Pumpkin Trivia

  • September 29, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Pumpkin TriviaWhen you wake up Tuesday, it will be October.  Now I don’t know how it is for you, but I know in my mind, once October finally arrives, it is officially, definitively, positively fall.  When you think of fall, what is one of the first things that comes to your mind?  Perhaps it’s the fall leaves, cooler temperatures, shorter days, sweaters, or colorful landscapes--or maybe you are like me and when you think of fall, you think of pumpkins!

There are many things to love about this most favorite fall fruit.  (Yes, I did say fruit- more on that later!)  From the bright orange color to the yummy treats that can be made out of this bulbous gourd, there’s much more to the pumpkin than meets the eye.  Here’s what we think you need to know about pumpkins!

 

 

  • Pumpkins are actually a fruit, and in fact are technically a berry.  Pumpkins are often treated as a vegetable, however, but they are really a part of the same family as melons, cucumbers, squash and gourds.
  • Pumpkin is very good for you.  Not only is pumpkin low in calories and fat, but it also is high in fiber while being loaded with nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B, potassium, protein and iron.
  • Smaller, special varieties of pumpkins (New England Sugar or Baby Pam) are grown in order make pies as these tinier versions tend to be much sweeter than the larger pumpkins.
  • Very large, giant pumpkins most likely all are related to the very evolved pumpkin seeds created at the turn of the century by William Warnock.  Nowadays, it is not uncommon for people to attempt to grow record-breaking size pumpkins.  In 2012, the world’s largest pumpkin was recorded at the Topsfield, Massachusetts County Fair, weighing in at 2009 pounds!
  • Most pumpkins that are grown are used for processing with only a very small percentage being grown for ornamental use.
  • Pumpkin seeds can (and should) be roasted for a yummy snack!
  • The name Pumpkin originates from the word “pepon” which is the Greek word for large melon.
  • Eighty percent of the entire pumpkin population is available in the month of October.
  • Early colonists used to slice off the tops of pumpkins, remove the seeds and the pumpkin guts, and then they added milk, spices and honey to the inside, then replacing the lid.  The pumpkin was then placed in hot ashes and baked.  This, my friends, was the very first original and rudimentary version of pumpkin pie!  Want a Pumpkin Pie recipe that is a little bit more modern?  Try Grandma Norma’s traditional Pumpkin Pie…delicious! (Because, let’s face it, Jack-o-Lantern’s aside, for me; pumpkins are all about the pie!)
    • 1½ c. canned or cooked pumpkin or squash
    • 1 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
    • ½ tsp. salt
    • 2 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1 tsp. ginger
    • 2 T. molasses
    • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
    • 12 oz. can of evaporated milk
    • 1 unbaked pie shell

      Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, spices and molasses.  Add eggs and milk; mix thoroughly.  Pour mixture into an unbaked pie shell and bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted Into the center of the pie comes out clean.

  • Making Jack-o-Lantern’s out of pumpkins is a very pervasive and popular Halloween tradition.  Believe it or not, the first Jack-o-Lanterns weren’t made from pumpkins at all, but were actually made from turnips.  When Irish immigrants came to America, the prevalence of pumpkins and the general ease of growing these brightly colored gourds quickly made them the preferred subject used to make these traditional Halloween lanterns.
  • Speaking of Jack, pumpkin aficionados say that if you cover your carved Jack-o-Lantern with a damp cloth when it’s not on display, it will help preserve its life a little bit longer.  About a ½ hour after carving, wipe out your precious pumpkin Jack with a dry cloth and then coat the cut edges with petroleum jelly or brush on a little vegetable oil with a brush.  This simple step will also keep your Jack smiling just a little bit longer.

