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Matthew Mead has such a wonderful talent of taking easy to find objects and foods, and then transforming them into crafts and treats that are eye catching and have a great sense of style. Halloween With Matthew Mead has lots of great food, craft, party and decorating ideas for the ever increasingly popular Halloween holiday. I especially loved all of the candy creations that Matthew makes, including the adorable skeleton party favor with tootsie roll arms, smartie legs and a lollipop head or the store bought peanut butter cups that he embellishes with Autumn colored candies to make them extra special. My kids’ favorite edible craft were the gumdrop witches, cats and other creatures. We had such a fun time making them from different colored gumdrops and we enjoyed coming up with a few extra monsters and ghosties of our own!

Simple ideas abound, like using food coloring to turn a layer cake into a stunning party centerpiece with its black and orange stripes. Whoopie pies and meringues are perfect for the season when you use Halloween colors to dress them up. There are also detailed suggestions for several parties, including the elaborate Three Ring Circus party, which is based on the vintage circus style. I collect vintage children’s books and I love this old fashioned look and Matthew’s party games, treats, masks and more, all work together to make an ideal party for Halloween. I appreciated that he included the vintage clip art and craft patterns in the back of the book, so I could just photo copy them and have them ready to use. I’m sure I will turn to the easy and excellent ideas in Halloween With Matthew Mead year after year.

I had so much fun checking out all of the Fall foods, decorating ideas and more in Gooseberry Patch A Ghastly-Good Halloween. Everyone knows that pumpkins are an integral part of Halloween, but when I was a kid the only way people “decorated” them was to carve Jack O’Lanterns. Now there are all kinds of way to dress them up and my favorite way in the book was the candy corn pumpkin, which we made using a tall, thin pumpkin and paint in three layers that resulted in a candy corn look. We now have several of those on our front porch, they were fast and easy to make (other than waiting for the paint to dry). As for the many crafts in A Ghastly-Good Halloween, the main one that stood out to me was the adorable Hallo Wees, even though I haven’t tried needle felting before, they sure make me want to learn, with the tiny ghost, witch, count and more.

One thing that immediately stood out to me is that many of the recipes utilize ready made type ingredients, like frozen bread dough, cake and pudding mixes and the like. Of course there are tons of treats, the first one I made was the Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle, which I thought would make an ideal Fall dessert for my family. It uses boxed gingerbread cake mix and pudding, and cool whip topping (although I used real whipped cream), with a sprinkling of English toffee candy on top. My family loved it’s warm Autumn flavors, even my husband, who doesn’t typically like “vegetables” for dessert. Since there’s over 200 ideas in A Ghastly-Good Halloween, so it’s very easy to find lots of great suggestions for the harvest holidays.