Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Witch's Tea

Quick story before I get into this post.
This took me forever! I'm not sure if I just wasn't feeling it or what. Overall, I like my ideas and such but my execution wasn't the best. BUT, I'm sharing it anyway. I'm sure you crafty types can improve muchly upon it.

Today I'm sharing a party idea for Halloween...or anytime you wanna get the witches together. The idea of a witches tea party isn't new but here's my version.

First, the invitation:

My first attempt was WAYYYYY too complicated so I started over from scratch and came up with this. Tentacles and tea; what could be better?

Then, I made some décor:
Black candles: I found this idea on's been in circulation for awhile. But I finally decided to make them. Nailed it! Sort of.

See, the painting and cardboard tubes (toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls) were no problem. The hot glue thing worked great as well and was relatively easy. Even painting the little LEDs worked fine with regular acrylic paint; you don't need any special paint to cover them. The one thing that was a problem was the fact that my lights were smaller than most of the openings of the tubes. Which meant that you'd HAVE to glue them in for them to stay at the top of the candle. If I did that, I wouldn't be able to reach the switch that turns them on. Now that is all well and good if you don't want the candle to light up...just as a décor item in the daylight. But I didn't quite see the point of that. I mean, Halloween parties happen after dark for us adults. So I solved the problem by cutting small cardboard circles to fit inside the tube. I shoved them down inside just far enough to allow the light to sit flush with the top edge of the tube. I cut mine so they fit tightly and I didn't have to glue it in but you could, if you needed to. So those lights are removable and you can flip the switch on the bottom to light them and just set them on the top.

 Spooky eggs:  Not sure if this fits well into my party but I decided to make some spooky eggs with plastic eggs and alcohol ink.  I figured that those crafty witches would make something like this for Halloween. Maybe they'd even hide them like we do on Easter. Or maybe they'd just throw in some glow sticks for a little spooky décor. I have LOADS of these white plastic eggs and just used alcohol ink to smoosh all over them; I used black and green for mine.

You'll also see in some of the photos the other eggs I tried out. I made eyeballs out of them and propped them up on little rings I cut off the cardboard tubes. I just used Sharpies to draw the eyeball details on them. Sharpies are a great way to decorate these little eggs. I might have made more eyeballs as the eggs could be made to glow but I liked my other eyes better.

PomPom Eyeballs:  I love making pompoms but I never really have anything to do with them. Like I just collect them...they seem to just pile up like tribbles. I saw another Pinterest idea that looked easy enough and it was. Directions were easy to follow and I got EYEBALLS! I made green ones and red ones and most are only about 1.5 inches. I have pompom makers but I've seen tutorials for making your own out of cardboard. I thought these added a festive touch. I left the strings on the back so if I wanted to make a garland out of them or use them to tie around the favors, I could.

Speaking of favors/treats:

Spell casting station:  Witches would gather together and swap spells, right? So I made up a little spell casting area with loads of ingredients and what they might represent in a spell. I also made up a little spell card with 4 "beginner" spells to get guests started with mixing and matching their treats.

I placed the treats in mason jars and large black cauldrons as well as a couple of larger apothecary like jars that I had. I also made little tags to label all the ingredients with their "meaning". It makes a bit of sense when you see the spells. (I had a plan to add several wands to the equation but ran out of motivation. Did I tell you that this took forever?)
I printed out my spells on a 4.25 X 5.5 paper and just dressed it up a bit. There's two spells on each side and I printed out 4 as that filled an 8.5 X 11 sheet of paper. So the spell cards could be given to each guest as part of the favor. The little candy cauldrons are where you would mix the ingredients to the spell and then you'd pass a wand over it and recite the spell. It's too much info to add to this post but I'll put it on a separate page for anyone who would like to look at the specifics. (Feel free to use them for your own parties but please don't copy and sell them. Thanks!)

Menu ideas:
I didn't make anything in particular for this party as I wasn't actually having a party. So here's some of the menu items I was thinking would work well for this little affair. It's just a tea party so drinks and little snacks and sweets would be all that is necessary. Just enough to curb an appetite or indulge in some treats while catching up with the other witches on the block.

Witchy Brew: any variety of teas
Wicked Hot Chocolate (for the non-tea drinkers)
Finger Sand-witches
Deviled Eggs
Bony Breadsticks
Black Cat Brownies
Sugar Cookies (cut into Halloween shapes)
Ghastly Gingerbread

Most of the sweets can be made from boxed mixes and any sandwich cut up into small bite sized pieces (with the crust removed) will work here. If your peeps like coffee or apple cider, these also make good additions to the drink line-up. While I was going for a simple and quick menu, you could always add caramel or candy apples...or dunked apple slices as those fit well into the theme. 

 Don't forget to use the décor you already have to make the setting feel right. I have lots of potion bottles from the craft store, another large eyeball, and loads of old books that fit the theme. (If you can't see those book titles...from the bottom up: Superstitious, The Witch's Bridge, Night Watch, Magic and Science, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Collection.)

