Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dangerous Gardening

I like cactus - perhaps  they reflect my prickly nature.   Because they require little water and the mule deer don't eat them, they are perfect for my high desert patio.  Last summer I found a ton of them on clearance at Home Depot - they were cheap so I picked up about 8.  They have been sitting around waiting and finally yesterday, I got around to potting them.  Working with cactus is a dangerous proposition so I wear thick rubber gloves and try not to handle them.  My solution was a pair of BBQ tongs that I used to arrange them in the pot.  Then I used a melon baller to put the soil between them all the while wearing my gloves.  I have to say I did not get bitten once.  I added a couple of skulls and skeletons so they could fit into the theme of this blog.  Pathetic really!

Safety first - gloves and bbq tongs


 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Welcome New Friends

Welcome new friends to the Haunted Parlor - Justine, Debra, Tom, The Countess VonRauber and Jeano Roid.  Thanks for popping by and saying hello.  I am enjoying following their blogs:
Justine at http://justineshalloween.blogspot.com/
Debra at http://shewhoseeks.blogspot.com/
Tom at http://garagesalin.blogspot.com/
The Countess VonRauber at http://2ndstreetcemetary.blogspot.com/
Jeano Roid at http://spookyfranklin.blogspot.com/


Welcome to the haunted parlor - come in and enjoy the spirits.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Craft Beer, Spooky Beer and Crappy Beer

His Lordship and I love beer.  So much so that we drink a lot of it.  We are happy to live in a state with an amazing thriving craft beer industry, Colorado.  Every month we go on over to the Kinsfolk bar for a local  tap takeover.  We get to drink some awesome beer and they always give us a free pint glass.  Here are some we've collected from the last four brewery takeovers: Oskar Blues, Ska, The Great Divide, Eddyline.

Free Pint Glasses - my favorite is Ska Breweries Pin Stripe

 


















So on Oct. 29th for the Eddyline takeover, we had to dressed as Germans in celebration of Oktoberfest.  Don't you like his Lordships hat?? He could barely fit it on his head.  However, no one there was dressed up, causing us to feel foolish and flee to the Front Range BBQ Halloween Party were we had a great dinner, listened to live music, and saw some brilliant costumes. I wish this was my real hair.







Since beer is important to us and so is Halloween, I wanted to serve something yummy but that also had a spooky label at my Halloween parties.  Here are four we tried that did not break the bank.


The two on the right are Day of the Dead Beers - From Mexico.  They were pretty palatable, have great labels and were fairly easy on the budget.  The two on the left are pumpkin beers.  While I am not crazy about pumpkin beer, I prefer Magic Hats Wilhelm Scream to the Shipyard Pumpkin Head.  In fact, I dislike the Pumpkin Head so much that it wins my crappy beer award.  I apologize if you like it.  Please come on over and drink it.  Otherwise, I need to find a recipe in which it can be utilized. Other great beers we served I cannot show you because they were imbibed long ago. Those were the Arrogant Bastard Ale and the Arrogant Bastard Black IPA.  The latter being the best beer to pass my lips this year, with the exception of Pliny the Elder.  Please give me your recommendations for your favorite spooky brews. And please try some Colorado beers - they are really turning out some good stuff.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Spooky Moon Raffle Prize

So Frykitty over at Spooky Moon http://www.spookymoon.com/wp/ had an awesome raffle in October.  To enter, one had only to send her a Halloween card.  She then raffled off all the cute and cool Halloween crafts she had made this year.  I was chosen and got to pick from a selection of neat items.  I chose this cute little shadow box girl with a dead tree and house.  I find her so delightful that I need to make some more so that she is not lonely on my wall.  The tutorial for making her is here: http://www.spookymoon.com/wp/?p=5439
 
So thank you Fry kitty for this wonderful gift.  I love her very much.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Spooky Scary Package

 
I spent the last 10 days in Minneapolis with family.  I originally scheduled the trip to see two bands at the little Varsity Theater on the University of Minnesota campus.  The bands were amazing and I am so glad I made the effort to go see them.  The first was New Politics, a great indie bands with 2 members who hail from Denmark.  This was such a great high energy show and Dave, the front man can really dance.  By the end of the show, he was pulling off  his shirt and I swore I was at a Chippendales show - he was ripped.  This old lady was lusting after his fine young body.  Anyhow, they were thoroughly entertaining and I heartily recommend their music and live performance.
 
