first testing for Halloween 2018…

Our Halloween plans are still solidifying, but we do know that for 2018, the Webmistress returns, hosting a Victorian Halloween at Castle Brittahytta, and this year you’ll be able to see her conduct a seance with her crystal ball in the front castle window, as her friendly spiders swarm the castle walls and graveyard…watch the Eerie Elegance Facebook page and Britta Blvd Instagram page for more Halloween developments through the summer!

Some successful testing for #Halloween2018 … This year you will be able to peek in the windows of #CastleBrittahytta to see resident #spiritualmedium the #VictorianWebmistress hosting a #seance with her #crystalball in her library! Our newest BenQ #dualkeystone #shortthrowprojector is the perfect distance from the window allowing people walking past the piano without blocking the image, and a white bedsheet across the window works ok already, but I think we can improve the opacity so the kitchen lights don’t show through…stay tuned! #projections #projectors #halloweendecor #Halloween #EerieElegance #WebmistressOfTheDark #makersofinstagram

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Midsummer Medieval Feast at Castello di Amorosa – 2018

We had so much fun last year at our first Midsummer Medieval Feast at Castello di Amorosa that we decided to make it an annual tradition, so this year we invited more friends, got camping reservations 5 months ahead as cheaper lodging (even the cheaper Calistoga hotels are expensive!), and made a Napa Valley weekend of it! Thanks to Cyd & Mike for joining us & making this year’s feast extra fun!

Glen & I rented medieval outfits last year since Glen wanted to be fancier than any outfits I could cobble together from my costume closet with less than 2 weeks notice, so since I didn’t make anything myself(!), I didn’t post here. For this year we wanted to be visiting royalty, so we both wore crowns and clothing suited for a king and queen, including a cape for King Glen, and a rhinestone tiara with sheer aqua veil for me. Over the past year, I had gathered my patterns and found fabrics & trims to make us our royal outfits for this year, but due to all my wedding projects, especially making my Victorian ruffled wedding dress, I couldn’t start our medieval outfits until after we got back from our honeymoon. I found a fantastic faux chainmail shirt and matching hood for Glen, some laceup black pants and boot covers that were also great for pirate use, all from Amazon using free points. We were especially impressed how the shirt & hood had such a cool woven raised texture that really looked like chainmail, for only $30! It was over 90F but Glen thought the chainmail hood looked so much better than his “businessman hair” that he wore the hood all night! 😉 I gave him his choice of metal crowns also found on Amazon, but he preferred the look of the crown I made from tall gold lace trim. We had researched kingly outfits online, and he wanted 14th century or earlier, with the long belted tunic and cape across the shoulder. I had 2 yards of embossed teal velvet in my stash so used that for his tunic, without trim for this year since I ran out of time. He wore the new black leather shoulder pauldron he bought for steampunk use, and I draped some leftover crushed red velvet as his cape, running out of time to add the white fur trim, so that will be something new for next year. We had just bought the brown leather belt at the pirate festival the week before, and he chose his favorite plastic sword from my stash tucked into his belt.

Time still got away from me for my teal & gold dress I had planned, so I finally got everything cut out the Sunday evening before the event, with barely enough evenings to sew, but then my sewing machine didn’t work! My wedding dress must have been its swan song, since it was still working when I put it away when my wedding dress was done, but now the switch won’t turn on at all. I got a basic model sewing machine same-day shipping on Amazon Prime and was able to finish Glen’s tunic, cape & crown enough to wear, but still not quite enough time to finish my matching dark teal velvet & gold brocade dress, so I resorted to a purple costume dress I was able to get in time with free points via Amazon Prime, and not only was the XXL surprisingly long enough for my long legs even though I needed to take it in more than the lacing could manage, but I did have just enough time to add pockets in the side seams, which were a real blessing! Since this isn’t a historical event like a renfaire, and seeing what people wore last year we can get away with a lot more variety, so having a few less expensive outfits to rotate through the years will be good to have. I still hope to finish my teal & gold dress soon so I don’t put it away unfinished & run out of time next year too!

