How I Did My Yard for Halloween This Year…And it’s All on the Cheap, of Course.



Did I mention I LOVE Halloween? Here’s a look at our front yard this year…

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The Front Gate. The 2 pots are changed out every season. This year I simply added fake Fall foliage and my beloved Crow decoys. All my Fall foliage was been gathered over the years at thrift stores for a couple bucks a piece. I scored all my crow decoys on Ebay. I’ve had them for about a decade and still love using them every year. They are indestructible! I added a little orange sparkly ribbon this year. The sign on the gate was an alley find: Free!

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To the left just inside the gate is the “Ball Garden”, where I’ve added a few fake pumpkins. To the right, more fake pumpkins, and more foliage and crow decays in the tall pots. A little trick with the fake foliage: I fill the pots with real Fall leaves (we have no shortage of those this time of year!), then add the fake stuff. It helps fill in the pots visually. OK, I hear many of you purists scoffing at my fake pumpkins. Believe me, I’d have real ones if I could, but the ravenous army of squirrels around here would eat their faces off within 24 hours (unfortunately I know this from experience). So faux pumpkins it is! We’ve been collecting these over the years from various thrift stores for a few bucks a piece.

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I continue the faux pumpkins up the steps (I still need to tape down the extension cords) and onto the porch (I do like a solid theme, I guess you’d call mine “Crows & Pumpkins”). The two pots up on the stoop are also changed out for the seasons, and these I wrapped in translucent black fabric with a little orange ribbon, and there are strings of orange lights in the pots just under the crow decoys. This year I added the Glittery Black Sticks to the pots. They sparkle like crazy! The columns on either side of the stoop are simply wrapped in more orange light strings and sheer black fabric, and topped with a little of the orange ribbon..


On the left side of the porch sits another fabulous alley find table, awaiting a paint job. I dolled it up with more of the black fabric, some old dried out gourds (I save and dry out gourds every year, after they have been used fresh on the mantle inside), and of course, another crow decoy.

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To the right of the door sits this white column, done up in similar fashion. The door itself is surrounded with more orange string lights draped over with more of the translucent black fabric. I snagged the Fall wreath at the thrift store, and added a bit of the black fabric and orange ribbon (after Halloween, just remove the fabric and ribbon and it’s perfect for Thanksgiving!) The image above the door is just vintage crows and pumpkin clip-art I printed onto gloss photo paper on my home printer. (The porch is covered, so no moisture can get at it)


My favorite part this year are my home-made Monster Eyes that blink at night. They look great! We always save one of the faux pumpkins for the porch light, using a compact florescent of course so there is no fire risk. Here are a couple more night shots:

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Almost everything in the yard came from the thrift store or is home-made. The only things I bought this year are the spool of orange ribbon and the sticks and glitter paint. Everything can be reused for years to come.

Next time, the inside of the house!

How did you decorate for Halloween? I’d love to hear about it in the “Leave a Reply/Comment section below.



Killer Scrap Wood DIY Halloween Tombstones – I Wish I Was This Clever…

Killer (pun intended) Scrap Wood DIY Halloween Tombstones


One look at these awesome tombstones and you can see why I wanted to share them with you. This is the yard of Denver artist Tom Novosad, who has a real gift with scrap wood and a jigsaw. “Found some plywood in the alley and had to make me some new headstones. A little left over house paint, some screws…” That’s how Tom rolls. Weathered,  found scrap wood, cut into shapes and layered on with screws, painted with house paint (the drippy paint layers are easily done with watered down paint, just vary the shade of gray slightly) These look so pro, I’m inspired to try my hand at them…well, maybe next year 😉

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The placement of the occasional skull and crow are perfect. Now, behind the scenes, a look at the backs…

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You get an idea of the simple construction looking at the backs. They really are just scrap wood! Staked in the ground with a simple single wood stake.

Bonus: His home-made cemetery gate is marvelous, more scrap wood!…

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Yes, that’s a real coffin on his porch. A dented display model he scored from a mortuary.


The wood over the window is pure genius. So simple, and it looks awesome! The wood pieces were assembled together and painted, then attached to the window frame with two screws.

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We’ll have to go back and see it all lit up and tricked out on Halloween. Thank for the tour Tom!

The Eyes Have It…Spooky Halloween Goodness that is. A Cool & Easy Ghoulish DIY with Shoe Boxes


Spooky blinking eyes! Everyone who comes to the house comments on these. Easy, cheap, and high-impact.  You can hang a few or a ton of these. Last year I did a massive wall of these (about 25) for our Fantastic Hosts Halloween event (what are the Fantastic Hosts?) and it was a huge hit. I’m using a mere 6 of them on the front porch this year.


Because I made them last year, I do not have the usual step by step pictures, but I will talk you through it…


Shoe Boxes

Black Spray Paint

Black Duct Tape

Clear packing Tape

Tissue Paper

A string of Xmas lights

An Exacto knife


Step 1: Spray paint the boxes black, tops and bottoms (you don’t have to paint the inside).

