Tuesday, October 25, 2011

This Bottle Marked Poison...

I was perusing and admiring "vintage" style apothecary labels in my search for Halloween decor awhile ago, and thought, (in my insatiable need to troll ebay) that buying some actual antique poison bottles would be cool. And they would be if any of them were marked POISON with the skull and crossbones that we have all come to know and... er... love.

It turns out that very few are marked that way, and most are not at all creepy looking! Not only that, but they are crazy tiny! Which, of course, makes sense because who really needs a gallon of poison in their medicine cabinet, right? A couple of drops will usually do it. Many are only two or three inches tall or smaller.

I did discover though, that they come in all colours and designs and are actually rather pretty. Also, they are not as expensive as I thought they would be, even two weeks before Halloween!

One of the things that is visually AND historically interesting about them is that they are all ridged or hobnailed. Apparently, due to the fact that many were in use at the turn of the last century or before, when gas lighting was in use (so reading labels wasn't always an easy task) and when most people's skill at reading was fairly basic, it was a good idea to have a tactile warning on the bottle, so you didn't slip your husband a teaspoon of nasty instead of cough tonic. Huh. Nifty!

The other thing that I think is pretty fab is that there is an entire world of OWL bottles! Being a lover of all things owl, I am particularly impressed with the choice of logo for the Owl Drug Company that started up in San Fransisco in 1892 (look at me all historian-like lately!) and used various depictions of owls embossed on their bottles.

The closest thing I found to scary (the way a drag queen in an onslaught of silver sequins is scary) is so far out of my price range it found its way into my "covet" file. Not because they cost from $2000 to $4000 apiece, but because they come in PURPLE and are shaped like SKULLS! How freaking awesome is that? Now I need one.

Obviously more time and energy is needed in the research department before diving into a collection of poison bottles... but they are definitely going on the list for next Halloween ;)

Friday, October 21, 2011


I am working on a macabre wedding photo shoot for today and tomorrow... (and yesterday was spent sewing the gown) so whilst I am marrying bridal to All Hallows, I thought I would leave a couple of jolly good and creepy sites for you to peruse!

Pumpkin Rot is possibly the most genius use of Jackolantern's I have seen... a property decorated with gigantic and amazing sentinels in the creepiest and coolest way imaginable... an artist truly after my own heart! The installation is added to every year and the photos on the site are brilliant! But beware, none of them are cute!

If you are looking for cute though, you can find it on this site... although it's gonna take some digging! A similar medium, and on par genius, Stolloween is both an etsy shop and a blog that takes you through some of the processes and character outlines of the awesome creations...

Hope that leaves you with some fine halloweening for the day... will be back soon :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Halloween Party Invitations

A ridiculous amount of time has been spent rounding up the best invites from around the internet. Of course Martha reigns supreme in this crafty department, but a good graphic and a printer are all you really need to get a sophisticated invite out the door. If you haven't sent yours out yet though, you'd best get on it!

Awesome wood grain paper sets a great foundation for this simple but effective card invite.

These invites use stamping and collage for a more time consuming, but not that expensive invite that will blow the pants off the competition... because, let's face it, you will have to step it up these days on the holiday that comes in second only to Christmas, as far as how much effort goes into celebrations. I sit firmly in the more time, less cash category, and fully believe in the principle of going for a walk and collecting your materials vs. purchasing fancy papers, cardstock and ornamentation at expensive craft stores. Not that I don't have a ridiculous amount of scrapbook paper simply because I am a pretty things addict. I know that with some black paper, some kraft paper or something similar... some teabags and such... you could do some very similar things to these!

The use of props might indeed up the expense factor, but it also ups the drama! If you are planning a fairly small soiree, this might be the way to go! You will definitely get people's attention!

This one kind of takes the cake in the WOW factor department. I can't imagine having the time to gather and create these... but in case the day arrives that I do have that kind of time and resources... this one is going in the permanent inspiration file! Can I get another WOW?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Halloween Party Drinks

The drink list for my party has very quickly become a martini bar. There are just SO many creepy versions of martinis out there! Some of these other fabulous drinks might win out though... who KNEW that creepy drinks were taking over the bar scene? Not me obviously!!

But since this is a kid friendly fete, there needs to be some liquids of the non-alcoholic type in there too. Also, since I have never been much of a drinker, I tend to gravitate toward the kiddie bar, so they have to also be GOOD. The idea of floating a hand of ice in the punch is a pretty good one (and easy!), so that's on the list.

Every year I intend to make a shrunken head apple cider and this year Martha makes it look so good that it might just be the year.  Easy peasy and a great project for both the kids and for the apples hanging on the tree outside that aren't pretty enough to eat. HEY! I learned something the other day. Did you know that apples are meant to go through a frost before being picked? That the frost is what brings the sugars out in the fruit? So it's OK that my lazy butt hasn't pulled the ladder out yet to pick them. Today though. For sure.

Back to the martinis...

