#SparScarefest : Which Came First? The Turnip or The Pumpkin? The Facts Might Surprise You!

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Ask any thirty something or above in Northern Ireland about their childhood Halloweens & in particular what designs they carved into their pumpkins and they'll reply the same thing, "pumpkins? You mean turnips, right?". 

Because in the 80s in October a nation of spoons would get bent out of shape trying to scoop solid, rock hard turnip insides out. A very simple face would be cut into the vegetable and a candle placed inside filling the whole house with a very 'organic' smell, to use a euphemism for the holiday scent Yankee Candle need never produce!

Then, about ten years ago we seemed to take a funny turn and Halloween went from a one night affair into something closer to how the Americans celebrate. Home decor, garden signs, spooky themed food and drink, and ... pumpkins. We knew the States used pumpkins rather than turnips from watching their tv and movies, but what I didn't know was that turnips came first there too. 

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Spar NI sent us a Halloween care package today, with locally produced foods to get us in the mood for half term. Inside with a carving kit was both a pumpkin AND a turnip, to keep everyone happy. Also included some facts, and I was very interested to know that it was us Irish emigrating to the States in the mid-19th century that brought the Halloween celebrations, including turnip carving. Here's where it gets interesting- when they were unable to find the turnips, instead they use pumpkins- so turnips always were first, even there.

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They would hang the lit up lanterns on their door to ward away lost souls and evil spirits. 

You can buy Armagh grown turnips or North Down pumpkins at your local Spar, as well as a selection of locally produced treats.  Your traditional monkey nuts are from Portadown, as are the toffee and chocolate apples made by Fosters.

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£1 each

£1 each

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If you are feeling adventurous why not visit the  Spar NI recipe page, where there are several Halloween themed foods to make yourself.

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Halloween 2016 at Marks and Spencer- Spooky Treat Time In Store Now!

3 for 2 on all the Halloween goodies, so you'll have bucket loads of sweetie swag for the inevitable trick or treat brigades heading to your doorstep soon

3 for 2 on all the Halloween goodies, so you'll have bucket loads of sweetie swag for the inevitable trick or treat brigades heading to your doorstep soon

It's one of my favourite blog posts of the year to do, and one I know you guys are waiting for- because I've lots of daily hits on my M&S Halloween blog posts of years' before right now.

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Marks & Spencer has pretty much their whole Halloween range in stores right now. There are costumes, baby clothing, sweets and snacks. There is sometimes a Halloween cake design, but if there is one this year it'll not be in store until closer to the October 31st date. Ditto with pumpkins, they will be available in a couple of weeks.

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Should you have a Halloween party before then, there's a very cute, autumn, Harry hedgehog chocolate cake, which serves 14 people, for £10. Alternatively M&S's food editor Emma Sleight suggested buying one of their ready-to-serve desserts, like the chocolate orange tarte, printing a Halloween stencil and dusting with icing sugar. The spiderweb design looks very cool.

You could also make pumpkin seed granola with one of the easy-make mixes, for £1.50

Harry hedgehog £10 : granola mix £2.50 : witches' fingers £1.50

Harry hedgehog £10 : granola mix £2.50 : witches' fingers £1.50

For your Halloween party snacks there are some unusual savoury offerings. Fizzy orange popcorn, pumpkin corn bites and salted bat & ghost shapes. 

For nostalgia you cannot beat the jelly sweets with the peel off back. All these items are 3 for 2 mix and match. 

Orange popcorn £1.50 : Pumpkin snacks £2 : Ghosts & Bats £2

Orange popcorn £1.50 : Pumpkin snacks £2 : Ghosts & Bats £2

The Haunted House party box for six is just £5 and comes with gummies, popcorn, chocolate balls & fruit tubes. 

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Inside the haunted house box, which makes a cool stand alone decoration too by the way, are masks you can pop out. The elastic for fastening them comes in the box too. 

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There weren't any specific Halloween drinks, but from parties past I know fizzy red lemonade can be 'blood', and fizzy green lemonade is 'slime'. For the adults, how about the Bloody Mary mix? This concoction looks extra spicy and costs £4.50, just add spirits. The glass & other Halloween props are from some of the poundshops. 

The chocolate skeletons come with a free keyring. Look out for the Creepy Coated Chocolate Beans, £2. They come in a long line and are the perfect size for handing out to trick or treaters.

Bloody Mary mix £4.50 : Chocolate skeletons with keyring £2 : 6 packs of chocolate beans £2

Bloody Mary mix £4.50 : Chocolate skeletons with keyring £2 : 6 packs of chocolate beans £2

There are more trick or treat sized sweets in the form of chocolate eyeballs & pumpkins, and popping candy spider coins, both £1 a pack and all included in the 3 for 2 offer. 

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Lastly, help yourself to a bumper pack of 50 Zombie Jelly Brains for £3 or a chocolate lolly for £1.50

Happy Halloween everyone! 

Tiny turnips, what we carved rather than pumpkins in the 80s! £2

Tiny turnips, what we carved rather than pumpkins in the 80s! £2

Ridgway Homemaker Inspired Treehouse of Terror Simpsons' Mugs- From Poundland!

It may just be my Ridgway Homemaker obsessed eye, but doesn't this mug from Poundland in Bloomfields have a bit of a nod to the classic black & white striped background 50s' design? 

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Simpsons' fans should call in and get the set, a steal at £1 a mug. 

