Thursday, October 31, 2013

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds and Happy Halloween

I am so excited that Halloween is finally here. It is my daughter's favorite holiday and I look forward to all of our yearly traditions. Halloween means chili, bread bowls, trick-or-treating, lots of candy, watching scary movies and most of all pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are a random weakness of mine. Every year my mom would roast the seeds for our whole line of pumpkins and I would eat them all. I love them and I especially love when they are home roasted. We would carve pumpkins before Trick-Or-Treating and I would go out, knowing my favorite Halloween treat was going be waiting for me when I got home.

The secret to awesome homemade pumpkin seeds is to make sure they are cleaned really well. I try to keep them free from as much pumpkin guts as I pull them from the pumpkin in the first place. I usually end up sorting seeds while my husband carves. After you have pulled as much gunk off the seeds as possible, soak them in a bowl of water. I usually allow them to soak for about 10 minutes. I like to swirl the water around a few times during the soaking to make sure the gunk is all coming off.  

Strain the seeds out of the water, without draining it first. The gunk tends to sink, so you have a better chance for clean seeds if you pull the seeds from the top where they are floating. There are two ways to roast pumpkin seeds, the long way and the short way. I prefer the long way, I think the seeds taste better that way, but I like them both ways. If you like your seeds extra salty, you can soak them in salt water overnight before roasting, or pull them out of the oven with the long method every hour for a little extra salt. 

The Long Method
Place the seeds on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt.  Bake at 200 degrees for about five hours. The seeds don't normally brown this way, so I usually just taste them at the five hour mark. 

The Short Method
Place the seeds on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake the seeds at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes. The seeds will start to brown when they are done. 

So don't waste your seeds from your pumpkins tonight. Roast them! 

Happy Halloween! Enjoy being with your family. I am still not quite sure which if I am taking Captain America, Pinkalicious or a Little Witch, Trick-Or-Treating tonight, but the surprise is half the fun! 

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

WotW: Waste Away Your Adult Life with Full-Screen Mario

Perhaps the greatest day of my childhood was the Christmas Santa brought me and my sisters a Nintendo – the original NES. The hours I wasted playing Mario, and blowing into those cartridges – convinced it was actually doing some good – were innumerable. To this day, nothing quite compares with the original Nintendo. And there's something special about Super Mario Brothers.

Sadly, it's difficult to find functioning Nintendo systems, and off-brand remakes are sketchy. Fortunately, some genius figured out a way for us all to enjoy Super Mario Brothers from the comfort of our own computers.

Prepare to waste away your adult life, just like you did your childhood, by playing Full-Screen Mario. Just as its name implies, you can play a full-screen version of Mario right on your computer.

You use the arrow keys to navigate (left, right, down) and jump (up button), hold down the shift key to run faster and/or shoot fireballs (when you have a flower), and press the P key to pause the game.

Once you wrap your head around the navigation keys being played by a different hand than you're used to, the game plays great. It looks and feels just like the Mario you remember. Even all the secrets (like the hidden 1-up mushroom on the first level) are there. One thing I was really impressed with was the physics of the game. Just like in the original, if you jump too far or run too fast, you have a bit of momentum you have to deal with.

But this version is even better than the original in some ways. For starters, the screen is wider, so you get a bigger picture of what's coming. You can also play straight through the levels, or you can select your favorite level and jump right to it. Simply hover over the - Map Select - option on the right-side of the screen to bring up the level selector.

Also in the level selector is an option for Map Generator. This generates a random level you've never seen or played before, which makes for endless possibilities.

But that's not even all. You can create your OWN Mario levels. That's right. If you ever wanted a level with a hundred mushrooms or a thousand bad guys, you can make it. The editor is super easy to use. Press the - Level Editor - option in the bottom-left corner of the screen to get started.

The Level Editor has a tool panel that appears when you hover on the right-side of the screen. From here, you can select your backgrounds, bad guys, obstacles and more. Just click on the screen to add an item. You can also select the type of level (castle, underwater, etc.), which influences the music that plays in the background. Then, press the Play icon to try it out.

What's truly remarkable about this site (besides it being free, online and fun) is it is programmed in HTML5, so it runs on any modern web browser (no promises for you Internet Explorer folks). And the code is all open source, which means anyone can access the code and modify it. If you're a tech geek, you'll love this. And if you're not, just be impressed someone spent this much time to build such a cool site.