The other band I saw was The Bleachers - a solo project of Jack Antonoff of the indie band Fun.   I couldn't believe my luck when again it was an incredible, high energy show with an amazingly charismatic front man.  Great music, great band - go see them!  They were worth every penny of the ticket price.
So all this babbling about music explains why I was not home when my package from the spooky, scary give away arrived from Abby at the blog of the same name http://spooky-scary.blogspot.com/.  But it was waiting for me and upon opening, was full of fun Halloween goodies.  She packaged it so cute to with many adorable Halloween papers.  Here is a photo of how it looked when it arrived:
Look at all the fun stuff in there - Halloween pez, pumpkins cups, Sugar Babies, Mike and Ikes, A trick or treat candle, serving dishes, and lots more underneath.
 Games, zombies, monsters, an ice cube tray, stickers, a serving dish - it goes on and on.  So I pledge to Abby to play with all this stuff and blog about it.  It will do my old soul some good to have some young fun!  Plus I love these adorable papers she line the box with:

 So from the bottom of my heart Thank you Abby and Aquaman for your generous giveaway.  If you have a chance, pop over to http://spooky-scary.blogspot.com/ and swap a howdy with Abby.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pictures with Dead Loved Ones?

The Victorians liked to take pictures with their dead loved ones as keepsakes.  Can you imagine a corpse that died say in Houston Texas in July and cuddling on up to that loved one for a photo shoot.  No wonder they needed Lilies and lots of them. In some of these pictures, it is hard to tell who is dead.  I guess the photographers had all sorts of tricks of the trade to make them appear alive.  I am so glad that I have taken picture of my love ones before they died so I don't have to cozy with the corpse.
For the full article click here:
http://www.viralnova.com/post-mortem-victorian-photographs/#.VFNSTL7RIz4.email



3.) Photographers employed a variety of tricks to make their subjects look more life-like.
It is hard to tell who is dead.


 

 13.) In this photograph, the girl standing in the middle is the deceased. The photographer attempted to make her look more alive by drawing on her pupils.

6.) Sometimes, photographers would try to make it appear like the dead person was sleeping.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Spooky Spread - what was hot and what was not part 2


So some of the other items to make to spooky spread are three kinds of salsa.  I think these went over well and the leftovers are easy to freeze and reuse in all sorts of things.  If you have never made your own salsa, it is super easy.


Red Devil Salsa

For the red devil salsa, I start with fire roasted tomatoes - just buy the best tomatoes out there, cut out the brown stem part and put them on a cookie sheet under the broiler.  After about 10 minutes the skins split and turn black.  Then it is easy to peel them once they have cooled.  Squeeze the excess water and seeds out (I save my tomato water to add to spaghetti or curry) and throw them in the blender with 1/2 a red onion, a handful of fresh cilantro, minced garlic,  cayenne pepper,  cumin, salt, lime juice, and a minced, seeded jalepeno.  If you don't have a jalepeno, any hot pepper will do.  Puree, taste to adjust seasoning and place in the fridge for flavors to blend..

 
I served this salsa with these Halloween chips from Cost Plus World Market.  Although they have cute shapes, they  taste kinda crappy.  Never again.  Plus I think my guests would have been more comfortable with Scoops anyway.
 
 
























Green Goo Salsa

Pretty much the same as a red salsa but instead of tomatoes use tomatillos.  I don't fire roast these but cook them in a small amount of broth in a sauce pan till they get kind of brown and squishy.  Avoid adding anything red to this salsa as it turns it a yucky brown  - so instead of a red onion I use a white onion, and no cayenne pepper either - just add extra jalepenos for heat.  But cilantro, garlic, lime juice, salt are all good in this salsa.  The tomatillos give it a different flavor altogether.

Mango Pinapple Avacado Salsa

Ok this is not spooky but so yummy and everyone seemed to enjoy this the most.

