Monthly Archives: October 2010

pandas and geishas and beers, oh my…

Happy Halloween! As an adult, this fabulous holiday is celebrated on the Saturday prior to the 31st. So while the kiddies are all getting dressed up and trick or treating tonight, I got my trick on last night. Oh wait, that doesn’t sound quite right, especially given my not so politically correct costume. You see, I was a Geisha.

But let’s start at the beginning. My husband Mark saw an LCD Soundsystem video months ago and was inspired. I’m guessing not too many people have seen this video or would have known what he was had he gone with the original character. We called it “Scary Panda”. I had hoped to share the link with you, but for some reason, it has been pulled from every source for copyright issues.

So I start thinking, what can I be that goes along with his panda costume? Can I be one of the hostages from the video? Wouldn’t that be even more difficult to explain to people who have never heard of the video? Pandas are from China, right? Maybe I can be something associated with China. Like a 10 year old Olympic gymnast? Um, I don’t think anyone wants to see me in a leotard at this point of my “diet”.

Then, lounging around in my summer kimono robe, it came to me. I’ll be a Geisha! No new props required, I own everything I need! But wait, aren’t Geisha Japanese? Oh well, not like we have to have couple costumes every year. But is it ok to dress up like a Geisha? Will I be offending anyone? Some costumes are made to be offensive (hello tasteless Little Miss Strangled Jon Benet Ramsey that I witnessed in Halloween’s past). I did it anyways. In my predominantly white middle class neighborhood, I don’t think I pushed anyone’s buttons.

As Mark realized that the Scary Pandas from the video were kind of shoddy half assed bears, he opted to put in a little more effort and make his a better example of a panda. The white body suit was so much more fun with the legs cut out. The mask was still a little creepy and evoked quite a few emotional responses from random people. It was a happy panda though, unlike the hostile bears in the video (dang it, why can’t I find a clip to share with you?!).

Over all, we had a pretty entertaining evening trick or treating at our local pubs. Now its time to start brainstorming for next years big costume! Will I finally give in and be a Trader Ho-bag like Mark has wanted all these years? Or will he agree to be Papa Smurf while I bring back Smurfette? I guess you’ll have to wait and see!


go big or go home…

Only a few days to go until All Hallows’s Eve, The Day of the Dead, or good old Halloween, whatever you choose to call it. Oh how I love this fun, free for all holiday!

Choose a theme and go wild. Feeling scary? Pale make up with dark circles and ripped clothes = zombie. Or there is always the classic witch, vampire, or ghost. Feeling sexy? There is no shortage of options on this special day…slutty cop, promiscuous pirate, scantilous cat, or naughty doctor? Sure, why not. (Although if my physician was dressed that way, I’d most definitely walk out.)

I usually go for a festive original outfit, like a 70’s lounge singer (in a tacky sequined dress with a fun wig and a microphone), a Black Widow (blinged out, mourning in a black veil, fur coat with a bottle of poison and handgun in her clutch), or a bright blue Smurfette (in a blue turtle neck and tights with a little white dress and hat).

Sometimes I’ll just go traditional but still very made up as a vampire or a witch. Occasionally, I go for tongue in cheek, like “Reigning Cats & Dogs” where my friend and I dressed up as a cat and a dog with crowns, sashes, and scepters. She’s also been known to go as a Black Eyed Pea, sporting a larger letter P on her shirt and a blackened eye. Get it?

I NEVER EVER buy pre-made costumes. What’s the point? The fun in it for me is the vision I have and what I can come up with at Goodwill. I then store these props and crazy garments in 2 large orange crates known as “The Halloween Boxes”. My friends know where to find a last minute black cape or prop gun.

Sometimes I work backwards, finding the perfect dress or jumpsuit at Goodwill and coming up with a reason to wear it out. This is how I morphed into Nancy Sinatra in her 60’s funkadelic dress and white boots one year. Another year found me as an 80’s Prom Queen with my ridiculous poofy dress, big pink bow, and matching florescent pumps.

I’m pretty sure the homemade original costume was engrained into my psyche as a child. My mom taught us that store bought costumes were for children whose mother’s didn’t love them as much as she loved us. Over the years she created an M&M costume out of yellow felt, a Bag of Jelly Beans out of some balloons, Eaten Alive by a Shark from some grey fabric, and Raggedy Ann from a ball of yarn (ok, she had a few more materials than that up her sleeve). The woman is talented when it comes to costuming. I’d like to say that I take after her.

My husband either goes all out or boycotts. If you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all. I knew it was love when I found out he had his very own Halloween section in his closet! He owns an elaborate 3 Little Pigs outfit and a dead ringer Killer Bee costume from the old Saturday Night Live skit. Oh, how I love this man! His artistic side truly shines through as he puts together these get ups. The details are very important to him. If the dingy bopper head band is missing, you just simply can’t be the killer bee. Again, go big or go home!