At any rate, you owe it to your inner child to play this game. But don't blame me if you don't get anything else done today.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Top 10 Scary Books and Book Covers

Around Halloween, I always like to pick up a creepy story or two. This week's theme is scary book covers, but I have combined it with some of my favorite creepy stories, because what would one be without the other? Linking up with The Broke and the Bookish.
  • Pretty Girl -13 by Liz Coley- The creepy story of a young girl who was kidnapped and held hostage for many years. She eventually finds her way home, but she is broken and fractured and not sure how to put her life back together with everything she went through. This book and cover is one that held my rapt attention because of the dark plot. 
  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle HodkinThis book is a little bit horror, a little bit romance and the perfect combination. I was completely drawn into this story and Mara's life and gift. I love how much of her family life is included in the story and her relationship with Noah is one of my favorites. I love the creepy cover with the main character's heads barely above water. 
  • Dracula by Bram StokerPerhaps the original haunted thriller, Dracula is still as good today as it was when it was written in 1897. What we know of Dracula from popular culture is very different from the Dracula of Bram Stoker's masterpiece – and his Dracula is far more terrifying. The characters are brilliant and the storyline is rich and compelling. A must-read, especially for anyone into classic literature.
  • Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz- This collection of short stories and its cover has freaked me out since I was a child. One story in particular was the stuff my childhood nightmares were made of. 
  • The Journal of Abraham Van HelsingPerhaps the most unsettling book I've ever read, this book plays itself as the real journal of Abraham Van Helsing, the famous vampire-hunter character in Bram Stoker's Dracula. While this book is fictional, you would have a hard time guessing it from the way it's written. It reads and feels like the real deal and gives glimpses into the deeper world of vampirism and its history throughout the world. This is a must-read if you want to stay up at night, even the cover will keep you up. 
  • Coraline by Neil Gaiman - This creepy, but fun book is geared more towards children, but is fascinating enough to hold the interest of adults too. I love the story and knowing the story makes the cover seem even more creepy. 
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley JacksonIs there such thing as a horror fairytale? We Have Always Lived in the Castle is the story of an ostracized family living in their big house in a small town, ostracized because at family dinner one night, four people didn't make it out alive. Only two sisters and a uncle remain, living secluded lives. One of the sisters is arrested but eventually acquitted of the murders, but that doesn't change the fact that the entire town thinks she did it. This story is kind of oddball, told from the perspective of the slightly unhinged younger sister. It is thought provoking and creepy, perfect for an October read. This creepy cover represents this book so well. 
  • Unravel Me by Taherh Mafi One touch can kill you. For some reason, touching Juliette is fatal. Her parents cursed her and the government has locked her up, until they realize she might just be the perfect weapon. Now Juliette has a choice, destroy or fight. It was interesting, with some twists and turns without getting completely off track. It was a read straight through kind of book. It isn't necessarily scary, but I love the image on the cover. 
  • Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom RiggsJacob makes the journey to Cairnholm near Wales, to visit the orphanage where his grandfather grew up to discover it was bombed out during the last World War. How can that be? His grandfather received a letter from the Headmistress, just a few years ago. It is a mystery that Jacob is determined to solve. I really liked this book. It is the first book in a series, but I felt like it was fun and intriguing and I love where the story headed. This book isn't particularly scary, but the real old photographs the author used throughout the book really gave it an eerie feel. The picture on the cover is one of my favorites. 
  • I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells - What would you do if you thought you had the potential to be a serial killer? John Cleaver knows he has the potential to be very dangerous and so he has created a list of rules to keep himself in check, until he meets someone who is even more dangerous than him. I love this story and the cover, it is simple but very telling. 
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5 Tips for Better Halloween Photos of Your Kids

Every year, my sister is a little disappointed that the Halloween pictures of her kids didn't turn out the way she wanted them to. This year I am sharing a few tips to make sure you get pictures you will love this Halloween!

1. Background: The background of a picture is very important even for a snapshot. Your background doesn't have to be completely blank or a professional backdrop, but try to find something that is not distracting and fits the Halloween theme. On Halloween itself, I like to take pictures of my daughter in front of a tree with lots of leaves on the ground. If you have a larger group of kids, a closed garage door can make an unobtrusive backdrop for your shot. If you really want a clean backdrop, try hanging a plain sheet, white would probably work for showing off their costumes the most.
 2. Take the pictures outside or with as much natural light as possible. Nothing is going to wash a costume and child out faster than a direct flash. Take the pictures inside next (Not in front of) a window or outside. 