 

“Oh how we love pumpkin season.  You know this gourd-ish squash has its own season, right? Winter, Spring, Summer, Pumpkin…We anxiously anticipate it every year.” ~Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer


Bringing Halloween to Life With Mad Science

  • September 25, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Mad Scientist

Ever since Dr. Frankenstein animated his epic lumbering monster, creepy science and Halloween have been forever melded together, in an almost electrostatic, ionic bonding sort of way.  Weird science effects can add more fun, more ewwww, more utter grossness to your Halloween party, front porch display or to any haunted house or spook alley--all in the name of semi-sickening Halloween-style fun, done science laboratory style of course.  Here are some of our fresh from the lab ideas to help get you started.

Basic Lab Décor:  Let the madness begin by setting the ultimate mood for your crazy laboratory or moldy morgue.  Start by filling up your morbidly experimental space with signs that say things like “Biohazard,” “Cryogenics Chamber,” “Toxic” and “Poison.” Cover your furniture with white sheets or tablecloths to create a more sterile, industrial look. Fog machines and/or dry ice will also give your lab the effect of an experiment in progress.  Don’t forget to have lots of decorative “lab rats” around to liven things up a bit.

Lab Experiments on Display:  Creating a mad science Halloween display with some mildly disturbing, hair raising effects is easy and will be the perfect addition to your Halloween décor or Halloween party decorations. Fill jars with colored liquids and plastic brains, eyeballs or other pretend dissected body parts.  Test tubes filled with various colorful liquids are also a nice touch; if you are holding a party, consider serving up your libations in most appropriate beakers or test tubes. 

Jar of EyeballsLaboratory Lighting:  Lighting your mad science lab effectively will make it that much creepier.  It’s easier than you think to morph your ordinary space into a really freaky science lab and spooky lights are the perfect place to start.  Get rid of all bright lights.  A black light is a must for the most frightening effect. Pack your space with neon anything as the black lighting will pick it up and make the neon glow in the creepiest possible way. Think about selective use of strobe lighting if you are decorating a spook alley or haunted house/room; put this near a really scary display or experiment you conjure up. Resurrect that old lava lamp if you have one and plug it in for a super creepy/goopy effect.

Dr. Kill JoyGet Touchy-Feely:  Kids especially will love this.  Display some special effect scientific things for your guests to blindly “feel” that are sure to gross them completely out.  Here are some ideas to get you started: 

  • Large Damp Sea Sponge-Brain
  • Twisted Pipe Cleaners-Spider
  • Pretzel Sticks-Decomposed Rat Tails
  • Dried Apricots-Tongues
  • Cooked, cold spaghetti-Guts or innards of any kind or worms.
  • Peeled Grapes-Eyeballs
  • Oiled Cabbage Leaves-Skin
  • Corn Husk Silk-Hair
  • Pudding w/Corn, Peas or food particles-Vomit
  • Peeled Tomato-Heart

 

Costume:  What’s a mad science theme without that perfect mad scientist costume to go with it?  Let Emmet Brown (Back to the Future) completely inspire you, but you are going to want to add a few frightful twists, of course.  A lab coat, crazy wigged out hair, protective eyewear and the mandatory rubber gloves will have you well on your way to looking like the perfect crazy mad scientist.  Don’t forget to spatter a little fake blood on your lab coat and goggles for a really creepy effect.  A HAZMAT suit also could make a nice costume choice

Start practicing your most diabolical laughter as you let the mad science theme take over your Halloween event as if it’s a run amok chemistry experiment filled with all things revolting, gross, repulsive, slimy, gooey, not to mention rotten.  And what does all this disgusting stuff equate to? Halloween FUN--and there is nothing experimental about that. 


Finding The Disney Princess In You

  • September 22, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Top 10 List of Disney PrincessesPassionate.  Confident.  Strong.  Determined.  Plus there’s that tiny little fact that these gals manage to somehow stay stunningly beautiful in most any circumstance, including fresh out of the water or even after being lost in the forest for days.   An all night magic carpet ride or even powerful sleeping curses can’t mess with these chicks. These leading ladies make up the royal line up of Disney Princesses.  What makes these gals so enviable?  Little girls love them.  Big girls want to be them. Grab your tiara, because here’s our top 10 list of Disney Princesses and what makes each and every one of them so incredibly special.