My first couple costume was 2 years into our relationship. We saw Sweeney Todd over the summer and decided then and there that we would become Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett. We put together very elaborate wonderful costumes and hit the town. This is by far my favorite character yet and I can’t wait to reincarnate her in a few years.

Our costumes for this year are still coming together. I am not as inspired as I have been in years past, but trust me, I’ll still go big. It might take a mad dash to the Goodwill on the morning of the 30th, but rest assured, my husband and I will be decked out and ready to receive our treats by All Hallows’ Eve!

meatless monday: warm your belly…

Its almost Halloween! Stay tuned later this week for costume commentary. But for today, Meatless Monday, let’s talk about the food I associate with this holiday: potato soup.

When I was a child, my Mom always made a big pot of potato soup on Halloween night to consume before hitting the streets. It was usually snowing outside and we’d have to bundle up in coats and hats, covering up our adorable costumes. Mom would fill our bellies with hot soup and buttered saltines before we went out into the cold. Even during the warmer years, we still had our traditional soup dinner. I think it was also to satisfy our appetites and curb us from devouring our candy as we received it.

We had a rule that you couldn’t eat any candy until you got home and Mom checked through the bag. I don’t think people were handing out razor blades or poison anymore, but better to be safe than sorry! I patiently waited while she made sure each piece was indeed still factory wrapped. Homemade popcorn balls usually made their way to the trash unless we personally knew who made them. If the wrapper of a chocolate bar was torn open, into the garbage it went (although I think my brother usually fished them out when she wasn’t looking).

I would immediately divvy up my stash, hiding the coveted Snickers and Almond Joy bars from my brother far in the back of my sock drawer. I would ration these out for the next few weeks, making sure the good stuff lasted as long as possible. Then I’d take the tradable pieces and start the negotiations. My younger brother liked hard candy and sour treats so I could usually score some of his chocolate with 2 for 1 deals.

What were your family’s traditions? Did you also get potato soup? Or was my mom just making this whole “soup before trick-or-treating” thing up? Whether or not she was, I still continue to make potato soup around Halloween. There is nothing like a nice hot bowl of creamy soup to warm your belly on these cool fall nights.

In honor of my wonderful mother and Halloween, here is my latest and greatest version of potato soup.

Recipe: Creamy Rich Potato Soup

1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups milk
4-5 potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon thyme (fresh or dried)
1 teaspoon seasoned sea salt (I’m currently using an herbed Italian blend called Vignalta that is delicious in everything)
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne or Aleppo pepper

In a large stock pot, saute onion, celery, carrots, garlic and parsley in butter until soft but not browned. Sprinkle in flour and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add broth slowly, mixing well into the roux as you add the liquid.

Add milk, potatoes, Worcestershire sauce, allspice, celery seed, thyme, seasoning salt, and cayenne pepper. Allow to simmer and thicken, stirring frequently, until the potatoes are cooked through, approximately 25 minutes.

During cooking, break up half of the potatoes with the back of a spoon. Serve warm, preferably with buttered saltines.

cheers to thursdays and my ladies…

Let me just start by saying that I love my girlfriends. I have been truly blessed with some of the best ladies a girl could ask for! In order to make sure we make time for one another (and for ourselves), my local ladies and I have designated one night a week to get together: Thursdays!

These thursday meetings aren’t mandatory, no one takes attendance, there isn’t an agenda, and all are welcome. Just join in when you can! There might only be 3 of us, but a group of 8 will be guaranteed entertainment. We could call it a “book club”, but really, isn’t that generally just an excuse to get together? Plus, we are aiming for a weekly gathering, not monthly.

For our “thursday club”, we might just sit at my house drinking wine and noshing on cheese. Or maybe we will all go out for sushi. How about a night watching a friend’s jazz band play? Or possibly a Grey’s Anatomy viewing. Heck, we just may end up talking about a book we all read. Dressing up or hanging in our comfies, no one cares. Just as long as we are together and making time for our sanity, it really doesn’t matter.

We are planning a variety of activities but the one constant is probably drinking wine. There is something about having a glass of wine, relaxing, and having a great conversation and a laugh with a close girlfriend. We all need our lady time. Whether it is to feel loved and supported, be a part of a larger community, or just to blow off some steam in safe company, downtime with my ladies is mandatory.

We’ve been practicing our Thursdays for the past few weeks and plan to open it up to other ladies in need of refuge from their daily grind. I’ll keep you posted on our adventures occasionally.

Quite coincidentally, I discovered an actual website about this same concept just after we made our pact to try to get together weekly. It’s aptly named thursdaynightdinner. They are a little more crafty than we are, but hey, to each her own.

I highly recommend forming your own little club doing whatever makes you happy on whatever day you all decide works best for you! Cheers to Thursdays and girlfriends!