Happy Early New Year Everyone!
I’m feeling very blessed these last few days of 2013. Joe and I spent Christmas Eve with my family, made it back to La Crosse safely for Christmas day with his extended family, and spent friday night with his family for a Christmas pajama party sleepover! Over the weekend, one of my best friends, who I’ve known since high school, came with her boyfriend to stay the weekend with us!
And bonus of all bonuses, this was the first Christmas in 6 years I didn’t spend in retail during the ho ho horror of the holidays! Yaaaaaaay!
So Clue, originally called Cluedo, was created in England in 1949 and is quite possibly my favorite board game. A whodunnit mystery with quirky suspects and unlikely murder weapons! Hidden staircases you say? What’s not to love?!!
One of my favorite things about Halloween is the costumes! I love any chance to dress up. Don’t believe me? I’ve been twitter organizing the Life List Club members to be classic horror flick monsters. Picture it: Marcia Richards as Morticia from the Addams Family, David Walker as the Wolfman, Gary Gauthier as Dracula, Pam Hawley as The Fly, and if I get to be the Madeline Kahn version from Young Frankenstein, then I’ll play the Bride of Frankenstein. Gene Lempp, our honorary LLC member, offered to be Frankie himself. So, Sonia, Jennie B., Lyn, and Jenny H….it’s only a matter of time, choose your monster, or I’ll choose one for you! LOL
Over the years I’ve had to get pretty creative with my costumes. My parents didn’t believe in buying ready made costumes; whatever we wanted to be we had to make it ourselves. I’m pretty sure that’s why we have a family photo of me as a fairy wearing my Easter dress and a turquoise tinsel wig, my brother is a bum with a drawn-in mustache and pillowcase sack, and my sister is Charlie Chaplin.
The plus side of homemade costumes is that you have to think outside the box, be creative, inventive and resourceful. All qualities that I, your perseverance expert, feel I have. Just look at my Halloween costumes the last five years and you’ll see it!
Lion: In 2006, I was supporting myself in my first year living off campus. I had three jobs, paid my own bills, and bought my own groceries. Money was precious. So when Halloween rolled around, I went simple: Lion. I curled my hair, balled up two buns and made ears, wore the only brown clothes in my closet, and drew some whiskers. Bam! I mean, RAWR! When in doubt, or poor, go for the animal trend, it is always in style.
Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman: The next year I went as one of my all time favorite guilty pleasures Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. You can’t read it, but in that photo, I was “hanging up my shingle.” The magic of a costume is in its details. I bought the skirt, shawl, and my “medicine bag” at a local thrift shop. While my friends that year dressed up as Unicorns, Corpse Brides, and Playboy Bunnies, I couldn’t have been happier rocking my Dr. Mike outfit. Passion, confidence, and a heart full of fun can make your night on the town all the better.
The Incredible Hulk: Ok, so this year obviously needs a backstory. I
was am still working my butt off, supporting myself. And this year, Halloween sort of crept up on me. Before I knew it, the day had arrived and I still didn’t have a costume. I worked in the morning, and then ran to the store to scope out the remaining costumes. *gasp* I know, this was the only year I bought a pre-made costume. Problem was, I’m petite and all the adult costumes left were like XXL. But Perseverance Experts know how to improvise! This is child’s Incredible Hulk costume that I stuffed my body into. I had to buy some green tights and a longsleeve green shirt to wear underneath. I also had to cut the neckline open to breath and I ripped several seams throughout the night, but I was a hit! Strangers got their picture with me! So I say, if you’re in a hurry, seek out your inner superhero.
Medusa: Now this costume is a particular fave. As a kid we learn the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Why not do this with costumes too? I borrowed this one from my sister who made it with her husband the previous year. The dress is a simple sheet material toga with some gold jewelry. Then buy a bulk bag of toy snakes that wiggle or bend and spray paint them green. Adhere snakes to a wire cap, and place over a fabric cap for comfort. Don’t look now, you just got the evil eye from Medusa! Every time I moved my snakes moved with me and people oohed and aahed all night. Dancing was a little tricky, but totally worth it!
Mrs. Peacock: Last year’s costume was a group effort because more heads are better than one. A friend and I went to the thrift store and held our own “supermodel documentary hour,” AKA fashion show with the craziest dresses we could find. Suddenly the idea hit me. The cast of the board game CLUE. I purchased the perfectly peacock colored dress with the feather sleeves. I went to the craft store and bought a pack of peacock feathers for my hair and made earrings. I borrowed the belt, glasses, and wrench from friends. This was a great ensemble idea and friends felt like part of team!
So there you have a brief history of costume advice from your perseverance expert. I’ll bet you have more clever ideas. Tell me, what have been your favorite Halloween costumes over the years? Do you make your own, recycle with friends, or elaborate on pre-made? No matter how you style up, have fun…or else! It was Mrs. Peacock with the wrench in the blogosphere!
Happy 4th of July, Everyone! It’s official: I will never bake again. For those of you getting to know me, you’re well aware of my affinity towards salty food, predominately jalapeno cheetos and entire cartons of shredded parmesan. I am a total salt fiend in my taste buds! But on rare occasions when I flip through cook books and cooking magazines I get this domestic tug at my sweet tooth and decide to bake something.
They make it look so easy. It’s really not fair.
Bake 4-5 minutes until chips are melted.
*Sigh* I don’t know what happened.
1/4 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg white
1 Tbsp. minced fresh gingerroot
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 pkg. (8 oz) reduced-fat cream cheese
3 Tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
2 Tbsp. 2% milk
4 cups halved strawberries
1/4 cup seedless strawberry jam
1 Tbsp. crystallized ginger, finely chopped
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg white and ginger. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a greased 9-in. tart pan.
Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Sprinkle with chips. Bake 4-5 minutes longer or until chocolate is melted; spread over crust. Cool on a wire rack.
In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar and milk until smooth; spread over chocolate. Top with strawberries. In a small microwave safe bowl, microwave jam in 10 second intervals until melted; brush over strawberries. Sprinkle with ginger. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
The Catastrophe in the Kitchen:
The tart crust went fine. Sure it was messy, but I got that done. I baked it for it’s nice 12 minutes, and I sprinkled the chocolate chips on top and waited for 5 additional minutes for them to melt. THEY NEVER MELTED! 12 minutes later! I now was having a raging fit in the kitchen, “This is why I don’t bake! How am I going to salvage this? The crust is hard as a rock now, and these f***ing chips still aren’t melted! Why do I try? I don’t even like sweets! I’m going to stab this tart!”
Here is where some breathing exercises would have helped, however, I was out of cream cheese. “Oh my god, I don’t know if it’s worth a trip to the store to finish this awful project or not! The chocolate looks like poop cause I can’t get it to spread evenly. I’m so irritated right now! Fine, if I’m going to the store, I’m going grocery shopping, I’m not making a special trip for this stupid tart!”
An hour later, I put the groceries away, I made the cream cheese spread, I cut the strawberries, I nuked the jam in 10 second intervals and drizzled it over the berries.
I am never baking again. Enjoy these photos now, people, holiday or no holiday I’m through! It makes me way too angry!
At least it looked pretty. The next morning we got the tart out of the fridge for breakfast. Using a butcher knife, my poor Joe had to use all his arm muscle to cut through the over-baked crust! It honestly did taste good, and if jaw pain is normal after such desserts, then I guess I did a splendid job!
If any of you are considering being a guest at Che’ Witkins’ B & B, I highly recommend the gin smoothies with your tart. Made the previous evening’s anxieties all the more delicious!