Saturday, September 28, 2013


Every year at this time I wish I had a solid black cat. But when it is your nature to welcome in only needy ferals and the discards of others, the best colors are usually taken. What is left over now basks in the sun here, in full-tummied splendor, lifting heads only to nod in the direction of the treat jar. "After that," they seem to say, "if you still think you need a Halloween cat, sit down at your sewing machine and make one!"

Yikes. So much for gratitude! But alas. There are six of them and only two of us.......

Even before Scrappy's last thread was clipped and knotted, he was asking what we had around here in terms of Halloween candy. I guess sewing your own cat is the same as giving birth to one. You hope for the best, but ultimately, you get what you get!

So, my new Scrappy is greedy and demanding, won't let go of the candy jar, and sports a crazy-eyed look that fits very nicely in with the rest of this "anything goes" season-to-be-scary!

Want to make your own litter mate on a pint size wide mouth Mason jar? Here's step-by-step instructions!

Materials Required:

Black cotton fabric, 13" x 14"
Black felt square (or scraps)
12" Black yarn or thin cord
1 yard Black ribbon, 5/8" wide for arms and tail
12" Orange print ribbon, 5/8"
2 Orange buttons, 1" mix or match
White crochet cotton
Polyester stuffing
White acrylic paint
Fine point, size 0 paintbrush
Chalk or light fabric marking pencil
Hot glue gun
Pint size, wide mouth Mason jar
Halloween candy
Sewing machine, black thread, scissors, hand sewing needle, pins
Hand drafted patterns for body and paws


1. Draft body pattern by cutting a 4.5" x 11" rectangle from paper. Hold paper vertically and round off both top edges. Draft paw pattern from a 3" circle. Cut 4 scallops into one side for toes.
2. Fold black fabric in half, to 7" wide, and trace body pattern with chalk on top, centered vertically.
3. Machine sew along traced line. Do not turn! Cut body out, allowing 1" border all around stitched line.
4. Fringe the 1" border, stopping short of the stitched line.
5. Stuff body, then hand sew bottom edge closed so piece measures 9" tall.
6. Tie the 12" yarn scrap around the body 3" from top to define the neck. Trim.
7. Cut triangles from felt for ears. Hot glue to head.
8. Hot glue buttons to face, then sketch a nose, mouth, and eyebrows with chalk. Paint over lines.
9. For whiskers, cut 6" lengths of crochet cotton (3) and tie a knot at each center point. Thread needle, push into face, pull through until knot catches inside. Trim.
10. Place kitty behind jar, then tie both together with a 24" length of black ribbon. Knot tightly at side of neck. Knot the orange print ribbon at center point and hot glue it next to the black one.
11. Cut 4 felt paws from pattern and match them in pairs. Blanket stitch all around outside edges. Stop to push small amount of stuffing inside when a 1" opening remains. Continue sewing to close.
12. Make crochet cotton claws. Pull thread through between each toe, clip off and knot.
13. Hot glue paws to ribbon so they meet at center front.
14. Knot one end of remaining black ribbon and glue it to cat at side bottom for tail.
15. Fill jar with candy and then step back! Waaaay back! Those claws are sharp!

This original design, like all blog content, is intended for personal use only. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Haunted House Party

Is your home haunted by friendly relatives who pop up here and there - especially around holiday time - expecting to be entertained? Mine is! But to be quite frank, it's usually me who invites them in. Oooooh! Wait! So that's it! You have to invite them in! Guess that explains why, with a little stretch of the imagination, you might presume that my house looks exactly like this!

My family "everybody-plays-and-everybody-wins" competition is a real winner- if you don't mind the self-congratulatory mood I'm in right now! It's a board game that's perfect for a Halloween gathering at your own haunted house. You'll have everyone sneaking around like slinky black cats, disappearing around corners like wispy ghosts, and flapping batty wings with joy when a treasure is discovered. And no one will go home rattling their bones in dismay, because all of the rescued loot is divided equally at the end- everybody goes home with stomachs churning in candy corn and pretzel sticks!

The playing board is a prize in itself. I'll detail instructions and a list of "witch" supplies you need at the end of this post, but for now, here's a closer look at some of the characters creeping around inside my house....I couldn't even fit everybody in! Scary!

This little guy just flutters around and makes everybody happy....the perfect little "batman!"

Nothing witchy about Mary Jo - I just think she looks spellbinding in that pointed hat!

Where's camera red eye when you need it most? I was forced to add Roxie's alien eyeballs with glue and a paper punch!

Game rules are simple. After everyone has finished "ROFL-ing" at the sight of them themselves, they are dispatched to seek treasure hidden throughout the house. When something is found, a bell is rung - or a horn is honked - or an owl is invited to hoot - and everyone gathers back at the board. A group decision is made on "witch" character matches the treat.

For example.....

Someone finds a basket of wax fangs. It also contains bottles of red liquid - human blood! We don't want to scare the kids so we'll just say (wink, wink!) it's Vampire Juice! And then we'll agree to mark Uncle Tom's square with a candy corn piece. Back to the search! We're soooo done with him!

