Sunday, October 31, 2010

Treats for the Haunted MANsion Party

Since my pudding flopped (i guess rice milk doesn't work with those things) I had to send the hubby to fetch some dollar store pudding cups to pull these treats off. But they worked out great!

Grave Dirt
Package of oreos beaten to a pulp
Chocolate Pudding Snacks (12)

Mix together, garnish with a gummy earthworm and some round white sprinkles, makes 7

Blood 'N' Guts (A last minute version)
Red Jello 
12 Vanilla Pudding Snacks (12)
6 Raspberry Jelly Donuts, cut up
Whipped Cream

Take ingredients, except for whipped cream, and combine in a bowl. Dishout into cups, garnish with whipped cream. Makes 12....13 if you don't eat one to test it....

Worm Sandwiches
Hotdogs (however many and kind you like)

Slice them in about sixths, or fifths, long ways. Pan fry till they curl up. I guess you can boil them too if you prefer :) I've seen it posted that way too. I got this off of and I really enjoyed it. Just like Hotdogs only Halloweenier.....hahahahhah get it? ah man I am good...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Art After Dark" October Highlight: The Growing Grounds

On the 1st Friday of every month, ARTS Obispo coordinates with shops all over San Luis Obispo to host artists and their work in their shops for an event called "Art After Dark." This October there were 29 hosts, most of which offered food and beverage to its wandering patrons. The Growing Grounds garden shop was one such establishment that kept its doors open past closing hours. Nestled in the ally between the Adobe and Ja Nene Natural Body Products on Chorro, across from the Mission, it is a beautifully comfortable shop supplied by the Transitions Mental Health Association (TMHA)'s own farms in SLO and Santa Maria. This month is the last time they engage in the Art After Dark event until the spring, due to the establishment being out of doors.
The setting of the shop is intimate, nuzzled gently between two older buildings, the character of their siding lending to the atmosphere of the little garden shop. The owners make the most of the small space; plants and products are packed into every nook, yet it avoids feeling busy or cramped. In fact, the shop's organization has the opposite effect; instead it begs you to take your time and look about, to take it all in. Past the main selection of plants, Growing Grounds provides their customers with a unique selection of local or USA made products. The garden-related objects are often handmade, organic, or even vegan.

"I love Art After Dark," was one patron's exclamation, "it's wine, it's art, it's walking, does it get much better than this?" She is one of about 200 who stroll in and out throughout the evening, enjoying the relaxing decor of the backyard garden party. There is no rush as people chat over the donated Javadi wine and samples of produce fresh from the Growing Grounds farm. "These tomatoes are so good!" is heard again and again as people visit the table throughout the evening. 

Twinkle lights braided through the branches above and adobe brick-work below lend to the atmosphere. Food and wine in hand, they turn to the art work and artist to ask questions and to learn about all there is around them. "What's the process you use?" is an inquiry that induces a personal tour by the artist of his methods, throughout which we learn something of his values and his history. Suddenly his art gains deeper meaning for us too.

There are two artists tonight at Growing Grounds, author Anthony Taylor and photographer Barry Goyette. Taylor is a friendly man, chatting with inquisitive costumers as he signs his book, "The Sacred Sites Bible."

The Sacred Sites Bible: The Definitive Guide to Spiritual Places (... Bible)

Goyette and his partner happily discuss their art as well, a method called "tintype". (Unfortunately, his website didn't display any of this form of his work). The work is beautiful and understandably attracts a lot of interested viewers.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dinner and a Movie: How To Train Your Dragon

Tomorrow we have our first dinner and a movie experience with my parents, his parents and his sister. Its kind of exciting since we rarely have a time when both of our dad's have the same night off!

I am pretty excited to be playing hostess, even if it is at my parents house. Its the kind of thing I really love to do! I already told you my popcorn idea and now you get to find out about my dinner menu. (I went to this website for my inspiration. Who knew there was a Viking Answer Lady?! Pretty darn cool if you ask me!) My menu....Behold:

-Side: Dill Rye Toast with Salted Butter (easy enough, I just bought it.)
-Main Course: Chicken Stew with Beer (Viking Answer Lady posted this recipe but I changed it a smidge)
  • 3 lbs chicken thighs
  • 6 carrots
  • 3 yellow onions
  • 2 turnips
  • 1/8 c. chopped Thyme
  • 1/8 c. chopped Parsley
  • 2 Tbsp Garlic minced
  • 2 bottles of dark gluten free beer
Directions: Chop the chicken into 8 pieces.  Peel and cut the vegetables into pieces.  Fry the chicken in butter, about 5 minutes on each side.  Season with salt and pepper and place in a pot.  Add the vegetables, thyme, allspice and beer.  Let boil for about 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Serve the dish with bread. (Note: I am using the crock pot, on low 6-8 hours)

