Zombies and the Zombie Walk

With the popularity of the TV show The Walking Dead, more and more people are getting into zombie fandom.  But where did all this zombie love come from or what started it all?

First, What are Zombies? 
Zombies are fictional undead creatures, usually depicted as mindless, reanimated human corpses with a hunger for living human flesh. Zombies are most commonly found in horror and fantasy genre works.

The term Zombie comes from Haitian folklore:  The Haitian /French “zombie” and the Haitian / Creole “zonbi” is a dead body animated by magic. Modern depictions of zombies do not involve magic but invoke other methods such as a virus or illness.

What Started the Zombie Craze?
Zombies have a complex literary heritage of authors ranging from Richard Matheson and H. P. Lovecraft to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, all drawing on European folklore of the undead. 

But really the modern conception of the Zombie owes itself entirely to George A. Romero's reinvention of the Zombie monster for his 1968 film “Night of the Living Dead.” 
That film led to several zombie films in the 1980s and a resurgence of Zombie popularity in the 2000s. Romero’s "Zombie apocalypse" concept, in which the civilized world is brought down by a global zombie infestation, has now become a staple of modern popular Zombie art.

The Walking Dead is (in my opinion wonderful!) a television series developed by Frank Darabont. 
It tells the story of a small group surviving during a zombie apocalypse and is based on the comic book series of the same name by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. 

Promotional photo from The Walking Dead website

In 2013, the first season airing on AMC, had the highest audience ratings in the United States for any show on broadcast or cable with an average of 5.6 million viewers in the 18-49 year old demographic, making it the most-watched drama series telecast in cable history.  And that’s not all.  The Walking Dead’s season 5 finale had the highest rated finale in any series history, having 15.8 million viewers.  I love the show, and in case you wondered, I am a follower of the Ricktatorship!

A few of my favorite Zombie movies:
  • Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead, 1968 (They’re coming to get you Barbara)
  • The newer British/French film Shaun of the Dead, 2004 (absolutely hilarious!)
  • Dawn of the Dead, 2004 (took my teenage son and scared us to dead)
  • 28 Days Later (love the British zombie films)
  • And of course Zombieland, 2009 (grossed more than $60.8 million in 17 days) 

Government Zombies as a Learning Tool?
On 18 May 2011, the United States' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a graphic novel, Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse, providing tips to survive a zombie invasion as a "fun new way of teaching the importance of emergency preparedness". 

It was used to underscore the value of laying in water, food, medical supplies, and other necessities in preparation for any and all potential disasters, be they hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, or even hordes of zombies.

In October 2011, The Weather Channel published an article, "How To Weather the Zombie Apocalypse" that included a fictional interview with a Director of Research at the CDD, the "Center for Disease Development". Questions answered include "How does the temperature affect zombies' abilities? Do they run faster in warmer temperatures? Do they freeze if it gets too cold?"

A really great book to add to any Zombie collection is The Zombie Survival Guide, written by American author Max Brooks and published in 2003. 
It’s a survival manual dealing with the fictional potentiality of a zombie attack and contains detailed plans for the average person to survive zombie uprisings of varying intensity and describes "cases" of zombie outbreaks in history.

Zombie Walk History:
Although many locations such as Sacramento California, and Toronto and Sherbrooke, Canada try to claim the original Zombie walk, the earliest zombie walk styled event on record was put together rather last-minute at the Gencon Gaming Convention in Milwaukee, WI in August 2000. The event was created to poke good-natured fun at the Vampire LARPERS that were taking over large portions of the convention, and disrupt their games. Michael Yates, Mark Stafford, Jacob Scowronek and several others organized the event with roughly 60 participants.

In comparison, the first zombie walk held in Sacramento, California was not until August 2001.  The event, billed as "The Zombie Parade," was the idea of Bryna Lovig, who suggested it to the organizers of Trash Film Orgy (Sacramento Production Company) as a way to promote their annual midnight film festival.
And the first gatherings, specifically billed as a "Zombie Walks" in Canada all occurred around the same time in October 2003.
The mid to late 2000s saw a huge gain in popularity for zombie walks and soon spread across North America and many cities around the world.

The Zombie Walk
A Zombie walk is an organized public gathering of people who dress up in zombie costumes. Participants usually meet in an urban center and make their way around the city streets and public spaces in an orderly fashion. Zombie walks can be organized simply for entertainment but usually has a purpose, such as promoting donations for a charitable cause.
On October 29, 2006, nearly 900 "zombie walkers" gathered at the Monroeville Mall outside of Pittsburgh, which served as the set of George A. Romero's classic zombie film Dawn of the Dead, to participate in Pittsburgh's first annual Walk of the Dead.  

