Once Upon a Book Club Sweet Halloween Unboxing and Review

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            Happy spooky season y’all, by the time this goes up it will be November 1st so after spooky season so welcome to 60% off chocolate season leading into Thanksgiving season but that is not what this post is about. This is about a really cool service and the fact that they make reading experiences immersive and who can be mad about that. All the opinions in this are my own I’m just willing to support brands and services that create things that I enjoy. 

            I found Once Upon A Book Club well over a year ago and my first box I purchased was their Sweet Halloween box last year and that book was Housewitch by Katie Schickel which took me a long time to read because last October and November was difficult for me, let’s be real all months are hard for me but I’m still kicking. But I loved that book when I got into it and the gifts were perfect, a pink scarf and mud mask and I have enjoyed both. 

            This year I decided that I wanted to write a post on the book I got this year which was 15 Minutes of Flame by Christin Brecher which is the third in the Nantucket Candle Maker Mysteries and if you think that I am not purchasing the first two you are wrong. (I will probably have them by the time this post goes live if I am lucky.) I devoured this book it was so good. I am a sucker for a cozy mystery and the story in this weaving Nantucket history and current affairs on the fictional version of the island. I loved it so much and I am excited to see the beginnings of Stella Wright in the first two novels and all of the rest that will eventually come out in the series. 

            Because this was the third in the series I did feel like I was missing some things so I want to rea the other two though I am no stranger to reading mystery series out of order I read like the 19th book in the Meg Langslow series by Donna Andrews first and then the 16th before I read the first one so I understand reading it out of order and needed to go back and meet the characters for the first time. 

            So what was the book about? The lead up to Halloween, a skeleton found in a wall of a 19th century chandlery, a murder near an old well, a mysterious map, a more mysterious map, and trying to unravel a mystery that happened over a century ago. 

It is for sure worth a read just in general, I will put this one my list for my Books Read This Year Part 4 which I expect to come out at the end of the year because I finished this book just a day after I posted the last one, (you can check out 1, 2, and 3.) 

            I don’t want to give too much away about the book but I will tell you about the gifts. On the page where you are to open your gift is a sticky note and it’s important not to open your gifts until you get to those pages and they were all late in the book so I had to wait to get them. 

            The first gift was a candle clock with a prominently featured throughout the book and it’s a really interesting concept so I am excited to actually give it a try, but I live in an apartment at the moment and I can’t burn candles so it will just have to wait until I get a more permanent place. 

            The second gift was a cup that has to do with a cup in the book and I kind of love reusable coffee mugs and this one has books on it so I cannot be mad at all about it. 

            The last gift was my favorite, in the book the group of women that come to the main character’s candle classes are called The Candeleer’s and they made cobwebs for the Halloween Haunts event and for the “cobwebs” it is a beautiful spiderweb shaped table runner which will fit perfectly on my bistro table next year when I have a chance to put it out before Halloween and I am so jazzed to have something really cool and kind of spooky to put on my table next year.

            So I think that this Halloween box is going to be a yearly tradition for me because I love the idea of this whole Once Upon a Book Club idea, eventually I would love to subscribe to their regular box or get their Advent Box one year but this year is not that year for either of those things. It’s such a fun concept and I love the suspense of waiting to open a gift that goes along with a book that I am reading. 

            If you like cozy mysteries give this one a read because it is totally worth it and I know that I am going to sink my teeth into the first two as soon as I can. 

            I hope everyone had a really Happy Halloween if you celebrate it and I hope y’all have a great start to November and I will see y’all mid-week with a new post. 

            -MJ 

Another Halloween Décor DIY

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            I had a lot of fun with the first one so I figured why not make another. I had this image of what I wanted to make in my head because I made some “snow globes” a few years ago for Christmas and I love the idea of a scene in a small space, this is not new it’s not revolutionary like if you looked it up on Pinterest there would be thousands of them but I needed more Halloween décor not just fall décor. 

            Well here’s my problem, I went to Michael’s the closest on is an hour away which isn’t a big deal but I expected to find Halloween decorations and décor and apparently October is too late to buy Halloween things because their section was slim and they already we getting the Christmas decorations out, I sighed a lot. But I made it work! You could make something like this for really any season or holiday or just for fun. A fairy garden, a miniature scene of something that means something to you, or foe any holiday where you can get themed miniature figurines. I wanted to make a graveyard maybe that’ll be next year’s project I’ll just buy them early.

