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On the trick-or-treating trail

A couple people have mentioned to me that they aren't seeing as many Halloween decorations displayed outside homes this year, compared to the past.

I really haven't noticed that, but I'm looking forward to checking it all out as we head out trick-or-treating.

Feel free to share your observations of Halloween decor in your neighborhood as well --- scary, over-the-top and otherwise.

Happy Halloween.

Remembering those wallflowers

In my From the Home Front column today, I write about the black walls I've been seeing in home decorating magazines and books. I'm not sure I would ever paint my walls black, although I do have a black background wallpaper in my dining room.

But the whole topic reminds me of one of my favorite rooms. It was an old bedroom of mine, and the wallpaper had a cobalt-blue background with an all-over white floral pattern.

The room had white painted woodwork and furniture and a white wicker rocker and headboard. The comforter and draperies also were white. The whole space just made me feel good.

I think everyone has a favorite room - in their current home or one from their past.

By the way, blue and white is looking really good to me again. See From the Home Front: More on black walls

Armchair flea-market shopper

Since reading an interview with Eddie Ross in the Washington Post last week, I find myself revisiting his blog,

Ross is the 30-year-old senior style editor at Martha Stewart Living magazine and a contestant this season on Bravo's "Top Design" reality show. On his blog, he offers tips on decorating, entertaining, food, finding ways to use flea-market finds and so much more. The photography is fun, too.

He and friends spent one recent gorgeous fall weekend antiquing, eating and poking around the picturesque town of Chesapeake City, Md.

Reading about his getaway, well, you could almost taste the Maryland crab cakes consumed at one local crab house. Besides making you hungry, his blog might also inspire you.

That's gross

A few of us were thinking back to Halloween and the games we played at kids' parties. One of them: Sticking our hands into a covered box or bowl in a darkened room and touching its contents.

We imagined that what we were feeling were eyeballs, not peeled grapes. Worms, not cold spaghetti. Often it was part of a ghost story. And it was great fun.

I list some of the other popular items in my From the Home Front column today -- damp sponges (brains); corn husk silk (hair), and more.

Feel free to add more to the list.

Shoe shopping on QVC

X00050_91 It's time once again for QVC to join forces with the Fashion Footwear Charitable Foundation and the Fashion Footwear Association of New York to broadcast QVC Presents "FFANY Shoes on Sale." The 15th annual charity shoe sale is scheduled to air from 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesday (Oct. 15), with net proceeds benefiting breast cancer research and education.

This year, more than 100,000 pairs of shoes from more than 98 brands will be sold for half the manufacturer's suggested retail price; a few styles are shown at left. FFANY Shoes on Sale events have raised more than $28 million for the cause over the last 14 years.

You can visit for more information and also to learn about the "Shoe of the Day" program -- another way to contribute.

Three weeks to go ...

Halloween falls on a Friday this year, my daughter keeps reminding me. In her mind, that means she can stay up later than usual because it's not a school night.

In my mind, I'm wondering if we should do something a little more special than just trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. Having a few friends to dinner beforehand is just one idea.

Maybe a sleepover? Ahhh, maybe not.

Any kid-friendly plans in the works at your house?

Hoo-hoo-hoo knew?

I recently read that retro-looking owls are making a comeback in home decor (cookie jars, salt and pepper shakers, etc.).

They even show up on pajamas.

It's funny how birds, insects, mammals and other living creatures move in and out of fashion. One year, it's cows. The next butterflies or frogs.

You can read about the return of owl motifs inside Friday's Home & Style section of The Buffalo News.

In the meantime, is there an animal motif running wild in your household?

Some fabulous advice

Some years back, a woman shared with me one of her favorite fashion tips: When shopping for clothes, don't buy an outfit unless it looks as good as or better than the best-looking outfit you already have.

I've always remembered that -- even though I have broken her rule numerous times.

Plenty of tips regarding fashion and more can be found in Clinton Kelly's new book, "Freakin' Fabulous: How to Dress, Speak, Behave, Eat, Drink, Entertain, Decorate and Generally Be Better than Everyone Else."

I offer some of his tidbits in my column today.

What's the best fashion tip you ever have heard?

Music to the ears?

Last June, our 9-year-old was able to choose a band or orchestra instrument to play this year at school. She chose the cello.

We rented one from a local store and picked it up at the end of August. Things got off to a bumpy start when she spotted a HUGE (her description, not mine) spider in the carrying case.

The spider (rather small, I might add) was booted outdoors. Our daughter quickly recovered and fell into a nice, daily practice schedule. So far, so good, but I know we've only just begun.

I remember some years ago living up the street from a boy who was learning to play the trumpet. If our windows were open, you could hear him loud and clear.

Things got better with time, but at the beginning - Whew!