Monthly Archives: October 2012

Halloween Three-Step Tip #5: Last-minute Multilingual “Boos”

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Halloween is just a day away and despite hitting several parties this past weekend, the little zombies are still coming Wednesday for their loot.

How do you make it look like you aren’t that creepy reclusive candy-hoarding curmudgeon? Lil’ geeky Jack-O-Lanterns!

Here’s a quick no-carve pumpkin display that give you instant Halloween spirit that looks like you put much research and thought in it. You don’t have to tell people I did it for you.

Step One: Grab a bag a mini-pumpkin (real or fake) and a black Sharpie marker or acrylic paint (if you are particularly good with a brush), and find some fictional geek alphabets online (Klingon, Aurebesh, Kryptonian, etc).

Step Two: Using the language of your choice (or choose one from the little suggestion chart I put together), write or paint the word “BOO” on each one. Make several different ones if you have time.

Step three. Line them up on a windowsill, pile them creatively on a shelf or doorstep, or display them through the house where everyone can see them. Then enjoy the conversations that arise from those who either A) get the message and think you are the coolest person ever, or B) don’t get in and think you are the weirdest person ever. Either way — it’s a win!

If you’re really inspired, these also look great carved into full-sized pumpkins for those rare non-procrastinating types.I hope you liked these small tips this Halloween season, I’m planning a couple when Christmas and the holiday season rolls around. Be watching, and be careful with those little geeklings this Halloween.

Trick or Treat!

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Halloween Three-Step Tip #4: The Potion Master’s Apothecary

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I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death — if you aren’t as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach.” 

— Severus Snape

Thanks in no small part to the acting genius of Alan Rickman, Snape is one of my favorite Harry Potter characters, and it would be so cool to have access to his potions closet to force the rest of the world to do my evil bidding….I mean to bring peace on Earth.

Even if I can’t have his, I can certainly create my own.

This is more of a “decor” hint than a full-fledged craft, although there is a bit of crafty creativeness involved. On the upside, the mechanics are so easy, it’s, well, spooky. On the downside, it is highly addictive. I find myself looking for opportunities to build up my little wizard’s pharmacy throughout the year, and I’ve got my kids hooked, too (someone keeps stealing my eye of newt).

Step 1: Gather some bottles and labels. Novelty labels are getting almost too-easy to find, almost to the point of cliche, but if used right with other things, can look pretty cool. All the standard seasonal haunts (no pun intended) have some ready-made self-adhesive ones  — Spirit Halloween, Party City, Michael’s (or other) crafts stores — but the endless sea of the internet can help you dredge up some even more wild ones, especially some vintage labels for actual products such as Witch Hazel or bed bug powder. If you like you can pour a little water colored with a drop or two of food coloring in some or add old feathers, seeds and other things that would go well in a potion.

Step 2. Find a place to arrange them. Lay them ins sort of a huddled mass of creepy potions with bottles of different shapes, sizes colors and contents together. Don’t place them too neatly, but more like a shelf Professor Snape, Dr. Frankenstein, Marie Laveau or any number of good ol’ fashioned witches might keep tucked away in their classrooms, labs or kitchens. On a fireplace heath, along a kitchen bar, on an entrance table in the foyer, or just hidden in little collections throughout the room.

Step 3: Here’s the fun part: accessorize! Get some antique medical or kitchen utensils, Halloween knick-knacks, Day of the Dead sugar skulls, bird models, etc. It also looks good with a sparse amount artificial cobwebs stretched over it. Add some “mood lighting” by placing glow sticks, small “no-flame” tea lights or glow sticks behind them.

Hey, it’s done! Instant conversation piece that can be added to each year as you find new labels and bottle shapes.

And who knows, maybe you’ll concoct a little liquid luck in the process?

Halloween Three-Step Tip #3: Pumpkin (or other) Stencil Fashion Tees

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Quick disclaimer: I’m a jack-o-lantern freak, and I tend to go overboard each year trying to make geeky, elaborate art, especially since there are some great pumpkin stencils out there to be had.

I have been politely confronted on this obsession in past years by my husband who (for the sake of space and sanity) told me to tone down the number of glowing orange things in our home.  I love my family and will try to be good….but I HAVE TO USE SOME OF THESE STENCIL PATTERNS!  Ergo, here’s a great use for them…in just three steps!

Step 1: Print out, laminate and cut out that stencil. If you don’t have laminate, go with the “poor man’s ” version I like to use…clear packing tape. I do recommend this before cutting it out, so you can re-use the patterns, especially since those complicated ones that may take some time. I use an X-acto knife for the more detailed patterns, but easier ones can be done with just plain scissors. Since I talked to Ray Keim earlier this month, I used his fantastic “Haunted Mansion Wallpaper” stencil as an example (find it at haunteddimensions.raykeim.com/index250.html).  Hint: for “floating” elements in stencils (eye pupils, etc.) attach a thin strip of tape from it to the rest of the pattern to keep it in place. You can fill in any flaws later, if you need.

