Tag Archives: halloween

Graveyard Shift

Man painting the gravestones in a cemetery near Malaga, Spain.

Preparing for All Saints' Day. Malaga, Spain. Photo by Jon Nazca. Via Kenitra.

The Feast of All Saints is celebrated in many cultures all over the world celebrate this feast by remembering, honoring, and praying for the beloved dead. On All Saints’ Day, cemeteries become places of light and color, as relatives light candles and decorate loved ones’ tombs with flowers.

Lima, Peru. Via Photo Blog.

Today, we shift attention from the costumes, pumpkins, and ghouls of Halloween, towards the time of remembrance that is All Saints Day. Halloween, after all, is a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening, the night that points to the next day,  All Hallow’s Day, or All Saints’ Day. This is the time of year when graveyards aren’t so somber, the one occasion wherein a blog post on tombs and cemeteries isn’t so morbid.

Graveyards

In Bilbao, Spain. Photo by Vincent West via Photo Blog.

Prep for All Saints' Day at Lostowicki Cemetery in Poland. By Michael Fudra via Demotix.

Cemeteries in Poland are a-glitter with a sea of candles in multicolored glass lamps come when night falls on All Saints’ Day, so that it looks a lot Christmas.

Cemetery in Poland. Image via Living in Trojmiasto.

Cemetery in San Gregorio, Mexico. Via Fishing in the Tiber.

In the Philippines too, people flock to the cemeteries with their candles and flowers. They typically do some cleanup and beautification on their relatives’ graves (if they haven’t availed of maintenance service), and then they set up for a picnic or even an overnight stay. They lay mats or erect tents, and unpack the food, playing cards or game boards, and yes, prayer books.

All Saints' Day in the Philippines. Via Flickr user Ric Casin.

Graves

Some folks forego the generic tombstones and epitaphs and choose to create something that may be more representative of the person underneath it. These ones are pretty amazing, ranging from breathtakingly beautiful to really gutsy choices.

Asleep by Peter Schipperheyn.

This sculpture in itself is jawdroppingly stunning. It is marks the grave of a Laurence Matheson and was commissioned by his widow from Aussie sculptor Peter Schipperheyn.

Italian writer Luigi Pirandello's grave. Via Dr. Janez Stare.

Jackson Pollock's headstone

No abstract drizzles in Pollock’s grave, just a carved boulder for this painter’s rock-solid artistic legacy.

Federico Fellini's gigantic headstone. Via Find a Grave.

Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini’s grave is a ginormous gravity-defying sculpture. It’s awesome!

Quirky Scrabble headstone. Via Tech in Lifes.

Can you tell this guy's a Star Trek and Transformers fan? Image via Tech in Lifes.

These last two are such unusual (geeky) choices and they lend a certain levity to the cemeteries that they are in.


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A Homemade Halloween

Alice in Wonderland homemade costumeDIY Alice in Wonderland via Misha Lulu

5 MORE DAYS!!!!!

Is my enthusiasm coming through? That’s five more days until little ones will be hitting the streets looking for candy and big revellers will be heading to parties and bars looking for grownup fun. I think I’ve already mentioned that Halloween is a big deal in our house. With a little kid around it’s hard not to get caught up in all the spooky excitement.

Some of my favourite childhood memories of Halloween are of the weeks and days leading up to the big event, when my mom and later myself would be putting the finishing touches on my homemade costume. It was so amazing watching the vision I had for what I was going to dress up as come into being. Nothing beats a homemade costume if you ask me. If you’re debating making your own costume for yourself or your family there’s still time, and if you need a bit of inspiration here are some of the best DIY costumes on the web for little and not-so-little trick or treater’s.

DIY owl costumeDIY owl costume by Designing Moms

The owl trend is getting a little overdone but I have to admit I still find those big-eyed birds immensely charming. This is one of my favourite owl costumes I have seen. The combination of fabric feathers and that adorable capelet make it couture worthy.

homemade beekeeper's costumeBeekeeper Costume via Martha Stewart

Costumes for grownups are harder to come up with than ones for kids. I find Martha Stewart manages to come up with creative costume ideas for adults every year and this beekeeper is a great example of what can be accomplished with a few simple materials.

Golidlocks and the 3 bears family costume, handmadeGoldilocks and the Three Bears via A Beautiful Mess

I’ve noticed a number of fairytale and storybook themed costumes popping up online this year. This family’s re-creation of Goldilocks and the three bears is a fun take on the children’s story. It’s more Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mister Fox than Disney, which makes it a bit more charming in my opinion.

painted skeleton costumePainted Skeleton Costume via lookbook

A skeleton is a classic halloween costume that can be done in so many different ways. I love the illusion created by painting on top of a black slim fitting suit. Very Jack Skellington and edgy. If you don’t have confidence in your painting skills I’m sure there are templates you can find online that would create a similar effect.