We have been to a couple Zombie Walks and they’re always fun.  It is amazing to see the extent people will go to for an “authentic” Zombie look.
And these events attract all ages and all walks of life, with everyone having fun.  And did I mention it’s a great place for photographers or a photo-club meet up?
This year our local Zombie Walk Columbus (Ohio) benefits the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio and will take place on:

 Zombie Walk Columbus 2015, Friday, May 29 from 4:00 to 7:30 pm

To find the times and dates for your area or state check out ZombieWalk.Com or click the link to check the List of Zombie Walks by State

We’re lucky enough here in Central Ohio to also have the Midwest Haunters Convention held on the same date as Zombie Walk Columbus.  Founded in 2004, the Midwest Haunters Convention is the largest Halloween show of its kind.  

At the Midwest Haunter's Convention 

At the Midwest Haunter's Convention 

At the Midwest Haunter's Convention 

How To Act Like a Zombie
If you plan on attending one of this year’s Zombie Walks in your city, here are a few tips from Greg Nicotero. 
Greg Nicotero started out on AMC's "The Walking Dead" as head makeup-effects supervisor, but today, he has a more prominent role as one of the show's executive producers and directors.  He was featured on and in the article he gave these tips on what it takes to look and act like a zombie or walker.
Greg Nicotero on the set of The Walking Dead (Pic from

1) When you're not born with the undead look, customize:
"There's a visual attribute to it. We always go for people who have really good bone structure. Sometimes they have big eyes. On the show, all the walkers have contact lenses. All their eyes are dead, cloudy, bloodshot and disgusting. The better their eyes read, then the more effective their look is. Often, we'll do custom dentures so it looks like their lips are peeled away, revealing more teeth, which is a visual we took from the graphic novel. Sometimes you'll look at real mummified corpses, and the lips shrivel away, revealing teeth, which is this horrific look. We mimic that."

2) Don't be a textbook monster:
"We audition people and have Zombie School every year. It gives me an opportunity to see everybody ahead of time and get a gauge of what they look like and how their performance is. Our extras are unlike any extras. They're not just sitting at a table in the background pretending to have dinner and sip wine. Our extras are the guys who come up to the table, flip the table over and attack the actors, so it's really important that they can perform and take direction. So I work with them quite a bit to make sure their movements are realistic. We try to avoid the Frankenstein look where their arms are outstretched. Or someone will drag their leg and look like the Mummy or another person has their hands in claws next to their face like The Wolfman. All these people are going for the classic movie clich├ęs, which we try to break."

Prom Zombie

3) Act (kind of) drunk:
"We kind of refer to our walkers like a lion stalking an animal. It can be slow and methodical, but when there's a human nearby, they can get pretty riled up and active. And I will always tell people, if you see people walking out of a bar at two in the morning, you'll notice there's a disconnect between their brain and their feet and their arms. They think they're walking straight but they're walking crooked. So when I'm on set, I'll always tell people, keep your shoulders slumped, relax your body. If you're too tense and you're too stiff, it looks fake. I'll always say disconnect. Don't be too aware -- if you hear a noise, don't turn around quickly. Your reactions should be dulled down. It's a lot harder than it sounds or looks."

My Josie as a Zombie Doggie

4) Don't blink:
"I directed the episode in which a walker killed Dale. I was very specific with him. He had really good bone structure and he literally looked like a horrific doll. It was a really neat makeup my guys did. In editing I made sure to cut out any instances where the actor blinked. When people blink, that's an involuntary reflex, so with zombies, I try to take those lifelike performance bits away. You watch it and it's so weird, and you might not realize why."

The undead  with the living  (that's me on the left)

5) Watch your mouth:
"On the show, we have this flavored stain, and any time we shoot zombies close up, we make them swish this stain in their mouth. It's like cake icing. It turns their tongues and gums black. When you see someone with a pink tongue and pink gums, that looks very alive. But you figure once these walkers die and everything starts decomposing, their tongues wouldn't be pink. They would be black. I always look for stuff like that. The minute you see pink flesh underneath what's supposed to be dead and decaying flesh, for me it takes me out of the story."

6) Act like an animal:
"One day I was showing a zombie how to eat human flesh. I said, 'You know when you watch Animal Planet or National Geographic and you see a hyena eating a zebra? That's what you want. We want it to be raw, intense. You're not using your hands to rip meat out; you're literally using your mouth. When you see a hyena eating a zebra and it's tugging at the body trying to wrench meat free.' They look at me like I'm crazy. I don't get it."

