Monday, August 31, 2015

Salem, MA

61 Days Remaining

We have nine weeks till Halloween. If you're like me, you already feel behind in everything you want to get done. So, for the next nine weeks I'll be helping you and myself get ready. Each week will have a theme and this week I'll be suggesting various Halloween places you might want to travel to this year. I don't think any country celebrates Halloween quite like the United States. We have our own style of Halloween kitsch that is strangely endearing.

You're probably thinking Travel? Who has time to travel? but hear me out. Sometimes we get so involved in planning Halloween at home we forget to enjoy what other people are furiously planning. Last year, my husband and I went to New Orleans for Halloween. It was a big decision not to be here to hand out candy to the kids, but I'm so glad we did it. It was fantastic. It's not something I'll do every year, but every handful of years won't hurt.

Salem, MA

Salem, MA has to be on the top of your Halloween travel destinations. It's where it all begins for us, really. The great thing about Salem is that you don't necessarily have to visit on Halloween day. You can experience the spookiness all year long.

Be prepared, however. Salem these days does tend toward the kitschy.  You need to go with a sense of humor which sounds odd even to me since Salem is the site of such a horrible time in our history. The first time I visited, I was taken aback by the lack of seriousness concerning the people who were killed due to mass hysteria. The history is there if you want to seek it out and I suggest that you start your visit at the Salem Witch Memorial.

The memorial was designed by Cutler Anderson Architects and dedicated in 1992. The memorial includes 20 granite benches each inscribed with an accused witch's name and date of death. I also recommend visiting the Salem National Park Visitor Center to watch a 35-minute film on the history of the Witch Trials. Once you're suitably depressed, it's time to go have some fun.

Salem isn't a very big town so you can easily walk to what you'd like to see. Before you go, look through the official Salem Haunted Happenings website. Salem gets inundated with tourists during October and the website can steer you to exactly what you'd like to do. Shopping is lots of fun and you can purchase anything from witch t-shirts to herbs for that particular spell you've been meaning to cast. Have your Tarot cards read and visit the Wax Museum. Make sure you visit the Bewitched Statue of Samantha and wiggle your nose.

If you want to search out some real haunted places check out this article from It features seven haunted sites around Salem chosen by ghost hunters.

I'm saving the best for last. Buy your ticket for the all-male drag parody of The Golden Girls: The Lost Halloween Episode. I'm not kidding! I'll bet you'll never forget your visit to Salem. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Literary Hatchet

When I was researching for the Lizzie Borden post (here), I came across an online literary zine that I think you should check out. It's called The Literary Hatchet. Published by PearTree Press, executive editor Stephanie Koorey says "It is free because we philosophically believe that the work of these artists and writers deserves to be read by the widest possible audience."
Issue #12
The Literary Hatchet is published three times a year. The latest issue came out on August 15th and I've been slowly, but surely, make my way through the 300 pages of short stories, poetry, and essays. Yes, this zine is more like a tome.
Issue #9
"The Literary Hatchet publishes contemporary short fiction, poetry, humor, interviews and reviews by established and emerging writers and artists from around the world. Subjects range from murder, mystery, macabre, horror, monsters, ghosts and things that go bump in the night."
Issue #4
The current issue features 38 short stories, 47 poems, and 3 essays. I'm almost finished reading it and while I've liked some stories better than others I can say it is well worth your time. And I did mention the online version is free.
Issue #2
You'll find stories that range about murderers, vampires, and the worst of humans. Stories that stick in my mind include a child who is visited by dead corpses that leave messages; a confession with a twist between a murderer and a journalist; corporate brainwashing; a person addicted to eating flesh; and so much more.

You can also purchase print copies for between $8 and $14 dollars. I think it's worth that just to be able to frame the covers!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Self-Indulgent Halloween Treats

I really don't know how they do it. People who bake and decorate extraordinary cookies are my heros. My cookie decorating skills end up looking like I used my left hand (I'm right-handed) and wore a blindfold. That's why I think it's totally acceptable to purchase a few gorgeous cookies at a price you would not normally consider to celebrate yourself. Yes, celebrate yourself. These are not the cookies to buy for your child's school party. If I had children, I'd probably even wait till they went to school to pour myself a cup of coffee and eat the entire bunch.  Advance Warning: I encourage you to make a purchase to celebrate the 13 days of Halloween.

If you've never purchased cookies from a site like Etsy before, let me assure you that when I have, the cookies arrives fresh and in one piece. Bone Apetite!

Antiqued Potion Label Cookies by LizyBsBakeshop
Modern Chevron Pumpkin Cookies by LizyBsBakeshop
Nosferatu Cookies by AmericanCookieCraft
Beetlejuice Cookies by AmericanCookieCraft
Black Cat Cookie by AmericanCookieCraft
Vintage Halloween Cookies by HeidisSweetShoppe
Sugar Skull Cookies by SweetWildFlour
Now I'm hungry. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Creatures of The Shadow Farm

I don't think I could keep a figure from The Shadow Farm in my bedroom. If I woke up in the middle of the night and thought it was staring at me I'd never get back to sleep. That being said, I absolutely love these malevolent little creatures.

