Monday, October 4, 2021

My Neo-Victorian Gothic Lifestyle

Post by Rain San Martin, Photo of Rain at Catholic Association Cemetery in Fort Wayne, IN by Sage San Martin 

The Neo-Victorian Gothic Lifestyle is the creative merging of Victorian or Edwardian fashion, home-decor, customs, and recreation with select modern Gothic characteristics. It's up to the individual to design the lifestyle they would like to create. 

Please take note of the term "Neo" meaning new. This is the creative license. Though our home has many Old-World elements, we have been slowly incorporating modern-vintage inspired  spooky themes. Some decor is reserved just for the Halloween season, while others are year-round. Knowing when to draw the line between Halloweenie and spooky may change for us throughout time. The same can be said for my personal spooky style. The foundation has Victorian Gothic and Steampunk (without the gears and googles) foundation, yet I weave in modern bohemian Gothic, Gothic Wedding, or Festive Halloween embellishments into my Vintage Gothic Wardrobe. I save the most Halloweenie accessories for the fall. 

Surprisingly it was a minimalist philosophy that made me settle on a Vintage Gothic aesthetic. Though I had been a 1990s Goth for years, I steered away from this during an extended period of my life. Embracing  Renaissance Fair / Fantasy lifestyle, Boho-hippie, a few modern trends, and even a futuristic style as I experimented with styles. Still on special occasions I would put on a Gothic ensemble.  After much experimentation I had discovered that to focus on one signature style would be the most enjoyable and impacting. It's far more simple to keep a mostly black wardrobe as well!

Rain 🍂

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Spooky Amber Bottles


Photography, post, and YouTube video by Rain San Martin

The Pirates of the Caribbean ride of Disneyland and the adjoining swamp themed restaurant The Blue Bayou were the inspiration behind my Spooky Amber Bottles.  When staged with a rustic fishnet, wooden treasure chest, lanterns, and a pirate skull with hat (bought from Disneyworlds Pirates of the Caribbean store). You have not only the perfect mantle, table, or porch decor for a spooky swampy Summerween, you have a core spooky scene that can easily be adapted for Halloween! Now lets dive into this fun DIY.  
 
Materials 
 
*This post contains affiliate links to items I use, which helps to support this site at no extra cost to you.

Paint brush.  Mine was 1 inch wide.

Glass bottles.  I soaked and scrubbed off the wrappers from a couple of rum bottles. Then used a nicely embossed local honey container.

Modge Podge.  Matte finish.

Food coloring.  Betty Crocker Classic Gel Food Colors.

Empty can. An empty coconut cream can works great for this purpose. Remove the wrapper for an aesthetically pleasing container. This also works great for retouching paint around the home. 

Stirring utensil.  A silver butter knife worked just fine. This I washed afterwords. 

Wax paper.  To protect work surface when painting. Also for cooking the bottles. 

Large cooking tray. A 9 x 12 glass dish was used for this purpose, which was covered in wax paper.

 





Directions

Step 1: Set out a protected work surface covered by wax paper. I covered a metal tray with a couple of sheets. The Modge Podge paint mixture is gooey and can create quite a mess. 

 

Step 2: Mix 1/3 to 1/2 a bottle of Mod-Podge with equal parts red and green food coloring gel. Add a few drops of yellow to warm the base. I did not have any yellow food coloring gel left, so I added in yellow acrylic paint to the mix, which worked just fine. 


Step 3: Using a 1 inch brush I painted a coat using upward and downward strokes, turning the bottle by pressing my fingers against the inner rim of the glass. The paint will drip down onto the wax paper. 

Step 4: Pre-heat the oven to 250. Place fresh wax paper on the inside of a large cooking tray. Mine was a 9 x 12. Set the bottles right side up inside the tray.  Move bottles via the inner glass of rim. Do not touch outside. Cook for 3 hours. Checking occasionally for safety sake. 

Step 5: Carefully remove from oven and allow to cool overnight. This is when the magic happens! On first glance these appear muddy, yet the glass bottle will appear surprisingly congealed and amber after cooling overnight. The above steps may be repeated the following day for more opaque results.  

You can also view this tutorial on my YouTube channel. Also you can support my work via Buy Me a Coffee. May you have fun making this spooky DIY!

Rain

Friday, May 28, 2021

Gothic Spring - Summer Wreath - DIY

Post, Photography, and YouTube video by Rain San Martin 

Gothic Wedding Inspired

Have you ever wondered how one decorates for a Gothic spring or summer? In recent years there has been a rise in Gothic or Halloween themed weddings. The aesthetic works not only for autumn, yet for spring and summer, as enchanted garden themes are woven into the decor. 

