Saturday, October 10, 2009


Homemade costumes are the best. But for those of use who are sewing-challenged, we have to go the store-bought route.

That does NOT mean you are limited to something involving a plastic mask with tiny holes the size of a pencil top to breathe out of. There are a lot of good Halloween shops out there.

If you want something more elaborate, your best bet is to go with a rental. Why pay $400 for a replica Southern belle dress to wear one night when you can rent one for the same time period for $50. Check out your local costume rental shops. If nothing else, the rental shops usually have good costumes for purchase.

Store Bought:
Although my mother and mother-in-law are/were wizzes with a sewing machine, I somehow missed that gene. I get my Halloween costumes the old fashioned way - I buy them. Other than your obvious local mega-stores (i.e., WalMart, Target, Kmart), here are a few national stores with decent costume choices:
  • - I've bought several costumes from this store. The sizing can occasionally be off, but the customer service is excellent. I got a new Wonder Woman costume the day after I called to exchange it for a new size. They have a pretty wide selection as well. They also often have discount codes for free shipping or a percentage off. For example, my latest catalog included coupon codes for $20 off purchase of $100 or more and $10 off purchase of $50 or more.
  • Fright Catalog - I would recommend the Fright Catalog if you're going for scarier costumes.
  • Halloween Express - similar collection as I have not had an opportunity to test their costumer service.
  • Spirit Halloween - If you have a store that appears randomly in the mall or a strip mall around Halloween-time, it's probably a Spirit Halloween store. Check the store first to get an idea of the scope of products before going to the store. But realize that there may be more items in the store than on the webiste and vice versa.
  • Disney Store - If you want to be a storybook princess, this is the place to go. You can visit local stores or check out the website. Some regular costume stores also carry Disney-branded costumes. I bought a Snow White costume from a Disney store and it was well-made, true to size, and looked like the real Snow White. Althought their choices seem to have dwindled in recent years.

There are a ton more costume stores on the internet. It all depends on what you're looking for. Sexy women's costumes seem to be the most prevalent (e.g., 3 Wishes, Cupcake Intimates, Annie's Costumes). But there are stores for every genre. The key is - DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE!!!!!

The longer you wait, the fewer you're choices. For online stores, you'll have to pay expedited shipping and deal with out of stock items the longer you wait. For local stores, expect to wait in long lines and findmissing costumes or costumes missing pieces. If you're truly torn between two costumes - buy multiple costumes and decide later. It's always better to have a spare costume that you haven't used, than to need a costume and not have one

DIY:There are some basic Do-It-Yourself costumes out there that even I could make. A few ideas include:

  • Spider - Fill three pair of black tights with newspaper, plastic bags or some type of stuffing. Cut the legs off and sew or glew them shut. Glue the legs to a black sweathshirt ans wear with black pants.
  • Scarecrow - Do I really need to give you directions for this one? Step 1: Put on a pair of jeans. Step 2: Put on an old flanner shirt. Step 3: Put on an old straw hat. Step 4: Paint some red rouge circles on your cheeks and use some mascara or eye liner to draw fake eye lashes. Steph 4: Not absolutely necessary - but stuff some hay in your neckline and at the bottom of our sleeves and pants legs.
  • Rubics Cube, Dice or a Leggo - Get a box and get creative. Spray paint and a pair of scissors or box cutters and you're set.
  • Hogette - Okay, this is a D.C. thing, but seriously, who couldn't be a Hogette? Put on a Redskins jersey, a sock hat and a hog nose. Throw in a grass skirt if you're feeling frisky. You're a Hogette!
  • Fruit of the Loom Bunch of Grapes (or perhaps a Wino?) - Put on a purple, black or green sweat suit. Use some safety pins to pin purple or green balloons to your sweat suit. You're a bunch of grapes.
  • Butterfly - Buy wings and attach them. Or make your own using cardboard and paint/colors/makers. Don't forget the headband with pipecleaners for antenna. The more colors the better!
  • Charlie Brown - super easy for bald men - Black shorts and a yellow shirt. Draw a chevron stripe across the yellow shirt with a black marker or paint. Carry a football if you want (but never ever kick the football, because let's face it Charlie Brown - it just never happens).
  • Cereal Killer - Seriously. Take some empty boxes of cereal and glue/pin/staple them to a sweatshirt or t-shirt. Get a fake knife. You're done. If you want to be a little more creative, cut some holes in the boxes and put some fake blood on the boxes and on the knife.