I hope you're able to make it to one of the Zombie Walks this year and while there don’t forget to donate to their charitable cause. 


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Toinette's Limoncello

I met Toinette, (Antoinette) through our friend Larry whom Toinette was dating.  Not only is she a great cook, but she’s fun to be around and a good conversationalist.  We used to meet for lunch once or twice a month. And oh, did I mention smart?  
She was a college professor at a local college here in central Ohio but took position in another state, so with our busy lives we don't get to see each other like we used too.  
I do have a few of Toinette’s recipes, like her Shrimp Salsa, (a fav) but I never got a chance to ask her for her Limoncello recipe.  Toinette makes beautiful little bottles of this delicious adult citrus beverage to give out as gifts during the Christmas holidays.

Recently because the weather is finally improving and summer is right around the corner, I started thinking of a drink we could enjoy on hot summer days after a hard sweaty day working in the garden and around our little farm.
Toinette’s Limoncello came to mind so I looked up a few recipes. I plan on mixing my Limoncello with lemonade and serve over ice. Maybe I’ll add a few frozen strawberries or raspberries!  Doesn't that just sound like a cool refreshing summer drink? This will also be nice to serve to dinner guests

Limoncello takes a couple months to make from start to finish, so if you want it ready in time for hot summer days you may want to start the process in the spring.  If you too want to give beautiful little bottles of this as Holiday gifts, start at least 2 months ahead or in early October.

Beautiful light yellow Limoncello

The History of Limoncello
Limoncello is the second most popular liqueur in Italy
Its origins, like so many Italian inventions, are folkloric and a matter of debate, its history lost between myth and legend.
Ownership of the original Limoncello recipe is claimed by people from Sorrento, Amalfi and Capri, three towns within a few miles of each other. The drink was widely consumed in that area since the beginning of 1900, but was not trademarked until 1988. But Limoncello’s roots go back many centuries earlier with some historians believing fishermen drank it to steel themselves against medieval invasions.  There are even claims that monks created it in their monasteries or that it was invented by wealthy Amalfi-area families.

How Limoncello is Made
“Limoncello is the delicious result of an abundance of lemons and a dose of patience.”
The zest of the lemon is the main ingredient because it's rich in essential oils and has a distinct aroma. Lemons with a thick skin are the best to make Limoncello.
The best Limoncello comes from the big, ripe lemons of the Mediterranean, but any variety of lemons may be used.  Grain alcohol and sugar are the other main ingredients, but Vodka is the most commonly used for homemade Limoncello.

Serving Limoncello
Limoncello can be served before or after dinner, with the dessert course or as aperitif or digestive drink.  But this potent liqueur is most appropriately served chilled in slender cordial glasses. One sips Limoncello slowly, not all at one time as a shot. This liqueur is delicious when paired with Italian desserts, such as Tiramisu, a Pear Tarte, or almost any chocolate concoction. Limoncello may also be served drizzled over ice cream or fruit salads.
In Italy, during the hot summer days, Limoncello is a very popular grand finale to any meal, usually just after coffee.
In the United States, Limoncello is also increasingly used in cocktails (which is my goal), usually paired with vodka, tonic water or Champagne. It can be served at room temperature or chilled and great for an Italian Dinner Party.

Homemade Limoncello

2 bottle (750 ml) vodka
15 lemons
6 cups water
5 -1/3 cups sugar

Bowl full of lemons ready to zest

How to Make:
Wash and then peel the lemons using a potato peeler.
Be careful not to get the white part of the lemon on the peel. The white part is bitter and will not give you the best results.

Use a potato peeler to zest the lemons 

Place the vodka into a lidded glass container and then add the lemon peels.

Add the zest to the jar with vodka

Zested lemons and a bird's eye view of the peels and vodka in the jar

Stir the peels and vodka, put the lid on the jar and set in a cool dark area to infuse for about 21 days.

Stir the vodka and lemon zest

After the vodka has infused for 21 days, use a colander to strain the vodka into a bowl to remove the lemon peels.  Set the infused vodka aside. 
Or if you wish, let the lemon zest stay a little while longer as I did. 

Limoncello after weeks in the pantry

Place the water and sugar in a medium saucepan.  Heat to a low simmer. Whisk until all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature.

Heat the water and sugar together in a medium saucepan

Add the sugar syrup to the infused vodka and whisk to combine.

Mix sugar syrup with vodka mixture

Place the mixture back into the lidded container. Place container in a cool dark place for an additional 30 days. Shake the bottle occasionally to disperse the sugar.
After the mixture has rested for the 30 days, remove the lemon zest if you didn't the first time and separate into decorative bottles or canning jars and store in the freezer.