Mysterious, elegant, whimsical, and romantic styling is paired with generous amounts of rustic floral embellishments. This aesthetic need not only be for a once in a lifetime wedding, it can be adapted for everyday style. 

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links to items I use and love, which helps to support this site at no extra cost to you:

During the winter I take a break from Gothic themes in our home decor, transforming our "enchanted cottage" into a rustic winter lodge theme. This breaks up the seasons, allowing me to have fun diving back into romantic Gothic style the following year. February is a transitional month. A romantic Gothic or Valoween mantel begins the process of reintroducing black ravens and whimsical flowers. By march 1st it's time for Gothic Spring. I set out multiple small flower cuttings from our natural surrounding. Spooky fabric which hangs over our vintage gilded mirror is topped with a black rose. A faux birds nest is paired with natural ones, including small bird sculptures. This creates an enchanted garden effect. Your Gothic Spring - Summer wreath will work as part of this theme.

Faux flowers and greenery 

Today it's easier to think outside of the box when putting together a gothic color scheme. No longer do you have to exclusively use the color black, or pair with deep red, purple, or grey. Adapting it for spring may start with black or gray paired with 2-3 colors of your choice. Greens will most likely be part of this display. The mix of faux flowers were selected from Michaels the previous spring / summer. These could be mixed in with gothic flowers from the fall if desired. My color palate for the wreath is orange, red, green, and black.  

Tools / Materials

*Wire wreath form.

*Faux flowers. You'll need a lot!

*Floral wire. 

*Wire cutters. 

*Optional black spray paint. 

Step 1

Cut faux flowers into individual pieces. Group into bunches of 3 or 4. Secure with wire at base (about 6 inches). Some bunches may have variety while others repeat. 


Step 2

Cut floral wire one foot in length for each bundle.

Step 3 

Lay out bundles facing in one direction around the perimeter of wire wreath form to visualize the layout. 


 

Step 4

Begin making your wreath. Wrap wire around each bundle until secure. 

Note: The size of your wire form will determine how many flowers you will need. Larger sized wreaths may require a surprising amount of foliage unlike a form made from twigs, which requires far less coverage. Once I completed my wreath for the first time, I realized it was still sparse. Thankfully I had extra faux flowers on hand originally intended for a centerpiece arrangement. 


Add in flowers to sparse areas as needed.  Take your time. Come back to your wreath and tighten pieces as necessary. 

Enjoy your romantic wreath!

Rain 🌻

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

My Evening Routine - Fall-Winter 2020

 
Post, YouTube Audio Podcast, and Photo (self-portrait taken at Lindenwood Nature Preserve in Fort Wayne) by Rain San Martin
 
A productive Evening Routine involves a series of healthy rituals. Including habits that aid in simplicity of life, long term goals, fitness, preparation for the following morning, and peaceful relaxation. Though your evening routine may be far shorter than mine, I've included daily rituals from the late afternoon through bed-time.

4:00PM: Desk Work

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I check email, do paperwork, process bills, and do anything clerical related. Whether it's ordering gifts online or filling out a form. Considering these are my least favorite work activities, I find sticking to three set days per week greatly simplifies my life and minimizes stress.

5:00PM:  Passion Project Hour

Homemaking comes first! Yet I have ALWAYS fit in time for my Passion Projects (aka Creative Business Projects). This is the spice of my life. Which adds fuel to my homemaking motivation. The key here is that these projects are optional. During my evening session I do video editing for my YouTube channel, a companion to this blog site, related photography (which may also be posted on Instagram), or misc. passion project tasks.  Clearing out blocks of creative focus time helps to make progress on lifetime goals.  I aim to fit in 2-3 hours per day for this, 5-6 days per week. As the winter months progress, I often switch this evening time block with my Power-Walk block so that I can view the dusk and twilight. 
 
My first and most important Passion Project Hour is in the morning when I do my blog writing.  When time allows, I work on composing and recording music in the afternoon. My most recent album, Cemetery Closing Time, was creating during brief 1 hour time blocks, two to three days per week, over the course of multiple years. Please note, I am extremely careful of how I spend my time. I keep my schedule as clear as possible to allow for the most important routines and rituals in my life.  Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!

Below are affiliate links to items I use and love. This helps to support this site at no extra cost to you:

6:00PM: Small evening meal, evening power-walk, (work out with weights M/W/F), final straightening. 
 
