brittadotcom (brittadotcom) wrote,

Halloween 2008 Party Post-Mortem

Whew! Another fun Halloween party is over! I must remember quality over quantity, since my quantity of guests has been dropping the past couple years, down to 31 this year, but I'm sure that number would still inspire "guest envy" like in that one Amazon review. ;) I can say my quality of enthusiastic guests has remained fabulous, with fantastic costumes, and even clever food, and what I like the most is seeing my friends' creativity!

The Party

The Barbieris arrived about 20 minutes to 7 to get dressed since they drove from Davis, and I was already starting the fog machines in front & back, but I hadn't started any fruit or veggie prep, let alone Freshly Flayed Flesh or several others. We all got our costumes on first, then Tracia volunteered to set up the mad scientist lab, which was great since I hadn't even started that, and I was able to get some more food out. Joan arrived next, very close to on time, then no one for probably another 30 minutes, then a constant trickle for awhile. I finally gave up on food except for the Spicy Gargoyle Wings, and just got my costume photo before anything got messed up, then had fun talking with everyone, including several people playing my new haunted pipe organ in the shed chapel - hooray! :D Sheila brought her copy of Eerie Elegance for me to sign, so we took a photo of me beaming holding the book & my purple pen. We decided her costume was an Eerie Elegance fan! haha...Somehow people left without me getting photos of their costumes, like Nat Spider Attack and his fiancee Sharon the Witch, Noelle the red & black fairy with her daughter Galen as Belle, Rock Star Ashlyn, and even George the Cereal Killer. Cyd the Purple Fairy is only in a candid shot, not an official costume photo. Argh! Charles was a disturbingly accurate Heath Ledger Joker that kept freaking me out every time I'd look at him, especially since he's such a nice mellow guy! Robin used her hair as the fuse for her stick of dynamite costume - very clever! Dave & Wendy with baby Jax were perfect as Schroeder, Lucy & Charlie Brown, complete with mini piano AND extra costumes to dress up their characters Great Pumpkin style - adorable! I have to admit with less people it is easier for me to make the rounds and actually have conversations with all of my guests so that is nice. People started leaving before the music quiz and most didn't leave costume votes behind, so a few people I would not let leave until we gathered people & did the Name That Tune Spooky Pop Songs quiz right then & there. Robert was the actual winner with 10 out of 13, Noelle & Brian both had 8, and Melissa had 7, so they all drew prizes from the treasure chest. I'm glad I didn't kill myself preparing extra quizzes or special trophy awards now! People started leaving after the quiz, so no costume prizes were given, and I didn't have the chance to grade the Creepy Cuisine either! I liked the Monster Toes so let Tracey & Brian choose a prize from the treasure chest before they left. The Barbieris were staying the night, but Count Glen the Vampire was last to leave otherwise. After everyone left I only had two costume ballots, so that means ties for every category! For any winners below, you can come get your prizes out of the treasure chest whenever you like. :)

Scariest Costume: Charles as The Joker / Nat Attacked by a Giant Spider
Most Original Costume: Cyd the Purple Fairy / Robert the Mad Hatter
Ultimate Costume: The Peanuts Gang (the Taublers) / The Hippies (Tracey & Brian)

Creepy Cuisine
Best Appetizer: Monster Toes (Pigs in Blankets) by Tracey & Brian
Best Name: Cloning Experiment #25368903: Status: Recycle (cream cheese & chili sauce) by Cyd
Best Presentation: Ghostly Gruel (artichoke jalapeno dip with bones & ghost chips) by Tracia
Best Dessert: Buried Alive Earthquakes (creamy chocolate cupcakes w/ plastic arms) by Dave & Wendy

Harpo Inc Calling...?!?

I hinted at this yesterday in hopes that positive thoughts from you all might help swing to it actually happening, but as of today I know that I will not be on the Oprah show this week...however this is the full story!