Step 2: Place it on the shirt where you want it and lightly sponge some cloth paint over it. If you have a black or dark-colored shirt, take a spray bottle of half bleach/half water and gently spray the pattern instead…you’ll be pleased with the results. Do this outside, away from things (and pets and people) you don’t want to soil or destroy. For the bleached shirt, rinse with cool water and let dry.

Step 3: For a little extra design, take a handful of a different-colored cloth paint, stand back and flick it on the shirt for a splatter effect.

Wow, that’s pretty much all there is to it, and you got yourself some wearable art.

Cut…paint….wear!

Want to find more patterns? my top three Pumpkin Stencil site picks (for today, at least) are:

Zombiepumpkins.com. Around 275 patterns. Some are free, but the rest are worth the site’s subscription price. There are whole sections dedicated to superhoroes  and movie icons including Marvel characters, Batman, Hellboy, The Crow, Star Wars,  Alan Moore’s “V” (from “V  for Vendetta”), Rick Grimes from “Walking Dead,” Ash from “Army of Darkness” and plenty of zombie and Halloween classics. Mucho kid-friendly choices, too like Tim Burton images, Monster High, Paranorman, Harry Potter and video game icons. Go crazy.

Starwars.com. The “official” Star Wars blog has a pdf for 11 pumpkin stencils of varying difficulty from easy sillhouettes to some pretty challenging portraits (Tusken Raider…yikes). My favorite is the Mandalorian symbol, but the Rebel and Empire emblems are both cool and easy. Download them puppies here: starwarsblog.starwars.com/index.php/2011/10/24/star-wars-pumpkin-stencils/.

Thinkgeek.com. Each year, everyone’s favorite geeky catalog hosts a fan-made pumpkin stencil pattern contest, and the results are incredible. The best part is, they keep all the winning stencils from past years available, so there’s is more and more geeky goodness offered each season. I don’t even know where to start; video games, movies and television icons, techy art and even a nice portrait of H.P. Lovecraft for those literary geeks.  I made the double-sided MST3K pattern last year and it turned out nifty. Find them at thinkgeek.com/blog/2012/10/

Try this fashion craft with any of these, or get yourself a giant vegetable orb (or twenty) and dig in.

Halloween Three-Step Tip #2: Eerie Glowing Beastie Eyes

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This is one I idea I actually saw on a meme (thank you, George Takei), so I decided to improve on it a little bit….and it is still incredibly easy.

Posted as a practical joke idea, these little glowing eyes turned out to be really effective cheap and simple last-minute Halloween decorations. The best part is, you can make a ton of them in a short time. You could pop out a good 20 of these just watching “Corpse Bride” in an afternoon.

Step 1: Gather some old toliet paper or paper towel rolls (if you don’t have any now, you are bound to soon). Use some scissors or an X-acto Knife and cut a pair of eye holes in each one. If you use paper towel rolls, cut them in half first so they are the right size. If you want, you can color them black with a marker or craft paint.

Step 2: Cover each end with some electric tape or duck tape, but don’t close off one end completely yet.

Step 3: Stick a glow stick in the tube and finish closing off the ends with the tape.

Viola! Instant beastie eyes ready to stick in bushes, trees, tall grass, windows and other dark shadows. They don’t look like much on their own, but hidden in the foliage at night, they have an effect that is  both eerie and kind of serene.

They’re watching you…

Halloween Three-Step Tip #1: Swag Bag Garland

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October — the geek mom’s sanctuary.  The month where we can dress like we want, decorate our homes as crazy as we like and attend a bevy of cosplay-friendly and spooky swag-gettings event with our kids and not get “that look” from other moms.

In celebration, I’ll be posting a couple of easy “Three-Step Tips” this month to keep the fall festivities going strong.

Since the month is still young, here’s an early idea: Make a Swag Bag countdown garland.

Step 1. Take old treat bags, boxes, envelopes, folded scrapbook paper, party cups, etc. and string them along a rope, garland or string (I used mini-binder clips to hang them). You can mix and match and make it look quirky and off-beat. Think of what Lemony Snicket’s Violet Baudelaire might cook up or what Jack Skellington might hang on his mantel.

Step 2. Fill them up with little cheap treats: mini chocolate bars, glow sticks, Halloween stickers, raisin boxes, spider rings….you name it! Make sure each container is numbered with days of the month or as a “count down” from whatever number you choose.

Step 3. Hang it up! Place it wherever the gremlins…or your kids…can get to them every day.

Each day, let your kids retrieve the goodies from one bag until Oct. 31. Put a little something extra in that day’s swag bag, or perhaps a note telling them where to find a bigger treat (like a candy apple or  little “Frankenweenie” plush…shhhh don’t tell them!)

If you don’t want to commit to a full month, you can start this anytime during the month…make it a 10-day, 20-day, one-week count down, it’s fun no matter how long.  We do the whole month since my girls start geeking out over Halloween time early. Giving them a little something to look forward to day by day keeps them down to a dull roar…if that is even possible.

Quick reminder: With Christmas/holiday time around the corner…Swag Bags make good advent calendars as well.