3. Take pictures immediately after your kids are ready. Their costumes, their makeup and their hair will look the best right after they are done. Get them ready and then snap some pictures before makeup has a chance to run or hair has a chance to fall out.

4. Don't put the camera away too quickly. Some of my favorite pictures are of my daughter actually trick-or-treating. It will get dark quickly in most areas, so you won't be able to avoid the flash for too long, but they still end up being some of my favorite pictures. I also love taking a picture of her dumping out her candy at the end of night.
5. Let go of the idea of the posed picture. If you child is dressed like an action hero, let him act out his costume. Let them jump, dance and twirl. They will like taking these kind of pictures more and you have better chances for real smiles and real moments.

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Halloween Ornaments

I originally posted this tutorial a couple of years ago, but it is post that I frequently get asked questions about. Today, I have re-written it with answering questions in mind. If you still have any let me know! 
 You will need for the bat:
  • The smallest pot you can find ( I have seen them at Hobby Lobby and Michaels) 
  • Black and white paint
  • Black foam
  • Googly eyes
  • Black ribbon
  • Hot Glue

Paint the the little pot completely black, inside and out before adding the white face. Mine needed a couple of coats, but use your best judgement. I folded a small sheet of foam in half and free hand cut the wings. I then hot glued them to the bat. Loop both ends of a ribbon into the top whole of your ornament, tie them in a big not on the other side. If you tie your knot big enough on the other side, it won't slip out through the hole in the pot.

You will need for the candy corn:
  • The smallest pot you can find
  • Orange, white, black and yellow paint
  • Ribbon
  • googly eyes
  • Hot Glue

Paint the little pot white with a couple of coats before adding the orange and then yellow. The yellow will not cover the orange well, so try to keep the orange above the lip of the pot so you don't need to cover very much. Add the face with a fine paint brush and black paint. 

I still love these little guys. They are displayed in my house right now! 
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

WotW: CloudUp is Your All-in-One Flash Drive Replacement

There are two things in life I regret wasting money on: the expensive photo packages at high school dances, and flash drives. The first because, let's be honest, I never look at those pictures and I'm not married to any of those girls. And the second because I lose flash drives faster than I'm losing hair (which is pretty impressive).

Don't get me wrong, I liked flash drives. They served a great purpose: allowing you to easily transfer files. But I found myself forgetting to bring them with me and when I inevitably lost the drive I lost all my stored files. This is why cloud storage has held such a fascination for me.

I've talked before about a number of cloud storage options like Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive. While I still use each of these for different things, my new favorite cloud storage has eclipsed them all.

It's called CloudUp and it's a simple, stripped down interface that gives you exactly what you want in a file storage system without the fuss. It's easy and free to sign up for an account.

In CloudUp, you create collections (kind of like folders) to store your files. You can easily create a new collection by pressing the blue plus button in the top right corner. This will take you to your upload screen. Give your collection a title and start uploading files.

Like other cloud storage options, CloudUp allows you to upload files from your computer. You can do this through a traditional upload interface or just drag and drop from your desktop (my favorite method).

But that's only the start. You can also easily store items from around the web. Let's say you're on a site and find a picture you love. Click and drag that photo over to your CloudUp tab and drop it in your folder. And voila! The picture is now included in your storage.

You can do the same thing with YouTube videos and URLs.

This makes CloudUp far more powerful and useful than nearly any other cloud storage option because you can store all your favorite files, links, images, videos and music together.

Once inside your folder, you can click on any individual item to see it enlarged and get a preview. Then you can press the next and previous buttons to quickly filter through your files. If you land on a video, it will auto play.

As if this wasn't cool enough, CloudUp has great sharing capabilities. Want to share your collection with someone? You can invite them via email through the share button, or you can simply send the URL to the folder. Have private items? You can set a password to your collection. Not only can you share the whole folder, you can also share individual items within the folder. Each item has its own unique URL. This makes sharing large files very quick and easy.

Let's say your friend sends you a link to their CloudUp collection and it contains a number of files you need. You can simply press the Download button in the top right corner and CloudUp will download a .zip file with all those files.

In addition to the web version (which is what I primarily use), you can also download a Windows or Mac install, which provides a faster drag-and-drop interface. You can also access CloudUp on your mobile device. There is no official app, but the site is so mobile optimized you would never guess it because it works just like you'd expect an app to.

Truthfully, it doesn't get any easier than CloudUp. I find myself using it all the time for packaging files to send to people. I also like to use it when I take pictures with a professional camera and need to easily transfer those photos to my phone so I can post on Instagram.

Give it a try. If you've been hesitant to try other cloud storage options, or love the latest and greatest, CloudUp is a definite must.

Monday, October 21, 2013

My Top Ten Character Names

Naming a baby is hard. I have only had to do it once in my life, but books were a huge inspiration for me. Unfortunately, my husband and I don't have the same taste in names and we struggled to find a name for our daughter that we could agree on. If it had been completely up to me, I would have named her straight from one of my favorite books, but alas I needed my husband to agree too. Here are some of my favorite character names, other known as, the names of my ten imaginary children. Linking up with The Broke and the Bookish.

Boys Names: 

  • Dashiell- I absolutely adore Dash and Lily's Book of Dares and Dash is one of my favorite characters. He is perfect parts cynicism and wit. Although I know my husband would NEVER go for this name, I keep it hanging around on the back burner. 
  • Garion- I have actually almost talked my husband into this name from The Belgariad series more than once, but something about naming a kid after a book character scares him off every time. It is too bad because the characters in the series have stuck with me a long time. Heck, I'd name a kid Belgarath if I could get away with it. 
  • Adrian- Never a name I thought I would love for a boy, Bloodlines changed that for me. I love the character of Adrian so much, it is hard to not love his name too. 
  • Ender- I know his name is Andrew, but I love the name Ender. My husband loves this series so much that I might be able to talk him into this one. 
  • √Čtienne- Call me a sap, but I find this √Čtienne from Anna and the French Kiss to be such a romantic name. It might just be because the name is from a romance, but the name itself holds romance for me. 

Girls Names:

  • Sybella- You know those characters you admire for their strength and bravery, even in extreme circumstances. Sybella from Dark Triumph is one of those for me. I love the unique sound of her name, it is perfect for her unique character. 
  • Celaena-A beautiful name for a strong, enduring character. So much of what I think of a name, comes from the character it belongs to. Celaena from Throne of Glass is fierce and strong. 
  • Hermoine- I am not even going to tell you how I pronounced this before book 4, but it wasn't even close. Hermoine will stick with me forever. She was the character I wanted to be growing up. Strong, smart and brave. 
  • Alina- The name of the main character in the Shadow and Bone series, is both beautiful and different. I love the series and so it is easy to love the name. 
  • Miri- This sweet and simple name from Princess Academy is one of my favorite names. It is beautiful and soft, but the character shows it belongs to someone strong and enduring. 

On second thought, after looking at this list, maybe it is a good thing my husband has veto power on names.

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Disney on Ice Ticket Giveaway!

I received tickets to Disney on Ice in exchange for this post and hosting a giveaway. All opinions are 100% my own. 
Are you ready for a giveaway? Disney on Ice presents Passport to Adventure is rolling into town at the first of November and today you can win a Family 4-pack of tickets to the show. This fall's show is a musical expedition to the beaches of Hawaii with Lilo and Stitch, Under the Sea with The Little Mermaid, to Africa with The Lion King and to Never Never Land with Peter Pan.
 We absolutely love Disney on Ice and we are excited to share our favorite family outing with you. We always take Grandma with us to the show and we have a blast. We will be at the show opening night and we hope to see some of you there! 
  • Wednesday, November 6            7:00PM
  • Thursday,  November 7                 7:00PM
  • Friday,  November 8                       4:00PM & 7:30PM
  • Saturday, November 9                  11:30AM, 3:00PM & 6:30PM
  • Sunday, November 10                   1:00PM & 4:30PM
Where:  Energy Solutions Arena – 301 West South Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Ticket Prices: Ticket prices range from $20, $25, $37 (VIP) and $50 (Rinkside). Special Opening Night discount tickets available for only $12 each (not valid for VIP/Rinkside levels) 
Use the Rafflecopter below to enter for your chance to win tickets! If you want to make sure you have tickets for this great show, you can buy tickets and watch videos here
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Easy Mummy Cupcakes

This year my mom bought my daughter's costume so there is no last minute stress sewing going on in this house. It has left us with lots of time to experiment with new recipes and fun ghoulish crafts. These little mummies are my daughter's current favorite. They are so easy to make, she was able to help and who doesn't love M&Ms and Cupcakes?

To Decorate These Cupcakes You Will Need: 
Cupcakes in your favorite flavor
Two M&Ms for every cupcakes
White frosting 
a piping bag 
a petal decorating tip (I used Wilton 104, you can find something similar here)

Make a small strip of frosting across the top of the cupcake. This is what you will use to secure the M&Ms eyes. After you have placed the eyes, make long strands of frosting across the cupcake and around the eyes. Keep going until the tip of the cupcake is mostly covered and mummy like. We made most of these cupcakes with both my daughter and I holding the piping bag. She did and excellent job and she loved that that she was able to help. 

What is your favorite Halloween treat? 
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

WotW: Make Shareable Images in Seconds with Recite

Take a minute to think about your Pinterest habits. No, this isn't a guilt trip about how much time you are or are not spending on the site. I want you to think about the types of images you pin or re-pin. Chances are there is a look and feel to the images you re-pin.

And you're probably not alone. Many people share similar tastes. But who creates these ultimately shareable images? Graphic design gurus? Perhaps. But you don't have to be graphic designer to join in on the fun. With a simple site called you can easily create shareable images.

This site is about as simple as it comes, and it's to its credit. Simply type in a sentence, phrase or quote into the main text box on the page.

Then scroll through the sample styles underneath to choose the best look and feel for you quote. Recite has a number of great templates to choose from.

Once you've selected your template, click on it. This will bring up your sharing screen. Here, you can quickly share your image on Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook or StumbleUpon. It's that easy! Now you have a very shareable image you can pin to your favorite pin board.

You can also provide a permalink to your image through Recite's parent company, Piccsy, which is kind of similar to Pinterest, but its focus is all on images. You can search through their large library of user-submitted images and "heart" your favorite images. You can also add these images to galleries (similar to pin boards).

While it's really similar to Pinterest, there's definitely a bigger focus on images, which is kind of fun.

Even if you don't get into Piccsy (which it's definitely worth a look around), try out Recite. It's perfect for creating pin-able images to place on your blog and will draw readers in and get them sharing your content on other social channels. Give it a try and share a link to your image with us!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

EZ Cheese and Hummus- The Snacking Circle of Life with NickMom

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and NickMom.
At night after I put my 4-year-old to bed, all I want to do is laugh with and eat cupcakes without explaining to my daughter why I can eat three cupcakes in a row, but she can't. Today I am joining with NickMom to get out some of my inner #MotherFunny. I bring you, The Snacking Circle of Life.

If there’s any truth to that old saying, “you are what you eat,” I’m sure glad I don’t eat kale or anything that rhymes with skeen-waa.

I’d be more along the lines of the next un-thought-of Taco Bell creation (don’t think on it too long, it will make you sick). And that’s OK. Because if you really were what you eat and you went to a party, everyone would like the fudge sundae guy and the red velvet cake bites girl. And who would be the nerd in the corner? That’s right: hummus face.

Sadly, we really aren’t what we eat, and hummus’ number-one fan – you know the type – gets all the praise, while I have to eat my cupcakes in secret, praying it really is true you can’t put on five pounds in five minutes.

Because here’s the real truth: I love to snack. Who doesn’t? Snacking is what keeps us sane at 2:47 in the afternoon. It’s what keeps you going on that interminably long stint at the playground as you watch kid after kid wipe their noses and run them along the monkey bars.

Snacking is wonderful.

And it’s part of nearly everyone’s life. In fact, there’s a Snacking Circle of Life. Let me explain how it works.

When you’re young, you have very little control of your snack choices. Mom is in charge, and because she reads health blogs or spends 10 seconds on Pinterest, she gets to feeling guilty if she gives you anything less than a perfectly balanced snack. Instead of cookies, you get a handful of raisins and a talk about how it will make you big and strong. Right...

This snacking phase is truthfully probably one of the healthier ones on the Snacking Circle of Life. But, thanks to growth hormones, you eventually get tall enough to clamber up a stool and find mom’s hidden cookies, dad’s Doritos and beef jerky, and a leftover onion purchased some time during Nixon’s presidency.

