Mardi Gras 2006!


Overall, another successful party…whew! Almost twice as many people as the smallest-ever 17-guest party last year, since there were 29 of us tonight, which, even though not everyone was there the entire time, was a very comfortable number in this space, which is good to know. People even actually went to sit out on the screened patio for awhile in the early evening – Hooray! I’m still not sure where the best costume photo backdrop will be long-term in this house, but this time the fireplace seemed the easiest backdrop for the costume gallery photos, so we’ll see if I come up with a better idea for Halloween. I surprised even myself that I got the patios not only presentable but usable from their sorry chaotic state last night…AND both cars are still in the garage! Granted, boxes just got shoved in the garage to be out of the way, still waiting to be unpacked properly, but I still have an easy path to the washing machine & even to get to both cars, so that is an accomplishment in itself! ;) I didn’t get to bed until 5:30 Saturday morning, when I had reached the breaking point of diminishing returns so absolutely had to sleep, telemarketers kept calling me throughout the morning (argh!) so I didn’t get solid sleep, then got up at 10:15, not even sitting down again until probably 10 at night! I am looking forward to some rest, but there are still dishes to do tonight, food to put away…and miles to go before I sleep… ;)

The longest-distance guests arrived about 4:20 as Melanie & I were finishing getting our costumes on. Most of the food had been prepped by 3:30 at least, but it still needed arranging, plus anything that needed the oven was going to wait until people arrived. The fondue was to be heated in the microwave as instructed before loading into the fountain. I had microwaved that ready-made fondue before with no problem, so since the only supposed issues are to have the mixture thinned & smooth enough for the fountain, and I already knew what the consistency should be, I didn’t forsee any more issues than the expensive waste of good fondue would be from doing a test run.

Don’t believe the instruction booklet that comes with your fondue fountain! I am also not the only one who learned this the hard way. Some friends had also bought one recently and had the same problem with cheese, even though their instruction booklet said the same as mine: chocolate, cheese, BBQ sauce, etc, as long as they have been thinned enough, will work fine. What really happens is no matter how thin it is, since mine was super thin to start, within about 10 minutes it’s chunky & stuck to the fountain because the heating pan isn’t hot enough to keep the cheese melted. Thank goodness I had bought reserve chocolate chips, since one friend kept nagging to use chocolate instead, so when I told her as a “leave me alone” comment that if she wanted chocolate, she would have to do the nightmare of cleaning the cheese off herself, she cleaned it. Now this person is not known for her cleanliness as far as food prep is concerned, so I was a bit worried, plus I was already troubleshooting the webcam, since I had decided to check on it and found it neither saving images nor seeming to broadcast. *sigh* Then when the chocolate was finally melted & she was proclaiming herself the “hero” of the party (*roll eyes*), the fruit was gone in a flash, leaving me cutting more just as I thought I was finally going to be able to sit down myself. I never did sit until chatting with some new arrivals about 10pm, when I finally had a glass of wine and a couple glasses of punch. At least there’s amazingly some brie left this time around so I can enjoy that as leftovers.

Due to my house payment being much larger than my rent used to be, I was trying to cut back on my food budget, also because the RSVPs seemed to be just barely 20 people, which isn’t as large as my recent parties usually have been. Starting so early in the afternoon & knowing I’d have a second wave in the evening made me very nervous that I’d be running out of food later, so I reserved about half of everything to put out later. When by 6pm, only 2 hours into the official party time, food was already almost gone, I was getting very worried! It was very nice of Galt & Lyle to bring a King Cake of their own! Lyle made his from a boxed mix, and it was not only festive with its colored sugar decor, but also very tasty with praline filling. Mine is an online recipe I found listed as “traditional” but with no special filling. They were both quite tasty in their own right. :) Nice to know the bread machine version was a success. The texture was much smoother from the machine kneading, and even thought I got a little worried it might not have been cooked long enough, it was fine and very tasty & moist without being doughy. 7ish was when the cheese vs. chocolate battle and webcam troubleshooting started, with ended by me being mystified that even after a powercycle the webcam didn’t seem to be broadcasting on my main URL, but the webcam was uploading images okay. I decided to give up & get back to the party since at least it was saving images, but about 11:15pm as the last guests were leaving, a text message came in from Italy to Melanie “go back! I was watching you on the webcam!” so I guess the broadcast must have started working again at some point! Just a quick audit of the saved images while I was shutting down the broadcast looks like I’m only missing webcam captures from 6:20-7:30, so that’s not too bad considering the party was 4pm-11pm or so.

As for the prizes:
Who Got Da Baby? Ben (Tracia got the baby from Galt & Lyle’s cake)
Best Mask: Angie, with her Cirque du Soleil mask that matched her dress AND her hair! ;)
Most Creative Mask: All-White Ben (All Black Ben was his 2005 costume) (Angie got most votes but was the landslide winner for Best Mask already)
Best Costume: Tracia & Doug, Flamenco Couple (Buccaneer Britta got most votes but is always disqualified as hostess)
Most Creative Costume: The Recyclables = Christopher, Lisa & little Xander who came with bubble-wrap & duct tape chain-mail helmets, cheesecloth veil with styrofoam-pellet-strung “flower” headband, and even silver mylar bodice! Absolutely hilarious!
voting side note: Most Amusing Write-Ins: Ben as Colonel Sanders, and Binty as God…hahah! Ben came in all white clothing, including tie, and even sprayed his hair white, then found a white tall winged feather mask.

Photos to come tomorrow I hope, but at this point, the dishes are calling me first, especially that chocolate in the fountain…the joys of post-party aftermath… ;)

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