Sleeping Beauty-Aurora is her name and sleeping is her game.  Do to no fault of her own, this lovely lady is cursed at birth by a jealous evil fairy, which eventually caused her to fall into a deep slumber when she pricked her finger on a spinning wheel at the ripe old age of age sixteen.  Another nicer fairy offered hope to the poor girl with magic that could reverse the spell if her betrothed, Prince Phillip, kissed the lovely Aurora during her slumber.  Any bets on what happened?

Pocahontas-Pocahontas is a noble member of the Powhatan Indian Tribe.   Very strong willed and independent, Pocahontas is oddly unafraid of the white people and develops a strong friendship with John Smith while teaching him much about the traditions of her culture and people as well as about the world around them.  Pocahontas is deeply spiritual, kind and enjoys communing with nature, the spirits, animals and probably John Smith.

Are you a Disney Princess?Belle-Belle is very beautiful although she seems to be largely unaware of this fact as she is thought by most of her fellow townspeople to be a complete bookworm that values her intelligence over her looks.  Confident and a little outspoken at times, Belle is able to look past the frightful appearance of the beast and make an accurate assessment of his true character and worth.

Jasmine-Jasmine is another Disney princess who exhibits some mildly rebellious qualities. She feels trapped by her rigid and strict upbringing and longs for some of the freedoms that she sees other girls having.  Jasmine eventually runs away while joining Aladdin on some of his epic adventures, exploring a whole new world.

Cinderella-In spite of a life of toil and hard labor, beautiful Cinderella has maintained her cheerful disposition and love of life.  No wonder (with the help of a little magic from her Fairy Godmother) Cinderella is able to break free and find true love in the arms of a handsome Prince Charming. A happy ending was had, in spite of the fact that she tends to lose shoes.

Snow White-Snow White will ever be known as being the most gentle and probably the sweetest of all the Disney princesses.  Pure-hearted to a fault, Snow White was dubbed the “fairest of them all”, which actually caused her a lot of problems with the evil queen.  Snow White proves that you don’t have to be physically strong to be one tough cookie.

Disney PrincessMerida-The newest addition to the Disney Princess line up is a bit of a personality departure from some of the older princesses.  Merida is probably the most tomboyish and spirited of the princess clan.  Outgoing, forceful and headstrong, Merida is also pretty skilled in archery and horseback riding.

Ariel-Ariel is a mermaid that is not only a hopeless romantic with a mesmerizing singing voice, but she is completely obsessed with one day becoming a part of the human world.  A little rebellious, Ariel falls in love with Eric, whom she rescued from a shipwreck.  Ariel is willing to literally do most anything to be with the man she truly loves. 

Mulan-Mulan is a truly unique Disney Princess persona. Mulan does not really fit in with the expectations of the typical Chinese girls of her time, being far stronger and self-reliant than the average Chinese girl.  Although very lovely to behold, Mulan is also somewhat clutzy, not to mention outspoken.  Rather than being obedient, quiet and demure like she is expected to be, Mulan truly breaks the mold of typical Chinese women once and for all.

Rapunzel-Rapunzel has the distinctive characteristic of having the absolute longest hair of any of the Disney princesses, with her locks extending to about 70 ft., 10 ft. long when more conveniently braided.  In addition to her extremely long hair, Rapunzel has the ability to reverse the aging process as well as heal people with her magic healing incantation song. Playful and adventurous, Rapunzel has spent a great deal of her life in virtual isolation, but like a truly good little Disney Princess, Rapunzel has made very good use of her time, educating herself in the arts, literature, music and astronomy. 

Dressing up as your favorite Disney Princess for Halloween (or any other day) is easy, fun and is sure to bring out the amazing inner princess that is inside you!  Check out our complete collection of stunningly beautiful Disney princess costumes, the perfect royal solution for princesses of all ages!


