Monday, October 1, 2012


It's October and so many wonderful things to celebrate this month. My oldest son, Paco, will be 9 years old on the 14th. Mine and Carlos's 10-year Wedding Anniversary is the 19th. And my favorite holiday of the year, Halloween, is here!

I have such fond and totally fun memories about Halloween growing up and now that I have kids of my own I just love it even more! It's the most awesome feeling seeing my boys take part in decorating and seeing the wonder in their eyes as the Halloween decor slowly gets put up around the house both inside and out. I think Halloween decorations are just plain cool - cooler than Christmas decorations in my opinion. And of course, the best part of Halloween for me and especially my boys is getting all dressed up in costumes on that particular Fall evening.

This blog post is about all things I love about the month of All Hallow's Eve!

  • Halloween Shopping
Of course part of the fun of decorating for Halloween is shopping for more unique and spooky fun stuff for the home. During the month of September a good many retail stores start bringing out their Halloween merchandise and every year I'm delighted to see how much more this holiday has become as a serious contender to Christmas and its frenzy of decoration overload. 

To totally appreciate the magic of Halloween decorating at its best, one just needs to visit the San Diego neighborhood of Mission Hills and step into the charming world of With Love - A Gift & Paperie by Bel Age. This whimsical gift shop is filled with countless goodies and one of the best card selections in town. I could literally spend hours looking around this store because I am absolutely in love with this place. During Halloween they go all out on the decorations and I feel like I've gone to Halloween Heaven! Moreover, the owner is the most delightful person to chat with, so very helpful, and knows how to select great music for all to hear! So if you're looking to make a special little trip somewhere, come and visit With Love, and I guarantee you will fall in love with this store. 

One of the store's unique window displays.

Inside the store and it's cleverly creative display of miscellaneous lamp shades.

I love their old fashioned pumpkin stick masks!

A peak into part of the store and their endless Halloween goodies!

Such ghoulishly fun decor.

Fun party hats on top of charming, Edgar Allan Poe-ish mannequin heads.

A view looking outside the window from inside the store. 

Absolutely darling decor and unique cards.

  • Halloween Family Events
Around Halloween time I love that the weather gets cooler and the sun goes down earlier and the feeling of Fall is undeniably here. Enjoying evening ventures to local Halloween events with the boys never felt nicer especially with a warm cup of coffee for Mama and Dada and light jackets or sweaters for us all. Halloween brings about some great events for everyone. Below are some of my local San Diego favorites especially for families:

Halloween in the Hills - Saturday, October 13th, 2012 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Located on the same block as the shop With Love in the Mission Hills neighborhood at the 1600 Block of West Lewis Street. The whole block will be decked out in Halloween spirit plus live music, good food, and plenty of fun things to see and do. 

Halloween in the Hills flyer.

4th Annual Balboa Park Halloween Family Day - Saturday, October 27th, 2012 from 11:00 am to 3 p.m. Children 12 and under will be treated to free admission at over a dozen museums with each participating museum presenting a spooktacular array of hands-on activities, crafts, costume parades, tours, storytelling, and other free goodies.

Pumpkin Stations - Friday, September 28th through Wednesday, October 31st, 2012. Open Monday - Thursday from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm, and Friday - Sunday from 9:00 am to 9:00 p.m. There are a handful of Pumpkin Stations throughout San Diego County so check out their website to see where one is near you. My family and I usually go to either the Mission Valley Mall (San Diego) Pumpkin Station or the Plaza Bonita Mall (National City) Pumpkin Station. Both are not too much different in layout and are equally fun. I just wish they would bring back their little food booth and eating area because I miss the old school nachos!

I love that the Pumpkin Stations are great for little ones and even the older kids. My boys have been going here since they were both toddlers and even now at 6 and almost 9 years old they still love going. The Pumpkin Stations remind me of the old carnival fairs I use to go to when I was a child. They have a large selection of pumpkins and activities include: kid rides; giant and mini slides; jumpers and inflatable play centers; petting zoos; game zones and group tours and packages.

  • Halloween-Inspired Paper Dolls
Making Halloween-inspired paper dolls for my shop is one of my favorite things to do around this time of the year. I always set aside some time to visit my "go-to" paper store The Stamp Addict which houses an excellent stock of designer craft paper. They carry my favorite paper line Graphic 45 plus many other craft papers that come out with unique holiday themed papers like Halloween. So with my handy stamps, paper, ink, glue, and scissors I put together my yearly mix of Halloween paper ladies. 

  • Halloween Books for Kids
What's Halloween without fun stories to get you into the spooky spirit of Halloween? Below are some great reads (and time-tested favorites of mine, Carlos, and the boys) both for kids and parents to enjoy during the Halloween season.

Cool pop-Up book "A Visit to The Haunted House".

"A Visit to The Haunted House: A Troll Pop-Up Book" is from the 1970s. This book was passed down to my boys from their Nana and Grandpa (Carlos's parents) who have kept this book since Carlos and his brothers were kids. And for over 30 years, it still holds up quite well. I remember reading and loving this book as a kid, too! Paco and Tomás really enjoy the illustrations and detailed pop-up images, and the story is not too scary for even little ones.

A favorite of the family "ABC's of Halloween"

Patricia Reeder Eubank's book "ABC's of Halloween" is a fantastic book that incorporates gorgeous illustrations with simple rhymes & great vocabulary that are perfect for kids of all ages. Not only is this book a real pleasure to read but the extremely detailed illustrations on each page make it fun for kids to look for those cleverly worded items based on each letter. For example, "T is for tiny toads, tasty turnip tea, and twisted tombstones that topple over the ground"... such fun to read and brings a smile to my face every time I read it to my boys. This hardcover book is beautifully bound and quite sturdy! I bought this book when Paco was still a toddler and still looks quite new even after all the frequent readings. There's even a recipe on the letter X page for "eXtra good alphabet soup in a pumpkin". This book is so delightful and I highly recommend having it as part of any home's book collection. 