So really. There is NO EXCUSE for someone NOT having a costume for Halloween! Even if they are invited to the party 15 minutes before hand. Look around your house and closet and be creative. And don't forget Goodwill! Because although you may no longer have a tie dyed mini skirt to become the 80's rocker you once were one very last time, Goodwill likely does...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Planning for Props

Okay - my house flooded and I have changed jobs and am no longer able to access blogspot or other normal websites during the day (i.e., hotmail). So I'm a little behind. I realize that Halloween is coming very soon so let's get going. NOW is the time to start decorating!

If you're going to use any elaborate props or mechanical contraptions to haunt your home for Halloween, it's a little late but don't be discouraged!

For the most part, I've gone low tech or used store-bought props in the past. Maybe next year I will get around to bewitching my husband into helping me build something that moves. Now is the time to start thinking about what you want to do.

Store-Bought Props:

A lot of stores have sales going on. It's also good to shop before everything has been picked over.

Here are a few of my favorites stores:

  • Michael's - They're website is useless, except for one purpose. They post their weekly ads on the website and if you sign up for their e-mail list, they mail you coupons to use in the store. Just the other day, I used a 40% off coupon on an animated witch trick-or-treeter greeter.

  • The Fright Catalog - This store has everything from tombstones and bats to serious animatronics. The "Ratzo Creeper" and "Animated Hex" animatronics really creep me out.

  • Haunted Props - There stuff tends to be on the more expensive side, but it is cool to look at.

  • Fright Props - This store has a lot of pneumatic parts for DIY'ers. It also has some gruesome foam creatures.

  • Oriental Trading Company - This is a good source for party supplies such as plates, cups, and basic decorations. It's also a good source for cheap, smaller decorations like a tabletop cemetery kit or door decorations.

  • Local party supply stores - They tend to start stocking Halloween stuff around now. I would not go anywhere near these stores after October 15 because they can be super crowded, but for now they can be a lot of fun.

If you're shopping online, always check Retail Me Not for coupon codes.

DIY Projects:
Besides my edible creations, my DIY projects have consisted of ghosts, a wreath, tombstones and now a grim reaper. I will post detailed instructions of some of my DIY projects with photos in my next blog.

There are a lot more creative people out there though! There are individual pages here and there, but The Monster List of Halloween Projects has literally accumulated a MONSTER LIST of Halloween projects, with directions or links to other websites with directions.

This site has a lot more basic, non-mechanical props for your cemetary: Halloween Dark Site. I have made the grim reaper using the basic directions fromt their site and it was super easy!

Also - Buy or start making your costume NOW!!!! The longer you wait - the fewer the choices and the longer the lines. Don't procrastinate! Just pick something (hint, hint to Mr. Baker!)!

It's less than 30 days to Halloween! So start celebrating and start making stuff now to avoid the last minute rush.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Trifles: The Slacker's Dessert

I've been slacking at the blog for a couple of weeks, so I thought I'd write a post for slackers. Whenever I need a last minute/no effort/slacker dessert for a party, I make a trifle. They're super easy and require little time or planning.

The key to a trifle is the trifle bowl. This is what makes the dish look uber-fancy and make people think that you spent hours crafting it. They key to a trifle bowl is that it be footed so that it stands up nice and tall and that it be glass so everyone can see the layers. It can be as expensive or as cheap as you want. I got mine at Target for $7 several years ago, but they no longer carry the exact one. Bed Bath & Beyond, Crate & Barrel, K-Mart and Macy's all carry nice trifle bowls ranging in price from $9.99 to $59.99.

The second key to a trifle is to keep it simple. There are all kinds of recipes that require the making of custards and other fillings. Remember - this is the slacker's dessert. I use all store-bought pre-made items.

The final key to making a trifle is color and layering. You're really going for the oohh! awww! effect. So pick things that look pretty together. So long as they are all sweet, it will taste fine.

