Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

I hope you all have a fun and safe Halloween!

And Our Weekly Winner Is....


Congratulations Delightful Perception! You are the weekly winner and will be receiving the item of your choice from Vegancraftastic!

Thank you so much Kala at Vegancraftastic for allowing me to feature your shop! Best of luck with your Etsy shop!

We had a record breaking amount of entries this week, so thank you to all of you! If this wasn't your lucky week, don't worry we have a contest starting every Tuesday!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Who You Gonna Call...

Sorry for the silly 80's reference! I just couldn't help myself! On to the topic at hand! Do I have a treat for all of my readers today! Since we are celebrating Halloween all week here on Joy De Vivre, I would like to introduce you to someone that I am sure you will find very intriguing-Sophie. Sophie will fit right in here this week, because she is a ghost hunter!

I knew you all would be very interested in learning more about what exactly a ghost hunter does, so I asked Sophie to answer a few questions:

How long have you been doing ghost hunts? My husband and I have been involved in ghost hunts since we met, over 5 years now.

What brought you to do this? I've always had an interest in the supernatural. The official ghost hunting started when I first met my husband. He was involved with a local town's historical society. The historical society owned and held it's meetings in a huge old mansion which dated back to the 1600's. The mansion had a history of "strange things" happening. One days the president of the historical society knew that we had an interest in the paranormal and asked if we wanted to come back late to do a ghost hunt. And that's how we got started. Many of our hunts have been in this old mansion.

How does a person find you to help them? Our group is not really an official group, just my husband myself and some friends of ours that get together whenever our various work schedules allow. We do hope to one day be able to expand our group and offer our services to people.

What is the craziest thing you have ever seen? We have seen a lot of crazy and spooky things, I could go on for hours and hours about the things we've experienced. We have a member of our group who was "pushed" down a flight of stairs. Fortunately he wasn't seriously hurt. Another member of our group during a hunt was saying that she felt like she was being choked. When we were done and getting coffee we noticed that she had bruises on her neck. Another very creepy thing was during one hunt when a wind up record player started playing on it's own.

Do you get scared during the hunts? Absolutely. It's funny but I'm very afraid of the dark, so I always make sure that I have lots and lots of batteries for my flashlight. I'm also usually holding onto my husband the whole time.

What is the scariest building you have ever done a ghost hunt in? We have done hunts in several places. The historic mansion, a closed snuff factory, several cemeteries, and a few private homes of some friends. (always with COMPLETE permission) I think the scariest place was the factory. It was so big and had such a creepy feeling about it.

What type of equipment do you use? Our group is my husband, myself and our friends. We don't have a lot of the fancier equipment that some of the larger groups have. But you honestly don't need much. We use a few digital voice recorders for EVP's, a few video camera, and several digital and film cameras. We are also trying to get our hands on an EMF reader. We set up the video cameras in a few rooms, and leave them alone to go explore other areas of the house. Throughout the night we'll move the cameras to different rooms every so often. We also take lots and lots and lots of photos. In a hunt it's not unusual for us to have taken several thousand photos between all the cameras that we use. Our group is also one that tries to disprove things. If we get an anomaly or hear or see something we try to recreate it to see what caused it. There have been a few times when a strange light ended up being a reflection from a passing car, a strange noise was some noisy neighbors. If we get something strange in a photo we try to go back another time to recreate the photo and see if we can duplicate the photo.

More creepiness... Most of our ghost hunts have taken place in the historic mansion. This has been where most of the creepy things happen. I have been standing in the middle of a room with nobody next to me and have felt my hair pulled, hard enough that it jerked my head. I've felt hands on my shoulders and thinking that it was my husband turned to find him on the other side of the room. There have been times when every member of our group are sitting in one of the downstairs rooms taking a break and we hear heavy footsteps above us, or we hear several doors above us slam shut. The house itself has some creepy things go on outside of our hunts. There is a window in one of the bedrooms that for a very long time refused to stay closed. The caretaker would close the window and latch it, and find it wide open the next morning. A large piece of furniture was put in front of the window which blocked it from opening (it swung out). The following morning the furniture was away from the wall far enough so the window could open. Finally the caretaker drove a nail into the window to keep it shut. Several days later he found the window wide open and the nail on the mantle of the fire place on the other side of the room. One day when it was raining he found the window had stayed closed, but there were leaves on the floor near the window indicating that it had been open before. We take lots of audio recording and have found some interesting EVPs, including children laughing, the murmuring of what sounded like a crowd of people and the clinking of silverware, what sounded like someone crying, a conversation between two people, dog barking, and many other things throughout our many hunts.

Thank you Sophie for giving us all some insight into the world of ghost hunting! You are very brave I must say and we appreciate you sharing your experiences.