Marc Brown's "Arthur's Halloween".

"Arthur's Halloween" by Marc Brown is a cute Halloween story about how Arthur is afraid of everything and dreads having to take his little sister D.W. trick-or-treating this Halloween. I love how this book reminds kids how appearances can be deceiving. My boys are big fans of the entertaining PBS show "Arthur" and this original book is true to the charm of Brown's storytelling humor and fun illustrations. Great story!

"Zombie In Love" by Kelly DiPucchio.

Kelly DiPucchio's book "Zombie In Love" is a new book that my youngest son, Tomás, fell in love during a recent visit to the bookstore. Zombies are Tomás's latest obsession and although he's not as book-reading crazy as his older brother he jumped at the opportunity to read this book about a lovelorn zombie named Mortimer.  

The illustrations of soft watercolors gives this warm-hearted love story such wonderful charm by even giving adorableness to the decomposing characters in the book. Moreover, the illustrations are full of cute details like "brain cake" on a picnic date and zombie lovers "holding hands" at the end of story. I'm always a sucker for good romantic stories and found it's simple message that "there's someone for everyone" even for zombies like Mortimer undeniably sweet. Check it out next time you're at the library or bookstore, I guarantee you and your little ones will enjoy this lovely book.

  • Halloween Arts & Crafts Projects
Of course, nothing truly makes Halloween such a fun tradition than making homemade decorations with the family! I'm always on the lookout for homemade Halloween crafts that are easy and affordable. Right now is a great time to scour the blogverse for people's homemade Halloween craft recipes, below are some of my favorite craft projects that are simple, fun, and inexpensive to make!

My absolute favorite homemade Halloween crafts are by my boys especially all their beautiful Halloween artwork. This Halloween they wanted to make their Halloween drawings with glow-in-the-dark paint. And after their paintings are completely dried, we plan to cut out the drawings and stick them inside our windows.

My boys back in 2009 in their play masks posing under our hanging homemade construction paper Halloween decor that I found via Martha Stewart. These Halloween hang-ups are so easy to make, and with their floating and spinning action, they make quite the charming Halloween statement pieces.

Inspired by our Halloween pop-up book, I found this Halloween Pop-Up craft project lesson from Mimi the Artist blogsite. These 3D mini scenes are simple yet endless in the possibilities of making Halloween construction paper dioramas!

Many retail stores are now selling Halloween Trees to hang the plethora of fun Halloween ornaments available in these stores. I'm a huge fan of these delightful hanging decorations and my collection has definitely grown. I've found that hanging the ornaments on tree branches are just as nice but definitely more unique & inexpensive than store bought Halloween Trees. The photo above shows my Halloween "Tree" with ornaments. To make branches spookier, I've seen examples where they are painted all in black or white. On display, too, on the bottom left corner of the photo is my son, Tomás's, decorated skull mask with glow-in-the-dark paint. It looks pretty neat glowing at night!

Our favorite homemade cemetery cross. Probably one of the simplest crafts to do. Just use a couple of pieces of left-over lumber, screw them together, and use a permanent marker to decorate the front. My boys love to scatter skeleton bones under the grave marking as an added spooky effect.

I remember seeing Pottery Barn's Hanging Ghosts and loving the charmingly spooky quality of these ghosts. However at about $60 for a set of 3, Pottery Barn's price is a bit too steep for my budget. Fortunately, I discovered these Pottery Barn Knock-Off Hanging Ghosts by Ashley Phipps of Simply Designing. Not only are Phipp's Hanging Ghosts just as fun and spooky as Pottery Barn's version but she made hers for just $15 for a set of 3! I am so looking forward to making these sweet Hanging Ghosts for Halloween this year!

Another new Halloween idea that I plan to try are these House Ghosts. They are made with tomato wire cages, string of clear rope lights, drop cloths, and a permanent marker to draw the eyes. Absolutely clever! And thanks to my sister-in-law for the heads up about these friendly house ghosts!

  • Happy Halloween!
Here's to a fun, spooky, and imaginative Halloween and most of all, to creating special memories for you and your loved ones! Have a fantastic October everyone!


  1. I absolutely love Halloween, it's my favorite holiday! Great time of the year. :)

    XOXO Sabrina

  2. Wow! October is a busy month for you and your family. Yay for birthdays! Tell Paco he's got one more year till he hits the double digits! =0) And yay for anniversaries! 10 years is a big one, and I hope you and your hubby enjoy.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier.
    This is a great post, full of lots of goodies for me to browse. New follower, and glad to be here.

  3. Wow, so much fun!!! I love Halloween too. It was always one of my favorite holidays growing up, but since I've become an adult, it has gotten a little... well... boring. I'm hoping that once I have kids of my own the magic will return!! :)

  4. what a fun post! reminds me of the parties we had when my kids were younger. love your paper dolls! seriously creative. happy birthday and happy anniversary to you guys!

  5. Thanks all for stopping by and all the kind words!!! Yes, October is pretty busy for me but so looking forward to all the celebrations :)
    @Amanda - Halloween doesn't have to be fun only for kids or people with kids :) Maybe Just try some simple Halloween decorating in your home one bit at a time and before you know all the spooky fun will start coming back again! Good luck with finding that magic again :)

  6. Halloween is my fave, too, so much fun for decorating! That store looks like sooooooooooooooo much fun, wish I was in San Diego!

  7. I've never been much of a Halloween person but this post really makes me excited for it. Fabulous photos!!! Think I might go make some Halloween arts & crafts now!

  8. Wow, what a great Halloween round up! Thanks for sharing these photos and resources.