There’s nothing like a Labor Day BBQ! If you’re feeling up to a fun DIY project, check out this how-to on building your own fire pit:
There’s nothing like a Labor Day BBQ! If you’re feeling up to a fun DIY project, check out this how-to on building your own fire pit:
I spent last week in San Jose for BlogHer 2014, which was a whirlwind of activity! During my time at the conference, I saw a lot of great booths – and the one featuring Samsung Appliances had me thinking about a serious home upgrade!
On display was a mock-up kitchen featuring the Samsung Food Showcase Refrigerator as well as items from the Kitchen Samsung Chef Collection, which was developed based on the needs of world-class chefs – Oh la la! This line includes the Samsung Chef Collection Over-The Range (OTR) Microwave, the Samsung Chef Collection Slide In Range, the Samsung Chef Collection Dishwasher with WaterWall Technology, and the Samsung Chef Collection 4-Door Refrigerator. I could not believe how much space this fridge has, clocking in at a max capacity of 26.7 cubic feet!
Also big on storage capacity are the WA9000 top-load laundry pair and WF9100 front-load laundry pair, which could be found at the booth as well. The WF9100 set can wash and dry the equivalent of four loads of laundry in one wash – they had large comforters stored inside to show off just how much space these babies have!
And speaking of babies, one of Samsung’s newest innovations is the Baby Care Washer, a small unit perfect for delicate infant clothes and cloth diapers. To keep the cleaning theme going, they also showed off the Motion Sync Canister Vacuum and Motion Sync Upright Vacuum. I’ve always disliked canister vacuums, so I was impressed to see how they had designed this model to move smoothly and not fall over – this is literally not my parents’ vacuum! And, both the canister and upright can work on hardwood floors, which is what I have in most of my house. Hooray!
The amount of innovation that went into these high-tech appliances blew my mind. Every annoyance you’ve ever had with an appliance seems to have been addressed, along with some I’d never thought of before. So with all the time you’d save using more efficient appliances, Samsung wants to know: What would you do with 30 extra minutes a day? I stepped into their video booth to share what I might do:
So tell me, what would you do with 30 extra minutes per day?
Over the course of this month, I’ve been showing you the step-by-step process of creating my perfect Haunted House with goodies found at Kmart. Are you ready to see the frightful finished product and hear about my grand unveiling party?
We knew that to make our yard pop, we’d need a lot of lights. We strung a strand of 200 white dome LEDs over the driveway, with a charming skull as an accent! These LED lights are great because since they’re a neutral color, they can easily be reused for Christmas – or put in an upstairs room for track lighting, if you’re us!
I also set this grim reaper flaming head outside for the public unveiling. He’s actually not an outdoor decoration – something clearly marked on the package that I failed to read – however, he works as long as he’s set on a flat surface. I thought he’d be OK outside just for an hour to welcome guests to the party, and it worked like a charm.
We also had Marcus the Carcass, who sits in the grass by the driveway and gives a great illusion of being buried in the leaves.
For the front porch, we put up a black light strip under the eve and swapped out our regular porch light for a black light bulb to add a little florescent glow. We then hung up strands of red globe lights to give a creepy red atmosphere. (These, too, would be great to reuse at Christmas! Think ahead!)
We also ran a 12 foot purple rope light along the grass to illuminate the walkway up to the front door.
In the porch window, I hung up this garland of black fabric and purple lights which I love. This framed my spiderweb nicely!
We also had a pair of eerie eyes watching all those who came and went!
This “Creepy fabric” made a nice accent for our front door, along with a large Grim Reaper hanging ominously by the door and the giant spiderweb in the window!
Pepper’s Ghost was set up in our window to provide a 3-D illusion to haunt our guests – for the full explanation and how-to, click here. This got a lot of notice from our guests, who had never heard of this illusion and seemed pretty impressed by it.
Our scary flying ghostie is motion-activated and skulks along a braided cord, with optional haunted groans. We hung him up in the living room to give the appearance of floating by the window, and it also tied in (literally) to Pepper’s Ghost and gave a fun conversation piece for our guests, who congregated in the living room. My aunt in particular commented on how much she loved the ghost and thought it was so cute; it was also a hit with the one year old who kept running around the room!
Jai picked out the pirate captain costume, and I thought he looked very dashing. The costume looked more elaborate than I expected!
I picked the witch costume and broke out the black lipgloss, drawing a spiderweb on my face with an eyeliner pencil. This whole look doesn’t even seem like a costume to me because I dressed just like this in my most heavily goth days (makeup and all). That was actually my inspiration for this costume – I wanted a dress I could wear again! 😀
Our little DIY photobooth consisted of a Halloween backdrop and black curtains, with an LED light strip hung overhead. I brought out the camera and tripod and snapped some fun pics of the guests who mugged for the camera!