The above picture is one that I actually took a couple of years ago, at a cemetery in Tennessee. Many of my family members are buried there. It really freaked me out when I got this photo developed.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

And the Series is Tied...

Let's go Yankees!

Haunted Tales-Austin, TX

For a city whose slogan is "Keep Austin Weird" you would expect that Austin, TX would be a place with some very interesting stories. If that is your expectation then this is not a city that will disappoint you. Austin is a city with live music venues around every corner, plenty of outdoor space to get your green on and people that live with the attitude of live and let live. I suppose that a place like that would be somewhere you would never want to leave....and as you will see in some of these tales, some people never do!

Driskill Hotel

Built in 1886 by cattle baron Jesse Lincoln Driskill, the Driskill Hotel is everything you would think a grand Texas hotel would be. The scale is large, leather furniture, the Texas star featured prominently; this was the dream of Mr. Driskill. I must say, what a dream it was! The Driskill Hotel, built in the Romanesque style is the type of hotel that makes you want to wear your Sunday finest, just so you can fit in with the beautiful surroundings. The Driskill has a way of getting people to come back, some even after they pass away.

The Driskill is believed to be haunted by several people. One of these people is none other than the creator of the hotel, Jesse Lincoln Driskill. He has made himself known with the smell of cigars at random times. Perhaps he doesn't approve of the no smoking ban being placed upon his hotel. Mr. Driskill has been seen in many areas of the hotel as if he is still roaming the halls making sure all is running smoothly.

Another of the Driskill Hotel ghosts is a four year old girl. She was the daughter of a US Senator who met her untimely death while playing ball on the stairs. The innocent little girl fell and died. It is said that she still haunts the grand staircase leading down to the lobby.

The Driskill Hotel is located at 604 Brazos Street if you are ever in town and would like to take a look around. From what I hear, they do not really enjoy people coming in off the street and asking questions about their ghosts so I would recommend just taking a look around on your own. If you ever decide to stay there, just do not stay in Room 29. That room is known to be haunted by a woman who shot herself in the bathtub there.

Governor's Mansion

Built in 1856, the Governor's Mansion is a stately Greek Revival home across the street from the Texas State Capitol. For the governor's of Texas this has been their home since it was built, but they do have to share it with others.

One of those other people taking up residence in the Governor's Mansion is believed to be none other than Texas hero Sam Houston. For those of you reading the other tales this week, Sam Houston was the man who led the army to finally capture Santa Anna, who had defeated the Texans so badly at the Alamo. He is also the namesake of my home, Houston. I suppose since he is such prominent figure in Texas he figures that he deserves to live in style at the head of the state. He is believed to mostly haunt one of the bedrooms that includes the bed that he bought for the mansion.

A death at the mansion in 1864 is behind one of the other haunts at the home. Governor Pendelton Murrah was in office and his family was living in the home. Unfortunately, tragedy struck when his nephew took his own life there after being turned down for a marriage proposal. Reports of footsteps pacing, moaning and doorknobs turning have been attributed to the nephew who apparently still pines for his lost love.

In June of 2008 the Governor's Mansion was the victim of arson and sustained significant damage. It is such a shame that vandals have no respect for history, but government and private funds are making great strides in restoring this important part of history.

University of Texas Tower

On August 1, 1966 a horrific crime was committed in Austin. After all was said and done that afternoon, fourteen people were dead for doing nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The story went like this: Charles Whitman, an ex-Marine and a University of Texas student decided to barricade himself in the bell tower and act as a sniper to shoot people. Most of the victims were on Guadalupe Street, also known as 'The Drag', below the tower. Whitman had already killed his mother and wife before he went to the tower and ascended the stairs to the top that would be his final destination.

Whitman, perched in the highest spot in the city, must have thought he was invincible in the tower and that no one would apprehend him. Attempts at getting up to his location proved to be deadly for several who first tried. Fortunately, the rampage, which lasted from 11:35 AM to 1:24 PM was ended when police officer, Ramiro Martinez shot Whitman to death.

After his death, it was discovered that Charles Whitman had a cancerous brain tumor that may have caused him to commit this crime. Is Whitman now, in his afterlife, sorry for the pain that he caused ? Was this man, just like those he killed, just a victim of his mental condition? One will never know the answers, but for some reason it is believed that Whitman still visits the tower. Lights coming on by themselves, doors being locked and unlocked with no one around, those are just a few of the happenings at the bell tower after that fateful day in 1966. Whatever the reason, when I am visiting Austin and see the UT orange glow lighting up the top of the tower, I can't help but think that building has something unexplainable going on.

