Friday Night Cinema: Brides of Dracula (1960)

Sexy, campy, over-the-top Hammer horror films.  Gotta love ’em.





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Tips for creating a sexy, haunted bedroom

Why not decorate your bedroom for Halloween this year?

Do you decorate your home for Halloween?  Have you ever decorated your bedroom for Halloween?

There are a number of cute ways to decorate a child’s room for Halloween, if you wanted to do that, but I’m talking about your own, romantic bedroom.

No doubt about it, for women at least, Halloween has its sexy side.  Halloween costumes for women are definitely getting a bit more risque.  And why not?  If it’s in the confines of a club, or a party, or — gasp — your bedroom, Halloween is as good a reason as any to spice up your love life.  Personally, I think Halloween’s a lot sexier than Valentine’s Day, and way less pressure.

My bedroom philosophy — is it possible to have a bedroom philosophy? — well, my take on bedrooms is informed by wisdom from my mother, my doctor, and personal experience.  And this extends to Halloween, believe it or not.

My mother advised me not to put a television in the bedroom.

My doctor, who was treating me for insomnia, told me not to use my bedroom for anything but sleeping and making love.  Not reading, or working, or surfing the net, or all those other things people sometimes do.

I still cheat sometimes and read a little in there, but mostly I try to keep it as a relaxing space.

I have a child, and if you have kids, you know that kids are going to gleefully invade your bedroom every chance they get.  Have a playdate, where do they all go?  Your bedroom.  At least that is my experience.  They all love Mom’s room. Why, I don’t know.  Maybe it just feels cozy.  In fact, that’s how my son contentedly describes it.  And that’s fine.  You know, if they’re sick, or had a bad dream, they’re coming in there. Might as well be a place they feel comfortable.

But, most of the time, it’s still MY room.  My bedroom only has a bed, a side table, a slipper chair, and some paintings, and that’s it.  Except at Halloween.  When I introduce a little theater. Blame it on my dramatic bent.  But I love Halloween, and bedrooms are perfect for staging a little gothic fantasy.  My child loves it.  But guess what?  So does my main squeeze.

Think your boyfriend or husband (or girlfriend or wife) won’t go for it?  Try it.  Surprise him (or her) this Halloween, put on the costume and everything.  Just imagine a setting where you might get ravished by a sexy vampire.  All you need is a sense of humor, a little creativity, and some nerve!

Here are some decorating tips for creating a spooky but sexy Halloween bedroom…

String up Halloween lights around the ceiling and windows.  They look like Christmas lights but come in Halloween colors.  The bulbs on mine are half orange and half purple, and the wires are black.  Are they ever fun!  They create a warm, flattering glow that creates just enough light.  You can get them at Target or party stores.

Of course, candle light is romantic, too.  What about a pumpkin scented candle?  The smell of pumpkin is warm and spicy, and for most men, chemically, a real sexual turn-on.  Just don’t get the Yankee Candle pumpkin version because in my opinion, it’s much too strong.  Target has a pumpkin scented pillar candle that is more pleasingly subtle and it’s only $2.99.

Switch out your curtains to keep the room dark.  I used Room Essentials black cotton curtains from Target, less than $20.  They look awfully spooky but they’ll come down after Halloween.

Add some chic, sexy, but spooky props.  Keep it darkly romantic.  You don’t want cutesy orange and black Halloween decorations, or gross zombie stuff.  Go for the black, purple and silver party and home decor accessories that are all over the place. Think: candelabras, glitter pumpkins, drapey black fabric, black feathered birds.  I bought some drapey, net black fabric from Party City and Merrifield Garden Center.   Also there are some cool black lace items, like table toppers, with cob web motifs.  Elegant but spooky.  Are you serving champagne or martinis?  Dark chocolate dipped strawberries?  You can find some fun Halloween goblets and plates for just a dollar or two.  You can find many inexpensive Halloween decorative items at Oriental Trading Company, Michael’s crafts store and Party City.  For more luxe items, check out Christmas Attic in Old Town, Merrifield Garden Center, and Pottery Barn.

Create a spooky-sexy bed.  If you’re like me, and you have an impossibly girly, all pink bedroom 🙂 you might need to make a few alterations to set the Halloween mood.  I think simple is best for the bed.  You don’t really want anything distracting from you and your lovely costume.  You could go for all white cotton, ghostly sheets.  Or you could splurge on some black or deep red satin sheets.  Whatever you think would look best with your vampire, witch or she-devil costume!  JCPenney had a queen set of black satin sheets for just $29.99.

