Saturday, October 24, 2009

Halloween Bash

Well, maybe if I have enough time I'll be able to keep up with this thing more than I have. I know, I know-we're looking at almost a year's hiatus here. Sad. just sad.

I need to preface this post by filling you in a little on my past. When I was a little girl, the absolute BEST birthday party I ever attended was also the ONLY themed party I ever saw. Ironically, it was thrown by my poorest friend. I have no idea how her mom scraped together the money for it, but while we were all having parties at waterparks or pools with lots of grocery store made cakes and loads of presents, she sat down and thought out a way to have an amazing party at home. Everything was homemade. There were halloween themed treats, licorice for straws, and a halloween punch in a cauldron that made its own fog. That party has always stuck with me and it's always been a feeling I've wanted to recreate for my girls.

This was also the friend who came to school with the coolest homemade costumes, while the rest of us had those amazingly crappy storebought ones. Surely you remember those? The plastic pants and shirts that split at the seam with the first step, or shredded in the cold of the typical SD Halloween? The stupid mask with eye holes in the wrong spot and an elastic band to stapled to it to hold in on your head that was broken before your first march around the resource room in the school Halloween parade?

Now I know I sound like a total brat. I should be more grateful for the fact my parents were finacially comfortable enough to be able to shower us with so many expensive things. But I always remember being jealous of my friend and the clever and creative things her mother came up with to make her childhood so fun.

Lizzie's birthday is November 3. Its amazing how difficult a time I have remembering WHEN her birthday is. Disgraceful-I know. But see, the problem lies in the day and the year... I can never seem to remember... was it Nov. 3, 2002 or was it Nov. 2, 2003?!? In any case, this year the closest Saturday is on Halloween. Why pass up the chance for a really fun birthday party?!?

The plan is to have some girls over in the afternoon for crafts, grab some pumpkin shaped pizza from Papa Murphy's and then run out and trick or treat in one big mob. I hope it works out!

It's not always easy to find cool crafts for this season. Sure, there's plenty of artfoam pumpkins you can decorate-but how boring is THAT? We could carve pumpkins-but it seems to me that you need an adult for each little carver at the age of 6 or 7 and we'd be spread too thin. Decorating them with paints would require them to be dry by the time they left, and I don't know too many 7 year olds that are sparing enough with paint to actually have it dry in less than 24 hrs. But I really like this luminaria idea! The jar is substantial enough to mean there's no tipped over bags and it seems like a bit less of a fire hazard. We did a test one tonight and I think the main hurdle will be getting each girl to learn to tear off their strips of tape from the roll.

You can't beat good old Oriental Trading Post for fun and cheap ideas for crafts for any holiday. I hadn't realized initially that they carried so many crafty kits. I always thought they were all about decorations for parties-but nay nay! They are really a one stop shop for loot, crafts, and decor. We're going simple this year. I figure the girls really don't need any loot, considering they'll have the chance to get plenty of candy. Instead, we're going to string a fimo clay bracelet. We picked something with an autumn theme, so they have a longer chance to wear it.

The Cake:
I have been holding on to this idea for at least a year after a friend showed it to my husband just to squick him out-he has spider issues. This has got to be the coolest cupcake idea I've ever seen! I ran a test run of these but alas, ran into trouble. I have this awesome chocolate ganache recipe I love, and topped some chocolate cupcakes with it. I thought we'd go the humble route and just draw our legs on in frosting, but my pathetic test looked quite similar to a pile of crap on a plate that a four year old had then finger painted in. My Pocky legs were a fail too. The package had all the chocolate sticks glued together in a large mass. Breaking one off meant breaking the stick itself-they're surprisingly thin and delicate. Perhaps its easier if you don't live in a cultural backwater where the Pocky has probably sat on the shelf languishing for the last 12 months because no one actually eats anything that hip around here. So, we're resorting to black licorice legs and hoping it works. I don't have any more cupcakes to test it with! I figure I'll quarter the licorice and stick it in the cake for legs and then half a bite size snickers for the head. If the head and body are covered in ganache, it should look uniform enough. (right?!?)

Lizzie is going as a ghostly bride-sort of a non-scary version of Burton's Corpse Bride. It was a compromise. She wanted to a be a bride. I thought a ghost sounded easy. I can't sew and see no reason to buy a big box store costumethat you can't see under your winter coat when you're out trick or treating anyway. So we'll use Marth Stewart's ghost costume sans hood, and add a veil, big ol' ring and some white face paint.

I'm planning on going as a raven-again thanks to inspiration from Martha. Black clothes, and a neat feathered mask should be easy to pull together. Katie has a cute flowered snowsuit, and I think we'll make her a poncho out of fleece in the shape of flower petals and call it good. Josh was initally going to go as a blue jay (feathered masks are easy and his winter coat is blue) but I sense a lack of enthusiasam there.

We'll see how much of a fail all of this is. Sadly, I lack the talent of my friend's crafty mother-just look at past attempts at costumes and cakes!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

EEEWWWW! Great present!

Look what I got!


Guess what it is yet? Its a Shiitake Mushroom growing kit. You're looking at the product of 6-18 months worth of spore incubation all waiting to burst forth in mushroomy goodness. Its currently resting in my fridge, going through a "cold shock" to make it ready for production. I should have at least a pound of fresh shiitakes two weeks from Friday. Are ya a little squicked out?

Paul and Dusty's Ultimate Shiitake Recipe (courtesy of
1/8 cup Olive oil
1/8 cup sesame oil
4-5 tablespoons tamari
2 glugs and 1 splash of white wine

Stir vigorously. place 1 lb of whole fresh shrooms gills up. Pour sauce on shrooms and stir. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or barbecue on an open grill for a smoky flavor. Serve hot with seafood, rice, past or whatever.

Jealous yet? I'm so freaking excited I could pee my pants! Josh -the fungus hater... is totally revolted! He's probably not impressed with it currently residing next to his Pepsi either. I'm having visions of grabbing a couple more kits, miraculously manifesting a garage, and selling them to the local health food store and some of the more upscale resturants in town and I haven't even grown my first mushroom yet. Shrooms! Wonderful shrooms- every two weeks for the next six months. WOOT!