One of my favourite things about halloween is the excuse it brings to begin getting all creative again. It’s the time of year when the darkness is beginning to draw in faster than you can blink, the only benefit of which as far as I can make out is more hours to spend inside making things – and (whisper it) to begin limbering up those creative muscles in time for Christmas.
I had more ideas than I had time this year – predictably perhaps, but also because I’d set the end of October as the deadline for finishing the second draft of my novel. Despite that I still managed to fit in some little projects which I will share with you here.
Now Arthur’s costume this year was a piece of cake. He is still just a little bit obsessed with The Gruffalo, and having found him the perfect onesie and wellington boots his outfit for the best part of last week was sorted.
When it came to halloween itself though I was keen for Leigh and I to join in. Having toyed around with various ideas, all of which I quickly dismissed as way too ambitious, I set out to solve this creative challenge with two socks and a pair of tights.
The snake came first: a few bits of felt and a red pipe cleaner turning a green football sock into the easiest puppet ever.
Then came the fox. I’d already decided to pinch a pair of Arthur’s baby-led weaning ears, but I was not going to pull it off without a nice bushy tail. This is where the lovely orange tights came in: stuff one leg with a generous helping of toy filling (I had some kapok left over from another project but anything would do), then cover it with the other leg for a nice deep colour and extra stability.
I used some extra pipe cleaners to give the tail a bit of bend too, just twisting them down into the stuffing, then embellished the end with a couple more scraps of felt.
A length of elastic folded into the open end of the tights and sewn firmly and hey presto! A tail.
The second sock was going to be transformed into the owl, but I have to admit that I ran out of time, resorting to something I’d made earlier…
(It was actually the result of a make a monster kit from Donna Wilson that Arthur had been given last Christmas, but it does look an awful lot like an owl).
It all came together pretty well in the end, and alongside Arthur’s Gruffalo we had me as the fox…
And Leigh as the snake (and the owl)…
And together we were the cast of The Gruffalo!
Arthur actually won a fancy dress competition for his costume on halloween night. I felt a bit bad at first seeing as all the other costumes kids were wearing had clearly taken considerably more time and effort than slipping on his onesie, but then I figured that with us as his ‘props’ he could hardly not win really!
Now initially we had grand plans for Gruffalo pumpkins to go with our general theme. Arthur and Leigh had sat down to do some research a couple of days before, discussing possible images as Leigh hollowed out the pumpkins ready to begin.
But then we got distracted, and didn’t actually get round to beginning the carving till half an hour before we sat down for dinner on Friday. So we decided to go with something simpler, aiming for sort-of self-portraits. Leigh and I did our own, and then I carved Arthurs as a cat-mouse-gruffalo sort of creature. The resemblance is uncanny, don’t you think?
Now after all that lantern-carving we were left with an awful lot of pumpkin guts to deal with, and it seemed like a terrible waste just to throw them away. So I decided to do some baking – Arthur and I had a playdate during the day on Friday and it would have been a shame to turn up empty handed!
I used some of the pumpkin to make spiced pumpkin muffins using this recipe, and iced them with a cream cheese frosting – yum! I also rustled up some gingerbread cats for good measure – here’s the recipe for those, but they didn’t contain any pumpkin.
We had planned to put the rest of the puree into a pumpkin pie to enjoy after Sunday lunch with friends, but actually after a bit of research we discovered that your everyday pumpkin doesn’t actually make an especially good pie. So Leigh made a squash and sweet potato pie instead, adapting this recipe. It was so delicious I just had to share…
So there you have it: this year’s halloween creations. I’m feeling well and truly limbered up for christmas now. But that’s still ages away, right?