Bloody Mary Makeup

Sometimes all a simple DIY costume needs to make it become a wower is the right makeup. There are tons of makeup tutorials on youtube for the gruesome and not-so-bloody look you are going for. I am impressed by this “Bloody Mary” makeup job, and all you need for the rest of your costume is an old fashioned dress and some white body paint.

DIY Vincent Van Gogh costumesvia oh happy day

I’m going to file this one under “costumes I will never force any child of mine to wear, but man are they awesome”. Right along with this one (David Bowie in Labyrinth). Who knows, maybe you know a pint size fine-art lover who would be happy to dress up as Vincent Van Gogh.

School Photo CostumeSchool Photo Costume via A Cup of Jo

This costume idea is sure to get a few laughs if you’re going to a Halloween Party. So easy to do, just attach a cheesy cardboard background to your back and put on the nerdiest clothes you can find. Her oversized glasses and nerdy smile really seal the deal.

felt masks, no sew!No Sew Animal Masks via Prudent Baby

Even if you can’t sew you can still whip up a homemade costume before the big night. This template from Prudent Baby will allow you to make a number of different creature masks with only felt, glue and a few simple trimmings. Pair with an appropriately coloured hoodie and attach a tail, tentacles or whatever you need with safety pins to the seat of your kids pants. Voila, instant cute costume!

Happy Friday Everyone!


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Real-Life Haunts

Image from Flickr user base10

Halloween is just around the corner, and celebration preparations are underway all around – pumpkins being sold and carved, candy being sold in bulk, costumes being dreamed up and made. Halloween imagery starts to pop up everywhere  this time, such as black and orange motifs, cobwebs, and of course, the haunted house.

Scene from "A Nightmare Before Christmas"

Over the years, the haunted house has become a part of the standard set of Halloween imagery, and around this time theme parks start to plan fancy schemes for their fright fests, haunted mansions, forests, and sometimes, the entire park as well. As we all know however, these are all fictitious performances, simulating the experience in an exaggerated fashion.

The Haunted Mansion attraction at Disneyland. Image from Wikimedia commons.

Haunted place attractions have a basis though – and many sites around the world are believed to be haunted, according to legends, urban and traditional. Here are a few of some of the famous scary sites in the world.

Balete Drive and the White Lady

Balete Dr

Image from Flickr user _gem_

Balete is the Filipino name for a large tree with sprawling roots. In traditional Filipino folklore this tree is believed to be the dwelling place of spirits and supernatural beings. In the capital city of Manila, there is a street called Balete drive, which is the setting for a popular urban legend. In one version of the legend, a young girl was assaulted, violated, and killed by a taxi driver before she was thrown and left by a Balete tree. The many versions of the story resulted in a film that became largely popular in the 1980’s.

Image from Flickr user Jet Rabe


Okiku’s Well, Himeji Castle

Image from Flickr user Jamie Barras

Ghost stories are a part of traditional Japanese culture, with the ghosts taking on different forms depending on the type of story. One famous ghost story and legend is that of Okiku’s well, in Himeji Castle. The story tells of a servant woman who served the lord of the castle, was betrayed, and put to death wrongly. She reached her demise when someone threw her in the well, which is why she haunts it particularly.

Okiku's Well. Image from Flickr user NelC.

Yoshitoshi Ogiku

Yoshitoshi Ogiku. Image from Wikimedia commons.



Catacombs of Paris

Image from Flickr user brothergrimm

The Catacombs of Paris is the underground cemetery that occupy the remains of what used to be Paris’ stone mines. The catacombs contain the remains of around six million people, and have been a popular tourist attraction since the late 19th century. The catacombs are a testament to the practice of mass inhumation. Walls of bones line the tunnels, giving it a completely real, incredibly eerie atmosphere.

Pillar of bones

Pillar of bones. Image via MFS Updates.

The White House

White House

Image from Wikimedia commons

Washington in DC is filled to the brim with classical architecture, which seems to be the perfect setting for any type of ghost story, given the extensive history of the city. It seems only fitting that the most famous house in the country — seems to be also the most haunted. Various ghosts of former first ladies such as Abigail Adams, and even president Lincoln himself — have been reported to be seen in certain areas of the premises.

Have a spooky Halloween everyone!


Posted in Culture, Travel | Tagged

Scary Movie Marathon for Those Who Don’t Like Scary Movies

Image via Reservoir Blogs.

I don’t like scary movies. Well, I don’t like being scared. Period. So I can only take horror films in mild doses. And if I have to endure fear while watching a movie, it should be well worth my while — that is, there should be something in it that would compensate for it being a horror film. It could be visual appeal, emotional engagement, music or some other form of artistry.