So here are a few of my favorite trifle recipes. When layering, this is the order I use:
  • Layer of cake/cookies broken into small pieces
  • Layer of fruit/toppings
  • Layer of something creamy
  • Layer of cake/cookies broken into small pieces
  • Layer of fruit/toppings
  • Layer of something creamy
  • Artfully arrange fruit/toppings

Halloween Trifle:
  • Cake/cookie: Brownies
  • Fruit/toppings: Crumbled oreos
  • Something creamy: Cool Whip mixed with orange food coloring
  • Top: Crumbled oreos and Ghost Marshmallow Peeps
Summer/Fourth of July Trifle:
  • Cake/cookies: Angel food cake (low fat) or pound cake
  • Fruit/toppings: Strawberries and blueberries
  • Something creamy: Cool Whip
  • Top: Arrange the strawberries and blueberries into a flag for July 4th or just in circles for other occasions
Christmas Trifle:
  • Cake/cookies: Gingerbread
  • Fruit/toppings: Crushed candy canes
  • Something creamy: Cool Whip
  • Top: A couple of gingerbread men cookies with sprinkled candy canes
Banana Pudding Trifle:
If I have the time, I will make Paula Deen's "Not Yo' Mamma's Banana Pudding" and put it in a trifle dish. I use the traditional vanilla wafers instead of Chessman cookies though. In a hurry, this will do:
  • Cake/cookies: Vanilla Wafers
  • Fruit/toppings: Sliced bananas - I put some flat on the cookies and also line some up on their side around the glass.
  • Something creamy: Vanilla pudding (Kraft sells pre-made pudding or you can make Jello pudding from the box). I usually mix some diced bananas with the vanilla pudding for flavor.
  • Top: Another layer of Vanilla wafers. I have tried putting bananas on top, but they brown very quickly.
Lemon Berry Trifle:
On this recipe, reverse the order slightly. Layer cake, then something creamy, then fruit and repeat.
  • Cake/cookies: Pound cake
  • Fruit/toppings: Blueberries (I've never tried it, but raspberries would also work.)
  • Something creamy: Lemon pie filling (found in a can in baking aisle) or lemon curd (with the jellies and jams at the grocery store)
  • Top: Arrange the blueberries. Add a sprig of mint if you have it.
Strawberry Shortcake Trifle:
  • Cake/cookies: Biscuits. (I know. It requires baking, but only about 10 minutes and it will take you that long to wash and slice the strawberries.)
  • Fruit/toppings: Strawberry glaze (available in the produce section in the summer) and sliced strawberries. Spoon the glaze on top of the biscuits and then place the sliced strawberries on top of the glaze. Remember to save 1 pretty strawberry with the top on for the top.
  • Something creamy: Cool Whip. (What else?)
  • Top: Arrange strawberry slices in circles on top of the last layer of Cool Whip. Make a strawberry fan from the unsliced strawberry or just put the whole strawberry in the middle.
A note about transporting a trifle - If you need to transport a trifle to a party or potluck, try to find a box that is a couple of inches taller and a couple of inches wider than your trifle bowl. Cover the top of the trifle bowl with plastic wrap and sit the bowl into the box. If you've got room on the sides for the bowl to move around, you can insert a couple of kitchen towels to cushion the bowl and fill the gap.

All of the above trifles should be refrigerated until just before serving. That way you can pull it from the refrigerator and walk out and gently place it on the table for dramatic effect. Make sure to wipe your brow after you're done so people will think you spent hours working on it!


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Don't eat the fruit!

"Don't eat the fruit!" That's the first thing I learned upon joining a sorority and, really, the first thing I learned in college. After completing a week or so of rush, the freshmen men and women announced which sororities or fraternities we were joining and then went off to fraternity field parties (literally, we took busses out to the middle of a field) where "hooch" (aka Purple Jesus, Jungle Juice, etc.) was the drink of choice.

For those of you who missed this experience, a typical recipe for "hooch" involves soaking sliced fruit for a couple of days in a large tub of Everclear (grain vodka) and then adding some Hawaiian Punch, Kool-Aid or whatever was available in large quantities and cheap. For us freshmen women, it was good advice to "not eat the fruit" because it absorbs a lot of the liquor and can result in bad consequences, especially if your out in a field in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of drunk frat boys and the bus doesn't come for a few hours still...

I am now too old and too sensible to drink hooch. But my hooch sipping/mixing days laid the groundwork for my now famous sangria.

At its heart, sangria is really just hooch for adults. A basic sangria recipe includes: wine, sliced fruit, liquor, sugar, and soda. I like to be creative and try different concoctions, but my basic red and white sangria recipes are party staples.

Sangria is the one recipe that I am routinely asked for. The problem is -- I don't have a recipe. I'm like a little old lady who just eyeballs something and can tell you whether it is the correct amount or not. You know the type that give's you a recipe that has a lot of "to taste" instead of measurements? That being said, I will attempt to divulge my basic sangria "recipe."