Step 2: Draw your eye shapes on the bottom and cut out with an Exacto knife.

Step 3: Use tissue paper in the color of your choice (I like “monster-y” colors like red, green and yellow) and tape a layer inside the box behind your eye holes.

Step 4: Put your string lights inside the box, and use your clear tape to attach the string down along the bottom of the inside of the box. (otherwise you’ll see the little bulbs through the tissue, and we just want to see the light.) NOTE: If you have a very long string of lights, you can light up two or three boxes, just use electrical tape to douse the light from the bulbs that wind up outside the boxes. (the ONLY light we want to see is through the eyes.) Be sure and cut a little notch in one of the back lower corners for the cord, and dangle the plug out of the box.

Step 5: Put the top of the box on the back and use your black duct tape to seal up your box. The key to this is making sure no light comes through any cracks in the box, so do plug in your box and cover any escaping light with the black tape.

A Note on the Light Strings: Your light string comes with extra bulbs, one of which has red on the bulb. This one will make your light string blink when you replace the first bulb in your light string with it. Do this on a couple of your boxes, and then it will look like some of your goulish eyes are blinking. It looks great! I have 3 out of 6 blinking in my arrangement.

Time to Hang the Eyes!

Pick a spot that is dark, against a dark wall is best, and hang your eyes in a random pattern. To hang them, make a “tab” or a “loop” out of the duct tape, tape it to the top/back of the box, and I used a staple gun to attach the tab to the brick on my porch. I would use those 3M Command Adhesive strips with a “loop” if you don’t want to damage the walls, inside or out. Now plug in the lights and see how they look. The final step is to cover over the lights with a somewhat translucent black fabric, even “cheap” (low thread count) black sheets would work. (Here I used my trusty staple gun again) This is a great effect, and covers the edges of the boxes so you just see the lights of the eyes. There are several ways you can do this. I like to sort of blobishly bunch the fabric around the eyes. You could get a single monster effect by draping the fabric in a more ghost-like way over one box of eyes at a time. You could also place these in bushes (be aware that rain/sprinklers will ruin them) or in dark little cubbies under stairs, furniture, wherever it’s dark.

Here’s the spot BEFORE: (every year we put one of those fake pumpkins over the porch light…)


And here’s the process of hanging the lights and fabric:

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And at night:

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And here’s a sneak-preview of the whole front porch at night:



There’s more Halloween Goodness to come! Next time, I’ll show you the whole front yard.

Fabulous Black Glitter Halloween Sticks DIY – Spooky Gothic Glamour (and some Cool Crows too)


Yea, I know, sticks usually are not so exciting, but these are! Cheap and easy, too.


I always try and do something interesting with the two pots flanking the porch for Halloween, usually involving my crow decoys.  Side Note: I LOVE my crow decoys! I stole the idea from the lovely owner of 5 Green Boxes here in Denver, one of my favorite places to shop and explore (actually there are 2 5GB stores, one for home and unique handmade furniture and one for clothing, etc., the Big Store is my favorite, it is a hot-bed of great ideas). I went to a big yard sale (imagine that, me going to a yard sale ;-)) one Fall years ago and saw she had used crow decoys in purple pots on her fence posts. I was immediately smitten, and ordered a bunch online that very day. I’ve been using them every Halloween since. They look great and are virtually indestructible. This year I got the idea to add some sparkle, hence the glittered black sticks.

This project was easy as pie (I’ve always wondered where that expression came from, pie actually isn’t all that easy…). I bought a bunch of clean birch sticks (of course you could collect your own as well), spray painted them with gloss black spray paint, then sprayed them with Rustolium Glitter Spray Paint in silver from Home Depot.


First I laid the sticks out on my trusty painting tarp.


Then sprayed them black, just one coat on each side. You don’t need to be crazy about this, no one is going to notice if you missed a spot or dripped a little paint, unless you drip it on your shoes like I did…

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It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but this stuff shimmers like the dickens. I got a little carried away and sprayed a few small pumpkins, too. A note on the glitter paint: You want to try and use it all at once, as the sprayer tends to clog, and you’ll want to shake the can every 10 seconds or so. It works great! I’m sure I’ll be finding many more projects to glitter-ize.

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When it was all dry I just stuck them in the pots, and voila’, glamorous crows. There are a ton of things you could do with these sparkly black sticks: centerpieces, pots, stick them in existing plants inside or out, add them to your spooky mantle, tie them to the chandelier…the possibilities are endless, and these sticks will last for years to come.

Stay Tuned! There are many more Halloween Posts to come! Next time, the “Eyes” have it, and then I’ll show you my whole Halloween house, inside and out! I’ll be doing a couple fun tours of some amazing local houses as well. FOLLOW this blog and you won’t miss a thing!