I served these Crazy Bones suckers, and let me tell you, the little one went nuts for these (and us adults liked them too!) I was totally sold by the skeleton handles, which I totally saved and ran through the dishwasher to use as cupcake toppers later because that’s just the kind of frugal goth I am.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Beeb, didn’t you buy some “Good” candy too?” Yes, yes I did…and Jai and I ate it all before the party. Whoooooops. 😉 I will need to restock before Halloween so I have something for any little ghosts and goblins that come trick-or-treating – we pretty much never get trick or treaters because we live down a dark rural road with no sidewalks, but I’m hoping that since we’ve done up the yard so much, maybe some parents will park the cars so their kids can get out and stop by for tricks and treats. I practically have a neon sign in my yard saying “I have candy!” with all these decorations, so here’s hoping kids come so we don’t eat a second bag of candy by ourselves. 😉
We had 8 guests over for our little haunted house unveiling, and it was a great way to kick off the spooky season! Halloween is coming up fast, but there’s still time to pick up fun items at Kmart that you can put up with a minimal of fuss. Since my partygoers knew this endeavor was sponsored by Kmart, they kept asking, “But did THIS come from Kmart? But what about this?” And they were impressed/surprised to learn that every single piece came from there. Kmart truly had a spook-tacular variety of Halloween items, so go pick up some fun decorations for the yard and some bags of candy for the kiddos! (Or, um, yourself! ;))
If you’d like some simple last-minute inspiration to prepare for Halloween on Thursday, check out my ShopYourWay Catalog for details and pricing information on the ghoulish goods I picked up to created this display!
Have you decorated for Halloween yet?
Last week, Jai and I made a trip to Kmart to pick up everything we’d need to create our best Halloween display yet! This weekend, we set about setting it all up (Ha!) – here’s a little sneak peek of our haunted house, along with some DIY tips for your own ghoulish goings-on!
The first thing I did was get my porch prettied up by knocking down cobwebs. You would think that a Halloween party would be the one time I’d want to leave cobwebs around for effect, but I seem to end up cleaning up the real spiderwebs and replacing them with fake ones. What’s wrong with me?! 😉
While I worked on replacing real arachnids with fake ones, Jai was setting up our light display in the driveway.
This is “Marcus The Carcass”, who looks like he’s trying to crawl out of the leaves!
Next, we began setting up our DIY photobooth!
These were the supplies we bought to make our homemade Halloween photobooth:
The first step was taking the Halloween tablecloth and nailing it to one side of the porch to create the backdrop.
Next, we installed two small hooks in the porch roof and tied two pieces of twine to them, which were used to hang the curtain rod.
Finally, we hung the curtains to form the front of the photobooth area and frame the pictures.
The LED light is hung by twine using the same hooks supporting the curtain rod and hidden behind the curtain. Since we have a number of other lights on the porch as part of the display, we had no trouble plugging it in. The light put too much glare in the photos at first, so we wrapped a plastic bag around it to deflect some of the light. Fancy, I know. 😉
To snap photos, simply have your subject stand in front of the backdrop and use your tripod to capture their portrait, as Jai so kindly demonstrates here:
We also discovered an unexpected way to use the photobooth that is perfect for Halloween. Since we set it up on our porch, the photobooth directly faces a window, and Jai noticed that it was reflecting his image back in the window. He told me to turn the camera around to take a “Selfie” of our reflection – with all of the lights and decorations, it makes us look like ghosts! This is our ghostly selfie, straight out of the camera – no editing or Instagram filters necessary for this spookacular effect!
Another DIY project that we took some time with was our “Pepper’s Ghost“, an illusion which is created when you reflect an image using a piece of glass.
This illusion is often created by propping a piece of plexiglass over a TV, as demonstrated in this video; we actually used a vintage jewelry display cabinet which we already owned, since it not only allowed a spot for the flatscreen to sit, but its lid was much easier to prop up than a freestanding piece of glass. We ran a black piece of cord through the latch on the lid and tied it to a hook in the ceiling:
The cord actually belongs to the Tekky Toys Scary Flying Ghost, which we had hooked up in the living room so that it could “Fly” by the window and create a fun effect. It made sense to tie both of these together, literally and figuratively. Har har!
Once the TV and piece of glass was in place, we could get started with the fun part. Since the RCA 24″ LED Flatscreen HDTV that we bought for this can also hook up to a computer, we simply plugged it in to my PC and used it to play an animated GIF. We set the display case up on a card table in the living room, so the illusion would be shown in the front yard – here’s a short video to give you an idea of what it looks like:
I created the animated GIF of the floating head myself. I did this by propping up my Totally Ghoul Light Up Reaper with Flames in front of the black plastic tub I bought and filmed a short video of it with the Canon Rebel. I then converted the video to a GIF with openAviToGif, and played it at fullscreen on my computer, creating an endless loop. We adjusted the contrast on the TV to reduce the backlight glare as much as possible. Since the display case does have a border around it, we minimized its appearance by pulling the curtains partly shut and taping black fabric over the top and bottom of the lid.
