Each year I’ve been posting when Halloween season begins for me, but this year it’s here in a REALLY big way! Finally, the big news I’ve been hinting at is here! I am VERY pleased to announce that my first book is now for sale, just in time for Halloween season!
How to Host a Haunt and Other Fabulous Frights
Britta Blvd Publishing
$19.95 + S&H + US sales tax where applicable
For those of you who have been asking why my Halloween pages on Britta Blvd have not been updated in recent years, this is why! I have been working on this book since the summer of 2006! It contains my large collection of Halloween Recipes with a few new ones not even on my website yet, with extra how-to photographs and explanations, plus the decoration & display how-tos I have been asked about via emails for so many years. Everyone who asked “How?” helped me refine my explanations, so thank you for asking! I really appreciate not only the support from friends and family, but especially the support from Halloween fans I’ve only met online, who all said I should write a book.
Now begins the “marketing” campaign! There are already links to Eerie Elegance all over Britta Blvd, and the book will soon be listed on Amazon.com as well as my own e-store, but I would appreciate any help or ideas any of you can provide. If you have a blog or website, please spread the word, and there are banners you can use on the Agonizing Accessories page on the Eerie Elegance website. Next on my list is a press release I can send to the several newspaper reporters who have interviewed me for articles over the years…then who knows what else?
I also plan on filming a few video podcasts of individual recipes and/or projects as teasers for the book, so here’s a poll for you to vote which recipes or projects should be the first 3 to be filmed:
Enormous thanks to…
I hope you enjoy Eerie Elegance!
P.S. Alaska was a blast, but the proof copy of my book was waiting for me when I got home, so this takes priority over documenting the trip. Never fear – full Alaska details should be here later this week.
I checked yesterday on Amazon but it wasn’t there yet. Funny thing is my mom’s friend found it this morning & bought a copy before I even knew it was available! I had been warned in the FAQs it might take up to 15 days to be listed so I was planning on being patient. Maybe having already sold 16 copies in the first 2 days without Amazon’s marketing machine encouraged them to get a move on. After you receive your copies, if you feel so inclined, please write a review on Amazon!
Thankfully my nasty cold is finally on the way out, so tonight I hope to be able to start organizing my Alaska photos and writing my trip summary. I hadn’t been sick since early last October, but if not being sick for 11 months kicks my butt like this cold did, I’ll gladly take a lesser cold every 4 months or so instead!
Too much going on, so only a quick update right now! I’m finally completely over my cold, but also played piano for a wedding on Saturday which occupied my entire day, so I haven’t even had the chance to sort through my Alaska photos, let alone write up the trip, and I want to do that soon! However, here’s the latest on Eerie Elegance…
Another quick update on Eerie Elegance…
Now there is one more non-Halloween project that MUST get finished this weekend but I’m very close, so I’m hoping to start this weekend on new Halloween projects. Last weekend’s annual shopping trip was successful in many ways!
Happy October & Happy Friday!
P.S. I saw this Nightmare Before Christmas Ultimate Collector’s DVD Set at Borders and I SOOOO want it…*drool* I must have a talking Jack Skellington!
The first Eerie Elegance podcast is now live!
iTunes also approved my podcast already! It isn’t searchable yet, but you can find it directly at this link and subscribe if you like!
The archive will also be here on the Eerie Elegance website.
This was the very first project we filmed, unscripted live, so forgive my rambling with random extra words, and we were still figuring out best techniques & lighting in my home kitchen. I had to film all the others myself, but I think I got better at the rambling…Hope you like them!
Episode #2 is now live – Freaky Witches’ Fingers!
(This one was 11 minutes, just barely too long for a single YouTube segment. For some reason when splitting the segments, Part 1 is fine, but the YouTube encoding goes out of sync with the video for Part 2. I have no idea why since my split QuickTime version I uploaded to YouTube was fine. Watch the QuickTime version here, from iTunes or EerieElegance.com for best results.)
These are fabulous Tim Burton-inspired wedding cakes…I would LOVE to make something like this if I only had the time! I have to save my gingerbread haunted mansion idea for yet another year (going on 11 years postponed idea now *sigh*) but my hope is to have little figures all around, maybe from all sorts of different spooky movies then it could be a quiz also? Maybe next year!
I’ve gotten a lot of work done on my costume thank goodness, but no sewing quite yet, and the pipe organ is probably half-finished so I think I have a chance of finishing that today. There’s another long-postponed idea that is finally happening! The witch is hanging with her brew stand in a different place this year, the foam walls are in place but need touchup since the giant windstorm had blown them into my neighbor’s yard this past winter, and several decorations are setup inside the house, so there is progress being made. No flagstone walls up yet nor any party food prepped and only less than a week to go, so it’s definitely frantic mode already!