The castle event starts with a glass of wine as you stroll up the hill with a herald trumpeting your arrival, then some appetizers and free-flowing wine under decorated tents up at the lake with the Blue Knight vs. Black Knight horseback jousting in real armor, thankfully usually a breeze at the lake since it’s often at least 90F! After the joust as the sun is going down, lighting the castle towers perfectly, everyone is ushered back down the hill along the castle ramparts and down into the courtyard, which has been completely filled with long communal tables, with a menu at each place setting advising everyone to authentically eat with their hands, and listing smoked turkey legs, cheeses, fruits, nuts, desserts, and more free-flowing wine of course, since the Castello is a winery after all! This year we were at the corner under the balcony next to the VIP table, so we saw the juggler, heard the musicians, and our kilted friend who we had chatted with up at the lake found us later in the evening for more fun conversation. Everything abruptly ends at 10pm as everyone heads to the parking lot for free shuttles to Calistoga hotels, the local Calistoga shuttle that costs $1 per person, or Uber directly to our campsite if the shuttle never shows up. 😉

Last year it took so long in traffic that we were changing into our outfits in the car in the parking lot, so I was really hoping to arrive earlier this year so we could use our member discount for touring the other castle rooms that close at 6pm, especially since we needed to set up camp before dark. I took the day off but Glen had to work that morning, so we didn’t get on the road when we hoped. Due to Friday afternoon traffic, we barely got to the campsite at 5:30pm, set up our tent & changed into our garb, then the $1 shuttle pickup finally arrived closer to 7pm, so not only was the rest of the castle already closed, but the evening event had already started. Last year we were too late even for any of the appetizers, but this year thankfully there was still food, and the jousting hadn’t begun yet. My pockets were heavily used for my folding fan, phone, tissues, bobby pins, and even a whole box of safety pins that came to the rescue of another guest’s wardrobe malfunction! Next year we really want to leave home before noon so we can take fantastic photos in our outfits inside the Great Hall and around the castle towers, and if you also attend, please find us & say hello!

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our wedding day!

I was able to tease several wedding projects a little on Instagram and the BrittaBlvd Facebook page, and I had been hoping to post here in more detail about my wedding projects along the way, but all the coordination with so many vendors on top of late-nights working on wedding projects plus dayjob had me already at my multi-tasking limit, plus several projects needed to stay as surprises…but our big day was April 28th and we just got back from our honeymoon in Europe! With any luck eventually I’ll be able to post details of each project, plus finally catch up on all the 2017 projects I still haven’t shown…but for now, you might find some photos by searching our hashtag #GlenAndBritta on Facebook and Instagram, and catch up on all the Facebook Live streams from our wedding day at Winchester Mystery House with horse & carriage ride to Hotel Valencia for dinner and dancing!

All the planning and sleepless nights sewing and other wedding projects were worth it for such a fantastic celebration with our family & friends! We livestreamed video of our wedding at Winchester Mystery House for the sake of several dear family & friends who couldn’t travel, so you can watch here if you like. We even got to ring the tower bell ourselves 13 times and leave in a horse & carriage, and we danced to Grim Grinning Ghosts by fabulous swing band Lee Presson and the Nails with our surprise lighting effects…what a fantastic day!

Wedding Ceremony & Cocktail Hour at Winchester Mystery House:

Britta & Glen’s Wedding

Posted by Britta Peterson on Saturday, April 28, 2018

Fairytale Farewell with Horse & Carriage:

And we’re riding away in a horse drawn carriage!

Posted by Britta Peterson on Saturday, April 28, 2018

Our Ride in the Horse & Carriage:

Our carriage ride from our wedding at Winchester Mystery House to our reception at Hotel Valencia was a lot of fun! So many people enjoying dinner al fresco along Santana Row cheered congratulations at us, and Ruth & Cyd were ready for us as we arrived!

Posted by Britta Peterson on Monday, April 30, 2018

Arrival in the Horse & Carriage:

Glen and Britta in horse and carriage

This video is about Glen and Britta in horse and carriage

Posted by Ruth Butterfield-Winter on Sunday, April 29, 2018

Wedding Reception part 1:

Our wedding reception!