Here is the floating head GIF that I made for this Pepper’s Ghost illusion – please feel free to use it for your own haunted house illusions!
So there’s your sneaky peek at what we’ve been working on thus far – I will be unveiling my finished haunted house the week of Halloween, so check back to see how all of my devious decor turned out! In the meantime, I’d love to hear how all your Halloween decorating is coming!
Daylight Savings Time will end on November 3rd this year. I love getting that extra hour back from spring – goodness knows I could use an extra hour…or ten. 😉 For 26 years, Energizer has run a safety awareness campaign in conjunction with “Falling back”: Change Your Clock Change Your Battery. This project, run by Energizer and The International Association of Fire Chiefs, encourages families to use the time change as a reminder to switch out the batteries in their smoke detectors. According to some scary statistics, 2/3 of home fire deaths occurred in households where a working smoke detector was not present; a quarter of these fatalities happened in home that had smoke detectors that were not working correctly. The Change Your Clock Change Your Battery program works to raise awareness in conjunction with battery donations by Energizer.
I received a Family Safety Kit from Energizer last week, which is a fun tote packed with emergency essentials. Of course, the first item of importance were these Energizer MAX 9 Volt batteries, which means I’m well prepared to change out my smoke alarm batteries on November 3rd!
I also received this awesome Kidde Carbon Monoxide And Smoke Alarm, which actually talks and yells out warnings like “Fire! Fire!” when it detects a threat. No joke, it was no more than 15 minutes after UPS delivered this package that I burnt a piece of toast and filled the kitchen with smoke. Guess I really needed this, huh?! 😉
Another inclusion in the kit was this Energizer LED Safety Light. Not only does this big, bright flashlight adjust to run on multiple battery types – C, AA or AAA – but it also has an emergency checklist right on it where you can write things like the phone number to the police station and hospital. This is a really good idea, because I keep meaning to print out the non-emergency police line and tape it on the fridge, and I keep forgetting.
Finally, I received a 16-pack of Energizer AA Batteries to power things like flashlights during the upcoming winter storm season.
This November 3rd, make a mental note to switch out those smoke detectors and make sure all of them are working correctly. For more info on the Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery program, visit Energizer.com; in addition, you can pay a visit to the Energizer Bunny on Facebook and click on the Fire Safety tab for more info and a chance to win a mega safety kit worth more than $167 – they’ll be giving away one every day through November 3rd!
To commemorate Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery, MomStart is having its own giveaway for a Family Safety Kit with an approximate retail value of $60:
(1) Grocery Tote
(1) Kidde Combination Carbon Monoxide & Smoke Alarm
(1) Energizer MAX 9 Volt Battery
(1) Energizer Weatheready LED Safety Light
(1) 16-pack of Energizer MAX AA Batteries
Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter for your chance to win. Giveway ends on October 31st, 2013 at 11:00 PM PST. Giveaway is open to residents of the continental US, 18 years or older; sorry, no PO Boxes or APO/FPO. Please click here for our giveaway rules.
Halloween is a really big deal to me – I’ve always loved it! I’ve been hosting Halloween parties for most of adult life, and they seem to get more involved every year. It started with some spooky treats set out on a platter for a few friends when I was 20 and just went from there. Now, I’m famous for my elaborate parties and decorations! I get really excited when I find see Halloween stuff in stores and usually can’t resist picking up something new to add to the collection. So when Kmart challenged me to deck out my whole home in fiendish finds from their store, I knew this was the kind of project I could really sink my (vampire) teeth into!
Since we don’t have a Kmart in my small town (Sniff), Jai and I paid a visit to a location in Portland on Friday, which was conveniently nearby to an event we were going to that day. Even the tree outside the store was setting the mood for Fall fun with its bright orange leaves!
Now, anyone who knows me is aware that I’ve been a huge Maroon 5 fan for almost as long as I’ve been throwing these Halloween parties. Well, when I walked into Kmart the first thing I laid eyes on was a big display for Adam Levine’s new 222 clothing line. Between the giant poster of Adam and the huge Halloween store, they may as well have put a sign up reading, “Welcome to your favorite store, Beeb!” 😉
After I finished being distracted by the Adam Levine display, I got down to the business at hand of picking up everything I would need for tricks and treats! Decorations? Check. Candy? Check. Costumes? Check. Discounted Grim Reaper? Check!
Here’s Jai deciding if he should be a piece of bacon for Halloween.
