In what's become a bit of a tradition around here, two of my lovely friends, photographer Kristin Sjaarda and prop stylist Annie McDonald, have teamed up to bring you this year's version of a spooky Halloween mantel. Take it away Kristin and Annie.
Years and years ago, when the dark side of things held much more romance than it does now, I had a shiver-inducing love affair with vampire fiction.
Like most teenaged girls, the idea of a brooding, mysterious anti-hero held all kinds of allure for me, even more so the thrillingly androgynous, pallid, frock-coated immortals at the centre of most of the books I was reading in those days (Anne Rice, anyone?).
I am a mother now, and, having begun to see darkness even in places where there is none, I have no desire to further conjure it via a horror novel - no matter how charismatic its cast.
But I do have an enduring fondness for the eerie, overgrown, overripe decay of the New Orleans in which many of those stories were set, and that's what I was thinking of as I set up this spooky mantel earlier this week.
I still thrill at the thought of an all but abandoned Victorian manse, haunted and creaking, crawling with vines. The half empty pool, the abandoned feast in the garden. Decadence, decay, and a wrecked beauty fleeing the scene, trailing jewels and feathers in her wake.
Not exactly the vampiric anti-hero of my youth, but mysterious and shiver-inducing nonetheless. Happy Halloween!