Don't let these stories scare you away! If you have ever been to Austin then you know how truly awesome it is. If you have never been there, what are you waiting for! :) Whether you are trying to get a glimpse of a ghost or possibly have an encounter with your favorite rockstar Austin is the place. With its small town feel, but big city opportunities Austin is one of my most favorite cities. For any first time visitors you must see the Texas State Capitol, stroll down South Congress, see a live band and check out the bats flying out from the Congress Avenue bridge every night. A city that celebrates bats, ghosts and very eccentric people, the motto 'Keep Austin Weird' makes perfect sense there!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Haunted Tales-San Antonio, TX

San Antonio, TX is one of those towns that never forgets it's past. The new buildings and skyscrapers exist, but in the midst of those are the historical sites that have made the city what it is. Second in population only to Houston in the state of Texas, San Antonio has emerged as a popular place to vacation as well as to live. The people who live and visit here have a great respect for the history of this city. Long gone days include when native Indians were educated in the missions, when Texas was fighting for its Independence and especially when they were defeated at the Alamo. It would be impossible to think that a city with such history, a city that does not tear down its architecture of days gone by, a city with such respect for its past would not have a few of its residents that want to stay around even after they have physically past. In fact, it would really be impossible to think that when so many of its current residents see the paranormal on a regular basis.

The Alamo is probably the most well known of the San Antonio historical sites. The Alamo sits in what is now the downtown area. Steps away from the famous landmark is another huge tourist draw, the Riverwalk. Lined with shops, hotels and any type of food establishment you could want, the Riverwalk winds through the downtown area and is the route you can take to most of the places we will discuss here. San Antonio has many areas said to be haunted, but we will be focusing on the downtown/Riverwalk area for the majority of these tales.

The Alamo
It is no wonder that the Riverwalk area is known to have an extreme amount of paranormal activity considering it runs in such close proximity to the Alamo. The Alamo is a place rich in Texas history and it is also considered one of the most haunted areas in the nation.

Built in the late 1700's the Alamo was a mission that the Christians used to educate the Indians about religion. That sounds like a great start to a building that would have nothing but good vibes. Well, you would think so, but apparently not! You see the area in front of the Alamo, now called Alamo Plaza, was a cemetery before the buildings were built and over 1000 people were buried there. Some believe that the Alamo area was haunted long before the famous showdown between Santa Anna and Davey Crocket for Texas' Independence.

The Battle of the Alamo in 1836 ended in tragedy for the many volunteers who came to help fight off Santa Anna and the Mexican army. Eventually defeated in another battle days later, Santa Anna and his men took the lives of many when they stormed into the Alamo on March 6. The Mexican army was so large that the likes of Davey Crocket, Jim Bowie and William Travis really stood no chance at a victory.

Today the Alamo stands as a shrine and a symbol of the volunteers who gave their lives to help the people of Texas be its own republic. It also is quite possible that those volunteers are not as long gone as we may think. There have been many reports of ghosts believed to be Crocket, Bowie, Travis and many of the other hero's roaming the Alamo. People have also reported seeing things such as the ghostly figure of a soldier pacing back and forth, strange unexplainable noises and countless other tales.

The Menger Hotel

Just a few steps to the right of the Alamo and you will see the Menger Hotel. Originally opened in 1859, this hotel has played host to many interesting folks-Mae West, Robert E. Lee, Theodore Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, just to name a few. Not only was it known to be a hangout for the rich and famous, it is also known by many as the most haunted hotel in the country.

One of the permanent visitors is Sallie White, a former chambermaid at the hotel. Mrs. White was killed by her husband, but it is believed that she still tries to hold up her duties at the hotel. She is still seen taking towels or doing other work in her usual work attire around the hotel. Nowadays it is hard to find people who will work hard while they are alive, much less someone who will keep coming back when they rightfully should be resting! I commend you Mrs. White for being a hard worker!

Another person believed to haunt the upper level of the hotel is Mr. King of Kings Ranch fame. It is believed that he haunts the "King Ranch room" where he passed away. Current guests of the hotel have seen him walking down the hall and disappearing into the wall to his old room.

Some say that President Theodore Roosevelt still stops by from time to time. During his lifetime he would stop by the hotel and sit at the bar and some of the hotel workers say that he still does the same now.

I have visited the Menger Hotel many times and I will say that I truly believe it has paranormal activity. It was strange, because I always had heard of the " King Ranch Room", but had no idea which part of the hotel it was in. There was one area of the building, though, that always gave me chills. After asking around I realized that I was just down the hall from the room and it is supposedly the most haunted area of the hotel. There is also an open walkway area on the right of the hotel building. The windows of the Menger overlook the walkway and the adjoining Rivercenter Mall. I literally can not look at that hotel when walking in that area as I always feel an unfriendly presence there.

Rivercenter Mall
This leads us to our next area of discussion, the Rivercenter Mall. I have never met a mall that I don't like, but I will say this one makes me more uneasy than any other. For many years I have visited this mall and like I mentioned above, the outside walkway always gave me the sense that something was around me, something that really spooks me out. Not only the walkway, but anytime I am in the mall I do not want to be in a secluded area. Some of you may understand what I am talking about, where you are somewhere that you just know something isn't right.