It's Getting a Little Ugly Around Here

  • September 20, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Using Prosthetics to Make the Most of Your CostumeEveryone knows that Halloween offers the perfect chance to get into a very wide array of costume characters.  After all, getting into that perfect costume is the biggest part of Halloween tradition!  Oftentimes, any given character or costume choice would be far benefitted or made extra amazing with the use of special effects makeup or prosthetics.  You may be thinking that these unique implements are only for the very ambitious to try, but that is definitely not the case.  Today’s Halloween makeup has been made very user friendly and this definitely includes the wide variety of special FX prosthetics and appliances. 

Prosthetics can be amazing to use for many different reasons.  In a few simple steps, the right prosthetic appliances can change various features on your face, giving you something that you definitely did not have before, including the look of nasty wounds, various skin conditions or even serious injuries.  Say for example you want to be an ugly witch for Halloween, but you realize that your cute button nose and softly turned up chin hardly looks the part.  Simply by adhering some well crafted prosthetics to your face and adding the appropriate makeup, you can completely transform your cute as a button face into something much more witch-like that appears to be truly frightening.  The best part is that creating this transformation really isn’t all that hard to do and can be easily accomplished in just a few easy steps. 

Halloween ProstheticsFirst of all, choose the prosthetic pieces that will best enhance your costume look.  Our huge selection of prosthetics is going to give you plenty to choose from, whether it be with a new nose shape, pointy ears or chin, or a really grossed out bloody wound of some sort. 

Prosthetic appliances are usually adhered to the skin with a product called spirit gum.  Once spirit gum is brushed onto the skin or to the appliance itself, it becomes very sticky and will stay in place until you remove it.  Once the appliance itself has been applied to your face, it can then be blended more seamlessly into the skin by brushing on a little bit of liquid latex around the edges of the appliance.  Once the liquid latex is dry, apply costume makeup as desired to create an amazing special FX look!  Depending on your character choice, you can add other special effects such as fake blood or coagulated blood gel to add further realism to your look.

Don’t be afraid to try some of these special effects makeup accessories.  Not only are they easy to use but also the character transformation you are looking for is often far easier to achieve with a little bit of makeup help!  Have fun and be creative!  For more ideas and tips on how to use prosthetics check out some of our exciting pieces in action on our “how to” video page where we show you how to make the most of your Halloween costume


It's HIP to Be Scared

  • September 18, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

It's HIP to Be ScaredHorror movies.  Haunted Houses.  Death-defying Roller Coasters.  Bungee Jumps.  Extreme Sports.  What do all these things have in common? Fear, of course! Perhaps it seems counterintuitive that many of us are attracted to and in many cases, even enjoy being scared.  What is it about certain types of fearful situations that are not only thrilling, but also downright fun?  Why in the world would anyone enjoy having the bejesus scared right out of him, anyway?  As it turns out, there are actually some fundamental scientific reasons for why sometimes humans actually dig being scared.

Fight or Flight:  When traversing through a terrifying haunted house, watching a horror film or even riding a thrilling roller coaster ride, our bodies create the same adrenaline that occurs during an actual fearful or traumatic event, which creates notable bodily responses.  Our blood pressure rises, our pulse increases, our breathing becomes more rapid and our palms begin to sweat.  There is one critical difference, however, when people put themselves into a scary situation on purpose.  Even though the body responds similarly during a planned scare as it does to a real one, because the brain knows that there is no real or actual danger, our bodies then can experience the adrenaline rush that comes with this type of controlled fear more enjoyably. In this sense, the feeling of controlled fear becomes pleasurable for some and for others it is almost euphoric, precisely why you’ve heard of folks that seek out these types of thrills referred to as “adrenaline junkies”.

Take a Walk on The Dark Side:  As long as man has roamed the earth, he has had a natural curiosity about the darker side of life.  Ancient man was notoriously superstitious as well as drawn to things considered to be dark and even macabre.  He blamed most anything that he didn’t fully understand on supernatural powers or forces that were beyond this world.  Even today, the inquisitive nature of human beings creates a kind of allure around those things that may not be an ordinary part of our every day existence.  Scary or frightful stories, scary Halloween props or anything considered abnormally horrific sometimes have a legitimate and strange appeal.  Ask anyone who has been stuck in traffic behind a car accident with significant carnage and mangled cars.  When it comes to things we fear, we all have the potential to become obnoxious “looky-loo’s”.   The uncertainty, suspense as well as the fear of the unknown can be very attractive, especially when we don’t really know what is going to be lurking around the next darkened corner.