Common Ingredients:

There are certain ingredients common to any of my sangria recipes:
  • Fruit - I generally use at least 1 apple, 1 lemon, 1 lime and 1 orange. For a sweeter sangria, I'll add berries such as frozen strawberries or blueberries or cherries.

  • Sugar - The amount really depends on the size container you are using and how sweet you like your drinks. I generally start with 1 cup and then add more as I taste it.

  • Sprite - The key here is really a carbonated beverage. So 7-Up, gingerale or seltzer will work. With gingerale or seltzer, you may need to add more sugar though. Again, the amount depends on the size container you are using. I generally start with the equivalent of 1 can and then add as needed.

Red Sangria Ingredients:

  • All of the common ingredients listed above

  • Red wine - I usually go with a sweeter red wine like Cabernet Savignon. Red table wine will also work. I usually avoid Merlots (and not because of Sideways, but because they tend to be more expensive and aren't as sweet). Remember, that you're going to be mixing the wine with a lot of different ingredients, so it doesn't have to be a good red wine. For a large party, I typically purchase a large jugs of wine.

  • Tequila

  • Brandy

White Sangria Ingredients:

  • All of the common ingredients listed above. Note that you can substitue orange juice for some of the sugar or Sprite.

  • White wine - Again, cheap wine is fine. And a sweeter wine is usually better. Savignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or plain white table wine work. I generally do not use Rieslings because I'm generally making sangria for a large party and cannot find Riesling in large quantities for cheap, but it would work fine if you're making a smaller batch; just reduce the amount of sugar. I also generally do not use Chardonnay (unless it's the end of the night and I'm refilling the pitcher and that's all I have left, but I'm not a Chardonnay fan).

  • Light rum or vodka

  • Triple sec (optional)

Summer Blush Sangria (very refreshing on a hot day):

  • For fruit, I used 1 lemon, 1 lime, 1 orange and whatever berries are fresh and on sale. Most recently, I used strawberries and blueberries.
  • For wine, a blush wine or White Zinfandel.
  • For liquor, I used a raspberry rum and used less liquor than usual. (Mango rum would also work nicely.)
  • Double the amount of Sprite used in the typical recipe.

Directions (applies to all sangria recipes):

  1. At least 1 day before serving (but usually I do two), cut up all of the fruit and put it in a serving container. When cutting the citrus fruit, be sure to squeeze some of the juice into the container.
  2. Cover at least 3/4 of the fruit with liquor. As between the two liquors listed, I would use 3 parts tequila or rum/vodka for every 1 part brandy or triple sec. Some people complain that my sangrias are too strong, so you may want to use less depending on your crowd.
  3. Pour wine into the container. Make sure to leave a couple of inches of space at the top of the container.
  4. Stir it a couple of times to mix the liquor and wine and then let it sit until just before party time.
  5. Just before party time, stir the mixture. Then start adding sugar and Sprite. Start with a cup of sugar and a cup or so of Sprite. Stir and sample after each addition. If it doesn't taste "right," keep adding more sugar and Sprite.
  6. Sangria is best served over ice. I usually just have ice available next to the container because adding ice to the mixture will water it down.
  7. If you run out during a party but there is still fruit left in the container, just add more wine and more Sprite. Don't worry if it isn't the exact same type of wine as what you started with. But stick with the same general type of wine (i.e., don't go from a red to a white but Savignon Blanc to Pinot Grigio is okay).

A word about sangria containers - Remember that - despite what I learned in college - people will want to get at least a few pieces of fruit in their glass. So either have a wide-mouthed pitcher, a pitcher with a slotted top or provide an open top and a ladel for scooping out fruit. The first time I made sangria, I just put everything in the large jug that the wine came in. One of my friends spent days fishing the fruit out with a seafood fork.

These days, I'm usually making sangria in large batches and it is not unusual for me to have to transport it to someone's house. As a result, I use a 2 gallon Igloo cooler with a spout at the bottom. I leave the top open and provide a ladel for scooping fruit. If you're not taking the sangria anywhere, a large hurricane vase or punch bowl definitely looks more classy though and displays the sangria nicely. Just make it ahead of time in a pitcher and then transfer to the container of your choice before adding the sugar and Sprite.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Brewing Your Own Brew

Brewing your own beer or cider is great for any party, but especially for Halloween when people can be a little more adventurous. I know - it's the middle of July - do you really need to start thinking now about what you might want to serve at the end of October for a Halloween party? The answer is yes. Although brewing your own beer or cider is not particularly labor intensive, it does take awhile for all of the steps to take place. Last year, I waited too late and so I still have quite a bit of Pumpkin Porter left and I'm not really sure if it is safe to drink. Lesson learned: If you want a good beer or cider to be ready for Halloween, you should start brewing no later than mid-August (possibly as late as Labor Day).

