I can't remember a wetter October since I've been hosting Halloween! Due to the wind & rain, I didn't get out the fog machines, nor did I try the projector ghosts for fear of damaging the electronics. Hopefully next year my weather luck will come back! I also knew I didn't want to use foam or cardboard, but I didn't get the chance for the plasma TV frame, nor did I get photos chosen for that slideshow, so that's on the list for next year too. This year the Gingerbread Gargoyles got decorated so people could tell what they were, I did finally get the prize trophies done, after at least 4 years of having the idea on my list, the ruined walls were finished for out front by the pirates, and all 13 travel photos got finished & framed for the quiz "Where in the World is Miss Wells?"
Even though the rain was on & off all day, thankfully it didn't actively rain during the party, but it was still chilly enough no one ventured past the covered patio. Just as well that I didn't spend time decorating the backyard this year. Many were searching for all 21 owls inside & outside, and I insisted everyone try the Miss Wells quiz even if just to appreciate my Photoshop efforts. ;) Except for the oldest, the kids ended up watching The Nightmare Before Christmas in the guest room, having a grand time, while around 10pm the adults played the Name That Tune Spooky Shows quiz. Somehow either when I prepped the quiz back in August or transferring to my iPhone I ended up with only 12 clips instead of 13...ack! I tallied the votes for the costumes, some furious competition between categories, then announced the winners, presenting them all with their custom trophies! I did sever & serve the Haunted Human Heart again out in the lab, to the lovely disgusted looks on faces around me. :) About 11pm people started leaving, with the last guests gone by midnight, fairly early for Halloween, but everyone said they had a great time!
For even more details, you can click to read these links...
Final Party Prep
On Friday I got home from my work trip to Sonoma after final shopping about 3pm, got all the front yard display set out & arranged with all the gravestones & pirates, just in time for the wind & rain to start & continue all night! :( I prayed for the wind to be kind to the gravestones, but a couple still poked through their supports, and the pirates were definitely soggy, but at least nothing blew away.
I had revised my planned menu based on what I thought was reasonable to finish even with being gone 3 days during party week, and that worked pretty well since only the Freshly Flayed Flesh didn't get out for the party. I wouldn't even have gotten that much done if it wasn't for the smaller crew of house-elves this year. Ruth & Glen came over Friday night for 2 hours, helping me hang the new chalkboard, tackling the spider biscuits, Violent Vertebrae prep, cheese slice cutting, quiz sheet cutting, and lemonade making, and new friend Lori who found me online showed up around 5pm on party day & stayed until 6:30, helping immensely with the fresh potions & fresh fruit & veggies. SInce I was still painting eyeballs at 6pm(!), the final push of setting everything out went to the guests who arrived before official party start time. Kian set out the sliced apples with caramel dip, Ashlyn set out cookies, Tracia assembled the Violent Vertebrae and got the chicken wings in the oven, and Christopher lighted candles & filled the cauldron with the premixed lemonade. After more people started arriving, John R. was elected for dry ice duty, and he did a great job, especially with the lab table!