Sitting on the front porch, I warm up with a small cup of home-made chili. Taking in the painted dusk-sky, in shades of gray. Melodious chimes in varied sizes and materials play atmospheric tones from house to house.  The evening power-walk is one of my most anticipated rituals, which I do on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. I grab my winter jacket, fluffy hat, scarf, and gloves. Then head out the door for my little adventure. All feels possible during the walk. I search for wintry holiday lights, which add wonderment during the darker months. My favorite decorations during this time of year are the eerie flickering (electric) candles placed in windows. According to legend, it is an old-fashioned tradition, from the old world. During colonial times, before the era of hotels, the candle was lite as a signal of hospitality to those passing through the town. Informing travelers that a safe room was available to stay in. 
 
7:30PM Prep for Bed.

This includes shower and healthy grooming rituals. Clothes are set out for the following day. And yes, this a wise FlyLady ritual! The days main events are written on the mini-chalk board after reviewing the calendar. My favorite calendar for years has been John Sloane's Country Seasons, which is filled with paintings of quaint life during the 1800s.

8:30PM Read in Bed


Another joy of my daily routine. I have a stack of books which I rotate through each evening. A couple of them include: Houdini!!!, The Career of Ehrich Weiss, and Lightning Man, The Accursed Life of Samuel F.B. Morse, both written by Kenneth Silverman.  I should also mention a couple of books that I've been tremendously enjoying during my breakfasts and lunches: In The Victorian Style by Randolph Delehanty and Richard Sexton, and Winter Living by Selina Lake. My goal is to have lights out by 9:30pm. 

May you enjoy creating an evening routine of your own! Note, you may also enjoy my YouTube Audio Podcast on this topic.

Rain

Monday, November 2, 2020

Halloween Treat Decorating Party

 

Post, YouTube Video, and Photos by Rain San Martin. *Photo's including Rain by Winter San Martin.

For many kids the most fun part of making treats is decorating them. I had hosted a few children's Halloween parties and thought a mini-decorating party could be a fun alternative.  Join me as I share my fun and simple steps.

The guests arrived in costume. Our son invited three buddies who were also brothers. They were dressed as Minecraft video game characters, with the youngest brother dressing as Hot-Rod from Transformers. Our daughter was Jack Skellington, her friend Red-Riding hood.

Below are affiliate links to items I use and love. This helps to support this site at no extra cost to you:

Here is a quick glance at the supplies I used, yet you can customize the list:

Rice Krispy Treats.

1 bag of large Pretzel Rods.

1 bag of Tiny Twists Pretzels from Meijer.

1 bag of Oreo's, any flavor you like. Halloween Oreo's with orange icing are a favorite for many. 

Chocolate candy coating as the base for decorating, which includes:

1 container of white chocolate candy coating. 

1 container of milk chocolate candy coating.  

Food coloring.

Coconut oil to smooth out melted chocolate. 

Decorative toppings, including:

A variety of Halloween sprinkles.

Candy eyes.

Cookie decorating icing in black and orange. 

Rice Krispy Treats. To prepare for the Mini Decorating Party I made a double batch of Rice Krispy Treats the previous day.  They were sliced into 2 x 2 squares and stored in an air-tight container. I followed the directions on the back of the cereal box and doubled the recipe. If you've never made them before, nothing is more simple: Butter and marshmallows melted in a pan, mixed into rice crispy cereal. 

Two bags of plain pretzels and pretzel sticks, along with a bag of Oreos were placed aside for decorating the next day.

I melted candy coating chocolate in a stainless-steel mixing bowl over a simmering pot of water. This is a nice alternative to a double boiler. Mixing regularly with a wooden spoon and a few tablespoons of coconut oil, creating a smooth consistency. I then poured the chocolate into two separate bowls, which I added pumpkin orange and monster green food coloring. Adding a touch of red with the orange for a deeper shade.    

Other toppings include:

A variety of Halloween sprinkles. I bought Wilton Halloween Ghost Mix, which was filled with orange and yellow jimmies, and tiny candy ghosts. 

Candy eyes. I bought a large package of Assorted Candy Eyeballs by Wilton, and was shocked at how fast the kids went through the box creating multi-eyed monsters. One Oreo creature had 10 eyes! I suggest setting out a limited amount of this product, so there will be more leftover for other days of spooky fun.

Cookie decorating icing in black and orange. 

Time to decorate!

The kids primarily made Monster Guys with the Rice Krispy Treat squares. Dipping them into green, orange, or chocolate brown candy coated chocolate. Topping them with Wilton candy eyes. Some characters were turned into larger creations entering pretzel sticks for edible arms and legs.