I’m sore from yesterday’s all-day party work, so I thought I’d use my slow start this morning to update here…now I’ve gotta get stuff done!
P.S. 130 copies of Eerie Elegance sold, but the 2-day shipping I paid extra for isn’t doing much since I’m still waiting for my next shipment, so 6 people who have ordered autographed copies are waiting for books to arrive at my house. Sure hope they come soon!
Episode 3 is live! One of the most frequently requested “how did you do that?” questions over the years is answered in Eerie Elegance: Glowing Mad Scientist Display! Only one more episode for this season, and I’m thankful the editing can wait until AFTER my party!
In party prep news, the pipe organ has made huge leaps & bounds of progress over the weekend but is not finished because Liquid Nails takes too *%& long to dry *sigh* but the shed is cleaned out & black curtains have been hung to hide my storage with room for the pipe organ to be inside the graveyard chapel. For my costume my crown is mostly done, the bodice lining & fabric is cut & pinned, and the skirt cut out but will need experimentation so plenty left to do on that unfortunately. Some new LED candles are complete which won’t give off much light but will be safer in the wall sconces (someone actually lighted the decorative candles in the bathroom that made a mess onto my Halloween towels last year!). My Beware the Brocade Victorian-inspired lampshade is done which matches the new purple sheer spiderweb curtains. The piano window facing the street has the giant cat eyes window cling, which I absolutely LOVE! I swear it looks like Ebony since it is her eye color, and Onyx never has that same mischievous look on his face. The gargoyle columns are still fine since I was able to fit them in the shed all year, but the foam walls for the chapel & patio suffered in the giant winter windstorm, flying into my neighbor’s yard so I had to collect the broken pieces, so I knew those might need some help. Some of the foam was eaten away so will need to be repainted as “distressed” but there was only one small piece completely missing that is easy to repair & hide behind a column, so it could have been much worse! The touchup paint can wait until later this week.
My to-do list is so huge I will not inflict you with it here…ack! No food is done at all, and there are usually a couple batches of cookies baked by now…ACK! I only found tiny purple potatoes so far, so we might not have Batato Chips after all, so I’ll hit a few more stores this week to see if I can find any. Also since my new kittens last year shredded a few of the flagstone gossamer walls trying to climb them, I just ripped them down & shoved them in bags, so that won’t be easy to put back up, so I keep postponing in case I have to keep the walls white – yuck! Wish me luck getting everything done!
Savory Spiders with Gooey Guts is now live!
My annual Halloween Party Post-Mortem with photos will be later today I hope!
P.S. I don’t want to jinx anything since it’s not for sure yet, but let’s just say please send your positive thoughts about me to Chicago since you might have a really cool reason to watch Oprah on Halloween day!
Whew! Another fun Halloween party is over! I must remember quality over quantity, since my quantity of guests has been dropping the past couple years, down to 31 this year, but I’m sure that number would still inspire “guest envy” like in that one Amazon review. I can say my quality of enthusiastic guests has remained fabulous, with fantastic costumes, and even clever food, and what I like the most is seeing my friends’ creativity!
The Barbieris arrived about 20 minutes to 7 to get dressed since they drove from Davis, and I was already starting the fog machines in front & back, but I hadn’t started any fruit or veggie prep, let alone Freshly Flayed Flesh or several others. We all got our costumes on first, then Tracia volunteered to set up the mad scientist lab, which was great since I hadn’t even started that, and I was able to get some more food out. Joan arrived next, very close to on time, then no one for probably another 30 minutes, then a constant trickle for awhile. I finally gave up on food except for the Spicy Gargoyle Wings, and just got my costume photo before anything got messed up, then had fun talking with everyone, including several people playing my new haunted pipe organ in the shed chapel – hooray! Sheila brought her copy of Eerie Elegance for me to sign, so we took a photo of me beaming holding the book & my purple pen. We decided her costume was an Eerie Elegance fan! haha…Somehow people left without me getting photos of their costumes, like Nat Spider Attack and his fiancee Sharon the Witch, Noelle the red & black fairy with her daughter Galen as Belle, Rock Star Ashlyn, and even George the Cereal Killer. Cyd the Purple Fairy is only in a candid shot, not an official costume photo. Argh! Charles was a disturbingly accurate Heath Ledger Joker that kept freaking me out every time I’d look at him, especially since he’s such a nice mellow guy! Robin used her hair as the fuse for her stick of dynamite costume – very clever! Dave & Wendy with baby Jax were perfect as Schroeder, Lucy & Charlie Brown, complete with mini piano AND extra costumes to dress up their characters Great Pumpkin style – adorable! I have to admit with less people it is easier for me to make the rounds and actually have conversations with all of my guests so that is nice. People started leaving before the music quiz and most didn’t leave costume votes behind, so a few people I would not let leave until we gathered people & did the Name That Tune Spooky Pop Songs quiz right then & there. Robert was the actual winner with 10 out of 13, Noelle & Brian both had 8, and Melissa had 7, so they all drew prizes from the treasure chest. I’m glad I didn’t kill myself preparing extra quizzes or special trophy awards now! People started leaving after the quiz, so no costume prizes were given, and I didn’t have the chance to grade the Creepy Cuisine either! I liked the Monster Toes so let Tracey & Brian choose a prize from the treasure chest before they left. The Barbieris were staying the night, but Count Glen the Vampire was last to leave otherwise. After everyone left I only had two costume ballots, so that means ties for every category! For any winners below, you can come get your prizes out of the treasure chest whenever you like.