Vampire Kiss and Dracula's Kiss Martinis

Bleeding Heart Martini

Sweet Goultini
Black As Nightini
 Yes, I did change a few of Martha's rather twee names, I prefer things to feel a bit more sinister. I think the black is my favourite. Just for the record, the recipe's for the Vampire Kiss and the Dracula's Kiss are actually different, so if you think you have a recipe for "the Kiss" already, you could check out the site that is linked for another option. I am very excited to try these... crossed fingers that black sanding sugar and black vodka can be found in this town!

Here's a fun thing :) The Hostess With the Mostess has provided a fabulous way to rim glasses for the party. She uses candy and it's a definite do ahead of time project, but SO worth it I think! Check out the process here on her blog... Result below!

Oh yes... and the picture at the top, is being added waaaaay down here because I wanted to do a bit of research on it first. To start,  YES you can put dry ice into a drink or punch bowl and it will do all it's cool foggy business without doing harm to your insides. It is a SUPER cool effect and because it isn't melting, it is evaporating, you aren't drinking it.

Also, if you want to try this out, the martini at the top is a colour changing one... Yes, that's right folks, it changes colour as the temperature changes. It's scientific. Which means that I don't understand how it works, but it does. Now, whether or not you want to be drinking questionable martinis simply because they are cool, that's totally up to you. Apparently the red cabbage can be replaced with blueberries, which makes it slightly less questionable. But only slightly so. This is the recipe, consider the above to be a disclaimer. If you try it and you don't die or become seriously cramped up, let me know how it works out for you!

You'll need:
Gin (or vodka, for a vodka martini) ~ Vermouth ~ Dry Ice ~ Baking Soda ~
Red Cabbage
Yes. Red cabbage contains a water-soluble anthocyanin that is a pH indicator. At low pH (acid), it's red. It's purple at neutral pH, and goes blue then green as the solution becomes alkaline. You're not going to see the full range here, because we want the drink to be, well, drinkable.
To get the indicator, chop up a cabbage leaf, put it in a bowl, add boiling water and allow to steep. A purple pigment will stain the water.
Add a teaspoon of cabbage juice... I mean indicator solution - to the martini glass. Then add very small quantities of baking soda, just enough to turn the solution blue. Add gin (or vodka) and vermouth (~6:1) to the glass. You should have a pale blue clear liquid.
Give the recipient the drink. Tell them to watch closely, then add a chunk of dry ice. It will sink to the bottom of the drink, and bubble away happily, slowly cooling the drink. It will also neutralise the baking soda and change the colour of the martini.

Monday, October 17, 2011

All Hallows Soiree Food Ideas

I'll be honest with you. It feels just slightly weird to jump from pretty little girls eating cupcakes to creepy gross halloween stuff, but I am not the sort that goes in for cute on Halloween. I DO have some adorable ideas sorted for the treats I am going to prepare for our upcoming (fast!) All Hallows party. Today we will be making the invites (although Facebook seems to have made that redundant) and I will take photos to share... but in the meantime, our transitional "cute" will be these goodies. 'Cause from here on in, it's going to be much less twee!

I'm not kidding, do NOT visit this site unless your sweet tooth extends to your visual side this morning... the treats here are adorable! Sweet Cheeks Tasty Treats. Yup, says it all, no? These marshmallow Frankensteins are on the menu for sure! There is a bit of little known FYI here too, did you know that Boris Karloff's name was actually William Pratt, and that he changed it on the train from Nelson to the U.S.? Probably not. Most of the people who live here don't know that, but I used to have a historian as a neighbour. There is a theory that the name came from the Doukobours that immigrated here shortly before his arrival in the Kootenays. Cool.

This ingenious use of yogurt pretzels is here...

...and this really fantastic one is here.

Working out how to make white chocolate fingers for the zombie cake (which sounds delish).

These mini pumpkin tarts are really freaking cute! I adore anything bite sized, and if you are going to go and add a face to it, it makes the list!

These mummy pops are way high on my list too. Easy, yummy (I love Oreos), super cute and easy. 

I am getting a toothache putting all these photos together in one place... and since we are not a group that generally goes for sugar induced comas, my thought is that these may end up being carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. I have never made carrot cake as cupcakes, so do not take my very unexpert advice on this one... I will be checking with my mom. Either way, still awesome looking!

As gorgeous as these are using whole apples, I am going to do this with apple slices. As mentioned, we are working out cutting down on the sugar factor and as well, bite sized means that everyone can enjoy a bit of everything. Also, have you noticed the tendency for the smaller folk (and some of the adult ones, Ahem, Dylan...) to eat the caramel off and a few token bites of apple but leave the rest as "core"? Slices should take care of that. A lemon juice mixture should help with the browning or I will just wrap them until ready to serve. What am I talking about... if they can't handle the browning of the apple, they certainly won't be able to cope with the following... cause cute time is over folks :)

OK, admittedly this molded jelly is more garden party pretty than creepy... but if I can find myself a brain mold, we are talking some fabulous ick action, me thinks!