After so many years of being spooked by this location and thinking it was all in my head imagine my surprise when I found out I might not be quite as crazy as I thought I was. Come to find out the Rivercenter Mall sits on top of the land believed to be where the bodies of the soldiers lost at the Alamo were burned in pyres. I have also read reports of workers seeing things moving without assistance, shadows roaming and even a reported ghost walking alongside the shoppers.

La Mansion del Rio
Once a former college, this hotel sits in a prime spot right on the Riverwalk. This gorgeous hotel with its Spanish architecture is in my opinion one of the best in the city. Only about a five minute walk from the Alamo this hotel is in a location close to it all, apparently a little too close. The story of the spookies at this location comes not from workers or people who have reported incidences, it comes from yours truly.

San Antonio is only about three hours from my home and is a perfect location to visit when we want to just get away for a few days. Such was the case when we went a couple of years ago to celebrate my father's birthday. Like many times before we decided to stay at La Mansion. This time, however, when we got our room location it was in a different area than we had stayed in past visits.

Walking down the hall to this new area I felt a strange feeling come over me, but just wrote it off again as nothing. I had never heard of this hotel being haunted, heck if so I would not have dared stay there. I shook off the cold feeling and just kept on my way along to our room. After placing our luggage, much more than I would like to admit for a one night stay, into the room we went out for dinner. Upon returning I again got the same cold chills. Geez, I thought to myself, they need to turn the air off!

Nighttime fell and we went to sleep, my hubby, fuzzy boy Bark,(you didn't think I abandoned my boy did you), and I had one side of the room and my mom and dad had the other. All night I was restless. Every time I would wake up I had a strange feeling that if I peered my head from beneath the comforter I would be met with something, what I didn't know. Well I certainly didn't want to find out so I pulled the covers tighter and tried to sleep it off.

The next morning it all made more sense. I woke in the morning with the sunlight coming in through the balcony and my mother standing over me with something to say. Well if you knew my mom and I you would know we always have something to say, but this time it was something that I didn't want to hear. I didn't want to hear it until I was at least packed and ready to get out of that room. Somehow, deep down I knew exactly what her conversation pertained to. I even told her," I know exactly what you are going to say, but if you tell me now I will be too scared to be by myself in the shower so you are going to have to wait!" Hey a girl has her priorities! I didn't want to be spooked, but I really didn't want greasy hair! ;)

When mom was given the go ahead her story was even more scary than I had expected it would be. After we all fell asleep, like myself, mom was very restless. She woke up and had a feeling that someone was there next to her, someone she could not see. All of a sudden the foot of the bed began to feel as if were being violently hit with something repeatedly. She sat there terrified, speechless and unable to wake my father up. Over and over whatever this was was trying to make a point to my mom that it was there with her. Since the bed was not touching walls on either side it was very hard to easily explain what this could be.

My mom was once told of a verse in the Bible to read if you ever have paranormal things happening in your home. She remembered that there was a Bible in the nightstand next to her so she got it and started reciting the verse over and over aloud. The attack began easing up and as she read finally disappeared. I do not know how my poor mom kept from having a heart attack that day.

A little after my mom's experience, Gabe awoke to the sound of someone at the door and paper swishing under. Thinking it was a hotel worker, Gabe's curiosity got the best of him. He walked over to the door to see what was disrupting his sleep. There was no paper under the door, he opened it and peered down the hall. The hall was empty.

After correlating everyone's stories we came to the realization that we were ready to get the heck out of that hotel. On the drive home I convinced my mom to call back to the hotel and try to make sense of the previous night's events. The conversation went just like this:

Mom-"Good morning! I have a quick question and please don't think I am crazy, but has anyone ever complained of paranormal activity in your hotel before?"

Hotel operator-"Why yes ma'am, all the time! This is a very old hotel and we have had many people see things. There is a little ghost boy who wanders around and likes to play."

She went on to ask mom what room we were in. Apparently when someone complains of activity the workers go to the room, burn candles and sprinkle holy water in the area. I don't know about all of you, but if a hotel has a policy and procedure on how to handle hauntings I don't really want to check in there again! Despite its beauty I will never spend the night at La Mansion del Rio after that stay.

Like I mentioned before, San Antonio is a very haunted city. This doesn't even break the surface of all that goes on there, so if you are planning on visiting and would like more info on other places feel free to email me.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Have You Seen This Etsy Shop?

This week our Etsy shop is Vegancraftastic, brought to us by Kala. Embracing her love of all things crafty, Kala's shop offers a variety of things that she has sewn, knitted, crocheted, beaded, etc. If you purchase an item from Vegancraftastic you can rest assured it is handmade and 100% vegan.
Let's see these great vegan finds!