-Dessert: "Skyr" (Ok it's not really Skyr but Skyr sure sounded a lot like this so I made it up. If I had time to stay home and make Skyr then I totally would have given it a shot, but I work...sad face. Still, i tried to stay true to the flavors that the Viking Lady had explained)
  • 18 ounces whipped cream cheese
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 1/2 cup of honey (or to taste....the hubby worked on this, i dunno how much honey he ended up using in the end)
  • 4 (I know it shows six but four was enough) fuji apples sliced, tossed with butter and cinnamon, and baked in the oven until soft

Dragon's Breathe Popcorn

You would think I would start this off talking about the movie this is all for....but I'm not. Actually, I think I'll lead in with popcorn. Popcorn is pretty big deal in my family. Being on the poorer-side of things growing up, it was one cheap snack food mom could make in bulk. And I'm not talking about that air-popped crap. I remember the first time I had that stuff at a friends house, it was like eating wadded up cardboard, totally tasteless. I grew up with the "Clardy-style" (as it has become known to others) which was originally popped in a large black pot with saved bacon grease and seasoned with Lawry's Seasoning Salt. Then we got healthier and started using olive oil sometime towards the beginning of the two thousands. 

Really... i think we just started eating less bacon. 

Which is probably good. 

You know....theoretically speaking.

Popcorn is cheap, easy and pretty healthy as a snack food. Its one of the few things my youngest brother knows how to make. Its also shown it can be transformed into a wide range of flavors. I think one of the all time favorite endeavors of my mom's was nacho popcorn. We ran out of Lawry's so she had to come up with an alternative. It had taco seasoning and grated cheese on top and it was soooooo gooooood, let me tell ya. It was a whole new world after that. A world with no boundaries....

So it's plain that I am an addict, and yet I am such a foodie I can't just have it simple. Whenever I am at my in-laws and they bust out the good ol' butter and salt, I inevitably sneak off to the kitchen to sprinkle some spice or another onto it. It just NEEDS something!

This week I am taking this blank canvas of a starch and dressing it up for a DVD premier my husband cannot wait for: How To Train Your Dragon. I dunno the last time he was this excited about a movie. We bought it, it's in the mail and it's supposed to arrive this Friday. He even invited his parents and mine to see it, since they had thus far missed out on what is apparently his new all-time-fave. So to show my support of his excitement, I proposed a themed dinner to go along with it! (yeah....It's what I do.) 

Immediately, I thought "Dragon Wings" (who wouldn't) but this was not ok with the Man since (spoiler alert) the dragons are ultimately good creatures. We can't eat the good guys. Good point. So then I proposed looking into viking foods and seeing what I can come up with. Excellent idea, I will let you know how it goes in a different note. And I am all for authentic.....ish.... 

Back to amazing popcorn. I haven't made it yet but i know it's gonna be awesome. The plan is to have some of the sweet honey flavor common to the Viking's common fare (which I now know because of THIS site) and mix it with the spicy everyone expects when you hear the word "dragon." Stay tuned for the results and the recipe :)

(time lapse: a few hours later)

Woot! I experimented with it tonight, my parents were willing test subjects (hubby doesn't like popcorn...go figure), and it was AWSOME. Therefore, it is definitely a go for tomorrow.

This was a pretty big batch, but a normal one for my family. Mom claims the popcorn accidentally over-poured into the pot.....but I think she was just hungry. Anyway, it was a lot. So I am going to half the recipe:

Honey Butter:
4 oz stick of butter, melted in the microwave with about an 1/8 c of honey mixed
1/2 tsp each of cayenne pepper, paprika, chili powder, ginger powder, and salt

2 tsp garlic salt
Mix together and use to taste
Pop the corn. Toss popcorn with Honey-Butter mixture. Then take seasoning mix and toss to taste. (We like it hot so we added more cayenne)

The Haunted MANsion

Yeah....I gave the party a Logo...
The bachelor pad that the husband used to live in still houses some of our dearest friends, so when one of them decided he wanted to host a Halloween party (and i spilled out ideas like a broken atm machine spills twentys) he asked me for some pointers. And so it began my first holiday brain child. 