Gingerbread Haunted House, strike 2
My biggest disappointment was delaying the gingerbread haunted house yet again, since this time the rainy weather defeated me. The weekend before the party I had planned to dedicate to the gingerbread haunted house, but it was drizzling all weekend, so in hopes of drier weather eventually, first I took care of other remaining projects, like decorating all 4 dozen Gingerbread Gargoyles, arranging & tying the ruined walls to the tree out front ready for pirates, decorating the pipe organ out on the patio, making marshmallow fondant & various colors of modeling chocolate that needed to rest before use. I had to decorate the inside walls with the rice paper Beware the Brocade wallpaper and piped wainscoting & window trim before assembling anyway, so that was done on schedule Saturday night, along with a good start on shingling the roof pieces until running out of the black candy melts. Sunday morning I bought more candy melts for the rest of the shingles, but since it was still raining off & on, my first attempt at construction wasn't working at all, with the walls sagging & not holding each other up, breaking a couple major pieces. Since the forecast was for dry weather by Monday I still hoped I could finish before my work trip, so I decorated the outer walls with lavender-gray marshmallow fondant siding, piped black window frame details, cut replacement foam core floor/ceiling pieces for the ones that completely broke during the first construction attempt, and glued the rest of the shingles on the roof pieces. Monday night after work the walls went up fine with the new floor/ceiling foamcore piece, I glued the main roof pieces together separately on the table, and I assembled all the inside gingerbread furniture except the pipe organ. When I went to bed I thought I might be in good shape, however Tuesday night my luck ran out. With slightly burned fingers to show for it, I was able to make a successful spooky pulled sugar tree on my second attempt since the first one shattered, I made poured candy lab glassware, made cotton candy fog, and even finalized the Easier Eerie Eyeballs recipe with 7 dozen in molds in the fridge, but the roof just would not stay together to get onto the house, after three attempts that were like watching a Food Network cake challenge gone horribly wrong with gasps from the audience. I had to clean up my house before leaving on my work trip and get up early to drive to Sonoma, so by the time I finally went to sleep, I had decided there was absolutely no way I could still finish with the quality I wanted in 24 hours when I still had all the other party prep to do when I got back from the trip. Since the plain gingerbread pieces not only lasted fine since last year with only a few breaking or warped too badly to use, but they still tasted fine since there's no egg or butter in the structural dough (the whole weekend I ate lots of breakage since I didn't take time to eat properly!), I decided I would try keeping these pieces yet another year, and really get started earlier next year. Third time's the charm, right? :/
new server hardware needed
While I was struggling with being really busy at work and frustrated with the gingerbread house, our poor 5-year old Mac Mini server was finally groaning under the traffic volume of britta.com & EerieElegance.com, enough that I was getting public complaints when the email actually got through to me. The past few years the machine has crashed at least once in October due to the log files filling up the free space on the machine from all the Halloween season hits, but after rebooting it would work fine again. This year we think it has just reached such a high volume of traffic, the machine is too old, so I'm figuring out the best pricing I can get for new hardware. On top of that I had finally bought a second wifi webcam, and fought with placement since the wifi doesn't reach the patio very well, but then my home server that saves the webcam images, a 10-year-old G4 tower, decided to work fine up until Friday night when it crashed before I'd finished my prep work. After having to powercycle twice before it came back up, I didn't have faith that it would work as the broadcast page, so I didn't even update britta.com with the webcam broadcast, but it was saving images okay the last time I was able to quickly check in the afternoon. I had emails from those who had the direct webcam links that they tuned in a couple times during the party successfully, but I didn't know until Sunday morning when the G4 was hung again that the captures stopped saving about 4pm, so I have nothing at all from the party! Argh! So, that makes TWO MacMinis on my list to purchase, one for a new home server and the other for britta.com. I'm so glad I have friends who work for Apple and their company store sells the hardware I need at a discount!
And the winners are...!
Scariest Costume = Glen attacked by spiders
Most Original Costume = Bugs Bunny Ruth & Elmer Fudd George, complete with gun that said BANG!
Ultimate Costume = Bun in the Oven Audene with Chef Jeff, complete with detailed recipe including sugar & spice, with alternate snips & snails, & warnings of oven being tempermental while baking!
Ogle the Owls = Piper got all 21 first! Since people kept asking me for hints, this was more difficult than I thought!
Where in the World is Miss Wells? = Mari! Everyone got them all, so I picked number from 1-20 to break the tie
Creepy Cuisine = Glen for his glowing jack o lantern cheese ball!
Name that Tune Spooky Shows = Ben & Marco with 11!
For all the photos I've been able to post so far, including all the costumes & all Creepy Cuisine, click here.
I hope everyone had a horribly haunted Halloween! Until next year! :)