Friday morning I was already exhausted, wondering how I could possibly get everything done - par for the course as every year! - but moving through my list in the kitchen when I heard the phone ring. Now most of my calls are telemarketers so I always look at the callerID before I pick up, otherwise I let the machine pick up for me. I saw the callerID say "Harpo Inc" with a 312 area code, and I thought "Isn't that Oprah's company? But no WAY would the show be calling ME! I'm sure it's some telemarketing to subscribe to her magazine or something..." so I let the machine get it. The voice said "Hello, I'm looking for Britta Peterson. I'm a producer with the Oprah Winfrey Show and..." AND I RAN FOR THE PHONE! OMG OMG OMG! She never said exactly how they found me, so I'm assuming they googled Halloween Recipes like the rest of the world finds me, but she was asking when my book came out, what my most popular Halloween recipes were, and they thought it might be fun to do a live Skype video chat segment on the Friday show on Halloween. It was a fairly long call as she asked my age, if I had kids, how big my party is, if I could ship them any food, what my home internet connection speed was, etc, but then she had to run into a meeting so I never bugged her with questions how she found me or my home number (I swear my whois for has my cell not home!). She had emailed me as she was calling, so I replied with the links to my video podcasts since we discussed those, and she wanted recent photos of me, so I sent those too. I also needed to hit the post office to mail some international book orders (you can't pop international Priority Mail in your mailbox but must hand it personally to a postal employee), so without asking first I just sent a book to the producer's attention at the address in her email signature, paying extra to be sure it arrived on Monday. I figured make it as easy for them as possible to have me on the show would give me a better chance of actually getting on!

This was great fun at the party, since I was trying to restrain myself from telling people for fear of jinxing things, but as people arrived at the party, I would say "I need to play you this phone message" and those who had already heard it would agree "Yes you must hear it!" As I played the message and they heard the word Oprah, their eyes would get huge & their jaws would drop! haha! All weekend I kept saying even if I don't get on the show, it was still VERY COOL that the Oprah show called ME!

Since the producer had mentioned they would ship me a specific Skype video device since they had problems with consistent equipment otherwise, I was already afraid it was a no-go when it was Tuesday and no further news, but I figured it was appropriate to ask if my book arrived yesterday, plus I offered to try to ship some food to arrive Thursday if they wanted to show food & the book even if no time for me on the show, but I only wanted to go to that expense if they actually thought there was a chance they'd use it, so that got a reply as I figured it would. "Thanks so much! We did get the book yesterday! Well done!!! Thanks! Unfortunately, we don't have time this year for a big Halloween segment so I'm sorry to say we have to pass! But at least you're on our radar now for any future Halloween segments, etc!" A bit disappointing, sure, but if I had just sent a book cold to some address I found for the Oprah show, I'm sure it would have been tossed aside, but this way they know who I am, and who knows what might happen next year with more lead time? ...and I had already been using the phrase "on Oprah's radar" so that's really funny she used the same phrase. It's like how people are always saying "it's an honor just to be nominated for an award" right? haha... :)

Final Party Prep

This was a year with absolutely no help until the last 20 minutes before the party, plus there was a once-in-a-lifetime work party Thursday night until 3am, then the Oprah Winfrey Show called me Friday morning! So, even though I had already tried to give myself a break by not making quite as much food since I knew I had fewer guests coming, even my truncated menu didn't all get done! No spider biscuits even though I had all the stuff, no Batato Chips since I couldn't find large enough purple potatoes this year, and no Freshly Flayed Flesh yet again because I ran out of time. I did make the spiderweb pastry brie again, but even the sliced cheese never got set out! I had made the meringue bones the week before but they never got out either since I just forgot. I did make mojitoes again, but I swear even with the same brand of mixer it's not gelling consistently, so I really need to make new molds to make life easier, which is definitely the plan for next year, since I would also like to sell the molds. ;) The heart, brain, one hand & the eyeballs got made on Friday afternoon, but not decorated until Saturday afternoon. I swear my eyes would not stay open as I was sitting down painting eyeballs from 2-3pm, since I only had about 3 hours sleep at the most. I had discovered earlier in the week that the old wired webcam not longer focuses properly, so I was down to only one webcam. Thank goodness it kept working this time! I found a new location for it on the patio looking back into the kitchen, so I think that showed more party action. Even though I had tested the Airport Express 2 days before & it worked fine, it was cutting in & out Saturday afternoon, so I just left it off and only used my iPod directly connected into the stereo the quiz later since I wasn't sure my iPod battery would last the whole party, so no music this year. Since the main machine running iTunes kept playing fine, my best guess is wifi congestion but the only other wifi device on my network was the webcam, so maybe I had a bunch of viewers in the afternoon bogging down my connection? I used this same setup last year with two webcams without the same issue though, so it is a mystery to me that I hope I can troubleshoot before my next party. Except for some candles that were going out last-minute, most areas were decorated to my satisfaction by Saturday afternoon at least. My Pumpkin Queen costume was still being finished at 6:30am the morning of the party, including last-minute skirt overhaul redesign, but at least my pipe organ was completed to my satisfaction for year one. I intend to add details & improve it each year of course, but I love the pipe organ, and my musical friends all had to play it, which made me grin ear to ear! Silly Mom asked me why I was bothering making it playable! heh...

