Aww, how the World Wide Web has grown over the years! ;) What will be quite interesting to see is 2005, since from May through mid-July I had a large ramp for Potter Party stuff, both 5000 unique visitors via PotterParties.com, plus a ton more who just found my site via Google. Since that has subsided but not really dropped off as clifflike as November 2004 or 2003, I think 2005 will show that August just kept going head on into Halloween season. I'm getting suggestions that I could make some decent money by using Google AdSense on www.britta.com. I understand at least Google ads are topical and at least not completely garish, since they could even go at the very bottom of the page, underneath my design layout, but I'm not sure about it. Anyone have any comments whether I should start that or not? It would be nice to make money off my hard work on the parties & projects I describe, let alone the webwork I've done to display it, but somehow that smacks of the "dark side"...yes, this coming from someone in the Marketing department of her employer, I know! :P
Anyway, back to Halloween...Like last year, I started many weeks ago, actually. Of course I would probably have started even earlier if it wasn't for the Year Six at Hogwarts party being in mid-July, but that HAD to be done! ;) At the end of July I acquired a full set of antique specimen-style bottles from a neighbor of my parents, which seemed perfect for the enhanced mad scientist display I have wanted to do for several years now. I won't actually get my hands on these bottles until the weekend of Oct 1st, but I've already seen detailed photos, so I have been thriftstore shopping for more mad scientist accessories!
There is a big twist, however. Halloween will be even more interesting this year than in 2002 when I was both moving out of my apartment and away for a full week in October for our choir performance in Washington DC. I will be at the NANOG conference in Los Angeles the entire week before my party - ack! Yes, all the way from early on Sat, Oct 22nd, coming back Friday morning the 28th with my party on Saturday as usual. This will be a challenge, but I think it will be doable, even with being out of the country on vacation for half of September too! All cookies will be made well before leaving for LA, either frozen or in airtight containers (I usually make the cookies at least one week ahead anyway), then it'll be the eyeballs , heart & brain Friday when I get back, along with the other perishables. Those are all usually done starting Thursday night anyway, so it'll be a matter of my costume being done, as well as as much decorating as possible well in advance, so it's only food left when I get back, plus the graveyard setup on Saturday before the party. The stone walls and black ceiling have been left up from the Hogwarts party, so that's already a huge head start on decorating.
As for my costume, I was lacking inspiration or themes this year. I was hoping for something to go with the mad scientist theme, but Bride of Frankenstein is just a white dress & a crazy huge streaky wig, and I can't be Inga from Young Frankenstein (Teri Garr's character) without having the entire YF crew with me to make sense, so that was out. So, I went totally the opposite & decided to pull out a "one of these days" costume idea to be an elaborate pirate. I've used the frock coat from the men's obviously-inspired-by-Johnny-Depp Simplicity costume pattern #4923 size men's medium, which I bought on one of the 99-cent pattern sales last year since I thought they looked fun to make someday. By starting Thursday evening, the coat is almost done, since it is all constructed, the cuffs are decorated and attached properly, I added functional pockets to this coat, the decorative pocket flaps are on, but the interfacing is still to come, plus the collar I have added that isn't on the original pattern but I think it looks cooler. The frock coat is brown, cream & tan "brocade," actually patterned woven denim, with black leather collar, cuffs & accents. The black "leather" is the leftovers from the $15/yd fake leather I used for the Emma Peel Avengers outfit for Halloween 1998! I have also already altered a size 20 pair of $5 thriftstore pants to fit by drastically taking in the inseam, since they were black knit with a leather strip and silver stud detail down the outside side of each leg. I haven't decided on the tight pants tucked into the black boots or maybe a long skirt that I could hike up to reveal black fishnet stockings, but I do know I will wear a large-brimmed hat with huge white ostrich plumes, black leather boots, frilly blouse, and tan renfaire bodice. Oh, yes, there will be copious cleavage, whether or not there will be anyone at the party who will appreciate it! ;)
