean
Cherry + pinch of ground nutmeg
Peach + 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
Pineapple + 1/8 tsp ground allspice