Look who has a guest post today on MyScaryBlog.com! Scary Jerry is too humble, since he much more than “The Human Clamp” on our Scream Team…he inspires me too as a true Halloween kindred spirit!
My dear friend Natasha and I have kept up our Annual Halloween Shopping Weekend tradition for over 15 years now…wow! This year we crammed almost all our regular favorite stores, plus all day Saturday was wedding dress shopping and a bridal fair on Sunday afternoon, and she will be my matron of honor! We were so busy shopping, catching up, and planning, and I had my car so tightly packed with breakables, that I didn’t take my usual Halloween Haul photos, but here are a few for fun…
Click to see even more shopping photos!
I am sooooo behind on updates but at least for happy reasons! I have been able to post a few photos every so often to Facebook throughout the year while we’ve been working on Halloween, so I will link those here for posterity. You can follow the Britta Blvd and Eerie Elegance pages on Facebook, and Britta Blvd is also now on Instagram. Eerie Elegance is specifically for Halloween and spooky style, but Britta Blvd is for all my creative pursuits like parties, steampunk, costumes, edible art…and will also soon include projects for my own wedding in April! 😀
Since I had never seen the old classic monster movies, we started watching them in January, and I insisted on spooky selfies with the monsters…heehee!
Haunted Hollywood Scream Team 2017 with our buddy Boris as the Mummy
Haunted Hollywood Scream Team 2017 attacked by the Wolf Man!
We have been saving up the free Amazon points from my Prime Visa card all year to finance as much Halloween as possible. This has been immensely helpful since red velvet ropes and officially-licensed premium quality monster masks are not cheap, and getting them on Amazon completely FREE is infinitely better!
Free Amazon credit card points are already being invested in monsters for Haunted Hollywood! Fresh out of the folded flat box these already look good, and with some coaxing back into shape they will look great!
The two newest additions to our Haunted Hollywood crew have arrived!
Successful Haunted Hollywood Scream Team meeting today! New recipe testing, several display ideas solidified, front show outline well underway…glad we have several months since it’ll be a lot of work!
Ghoulish Glen and I took a quick trip to Florida in May…guess where we went? 😉 I bought the Madame Leota and Haunted Mansion wallpaper dresses at the new Dress Shop in Disney Springs, and we almost bought everything at Memento Mori, including “spirit photography” custom lenticular portraits! Now back to working our own Halloween projects this week…
Halloween hacking last night revealed we will need to explore pneumatics after all, but also produced our first “live” monster for Haunted Hollywood! I hacked an old motion-sensor candy dish whose hand disintegrated years ago with a plant puppet on loan from Scary Jerry. This result is hilarious as is, but if we can change the audio to “Feed me!” it will be even better!
Haunted Hollywood work continues! We think we have most of the other monsters dressed with thriftstore finds and easy fabric wrapping, but Nosferatu has a distinctive button-front coat that I will need to sew. I think one of my pirate patterns can be adapted easily enough by adding a collar. I could make stuffed dummies myself, but I can use $44 of free Amazon points to purchase these dummies, where buying fabric & stuffing must come out of my actual Halloween budget, plus my time to make them! We can always add PVC skeletons, wire, and more stuffing where applicable. Most of our monsters need special gloves anyway, but it is nice that these dummies have plastic hands already attached.
Gothic garden and ghostly greenery update! I’ve been nursing along the dark purple calla lilies I bought in pots during Halloween season for several years now hoping they would rebloom, and it’s not the right timing for Halloween unfortunately, but one has finally bloomed again! If I can track their bloom time reliably, maybe I can figure out how to force the bloom time to Halloween by when I plant the bulbs. Several dusty miller starts are growing well in pots and in the ground. My Japanese painted ferns had to be moved and I don’t think they’re getting enough sun for the new growth to be mottled, but my striped and solid purple secretia plants are so happy that I need to prune them more regularly!
Haunted Hollywood Scream Team writing day today! 8 hours of writing our front show today, a good start but still more to finish before August filming! Also, after attempting to carve my own foam heads, it looks like fabric stretched over a molded foam head might work best for a projected face.
Finally made it back to the electronics flea market but we bought more chemistry glassware for our Library Laboratory than electronics! We did score a nice vintage wooden & brass RCA Victor cathedral radio with stripped insides for only $20 which will be perfect to insert our own Bluetooth speaker!