I had originally planned not to do the mad scientist lab this year in favor of a gingerbread haunted mansion on the kitchen table, but that didn't happen, and the chalkboard was up on the wall, but I still didn't have the lab display set up when the Barbieris arrived. Tracia offered to set it up for me, so I showed her the mad scientist box with everything & let her do whatever she wanted, finding the right drinks & juices from the bar area. Everyone had fun with mixing experiments again, even though they don't write down their "lab reports" so we can have a contest. If I can do the gingerbread mansion next year, we'll still mix drinks but they will be potions out on the patio by the bar instead. I get bored myself if I do the same exact idea for too many years in a row! ;)

I never did put up any flagstone walls this year, since I was concerned about the cats climbing them, plus I knew they weren't going to be easy to put up or look very good, since I had to tear them down & wad them up last year when the kittens were climbing & shredding the gossamer! Since the cats are a year old now, and Onyx is huge, I was afraid they might try climbing again, ruining my hard work of putting them up, when I could spend that time on other prep. I still hate the white walls for Halloween, but I will hopefully this next year get my actual paint treatment done in my living room & kitchen before next Halloween. Not like I haven't had the paint in my garage for over 2 years already! *sigh*

Even though I kept thinking how much did NOT get done, now that I see my list of new projects, I did have a lot of new stuff this year, even though most were small details people probably didn't notice until I pointed them out. I feel more accomplished now! :)