Don't Waste Those Lemons!!
After the Limoncello was blended and put into the pantry to brew for weeks, I used a juicer to remove the lemon juice from the leftover lemons.

About 1/2 to 3/4 cup (or to your desired tartness) of the concentrated lemon juice mixed with 2 quarts of water and a little sugar makes wonderful fresh lemonade!  I froze the lemon juice in small single serving containers for later use.
The rest of the lemons and the seeds went out to the pasture for the animals to have a snack too, so nothing was wasted.

I am currently working on cleaning out my flowers beds and uncovering emerging tulips and daffodils.  
I’m also in the middle of building a small greenhouse from old salvaged wood windows.  
I can’t wait until it’s complete and I’m so glad Spring has arrived!



Building a Greenhouse (Part One)

A greenhouse has always been on my list of things I want to help with gardening.  
When we lived in the burgs (city) our house had a 3 seasons room (sometimes called a Florida Room in this area), which was the closest to owning a greenhouse I have been.  
Because of all those windows it was easier to get my seeds going in early spring.  Having an actual greenhouse will give me a head start on planting and will also extend my growing periods. 

How a greenhouse works is simple. Sun streams through the windows and warms the surfaces inside. The glass or glazed panels trap the heat, keeping the temperature inside the greenhouse warmer than outside. 

Because the sun is key, it is best to build the greenhouse on the south – southeast side of the house and away from the shadow of other structures or large trees.

A Greenhouse Will:
  • Provide crop shelter from hail, cold, frost, snow, high winds, or heavy rain.
  • Provide better control over bugs, mice, rabbits or anything that can get into a garden.
  • Extend the growing season up to a few months or, depending on your greenhouse, enabling year round crops.

I have been debating whether to purchase a greenhouse kit or just build one myself.  I decided to look for old windows and build it myself. 
I searched on Craigslist and found an ad for windows from a woman who had new vinyl windows installed to replace her old wood ones.    
I purchased most of the regular size windows for $2.00 a piece and really large windows for $5.00 each, along with 2 old French doors.

There is an approximately 5' by 8’ concrete stoop off our guest bedroom, along with sliding patio doors, so I decided to build the greenhouse there.  The location is on the end of our house closest to my vegetable garden, on the southeast side of the house and right next to our patio.  The door from the guest bedroom will allow easy access to the greenhouse doing cold winter months. I can already see a small sparkling nature decorated Christmas tree set up in the greenhouse, but I’m getting ahead of myself.  First I must BUILD the greenhouse!

Glass sliding doors and concrete stoop is ground zero

The first step is to draw up a plan of how the greenhouse will look, how big it is going to be and to make a list of needed lumber and supplies.
Plan, Plan, Plan! It is the most important step.

Written plans and dog paw prints
I decided to use 2 x 4’s for framing and coated exterior screws, which resist rust.
I usually have a stockpile of salvaged lumber and 2 x 4’s but my wood pile is low so I had to purchase the wood, ouch!
Since the concrete patio stoop is 5 feet by 8 feet, that will be the size of the greenhouse.

The roof needs to have a slant to allow rain and snow to drain, mine will end up with about a 4 ½ inch drop.
I also had to draw up where each window was going to be placed and how to frame them in. I also spent the better part of one day sorting and organizing the salvaged windows to find ones that would fit the space.
I decided to use the two French doors as part of the walls, and found another one I think would work. 
The greenhouse is going to be lean-to style, meaning built against the house and having only three walls and a slant roof. 

Of course the official first day of construction was cloudy with rain off and on, rain seems to follows me.

I started by framing the two side walls.  I have found it’s easier to build the wall first on a flat surface or ground, then lift it into place. 
This is the same method used when I built the scratch yard for the chicken coop.  
Once the walls for the greenhouse were built, I secured each to the house and the concrete stoop by pre-drilling the screw holes and then using Tapcons to fasten into place.

Frame of one side wall

Next I needed to decide where the door going from the greenhouse to the patio was going to be.  There is one step going down to our patio from the stoop so the door will be placed at that step.  The front wall had to be built in two sections, leaving an opening for a door, with framing on both sides.
The door will be built later. 

Left side of door frame

Left side of door frame

On this front wall I also decided to use my largest salvaged window, a huge multiple paned picture window. 
Using the window measurements, I build a frame to hold the window tightly in place.  
After the frame was built, I attached it to the two side walls, and then used Tapcon (concrete screws) to secure the wall to the stoop.  My son Daniel and his friend Charlie helped to set the window in place and then we attached it to the frame with screws. 