Imitation is flattery? Spirit is now selling a Jack figure whose movement is eerily familiar. I guess we should have expected corporate copycats after we posted our how-to video of #JackSkellington for #Halloween2013, our very first #animatronic figure: https://youtu.be/cnm00b4ttWg #EerieElegance #nightmarebeforechristmas #halloween #animatronics #spirithalloween #stilllikeoursbetter
The #WebmistressOfTheDark was hard at work this week signing pre-ordered copies of #EerieEleganceEats: A Halloween Cookbook of CreepyCuisine! Get a personalized autograph in your own book by buying your copy from EerieElegance.com! …but did you notice the new bling? Ghoulish Glen proposed with a stunningly sparkly and naturally fluorescent diamond that glows in black light!
The moon has risen again! Haunted Hollywood is underway…
It’s so much easier to work outside in the cool of the evening that I was able to sketch and carve the entire vintage movie theatre proscenium header for the garage screen. Ebony snuggled up with some of today’s Halloween purchases, and enough work got done that we can enjoy a chocolate liqueur nightcap in our new spiderweb glasses from Target’s Halloween 2017 collection.
Sunday Halloween progress in 95F heat…ugh! The pipe organ is out of storage needing some minor repairs as expected but is in place for the Silent Silver Screen! My new hot foam knife made slick work of the Hollywood Hills, but I kept carving freehand scrolls & leaves with my woodburning tool in place on the garage until I finished the entire design. Edge cutting then painting will happen on the ground…
I hacked some cheap blowmold fancy skull frames from Michaels to fit our Haunted Mansion ghoulish portraits, plus the Haunted Hollywood Main Theatre Screen projector is now mounted and ready to be hidden by the chandelier! It was tricky since it couldn’t be centered on the window anchored on a ceiling beam, so I found enough scrap wood, shelving, nuts and bolts and had Ghoulish Glen as human clamp to make it work!
More tech Halloween progress last night: Glen found an amplifier on Amazon that made it an easy hack to play vintage radio in our vintage radio case! It took a $90 Thunderbolt to dual-link DVI adapter also from Amazon, but I am now up & running with Glen’s 30″ Dell monitor for video editing, starting with our buddy Bela…so much easier to see than my 15″ Retina Display MacBook Pro screen! I even got the Bluetooth Magic Mouse set up too!
By the end of this weekend, the Hollywood hills were painted and anchored to the moon with wooden reinforcements against the wind, and the carved foam garage proscenium was covered with foam coat, sprayed black, and back anchored in place around the garage, almost completely handpainted gold. Tonight I am absolutely exhausted but glad for this much progress for Haunted Hollywood!
Here’s a summary of this week’s Haunted Hollywood Halloween progress at Eerie Elegance! The 8 ft moon is rising over the Hollywood hills near the gilded vintage proscenium for the garage movie screen, and the living room is beginning to look like a theatre with the red curtains and custom carved foam frames ready for gold…and there’s even a center medallion for a crystal chandelier designed to hide the ceiling projector!
Stay tuned for Haunted Hollywood projects to continue after Annual Halloween Shopping Weekend!
For 2017 Britta Blvd presents Eerie Elegance Eats: A Halloween Coookbook of Creepy Cuisine! This new book celebrates over twenty years of delightfully disturbing both children and grownups alike with Halloween recipes in a niche between gory horror displays and cute but tame kid-friendly foods, making the world smile with a touch of spooky style. Over thirty exclusive new recipes plus all your favorites from both previous Eerie Elegance books are now available as one convenient Cookbook of Creepy Cuisine organized in eight chapters:
Mad Scientist Body Parts
Beverages, Brews & Potions, with safe dry ice and edible glow effects
Creepy Cuisine Contest Champions
Spooky Spiders & Skeletons
Dia de los Muertos Delights
and Gingerbread Goodies, including the giant Ghoulish Gingerbread Haunted House!
Autographed copies of Eerie Elegance Eats are now for sale directly from the author for $24.95 +S&H, Amazon is selling it worldwide, and a digital version is coming soon! See the order page for details!
My Eerie Elegance Halloween Scream Team decided to take a road trip to a new Halloween festival in Long Beach! This was only the second year for Midsummer Scream, but we had seen good reviews of last year and we had a great time. Interesting panels, good instructional demonstrations, lots of inspiration, I had fun wearing a pinup girl style spiderweb dress I barely finished before driving down plus a graveyard skirt mashup outfit, but we actually didn’t buy anything since I had just received my new Hot Wire Foam Factory electric knife set and foam coat products the night before for my birthday! It was fantastic to be able to quiz the company owners and see products in use! Since the costume ball was on board the Queen Mary, we decided to stay the weekend there in the vintage ship hotel and also attend a couple of their ghost hunter tours, with me wearing my Madame Leota dress with crystal ball earrings for Dining with the Spirits…and I thought for sure something gory would win the costume contest at the party packed full of hundreds of people, but guess what?!? Keep reading for the whole story and photos!