Posted by Britta Peterson on Saturday, April 28, 2018

Wedding Reception part 2 – toasts!

Reception!

Posted by Britta Peterson on Saturday, April 28, 2018

Partying with Lee Presson and the Nails!

Party!

Posted by Britta Peterson on Saturday, April 28, 2018

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Queen of Chocolate Cake with Princess Peanut Butter

Happy Birthday to Gail, Queen of Chocolate! She requested chocolate with peanut butter this year, so I made her a from-scratch blackout cake with peanut butter cream cheese filling and dark chocolate whipped cream frosting…everyone loved it, and some even assumed it was a bakery cake, with comments like “I don’t usually like frosting…what IS this?!?” This cake was assembled from recipes made for previous birthday cakes, but since many have specifically asked for this recipe, here is the Queen of Chocolate Cake with Princess Peanut Butter!

Last year we were on our big East Asia cruise for Gail’s birthday, so the last cake I made for her was the Chock Full o’ Chocolate Cake, which was delicious but GIGANTIC! Since I was including 10 different kinds of chocolate in that creation, during recipe research I found a blackout chocolate cake, and it was so delicious and so dark that I knew I would make it again! I used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder, cornstarch, and Gold Medal all-purpose flour, and I did not use espresso powder. It is quite gooey so does take forever to bake until a toothpick in the center comes out clean, so make sure you have more like 90 minutes + cooling time to keep watching it. If you cannot frost it as soon as it is cool, cover completely in plastic wrap to keep it moist overnight.

Blackout Chocolate Cake
(from http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/chocolate-fudge-blackout-cake-recipe)

2 cups sugar
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons Cake Enhancer, Instant ClearJel, or cornstarch
3/4 cup Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa (or Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional; for enhanced chocolate flavor
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 8″ x 2″ round cake pans. Line them with 8″ parchment circles, if desired, and grease the parchment; this step will ensure your cake’s crumble-free turnout from the pan.

To make the cake: Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl. Stir in the water; the batter will be thin. Pour the batter into the two prepared pans. Bake the cakes for 35 to 45 minutes at 350F, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Tapping to springback is not done enough! Remove the cakes from the oven. Cool them for 15 minutes, then turn them out of the pans to cool completely on a rack. These domed a lot in my oven, so trim flat before stacking.

Two of our Friday-night dinner regulars love peanut butter & chocolate, so I have tried several peanut butter frostings over the years. Many are not much peanut butter flavor, then if you add more peanut butter, they aren’t spreadable enough. This recipe is an excellent consistency that is spreadable without losing shape, still creamy like fudge, and the perfect peanut butter flavor!

Peanut Butter Fudge Frosting
(from http://communitytable.com/22609/donnaelick/reeses-peanut-butter-fudge-brownies/ )

1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, softened
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 (15 oz) jar natural peanut butter
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt

Combine cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add sugar. Beat on low until combined, then switch to medium speed and eat until light and creamy. Add peanut butter, vanilla and salt. Beat mixture until well combined.

Over everything was the same Chocolate Mousse Whipped Cream Frosting I’ve made a few times now since everyone loves it and it spreads so easily! Since this time I didn’t use this frosting between layers, there was a cup or so of leftovers, which several days later was still a good consistency in the fridge and spreadable by knife, but I’m not sure if the cream might break if thawed enough for piping, so I still recommend decorating your cake when this frosting is freshly whipped. I do know from experience that whipped cream frosting stays moist enough to melt wafer paper decorations, so use buttercream that crusts or royal icing for those. The only difference this time was that I ran out of normal cocoa powder, so I made up the difference with the special dark cocoa powder. It turned out a little more gray than the usual brown, with definitely a little darker chocolate flavor, but this is the frosting that received the comment “I don’t usually like frosting…what IS this?!?”

Dark Chocolate Mousse Frosting
(from http://www.cooks.com/recipe/r74ya4rg/chocolate-mousse-frosting.html)

4 c. heavy whipping cream
2 c. sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/2 c. sifted cocoa powder
1/2 c. sifted special dark cocoa powder
Dash of salt

In a chilled bowl blend ingredients, then whip until mixture holds a peak. Do not overbeat or you will end up with chocolate butter! Refrigerate if not using immediately. Frosts 2 (9 inch) round layers, split in half plus sides and top, with enough leftovers for fluffy piping around the edges.