Front wall window framed in

Large window installed on front wall

Window framed and installed, door opening framed in and two side walls ready for windows

Nest was to place windows in the side walls.  I decided to put one French door on each side wall so built frames and set them into place. 

My son Daniel was a huge help when needed

The third French door I also framed facing our patio then used smaller windows on the opposite wall, facing towards my garden.

2 doors for side walls and large window in front.  And door frame in place. 

Finishing the last wall of windows

When the three walls were complete, my husband Bill and I cut the roof rafters out of 2 x 4's and screwed them on top of the three walls.  I decided to lay the roof rafters on their side to give the roofing panels more support and give me more inside head space.
We have a four foot overhang all the way around our house.  That overhang was incorporated as part or half of the greenhouse roof, which was my son Daniel's idea. And it worked great.  The other half of the roof was constructed at a slant to allow rain or snow to drain off.

Roof  rafters installed

The hubby looking out at me.  Next we will install the roofing panels and put up the wood siding

Costs So Far:
$21.00 for the salvage doors and windows I used.  (I still have many and may resell a few to recover any other costs)
Approximately $45.00 for 2 x 4's.
Approximately $15.00 for screws and Tapcons
For a total of $81.00 so far.
The roofing panels will cost about $20.00 a panel and the wood siding about $22.00 a sheet.
I'm hoping to keep the final cost under $350.00.  

The Next Steps:
Painting the rafters before installing Suntuf Clear Polycarbonate Roofing Panel (from Home Depot). 
Cover the three walls with T1-11 wood siding.
Add corner round trim inside the greenhouse around all the windows.
Build and install the door.
Put new caulk around all the window panes and seal any cracks in other places.
Install roof top or wall air vents. (will prevent overheating)
And last, build potting benches. (I'll use scrap 2 x 4's and skids)

Things I’m Considering:
Running electric to the greenhouse
Types of Ventilation
Using an RV Air Vent and Cap for ventilation
Installing retractable shade curtains or cloth or blinds
Having a heat source in the winter months
Keeping a Greenhouse Journal
(All the extras I am not including in the building costs because I don't "need" most of the things on this list.  It is more of a "want" list.)

Check back soon for part two of building a greenhouse!

I am so excited about how my greenhouse is already turning out! Besides dreamily visualizing decorating it for the holidays I think I will add a small strand of white lights for summer patio dinner parties!


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Strawberry Jam (No Canning Required)

Strawberry Freezer Jam in 30 Minutes

My future daughter-in-law's mom Terri recently made a batch of strawberry jam and I can't wait for our berries to get ripe in our region! Strawberries are ripe here in central Ohio around the first week in June.  I originally posted a recipe on here when I first started my blog but thought it time I updated the recipe!

I started making Strawberry Freezer Jam in the early 1990’s after tasting my sister Kathy’s jam.  And now my kids will not eat (or even like) commercially produced jam. Every year we go to a “Pick Your Own” farm to pick the strawberries fresh. 

When choosing strawberries, home grown or farm fresh strawberries produce the best jam.  Store purchased lack the intense sweet strawberry flavor. 

I have taken photos every year of us, me and my kids in the strawberry patch picking berries.  My kids are all grown now, so the photos are like a time lapse.  A bitter sweet thing for me to look at, which sometimes brings me to tears and causes me to long for the days when they were still little.  I told them recently that I hope they take their children and their grandchildren berry picking long after I’m gone.


Chicken Spaghetti (Tetrazzini)

What ever you call it; Chicken Spaghetti, Chicken Tetrazzini or Chicken Noodle Casserole, it doesn't really matter, this stuff is delicious!

My husband’s family, (particularly his cousins) seem to have a lot of good recipes.  And although I only have a few of them, the ones I have are great like this super moist Banana Nut Bread
On one of our trips to visit my husband’s cousin Krista in Illinois, Krista made two big casseroles of this stuff and we were hooked. 

This recipe can be easily adjusted to your family’s tastes so here's a few tips before beginning:
  • I reduced the onion to half and added an additional stalk of celery. 
  • We love cheese, so I added a little extra.
  • Krista’s recipe called for cream of chicken soup, instead of chicken stock and flour to thicken the sauce.
  • You can add fresh sliced mushrooms, just cook with the celery and onions.  
  • I added thyme for more flavor.
  • You can add parsley for a nice splash of color.
  • For spicy add a little cayenne pepper.
  • I added a cheese and bread crumb topping. Yum!
  • If you're out of bread crumbs, just use mozzarella cheese as the topping.
  • Use turkey instead of chicken.
  • This recipe is even better with a fresh slow cooked chicken and homemade chicken stock!