My decorating plate was primarily of small pretzels. I submerged them into the candy coated chocolate, then quickly poured a variety of sprinkles over the salty and sweet treat. These made for a wonderful treat later in the week. I love flipping through a festive Halloween treats and DIY book as I enjoy my chocolate Halloween pretzels!

My husband Sage even dropped in to make a few treats wearing his new Circus Ringmaster Jacket and Top-hat from Spirit Halloween.  Yet on Halloween night he pulled out all of the stops, putting on full makeup!

 

Thanks for joining me for this Halloween Treat Decorating Party. I hope you enjoy my video as well. As you can see this sort of gathering could work for many occasions. May you enjoy the rest of the autumn season! 🍂

Rain 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Halloween Homemaking


 
Article, photography, and YouTube Audio Podcast by Rain San Martin
 
The Halloween season is passionately my favorite time of the year, more so than the holiday itself.  For me October 31st, marks the end of the celebration. The grand finally. And it is the days throughout September and October that I cherish most. These are some of the reasons why: Cool autumn leaves in shades of yellow, orange, red, and brown. Front porches bedecked in pumpkins and mums. Spooky fun decor, with festive lights in orange, yellow, and purple. Inspired Instagram and Pinterest images by fellow content creators, sharing their whimsical treats and spaces. Opportunities to wear my "Boo" scarf with silly ghosts on my belt.

As a keeper of your abode, whether this is part-time or full-time, you can be the seasons Halloween entertainer. Even if you live alone. I'll share with you how I celebrate the entire season of Halloween and give you tips for creating your own fun. So put on your fall apron and lets get to work!

Below are affiliate links to items I use and love. This helps to support this site at no extra cost to you:

Plan and prepare: 

Check out a few Halloween treat and DIY books from you local library. You could also buy a new book for long term reference. My favorite author on the subject is Matthew Mead. Matthew Mead Halloween Tricks and Treats is a classic!

Decide when to decorate and pick a theme.

When the calendar flips to September, I put away the spring-summer decor and transition into the Fall and Halloween spirit. An annual trip to Michaels kicks off the season.

Our year-round Gothic decorations will stay in use however. Rather than changing my decor theme each year, I gravitate towards classics.  A Rustic Vintage Halloween theme has been my go-to style for years. Weaving autumn decorations with spooky whimsical pieces. I create simple vignettes. Few decorations are used as I enjoy a minimalist lifestyle.  I've selected two focal areas, the mantel and the front porch.   

 

The mantel.  

The first thing I took out this year was the brass candelabra. A staple for Victorian Spooky ambience. Last year I purchased a small gilded mirror from a historic neighborhood garage sale. This adds Victorian mystery to our mantle year-round. I DIYed my own spooky fabric making two shades.  Using painters cheesecloth I dipped the shear fabric in black tea bags for an aged cream shade, resembling moth-worn sheets. Next I soaked the left-over white fabric into black clothing dye, creating a gray spiderweb-like effect.  

 

My perched crow sculpture is from Michael's. The Fall Bucket List sign,  was joyfully discovered from Bloom'n Things (now located in Shipshewana, IN). Strung across the mantle is a fun Halloween banner which I created during a video tutorial. Here I cut out uniform (double backed) triangles on brown shipping paper. Next I pasted black card-stock as a back drop, painted on letters, then placed each triangle over the twine.

  
The porch.

The second area I spotlight is the front porch. I make sure to have sprayed off the deck, cleaned the windows, and overhanging near the end of the summer. This makes a clear slate for fall. On a wreath hanger I placed a Treat-Or-Treat sign. This paired well with the Vintage Inspired black cat and jack-o-lantern floor sign bought this year at Michaels. 

Fresh pumpkins are grouped on the porch. Strung orange lights are draped along the perimeter of the door using nails as a guide. Fiery candy corn yellow lights illuminate, just above the steps, creating a mini canopy. This glow greets me each evening I return from a power-walk adventure.   

Optional embellishments.

My husband Sage, and our son Orion made hand-drawn spooky silhouettes using black card stock and white paper. These are placed on windows.  Our kitchen perimeter has a layer of faux autumn leaves garland.  Another black raven is perched on the cabinet tops.


Treats.

Our family has treat-day twice per week. This is when I pull out pantry sweets, which were safely guarded throughout the week. Sometimes I prepare baked goods for the occasion until needed for treat-day. Our children love to help with baking. This season we prepared a double batch of cookie cutter dough, freezing half for another time. These were cut using Wilton Halloween Cookie Cutters in ghosts, pumpkins, and candy corns. To decorate I melted white chocolate candy coating and mixed in food coloring. Sprinkles, candy corns, and decorative icing were also used. 