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Halloween 2015 at Lidl NI- Pumpkin Print Sausages & Crisps So Hot They Carry a Warning.

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Today Lidl NI's Halloween stock for 2015 arrived in store, and this year is bigger than ever. The pumpkin print sausages are back, but this year the food range includes home baking, trick or treat supplies, and even crisps so spicy they come with a warning that they aren't suitable for children!

Here's what we found in the Bangor store, and you can check out the clothing & fancy dress options on  the Lidl NI website.

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Halloween Goodies at M&S

I always get excited to see what Marks and Spencer will have in store for Halloween each year, and this year they don't disappoint. Spicy scorpions, witches' fingers and jellied green ghouls, here's what you can pick up. Right now all the treats are 3 for 2 too!

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Pumpkin piñata £10 - Scorpion snacks or Spooky Ghosts & Vampire Bats 2 for £2 - Pumpkin Tealight £3.50

Pumpkin piñata £10 - Scorpion snacks or Spooky Ghosts & Vampire Bats 2 for £2 - Pumpkin Tealight £3.50

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Scary pasta meals for kids £2.50 and £2.75 - Ghost cookie £1.50

Scary pasta meals for kids £2.50 and £2.75 - Ghost cookie £1.50

Skeleton hooded onesie, price varies by age starts at £19 - pumpkin £2.00

Skeleton hooded onesie, price varies by age starts at £19 - pumpkin £2.00

Hoodie detail, really impressed with this onesie. Fab quality sweatshirt material. Great for round the house wear, not just night time.

Hoodie detail, really impressed with this onesie. Fab quality sweatshirt material. Great for round the house wear, not just night time.

Trick or Treat sign £6 - Pull along bat £6 - Scaredy Cat Jellies £1.00

Trick or Treat sign £6 - Pull along bat £6 - Scaredy Cat Jellies £1.00

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Pack of chocolate lollies £1.00

Pack of chocolate lollies £1.00

Scary Skulls £1.00

Scary Skulls £1.00

Coffin Sweetie box with sound effects £5.00

Coffin Sweetie box with sound effects £5.00

Skull and Bones mallows £1.00

Skull and Bones mallows £1.00

Veggie Pumpkin Jellies £1.00

Veggie Pumpkin Jellies £1.00

Severed Fingers £1.50 I like these manicures

Severed Fingers £1.50 I like these manicures

Scary jellies £1.00 JUST like the ones we had with He-Man shapes as kids!

Scary jellies £1.00 JUST like the ones we had with He-Man shapes as kids!

All part of the 3 for 2 offer and one has a free spider!

All part of the 3 for 2 offer and one has a free spider!

for when the trick or treaters come calling, 10 mini bags £3.00 - going trick of treating yourself? Glowstick pack of two £1

for when the trick or treaters come calling, 10 mini bags £3.00 - going trick of treating yourself? Glowstick pack of two £1

Skull hat and gloves £12 This is his 'hurry up and let me eat the sweets, mummy' face

Skull hat and gloves £12 This is his 'hurry up and let me eat the sweets, mummy' face

Next door's cat is impressed

Next door's cat is impressed

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Busy making pumpkin faces

Yankee Candle Halloween Exclusives Available in UK This Year. Snap Them Up.

I wrote last month about how much of a Yankee fanatic I am. I would trawl the US site enviously every September, admiring their Halloween themed special releases. They celebrate Halloween as more of a big deal in the States, but we are catching up with the house decoration, trick or treating and going all out for October. Yankee Candle have answered our pleas and brought the Halloween exclusives to the UK site this autumn.

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I managed to get hold of some Witches' Brew votives from the US on eBay the past couple of Halloween seasons, for silly money, so I'm thrilled I can now fill my boots for £16.99 per medium jar candle, with votives and tartlets being a lot less.

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Witches' Brew is our 'September smell', which is why I always returned to search for it on eBay each August previously. It smells like bonfires, crisp leaves, spices and sparklers. We love it.

The other two scents are Candy Corn, a sweet, trick or treat candy scented candle, and Ghostly Treats which I'm going to order for myself as it sounds amazing, with sticky, melting marshmallow scents. 

Which would you like to try? And if you're as big a Yankee fan (nerd) as me, please feel free to chat rare and retired scents with me on Twitter @rudedoodle.

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Who Do You Want to Be for Halloween? How about Skeletor, Jem, a Carebear, or Lion-o?

Finding a unique Halloween costume is hard work. You can make your own, but if you haven't time you sometimes end up as a bog standard witch, zombie or ghost. If you want to turn heads this year, how about taking advantage of Costume Express' one day super sale. This Tuesday 3rd September, they are offering up to 50% off outfits, as well as other great deals. 

The website is based in the US, but they ship to the UK and if you definitely have plenty of time for your costume to get here if you do order tomorrow. 

6 Blood Covered, Brain Crunching, Zombie Teddy Bears You Daren't Take to Bed. WARNING: NOT FOR THE WEAK OF STOMACH

Undead Teds are the creation of Phillip Blackman. Cuddly toys for grown ups, each handmade and lovingly zombified for your pleasure. Could you sleep with one of these in your arms, I'm not sure I could even have it in my bedroom! 

Phillip releases the exclusive teds in batches, so follow him on Twitter  @Undeadteds to catch the latest updates to the shop, as they currently fly out very fast. rarrrr!

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