The recipe is:
1 chopped mango,
2 chopped avacados
1/2 chopped pineapple
1/2 chopped red pepper
1/4 chopped red onion
juice of 1 lime
handful of chopped cilantro

Dressing: olive oil, sea salt cayenne pepper, lime juice

Chop mango, pineapple, red pepper, red onion, cilantro, lime juice.  At this point you have the option of putting it in the fridge for a day if you want to make it in advance.  Add avocado and dressing shortly before serving.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Spooky spread what's hot and what's not - part 3

Now we come to two of the dishes on my spooky spread that were super hot and must serve again.  Dishes I will share with you cause you might want to add them to your spooky spread.

Spooky Stomboli


This is a great party appetizer that I have been making for years, given to me by my friend Sue back when we taught school together in the early 1990's.  This year I Halloweenified it by making it into a mummy.
So this recipe starts with some Rhodes bread dough that get defrosted in the freezer over night.
 
 
 
Then take the defrosted bread dough and stretch it to the size of a cookie sheet.  Warning - if the dough is defrosted for more than overnight it will rise and become the size of a water melon so don't defrost it anymore than 12 hours before you are going to use it and do not defrost at room temperature.
 
Next sliced and dice an 1/8 pound of Salami and 1/8 pound of deli ham.  Place it in the center of the bread dough along with a generous amount of mozzarella cheese.
 
You could just roll it up this way but to make it into a mummy, cut the extra dough into strips with kitchen shears and weave it together.

 
Add olives for eyes and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Pop into a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes or when it sounds hollow when flicked.  I always wait and cook this as the party is going.  I like to serve it piping hot out of the oven.
 
Devilled Eggs
 
These devilled eggs are always crowd pleasers.  They are easy to eat and most people like them.  A word about the eggs however.  Make sure they are old - like really old.  For the first party, my two cartons of eggs were to fresh.  After about the fourth batch that would not peel, I got so frustrated that I burst a blood vessel in my eye.  It was a Lady M temper tantrum.  But I learned my lesson and for the second party, I bought the eggs that Safeway had half price because they were expiring and let those sit in the fridge for 5 days.  They worked out just fine.
That's what happened to my eye when my hard boiled eggs would not peel

 
I put some really cute decorations on my eggs although making spiders out of olives was not all that easy.  Got this idea here: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/517562182150836806/
 
 

A final word about Crackers

I got these beautiful rice crackers in black and orange thinking they would be so gorgeous with my spooky spread from my local organic grocer.  However, they were not that popular with the guests.  What did the guests like??? Triscuits!
 
 
 
 




















And Cheesy Pumpkins

These cheesy pumpkins from Cost Plus were the worst product ever - yuk.  I will never serve them again - way to salty and not at all cheesy.
 
 
well thanks for bearing with me through this 3 part blog.  I need to write this all down or will not remember for next year thus repeating all my mistakes. 
 

Spooky Spread - what was hot, what was not part 1

So after two parties, I am evaluating the success of the spooky spread, what was eaten and what was left to rot upon the table. I do however, need to break this blog into parts or else it will be huge.

The spread consisted of these items

1. Brain dip - served at the first party not at the second.
2. Cupcakes - three kinds - pumpkin with cream cheese frosting, chocolate with white buttercream, vanilla with chocolate buttercream.
3. Gory Guacamole
4. Red devil Salsa
5. Green Goo Salsa
6. Pineapple - Mango Salsa
7. Spooky Stomboli
8. Devilled Eggs
9. Moldy Cheese tray including Monster Cheese
10. Trolls eyeballs
11. Chips
12. Cheese pumpkins
13. Rice crackers
14. Triscuits
15. Veggies and dip

So lets start with number 1 - Brain dip. 

Beautiful presentation, yummy dip but it makes a ton.  So much so that after the first party, his Lordship and I ate it all week, still threw half and I could not bring myself to make it again. We were tired of Brain dip and it is not inexpensive because it calls for crab meat.  Perhaps I will look for a smaller brain mold so I can halve the recipe. I forgot to take a picture of my brain dip but it basically looked like this:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-sPcqqmDYsOY/TqF_Z01VwzI/AAAAAAAAA2s/zed2Nzs63gk/s1600/Shrimp+Brain+Dip.JPG


I hate to leave it out because it is so much fun to say "hmmm brains" with your party guests. But I also don't want to eat the whole thing.  I think the only solution is to have more friends - a lot more.