The Candy Corn Babies

Don't these cuties go perfect with the Joy de Vivre Halloween theme this week! The babies come in a set of three and are made of acrylic yarn. They are 3 1/4" X 4 1/2" at their widest points.

Get them now for half off during the Halloween sale!

The Cherry Blues Bracelet

This 8" bracelet is made from brilliant blue and red glass beads and a metal toggle closure.

Duluth Bracelet

Kala has a lovely story to this bracelet. She made the Duluth Bracelet from green, yellow and black glass beads that she bought in a Duluth , Minnesota shop while on her honeymoon. Perhaps you can purchase the Duluth Bracelet and create some beautiful memories as well while wearing it!

Cupcake Queen Zippered Pouch

My love for cupcakes has been documented many, many times here and I think this pouch is perfect for my fellow cupcake junkies! There is nothing more perfectly sweet than a cupcake! The pouch measures 7 1/4" X 5 1/2".

Love what you see here and want to learn more about Kala's shop Vegancraftastic? Of course you do and you can at:

Her shop has also been featured in the online magazine Creepy Queen Magazine at

This week for our giveaway Kala wants our winner to do the shopping! Why should we have all the fun of picking out items for you all every week? This week our winner, who will be chosen Friday, will be able to pick one item to receive from Vegancraftastic.

Enter by adding a comment about one of the items in Vegancraftastic.

Second entry to anyone who is a follower of Joy de Vivre.

Good luck to everyone!

Haunted Tales-Galveston, TX

Galveston Island is a coastal town about 45 minutes south of Houston. Galveston may not be as large as its neighboring city, but this 208 sq. mile stretch of land has many a story to tell. Once inhabited by Indians, the site of the 1863 Battle of Galveston during the Civil War, the playground for everyone from pirates to Frank Sinatra, this is a small island with a huge history. Hurricanes have come across Galveston many times, but the 1900 storm on September 8, 1900 is the saddest day in Galveston history. On that day more than 6,000 people lost their lives to a powerful hurricane that pushed it's way over the island. Whether it be curses from the Indians, the pirates, the lost soldiers or those who lost their lives September 1900, something has stirred up paranormal activity on the island. Galveston has numerous ghost stories and haunted places, so many that there are year round ghost tours given and many more just during the Halloween season. You, my lucky readers, can save your money, have a comfy seat and I will give you the run down right here!

Stewart Beach

Stewart Beach is an area at the far end of the island with one of the widest stretches of sand in Galveston. Many people come down on the weekends to play volleyball, frolick in the sand and swim in the water. It has also been said that some people have seen a male running across the beach that was not quite like the others. He wasn't not quite like the others in an uber handsome George Clooney kind of way, he was different in the way that he was a ghost!

It would be no stretch of the imagination to think that this stretch of sand could be haunted. This for one was the side of the island that the 1900 storm swept across so it is quite likely many were killed in that very spot. Also, a bit of sad history happened there just after the storm. It is said that when so many lives were lost in Galveston at one time, there was no room to bury all of the bodies. The officials had the idea to take the bodies off to sea on barges and dump them. Unfortunately, what they did not expect was that these bodies would float back to shore, as many of them did, onto the beach. With the island in shambles and no other choice, the bodies were gathered and huge bonfires were made in the area where Stewart Beach is now. The bodies that had washed ashore were placed in the fires and cremated. The sadness of that event is drastically different than the picture you see of the spot now, but perhaps the running male ghost is a reminder to all of us who are brave, or crazy, enough to live along the water.

Ewing Hall at UTMB-Face on the Wall

To see the face look at the square panel just above the door and staircase.

Perhaps the most well known of the Galveston haunted stories is the mysterious face on the wall. Ewing Hall, one of the many buildings housing the University of Texas Medical Branch, is located facing the harbor. Many years ago this building got a new resident and it wasn't a doctor. A strange face appeared on the outside of the building and despite attempts to sandblast the face off, it still keeps coming back.

Who was the face? Some people believe that this is the portrait of a fisherman who once owned the land and was upset that the university had his land and tore down his home. Others believe that it is the face of the pirate Jean Lafitte who had such a sordid past in Galveston. We may never know the person behind the face on the wall, but I will tell you from experience that it is very eerie.

Hotel Galvez

The Hotel Galvez is one of the finest hotels in Galveston. Built in 1911, this grand building is set across the street from the beach. Once playing host to presidents, such as Lyndon B. Johnson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, as well as celebs such as Frank Sinatra it now also plays host to some very unique guests.
One of these unique guests is believed to be a young lady who thought she had lost the love of her life. She was staying at the Hotel Galvez awaiting the return of her fiance, who was off working on a ship. After hopefully waiting for him to come back to meet her she was given heart wrenching news, that her love had died while out at sea. Feeling that she could not go on without him, she climbed up in one of the turrets and hung herself. Unfortunately if the lovelorn lady would have waited she would have gotten the word that her fiance was in fact still alive. The story that he had died was a mistake.

