Year 7 at Hogwarts

The fourth party, Year Seven at Hogwarts, was July 21st, 2007, with 81 people including 16 kids! Read about the panic of party prep below, and watch my 1-minute segment on NBC11 News:

Plethora of Potter Plus Party Progress!

Of course the Pottermania really started back months ago when I was shocked that Book 7 would be released this year! I’ve now reached the magic $100 mark where Google AdSense will actually send me a payment, even though Hogwarts has only barely edged out Halloween in my total ad revenue…heh! I’ve had three party RSVPs by actual owls, two adorable plush owls & one beautiful card, which make me grin from ear to ear! :) Only two press inquiries about my recipes so far this time around, but I’m flooded with email requests for the free download of my Year 6 Marauder’s Map…I’ve had about 120 requests just since June 26th! A rough count since I’ve started only sending them out via email not quite a year ago brings me to estimate conservatively perhaps 1000 copies have been downloaded for personal fan use. I swear by now it seems like any Potter-themed birthday party, book release party, or movie party will be using my map in some fashion this year…crazy!

Return of Wizard Rock

Actually the recent Potter frenzy started with Monday July 2nd, when I went by myself to see Wizard Rock at the Palo Alto Library! I only caught the end of Roonil Wazlib this time, but I enjoyed the full Harry and the Potters set out on the grass with a definite all-ages crowd…this year I was able to sing along with more than just Save Ginny Weasley! I never found Angie who had said she’d be there, but I did buy some HatPs dental floss in the shape of a tooth and a funny t-shirt and thoroughly enjoyed the show. Yes, I felt a little guilty not doing Potter party prep, but since that was still technically my last day of my “vacation” for the choir competition, plus I didn’t want to make extra mess to clean up for 4th of July, I decided to enjoy myself instead, and I had a great time. :)

Harry and the Potters in Palo Alto

IMAX 3D=awesome! :D

I couldn’t forgo seeing the newest HP movie for the sake of party prep either. Since we got shut out of some IMAX showings in previous years trying too late to organize ourselves for tickets, 2 weeks ahead I started the call for who wanted to go to the Metreon for Order of the Phoenix in IMAX 3D. We ended up as a group of 14 for the 7:30pm showing on opening day, no midnight show the night before, and tickets were indeed sold out by around a week in advance, so I’m glad we got ours! I was dubious about the 3D because I was not impressed and more annoyed actually by the 3D section of Superman Returns last year, but Potter in IMAX has been excellent before, especially Prisoner of Azkaban, so I knew the rest of the movie would be worth it. Well, the entire time from leaving for the Ministry for the big battle until coming back to Hogwarts after was all in 3D and it was AWESOME!!! Very impressive, definitely enhanced the movie! I still agree it was worth it even after paying my $15 parking plus gas money to get up there for the $16.50 ticket fee! ;) If you have the chance to see this movie in the IMAX 3D version, do it while you have the chance!

14 Witches & Wizards at the Metreon

Potter Party Prep Progress

Of course all those attempts at a social life, even the doomed dating escapade in the spring, cut into my grand plans of having so much Potter party prep done well in advance. I’m so behind now I’m to the point of prioritizing which cool new things might have to be cut yet again. Still just over a week to go, plus I am taking the two days before the party as vacation from work for the final push. I expect very little sleep that weekend, but that’s what I do for the sake of making my parties the best I possibly can! :)

done so far:
order for 20 books placed with Barnes & Noble near my house for the midnight release ($20.45 each incl 10% discount & tax)
ice treasure chest complete! (Halloween investment as well)
edible dragonflies done
plenty of paper hats for kids to decorate
plenty of gossamer capes for kids
only need a few more House badges for the Sorting
all flagstone walls done including dining area, hallway & Potions Patio
Hogwarts lighswitch plates on walls – been waiting to use those for 6 years! :D
candy purchased (Bertie Botts & Jelly Bellies, gummy rats, gummy lizards, pop rocks, lollipops, etc)
most drinks purchased
labels for butterbeer & butterbeer light designed, bottles & caps purchased
new Bludgers painted black (one Bludger went missing 2 yrs ago)
new Hogwarts crest on Quaffle – paint is okay
new Beater bats purchased
13 dozen mini cauldron cakes in freezer
6 dozen licorice wands in fridge
6 dozen peppermint toads in fridge
replied to 120 requests for my Marauder’s Map since June 26th (holy moly!)

still to do:
edible Hogwarts – not even started – this weekend I hope!
mandrake seedlings – test batch of peanut butter clay in fridge, seems to get gooey while modeling
pumpkin pasties – filling baked, need to make crust & assemble as many dozen as possible
chocolate frogs – have milk chocolate chips & extra molds
cockroach clusters – have chow mein noodles & Mexican baking chocolate
my dragon costume, pants are done, corset cover is done, gloves & shirt half-done, foam for head is cut – need to finish!!!
repair Quidditch scoreboard – just some hot glue will do
make more Hogwarts goblets with stamp
make more Hogwarts plates with stamp
Horcruxes almost complete, but still need to write Horcrux Hunt clues
need new clues for kids treasure hunt
can’t make Acid Pops until day of party – Pop Rocks don’t pop otherwise
can’t bottle butterbeer until day before the party since the bubbles disperse by 2 days :(
…and some more surprise ideas I hope I won’t run out of time to do!

Horcruxes in process

…and on that note, off to get more stuff done!

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party press!