And here’s me shopping for a costume. I’m noticing that the tights in the display behind me are almost identical to what I am wearing – every day is Halloween for me! 😉
By the end of my shopping trip, my cart was overflowing with Halloween goodies!
I think I’m ready to check out!
Here’s all my spooktacular swag! I got so many ghastly goodies that, when I was going through the checkout, the cashier said – completely unprompted by me – “I want to come to YOUR house for Halloween!!”
I got two bags of candy for trick-or-treats to hand out to my Halloween guests, plus two large Tupperware containers to use as candy bowls. This makes it simple, because you can slap the lid on to store any leftover candy after the party!
Jai decided to be a pirate for Halloween, while I picked out a witch costume. I bought this one because I will probably wear the dress again – with my goth tastes, half the Halloween costumes look like “Regular” dresses to me! 😉
We got a ton of lights to decorate our yard with, from spooky garlands and creepy light-up eyes to black lights. We also got some long strands of lights to hang over the porch, driveway, and side of the house, along with extension cords, since I always seem to forget these when I get ready to do outdoor decorations. 😉 We really wanted to do a spooky window display, so we also picked up a 24″ flat screen TV that Kmart had on sale. These flat screens can also be hooked up to a computer and used as a giant monitor, to create a ghastly DIY “Pepper’s Ghost” floating head effect. (You can see an example of what I’m talking about here.)
There were so many ghastly goodies to choose from! I bought a light-up, color-changing skull, a giant cobweb, a large grim reaper to hang by the front door, a flying ghost, “Creepy fabric”, a flaming skull, and “Marcus the carcass”, a light up dude that looks like he’s sinking into the ground. Since I live on the wetlands, this is not too far-fetched. 😉
I really wanted to make my haunted house pop with something interactive, so I decided to create a Halloween photobooth on the porch. A photobooth rental in the Portland area seems to range in the $650+ price range for a booth that does digital copies only. I spent $528.84 on supplies to create my own DIY photo booth – that includes a DSLR camera with lens, a tripod, a camera case, LED light, and a curtain rod, curtains and Halloween tablecloth to create the booth itself. A homespun photo booth may not be quite as slick as hiring a photo booth, but instead of spending all that money for just a few hours, you could create your own and have a professional camera to use long after your event is through. Now that we’re in the thick of holiday season, there will be family photos to capture during Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s – so if you’ve been wanting to take better photos but been intimidated by the cost, you might be surprised to see how relatively inexpensive this setup was that I picked up at Kmart.
I also bought a black plastic tub to store all my new decorations in!
Before my shopping trip, I printed out my ShopYourWay Rewards Card to use in the store. This is Kmart’s loyalty card and savings program which I’ve been a member of for a few years. I honestly never did too much with it because I found the website to be confusing and never really figured it out; but it was actually a lot easier to use in the brick-and-mortar store. I ended up being really glad I had my card with me, because it saved me quite a bit of cash. Members receive lower prices on certain items, so it knocked off $44.50 total from the standard price on two of my items; and I also received points that I was able to redeem for money off my purchase. In a bit of serendipity, I got an email the night before my shopping trip letting me know I had 8,000 in points in my account expiring on October 16th – this equaled $8 off my purchase. I bought the camera first, and since it was in the electronics department, I paid for it separately and redeemed my $8 in points to bring the price down. I also received 4,420 in points back for buying the camera, which is equivalent to $4.42. The points are available to use immediately, so when I picked out the rest of my Halloween goodies and headed to the checkout, I was able to knock another $4.42 off my total! I had added up all my purchases before checking out and expected to max out my gift cards and spend a few bucks out of pocket, but was pleasantly surprised when it ended up being $46 less than I expected – so Jai and I actually hit up a second Kmart in Beaverton on our way home from the event we were at, so that we could use up the rest of the gift card! And, since I had also received points for my second transaction, I had an extra $5.11 to spend as well. All said, I received an extra $17.53 to spend because of ShopYourWay Rewards, so I have warmed to the program a bit since this shopping trip – anything that equals free cash is good in my book!
If you’d like to check out more details on my Halloween haul, click here to view my ShopYourWay Catalog for this shopping trip – it includes product details, prices, and can be used to add products to your online cart in one click if you’re feeling inspired!
And now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for! TWO MomStart readers will each win (1) $500 Kmart gift card so they can have their own frightfully fun shopping spree!
Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter this giveaway, which ends on October 20th, 2013 at 11:00 PM PST. Giveaway is open to residents of the United States, 18 years of age or older. Prizes will be shipped via Priority Mail upon receipt of winners’ information – we are making every effort to get gift cards to the winners in time for Halloween, but please be aware that there can sometimes be unexpected delays with the Post Office. Please click here to read our giveaway rules.