            What you need:

            Miniatures: Mine were kind of slim pickings so I got ghosts, a skeleton king/queen, I don’t know which it’s probably a king but still (I also had to hot glue it’s foot back on so that was fun), some kind of tree (The picture I took was blurry because I am an idiot and I didn’t realize it until much later), and pumpkins. 

            A hot glue gun: A DIY/crafters best friend, let’s be real.

            A container: I got a lantern, you can do it in a glass jar or anything that you want to put a scene in. Like those shoe box dioramas we did in elementary school. 

            Ground covering: I used moss like you would put in a flower arrangement, it’s messy and it got everywhere but it looks super cool. 

            Mono filament or fishing line and a 1/8 inch dowel rod: if you plan on hanging anything, I had to get a dowel rod from my dad and I used a pair of pliers with a crimper in them to cut the dowel the length I thought that I needed it. 

            Method: 

            1. Make sure everything is unwrapped, your hot glue gun is on, and you have some kind of vision in your head on what you want this to look like, I would suggest laying everything out in the space before putting the moss own to see about how much space you have to work with.

            2. Hot glue in the moss, I layered mine up a little bit on one side so it looked less flat but I think it still looks a little flat but giving that effect of a forest floor layering is important. 

            3. The first thing I glued in was the tree, I used one first and then the skeleton and then I decided I wanted the second one, start at the back of your scene whatever that may be work forward; especially if you are working in a closed space.

            4. I had to prop the second tree up with some moss between the two trees just so it would stay in place but as long as it still looks natural it doesn’t really matter, do what you have to do to make it look nice. 

            5. I glued in a few pumpkins and forgot to take any pictures because I am really bad at DIY’s for blog post purposes, I will get better I promise. I figured a haunted forest pumpkin patch with a skeleton king care taker would be a good scene since I couldn’t do a graveyard this year. 

            6. I hung the ghosts, well first I got the monofilament around their necks and knotted a bunch of times, I checked the height with the dowel rod and tied them to that as well before slipping the dowel rod into the space at the top of the lantern where it’s open between the glass and the top, the ghosts move and spin so that’s both cool and frustrating because they are on strings, though I taped their strings to the dowel rod and the weight of them keeps the dowel rod in place if it’s just sitting on a table, I will probably take them out when I store it because then they won’t swing around into the glass. 

            7. Display, I put mine because it is heavy on my entry table, I want to have a new place to put it but I haven’t built the table yet, that’s a winter project. Lights would be cool in here too I just don’t know how I would have put them in so for now it is what it is. 

            Hope you liked another foray into MJ tries DIY because I had fun with this one. I plan on doing a few Christmas ones because finding Christmas decorations is easy apparently. 

            I hope everyone has a good start to the week and I will be back mid-week with another post! 

            -MJ 

Halloween/Autumn Décor

Hey hey, it’s MJ, 

            It’s October, how, how is it already October? My brain is still in March so there’s that but there is no way to stop the passage of time so here we are in the spookiest of months and I am excited. It’s the opening of the holiday season and Halloween is one of my favorites and I have been decorated for the holiday since early September because I wanted to feel some sense of normalcy and having a decorated apartment helps with that. The one problem with October is my fall cold, like clockwork I get a cold in the fall and in the spring when the weather starts to shift so writing this post was not at the top of my priority list which isn’t great but here we are none the less. 

            My Halloween plans this year are pretty much the same plans I have every year, sit on my couch with some candy or maybe some popcorn and watch a cute Halloween movie or two because I don’t like scary things. I don’t do the scary Halloween stuff, personal MJ story I was in 4H as a kid; it’s what you did in the corn fields of Indiana, I did girl scouts and 4H and quit both in middle school because I got tired of it, I think my mom got tired of it too but there’s that. So for 4H one weekend when I was in third or fourth grade we went to a corn maze and we were on the bus for hours, or it felt like hours to an seven or eight year old but the corn maze was fun and then at night there was a haunted maze and we had to go into it. My friend and I went into the corn maze and I don’t think I stopped screaming from the moment we walked in until we left. One of the performers who was probably in high school who jumped out at us as a zombie football player had to take his helmet off se we could see that he was just a person. Thanks dude you made my night a little better but to this day I can’t do scary things. I am pretty skittish, I jump at loud noises so in high school when all of my friends were going to haunted houses and telling me about them I avoided them like the plague. 