New Projects

  • spider dangles for tier trays from black & pewter beads & steel wire - bought spider charms many years ago, so I wanted to get this done this year! I will be making more, including a set of jewelry to wear! :)
  • Halloween wine charms - finally! I had bought all the stuff last year, but we know how last October kinda sucked all around. Halloween tree ornaments, little party favors, and some cheap jewelry, with steel wire and black, purple & green beads from my stash
  • orange cellophane on my solar lights, front & back - since the solar lights are bluish, I put 3 layers of orange cellophane around the outside of the square lanterns to give them some Halloween spirit. I did the front only last year, so I made sure to get the back ones done this year too.
  • new Ghostly Greenery - my dad built me a fancy windowbox for my back window, so I bought gray & purple plants, all perennials so I can replant them in the yard when they outgrow the pots. I didn't get the MistMakers hooked up to make fog coming out of the windowbox, so that will be next year I hope. I still LOVE the plants!
  • plant urns with purple & orange plants - last year for Year 7 at Hogwarts I found purple New Zealand grass, heuchera, & some fuzzy purple velvet plant for my pair of lightweight volcanic stone urns which I loved, and those lasted through last Halloween, but only one fuzzy velvet plant survived to this year, so it went in the windowbox. For this spring & summer I had other plants in the urns, and what survived was the trailing ground cover with tiny white blossoms, so I found nice variegated orange lantana and more purple New Zealand flax grass when I bought pipe organ supplies at Home Depot the week before the party. I didn't plant them until the day of the party since I didn't want them stressed from repotting & not last to look good for the party! I love how these look..very Eerie Elegance I think! :)
  • table floral arrangements - I had a little Eerie Elegance book release movie night 6 weeks ago, and at Trader Joes I saw these adorable "pumpkin trees" which are chili peppers! I cut dusty miller from my front yard to make spooky table floral arrangements, and since I've kept the water filled, they've actually lasted all the way to Halloween - hooray!
  • new spiderweb 2-tier serving tray from Target - perfect for the spiderweb brie, but I took off the stupid spider & used one of my spider dangles that was much more elegant
  • new giant posable spider from Target for my giant web, so that went on the new grape trellis this year
  • Pirate Corner moved to the front yard - Guests agreed with me last year that lots of people missed the Pirate Corner completely since it was in the back corner where people weren't congregating, but I didn't have my brainstorm until I was mowing the front lawn the week before the should go under my front tree, especially since the flowers I planted in June aren't doing so well, so the pirates would distract from that. ;) I rigged a taplight up in the tree to help with lighting if the neighbor's porch lights were off, and this way everyone saw it as they came up to the house. We'll see if this lasts this'll be a test how safe my neighborhood far so good and it's been out there since Friday evening.
  • new front door wreath - 80 skeleton hands for $1 for 10 from Dollar Tree, an old Christmas wire wreath form, and a $7 Ross skull door knocker. I was getting sick of the grapevine, skull & black roses wreath I made in 1994, way before any Halloween wreaths were ever for sale!
  • new LED tealights for wax spill safety - I have seen some black plastic tealights but they're more expensive plus I've been acquiring lots of the plain white LED tealights, so I made sleeves like I had done for the battery tapers years before. This time since I needed the LED lights to go over candleholder spikes, I used black fun foam to make the surround taller since the foam supported the weight of the tealight
  • new LED large pillars - Christmas clearance red, green & white candy cane LED pillars, spray-painted black since they already had a good waxlike shape at the top, but since I couldn't snip the solid candle spikes off my sconces, I glued funfoam to the bottom just tall enough to go over the spike. The problem still exists of LEDs or other battery candles not giving as much light as real flames, so I use a mix wherever real flames are safe.
  • giant cat eye window clings - I've seen these the past couple years but pretty expensive in a catalog, so grabbed them at Wishing Well when I found them much cheaper this year...and even better for orange eyes this year since I swear it looks exactly like Ebony's mischevious look! ;)
  • purple spiderweb lace curtains with black & gold tapestry drapes for the Undead Room
  • Beware the Brocade lampshade - inkjet printable silk using my original design from the Eerie Elegance book cover, then hot-glued to an existing Victorian-style lampshade. Very subtle, but I set my copy of the book on the table under the lamp in hopes people might notice. It also blends with the new purple spiderweb curtains so that all works together.
  • enhanced Violent Vertebrae - nowhere around here had Party Swirls to make this the easy recipe I conceived last year, so I made my own tortilla rollups with various veggie cream cheese spreads. This actually worked better since they were thinner but taller so looked much more like a real spine! I also got the cheese discs cut the perfect size, so I really liked how this turned out. Since those rollups won't hold together if strung vertically on a wire, I think they will always flank the real human spine on the large silver platter. I like the leaf lettuce behind though for the juxtaposition of fancy buffet with unexpected body parts. ;)
  • new recipe Luminous Lanterns - sugar cookies with pumpkin butter in the dough, cutout jack o'lantern features, then hard candy in the cutouts so the cookies glow like real jack o'lanterns. I've had this idea for awhile but never found a cookie cutter with cutout features I liked until last year Halloween clearance. I used a battery taplight in a flat glass bowl with a glass plate over the top so you could see the light glowing through the features on the cookies. I need to refine this recipe since I didn't get the green icing stem & vines on, plus I'm not sure about the flavor combination, since I LOVE the pumpkin flavor in the cookies, but I think the burst of sugar of the hard candy overpowers the delicate pumpkin flavor. More experimentation next year!
  • ...and last but definitely not least, finally the Haunted Pipe Organ made its debut! I started writing up the how-to here, but I think it needs a separate post with a separate gallery album, so stay tuned for that!

    I'm still bugging people for photos especially if they got costumes I missed, but mine & Tracia's are up in my gallery already. For the sake of getting this posted before I feel even worse from the sore throat I got Monday afternoon that seems to be turning into a cold (blech!), I haven't put all the photo links for individual projects inside the text, so you'll just have to scroll through the album to see everything. :)

    Except for getting sick, I like having Halloween week to enjoy after my party is over! If I'm over my cold enough by Thursday night, I might finally have time to carve a pumpkin for the first time since 1999...we'll see! :)

    P.S. It's been a year as of today, and I love Ebony & Onyx, but I still miss you, Kylie! Big hugs to you forever snoozing in the sunshine on a nice fluffy pillow...
  • Tags: eerie elegance, halloween, parties, recipes

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