We had the smallest group since 2010 and it was roasting hot, but we still had a fun movie night for Star Trek Beyond, and Glen surprised me with an early birthday cheesecake! Thanks to the 7 die-hard movie-goers who celebrated with me and enjoyed Ice Trek Cocktails, Starfleetza Pizzas and S’more Trek not only with custom chocolates and homemade marshmallows, but even matching chevron graham crackers!
I wore my classic Trek miniskirt uniform for 50 Years of Trek last year, but costumes are nowhere near as fun when it’s over 100F, so this year it was t-shirts and hair up for comfort! Glen fit my early-90s convention era Starfleet Academy shirt, and I wore my even older handpainted Spock tee with film camera tripod earrings in honor of movie night…I’ve enjoyed my Spock tee for about thirty years already, but I will sure be sad when it finally disintegrates, since it already has one small hole right in front!
I have made several styles of Star Trek S’mores over the years, from 2010 for Star Trek II on National S’mores Day and Free Enterprise in two different styles using a homemade silicone mold and custom-bent cookie cutter, to 2013 for Into Darkness where I used marshmallow creme sandwiched between matching chevrons, to last year when I made matching chocolate and marshmallows, but ran out of time for matching graham crackers. Since I now finally have three chevron shapes in nesting sizes, I was determined to customize all three ingredients for S’more Trek!
Homemade marshmallows make the most mess, so they were first! I used Alton Brown’s marshmallow recipe again, but for some reason I’m always almost out of corn syrup, so I add honey to make up the difference, which gives them a nice flavor. You definitely need a stand mixer for this recipe! While it’s mixing, prepare a sheet pan with wax paper dusted thoroughly with powdered sugar so it’s ready when you need to work quickly.
Once the marshmallows have finally fluffed to the top of the bowl, spread quickly into your prepared sheet pan. Anywhere not liberally dusted with powdered sugar will glue permanently, so fair warning! I can never get the top surface perfectly flat, so I do the best I can while spreading them into the pan, then I use a greased sheet of wax paper to burnish the surface by rubbing in circles with my hands. Again, be very careful, since if there is any plain wax paper that touches the marshmallows, it will stick forever! Let the marshmallows set overnight before cutting.
While you’re waiting for the marshmallows to set, you can cut your chocolate! I had made chocolate chevron molds before that were intentionally the thickness of a Hershey bar, but they were sized for the classic movie Trek belt buckles, which was a small serving of chocolate. I had leftover modeling chocolate that hadn’t been eaten as previous s’mores, so I remelted it in the microwave, spread it for thicker chocolates, then used the medium chevron cutter to cut as many chocolate chevrons as I could. If the chocolate is too soft, the cuts reseal themselves too quickly, but if the chocolate has hardened too much, it will crack as you push the cutter in, so try to find the sweet spot. Refrigerate the chocolate chevrons if it’s summertime, but don’t freeze chocolate.
Next were the custom chevron graham crackers! I’ve been using this vegan graham cracker recipe for years, and it’s always super-tasty with no special ingredients required to purchase. It is a very crumbly dough, and whole wheat flour doesn’t absorb water as well as white flour, so have some water handy to knead in when it gets too dry. It doesn’t roll into sheets very well, so I pat the dough together as much as I can to prevent holes, then use my rolling pin to smooth out the top surface, leaving the dough a good 1/4″ thickness so the graham crackers don’t crumble apart. Cut the shapes on a silicone mat so you can pull away the extra dough instead of transporting the finished shapes, since they are too fragile until after baking. Store just like cookies in an airtight tin for up to two weeks.
After the marshmallows have set overnight, it’s time to cut them! Keep a bowl of water handy for dipping your cutter, or else it gets sticky too quickly. You can dust the cut edges with powdered sugar for plain designs, but I thought that my pearlized sugar in command gold, sciences blue and services red would be the perfect pop of color! Since the cutter pushes the marshmallow at the edges of the design, leave space when cutting the next marshmallow, otherwise you’ll have an oddly-shaped edge. As soon as I cut the marshmallow slab with the chevron cutter, I gently removed the marshmallow chevron from the cutter, dipped all the cut edges into a bowl of the colored sugar, then set aside, making sure I had an even number of colors for variety.
If not serving immediately store your marshmallows in an airtight tin or bag so they don’t harden. When ready to assemble your S’more Trek, stack the chocolate and marshmallow chevrons on the matching graham crackers for display. For eating, remove the marshmallow from the stack to roast on a stick over the fire, then smush the melted marshmallow between the chocolate and graham cracker chevrons. Yum!