            None of that has to do with my decorations but I wanted to give y’all a glimpse into me because I feel like I don’t do that but the rest of the post is going to be about my décor, some of it I bought and some I made so bear with me. 

            The top of my bookcase in my office is full of pictures and stuff but for Halloween I added my cute little shadowbox DIY that was my last post and as someone who has devil horns I had to put them on my Vermont Teddy Bear that usually sports my Minnie mouse years but he gets my devil horns for the holiday unless I am wearing them. I am going to have a post about all of the fall candles I have amassed over the years but that is a post for later this month.

            Also in my office on my lower shelf I have some of my Halloween stuffed animals that I have had since I was a kid so of course they get to sit in here and hang out. 

            In my bedroom I have a tall vase full of small pumpkins and lights that I made a few years ago, I don’t remember if I ever talked about it when I was still making YouTube videos, I may go back to that someday but that day is not today, it was really simple to make and I got the idea from a magazine because they were selling something like that for a lot of money. I don’t really decorate my bedroom, don’t ask me why but I think it’s because that’s where I sleep and that’s really the only time I spend in there, I have some Christmas decorations that will go in there but I normally don’t have a lot of stuff in my bedroom.

            My living room is a different story, my table is full of things (that’s the feature picture!) and most of them are decorations, the pumpkin in the center was a DIY I did in 2017 for a video and I will eventually add more flowers to it, I did that to the one I gave my mom which is smaller but it has so many flowers on it and it looks super dope. The autumnal dachshunds I got from Target and I had to sew one of their legs back up because it was split and all of the ones they had in the store were but I love Target for holiday décor it’s always amazing. The little ‘Autumn’ metal sign should be on a wall but I don’t have anywhere to hang it so on the table it went. In front is one fake pumpkin (the maroon one) and on the left is a candle that I have never burned because I like the holder too much. 

            I also like arranging flowers, it’s a hobby of mine, at least it was for a long time and I want to get back into it but fake flowers are expensive, I mean they last for pretty much forever and I did this arrangement for my grandmother when she lived in the nursing home and she had it for a year in her room before she passed away. So it has a proud place in the fall on my kitchen counter but my kitchen is a mess and I don’t want people to see that so you get to see it atop something else. 

            All over my apartment I have pumpkins that my dad made, he likes to work with wood and has a full shop at their house and now that he’s retired he has a lot more time to actually make things for fun. I have all of them but one and the patterns are from Miesel’s if you know someone who likes to work with wood and wants to take time to make something super cute for funzies. 

            I have a bookcase in my living room that serves as a bar top as well (for someone who doesn’t drink I have bottles that I never touch and it’s…it’s a look) I have my sign board up with a cute little fall phrase and some candles because I love candles I really do and they make good décor. 

            I have pumpkins that I DIYed in my living room as well, I have one on my TV stand that says ‘One Bad Witch’ it was punny and I enjoyed it though if I could I would strip it all off and do it again because I messed up the first time.

            Next door to that I have one that I covered in rhinestones and oh my goodness I burned all of my fingers doing that and I would never do it again even though it’s so cute and I got the Maleficent dragon in a Funko Disney Treasures box when they still had control over it, man I miss those days. The squirrel next to it is something my dad made that I helped design because I made the joke of ‘desktop squirrels’, there is a bakery that has a tall one too that I helped design because sometimes we make a good team. 

            On top of the bookcase where I keep all of my trade paperback comic books (this should surprise no one) I have a little steampunk skull candle holder that I got at Yankee Candle a while back and the eyes look like they could glow in the dark, they do not which is disappointing. 

            One last place is my  entry table, I got the big pumpkin at HomeGoods last year because I wanted a big pumpkin for this table specifically. The ghost pumpkin lights up also but I normally never have batteries in them because I am terrible about even having batteries in my house let along the sheer volume I would have to have for all of my holiday décor, I got that at a little local place when I was in Indiana, and of course another pumpkin my dad made. Also because it is my entry table it also holds my house keys and one of my many masks because mask up for safety.