Oh! What a Relief It Is:  For some thrill seekers the true enjoyment factor comes immediately after the thrill or fear factor is gone.  For these folks, the satisfaction comes in the survival of the scare itself and the absolute exhilaration of having come through the frightening experience.  You’re glad it’s over, yet there might be a part of you that wants to do it again.  Take for example, riding a fast moving roller coaster ride and feeling extremely excited, perhaps even giddy as the ride finally ends and you can get off. The overwhelming feeling of relief can be a rush in itself. During these self-induced scares, the brain creates a cocktail of chemicals that can be very intoxicating.  Believe it or not, science has proven that in these types of circumstances, human beings can actually experience an overwhelming combination of both fear and euphoria--simultaneously.  For many, this dynamic duo is the ultimate rush.

Halloween certainly doesn’t have the corner on the market when it comes to celebrating all things scary. Deliberately engaging in fright-inducing activities in the name of fun is something that many thrill seeking individuals enjoy year round in many facets of their lives.  The Halloween season is however, filled with all sorts of great ways for you to scare yourself--if you want to--and more importantly, if you dare.


What Are YOU Laughing At?

  • September 15, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Green Inflatable Skin SuitHalloween has historically been a time when some of the darker, more frightening parts of life have been embraced and even celebrated.  Halloween as we know it today actually evolved from an ancient pagan festival that was known as Samhain. The celebration of Samhain was held in order to mark the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the winter months.  Samhain was also used as an opportunity to remember and honor those that had died.  The superstitious people that lived during those days thought that the spirits of the deceased had the ability to come back and roam the earth during the celebratory time of Samhain.  Thus, Samhain (and eventually Halloween) has always had some distinctly dark, frightening and macabre connotations associated with it.  The celebration of Halloween has come a long way since then, however.

Although it’s easy to see where some of the ancient mystical folklore has influenced our modern day Halloween celebrations, Halloween is a lot less scary and superstitious nowadays and certainly is a heckuva lot more fun.  When surveyed, the vast majority of kids ranked Halloween second only to Christmas as being their favorite of all the holidays celebrated throughout the year.  Let’s face it, in spite of its dark and scary history, Halloween has many things about it that also make it very, very fun…and these days, maybe even a little funny as well.

The popularity of humorous costumes is definitely on the rise, which is likely attributed to many different factors.  First of all, some people just don’t want to dress up as something scary.  There is no doubt that some of the creepier costume looks can be quite scary to small children (or even to us big people!) so some folks just want to avoid these looks altogether.  Secondly, Halloween tradition has evolved quite a bit over the last several decades.  Once a time to dress up as something ghoulish or frightful, Halloween has now become the perfect chance to be whatever you want to be, at least for one night.  In many cases, this dress up opportunity takes its shape as something truly hilarious and funny rather than something that is even remotely frightening. 

Humorous costumes are really fun to wear for a whole lot of reasons.  First of all, if you enjoy being the life of the party and are all about creating laughs amongst your group of friends, a humorous costume is almost a must for you!  Kids enjoy wearing funny costumes while out trick or treating because every time they knock on someone’s door they are likely to get a reaction or a laugh, which many kids will very much enjoy.  With so much emphasis on horror and scary things, sometimes it’s a nice break to bring a silly twist into what has become one of the most exciting holidays of the year. 