Scariest Costume: Charles as The Joker / Nat Attacked by a Giant Spider
Most Original Costume: Cyd the Purple Fairy / Robert the Mad Hatter
Ultimate Costume: The Peanuts Gang (the Taublers) / The Hippies (Tracey & Brian)
Best Appetizer: Monster Toes (Pigs in Blankets) by Tracey & Brian
Best Name: Cloning Experiment #25368903: Status: Recycle (cream cheese & chili sauce) by Cyd
Best Presentation: Ghostly Gruel (artichoke jalapeno dip with bones & ghost chips) by Tracia
Best Dessert: Buried Alive Earthquakes (creamy chocolate cupcakes w/ plastic arms) by Dave & Wendy
Harpo Inc Calling…?!?
I hinted at this yesterday in hopes that positive thoughts from you all might help swing to it actually happening, but as of today I know that I will not be on the Oprah show this week…however this is the full story!
Friday morning I was already exhausted, wondering how I could possibly get everything done – par for the course as every year! – but moving through my list in the kitchen when I heard the phone ring. Now most of my calls are telemarketers so I always look at the callerID before I pick up, otherwise I let the machine pick up for me. I saw the callerID say “Harpo Inc” with a 312 area code, and I thought “Isn’t that Oprah’s company? But no WAY would the show be calling ME! I’m sure it’s some telemarketing to subscribe to her magazine or something…” so I let the machine get it. The voice said “Hello, I’m looking for Britta Peterson. I’m a producer with the Oprah Winfrey Show and…” AND I RAN FOR THE PHONE! OMG OMG OMG! She never said exactly how they found me, so I’m assuming they googled Halloween Recipes like the rest of the world finds me, but she was asking when my book came out, what my most popular Halloween recipes were, and they thought it might be fun to do a live Skype video chat segment on the Friday show on Halloween. It was a fairly long call as she asked my age, if I had kids, how big my party is, if I could ship them any food, what my home internet connection speed was, etc, but then she had to run into a meeting so I never bugged her with questions how she found me or my home number (I swear my whois for britta.com has my cell not home!). She had emailed me as she was calling, so I replied with the links to my video podcasts since we discussed those, and she wanted recent photos of me, so I sent those too. I also needed to hit the post office to mail some international book orders (you can’t pop international Priority Mail in your mailbox but must hand it personally to a postal employee), so without asking first I just sent a book to the producer’s attention at the address in her email signature, paying extra to be sure it arrived on Monday. I figured make it as easy for them as possible to have me on the show would give me a better chance of actually getting on!
This was great fun at the party, since I was trying to restrain myself from telling people for fear of jinxing things, but as people arrived at the party, I would say “I need to play you this phone message” and those who had already heard it would agree “Yes you must hear it!” As I played the message and they heard the word Oprah, their eyes would get huge & their jaws would drop! haha! All weekend I kept saying even if I don’t get on the show, it was still VERY COOL that the Oprah show called ME!