Since I always have an assorted cheese plate and the smallest chevron cutter fit the slices, it was easy to make a plate of Chevron Cheeses! Since there was more white cheese than orange, I made gold chevrons like Classic Trek shirt emblems. I had a few white stars leftover from the 4th of July, so I added those around the center.
Grilling pizzas is popular for my movie nights since you can completely customize your own pizza! Starfleetza Pizzas are the perfect name (courtesy of my friend Eileen several years ago), and the chevron shape is not only fairly easy to form from pizza dough, but it also holds toppings well. I made the crusts from scratch using my bread machine with the same whole wheat sourdough recipe I’ve been using for years now. The dough is pliable enough that it’s fairly easy to form into any shape you like, then parbake on silicone sheets for 2-3 minutes to set the shape. Store in gallon zip bags with wax paper between crusts, and refrigerate for about 3 days or so, but if you are storing for longer, freeze instead.
As for the rest of the menu, Federation Fruit Salad was just my normal summer fruit salad with a fun name, and I recycled the Ice Trek Cocktails from last summer since they were tasty, using hard raspberry cider, raspberry syrup and vodka for The Redshirt instead of premixed margaritas and extra tequila, but I made more elaborate recipe cards for them.
We grilled some watermelon along with our pizzas, and I added a Chevron Cheese in the middle of my pizza to highlight the matching shapes. Everyone had a good time watching some funny Star Trek comedy sketches before the trailers and the main feature.
After the movie, Glen brought out a cheesecake with candles and everyone sang Happy Birthday to me! I was completely surprised! Glen was sneaky and used his car running in the driveway as the refrigerator for the cheesecake, otherwise I would have seen it for sure! See how the candle in front is shorter? He said “It was a small cake, not much room for candles, so I used the natural logarithm of Britta’s age = 3.8 candles, knowing how Britta appreciates geek humor.” Hahahaha…love it!
You can click below to read the full Ice Trek Cocktail recipes and see the rest of the photos…and stay tuned for the summer season finale of Cinema Brittahytta!
22 of us including 3 kids enjoyed a lovely evening at Cinema Brittahytta the same day I also got Owl Post from Hogsmeade, which was perfect since we watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them! The youngest witches enjoyed some Frozen Potions, we all enjoyed Frozen Butterbeer, Thunderbird and Swooping Evil custom cocktails, Candied Bacon Wands, teal and silver Deviled Occamy Eggs, and British “Banger” sausages on the grill, Nathania dressed in Queenie’s coat brought tasty homemade strudel, I wore a fancy new brocade robe worthy of Gladrags, and Glen must be part Niffler since he scarfed a whole pile of chocolate coins during the movie! 😉
I had fun with the simple menu, and I had made menu cards to set by each dish, but I didn’t get the chalkboard updated this time. I did get out my copper dragon sculpture and used my two matching dragon plate stands on the table, since dragons definitely count as fantastic beasts!
As soon as I saw the movie last November, I wanted an Occamy winged serpent since they are such gorgeous colors of blues and greens! Since their eggs are pure silver, I thought why not try making deviled eggs using silver food spray, since tinting the yellow egg yolks to a bright teal should be an easy food coloring task. I found a dramatic image online of an Occamy and created a menu description, pointing out we were only eating unfertilized eggs.
Deviled Occamy Eggs
The Occamy is a plumed, two-legged serpentine-bodied creature with wings that may reach up to fifteen feet in height. It is extremely protective of its eggs, which are made of the most pure and soft silver. The unfertilized eggs are especially tasty when cooked.
To make Deviled Occamy Eggs, split hard boiled eggs in half lengthwise, and pop out the yolks into a mixing bowl. Clean and dry the egg whites and use food decorating spray to coat with silver. Don’t spray too much or it will run off the egg and leave spots. I sprayed the backs of the eggs first, let them dry while I made the yolk mixture, then turned the egg whites over and sprayed the tops. The silver does come off on your fingers when moving them, so be careful when placing on your serving plate. The edible silver spray doesn’t come all the way off the eggs, but it wipes easily off skin.
For the yolk mixture you can use your favorite deviled egg recipe plus enough blue food coloring to make the yellow yolks teal. I used greek yogurt, mayo and some truffle salt to taste, which were delicious! I used my stand mixer to get the yolk mixture as smooth and creamy as possible, then I used a piping bag with a large star tip to pipe the team yolk mixture into the silver egg whites. I used a clear plastic deviled egg tray to show off the silver, and they looked great in place on a gold platter on one of my dragon stands!
All the Candied Bacon Wands were scarfed by all my guests since they were so tasty! They would probably work better with thinner breadsticks, but no one complained. 😉 I used the matching gold platter to the Occamy eggs on the other dragon stand, since the Candied Bacon Wands would sag bend too much if placed standing display more like magic wands.
Depending how thick your bacon slices are compared to the length of your breadsticks, you might need to wrap two slices on one breadstick. My second package of bacon were slightly wider slices, and since the bacon will stretch a little while wrapping, I was able to use a single slice down the length of the breadstick. I did notice during baking that the bacon grease soaked into the breadsticks, making them soggy before the oven time finally made everything crisp, and depending how crisp the bacon was, they tended to bend a little even after cooling. Pretzel rods are thicker and shorter than the long thin breadsticks so they might not get as soggy, but pretzels are already so salty that they might be too much with the salty bacon.
After wrapping each breadstick with bacon, place the loose ends down on a baking rack over a baking sheet so the grease can drain away while baking. Sprinkle brown sugar along each wand, bake for about 15 minutes, gently turn them over and sprinkle more sugar on the other side. This is when they are soggy, so be careful you don’t break any breadsticks while you are turning them. Bake until the bacon is crisp on both sides, turning over again as necessary. Cool completely then serve and enjoy!
The easiest food to “make” were the Niffler Bait Chocolate Coins…just buy some foil-wrapped chocolate coins and set them in a big pile, preferably on a matching gold platter! The Niffler pretty much stole the movie with his adorable antics, but Glen stole all the Niffler Bait to eat while watching! haha…
A Niffler is a creature with a long snout and a coat of black, fluffy fur. They are attracted to shiny things, which make them wonderful for locating treasure, but this also means that they could wreak havoc indoors. Nifflers have a pouch on their bellies which holds far more than at first seems possible. Nifflers are gentle by nature and could even be affectionate towards their owners. However, they could destroy belongings looking for sparkly objects, and for that reason it is inadvisable to keep them as a house pet.
Jerry hadn’t seen the movie yet, so he even found the fancy movie font for his sign and brought Fantastic Fried Beasts! The tasty fried chicken was scarfed down, but after watching the movie he felt a little guilty that the movie creatures were friends, not food. 😉
I couldn’t resist creating custom cocktails inspired by a couple of the Fantastic Beasts from the movie. I took inspiration from a Dark & Stormy plus the iridescent feathers and shimmery liqueur for the Thunderbird, and layered green and blue for the Swooping Evil, and both were quite tasty if I do say so myself! The shimmery liqueur is almost sickly sweet but the chai tea syrup and dark rum balance it well.
The Thunderbird is a large, avian creature native to North America, and most commonly found in Arizona in the southwestern United States. They possess multiple and powerful wings which are known to change colors as they summons storms, with iridescent feathers shifting from various shades of gold, to electrifying blue, to grey and silver, to white, and even to deep navy. A close relative of the Phoenix, the Thunderbird can create storms as it flies and is highly sensitive to danger.
chai tea syrup
Viniq shimmery liqueur
Pour equal parts ginger ale, chai tea syrup, and blackstrap rum over ice, then top with Viniq shimmery liqueur. Watch the swirling storm clouds brewing in your glass, sparkling with the magical powers of the Thunderbird.
The Swooping Evil is a blue-and-green winged magical creature that ooks like a cross between a reptile and an extremely large butterfly. It can be quite dangerous, as it can feed on people’s brains, but also able to deflect at least some spells by flying into their path. It secretes venom that, when properly diluted, can be used to erase bad memories.
green apple syrup
Fill a martini glass half-full of ginger ale. Add blue curacao until the ginger ale all turns blue. Gently pour the green apple syrup along the edge of the glass so it layers under the blue. Sip carefully since too much Swooping Evil venom can erase memories!
We enjoyed chatting, eating & drinking until it was dark enough for trailers, and a couple people had never seen the movie before but really liked it…hooray!
Hope you are enjoying your summer too! Two more movies this summer still to come so stay tuned…
We opened our 10th summer backyard movie season with the first movie ever shown at Cinema Brittahytta…Young Frankenstein! Most of us had seen it before, but little Ellie had a ball viewing it for her first time, at the same age I first saw it! 14 adults & 3 kids made for a great celebration, enjoying the special themed menu, our Fancy Frank standing tall ready for Puttin’ on the Ritz, cloaked Glen with hunchback as Igor, yours truly in my lab coat as Inga, my new theatre trailer, and my new lighted movie marquee!