Interested in tickling your friend’s funny bones for Halloween rather than scaring them to death?   For bringing out your humorous side, we have a huge selection of some of the most absurd, ridiculous, and clever, not to mention side-splittingly hilarious costumes you’ve ever laid eyes on.  We’re not sure who actually thought of some of these crazy off-kilter ideas, but we are certainly glad they did.  You’re going to want to check out our complete collection of humorous costumes, as they are sure to add a lot of levity and complete buffoonery to your next Halloween celebration.  And guess what else?  We’ve put together our list of the top 10 most humorous costumes we’ve ever seen--these looks completely take the cake when it comes to being super silly.

Top 10 Funny Costumes for 2013Our List of the Top 10 Funny Halloween Costumes for 2013

So--what are you laughing at?  This Halloween, there should be plenty! 


Clever, Cagey and Cheap Ghostly Decor

  • September 12, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Clever Craft Idea

Hey my fellow crafty friends--another clever, easy and fun to do Halloween decorating idea came across my desk today that I just had to share with you.  This idea is especially cool for you summer gardeners who may be soon saying goodbye to the last of your summer tomato crop.  Stop!--don’t put away your tomato cages!  You can now use these cages to make some really whimsical, illuminated and spooky ghosts--and the best part of this idea is, these smart little lighted spooks will hardly cost you anything and can probably be mostly created using items you already have around the house.  Here’s how you do it:

 

 

Gather A Few Supplies: 

  • One tomato cage for every ghost you want to create.  (Hint:  They look awesome in groupings!)
  • Duct Tape
  • String of 50 low wattage lights for each ghost
  • Twist ties
  • Old thick socks
  • Sturdy sticks or dowels
  • Large black tip permanent marker OR thin black craft foam
  • White twin sized sheet

 

To Assemble:

    • Turn the tomato cage upside down so that the prong side is facing upward.  Gently bend and round the prongs toward the center of the cage and secure with duct tape.  Try to bend the prongs so that they form a rounded dome shape when taped.  This will ultimately become the form that shapes your ghost’s head!  HINT:  If you are having trouble creating a rounded head shape with the tomato cage prongs, try filling a plastic trash bag with leaves (or anything) to create a round ball that you can duct tape in place on the top of the cage.
    • Tomato Cage Ghost Craft
    • String the lights throughout the entire tomato cage with the plug coming out at the bottom side at whichever side you designate as the “back” of your ghost.  Secure the lights to the tomato cage with twist ties so they will stay in place.
    • If you want your ghosts to have “arms” then ball up two old thick socks together and duct tape this sock wad to the stick or dowel so that the socks stick out, creating a bulge that will eventually appear like a ghostly arm.  Repeat this process on the opposite side of the ghost frame.
    • Place the white sheet on the tomato cage frame to get an idea of where to draw on the ghost’s face.  Mark lightly with pencil or use pins so when you take the sheet off the frame you will know exactly where to draw on your ghost’s face.  Using the permanent marker (or craft foam if this is your preference) draw a spooky ghost face on the marked spot of the sheet. 

    Drape the sheet over the tomato cage and the sticks with socks.  Plug in the lights.  Wa-la!  There you have it!  A very unique, eye-catching and inexpensive Halloween decoration for your front porch or yard that is sure to please and welcome all your local trick or treaters. 


INFOGRAPHIC: Popular Halloween Costume Search Terms and Trends for 2013

  • September 11, 2015
  • Jenna Maxwell

INFOGRAPHIC: Popular Halloween Costume Search Terms and Trends for 2013

With Labor Day already a memory, we’ve now said our unofficial adieu to summer--the good news being that the door into fall is now officially wide open! What does that mean to you? It means that Halloween is almost here, of course and it’s definitely time to start making your Halloween game plan. Halloween costume trends come and go each and every year and you just never really know what particular Halloween costumes are going to spike in popularity from one year to the next. Curious about which Halloween costume trends are likely going to be hot, hot, hot this year? Based completely on the past five years of costume specific Google search terms, we’ve come up with this list of the most likely to be hands-down costume favorites for the upcoming Halloween season. It’s not too early to start planning for your best Halloween costume ever!



INFOGRAPHIC: Popular Halloween Costume Search Terms and Trends for 2013

EMBED THIS IMAGE ON YOUR SITE: