6 More Things to Do When It’s not Halloween

Happy Walpurgisnacht! We are halfway to Halloween and another long, hot, miserable summer is just around the corner. Last year, around this time, I shared with you 10 Things to Do When It’s Not Halloween.  Sometimes, we tend to focus on the bad so much that we forget to concentrate on the good, like the fact there are plenty of Halloweenesque activities to do to keep us happy until October.

Plant a pumpkin

The Pumpkin is the ultimate symbol of Halloween. It’s the heralded icon. The shepherd of the holiday. One could argue it’s the whole reason that Halloween even exists. Planting your own pumpkin can be rewarding in a number of ways. For starters, you’re doing something nice for the environment. Your pumpkin can be insecticide and chemical-free. Second, it might be more economical than buying a pumpkin at the store, particularly if you live in rural areas. Next, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that gardening relieves stress. Watching your little pumpkin grow makes you happy. That alone is totally worth it. Next, you can brag about it on your Instagram and social media. Create a photo album tracking your pumpkins growth. Lastly, you’ll have an amazing pumpkin to carve into a jack-o’-lantern by Halloween!

The Farmer’s Almanac has all the info you need on growing pumpkins:
https://www.almanac.com/plant/pumpkins

bonnie plants pumpkin
©Bonnie Plants

Paint Halloween ceramics

Lemax and Department 56 are awesome, no doubt about it, but they’re also a little pricy.  Why not try and create your own Halloween village? Everything you need, ceramics, materials, and the tutorials that teach DIYers how to create certain looks with paint, can all be found online. Likewise, you can find paint, brushes and other materials at your local arts and crafts stores. You can paint your own ceramic haunted house and knick-knacks, or add new items to storebought villages piecemeal.

Bonus: Painting ceramics can be a soothing way to relax and hone in your concentration skills

Watch all 1225 episodes of Dark Shadows

ABC’s dark gothic soap opera Dark Shadows featuring vampires, witches, ghosts, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures, aired 30-minute episodes on weekdays from 1966-1971.

The first season sluggishly produced efficient melodrama, romance, and the usual family squabbles, as found in a typical daytime soap, until introducing the charismatic, creepy, and somewhat sexy character of Barnabas Collins, a centuries-old vampire played by Jonathan Frid. From that point, the show became his show and Frid’s portrayal of the powerful Barnabas helped boost audience viewership and eventually, made him a horror icon.

 

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Create your own Halloween florals

You can certainly wait for fall to buy some artificial autumn florals or black roses, but it’s always been my belief that some fake flowers are “fuller” than others, during different times of the year. This is certainly just an opinion, based on no facts whatsoever, but if we always paid attention to facts, we’d have no fun at all!

For those of you looking to dye real flowers black, the good people over at Florist Chronicles have put together one of the most comprehensive tutorials on how to create black flowers that I’ve ever seen. Check it out: www.floristchronicles/2011/create-black-flowers

black vase Steph O Rama
©Steph O Rama

Create a spooky centerpiece

After you create some black florals, you may need a haunted vase to put them in. You can turn any dollar store vessel into a gothic or Halloween centerpiece with some black paint, a glue gun, some fake spiders and other Halloween objects.

spray painted vases paige taylor evans
©Paige Taylor Evans

Check out this amazing easy to make spider vase tutorial over at KS Craft Shack:
http://www.craftshackchronicles.com/dollar-store-crafting-spider-halloween/

spider vase ks craft shack
©KS Craft Shack

Need more ideas, check out the Halloween florals board on Pinterest:
https://www.pinterest.com/halloweenkristy/gothic-halloween-florals/

Visit a cemetery

Cemeteries are lovely quiet little places, open all year around. There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting under a tree and enjoying the sights and sounds of nature of a cemetery in the springtime, a time when the flowers and trees are in full bloom. There’s something meaningful, even bit ironic, about so much life flourishing among the dead. Just when you thought your little goth heart didn’t like pastels.

Go early and you’ll have a chance to photograph the gravestones before the morning mist burns off, or try in the late afternoon to catch those eerie shadows falling over the tombstones.

springtime greenwood cemetery
Springtime ©Green-wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY

 

Craft beer and tombstones

 

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Festival Obscura, a craft beer benefit for California’s oldest cemetery, Sunnyside Cemetery in Long Beach. This amazing sold-out event featured beer, cider, wine, arts and crafts, historians, live music, a killer silent auction, and all the charm that a 108-year old struggling cemetery could muster in the middle of summer.

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Two decades after the former owner was convicted of embezzling over $500,000 from the cemetery’s million-dollar endowment fund, and with no more room to sell future plots, Sunnyside faces a bleak future. Sunnyside is now run by a non-profit board consisting of two employees, family members with loved ones who reside at the cemetery and a dedicated group of volunteer friends. The group has been forced to get creative to raise money for care and grounds upkeep. Aside from the modest funds left over from the endowment and the occasional film shoot, event fundraisers are held throughout the year to help keep Sunnyside afloat.

 

Festival Obscura founders Martin Svab, Co-Owner and Founder of Phantom Carriage Brewery, and Ryan Hughes, Director of Sales for Phantom Carriage helped bring in over 40 of the best of SoCal breweries and wineries. There were unlimited drink pours and event organizers smartly chose to hand out free 4oz commemorative glass to all wristband holders at the end of the event, to ensure no broken glass found their way onto the grounds. Essentia and Hops H20 provided free water to ensure everyone stayed hydrated. Live music provided by The Hollow Legs and Pompous. There were some fabulous art and horror wares available for sale. Friends of Sunnyside and historians set up booths where you could get more information on the cemetery, and I even heard they had a couple of morticians on hand.

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While waiting in long lines for food and the bathroom, people chatted away, shared sunscreen and made new friends. We all reached the same conclusion, craft beer representation was phenomenal, but more food trucks and porta-potties were needed. Ten Mile Brewing graciously allowed festival patrons to use their facilities, located right across the street. People had limited choices in food. I opted for pizza from Duemani Pizza, which was baked fresh and delicious.  I heard they ran out pizza moments after placing my order. Despite those few hiccups, the event was perfectly organized and seemed to be running smoothly.

 

I’ve been to plenty of horror conventions and beer festivals, and this was a delightful marriage between the two industries coming together for a great cause. It’s such a shame to hear of Sunnyside’s woes since the somber little cemetery is steeped in such great history. You can learn so much about Long Beach’s earliest residents just by strolling among the grave markers. Ironically, the lack of proper irrigation has given rise to some spooky looking trees, hovering over those aging marble headstones.  It made for some pretty spectacular shadowy views.

 

All in all, craft beer and tombstones are a winning combination and I hope Festival Obscura will be back next year.

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