I first started showing backyard movies 10 summers ago, and I kept improving the experience over time with an 8-foot screen, better projector, and nice speakers. I didn’t edit my theatre policy trailer until a few years in, a very basic Star-Wars-style rolling credits into the distance over a basic starfield with my logo, but I thought it would be a nice 10th anniversary celebration to edit a new theatre policy trailer. I used the same soundtrack of audio clips from some of my favorite movies and my same hand-drawn logo, and the same text for the credits thanking everyone who contributed to Cinema Brittahytta, but I added teal theatre curtains opening to an aqua nebula moving starfield, and I added a little basic 3D to the logo spinning in from a distance at the end. Maybe for the 20th anniversary I’ll have finally learned real motion graphics? 😉
The other new feature for my home theatre is a digital lighted movie marquee! I had purchased several 32″ flatscreen TVs for previous Halloween use, and I didn’t have a use for them the rest of the year, so I thought why not build a frame and load a slideshow/video on a USB stick and use one of the TVs as a digital poster frame movie marquee! Since the TV isn’t balanced to hang vertically without a wall behind it, I had to mount it on the back fence, where I happen to have a bare spot for a few years until a new tree grows. Full construction instructions will be coming soon in a separate post, including lessons learned how to improve my next attempt, but I think it works really well!
When guests arrived for Young Frankenstein, we started with two custom cocktails as is now my summer tradition. Here some brave souls are using my Young Frankenstein the Musical shot glass to mix a Walk This Way cocktail, which was quite tasty and popular, so it might return in another disguise for a different movie someday! This “Walk This Way” cocktail is as dark as Igor’s cloak. Once you Walk This Way enough, you too will say, “What hump?” Pour equal parts blackstrap rum, chai tea syrup, lemon-lime soda over ice into a rocks glass. Stir to combine, and enjoy!
For flavor variety I also created The Frau Blücher: This straitlaced black & “white” cocktail is why the horses rear in fear every time they hear the name of Frau Blücher! *whinny!* Pour two parts lemon-lime soda into a martini glass. Gently layer one part black vodka over the top. Enjoy the black and “white” layers, but stir before enjoying a sip. Some of the partying people on the patio were partaking in that one. 😉
Here is the full menu for Young Frankenstein, listing the two custom cocktails Walk This Way and The Frau Blücher, then Abby Normal Brain Pate and Assorted Cheeses for Puttin’ on the Ritz, Franken-Fruit Salad, Rollz in Zee Hay, and Franks-In-Steins! Can you spot the small foam Abby Normal brain that was a souvenir from the touring musical? 😉 The Abby Normal Brain Pate is the same Halloween recipe I’ve been making for years, still as delicious as ever with cream of mushroom soup, cream cheese, shrimp & creole seasoning, then my traditional cheese slices were there too, both ready for Puttin’ on the Ritz on a plate with the logo added front and center so everyone would realize they were the authentic brand crackers!
Franken-Fruit Salad was just my normal summer fresh fruit salad renamed for the occasion, but our Rollz in Zee Hay really cracked me up, since they are deep-fried eggrolls that are supposedly so addicting they are locally called “crack”…haha! I bought some canned fried onion strings for the bed of “hay” under the egg rolls, and voila! Rollz in Zee Hay! They are very tasty so there weren’t many leftovers. 😉
Sometimes a clever name creates a recipe you can’t resist. These are basically pigs in blankets, a vintage classic appetizer, but by forming the dough differently and adding a pretzel handle, you have little Franks-In-Steins! These will appear again for our Haunted Hollywood Halloween this coming October, as well as in my new Eerie Elegance Eats cookbook!
It was a lovely evening, not too hot and not too chilly, so we didn’t use the firepits, and we have a new projector arrangement that allows for even more seating space! The original Cinema Brittahytta projector had developed some sparkles at the edges by the end of last summer, not bad for a 9 year run, but since now I have so many other projectors for Halloween illusions, one of the newer short throw projectors was perfect nice and close to the screen, so less trip hazard of power & HDMI cables through the grass, plus more people can sit in the center for an even better view!
You can see a few more photos of our 10th anniversary summer season premiere in the gallery below. Stay tuned for a couple more movies this summer, starting with a trip back to the Wizarding World for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them…
I’ve known Keith since the last century from singing with him in the Choral Project, and he and Doug are an adorable pair. When they asked me if I could make cuddling dragon cake toppers for their wedding, of course I said yes! The happy couple wanted to save the dragons so they are not really edible art, but they were made as cake decor. Even though I didn’t make the full wedding cake, I was honored that I could lend my artistic talents to make their sapphire and amethyst dragon cake toppers!