Homebrewing can be as hard or as easy as you want it to be. We became homebrewers a few years ago and went with the "Cliff Notes" version of homebrewing. We use a Mr. Beer kit and order basic mixes from Mr. Beer. We've tried adding our own ingredients and have had mixed results. (See discussion below.)

If you don't try to get too fancy, making the beer or cider is super simple and involves 6 steps using the Mr. Beer method.

  1. Sanitize everything. This is very important and the most labor intensive of the steps.

  2. Boil water and make the wort (for beer) or must (for cider). The sanitizing and the boiling generally take less than an hour.

  3. Wait the requisite amount of time for fermentation to take place - usually takes about 2 weeks.

  4. Carbonate and bottle your brew. Basic white table sugar creates carbonation. Be sure to measure carefully though. For bottling, we bought a capper and save brown glass bottles from other beers for our homebrewing. If you're saving bottles, make sure that they are the kind that you open with a bottle opener and not twist-offs. They will need to be sanitized the same way that all of the utensils were sanitized. This step - including sanitizing the already clean bottles - usually takes about an hour or so.

  5. Allow carbonation to take place (i.e., wait some more). Usually between 2 and 3 weeks, but at least 1 week.

  6. Condition your brew (i.e., wait some more - Are you noticing a theme here?). Conditioning is really just chilling your brew. It's not sufficient to just ice a homebrew for a few minutes before drinking. Conditioning in a refrigerator for a period of at least a week or two allows the flavors to meld together. It's also essential if you are making a lager.

I don't want to sound like a commercial for Mr. Beer. There are a lot of other kits available from places like Homebrew Heaven, Monster Brew, and Midwest Homebrewing Supplies. I originally bought the Mr. Beer kit as a last minute present for my husband for Christmas. I wasn't sure if he would actually like homebrewing, so I went cheap (using my 20% off coupon from Bed, Bath & Beyond). We have friends that make their own beer from scratch - boiling their own hops and everything. We like beer, but not that much and I had concerns it would end up like a lot of our other kitchen gadgets (i.e., collecting dust in the basement).

Throughout our brewing exploits, I have learned a couple of basic but important tips that are not necessarily apparent that I though I would share:

  • Label your beer. We forgot to do this for our first several batches. Now, we go to the refrigerator and hold the bottle up to the light and guess what type it is. Our failure to label also became an important mistake when we tried our "recipe." For our next batch, we ordered water-resistant white polyster labels from Labels By The Sheet. They're made to be used for DIY water bottle labels, but I figure they should work for beer as well. You could go low tech and use a sharpie to write on the cap, but it may rub off. Different colors of fingernail polish on the cap would also work provided you keep a legend of what's what.
  • Too much of good thing is not necessarily a good thing. My husband and I like sweets. Our friends would tell you that you could serve us sugar water and we would be happy. We especially like a raspberry flavored lambic style beer that is hard to find and expensive. So . . . we decided to try to make our own. We took a simple wheat beer recipe and doubled the amount of raspberries you would normally add for a raspberry wheat. We forgot that in our simple brewing process, it's the sugar that provides carbonation. Raspberries have a lot of sugar. When I opened the first bottle, it exploded sending raspberry chunks flying all over the kitchen and me. Second bottle - same thing. We made another beer at the same time and failed to labor either of them. For awhile, all bottles were opened outside or in the shower for fear that they would explode.

  • To recycle bottles to be used for homebrewing: (1) Only use bottles with a real cap. Bottles with twist off caps do not work. (2) To remove paper labels and glue from bottles, soak them in hot water for 30 minutes. Peel as much of the label as you can off. Then scrub with a "scrubbie" to remove any remaining label and the glue residue. Additional soaking may be necessary to get everything off. (3) I prefer to use only bottles with paper labels (i.e., Don't use bottles where the label is actually painted onto the glass like Corona or Rolling Rock.). (4) It doesn't hurt to stand the bottles up in the dishwasher to clean them, but you will still need to go through the sanitizing process.

  • If you're not going to recycle bottles, look for local homebrewing supply stores. Shipping is every expensive for glass bottles because of the weight. We actually found a local store operated out of a guy's basement. We thought it was a little sketchy at first and felt weird knocking on his door, but he actually had a pretty good supply and decent prices.