While the lovelorn lady is one of the most well known stories surrounding the Galvez there are other spirits believing to roam the floors there, especially the 5Th floor. The Hotel Galvez has always been good about allowing people to come inside and ask questions and look around. They are even getting into the Halloween spirit by offering ghost tours of the hotel to the public. From what I hear, though, if you are staying at the hotel you can get a tour at any time of the year.

Ashton Villa

Built from 1861 to 1865, this stately mansion on Broadway still stands as a symbol of the great wealth that the island held before the 1900 storm. Built by James Brown a hardware business man, this three story home has served as a party place for the very wealthy as well as a hospital for the confederate soldiers during the Civil War.

During it's more happy moments the Gold Room in the Ashton Villa was used as a formal living area. It was a very lovely room and apparently Mr. Brown's daughter Bettie was quite fond of this room. So fond, that she keeps coming back after death to visit this very spot. Many areas of the house have stories of haunting associated with them, but most seem to concentrate on the Gold Room where furniture moves by itself and clocks stop. There have been tales from the Ashton Villa of guards hearing a piano or parties going on at night, but when they go in to investigate the shenanigans the entire room would be deserted.

Ashton Villa offers year round tours if you would like to go and investigate yourself. There are also several other of the mansions from Galveston's heyday on the same street, such as the Moody Mansion and the Bishop's Palace. If architecture interests you as much as ghosts, these homes are certainly worth visiting.

Galveston Island is a place that I know very well as I grew up nearby. I had to shorten this list to these few places, because frankly the ghost stories from the island would take up many, many pages of my blog. When you spend time there it is hard to ignore the history that has taken place on the island. We will never know if these lost souls are still trying to figure out why they were killed during the great storm, if they were young soldiers killed by a horrendous war, or just other individuals who were here for the happier times in Galveston history and refuse to leave now. If you are ever in the area, though, it is a great place to learn a little Texas history. History of those who had their city destroyed at a time when it was one of the greatest in the country and brought it back to life with their hard work and determination. It is also a story in recent history of people with just as much determination who are bringing back their island after Hurricane Ike.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I Would Like to Take a Moment Away From the Halloween Tales to Say....

the Yankees are going to the World Series!

Haunted Tales

Being a person that is intrigued by spooky tales, I will be blogging this entire Halloween week about haunted places. Each day will focus on a different city that I have visited and researched. First up...Hollywood, California.

Hollywood is the land where dreams are made and stars are born. That is what they always say, right? Unfortunately, it is also the land of those who didn't reach the stars. The land of drug overdoses, murders and unsolved mysteries. Some of the people who did make it, though, seem to love it so much that they choose to stick around. Here are some of their stories.

The Hollywood Sign

The Hollywood Sign serves as a beckon in the night to the promise of stardom for many. Peg Entwistle, an aspiring actress, was once one of those girls who came to Hollywood waiting for her big chance to come. While waiting for offers for acting jobs she lived with her Uncle Harold in the hills beneath the sign.

On September 18, 1932 she apparently got fed up, both with waiting for an acting gig and with her life. She climbed up the hill to the sign. Once she reached it she ascended the H on the Hollywood sign and then ended her life by jumping down from the 50 ft platform. She died at the age of 24.

The ironic thing about Peg Entwistle is that had she of waited just a little longer her big acting break would have came. Two days after her death her Uncle Harold found a letter in her mail from the Beverly Hills Playhouse. The playhouse was offering her the lead role in their next production. Even stranger, that role was to play a beautiful woman who commits suicide!

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, located at 7000 Hollywood Blvd, is said to have two very famous ghosts. The first of these is Montgomery Clift who is believed to haunt room #928 where he once stayed. Sounds of trumpet playing, pacing and lines being recited have been observed at times when the room is supposed to be empty.

The second starlet that keeps coming back to the Roosevelt is Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn is said to haunt a full length mirror that once was in the room where she had stayed. The mirror had been moved into an open area on the lower level of the hotel and patrons had reported seeing her ghostly figure in the reflection.

We actually went to check out the Hollywood Roosevelt the last time we were in town. It was certainly every bit as spooky as I imagined, very dark and you could somehow feel the history. The hotel is beautiful, but I would be afraid to stay there personally. We did try to track down the famous Marilyn mirror. After not being able to find it in the area we had read it was kept, we asked one of the bartenders what had happened to it. He told us that it had been purchased by Robert De Niro. I guess he must be a fan, too!

Mann's Chinese Theater

The Mann's Chinese Theater has a long history of movie stars, premiers and also ghosts. Several different ones in fact are said to haunt this building at 6925 Hollywood Blvd.