This is actually meatloaf (she made, and ate, three versions to get this one... some serious commitment to halloween cooking there!) and for some reason I felt better about serving this when I thought it was a form of grilled zucchini so I may go that route instead. BUT that doesn't mean it's going to stop me from serving this to my family for dinner sometime between now and then!

Ooops! Alright, he's cute as a button. But I am lumping him with savoury, and since sweet and cute seem to go together in the halloween food world, and the creepy stuff tends toward the savoury, we are just going to keep it that way. I don't want to turn your stomachs after all. Also, these pretzel bones are from the same place. They will be going on the table with some spiffy mustards. Because mustard is TOTALLY creepy.

I don't have a photo of my witches fingers and couldn't find a representation, but if you throw some hot dogs of any sort (chicken or veggie works as well) into the frying pan, and cook them up dry, they will blister. Cut them in half (but you can't cut them till they are cooked or they won't blister) so they are party food size, and dribble ketchup and/or HP sauce (I mix the two) out the cut end after they are on the plate, and you have creepy witches fingers. I will update this when I remember what I used for the finger nails. It's been a few years.

That's it for now for the party food... I will do up the drink post for tomorrow, so check back. In fact there is loads more to come for All Hallows posts, including some nifty things I learned while researching. I don't ever throw an event without researching. I found some very cool things to share with you... I know I blew your mind with the Frankenstein info :)

More Playing Dress Up

We all had so much fun working on our very pink dress up inspiration shoot. It was (for me) the first time working with children in multiples, which could have ended up going in any direction really. It was all good, although there was a teeny petulant area when they got to the table and found out they would have to wait another three minutes before they were actually allowed to eat the pretty cakes :)

Also, we changed the location last minute both because one of the desserts was a white chocolate mousse cake and there was concern of it dissolving, but also because there was a storm coming in. Yes. With large, angry black clouds. The kind of weather that you see and run indoors for a cup of cocoa... not the kind of weather you see and grab all the pink glass you own to run outside and set up a tea party. So we were racing against the clock before we even headed to a local park. (This is where I say another big thank you to Heather for her "apres" work on the editing and making it look MUCH sunnier than it was.) All of the above shots are the setting up of the table... all of the below shots are what was accomplished in the few minutes we had before the sky tore itself open and poured torrents down... Luckily by that time the cakes had been consumed :)

The couple from All About Afternoon Tea are lovely Brits who have lived here for almost a year and they are extreme foodies. They take their white chocolate mousse cake very seriously. Becca also takes very seriously the fact that her mother in law was visiting, and the shoot was on the last day of the visit. It is rather a wonder that they were able to work with her perched five feet away in a lawn chair, fussing. I'm pretty sure all the table planning that Becca and I did in advance was directly related to the amount of time she had to escape the house for the previous two weeks. Of course, I thought it was so wonderful that she was so keen :)

The kids were troopers. I am constantly amazed (being a mom) how resilient children are. There were a few grumblies about being shuffled about, but for the most part, they were amazing! Our bride disappeared three days before the shoot. Welcome to the Kootenays. So in the interest of efficiency, we decided to simply focus on the girls and nix the bride. Well, then then one of the girls wasn't able to make it. Then another one. We were down to Aziel and Aeowyn and a whole lotta cake!

I had asked another friend to bring her kids initially, but she had to work and couldn't make it to the first location when it was forty minutes away. When we changed the location to five minutes away I left her a voicemail and a plea. Not only did she (and her four gorgeous children) show up, but she also volunteered to model the part of the bride! So this was somewhat a family affair (as Aziel and Aeowyn are the photographer's daughters and Paloma is a friend of theirs).

When I went to pick up the flowers, Nadine wasn't home (she runs the Green Poppy out of her apartment downtown) and it was such a lovely surprise to find the gorgeous bouquets in a box on the floor of her adorable abode... so I still have yet to actually meet our Organic Flower Goddess, but I am most pleased to have made her acquaintance. She is a woman with a talent and some serious enthusiasm! Her ability to take my ideas and throw them back at me far better than I was able to explain and in a fabulous package is brilliant. Much happy. I have known about Honey Candles for quite some time, as they have an excellent reputation for organic and beautiful beeswax candles. I know I keep saying so, but they smell divine! The birdcage veil hat came from the most adorable little boutique downtown called the Fairies Pajamas. Such pretty things!

All in all, the day went swimmingly (literally toward the end there...) and we all walked away pleased. I'm even more pleased to be able to bring you some info about each of these vendors in the next bit on the other blog (I know, back and forth, back and forth... I am getting confused as well) and will bring you a bit more of the story about each one.  I went out of my way to try to find locals who use organic and sustainable business practices, and each one gave me a big smile. If I can do it in such a tiny town, so can you! Part of the process that falls under the sustainable category is that each is a local small business and / or artisan. Supporting the local arts and culture and helping them run a business from their craft while not cutting corners is really the way to go! It also means that you are probably working with awesome people :) Hope you enjoyed the process and the photos!