Lucky for him I had used black and white in my wedding colors so I had a good supply of basics to help out, but there were still a lot of details to create. And that took about....I think the total is maybe $60 now... and a couple of visits to the dollar store and the goodwill outlet. If you want the ultimate cheapest junk, you have got to find you one of those, they just kind of eyeball it and offer you a price, it's incredibly fabulous if you plan to basically destroy said item anyway for some new creative purpose. But a good thrift store will do as well. 
One of my black table clothes gets a spooky make-over
We foraged the bins and found a variety of masks, material scraps and mangled pieces of costumes to use. I also snagged some hefty candlesticks and different sized frames to be painted. The dollar store was also productive, if you frequent that place you'll probably recognize some of the items. 

As a warning, i was doing this for a guy so there's not a lot of "cuteness" factor, which is really more my thing, I don't like scary movies and all that actually. However, he is more into that so I tried my best to do it :) Not gonna lie, I started to give myself some bad dreams.....and when you see this stuff you won't even know why, its not that bad but I have THAT kind of imagination, go figure. 

As you can see, I removed the glass from the frames we found (goodwill outlet) and painted the cardboard backing with some fake blood (crafts store). Then I took the plastic hand (dollar store) and stuck it on to that. I did a similar effect for the fake heart (dollar store) and the alien mask above (goodwill outlet). Its kind of like a body parts gallery....? *SHUDDER* but the guys loved it! So macabre ftw.   

A collage of artwork for a big blank wall

Also, you simply cannot go wrong with a whole lot of black tulle and spider webs. Those are you background basics. Cut the tulle up to get a worn look, whether its a stand alone or a layered material. I coupled the tulle with a the garlands of skulls (dollar store) to hang on the chandelier for a good first impression when people come in the door. 


I love the holidays, it gives a direction to the creativity, you know? So recently, I have been become pretty busy with designing some parties and costumes for the upcoming October festivities. I would love to share some of these ideas and projects with you, buuuut they are top secret....yeah whatever here they are :) Its going to include some awesome projects like The Haunted MANsion, a spooky dish for the department potluck, a How To Train Your Dragon movie night menu, something called "St. Crispen's Day," some links to great ideas and some great costume endeavors by me and the hubby! I am so excited!!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Handmade Nation-A review of the documentary

I recently had the opportunity to watch "Handmade Nation" by Faythe Levine at the local art museum and was so encouraged by its message. This wonderful documentary highlights the unique qualities of today's crafting world. If you haven't already experienced or noticed the independent craft  movement, an uprising birthed from a merged variety of desires, you should give the documentary a look. It shows that world from the many perspectives and operations, from buyer to seller to designer.

While the crafting style focused on mainly is the indie punk, its message is universal to the current crafting universe: be yourself and go for it. Whether that means making a two headed deer plushie, or a hook rug with a rather pornographic image on it; its the expression that matters to the industry, not the preciseness of technique. It was plain that today's crafters are transforming grandma's hobbies into something all their own and yet that community of those more traditional ways are not against this movement at all. The response, according to one crafter interviewed, has been nothing but open and encouraging.

The change in process is not about the money, says Handmade Nation, it's about expression. It could be the desire to express your environmental consciousness, your political views, or a means of  breaking free from tradition or convention.

Many of those interviewed began their crafting out of a need to be artistic, something they had been encouraged to do in their youth but were now finding absent in their day to day grind. This is a feeling all to familiar to the viewer. And it is in that way that the documentary, though very handmade in its own style, is encouraging. It's not surprising that indie-punk is leading the way, since another reason for the increase of this means of crafting is it that it is a response to the commercialism so prevalent now. It is, in a sense, a rebellion against the waste made by our overindulgence, the disconnection of something purchased verus handmade, to the big box shops of the world, to the lack of creativity found in everyone wearing the same thing from the same store for the same reason.

It doesn't limit the artist to work within boundaries, Handmade Nation shows those boundaries being tested, eliminated and incorporated to accomplish a whole new art form. It is a concept which can be applied to crafting no matter the style. The artist's spirit is inherently longing to be unique, it only makes sense that eventually it would rebel against such constitutions. By the end the viewers can see that the land of Do-It-Yourself is a hotbed of creativity accessible to all who wish to visit or live there and it is, according to Handmade Nation, a very friendly, open and encouraging place to be.
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