Beetlejuice-esque DIY Halloween Striped Candlesticks…with Electrical Tape! So Easy it’s Scary.


Fun striped candle sticks! Very “Nightmare-Before-Christmas”/”Beetlejuice” looking. This was crazy-easy. Black electrical tape. That’s it. Use another piece of tape as a spacer, and just wrap the tape around so it overlaps a tad. The tape is shiny and looks great, and so cheap to do it’s ridiculous. Like, pennies. These are 24″ white tapers, but you could do this on pretty much any candle. This would be fun on orange or red candles too..

Here’s the BEFORE:


Here’s the WRAPPING TAPE part:


And DONE! The whole thing took about 10 minutes. (Of course, be careful if you are going to light the candle, and remove the tape. It will get all melty and gross if the flame hits it, and will probably be very hard to clean up. Never leave candles unsupervised!)


(If you are wondering about my black kitty, I’ve had him about a decade. He came from Dept. 56. The silver candlesticks came from the thrift store (about $8 for the pair as I recall.) The antique mirror was my man’s before I moved in.)

Charming Victorian Gothic Halloween Garland DIY – Plus FREE PDF Template!

I LOVE Halloween! I’ll be doing a bunch of fun Halloween DIYs for decor, food, and fun, so FOLLOW the blog and you won’t miss a thing!

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This Halloween Garland is super easy, cheap, and fast to make! I love the look, it goes perfectly with our old Victorian house. Here’s how I did it, there’s a downloadable PDF a the end for you so you can make it, too.

I made these entirely out of supplies I already had on hand, so it didn’t cost me a thing, but even if you had to buy the supplies, it would be pretty cheap. I created the template on my istudio software, and printed it out on glossy photo paper. This is the key to a good looking garland. The thick paper is easier to work with, holds it shape, and the glossy finish makes it look more professional (I buy photo paper in bulk at Costco).  First, gather your supplies. I used orange tissue paper, orange striped baker’s twine, and duct tape. (there are many other things you could substitute for the twine, use your imagination!):


Then cut out the letters with a sharp pair of scissors or an Exacto knife, leaving a little white around the black circle lines. Note: You’ll have more control and get a better cut (not to mention avoid wrist fatigue) if you hold the scissors steady and move the paper your cutting into instead of your scissor hand).


Then cut your tissue paper. fold it gently over on itself a few times the long way until it is about 4″ wide, then cut into strips about 1″ wide. You’ll use about 1 1/2 strips per letter.


Now it’s to assemble your garland. Duct tape! Does it get any easier than that? Finally, a project without glue-gun burns 😉 Tear off a few strips of duct tape (I used black, but any color will do, you won’t see it when it’s finished) about 1/2″ wide and have them ready. Now hold your letter circle in one had, and fold a strip of the tissue back and forth accordion-style along the rounded edge with the other, overlapping the paper about 1/2″, holding it in place with your thumb as you go. Don’t worry about being exact, or even neat, you can trim off uneven parts later. Get about 1/3 of the way around, then tape the tissue down to the paper. Do that twice more until it’s all the way around, Easy-peasy.

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At this point turn them over and see how they look. Trim the tissue to even it up if needed (I had to). Now it’s time to attach your baker’s twine (or whatever string-like think you decide to use). Cut it longer than you think you need it, and be sure to account for the ends, keeping in mind how you’re going to attach it to hang. Be sure your letters are upright on the front, then rip off a few more pieces of duct tape and tape the twine onto the letters about 1″ down from the top.

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You’re almost finished now, time to attach the backs. (this isn’t absolutely necessary, but it completes the look, and your garland will hold up longer.) Rip off some more strips of duct tape, roll them onto themselves (so the form a sticky loop, put one or two on the back of your letter, line up the plain back, and press. You’re done! Wasn’t that easy? It took me about 20 minutes to make the “BOO” garland, and about an hour to make the Happy Halloween Garland. (All of which I did on the couch watching a movie, “the Shining” if you must know. I’m serious about Halloween!)

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I love the way this looks, so perfect for our Gothy-Victorian Halloween Decor. And here’s a sneak-peak of the mantel… I’ll be posting pictures of all our Halloween decor over the next couple weeks!


And as promised, here’s the PDF:


Find of the (Almost Every) Week – Cynthia Rowley & Vintage Mink (October 7, 2013)

It’s time for…

Find of the (Almost Every) Week!

This week’s Thrifting Finds, A gorgeous bronze metallic leather oversize clutch by Cynthia Rowley in New Condition (these bags retailed for well over $200) and an adorable vintage mink hat in excellent condition (and it looks good on!)  And as if these finds weren’t great as it is, I found them on half-off day at Goodwill. The hat came to $3 and the bag $5.50. I am one happy girl.


What have you found at the thrift stores lately? I’d love to hear about it! Tell me in the Leave a Reply/Comment section.