Here are a few more ways I enjoy Halloween Homemaking, and so can you:

*Have a family pumpkin carving party.  Put on a spooky Halloween playlist.  I'm always curating mine each year. It has a mix of ambient eerie music paired with upbeat tracks.

*Set out a seasonal puzzle.  We cherish our All Hallows Eve puzzle by Dowdle! Our family loves working on this charming Halloween town puzzle every year. I get lost in the intricate details of trick-or- treaters, the pumpkin patch, Jack-o-lanterns, and more! 

*Make a couple of DIYs. The process can be restful, and you can enjoy your accomplishment in the upcoming years. 

*Host a mini-treat decorating party.  Have guests dress in costume.  Set out pre-made treats to decorate with melted chocolate, icing, and sprinkles.  You can do this alone too! Make yourself an autumn themed beverage and have a party for one. Why not? And no, you do not need to do a virtual Zoom meeting for this. Enjoy the peace of being unplugged.

Most of all keep things simple. Never commit to more than you absolutely feel comfortable with. Don't rush. Savor the moments of life.  

You can also listen to this Audio Podcast on my YouTube Channel.  

May you have a Slow Autumn and magical season!

Rain 🎃

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Morning Routine - Fall 2020

Article and YouTube video by Rain San Martin. *Picture of Rain by Winter San Martin.

The Morning Routine is one of the most impactful habits you can implement. Design one that gives you a peaceful start to your day. Include time cushions for interruptions and straightening. Allocate time spent on relaxation, lifetime goals, and cleaning or decluttering your living space. I will share with you my morning routine as it stands Fall of 2020. Upon reading this you may pick-up a few ideas for yourself. It should be noted that I am a full-time Homemaker and a part-time Blogger and YouTube Creator. I also carve out some creative work-time each week as a Classical Gothic Soundscape Composer.    

5:00am - 5:45am.

Awake to a clean home. 6:30am is the latest, if I have a late night. My clothes have been set out the night before during my evening routine making for a smooth start. The house is made ready by turning on the lights, and opening up curtains on the main floor. I boil water in my tea kettle for coffee prepared in the French Press.

Below are affiliate links to items I own and love. This helps to support this site at no extra cost to you:

5:45am

My favorite part of the day is when I sit in the rocking chair and sip a mix of Seattle's Best Coffee Post Alley Blend and Peets coffee Sumatra.  Autumn orange pillar candles flicker on the mantel and a few magazines are enjoyed! Three days per week (plugged-in days) I read my favorite blogs and visit Instagram as well as Pinterest on my iPad.  Note I have started a new habit of unplugging for 30 days each quarter.  This is with the exception of my essential computer household work as well as my creative business blogging & YouTube posts. During this time I consume no media. Two weeks per year I abstain from computer work and email during vacation, being 100% unplugged. 

7:30am

Blog writing or outline-1hour. In the first part of the morning I sit at the dinning room table in our living area facing toward the front porch and mantle. A Thomas Edison desk lamp illuminates my notebook, where I draft content for Vintage Gothic Homemaker.  Alternate mornings are spent transcribing my handwritten content into my Blog Site and sculpting the final draft. 

9:00am

Make breakfast. I switch up the menu a bit each month and season. For our 10 year old son I make Old Fashioned Blueberry Pie oatmeal with blueberries, brown sugar, butter, and a touch of milk. Sometimes I alternate with my original Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal recipe. For my husband, I toast a couple of pieces of Dave's Famous Bread with coconut oil and butter, served with sunny-side up eggs. A bit later I have yellow corn tortillas toasted on the Lodge Iron Skillet, topped with cheese, eggs, cilantro, and a side of salsa. This is followed up by kitchen cleanup immediately. Our 16 year old daughter makes herself a green smoothie. 

10:00am

As a keeper of the home, I consider this element of the morning routine to be the most important: De-clutter or deep-clean! I aim for about one hour each day, which includes daily cleaning rituals.  On particularly busy days I will skip this on occasion. Flexibility is good, yet my aim is overall consistency. This, along with regular straightening and kitchen clean-up, keeps the home company ready. 

If you haven't already I encourage you to create an enjoyable morning routine for yourself, and be sure to check out my companion video on this topic.

Rain 🍂


My Neo-Victorian Gothic Lifestyle

Post by Rain San Martin, Photo of Rain at Catholic Association Cemetery in Fort Wayne, IN by Sage San Martin  The Neo-Victorian Gothic Lifes...