The youngest of the people said to be hanging around after death is a little girl named Annabelle. Another such visitor is believed to be a stagehand, Fritz, who hung himself in the theater, but still comes back to move the curtains.

In 1982 Victor Kilian, an actor who lived near the theater, was murdered in his apartment. Many believe that he still roams the blocks from his apartment to the theater. Perhaps he is trying to help track down the person who stole his life, since the police have not been able to do so.

The Comedy Store
The Comedy Store is now probably more famous for the popular comediennes that it has been the breeding ground for than the mob hangout it was in the 40's. Formerly named Ciro's, this building at 8433 W. Sunset is said to have some serious funny business going on in the basement, but not the type you may think! It is believed that the murdered victims of the mob would sometimes end up in the basement and apparently they are about ready to get out of there! There have been reports of strange voices in the basement, as well as unexplainable pranks being played on the workers and the comediennes at The Comedy Store.

The Chateau Marmont

Jim Morrison swinging from a drainpipe on the roof. Clark Gable not so secretly carrying on an affair with the just married Jean Harlow. John Lennon, Greta Garbo, Grace Kelly, the list of former Chateau Marmont patrons is the who's who of Hollywood legends.

It is also, in my personal opinion, one of the spookiest places in all of Hollywood. I am not sure why, but one look at the white castle-like building perched above Sunset Blvd,(8221 being the exact address), and I literally get chills every time.
There is no wonder, though, why myself and many others have this reaction to the hotel. It is known to be haunted and one of the most famous ghosts is said to be that of John Belushi. John Belushi died of an overdose while staying at The Chateau Marmont on March 5, 1982. There have been several accounts where people staying in his room have experienced the unexplainable. The staff at the hotel are as famous for being tight lipped as it's patrons are for being famous movie stars. They are not allowed to give out any information on past or present guests, therefore, will not be able to tell you which room Mr. Belushi was in on that fateful night. According to some things I have read though, he was in room bungalow 3, if you ever happen to stay there.

More on Marilyn Monroe

Since she is my favorite screen legend, I have read many books on Marilyn Monroe and have visited several other sites in Hollywood that she is said to have been spotted after her mysterious death. One of these sites is at her burial place, a tomb at 1218 Glendon Ave, in Westwood Memorial Park. It is said that a green haze is sometimes seen over her tomb. What is strange about this is that it has been speculated that Marilyn's doctor may have deliberately given her an overdose and killed her on August 5, 1962. The strange part comes in the fact that his name was Dr. Greenson. Is Marilyn Monroe, like with the story of Victor Killan and the Chinese Theater, trying to help solve her own murder? We may never know! What we do know is that she really seems to be busy after death, because she has also been spotted in front of the home where she passed, 12305 5Th Helena Drive in Brentwood.

Just a note to any future ghost hunters who may be reading this post. Some of the addresses I have posted are private homes and, as you can imagine, the people who own them do not look nicely upon tourists, even ones in the forms of ghostbusters! Also, if you venture into the hotels try your best to look as though you belong there, or you could quite easily get kicked out very swiftly. Don't attempt to gain entry to the Chateau Marmont unless you have a reservation, either for dinner or for a room there. The closest you can get otherwise is the Bar Marmont, which is in a separate building below the hotel, but still a great place to check out, (and me being a chicken, the closest I would dare go towards the Chateau anyway).

Also, I will tell you from experience, do not bother with any of the Haunted Hollywood Tours you see advertised around town. We went on one, the Starlines, and while there were a few true points, there were so many false stories on this tour. I guess they don't believe that tourist know the difference, but unfortunately they sometimes do as in our case! They didn't even take us to the right home where Marilyn Monroe died! Not even to the right city! We were about 20 minutes from the actual location when the tour guide announces, "On the right is the house where Marilyn Monroe was found dead. Was it by the mob? Was it by a Kennedy?" Well while I don't know if it was by the mob or by a Kennedy, I do know that it wasn't in that house! So don't waste your time and your money with those lies. Do your research and find the sites you want to see yourself. If you have any questions don't hesitate to contact me and I will be happy to help if I can!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Need Some Fun Ideas for Halloween Goodies?

While looking for ideas for our Halloween party I ran across the Disney Family Fun website. Gosh, with all of these Disney mentions on my blog lately you would think I had gotten a job at the mouse's house! Anywho, I wanted to share these themed eats with you. They have two things that I like when I cook-easy to make and cute!

Snack o' Lantern will make your children want to eat their daily serving of fruit. It may take a few moments to carve out the oranges, but I think the final result is worth it.

Pizza Mummies are made from English muffins, pizza sauce, olives and cheese.
Hairy Daddy Longlegs Cupcakes puts a spin on the traditional cupcakes with just a few added ingredients, licorice and sprinkles.