2. Creepy Cupcakes


Again I went overboard and made a ton of creepy cupcakes - but then my sister sent me all these gorgeous cupcake toppers so what could I do?  The beauty of cupcakes, however, is that they freeze.  So any frosted cupcakes leftover from the two parties just went straight into the freezer.  His Lordship and I have been enjoying one for dessert every night this week.  However, I think for next year, I would half every recipe as I made too many.  I made everything from scratch this year and was delighted to find out how easy this was.  So no more boxes of cakes or cans of frosting for Lady M. The toppers from Michaels were cute as a button and made a delightful presentation.  As for the yum factor, not so much.  I just pull them off and skip the calories.

Cupcake toppers from Toggs - beautiful to look at but not so good to eat
So I used these to make three kinds of cupcakes - chocolate with buttercream vanilla icing

Pumpkin with cream cheese icing
 
And vanilla with buttercream chocolate icing.  Those are the Day of the Dead faces.
 
 

3. Gory Guacamole

 Guacamole was generally a hit and I would serve it again.  Plus his Lordship and I just made sure we ate fajitas the next day to use it up since a couple days in the fridge is all it does.
 
If you don't make it let me give you my homemade recipe as it is sooo easy and looks all green and gooey thus has a nice presentation on a Halloween table.
 
I start with about 4 avacados.  They must yield to gentle pressure upon squeezing them or they are not ripe.  If they are too squishy, they will be brown.  So choosing perfect avacados makes your guacamole.  I cut these in half, remove pits, scoop out insides with a spoon and mash with a fork.  Then add 3 finely chopped green onions, a 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, two mashed cloves of garlic, a splash a Worcestershire sauce, about 1/2 teaspoon of dried cumin, and about 12 cherry tomatoes cut in half.  Add salt to taste and the juice of a lime. Chill in the fridge covered with saran wrap - exposure to air will turn it brown.
 
Let me know if you need any of these recipes as they are all online (except my guacamole) and I can share the links.  Keep in mind the baking is high altitude as I live at 6,700 feet above the sea.
 


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

All cleaned up

It always amazes me how it takes 2 months to set up Halloween and 3 days to put it away.  This year his Lordship reclaimed his garage and banished most of the storage containers to the laundry room.  I think they will stay cleaner in there so I gave in. Just hope I have the space to wash clothes. Only three spooky things get to live in the house year round - the taxidermy bat and two spider sculptures. I have been dusting, cleaning, running laundry, climbing ladders for the past 72 hours and I think it's done.  Except in 3 months when I open a drawer and find a bag of  plastic cockroaches - always happens.  Hope your clean up is going well and that the post Halloween depression is not to severe this year. 

On a scarier note, I always put up lots of paper rats silhouettes at Halloween.  Well last night while watching TV, his Lordship and I heard the scritch, scratch of a real one!  Time to call the exterminator as they are moving in for the winter.  Yikes!

The chosen few who get to live in the house year round
 


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Monday, November 3, 2014

So glad I sent a card

So over at Spooky Moon, Fry Kitty had a giveaway.  A chance to win a cool prize and all you had to do was send her a card, 'cause she had a dream that her Grandma got loads of Halloween cards.  Easy enough.  Well today I found out that I was a winner.  In fact we are all winners!!! What an amazing giveaway.....Here's the link - http://www.spookymoon.com/wp/?p=5853.  She has a great blog.  The prizes are all really cool that it was hard to choose.  In the end I decided on the shadow box.


On a sadder note, I drop a large picture on my lamp and knocked it off the desk.  The whole base cracked.  I was gonna pitch it but then I thought maybe I will spookify it.  Perhaps I will do something more permanent than stretch pantyhose over it like this:

Saturday, November 1, 2014

It must be my lucky day

Over at the Spooky Scary blog, I signed up for the Halloween giveaway and today I found out I won.

So excited! Cannot wait for a suprise package in the mail. Thanks to Abby and of course, Aquaman for making this possible.  You can visit them both at http://spooky-scary.blogspot.com/.  Just one of the great blogs I found while going through the count down to Halloween blog list at http://www.countdowntohalloween.com/



This is Aquaman who, I'm guessing, exerted himself choosing a winner and needed a nap. I love his costume.