I also dressed up my background with some canvas' I made this year. You'll see "Morella" and "Wonders of a Witch" in the back. The creepy carriage picture is actually something my Mom had and if you look close enough, you can see a cupid in there. But I thought the carriage looked more creepy and along with everything else, you hardly notice.

Thanks for dropping by on my birthday! (Yup, today's the big day.)
Please come back again for more Halloween projects. New project every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, with a bonus Friday and Halloween Wednesday, of course.

"You say "wicked" like it's a bad thing."

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Scary Story Saturday: Green Eyes

This is a story I've told for a long time. Take it for what it's worth.

Before the internet and mobile phones, kids played more outside especially in the summertime. Those long days turned into welcomed cool nights with a big sky full of stars overhead. Summer was vacation. Summer was campfires with hot dogs and roasted marshmallows. My family had a backyard with a fire pit, a kickball diamond, and a swing set. We had a DIY mini golf and a monkey swing. We also had a fence; a white wooden board fence that separated the Yard from the Woods.

Right behind the fence, my father had a vegetable garden and the mini golf was just next to that. There was also a basketball hoop and a concrete slab for free throw practice. It was as if my parents were trying to tame the unruly woods behind the house; those woods that ran back down the hill to the river. Those woods got so dark at night that they seemed to swallow up the light. Those woods made the strangest sounds.

Right behind the fence, where the garden lay, was a battlefield. It became a constant struggle to push back the woods and its unruly weeds. It became a No Man’s Land where no one was sure if it was Yard or Woods. After all, it lay behind the fence and the fence separated the Woods from the Yard. But it was also groomed and utilized as we did the Yard. So which was it? I admit that as a child I never gave it a thought. All of it, even the Woods back to the river was ours. Maybe it wasn’t a proper yard, but we owned it. We were the masters of it.

One Summer, though, I was made to doubt it. I realized that things that were said in daylight needed to be proven in darkness. I learned that there was a reason we had a fence. The thing that makes me doubt my memories is because the story sounds like the prank of a child. Like a silly fright. Like the best con. Allow me to elaborate on the details of how it all went down on that warm summer evening.

Because there was no school, we were allowed to stay up later in the summer. It meant we could still be playing outside as the sun set behind the west tree line on the other side of the road. Not that we saw it. That was visible from the front yard and we weren’t allowed to play out there. We only played in the back yard, in front of the fence. As was popular at the time, we loved to play kick ball. As the light began to dwindle, my older siblings would remark about the chill in the air and how dark the woods looked. They would remind their younger sister about the monster in the woods; Green Eyes. Green Eyes was one of those non-descript monsters; a generic run-of-the mill fright machine. It had an appetite for children who wandered from home. Most people, especially adults, didn’t believe it but my older siblings knew it was there. Or so they said.

Once they set the stage with this information, the kickball game would proceed as usual and the story would recede into the back of the mind. At least, until the ball was kicked away; back behind the fence and toward the woods. It could be said that it was done on purpose, part of the set-up of what was to come. Once the ball came to rest and it was just visible along the tree line in No Man’s Land, just before the deepest dark of the Woods, the arguing would ensue. Who would go retrieve the ball? It was almost time to go in, almost bedtime. The ball had to be retrieved or we’d get in trouble for not picking up our things. My argument was he who kicked it should go get it. But the older siblings overruled and said the youngest should go. After much debate and a warning from our Mother that it was soon time to come in, I yielded with the promise that they would walk with me.

So we set off, my older brother, my older sister, and me toward the ball. We passed through the opening in the wide white fence. It seemed to glow in the twilight. It was the only visible, discernable marker of the yard in the expanding darkness from the Woods. I slowed my pace as I passed the garden but they were close behind me. I stepped close to the tree line and leaned in to grab the ball. I felt a quick push from behind and both my siblings yelled, “Green Eyes!”

Adrenaline surged and my breath caught in my throat. I heard the sound of their hastily retreating feet. I turned to look back and they were already gone; already past the fence. Scared and panicked, I ran after them. My memories are dim here. I remember getting back to our porch steps and seeing them laughing at me. Shaking their heads, their eyes revealed the prank. They had set me up for a fright and it had worked. Even my Mother was amused.

But there was more to it than that. As a frightened child, you want comfort. The fact that it was all just some ghost story was what I believed. But over the years, nothing has really changed in the backyard. And that fence…that fence. I wonder sometimes, if it is just a decoration or if it truly keeps something out.  I remember those green eyes; that chill.

My siblings were long gone. They had already run out through the fence opening and no doubt were laughing even then. But when my panicked self turned back to the woods, it was there. It was coming for me. Those glowing green eyes were like a hungry predator. They were fixed and focused but attached to only darkness. I saw the ball begin to roll deeper into the woods as if being pulled on a string. I turned to run away my adrenaline surging into my legs. I ran but seemed to make little progress. Why was the fence so far away? Why was I so tired?