A batch of clear plastic gloves - one per guest - is discovered. They are stuffed with green tinted popcorn. you think that's a match for Monster Nick?

How about Halloween Ghost Peeps - Charlie?
Candy corn packs - Karen?
Cheese crackers - Uncle Keenon?
Pretzel broomsticks - Mary Jo?

Rubbery skeleton toys - hmmmm.....could be Christy, waving "hello!" from the attic - or is it Roxie? Let's go with Christy for the bones - those bars of chocolate bark (woof! woof!) seem to be calling Roxie's name! She's part chocolate lab you know!

After every stash of goodies has been found, and every window square is marked, every haunted hunter distributes his/her/its treat, giving everybody an equal amount of toys and candy. See how everybody wins? It's that simple!

And so, the next time you hear....

Knock, knock!
Say: "Who's there?"
If they say: "Annie,"
You say:
"Annie body want to come in and play Haunted House Party? It's so much fun it'll scare you!!"

To make a game board (completed size 13" x 28") you will need:

Canson paper (preferred), orange, 19" x 25" sheet
Light weight cardboard, black, 22" x 28" sheet
Wallet size head shots of players (print at home)
Scrap book paper, scissors, glue, and a really crazy imagination!

1. Decorate each face with paper scraps.
2. Cut 3" x 4" paper rectangles into quarters for window panes. Glue them on slightly larger rectangles, contrasting colors and leaving space between each 1.5" x 2" pane.
3. Glue each character on top of a window.
4. Make a larger rectangle, 4" x 6.5" for front door. Arch the top, cut hinges and doorknob from scraps and glue on.
5. Arrange windows and door on orange paper, allowing space below for steps and a fence if desired. Measure, then cut paper. Mine is 12" x 20"
6. Cut fence and steps from scraps. Make cats and pumpkin for faces of babies if desired. Arrange and glue everything to orange paper.
7. Cut black cardboard to 28" x 13" or to a width that allows a 1/2" border around sides of orange paper house. Glue house to cardboard, centered, 1/2" from bottom edge.
8. Make a pattern for triangle roof, adding chimney. When you are satisfied with the fit, cut it out of orange paper and glue down. Add attic window and/or character(s) on the roof if desired.

This design, like all blog content, is intended for personal use only. Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Thank you!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Grandma's Ghost Gallery

Generous me. Overly generous me. Always helping the grandkids make cute seasonal decorations only to send them home as gifts for their parents. Enough already! This time I made something for myself....and kept it!

I LOVE it!

My trendy pennant garland is really just a string of flags that feature the artwork of all six grandchildren. Yes, even five month old Kaylee! It's expandable, so every year I'll add six (or more!) pieces until it not only wraps all the way around my house, but becomes a growing gallery of each child's advancing skill.

This year the three oldest kids painted with orange tempera seasoned with pumpkin pie spice. (Just sprinkle some into the cup of paint and stir with the brush. Smells yummy!) It might have been easiest to paint jack-o-lantern features, but I usually ask the kids to cut and paste those for the extra small motor development experience.

The gallery became ghostly after Bree went on a spirit-making binge once she was done painting. She fringed a sheet of white paper and added features (including shoes!) after grandma cut curved shapes above her scissored border.

The three youngest kids provided little ghostly footprints.

Once pieces were gathered, pennants were made of Halloween scrapbook paper. Artwork dictated the size and shape of each mix-and-match unit, sometimes even breaking the frame. Corner holes were punched, flags were arranged and tied together with raffia, and the end result became this grandma's most cherished decoration........

....which I strung between kitchen island lights - well above the reach of any of the cats - and lived happily ever after!

If you'd like one too - but your grandkids live far away - mail them a little box of art supplies, suggested activities, and a self addressed envelope. Then wait for your friendly mailman to deliver your own collection of treats!

Last year I posted a marathon of Halloween projects that everyone seemed to like. Here are the links to them all........

Spooky Theater and Ghost Sock Puppets

This lightweight, portable play stage is a concoction of cardboard boxes and wrapping paper tubes. There's a step-by-step tutorial included, along with directions for making dollar store sock ghost puppets.

Mason Jar Monsters

All in one - fork, napkin, food, and goofy eyeballs to watch your kids devour it all!

Ghost T-Shirt

Fabric scraps and iron-on application - that's it!


Seat paper mache monster guests around your Halloween table. These are big enough to be "human." A crazy good time had by all!
Tutorial included.


The time to print little hands is before they become too big to bounce out of a cheerfully matted frame. Perfect gift!


Streamers, cardboard, paper scraps, glue and craft punches make a lively colony of seasonal, breeze-activated merry-makers!

Paper Mache Ghost

Last week's post - an easy, fun way to introduce paper sculpting to children.

Harvest Party

Bring the season to a happy conclusion with a family party full of food, fun, and pumpkin-picking.