My enhanced mad scientist display will be the most obvious New Thing this year. Last year the improved pipe organ was in the dining area space (that is used as the entry for Halloween to force traffic through the graveyard in the side yard vs. the front door), but this year I will leave my glass dining table in place, pushed against the wall for best traffic flow, then set up the beakers & flasks I already bought in 2001, add in the "new" antique glassware, add some of the more mundane-looking Hogwarts Potions bottles, on the wall behind probably have a black paper faux chalkboard like for Hogwarts Tranfisguration class, add in some thriftsore candleholders I thought looked enough like bunsen burner stands, and some test tubes with a brand-new $6 microscope - those just found at Fry's the electronics superstore...isn't it odd that Fry's is the easiest place to find test tubes in Silicon Valley? ;) My hopes are to have the eyeballs, brain & heart set up in the mad scientist display, with the brain in a dish probably labeled AB NORMAL ala Young Frankenstein, and it would also be very cool to have mix-your-own drinks there...but since the glowing liquids I have used for the display in previous years are non-toxic poster paints lighted from below by a black light, either I have to move those to the very back and mark them biohazard or something, then have other drinkables accessible in the front, or find glowing ingestibles. I have heard that tonic water glows blue in black light, so I might do some more black light experimentation, then I could post a "Reanimate a Zombie" drink recipe and maybe some other "experiment" recipes on the chalkboard...this idea is still being refined of course! Gotta figure out if I'm just going to hang the white lab coat I have on a hook like the doctor is away for the moment, easiest of course, or perhaps use my dress form or something to make an actual mad scientist standing there...hmm...
What I am doing to reinforce the faux stone archway is using a 1/2" thick very heavy piece of 4'x8' plywood my landlord left in my side yard since before I moved in 3 years ago, so it has been really waterlogged so much that it has warped & started cracking in places, but I think it will be ok enough to use as a more stable backing piece for the foam stone archway since it is so heavy. With some crosspiece feet at the bottom, it can hopefully be freestanding vs. attempting to anchor it to the stucco wall that didn't work very well last year. I might even be able to use the arch piece I cut out as the new door, since the paneling kept coming unglued from the foam door last year anyway, but we'll see. I got better construction adhesive, so I will glue the plywood to the back of the foam piece, then also use screws to help it stay, since last year I did glue inset pieces of wood to stabilize the opening. By screwing the plywood through the foam into those inset pieces, I should have enough stability around the foam to get the door hinges to really work with the doorway this time vs. just leaving the door propped open for show.
The food arrangement is always challenging, so I will try a whole new plan this year. See, to force entry traffic through the graveyard to the back patio then into the house via the sliding door into the dining area, I have the front door blocked off. Since the first view of inside is the dining area that becomes a bad place for the main food table. My foyer is the next logical place since the front door is not being used, which is what I have done the past 2 years, but that is a bit too cramped really. So, this year I will gamble on the weather being okay and have the larger food table outside on the patio, with some goodies scattered around the inside, and the coffeetable in the living room - excuse me, the "undead" room! - will now be free for food since the mad scientist display will be in the dining area instead. Gelatin body parts like the brain , eyeballs and bleeding heart will fit perfectly on the mad scientist table anyway - bwahaha! I want to hang the medium cauldron on my wrought-iron garden tripod (since the witches brew has only been half-consumed the past couple years, I can probably limit that to the medium cauldron), so the witch who stirs the brew will also be hanging outside, too. Now watch this be the first time since 2000 that it rains the day of my party? The plan is for everything important to be under the patio overhang just in case, so we can still access everything if the weather doesn't cooperate.
So, after all that, you can see that the newness of this year's party will be more rearranging what I already have vs. really being new, which is a relief seeing I'll be gone so much. It will still seem "new" since it will be all in different places, so I think some details people have missed in previous years will get noticed this time. I just need to get my costume done, get the decorations I have up on the walls & everywhere, then get the mad scientist display set, plus the food, then voila - Halloween party in one day after being out of town for a week! Yes, I am probably insane, but I absolutely cannot NOT have a Halloween party. It WILL happen somehow! ;)