The Haunted Graveyard is definitely going to be on my menu for Halloween. Instead of hummus for the grass, though, I think I am going to get the hubby to make his awesome guacamole.

What will all of you be doing for Halloween? Do tell!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Would You Like to Channel a Disney Princess on Your Wedding Day?

Did you dress up like Sleeping Beauty for Halloween when you were a child and your princess fantasies have stayed with you all these years? Perhaps you watched Cinderella constantly as a little girl and wished that you could find your own Prince Charming and have a beautiful wedding. Well, your wishes my dears have now come true, at a price of course!

The marketing geniuses that are Disney now have a line of princess rings. Clothing designer Kirstie Kelly has created a line of engagement and wedding rings inspired by the six Disney princesses. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Ariel inspired engagement ring

Jasmine inspired engagement ring

If you want to keep the princess theme up, there is also a line of wedding and wedding party dresses by Kirstie Kelly. The above one is based on Cinderella, but all of the Disney princesses are represented in this line as well.

Let me give you a warning though! If this were Fantasyland your fairy godmother would make your gown magically appear and all of your happily everafters would come true. Here in the real world, you will have to work a little harder for it. Work harder, literally, when you hear the prices of the princess gear. The rings will set you back $1,200 to $6,000 and the dress prices range from $1,100 to $3,500. Prince Charming not included.

Friday, October 23, 2009

And Our Weekly Winner Is...


Congratulations Happy Banyan! You are our weekly winner and will be receiving the Green Rhinestone Copper Cocktail Ring from My Way to Say.

Thank you to Happy Banyan and to all of the other readers who registered for the drawing.

A special thank you also goes out to My Way to Say on Etsy for allowing us to explore your wonderful shop!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Have You Seen This Etsy Shop?

My Way to Say offers necklaces, earrings, bracelets and watches. You will notice that all jewelry offered in this shop is gold and silver, no plated. Pearls are featured often as are Swarovski crystals. My Way to Say is a featured seller on the Nativemotive site
You can also see what is new with the shop by visiting

Don't leave me to check out the other sites just yet! We still have a lot of ground to cover here!
The Handmade Gold Dangle Earrings Swarovski Item 008 are beautifully crafted from AB Swarovski crystals on a 14K GF chain. They are a length of 2 1/2" long.

The Fused Glass Wire Wrapped Ring Black Gold in Solid Copper Item 039

This ring is actually a button, fused glass and solid copper wire that comes in a size 5 1/2.

The Sterling silver and Ruby Swarovski dangle earrings item 016

This gorgeous Ruby color Swarovski crystal and silver earrings are 1 1/2" long.

Have I ever told you all that one of the hardest things about doing these features is that I want to rush and buy things from every shop! Well if ever I haven't told you, it is really hard to resist being a shopaholic at times! For one of you lucky readers, though, you will not have to spend a dime to get a wonderful piece of My Way to Say jewelry.

Green Rhinestone Copper Cocktail Ring

To enter to win the Green Rhinestone Copper Cocktail Ring is easy as 1, 2

1. Post a comment here about My Way to Say about an item from the shop that you love for one entry.

2. By being a follower of Joy de Vivre Design you get a second entry. So if you aren't already just click that little follow button and you are all set!

Don't forget to come back this Friday and see if your name is in the center of a confetti party!

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Always Inspiring Butterfly

Every month I write a blog for the Design Style Guide , the Etsy team that I am a member of. I wanted to share it on Joy de Vivre with you all to show you the beautiful things my team members have created!

Few living things have such a transformation into a lovely being as a butterfly. Many artists draw inspiration from them and bring them into their work. Here are some of the lovelies that the Design Style Guide members have created:

The Rustic Butterfly Bowl is actually crafted by Inspired by Nature from a gourd! How is that for reusing nature in a beautiful way!

The Flanged Decorative Pillow in Black and White Floral and Butterflies by Pillow Throw Decor brings in a lovely motif in colors that are easily worked in to any decor.

Over the Rainbow a Real Butterfly Swarm by Butterfly Designs use real butterflies in their colorful artwork.

Blue Morpho Real Framed Butterfly from Bugs Under Glass use butterflies that come from the rainforests of Central and South America.

Butterfly in the Midst of Flowers from Everything Dear comes in a vivid 8"x10" photo.

Adding any of these finds to your room decor is sure to give it a beautiful transformation, second only to that of the butterfly!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

It's National Chocolate Cupcake Day!

I am not sure who thinks of these off the wall holidays, but it had to be someone after my own heart that decided to have National Chocolate Cupcake Day! Just a plain ole' cupcake day would have sufficed, but add some chocolate to that and that is a reason to celebrate!

In honor of this grand occasion I give you a feast for the eyes:

For any of your cupcake needs check out these great sites:

Wilton cupcakes

Fancy Flours