Congratulations, you have now entered the Sneak ‘n Grab phase. At first, you’re a novice. You’re so proud of finding the veritable jackpot of junk food – and feeling so vindicated that mom really was full of it about all that healthy food nonsense – you go to town on the calorific goodness.

And then you get busted. Somehow it didn’t cross your six-year-old brain that mom can actually visually monitor, well, everything.

Once you serve your grounded sentence, you get smart and only sneak bits and pieces, usually while mom’s busy doing your laundry (and you never even thanked her, how ungrateful).

After a few years of this phase, you enter the Dr. Pepper /Mountain Dew/Cheetos/Oh-my-gosh-I’m-so-hungry-I’d-eat-glue phase. This phase begins the second you enter middle school and see a kid use that most glorious of snacking inventions: the vending machine.

Like a beacon that lights the way to the Holy Grail, you are drawn to this mysterious giver of all things delicious, yet terrible for you. But it’s OK, because you have a metabolism that can burn through calories faster than Congress can spend taxpayer dollars.

This phase serves you all the way into college, where you realize you don’t have any money and will settle for anything resembling food: Ramen, what you hope was once pizza, frozen TV dinners and Hot Pockets.

In fact, college is one massive snack food frenzy, as: A) you don’t have time or money to make real food, B) mom lives too far away to drop in for dinner, or C) you honestly don’t even know how to make macaroni and cheese.

Somehow, your body doesn’t reject itself, and your arteries haven’t hardened – though you’re fairly confident they’re lined with EZ Cheese – and you enter the Post-College Detox phase. Not that you really want to, but you finally learned just how bad everything you ate in college really was. Plus, you probably have an annoyingly health-conscious roommate who lectures you every time you even veer near the chips aisle at the grocery store. Candy Crush is one of the seven deadly sins to this roommate.

Instead, your snacks are replaced by quinoa, flax seed, cardboard and something resembling tree bark.

Thankfully, you’re rescued once you start seriously dating someone. You at least get an occasional ice cream or banana split on date night.

Eventually you get married and you want to start things out right, so you limit your snacks to a balance of healthy fruits and vegetables for snacks and an occasional splurge snack item.

Of course, what you don’t talk about is how your nightstand drawer is packed to the brim with Ghirardelli Squares. And your husband makes sure not to let on that half his office space is reserved for exactly the same snacks he ate in middle school.

Then everything comes full circle: you have a kid of your own. Feeling like you owe it to your child to help them eat healthy, and that somehow you can help them avoid the terrible Snacking Circle of Life, you push apple slices and ants on a log on your child.

At night, when your child is tucked in bed, you sneak to your secret stash high above the reach of little arms, and enjoy your guilty pleasure, all the while wondering if you could change your child’s future just by getting rid of all the chairs in the house.

I love laughing out loud every time I visit NickMom and I hope you laughed a little bit at my #MotherFunny post. Check out a couple of my favorite posts. 59 Ways You're such a mom and What Does Your Snack Offering Say About You. You can also find NickMom on Facebook.
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Monday, October 14, 2013

Halloween Village for Under $10

 We love Halloween in this house. I think I have almost as many Halloween decorations as I have Christmas ones, and that is saying something. I have been obsessed with little villages since our wedding when a sweet friend of my mom's, who has since passed away, gave me my very first Christmas house. Our Christmas village is a huge part of our Holiday decorations, so as soon as I saw this little village floating around Pinterest this year, I knew I had to have one.
This darling little Halloween Village, first seen at The 36th Avenue, is easy to make and very affordable. Head your local Dollar Tree and pick out your favorite Christmas Village pieces. In my area, Christmas has already been out for a few weeks, so you shouldn't have too much problem finding them. I picked four buildings, a bridge, and arch and a two pack of trees for $7 total. I also purchased cobwebs with large spiders on it for another $1. There were more options, but I wanted to keep my village around $10. 
I used a can of black matte spray paint to cover my village. The were mostly covered with one coat, but I used a second coat just to touch the houses up. Even though the trees were a dark color already, I spray painted them too for a more spooky look. 
I use some spare black candlesticks I had laying around to create the varying heights in my village, but this village is so darling it would be cute without them as well. After I had my village set up, I pulled apart the cobwebs and spread them over the village. 

This project took me less than a half hour and it is easily my favorite Halloween decoration. I almost wish I had a village for every holiday now. 
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