Don’t forget the mood music!  So, if you’re going to all this trouble to create a spooky scene and wear a costume, and everything, of course, you are going to need a soundtrack (not to mention a babysitter).  So I suggest you make an iPod playlist and add some really evocative, moody, but sexy music.  I like a lot of older alt pop, like Bryan Ferry (Boys and Girls), Echo and Bunnymen, and Cat Power, but you could also try new cuts from bands like Metric.  Whatever feels right for the mood.  Just NOT Monster Mash.

Do you have any Halloween decorating or costume tips?  Leave them in the comments!

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This Halloween, consider slavery-free chocolate

Hersheys Chocolate

Image via Wikipedia

I have recently learned, sadly, that most of the cocoa exported for the manufacture of chocolate candy comes from farms in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, Africa, where child slavery is rampant.  One estimate is that of the 200,000 children working on cocoa farms in sub-standard to brutal, horrific conditions, 12,000 of them are slaves.  Adults are also subject to slavery and abhorrent conditions on cocoa farms.

All the major brands use this cocoa, and the U.S. is the largest importer.  Until U.S. chocolate manufacturers use their power and influence to stop child slavery and improve working conditions for all workers in a meaningful way, I would suggest that you not buy name-brand chocolate, or candy made by name brand manufacturers like Nestle, Hershey’s and M&M Mars, and choose organic chocolate or fair trade chocolate instead.

It saddens me to write this because I have used these brands all my life.  But this has been a long-standing problem and these corporations do have a choice.  The problem was addressed by Congress with legislation and there is a World Cocoa Foundation that is attempting to remedy the problems associated with cocoa farming, but as of the last reports in 2008 and 2009, very little seems to have been accomplished to bring real relief to these young children.

Here are a few fair trade brands of chocolate you may want to try that are available at stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.  I don’t eat chocolate, so I can’t vouch for their taste, but let me know if you have tried these:

  • Trader Joe’s brand chocolate and cocoa
  • Whole Foods brand chocolate
  • Valrhona
  • Newman’s Own Organic chocolate chips

If you have insights to share on cocoa, chocolate, and what the industry refers to as “the worst forms of child labor,” please add them to the comments below.

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Arlington Walkabouts: Take a Fall Walk

If you haven’t tried an Arlington Walkabout, you should give it a try.  The leaves are beautiful right now, it’s great exercise, and Arlington was just made (literally) for walking.  It’s a fun way to discover parts of Arlington you might not notice by car, such as park trails.  Arlington has some fine examples of residential architecture, and many homes have fun Halloween decorations right now.

My son and I plan to complete all 16 Arlington Walkabouts in the brochure, which you can download from their website or pick up at some locations in Arlington.  Each walkabout features a different neighborhood.  The associated maps provide landmarks of interest, distance, and walking difficulty level.

I walk 3 miles every day but it seemed like the first walkabout was a lot longer than 2.3 miles.  But it was fun.  Not only did it include sidewalk walking through neighborhoods but also detours to the W&OD trail and over a hiking trail near Lubber Run.   A little of everything.  You may need to budget in extra time to figure out the maps and directions, as the walkabout maps can be a little confusing.


  • Budget extra time.  It’s easy to get a little lost, and then you will have to backtrack.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. There are places to stop and rest, though.
  • Definitely bring water (also cash if you want to stop somewhere).
  • A supplementary Arlington street map is a good idea.  The walkabout map is cute but not all the streets are marked.

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Green your Halloween with Goodwill

When I was growing up, we didn’t buy our Halloween costumes — we made them from clothes and accessories we found in our Mom’s closet.  We bought the occasional witch hat or mask, of course, but mostly our costumes were creative creations.  I still remember putting together my gypsy costumes.

This year, Goodwill Industries International and Green Halloween are partnering to encourage Halloween celebrators to create unique costumes for themselves and their children by shopping at one of the 2600 Goodwill stores nationwide.

“Shopping at Goodwill for Halloween is a simple step toward living a more sustainable lifestyle,” says Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “Reusing and repurposing items from Goodwill stores are a fun way to make a unique Halloween costume for not a lot of money.”

According to a press release issued by Goodwill, “Shopping at Goodwill is not just good for the planet. It also benefits people in local communities. Revenue from Goodwill stores fund job training programs and career and community-based services for people with disabilities, those who lack education or work experience, and others facing challenges to finding employment. Your purchase helps people learn the skills they need to work in Goodwill stores and in growing fields outside of Goodwill such as healthcare, green industries and financial services.”

“In 2010, Goodwill Industries® diverted more than 2 billion pounds of used goods from landfills,” said Gibbons. “Look no further than your nearest Goodwill store to find what you need to celebrate a green Halloween.”

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Read: Pineapple Puts Pumpkin In Its Place

Pineapple Puts Pumpkin In Its Place.