They had found images online of a precious pair of cuddling dragons in exactly their wedding colors, but they contacted the artist and she wasn’t selling them anymore, so this was a design duplication instead of my own interpretation. We knew the top tier of the cake was a 6-inch square, so I cut a template and sized my sculpting to be sure both dragons could still cuddle in the allotted space with room to spare. Since they were not very large, I used solid Sculpey polymer clay. Too much larger and I would have used something inside to make a hollow core. The first night I made excellent progress, added the wings and spikes the next session, then they were ready to bake.
Sculpey polymer clay softens in the warmth of your hands, which is great for blending and smoothing, but not for holding vertical shapes like wings and horns. If it is still warm enough to sag while baking, you will fix it in the wrong shape! Usually letting the Sculpey cool several hours and air-dry a little will help it keep the proper shape in the oven. During baking I was checking every 5 minutes to be sure I didn’t scorch these little cuties, but that they were solid enough that none of the detail would break or bend.
I’m pretty sure the originals were sculpted in Fimo or other colored polymer clays then coated with an iridescent varnish, but since I had found perfect iridescent sapphire and amethyst paints, I thought painting after baking would be less steps overall. I took my dragons and my paints to a crafting afternoon with friends, so they got a peek at the super-secret wedding decor. 😉 After I got home, I mixed the shimmery paints with white acrylic for the bellies and spikes, then black acrylic for the eyes and some spikes, with some black nail polish very last for shiny eyes to give them more life.
If you have painted anything, especially in small crevices and tiny detail, you will know that paint shrinks as it dries, so you might end up with bare spots requiring multiple coats of color. I needed three coats to cover all the bare spots, plus multiple coats really added to the shimmer effect, so it was worth the time and effort. Since this was such a special project, after everything else was fully dry, I signed the bottom of each dragon with my monogram. I forgot to take a photo, but I found a nicer box that could be used as a keepsake, and carefully wrapped them in bubble wrap. Keith & Doug were overjoyed when they picked them up, and then I had to keep them secret from our mutual friends for almost two months!
The wedding was this past weekend, a lovely evening for a wedding cruising around the San Francisco Bay, with excellent food, fun dancing, and the final cake! The vivid purples and blues in the flowers and jewels strewn around the tables went perfectly with the dragons, the tiers were covered in the couple’s shared love of music, and even though the cake decorators didn’t understand how the dragons were designed to nuzzle each other, they were still as adorable as the newly-married couple! Congratulations to Keith & Doug!
I had heard about the Clockwork Alchemy steampunk convention for a few years, but I always had a conflict. This year my schedule finally aligned to attend over Memorial Day weekend, and Glen was even more excited than I was! We attended many of the sessions like The Science of Airships and the Marvel of Modern Coiffure, learned the Congress of Vienna waltz and practiced at the evening ball, and in response to compliments on how well-dressed he was, he kept calling himself my “MAN-nequin” since I created his outfits and accessories as well as my own! By the end of the weekend he had invested in more accessories, including some kits to add movement to his hat, so we hope to attend again next year when it moves to March!
For Friday and Sunday, I did steampunk makeup again, and I was surprised I was the only one at the convention with anything like this, but that made me stand out as “the one with the cool face paint!” After my first attempt at steampunk makeup in 2014 I was asked for a tutorial, so this time I took step-by-step photos of both designs. Fair warning that each of these designs took well over an hour, so make sure you have plenty of time!
First step is a base of your normal makeup otherwise it will be difficult to blend around the final steampunk design. I was still playing around with eyeshadow, but I added some curlicues of eyeliner to integrate into the gear design. To start the gears, I used a gold eyeliner pencil as sharp as possible to sketch circles first, some also with interior circles, then criss-crosses through the circles that extended out into gear teeth, then filled in the rest of the teeth symmetrically. 4 spokes is probably easiest to draw evenly for most people, and the 6 spokes can end up looking more like snowflakes if you’re not careful, but I used a variety. I did try mapping out the circles first on the Sunday version, but it was actually easier to draw in all the teeth around each gear before adding the next circle, otherwise the gears could end up too crammed together or too short to outline later.
After you think you have enough gears, the next step is to outline them. I tried outlining with a sharp black eyeliner pencil first since I thought it would be easier to control, but that was still too smudgy and not enough contrast, so for the Sunday version I skipped straight to waterproof liquid eyeliner with a teeny tiny paintbrush from my art kit. This NYX eyeliner stays on great for hours and it comes with a very fine brush, but that brush is too long and bendy for the fine control you need to outline all the gear teeth. This will take patience and a very steady hand! I worked from the top down so I could brace my hand with my pinky finger resting lower on my face.