I hope you enjoy your cake as much as this birthday girl enjoyed hers! 😀

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our first Edwardian Ball

Last year we heard about the San Francisco Edwardian Ball too late to get tickets, so we had it on our calendar this year. Not only was it fun to dress up in whimsical Victorian-inspired outfits again, but it was another possible shopping trip for wedding attire. 😉 I had found a super-cheap deal online on an embroidered peacock corset with black iridescent feather trim, so I decorated both our top hats with ribbons, peacock feathers & hidden lights to coordinate with our peacock style outfits, including elaborate peacock makeup on me and embroidered gold feathers on Glen’s black vest, then we were on our way to the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco!

We arrived only 15 minutes late but there was a giant line of fabulously dressed people waiting to get inside. We prioritized hearing the Haunted Pipe Organ over the ballroom dancing hour, not knowing there really wasn’t any other dancing the rest of the evening, but that was fine, since there was so much entertainment and outfits to see…plus the shopping! In the Vendor Bazaar I found a stunningly gorgeous bejeweled teal feather headdress that exactly matched my peacock outfit, so Glen bought it for me and I wore it all night, receiving many compliments! We found a lovely teal brocade vest for Glen even though it’s not quite a green enough teal for our wedding colors, and I couldn’t resist trying on a sparkly aqua faux fur coat…it was too tight for my shoulders, but it gave me an idea for some fancy teal lace I found last year! 😉

We had a great time, but standing in one place for the last 3 hours of entertainment in the ballroom was murder on our feet even in flat shoes, so we think it might be worth paying extra for VIP tickets just to be able to sit down up in the balcony, which also had a better view of the entertainment on the floor area. I guess now I need to make an outfit each year to go with my new feather headress, since I don’t want to wear the exact same thing next year!

The full story of our first Edwardian Ball is included below, plus a local photo gallery at the end. Enjoy!

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Merry Christmas from our 8ft tall Olaf-Zilla!

We got lucky with a white Christmas at Grandma’s house in Seattle this year! Glen woke me up early Christmas morning with the video of “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” from Frozen, and it took a couple hours for us to finish, since he was on a mission to go bigger than his brother’s snowman from Thanksgiving! After the head was in place at over 8 ft tall, I decided to make it into a giant Olaf, so I did my first snow sculpting with garden tools, a sweet potato nose, mason jar rings around cut-out leaf eyes, big sticks from the yard for arms, hair & eyebrows, and dirt clod buttons…not bad for not building a snowman since I was 9…? We got my 6ft 5in father down the stairs to show scale, and that was definitely NOT a warm hug! We christened it Olaf-Zilla but sadly he didn’t even last a whole day!

It’s snowing just in time for a white Christmas! 😃No need to dream anymore! ❄️🎄🎁⛄️

Merry Christmas! Do you wanna build a snowman?!? Our Olaf-Zilla is 8ft tall! I hadn’t built a snowman since I was 9, but Glen was on a mission to go big! Thanks to Mom for taking photos, thinking of the sweet potato nose, and mason jar rings & cut out leaves for eyes!

Our 8ft tall Olaf-Zilla is already leaning so some last photos before he melts away! Hope everyone is enjoying their Christmas Day!

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The Diagon Alley Project in Seattle

We had heard about the neighborhood driveway Harry Potter “haunt” that went viral around the world, and that it was staying up through January. We ran out of time on our November weekend trip to Seattle, but we had some time early afternoon on Christmas Eve, so Glen & drove there! There were tons of people in line, but it was fun to see all the details and climb up in the Gringotts tower they built. They had even hung mistletoe at the “moving bricks” entrance, so we had to take a photo. 😉 Congrats to them for having creative fun and raising so much money for a good cause!