Think Jack O’Lanterns are just for pumpkins?  Think again. Omawarisan of Blurt Blog tells why he is carving a Pineapple Jack O’Lantern for Halloween this year.  Hint: the man really does not like pumpkin in his food.  Or coffee. The accompanying photo is too adorable to miss.

Check out his funny post and let me know what you think of this non-traditional Jack O’Lantern!

P.S. Actually the first Jack O’Lanterns were carved out of turnips.  So I suppose pineapples are fair game…

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Friday Night Cinema: Dracula (1931)

The mother of all vampire movies.  Not the first, not the last, but certainly the best. Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

If you have the opportunity, check out the Spanish version, which was filmed each night on the same sets, with entirely different casts, and some different approaches.

The final line of this film was a mystery to me until I saw the Spanish version, in which Van Helsing explains that he will remain behind to administer the final cure to Renfield.  In the English version, Van Helsing hurries Mina and Dr. Harker along with a delicate promise to follow “presently.”



Harvest Moon Tonight – time to get a moon cake!

Tonight is the full moon for October.  This moon is known as the Harvest Moon.  Traditions across many cultures are associated with the rise of this large and beautiful moon.

In this area, you can purchase moon cakes in celebration of the mid-Autumn festival, which is celebrated by some Chinese and Vietnamese communities.  The Chinese moon cakes tend to be round and the Vietnamese ones tend to be square.  They are often decorated with lotus motifs and come in a variety of flavors.

Locally, you can purchase moon cakes at Eden Center in Falls Church, Virginia, where I purchased the one in the picture.

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Fall Market Fair at Claude Moore Colonial Farm Oct 14 – 15

Enjoy a fun day outside surrounded by costumed interpreters (1771 historical period), entertainers, demonstrations, children’s activities, and lots of delicious foods.

You can purchase a variety of items, from handcrafted soaps to plants.

Food for sale includes savory meat pies, roast chicken on the spit, cooked over an open fire, bread and cheese, pie, and mulled wine and ciders.

Learn to dip candles, make potpourri, or turn a piece of wood on the carpenter’s lathe.  The farm is also open during the Market Fair.

This is a great, low-key, non-crowded event for kids and adults.

Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under and seniors. Use your AAA card to get a discount on admission.


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Apple Harvest Festival at Graves Mountain

Saturday, William and I went to the Apple Harvest Festival at Graves Mountain in Syria, Virginia.  It’s happening October 15-16 and 22-23, as well.  Admission is free, and parking is also free.  There was a big crowd, and people seemed happy with the event.

This man is making apple butter over a hot fire. It takes 12 hours to cook.

Graves Mountain is less than 2 hours drive from the Washington, DC area.  The festival is not really my favorite time to go there, because of the crowds, and the staff is so busy.  I like to go when the pace is more relaxed.  Still, it’s a nice way to spend a Saturday or Sunday.  The festival is a popular event and features live bluegrass music, food for sale, apples (pick your own or  buy there), apple butter, and a collection of vendors.  We also saw a small Civil War “re-enactment” area that was interesting.

I didn’t find the vendors all that interesting — it was pretty much the same stuff you see at every fair and outdoor festival.  However, the bluegrass music was fantastic and worth the trip.

Wagon rides are $2, there are pony rides, and visits to the educational farm is $1 (worth it).  The line for the wagon rides was pretty long, as were the lines to get food (brunswick stew) or drinks.  We wanted to sample the apple fritters but the lines were really long.

Fortunately, we had made reservations at the Lodge for a barbecue lunch.  I’ve been to Graves Mountain a lot, so I knew what to expect.  The cold salads on the buffet included a green salad, a very good mustard vinaigrette,  cole slaw, three bean salad, that jello fluffy salad I am always afraid to try.  The hot items included a wonderful minced pork barbecue in a spicy sweet sauce, chicken casserole (I didn’t have that), lima beans, and macaroni and cheese, as well as a few other items.  Everything was good except for the macaroni and cheese.  My son was happy with the wonderful home made rolls, apple butter, and barbecue.  Dessert was a dry but tasty apple cake topped with vanilla ice cream.  For $11.95 (half price for kids under 17), I was happy, and very glad I didn’t have to stand in a long line for food at the festival.

It's fun to rock for a bit after a big meal and look at the mountains

If you go, be prepared to wait a bit in the queue to park, and I would advise that you bring cold water or drinks with you, as the lines are long for drinks.

It’s a pleasant way to spend a few hours.  I don’t think this is an “all-day” event.  The drive is very pretty.  Oh, a quick reminder: cell phones don’t work there, and your GPS probably won’t work, either.  It’s a good idea to print directions before you go.

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