Again, I don’t like scary movies. But these scary movies, I don’t mind watching over and over again. No slashers or zombies here. Some purists and die-hard fans may scoff at my choices, but if you’re a horror flick newbie, or just don’t care much for horror, you might appreciate these picks.

First up, vampires. I think they really are kinda sexy. (And this was long before the Cullens came to town, and will remain so long after they’ve been staked — or however it is that these sparkly undead are obliterated.) Looking beyond the fact that they’re bloodsucking killers, they are creatures of great passion and sensuality. Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and at the height of their gorgeousness in their prime in Interview With A Vampire... I’m getting a little light-headed. Combine all that with stellar performances, gripping storytelling, spectacular art direction, and all-around brilliant filmmaking — how can one not surrender to the lure of these two movies?

These next two revolve around ghosts. They’re basically disembodied people, and that makes some of them very easy to relate to, because I can always connect with their humanity. That’s why I love The Sixth Sense and The Others so much, because when the horror is stripped away, it reveals intense dramatic stories about relationships and the human condition.

The films mentioned so far are but palate teasers, the equivalent of dipping one’s toes in the water. If you’re in an actual movie marathon, you might want to wade in further and test your boundaries. So if you’re ready to immerse in terror…

What’s more terrifying the Devil? For me, the Devil tops psychopaths, aliens, and sharks any day. That’s why The Exorcist still strikes fear into the hearts of movie fans to this day. It’s a classic, and the one horror movie which I think any film buff shouldn’t miss.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention something from the realm of Asian horror flicks. There’s something about the way the Japanese do it that really maxes out the creepy factor. Usually the premise revolves around something really weird and ludicrous, and somehow it works. Case in point Ring (Ringu) — the Hollywood version is scary, but you should definitely watch the original Japanese. There’s a certain minimalism employed here, a restraint. Lighting is flat and quite plain in some parts, there’s not a lot of background music. It feels like a documentary sometimes. And this somehow works to send your pulse racing and blood pressure soaring, and your fight-or-flight response engaging.


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Spooky Foods

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

mummy dip with veggies

Image via Hostess with the Mostess

I am planning a not so spooky Halloween party for some preschoolers and I’m most excited by the menu (and the kids of course).  If you’ve got little ones and are trying to get into the Halloween mood, here is a quick round-up of spirited foods for any meal of the day.  (Bonus:  these are all pretty darn easy to prepare and use standard kitchen items!)

Ghost Toast

ghost toast

Special Equipment: Ghost cookie cutter

This recipe is nothing more than toast with cream cheese (optional raisins for eyes and mouth).  After you toast your bread, use a cookie cutter to make your ghost shape.  Really nothing could be easier.

Spider and Web Pancakes

spider web and spider pancakesImage via the Domesticated Academic

Special Equipment: Squeeze bottle for the batter (you may need to cut the spout slightly wider by snipping off the tip)

Technique: Using your regular pancake recipe (just make sure it’s smooth and thin enough to pour through a squeeze bottle) create an asterisk with the batter and then use additional batter to connect each point. Spiders are easy to create on a griddle:  just create an oval and extend some legs and a string of web if you like.

Mummy Pizzas

Image via Nugget Market

Technique: Using regular pizza dough (or English muffins, pita bread) create individual sized pizza crusts, spread with tomato sauce and decorate using strips of mozzarella cheese, to create a bandaged look. Finish off with two olive slices (or ingredient of choice) for the eyes.  I don’t know about yours, but our kid only likes cheese pizza and is obsessed with mummies making this the ideal meal.

Mummy hotdogs

Image via Picky Palate

Technique: So this recipe is decidedly low-brow, but at least we use organic hotdogs in our house?  And the resulting mummy dogs are cute and alarmingly tasty.  I usually use prepackaged crescent rolls that I cut into strips to wrap the hotdogs. Bake in the oven until bandages are puffed and golden (about 15 minutes).

Gingerbread Skeletons

Image via Our Best Bites

Special Equipment: gingerbread person cookie cutter, white icing piped with a fine tip

Technique: Using your favourite gingerbread or sugar cookie recipe, use a gingerbread person cookie cutter (and/or assorted animals) to cut your shapes and bake as usual.  Once cooled, use white icing to pipe skulls and bones onto your cookies.  Et voila!

Monster cupcakes

Image via Tiffintales

Image via Martha Stewart

Make your favourite basic cupcake recipe and then just let your imagination run wild, really wild.  A collection of candies, sprinkles and various icings should be all you need to create scary monsters, icky insects, the undead from assorted mythologies and frightful aliens.

Happy Halloween everyone!  Hope you enjoy the spooky season!


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