The man behind The Shadow Farm is known to us only as Dave the Dead. I'm not sure I want or need to know any more than that. The Shadow Farm has an Etsy shop stocked with creepy figures, but don't wait long to purchase. The Shadow Farm is going to be a vendor at Ghoultide Gathering in Michigan on October 3rd and Dave the Dead will most likely be taking his stock with him. I'm going to be attending Ghoultide Gathering this year and can't wait to see these figures in person.

Bunny Boy
Mr. Bangor
Burlap Horror
Emerson Skelly
Toothy Beet-Monster
Hoover the Lovecraftian Entity

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tipple Tuesday: Full Moon Cocktail

On August 25, 1835 the New York Sun published a series of articles over five days that are now known as The Great Moon Hoax. The articles pretended to be reprinted from the Edinburgh Courant and written by scientists who had designed a telescope that could see every bit of the moon. The articles described in great detail what they viewed which included: bison, goats, unicorns and bat-like winged humanoids. That's good stuff.   For the full text of the articles see

In honor of this great hoax, which I'm sure frightened any number of people, I say we celebrate with a Full Moon cocktail from This packs a punch and may cause you to see a unicorn.

Full Moon Cocktail

1 1/2 oz Orange Curacao
1 1/2 oz Amaretto

Fill a glass with ice and pour ingredients. Stir and consume.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Julie Harris & The Haunting

Actress Julie Harris died two years ago on August 24, 2013. Her name may not be that familiar to you, but it really should be. Besides winning five Tony Awards, three Emmy Awards, and a Grammy Award, she starred in the 1963 version of The Haunting. The movie was based loosely on Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House (read previous blog post). Harris played Eleanor "Nell" Lance.

The Haunting is one of my favorite movies to watch on a rainy afternoon. It has just the right amount of gloom, tension, supernatural, and crazy. Although Shirley Jackson insisted her short story was definitely about the supernatural, the film's director, Robert Wise, felt that the story was more about a woman loosing her mind. Wise artfully blends the two ideas together so that the viewer has to decide whether the house is haunted or whether Eleanor is losing touch with reality. I hope you've seen this movie. If you haven't, watch it today on the death anniversary of Julie Harris.

You might not live in a haunted house (thankfully), but I have found a few artists who will turn a picture of your house into a haunted house. This would make a nice gift for that spooky friend you know.

Artist Laurie Conley will create an ink drawing of your house in a variety of sizes. These are a few samples of what she has done.

Laurie Conley Custom Haunted Houses
Laurie Conley Custom Haunted House

The Bird and the Berry will make a custom Halloween party invitation using your house. Fun!
TheBirdandtheBerry Custom Halloween Invitation

From Art to Zombies will create a painting of your house. It's a bit more expensive, but I'm in love with this idea.
From Art to Zombies Custom Haunted House Painting

So, go watch The Haunting and figure out how you're going to pay for a custom portrait of your house.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Imps and Things

I want to highlight another great spooky art doll artist today. Pete Simpson is the creator behind Imps and Things. Simpson brings to life dreadfully adorable trolls and, well, imps. These are the types of imps you might want to sit down with and have a beer. I imagine they'd be entirely disagreeable, but I'd have a good time anyway.

Simpson is featured in the autumn issue of Art Doll Quarterly. He has a blog that seems to be updated occasionally, but it does point you in the direction of the Imps and Things shop on MISI- the British equivalent of Etsy, I think. (I hadn't heard of MISI till now. I have to check this one out.)  You can read more about his current work on the Imps and Things Facebook page which is updated frequently.

These photos of Simpson's work come from his Facebook photo stream. His photography of the imps in woodland settings are enchanting. I haven't seen any artist stage his work so beautifully. Don't miss a single one.

A Peaceful Afternoon Fishing
Nighttime Sightings
Witch Abroad
Strange Sightings Summer 2015
Strange Sightings at Puzzlewood
More Early Morning Sightings
It's hard for me to stop posting photos on this one. The imps are magical and I want to join their world.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

DIY Spooky Projects

Every once in awhile, I get the urge to do something creative. After looking at hundreds of artists creating delightfully spine-chilling work, I get inspired. Maybe you do too? I recently came across an online craft supply shop that has a fantastic offering of Halloween and Day of the Dead products to help you along. The shop is the Retro Cafe Art Gallery and they carry collage sheets, trinkets, and paper products. I haven't ordered from the shop yet, so I can't give you a review. It looks really promising.

This is what caught my eye- paper shrines. There are a quite a few to choose from.

Mini Skeleton Shrines
Mini Shrine Kit #5
Ornate Flourish Shrine Kit #3
Victorian Frame Stand #1
Mini Witch Shrine
Articulated Witch Shrine
Articulated Witch Doll

I've only shown you a fraction of what is available. The website also has a blog with some inspirational projects if you need a kick-start.

The shrines would make a fun Halloween project party with your friends. Just add cocktails from Tipple Tuesday for further inspiration.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wicked Body Products

I love taking baths. Showers are ok, but why must the water be hurled at me? It's just rude. That has little to do with the cheeky body products from Nevermore Body Co. which will work just as well in the bath or shower. I admit I haven't tried any of these products, but the packaging has won me over, so they have to be good. There are items for women, men, and pets.

How fun are these?

Dreadful Soaking Stones
Dr. Frankensteins Skin Brightening Mist
Dreadfully Toxic Deodorant
Madame Brunhilda's Pulse Elixir
Howl Dog Shampoo