Since the producer had mentioned they would ship me a specific Skype video device since they had problems with consistent equipment otherwise, I was already afraid it was a no-go when it was Tuesday and no further news, but I figured it was appropriate to ask if my book arrived yesterday, plus I offered to try to ship some food to arrive Thursday if they wanted to show food & the book even if no time for me on the show, but I only wanted to go to that expense if they actually thought there was a chance they’d use it, so that got a reply as I figured it would. “Thanks so much! We did get the book yesterday! Well done!!! Thanks! Unfortunately, we don’t have time this year for a big Halloween segment so I’m sorry to say we have to pass! But at least you’re on our radar now for any future Halloween segments, etc!” A bit disappointing, sure, but if I had just sent a book cold to some address I found for the Oprah show, I’m sure it would have been tossed aside, but this way they know who I am, and who knows what might happen next year with more lead time? …and I had already been using the phrase “on Oprah’s radar” so that’s really funny she used the same phrase. It’s like how people are always saying “it’s an honor just to be nominated for an award” right? haha…
Final Party Prep
This was a year with absolutely no help until the last 20 minutes before the party, plus there was a once-in-a-lifetime work party Thursday night until 3am, then the Oprah Winfrey Show called me Friday morning! So, even though I had already tried to give myself a break by not making quite as much food since I knew I had fewer guests coming, even my truncated menu didn’t all get done! No spider biscuits even though I had all the stuff, no Batato Chips since I couldn’t find large enough purple potatoes this year, and no Freshly Flayed Flesh yet again because I ran out of time. I did make the spiderweb pastry brie again, but even the sliced cheese never got set out! I had made the meringue bones the week before but they never got out either since I just forgot. I did make mojitoes again, but I swear even with the same brand of mixer it’s not gelling consistently, so I really need to make new molds to make life easier, which is definitely the plan for next year, since I would also like to sell the molds. The heart, brain, one hand & the eyeballs got made on Friday afternoon, but not decorated until Saturday afternoon. I swear my eyes would not stay open as I was sitting down painting eyeballs from 2-3pm, since I only had about 3 hours sleep at the most. I had discovered earlier in the week that the old wired webcam not longer focuses properly, so I was down to only one webcam. Thank goodness it kept working this time! I found a new location for it on the patio looking back into the kitchen, so I think that showed more party action. Even though I had tested the Airport Express 2 days before & it worked fine, it was cutting in & out Saturday afternoon, so I just left it off and only used my iPod directly connected into the stereo the quiz later since I wasn’t sure my iPod battery would last the whole party, so no music this year. Since the main machine running iTunes kept playing fine, my best guess is wifi congestion but the only other wifi device on my network was the webcam, so maybe I had a bunch of viewers in the afternoon bogging down my connection? I used this same setup last year with two webcams without the same issue though, so it is a mystery to me that I hope I can troubleshoot before my next party. Except for some candles that were going out last-minute, most areas were decorated to my satisfaction by Saturday afternoon at least. My Pumpkin Queen costume was still being finished at 6:30am the morning of the party, including last-minute skirt overhaul redesign, but at least my pipe organ was completed to my satisfaction for year one. I intend to add details & improve it each year of course, but I love the pipe organ, and my musical friends all had to play it, which made me grin ear to ear! Silly Mom asked me why I was bothering making it playable! heh…
I had originally planned not to do the mad scientist lab this year in favor of a gingerbread haunted mansion on the kitchen table, but that didn’t happen, and the chalkboard was up on the wall, but I still didn’t have the lab display set up when the Barbieris arrived. Tracia offered to set it up for me, so I showed her the mad scientist box with everything & let her do whatever she wanted, finding the right drinks & juices from the bar area. Everyone had fun with mixing experiments again, even though they don’t write down their “lab reports” so we can have a contest. If I can do the gingerbread mansion next year, we’ll still mix drinks but they will be potions out on the patio by the bar instead. I get bored myself if I do the same exact idea for too many years in a row!
I never did put up any flagstone walls this year, since I was concerned about the cats climbing them, plus I knew they weren’t going to be easy to put up or look very good, since I had to tear them down & wad them up last year when the kittens were climbing & shredding the gossamer! Since the cats are a year old now, and Onyx is huge, I was afraid they might try climbing again, ruining my hard work of putting them up, when I could spend that time on other prep. I still hate the white walls for Halloween, but I will hopefully this next year get my actual paint treatment done in my living room & kitchen before next Halloween. Not like I haven’t had the paint in my garage for over 2 years already! *sigh*
Even though I kept thinking how much did NOT get done, now that I see my list of new projects, I did have a lot of new stuff this year, even though most were small details people probably didn’t notice until I pointed them out. I feel more accomplished now!
Except for getting sick, I like having Halloween week to enjoy after my party is over! If I’m over my cold enough by Thursday night, I might finally have time to carve a pumpkin for the first time since 1999…we’ll see!
P.S. It’s been a year as of today, and I love Ebony & Onyx, but I still miss you, Kylie! Big hugs to you forever snoozing in the sunshine on a nice fluffy pillow…
The Contra Costa Times & Oakland Tribune ran a Halloween food story in today’s paper that includes my book and quotes from me. If anyone knows anyone who gets those papers, I would really appreciate any copies you can collect! Here is the online version of the article which doesn’t usually include the same photos as the print version.
I forgot to google myself for the Canadian Press stuff until after the other article came out today…here we go! Looks like these came out on the 20th/21st so I’m late to the party! No wonder I’ve been getting autographed book orders from Canada the past week!
Ghoulish or gross? Finding the right balance for Halloween entertaining
(This seems to be the longest version)
Eerie eyeballs to eat
(too bad they didn’t use my actual eyeball photo provided with the CP article! )