Make Your Own Spooktacular Ghost From Cheese Cloth – Great for a Halloween Decoration

Halloween is my 11 year old son’s favourite time of year. He doesn’t go trick-or-treating but he does love to decorate inside our house with as many spooky things as he can and have a family party. He also loves the build up to the day, having fun with lots of different craft activities, carving pumpkins, and baking yummy spooky treats.

Last year we decided to have a go at making a free-standing ghost, and as we wanted it to be see-through we used cheese cloth. It worked better than we imagined, so this year we have made a smaller version to stand on the table. It is such an easy activity that I thought it would be good to share it with you. Children would love to get involved as you do get in a sticky mess with this one!

It doesn’t cost much to make one yet they look so effective!

You need:

  • large piece of cheese cloth
  • 3 bottles, one taller than the other 2
  • 3 balloons if making a large ghost, or 3 water balloons if making a small one
  • some tape to secure the balloons
  • PVA glue (I used Gorilla Glue Wood Glue)
  • black scrap material or paper

If your bottles are empty, fill them with water. They need to have some weight to them so they don’t just topple over. Blow up your balloons and use tape to secure them to the bottles.

Position the bottles so that the taller one is at the back and the smaller ones are placed in front at either side. These will form the head and arm shapes.

Mix some PVA glue with a small amount of water in a tub (a takeaway tray or margarine tub is perfect). You really don’t need much glue at all, and you should mix 3 parts glue to 1 part water. You want the glue to be just slightly watered down.

Place the cheese cloth in to the glue mixture and toss it around until it is completely covered in glue.

Pick up the cloth and squeeze as much of the glue off as you can. Now for the trickiest part…. carefully open out the cloth. This can be a bit tricky as it just wants to stick to itself! When you have opened it out, gently drape it over your bottles so that it entirely covers them.

This was for the small ghost:

 

This was for the large ghost:

Move the cloth or bottles around until you have got the exact shape you want your ghost to be. Cut out a mouth and 2 eyes from your black material or paper and press them into position on the head part.

Leave to dry completely. I made the large ghost using ordinary school-type PVA and the small ghost above using Gorilla Glue PVA (wood glue). The Gorilla Glue dried much quicker. The ends take the longest, so make sure you spread them out a bit to help them. They do like to bunch up, and then that part will take a lot longer to dry.

When the cloth is completely dry and crispy feeling, it is time to take it off the balloons. You can either pop the balloons and peel them away, or very carefully pinch the cloth away from the balloons bit by bit. That is the way I do it.

I always think it looks more effective if you gently push the bottom of it inwards a bit to give it a better shape. And there you have your very own ghost.

Happy Halloween everyone!

 

 

Children’s Craft Idea… A Colourful Paper Bowl

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Half-term is upon us already so here is a perfect craft activity to keep your children occupied for a while. They’ll love the finished bowl too, and it can be used for so many things. Halloween is round the corner so this would make an ideal container for all the yummy treats and sweets. You could make it with just orange paper and make it look like a pumpkin. Or how about a gift for a teacher at Christmas? I used to work in the Reception class of a local primary school, and had so many gifts at Christmas and end of the school year. The handmade ones were always my favourites. They were more personal and unique, and I still have them now all these years later. Your child could make a small version of this bowl and put a few chocolates inside. The possibilities are (almost) endless. My son made the one in the picture and uses it to hold some of the play food in his play kitchen. It is very messy to make, but that makes it extra fun! Just put lots of newspaper or a mat on your table to protect it from dripping glue!

To make it, blow up a balloon to the required size. Luke wanted a big one so we inflated the balloon to its maximum size. Cut up lots and lots of paper into small pieces. You can use any paper you want, but we cheated and used quilling paper from The Works. It is ready cut into strips so it is a lot quicker to cut into pieces. (I was going to put the link up for it but I can’t find it on their website now. I’m sure other places sell it too, or just cut up sheets of paper).

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Use a paintbrush to cover your balloon with PVA glue to the height you want the bowl. Hold it by the knot to do this and cover the other end with glue. Stick pieces of paper on until all the glue is covered, and rest it on a cup or container to dry. This will take a couple of hours. Luke had fun peeling the glue off his hands at this point. Remember doing that when you were at school? Ah, happy memories….

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When it is dry, cover all the pieces with another layer of glue, and stick more paper on top. Repeat this process of drying and adding more until your bowl is nice and sturdy (at least 3 layers of paper pieces). Cover it all with glue again and leave to dry. The final layer of glue will protect it and make it stronger. It will dry see-through and will make the bowl rigid.

When it is dry, pop the balloon gently and peel away from the bowl. You’ll now have a very rough shaped bowl.

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This is the trickiest part so best for older children or adults to help with… carefully cut around the edge to make it a nice tidy bowl.

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And there’s your finished bowl! Well, this is Luke’s but you know what I mean. Your children will have had lots of fun, and you’ll have a snowstorm of paper bits to hoover up but it will have been worth it 🙂

I’d love to see your finished bowls if you make them with your children. Happy crafting!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies Recipe – Zombie Jelly Babies

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I seemed to enjoy PB&J treats this month! First the no bake cheesecake, and now these cookies. I was sent these Bassetts Jelly Babies in the September Degustabox (review for that coming later) and thought they would be perfect in a cookie. My first attempt went terribly wrong. I discovered that Jelly Babies have a knack of disappearing when you cook them, leaving a jelly stained hole where they had been. I refused to be beaten by a Jelly Baby though so I finally have the recipe for you. If you cook them whole, Jelly Babies vanish. Cut them into pieces and they just melt. Perfect! I wasn’t going to put a Jelly Baby in the melted jelly but my son Luke said it would look as if they were either melting or forming out of the jelly, so we decided we would call these Zombie cookies. As you can see by the picture though, the black ones had mostly already been gobbled up by this point so we only managed one black jelly zombie. Oops! Anyway, these are very quick and simple and great fun to make with children, and would be a perfect treat for Halloween. Here is the recipe:

PB&J THUMBPRINT COOKIES – ZOMBIE JELLY BABIES

70g unsalted butter, softened

70g golden caster sugar

1 large egg, beaten

200g plain flour, sifted, plus a bit extra to help roll the cookies

2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

20 Jelly Babies

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well. Add the flour and peanut butter and mix well until thoroughly combined. The cookie dough will be a bit sticky but stiff.
  • Knead the dough together briefly then divide into 8 portions. Dust your hands with a bit of extra plain flour, then roll each portion into a ball. Place on to the baking tray and lightly flatten each ball. Dip your thumb (hence the name) into water, then press into the middle of each flattened ball. You want a nice round hollow, but make sure you don’t go through the bottom of the cookie.
  • Cut 12 Jelly Babies into quarters, then place 6 quarters into each thumbprint hole. Place on the middle shelf of your oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden.
  • Remove from the oven and place one whole Jelly Baby carefully into the melted jelly of each cookie. Leave on the baking tray for 10 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack.

If you do make these with children, please just remember that melted jelly is extremely hot and sticks to skin, so make sure little fingers are careful when placing the whole Jelly Babies into the baked cookies.

Happy Halloween!