            There are other little bits around the apartment but nothing major and if I put in every little thing this post would be a lot longer and I think it’s long enough already. I love this time of year I love the leaves changing color and that sigh of relief that comes through the wind when the temperatures start to drop.

            I might do an updated Christmas décor when it gets to that time, which will probably be able Black Friday for me because I itch to put up my Christmas tree, though I just have a feeling that this year is going to be different. 

            Either way I will see y’all later in the week with another post! Have a good start to the week!

            -MJ  

A Fun Little Halloween Decor DIY

            Hey hey, it’s MJ, 

So we are now in this time of year where decorating your house is a revolving door and I love it so much. I love Halloween and fall so here I am telling you about a little DIY I decided to do recently. I have no idea if it’s already been done, it may not be super original but it’s here anyway. I was trying to figure something out and I was rearranging my closet and I found a shadow box that matches a Christmas one I did a few years ago and thought, hmm, I have the perfect idea for it. So I got to work finding all of the items I needed.

            So what do you need for this project, I have never written a DIY out before so bear with me. 

            What you need:

A shadow box, I found this at Michaels awhile back and I had put the words on it before I took the picture so if you buy one like this it will be plain black.

Paint pen (I used an oil based sharpie paint pen which works really well)

Spider web (I used some I found at Home Depot)

Fake spiders (I used ones from Target and I love them)

Hot glue gun and hot glue

The steps you take!

  1. I did all of my writing with the paint pen first and I found a quote I liked and put it on the front of the shadow box frame and put some little accents around it because it was a little plain with just the words, I also put another phrase on top because it seemed like I needed it there.

2. Take the back of the shadow box off and pull out the insert, I kept the pins because I used them to secure the spider web in, it has worked really well so far so if you have pins in the frame keep them, if not get a few pins to put in because it will keep the webbing in place.

3. Stretch out your web, I had to cut mine off the rest of the length of the webbing I bought because a little goes a long way when you are stretching it, use less if you want a more wispy web use more if you want a more full web. 

4, Pin the web in so it stays put.

5. Now arrange your spiders, I tried to just put them in but they were too heavy to be supported by the web alone so I had to hot glue them. 

6. I put a spot of hot glue underneath the web and underneath the spider so they had a good anchor to hang onto on the back of the shadow box frame. Let the glue dry and put the back of the shadow box back in and there you have it. A cute little décor DIY for this spookiest of seasons. 

I am hoping to do another DIY later in the spooky season but I don’t know yet because getting Halloween decorations right now is a little difficult, I know I was in Hobby Lobby and they told me that they got no Halloween decorations which shocked me so I had to search high and low for the decorations that I needed to make this. 

Any fun DIY ideas? Let me know in the comments.

Have a good week and I will see y’all later with another post! 

      -MJ

Top Halloween Movies

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Happy Halloween everyone! I wasn’t sure what I was going to write for my Halloween blog post but I figured, I am a fan of movies and maybe some of you needed a last minute not so scary movie to watch on the big holiday. I am not a fan of scary or horror movies so know that this list is pretty family friendly when it comes to movies.

This year I am not planning on dressing up, today is my parent’s move in day to their new house and it has been a long process so that is where I will be all day and probably into the evening. By the time I get back to my apartment I may put on my devil horns and crack into a couple of Reese’s on my couch while contemplating when it is appropriate to start putting up my Christmas decorations. (Now don’t worry, they won’t go up until probably mid-November and the Christmas music won’t start until probably the week of Thanksgiving but I am preparing.)

Behind Christmas Halloween is my favorite holiday, it appeals to my inner goth and I want nothing more to appease her on most days. Well, this got a little weird so I guess without further ado, here are some of my ultimate go to Halloween movies.

All the movies pictured above are movies that I own and have access to so it is not all ten movies, some of them I watch on Netflix and some are still packed so I don’t have access to them at the moment.