The coldness of the Woods whispered behind me, slowing me down, holding me there. The shadows reached out from the trees. I could feel the tickle of insects crawling up my back. I just need to make it to the fence, I thought. I had to get back into my yard. Somehow I knew it had no power there. I could hear the steady beat of something moving through the downed leaves of the woodland floor. Too hysterical to look back, I surged ahead and made a last effort to get past the fence.

I was aware of the smell of ozone and the deep wet odor of mold and dead leaves. The smell of decaying trees, of rotting, festering, fallen wooden bodies filled my nostrils. My hair seemed alive with electricity but my legs were molten lead. I could hear something behind me like a quiet rumble. Was it the grumble of an unfed stomach or a taunting laugh?

With the terrible fear of the truth behind me, I surged toward the fence and sprinted through its opening. I heard the faint despondent groan of the Woods but could find no courage to look back. Was all this my over active imagination? Was all of this exactly what the pranksters had wanted to achieve? With age, I have become less certain.

Despite my parents’ reassurances, I have noticed things about the Woods at night. Fireflies stay at its perimeter never venturing too deep into the trees. Sometimes a breeze will blow those gangly trunks and leaves but nothing moves in the Yard.  Often in the Summer during a little campfire, the leaves will begin to rustle as if being moved by a large animal. It could be a deer, even a bear but no other signs are ever seen of them. I have often heard the high-pitched yipping of coyotes in the night. It carries long and far across the river but not in our Woods. Never have they been in our Woods.

My neighbors used to have a motion sensor light out in their backyard which was adjacent to ours with no barriers between them; no fence, no line, no nothing. While outside one night with friends, the light popped on. My younger brother swore he saw a deer but no one else, not one of us, saw it. He wasn’t sure it was a deer but what else could it have been?

The fence is white and practically glows at night. It is easily discernable from the deep dark of the Woods behind it. My father diligently repairs it every year. My mother paints it every other year to keep it pristine. It never stays broken, it is well maintained, and it never lets the Woods too close. I have come to believe that the fence keeps it out. The fence is the last line of defense like a grand castle wall under the bombardment of siege towers.

My parents still maintain that they just want the fence to look nice and last long. But when the long nights of the Summertime bring campfires and s’mores, no one ventures beyond the fence.

I wrote this story many years ago when we still kept the fence. But as the years have rolled along, No Man’s Land became less utilized. There were no kids to throw the basketball and no kids to play mini golf. My father’s garden was slowly moved into the Yard and the plots behind the fence were left fallow. Slowly, progressively, wantonly, the Woods reclaimed the land. The garden that we had made of the mini golf became overgrown with wildness. Berry bushes and long grasses moved in and refused to leave. The deep dark of the woods spread its shadow long past the tree line and right up to the edge of the fence.

Its little wonder the fence began to fall apart. No amount of paint could hold it together. Its planks were rotten and the boards were practically useless. I had to admit that I told my parents on several occasions to just take it down. It was an eyesore. Down it came. And something strange happened. Without the fence, the Woods advanced. No Man’s Land was annexed quickly and now the very edge of the yard is threatened to be overrun with unruly berry bushes and wild honeysuckle. The night no longer has a white edge that defines the wild from the civilized. No border between chaos and order. The dark Woods seem to advance every year and I wonder if maybe that’s why we no longer hear the whippoorwill at night; if that’s why the fireflies have gone. Even the sky above is no longer so big. The trees have grown up to obscure it from sight.

It’s as if the Woods is trying to push us away. It no longer wants us here. It never wanted a yard, or a fence. It wants wildness and freedom. No borders, no owners. In times like these it is easy to find the wrongness in the Woods but maybe it isn’t wrong. Maybe true freedom is messy and scary. Maybe what we all want deep down is what the Woods wants too. Maybe there is truth in there, in that deepness, unlike the deception of the Yard; the Yard that is whipped into shape, tamed, and broken.  The Yard yields to its masters and bows easily. So unlike the Woods.

Whether the Woods holds a monster, I cannot say. Nor can I say that those green eyes don’t look familiar.


Friday, October 19, 2018

Art Journal Pages (part 2)

That's right, it's another Bonus Blog post!
It's Frightful Photo enjoy some more art journal pages to celebrate the season.

Please remember to Follow my Facebook Page, Chocolate Dragon Paper Arts, where I keep everyone up to date when a new blog post hits, new items enter my Etsy Store, and anything else art or chocolate related.

Enjoy the photo inspiration! All these pages are in my large Dylusions journal.

Glittering Green Skull: What can I say? Stencils are where its at, baby.

Pumpkin's Wild Party:  Thought about a quote for the page, but my Pumpkin says it all.

Still got a couple weeks to go!
Tune in Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday for new Halloween artwork!
Thanks for sharing with your friends!