This year, I have decided to make a cider and a wheat beer for our Halloween party. On top of my usual libations, I will be serving "Baker's Blackberry Cider" and "Whispering Wheat Weizenbier." I can't wait to try them! (And you can be sure, I will only use the prescribed amount of blackberry to avoid potential explosions.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Inaugural Post

Welcome to Baker's Broom Closet. I'm Baker and I guess it's time that I joined the blog bandwagon. I've thought about creating a blog for some time, but couldn't decide what to write about. Yesterday, I got an email advertisement from one of my favorite Halloween stores and then an email from a friend asking for my sangria recipe and a lightbulb went off. Throwing parties - especially awesome Halloween parties - is something I know a little about, might interest others and could fill up the pages of a blog. And so . . . Baker's Broom Closet is born.

Each week or thereabouts, I will try to provide info on throwing great parties with a heavy emphasis on Halloween parties. I'll include recipes and decorating tips.

Why Halloween? My love for Halloween goes back to my childhood and the time and effort my mother put into my Halloween costumes and school Halloween parties.

It got off to a rough start. For my first Halloween in 197~, I dressed up as Raggedy Ann with a cheap storebought costume. If you grew up in the 1970's and 1980's - you know the type with the two tiny plastic holes that you're expected to breathe out of and the elastic band that goes around the back of your head to be snapped by evil little boys sitting next to you. I was miserable.

My mother vowed never again, and so the following year I had a "costume" of a long flowy gown, large curly wig (I was still lacking in the hair department), and floppy hat. I was Little Miss Muffett (there may have been a fake spider and bowl of porridge which I ditched for my bottle that I took everywhere even though it was empty). It was an improvement over the plastic mask, but still nothing to brag about.

The next year was the beginning of the extensive planning and fabulous costumes. Breaking out the skills learned in a high school home economics class and an old, super heavy Singer sewing machine, my mom went to the local Benjamin Franklin and bought a pattern and some material. She decided to do Raggedy Ann the right way. I had a cute little blue jumper, red and white striped socks and the piece de resistance - a handmade yarn wig. My mother spent hours on end cutting and hooking the yard to create that wig. Add some heavy rouge circles on my cheeks and eyelashes drawn on with mascara and voila - one adorable little Raggedy Ann! I won the costume contest at the local YMCA, got my picture in the paper and racked up some serious candy on the trick or treating trail.

For the next several years, I went through a series of elaborate costumes.
  • Red Riding Hood - Complete with red satin cape, red satin skirt with matching suspenders, white top with lace cuffs, and of course my basket to take to grandma's house.

  • Bride - I had a white satin dress with white organza overlay and lace appliques. My cotume was topped off with a "wedding ring" we found at a local yard sale. (I'll admit that I still have this ring nearly thirty years later. It doesn't fit, but is a nice memento.)

  • My all time favorite - the Southern Belle - I wore a beautiful full blue satin dress with a lace butterfly applique and tiara. I'm not really sure why I wore a tiara other than I liked it and I already felt like a princess in that dress, but I did. Unfortunately, this costume came complete with a hoop skirt. I'm clumsy and a few of the neighbors flower pots didn't fair so well when I turned to leave after receiving my treats. (I heard about this for years afterwards. "Watch out for my pansies!")

I credit my love for Halloween parties and abundance of food at parties to this era as well. As a first time parent, my mother asked the school principal (who had been her principal when she was in school - oh the joys of small town life, but I digress) if it would be okay to bring cupcakes for my class's Halloween party. He said that that would be great so long as she brought enough cupcakes for "everyone." I'm sure he meant enough cupcakes for everyone in my class of 20 to 30 students. She understood this direction to be enough cupcakes for every child in the school. We stayed up until the wee hours of the night in our tiny little apartment making and decorating enough yellow cupcakes with orange icing and a black piped-on jack o'lantern face for the ENTIRE school -- all 200 or 300 students. The principal was a little shocked when she showed up and asked for help to bring all of the cupcakes in.

And thus my love of Halloween began . . .

Yes, Halloween is my Christmas of sorts. I can barely sleep the night before and wake up with glee, waiting on pins and needles for the costume parade. I drive around for weeks before looking at decorations and trying to one up my neighbors. At least I come by this love for the holiday honestly. I'm not a recent convert, but a life long 'weenie!

I hope you enjoy my blog and return often. Happy Haunting!