Gallivanting~ California is Pretty, Too; Pacific Grove  

Posted by Heidi

When Mary and I got back from Ireland, (I DO still have a few blog posts to finish up the Ireland trip) we were a little blue.  We decided that the remedy for it was to plan another vacation.  So, we recently spent three days on the Monterey Peninsula.  We stayed at the Centrella Inn in Pacific Grove and had a fantastic time.

I have only been to Pacific Grove once, for my two year wedding anniversary.  We ate at the Bath House Restaurant at Lover's Point, one of the best meals I have ever eaten.  About ten years ago it became the Beach House Restaurant.  The food was still good but it was much more casual.  The above photo was taken from the sidewalk next to the restaurant.  (I highly recommend it.)

Mary thought this combination of signs (below) was worthy of documenting.

Mermaids come up more than once when you stroll the streets of Pacific Grove.  This gal was seated out in front of a store.  In fact, many of the stores had a mannequin of one kind or another out front to celebrate Halloween.

I was tickled by how they do Halloween in Pacific Grove.  Many decorated homes and store fronts.  Even the street dividers were decked out.

One prize-worthy house was decorated with such a spirit of fun that I had to get closer to take a photo.

Then I caught a glimpse of the gentleman in the window and I almost wet my pants. (Very creepy, especially since I am blind and didn't see him until he was almost upon me.)  (I digress . . .and exaggerate.)

I was deLIGHTed by all of the Victorians in the area.  In fact, there wasn't much of any other style in the heart of the city.  I was a very happy camper.

The Centrella Inn is converted from what was once a very large private home.  It is quite fabulous.  We stayed in one of the cottages in the back.  It was decorated pretty much to order for a lover of pink and roses.

This is the living area in the main house where one could sit by the fire and read. (I recommend.)

What I love about beach towns (and I am sure I am not alone in this) is how you can be simply walking down the street, turn your head and BAM!--there's the ocean.  Right. There.  Just. Right. THERE.  Fabulous!!!  (I recommend.)

Pacific Grove is full of stores along the lines of our defunct Dunhaven Place.  Much bigger and better stocked but they had the same vibe . . . (I recommend.)

If only I could figure out how this was done, I would do it, in a heartbeat.  I suspect it involves the use of tools that get very hot (in order to melt the pressed glass dishes into the sheet glass).  (I do not recommend.)

You never know what you will see when you wander about a Northern California coastal town.  It is the best of both beach and forest.  (And golf courses--of which these deer recommend.)

After dinner we drove along the coast to Asilomar Beach.    Truly fabulous.

My Mary getting a better view.  She took the photo of the star fish at the top of this post.  I think it is stellar.

Oh, look!  Here it is again.

Next time:  Carmel or Monterey or maybe Ireland again.

Fun and Festive Dollar Store Halloween Decor  

Posted by Heidi

With late summer comes the online advertisements for Halloween decor.  I pore over the pages of virtual, as well as in-hand catalogs, such as P@ttery Barn, H@liday Barn, Traditions, and whatever else comes my way.  Like a lot of us in the world, I can't afford to actually purchase these treasures.  Instead, I keep my eyes open for cheap alternatives.  One place that offers a lot of possibilities is the local dollar store.  

The image above depicts a $1 orange, net skirt for a witch's costume for a toddler.  It makes a fantastic lampshade cover.  I love the orange glow it adds to the room.  Above it is a black bat garland which I adore.

I bought the garland, along with one of ghosts and about 8 other white, orange and black Halloween decor items, at Kmart.  I scored it for 70% off after Halloween but even if I had paid full price for the package, I would still have paid only $1 for each item.  (The black beaded spider was a bit more than that but she is a beauty!)

One of my favorite holiday decor designers is Bethany L0we.  The above photo depicts my dollar store ($1 each for tombstone and crow) take on one of her 2014 items.  Below is from her catalog.  (Even the purple glitter is the same!)

The photo above features two nearly life sized foam tombstones and a small resin one (far right bottom corner), all dollar store finds.  The silk mums are, as well.

Candy cones are one of my favorites but are relatively simply to make out of scrapbook paper and other easy to find trims. (The black feather is courtesy of my feather duster . . . )

Other items that are easy to make for a very small cost are construction paper bats.  My "bat attack" covers the wall behind my version of a pumpkin stack.  I had to have one after I saw a very expensive one made of painted pottery in a number of stores.  My foam pumpkin version sits on a silver champagne bucket. (It's base is bent and it tends to tip a bit but I think that lends it a special charm.)

And then there's felt.  It was the major craft medium of my youth.  Why it fell out of favor, I don't know, but it is perfect for this pillow treatment.  (Ideally, one would sew the bats--cut from a free online pattern--onto the fabric but this particular pillow is doing double duty so the bats are simply clinging to the pillow, which is one of the benefits of felt.)

Luminaries are all the rage this year.  Below is a sampling of the ones I have found in catalogs.  Aren't they fab?  The first two are electric while the last example is obviously of candles.  However, the overall effect is similar.

I purchased two electric luminaries at dollar stores this year--the tall one broke (I was sad) but the small one is very cool--it changes colors from green, to red, to blue and purple.

You can make your own luminaries by attaching things to electric or even real candles (make sure they are the drip-less kind) with items you might already have in your craft closet.  I made this one using scrapbook paper and glue dots.  Once the candle burns down a little, it will make those colors come to life.

Another cheap but fantastic idea?  Framed napkins.  The graphics on Halloween napkins are some of the best graphics out there.  Should you buy some for a dinner or party, save one to frame in a dollar store frame.  Mine is a vintage napkin from the 1940's and is much more darling than this photo will allow. (It is sporting some rather odd reflections.)  BTW, ancestor photos take on a sinister look when paired with anything Halloween.  Sometimes I make construction paper witches hats and tape them right to the glass.

Dollar store candy has a ton of potential, as well.  Choose candy that sports the right colors and display in whatever item made of glass available.  These jelly beans look great in this basket votive (the glitter pumpkin is one of a pack of five at the dollar store making them an awesome .20 each!) and . . .

 . . . these reproduction creme mallow candies (yellow, white, orange and black witches, bats, cats and moons) I ate as a child and which are tough to find in stores (I found mine in Carmel, Ca) look very festive in this goblet seen below.

Below is my favorite dollar store find of 2014.  By day it looks like a painting of an old black house.  By night, (after one has turned on the switch) it lights up with this spectacular flickering glow.  Love it! (even though this one set me back a whole dollar and fifty cents)

More dollar store finds . . .

 . . . the pottery black crow on pumpkin, the orange glitter mask, the glittery pumpkins in the white vase . . .

 . . . the black mask and the autumn pick in the vase, as well.

Mixing more expensive items among the dollar items results in a believable designer look that costs pennies on the dollar.  The mantle banner was inspired by one sold by P0ttery Barn a few years ago.  I used cheap painters cloth and black acrylic paint to fill in the letters I traced from a free font online.

My favorite non-dollar store find this year is the row of "mercury glass" skull lights from OSH.  It was half the price of similar lights sold at P0ttery Barn (they had pumpkins, too).

The sign behind the lights is another glittery dollar store find.

Below are some of my favorite hand made items that I have had for years.

"Happy Halloween," cry Mr. Scarecrow, Ghost and Mrs. Pumpkin (each are made of a circle of fabric filled with rice--the heads are wooden balls from the craft store).