Merry Christmas from Diagon Alley in Ballard! Impressive amount of work in just a driveway and a constant line of people! We did our best Azkaban escapee faces, took advantage of the mistletoe at the “moving bricks” entrance, inspected the construction behind the scenes, spotted a holiday R2-D2 near a spare dragon, and even peeked through the window into his garage shop in back and spotted some new details in progress. Congrats to them for having creative fun and raising so much money for a good cause! #diagonalleyproject

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Holiday Happy Hour 2017

It’s an especially busy holiday season for us this year with wedding planning at the same time as party & singing season, but we still managed to decorate and have our annual Holiday Happy Hour party! 35 of us enjoyed lots of friends, fun festive food, and even Santa flying across the moon with snow falling outside!

 

Glen made his family cheese ball recipe without any nuts as the Delicious Dairy Dalahäst this year, and I cut back some cookie varieties in hopes of a more sane party prep schedule, but most of the menu was the same since I always love it so much…Swedish meatballs with lingonberries, pickled salmon vs. pickled herring in a Santa dragon bowl, holly wreath Brie en croute with homegrown spiced loquat preserves, build-a-sandwich, manchego with homegrown quince “carne de membrillo”, krumkake, pepperkakor, Caroling Cookies, and a cookie decorating table enjoyed by kids & adults including frosting as well as special Christmas Coloring Cookies! Glen added some extra spicy cheeses this year so we arranged those on the pointy tree plate as a warning for weaker tongues like mine! 😉

There are several gargoyles and dragons that stay out year-round, so they got Santa hats and some even sported tartan bows that looked quite cute! We had the 8-foot moon up for Halloween 2017, and this might be its last year ever if we remodel my house like we hope, so I left it in place on the roof weighted with all its sandbags so I could project the same Santa flying across the moon with snow falling video I created for 2015. 🙂

Happy Holidays from Brittahytta! Jingling bells approach as Santa and his reindeer fly across the cold winter full moon with falling snow, dripping icicles, big ornaments in the front tree, giant wreath on the garage door, red ornaments and garlands decking the fence and windows, a peek into the living room with lots of lights and the main live Christmas tree, another tree on the front porch with a homemade door wreath, a Santa dragon bell, and my new haunted eyeball doorbell is even in the holiday spirit!

 

Please enjoy the full photo gallery below, and we hope everyone has a happy holiday season!
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The Great Dickens Christmas Fair 2017

Glen & I enjoyed our first visit to the Great Dickens Christmas Fair so much last year that we decided to make it an annual tradition! I had made his red vest for his Halloween vampire costume with the plan of using it for Christmas as well, and I sewed a quick matching handbag for myself. I had a red underbust waist-cincher already so we wouldn’t be too matchy, and I decorated both our hats with holly, berries and red & green tartan plaid ribbon. We received many compliments during the day, especially after Glen bought his perfectly-fitting cutaway coat and wore it the rest of the day!

We made it to the Great Dickens Christmas Fair in new outfits but we are starving so food first!

More fun at the Great Dickens Fair today! Among other things, we saw Queen Victoria, strolling carolers, bought handmade wooden mugs, enjoyed holiday beverages & sweet nuts, and saw Edgar Allen Poe, Oscar Wilde, Lewis Carroll, Rudyard Kipling, and Mary Shelley recite poetry in the Adventurers Club…

Glen enjoyed shopping at the Dickens Fair and found a great-fitting cutaway coat plus three vests and a booklet how to tie cravats…we went to the car to drop off shopping so he did a costume change! 😉 The inventor’s shop had an interesting tree topper, and there was a very cool potions cabinet!

We enjoyed all the performances we saw today, some on stages and some in bars! I knew I was taking a risk wearing only plastic boning instead of steel…ouch! Farewell to the Dickens Fair…see you next season!

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Halloweenwear 2017

Last year I thought I might finally have enough Halloween shirts, jewelry, and accessories that I might be able to wear a different outfit every day in October, even to work! This year I posted on Instagram and Facebook, plus I have even more jewelry and new outfits, so I collected them here to save them as Halloweenwear 2017…bwahahaha!

