Halloween Pinspiration – The Mad Naturalist

As much as I absolutely love Halloween, I loathe most of the tacky decor that starts popping up on my Pinterest feed when October rolls around. In past years, I was inspired by the sophisticated appeal of a shabby-chic-all-white Halloween. This year, I’m feeling something a bit darker. Admittedly, my house already looks like this year round. But I wanted to lend some inspiration your way for those looking for a change of scenery from all the orange and black.

✳︎ Dusty Books

Try decorating with tattered books. Not all of us live in a library of antique vellum bound books, so instead take some old reads, scuff up the covers, and stain the pages with tea. Line your shelves with them or stack other spooky items on top with the stained pages turned out.

✳︎ Mysterious Bottles

Tell me I’m not the only one obsessed with old bottles? Authentic antique medical bottles can cost a pretty penny. Save glass around the house (wine, liquor, jars, etc) and make your own props by painting them matte black, rolling ’em in dust, and maybe even printing and distressing your own labels.

✳︎ Scientific Illustrations

I love love love the Victorian charm of vintage biological illustrations. The Biodiversity Heritage Library has a plethora of high resolution zoological, botanical, and entomological scans available on their Flickr. Print out some creepy crawlies and frame them on your mantel, or even decoupage them on a pumpkin.

✳︎ Cobweb-covered Curiosities

If you’re a collector like me, then you know how easy it is decorating for Halloween. Stretch some cobwebs thinly over your curios and call it a day.

Happy decorating everyone! I’d love to see any of your Halloween crafts and displays, so leave a link in the comments. :)

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Curious Collections – Halloween Home Tour

Finalizing the personalization of my little craftsman style home in San Diego has been an ongoing work-in-progress ever since we moved in last August. Since renewing our lease for another year, I’ve been inspired again to complete the look of my living room (at least for now – my collection grows every week and I have to keep finding new ways to display things). For now, here’s how the place is looking all done up for Halloween!

There’s no feeling more enchanting than having this room greet me every day when I walk through the front door. It’s cozy and curious and filled to the brim with my favorite things. I’ve been fascinated with natural history and old antique stores since I was a kid, and I’ve tried to bring the warmth and pleasant memories of those places into my own living space. It makes decorating for Halloween incredibly easy when all I have to do is add a few pumpkins and some cheesecloth to my already creepy eclectic interior!









Top 12 Favorite Zombie Movies

A few friends and I joined a theater full of film geeks last Thursday for a live streaming of Rifftrax, as they riffed on George A. Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead. This movie pretty much gave birth to the flesh-eating, brain-munching monsters we’ve come to know and love today. And while Romero’s first stab at a horror film isn’t necessarily thrilling or terrifying by today’s standards, it set the stage for other countless zombie horrors to evolve from his original creature concepts. If you aren’t already aware, I’m a bit of a zombie aficionado (that’s a fancy word for obsessively and shamelessly enthusiastic). Rewatching where it all began got me reflecting back on some of my favorite films that followed. So here’s a top 12 list of my favorite zombie movies of all time (in no particular order).

Dead Alive

Before I go any further, let me just say that Dead Alive is my absolute favorite zombie/horror/splatter/movie-in-general movie ever (right next to Evil Dead, but you already know that). It’s pretty much a requirement that in order for us to be friends, I’ve made you endure this movie at least twice. A zombie movie created by Peter Jackson (yes, that Peter Jackson) and deemed to be one of the bloodiest in horror history.

Planet Terror

I don’t totally consider this one a zombie flick, but (spoiler alert) Quentin Tarantino’s penis melts off. So whatever sub-genre that falls under, that’s what kind of movie this is. And it’s great.

Re-Animator

A fun cult classic (because Jeffrey Combs) filled with camp and old-school gore to make you laugh and puke at the same time.

28 Days Later

A serious one, but still one of my top picks. It’s more about interpersonal conflict between humans than it is about fighting zombies. Also, Cillian Murphy is kind of a megababe, in a sickly I-just-woke-up-in-the-apocalypse kind of way.

Shaun of the Dead

The only zombie comedy spoof the world really needs.

Day of the Dead

In my opinion, this is arguably Romero’s best “Of the Dead”. I might be biased just because I love Tom Savini’s gore fx work so much. But I think this one has the best zombies, best kills, and best story pace.

Dawn of the Dead

Speaking of Romero’s “Of the Dead” movies, I’m not a huge fan of the original Dawn of the Dead. I much prefer Zack Synder’s 2004 remake. I think it’s one of the most successful remakes of its kind and breathes new life into the old with brilliant gore effects (watch the special behind-the-scenes making of if you get the chance!) and a much-needed faster-paced story delivery.

Fido

About a boy and his zombie. A refreshingly original dark-comedy that is surprisingly heart-warming for a zombie flick.

Zombieland

This movie will always hold a special place in my heart considering I got to see an advanced screening of it in a theater full of people dressed as zombies (myself included). Aside from that tidbit, it’s clever, hilarious, and the characters are undeniably lovable.

The Return of the Living Dead

Okay, mostly this one is just a horribly campy 80s zombie flick full of gore, boobs, intentionally hilarious dialogue. It’s also one of the only movies I know of that the zombies actually say “BRAAAAIIINNSSS”. Plus Tarman zombie is in this; so it’s a must-see to maintain your horror fan cred.

Dead Set

This brilliant 5 episode British horror TV show takes the zombie apocalypse to the set of Big Brother and it’s surprisingly awesome.

Quarantine

Although it’s an identical repeat of it’s Spanish original, [Rec], I still love this movie (I love both of them, but when I’m feeling lazy, Quarantine is easier to watch). It’s one of the only zombie movies that genuinely freaks me out and gets my heart racing.

Hope this list gives you some ideas of movies to watch this Halloween! Let me know in the comments below what are some of your favorite zombie flicks and let’s nerd out over them together. ;)

Recent Work – Halloween Party Flyer

While I’m spending all day baking delicious treats and preparing for another awesome Halloween party, I just wanted to pop in and share my latest poster/flyer/evite design. I went for something super simple this year with just an illustrated skull, some hand-drawn type, and an eye-catching textured background color. All elements were hand-drawn by me (the skull in Illustrator with my Waccom tablet, and the lettering by hand on paper).

Can’t wait to see all of my friends’ costumes, eat a sinful amount of desserts, and get a little tipsy for playing Cards Against Humanity. Hope every has a fantastic weekend full of Halloween scares!

Halloween Mix – My Face Is Falling Off

I get asked pretty frequently about my music preferences and if there’s any particular playlists I listen to while working. Let me just say that my taste in music is weird. I like ambient zone-out loops with experimental beats and strange unintelligible background noises. For this reason, my friends have revoked my car-dj-ing privileges. However, it’s Halloween – the one time of year all my eccentric interests are fully embraced. So I thought I would share my current “spooky” playlist I’ll be listening to on repeat this season.

01. “Lady in the Radiator” — Zola Jesus
02. “Get Got” — Death Grips
03. “Futuristic Casket” — Phantogram
04. “Goya” — Labyrinth Ear
05. “Shadows II” — The New Division
06. “Bad Apple” — Gauntlet Hair
07. “Phantoms” — The Soft Moon
08. “Machine Gun” — Portishead
09. “Backwoods Altar” — Tobacco
10. “Demons” — Chelsea Wolfe
11. “IxC999” — White Ring
12. “Nightmusic” (feat. Majical Clouds) — Grimes
13. “Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair” — Nina Simone

LISTEN ON SPOTIFY

(top photo by me)