Ghostbusters

I will watch both the original and the one that came out a few years ago, I like them both so don’t come after me. The original at the time was so groundbreaking and I didn’t see it until probably 2015-2016 just because I had never gotten around to seeing it. I feel like Ghostbustersis one of those movies that is such a cult classic that everyone needs to see it at least once in their life.

 

The Covenant

This one is one of my favorite movies ever, it to me is really underrated and most people I talk to say it is terrible. It might be but I love it. It has some really memorable lines and some questionable scenes for it just being a group of teenagers, who of course were played by adults but still teenagers in the film. This movie may not be for everyone but there are some actors in it who were favorites in other TV shows and movies who you may recognize if you get it a watch.

 

Halloweentown

Like every 90’s kid with cable I grew up watching Disney Channel and I watched all of the Disney Channel Original Movies probably until I was in high school, I looked up a list one day or there was a Buzzfeed quiz (I don’t remember Buzzfeed has so much content anymore) that made you check off all the ones that you had seen and I checked off a good chunk of them. Halloweentonwas one of those movies that I looked forward to watching every year as well as many of its sequels, provided they kept the original cast. When the original actress who played Marnie wasn’t in the fourth one I don’t think I actually watched it. It’s such a good movie about accepting who you are and who your family is and I would highly recommend.

 

Beetlejuice

            Again Beetlejuiceis such a cult classic and now I can’t say the title again in fear of summoning him. Haha, movie humor. It’s a good movie, some parts are a little questionable but overall it is one of my favorites to watch at this time of year. Everytime I hear Day-O by Harry Belafonte I automatically think of the dinner party scene in this movie when they all start dancing. I feel like this movie is also a cult classic, I watched the animated series growing up when it was I think on Nickelodeon, I only saw it in rerun form because it aired before I was born but I remember watching it but I didn’t see the film until I was in college because my best friend loves Tim Burton so much.

 

Rocky Horror Picture Show

            Okay, this one is probably the most risqué one on my list. I started watching this one when I was probably in high school, how my parents let me I will never know but I did. Whenever someone mentions Tim Curry this is the first thing I think of, followed by a whole host of other roles that he has played over the years. Every time I hear Time WarpI want to do nothing but dance and if I am alone I do because it is just so catchy. I was in a radio production of this when I was in university and I played Janet so this movie will always hold a special place in my heart.

 

Nightmare Before Christmas

This is one of those movies that I watch near Halloween and near Christmas because is first of all just an all-around great movie and second of all it is one of those movies that is debatable whether is it a Christmas or a Halloween movie. I feel like this movie, like many of these films, is a cult classic or has a cult following now. You can’t escape seeing someone with Jack Skellington’s face on it this time of year.

 

It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

This is my Halloween night movie; I don’t know where my copy is this year because of the move so I will have to skip my tradition this year. It’s just one of those shows, I don’t know if this one counts as a movie because it’s only half an hour long but I am counting it anyway. I loved the Peanutscomics as a kid and the Peanutsare such recognizable characters, I actually have a day calendar this year that is Peanutscomic strips. It’s a cute little movie that like most of the Peanutsanimations is nice.

 

Corpse Bride

Look another Tim Burton film! Again it has catchy songs and amazing Claymation stop motion. There is so much work that goes into a film like this and it is such a good movie. One year for Halloween I would love to go as the corpse bride, makeup and all, I’ll do it eventually but it is a dream. Good movie, not scary though murder is a central theme.

 

Coraline

A word to the wise, the end of this still scares me. It’s a great film again Tim Burton kudos on the stop motion and the story line, catchy music from mice. This movie I think appealed to my escapist tendencies but it is a good film. It has a lot of interesting characters and some scenes that are interesting maybe not appropriate for young children. It’s worth a watch though if you get around to it, it’s not based around Halloween but I still feel like because it’s Tim Burton and some of the themes and scenes from the film it does have a Halloween vibe.

 

Hocus Pocus

I was so scared of this movie as a kid and truthfully I didn’t watch it all the way through until I was out of college. There are some things in this movie seeing it as an adult that I do question how they got into a movie meant for children. It’s good and one of those movies that has such an obsessive following. Though every time I put on a red lip I think that I am channeling my inner Sanderson.

 

What are some of your favorite Halloween movies to watch to get you in the spooky mood?

 

-MJ