After all the gear outlines are done, and you’ve embellished with whatever curlicues and accent colors you like (can you see the teal here?), then start filling in the gears with more vivid metallics! I had one bright shiny gold cream foundation from my Halloween stash that worked perfectly, but the rest of my colors were various gold and copper eyeshadows used as paint by adding a little water and stirring with the brush until the consistency was right. I found it easiest to pull the brush from the outside of the gear tooth toward the center of the gear, fill in all the teeth first, then go around the circle to fill in the rest of the gear. All of these needed two coats of color for the final level of metallic shine.
You can see that I tried to vary the gear colors so no colors were directly next to each other, but that was trickier on Sunday when I had a lot less silver, blue or purple metallics to choose from in my collection! I ended up redoing a few of those gears when I found a color I liked better. I kept using the same teeny tiny brush for the outlines and the metallics, just washing it well between uses, and it was so small that it dried out enough after the last cleaning to shade for depth with a medium matte gray powder eyeshadow around all the gears. I guess this drop-shadow effect worked since many people thought I was wearing a mask until they got close enough to see it move with my face!
I used the same metallics as the gears for my final eye shading each day, since that tied in the color story nicely. I added more detail and more color to the curlicues until I was satisfied, then last but not least were metallic lips! On Friday after playing around with several eyeshadows as lip colors and wiping them all off, I pulled out an ancient 1980’s hand-me-down coppery tangerine that was perfect with a little gold powder as highlight, and black pencil eyeliner smudged around the edges for depth. For Sunday I had a dark shimmery purple chubby eyeliner pencil in my Mardi Gras stash that worked great as lipstick, with the same black pencil eyeliner around the edges and silver eyeshadow powder as highlight. Now you too can do your own steampunk makeup, as simple or as elaborate as you like!
As for steampunk accessories, I had plenty of brass, copper & brown leather already in my collection, but I planned to wear purple & black on Sunday and had no jewelry to match! I was hoping to buy some silver steampunk accessories at the artist bazaar on Friday, but they didn’t have anything I liked enough, so I spent two late nights crafting to create silver gear earrings with matching black lace & gears choker, plus even figured out how to use some battery LED balloon lights I had to make lighted hat & neck accents for both of us!
When I got home Friday night I scrounged for any gear findings in my craft stash, and ended up pulling these off Scary Jerry’s steampunk hat from Halloween 2014! Some were laser cut wood & some were metal but mostly brass and copper, so first thing was to spray all but one of them silver to go with my purple, black & silver outfit. Spray painting in the dark when the tiny gears like to blow around in the force of the spray can get a little tricky! Glad I had a spare box available for easy cleanup!
I had enough small gears that matched to make symmetrical earrings, and large enough gears for a centerpiece to replace the cameo on a black lace choker I had in my Halloween stash. I had a pair of purple drop earrings that matched the shape of the beads on the choker but I didn’t want to modify them, so I arranged the earring gears so that the drop earring could slide through and be removed later. I glued the gears together with expoxy, including earring posts, and used the one metal gear at the top of the pendant so I had a smaller opening to use the same jump ring as the original cameo used to hang from the lace choker.
The jewelry was mostly settled to my satisfaction, but I really wanted to add lights! We had seen lots of outfits with LED strings or bright LEDs that were cool, but obvious what they were, so our challenge was to have light but more of a subtle design feature. I had some LED balloon lights in my craft stash but they weren’t very small. I did figure out I could tuck one of them into the feather spray I made for my fascinator, so that was the plan…until we attended a wedding on Saturday night that had small and larger purple plastic jewels scattered on the tables…
During the wedding dinner, Glen held a jewel in front of his iPhone light and saw that it glowed nicely, so when the party was over and they were asking people to take home decorations, we scooped up almost all the jewels from our table! When we got home, I hotglued them together, with the large faceted jewels grouping nicely and hiding the bare LED bulb for my hat! It kept showing more reddish purple in the photos but it really did match the bluer purple of my hat and outfit!
Since the large jewels worked so well, I moved to trying to hotglue the smaller jewels directly onto the LED bulb cover. They didn’t fit perfectly so some of the LED white peeks through, but overall it’s a great look! I made three of these, one for my choker pendant, one to set in Glen’s hatband amongst the gears, and one hanging from a brooch for his cravat.
Keep reading for full details of our four fun-filled days of the Clockwork Alchemy steampunk convention, plus at the very end you can click to view the full photo gallery!