My #Halloweenwear2017 began on Friday September 30th with my new #skullsandroses #pinupgirl dress, handmade #spiderweb handbag, #skull earrings, bracelet & necklace, #skeleton hand hair clip and big red rose! Monday was my first workday for #Halloweenwear, so I went for more subtle with a spiderweb tee with teal pants, teal #spider earrings, web headband, and webbed toes.

More workday spiders & spiderwebs for #Halloweenwear2017, including a new purple tee and new web earrings that happen to match a ring from my stash, my favorite spiderweb tee, spider brooch on my trusty black velvet blazer and handmade spider necklace and earrings, then more handmade spider earrings and spider ring with sheer web scarf and teal!

First October Friday means the #WebmistressOfTheDark returns, this time #pinupgirlstyle with #bat web shades, #web scarf bow on black felt hat, #spiderweb & #spider jewelry, and a #skeleton on her arm. 😉

#Halloweenwear2017 continues this week with more work-appropriate #spider earrings and brooch on #spiders & #web scarf, again with teal, then my last work-appropriate #spider jewelry and sparkly teal tee! My new Halloween watch finally arrived! Love the sparkles around the bats flying on the face! #EerieElegance #WebmistressOfTheDark #Halloween2017 #halloween #Halloweenwear2017 #spiderweb #web #bats

Workday #Halloweenwear moved onward to #blackcat in crescent #moon earrings to go with the #moonandstars on my new #spiritboard tee with #Ouija #planchette necklace!
Starting #skeleton workday #Halloweenwear with new jewelry from three different shops that all happen to match! Pro tip: use another hair clip as a lapel brooch!
Casual girl power #Halloweenwear for dinner tonight with flying #witch earrings and my best Bride of Frankenstein hair streak to go with my new #FrightLikeAGirl tee from Scary Jerry! Nice to have a Scream Team dinner out together!

What does the #WebmistressOfTheDark wear to a haunted house? #spiderweb stretch lace and black PVC buckley bodice with black beaded choker and earrings with pewter #spider charms of course! 🙂 Fun night out with Ghoulish Glen, Scary Jerry and crew at Fear Overload Scream Park!

Four more workday Halloweenwear outfits! Monday was more #skeletons with flowery #skeleton tee matched with #skullsandroses earrings, #ribcage necklace and skeleton hand hair clip on my lapel.
A subtler #skeleton ribcage tee for Tuesday’s work outfit with dangly white plastic skeleton earrings, #skull bracelet, hand clip lapel “pin,” and fun #Halloweeen mashup scarf that includes #bones and #skulls!
My boldest skeleton tee and rhinestone skeleton hands necklace might be a bit much for workday Halloweenwear, but my new silver dangly skeleton earrings go well with the hand pin on the black blazer.
Thursday workday Halloweenwear proceeds with #pumpkins, easing into #pumpkin bling tee, tiny #jackolantern earrings, and a bling post earring as a lapel pin.
#EerieElegance #WebmistressOfTheDark #Halloween2017 #halloween #Halloweenwear2017 #Halloweenwear

We took a break from frantic Halloween work for another fun dinner with friends we hadn’t seen in a couple weeks! My Halloweenwear tonight was my handmade black cat graveyard skirt and scarf as hatband, with sparkly post earring as lapel pin to go with the pumpkin bling on my shirt. More black cat jewelry with orange bead accents completed this look!

Last four workday Halloweenwear outfits, two last week and two this week! I got out my homemade black cat graveyard skirt a couple more times, including today with my sparkly Happy Halloween tee over web lace shirt with witchy shoes with web buckles, a new sharkbite tunic yesterday with a haunted house, black cat, pumpkins, bats & webs with my bat-web shades, and my orange scarf and lightest-weight BOO tee last Tuesday when it was 90F again!

Last Halloweenwear for 2017 but nowhere near least, my new Webmistress of the Dark outfit of homemade dress and flocked web steel-boned waist-cincher, with dark peacock wig, teal web mesh added to the sheer black web cape with standup collar I made 18 years ago, a new spiderweb necklace with teal beads added, spiderweb fishnet stockings, and witchy shoes with web buckles! I wore this ensemble for trick or treaters and for my own big annual Halloween party on Saturday night. Hope everyone had a Happy Halloween!

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