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Spellbinding Halloween entertainment

“My darling girl, when are you going to realize that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage.” ~Alice HoffmanPractical Magic

Favorite Halloween reading / Cindy La Ferle

Which do you like best — the book or the movie? When it comes to Alice Hoffman’s beloved Practical Magic, the debate has been going on since the film’s release in 1998.  

“Practical Magic” homage / Cindy La Ferle


Along with rereading Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, revisiting Practical Magic is one of my favorite Halloween traditions. I love how the themes of being “different” and turning to a community of women for support are woven throughout the plot. I like to think of the novel as the autumn version of a summer beach read — nothing too heavy but captivating enough to be worth your time.

Featuring Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Diana Wiest, and Stockard Channing as the bewitching (and cursed) Owens clan, the film is silly Halloween fun and perfect for watching with your best girlfriends. 

If you enjoy quaint small towns and architecture, you might want to watch it a second time — just to appreciate the turreted Victorian home of the eccentric aunts. Filled with cozy nooks, winding staircases, and plenty of antiques, the house is central to the story — and you’d never guess it was built from scratch for the film. If I could redo our kitchen, in fact, I’d want it to look exactly like the one in Practical Magic. (To learn how the home’s exterior and interior sets were designed and furnished, visit Hooked on Houses, here.) 

Another seasonal tradition at our house is roasting pumpkin seeds while we watch a spooky Halloween movie. On Saturday I roasted two batches of pumpkin seeds with the The Addams Family on the kitchen TV. Here’s a recipe similar to the one I use. ~CL

Throughout my career, I've worked as a book production editor, travel magazine editor, features writer, and weekly newspaper columnist. My award-winning lifestyles features and essays have appeared in many national magazines and anthologies, including Newsweek, Reader's Digest, The Christian Science Monitor, Writer's Digest, Victoria, Better Homes & Gardens, Bella Grace, and more. My weekly Sunday "Life Lines" column ran for 14 years in The Daily Tribune (Royal Oak, MI) and won a First Place (Local Columns) award from the Michigan Press Association. My essay collection, Writing Home, includes 93 previously published columns and essays focusing on parenthood and family life.

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