This article came out today, for the Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune:

Pigging out at Hogwarts

NBC11 will be coming to my house 11am on Friday to interview me in my decor – ack! All you Bay Area crew, set your Tivos for the news! Hope I don’t sound stupid! :P

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Oh my gosh…NBC11 just called and their feature reporter really wants to do the story but he’s the live at 10am guy, so he’ll be here with the truck & broadcast mast at 9:30!!! I gotta set my alarm to be hair & makeup ready before they get here!

So please everyone local, set your Tivos for NBC11 for 10am, and she said it’ll be on a LOT, at 5pm, 11pm, maybe Saturday too!

*breathe, breathe*

Done with 11 chocolate cakes to make up the cake cliffs, all the gingerbread castle buildings are assembled except for each roof, but entire display still needs assembly…going to the grocery store now for the last fresh provisions..I usually do that the night before, but since NBC11 wants to see some food mocked up in the morning, I’m going now!

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NBC11 Interview – watch @ 5pm, 6pm & 11pm!

After going to sleep at 5am (ugh!) I set my alarm for 8am so I could iron my white shirt for my Gryffindor student uniform while my eyes were waking up enough for my contact lenses. Still in my bathrobe at 9am, at my door arrives Kevin, aka Kevvy the House-Elf who already cut all the butterbeer labels for me last Saturday, saying “I thought you’d like someone to take photos during the interview since I’m sure you’ll want to blog this!” AWESOME – you read my mind, Kevin! Thank you SO much!!! :D

As I was frantically trying to make myself camera-ready by 9:30, I missed my phone that due to the 4.0 earthquake in Oakland this morning the live reporter & crew were sent up there instead, but they’d still be sending a camera & reporter hopefully by 10:30 for a later edited spot. At least I was ready & had extra time, plus they can edit me & chop out anything stupid…heh! I think it went well, they were impressed with all my stuff (“have you thought of doing parties for a living?” was unfortunately off-camera!), Kevin agreed I sounded fine (whew!), and they have way more footage of course than I’m sure they’ll be able to use. The plan is they will edit together a segment, and whoever the reporter is live at whatever local bookstore line they choose, they’ll report, then cut to my interview, but unsure yet whether 5pm, 6pm, 11pm or all three. My Tivo is set for all three, but I don’t have an easy way of exporting from the Tivo, so I hope one of my more up-to-date AV-geek friends will catch it on an exportable format! Mary Ann Favreau (sp?) is the reporter, and she made sure to get my URL correct since she said they’ll be linking it on I mentioned about my Google #1 status for Halloween Recipes and she said “We’ll have to remember you for Halloween!” haha…!

NBC11 Interviewing Britta – July 20th

I’m on too much adrenaline to take a nap, and my dragon costume isn’t ready yet and I wanted to wear it to the bookstore tonight…still have to finish the last ice cream cone spires on the edible Hogwarts castle, which was used as the backdrop for my interview. That was totally worth the lack of sleep to have it so ready for TV, even though it’s not quite complete! :D

Party tomorrow & plenty to do! Everyone enjoy their weekend, HP-related or otherwise!

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Year Seven at Hogwarts

It’s all over! 78 total guests throughout the party! 5 less than the Year Six party, with a lot more room to move at this house, plus thankfully only in the 80s vs. 100+ degrees! Only 15 of them were kids, then plus Bud the dog again, who even got Sorted this year! ;)

(Edited 6:41pm: oops, looking at photos I realized I forgot three who came and hadn’t RSVPd…revised totals: 81 total guests, 16 were kids!)

Peerless Potion = The Patterson Family was the only group really making potions except for Beginning Potions, so they got a group medal

Outstanding Owl Ogler = Kaelyn who found 26! I thought I only put out 24? heh…

Honorable Horcrux Hunter = Daniel – tie-breaker based on most enthusiasm that he found them all!

Stupendous Spell Spotter = no one did, so I “auctioned it off” so now Karin has homework! 11 inches of parchment to me by Friday showing that you’ve completed the entire quiz! ;)

Whirled Word Wizard = Tracy, since Dave, Wendy & crew got through 38 rushing to finish in time for the prizes! ;)

Most Creative Costume = Doug as Firenze the Centaur, with hind legs & freshly-grown beard just for the costume!

Most Authentic Costume = Ben as Draco, complete with freshly-bleached hair and full robes, tie, prefect badge & wand

Best Costume – Ruth as Nearly-Headless Nick (hostess got most votes as the dragon but is ineligible to win!)

The Dobby Award for Best Edible Creation = Tracia for her Pensieve Pinwheels, complete with runes saying “PENSIEVE PINWHEELS YUM YUM” around her Pensieve Bowl! It was hard to decide with some very clever entries, but that extra bit of enthusiastic detail edged her into the front running for the Gilded Sock trophy!

(Thanks to Keith for tallying the costume votes as I was deciding and presenting on the other awards! That worked very well!)

Year Seven at Hogwarts – Full Party Details

Even with getting some stuff ready ahead for the news interview on Friday, I was sorely behind as always. My dragon costume wasn’t finished for going to the bookstore release since I had crammed in other food & decor prep that I would have usually done on Friday, so I finished that while watching the news live to catch my interview. :) It aired at 5pm & 6pm, chopped down to maybe a minute at the most with only one quote from me about my “Butterbeer Light with the calories and alcohol charmed away”…too bad I ended the quote with a weird smile that somehow gave me a double chin! Ah well…they didn’t run it at 11pm since they were only live at the bookstore, and I have no idea if they aired it today since I didn’t Tivo anything and had no time to check…Since Jen was in line at the bookstore by 10pm (thanks Jen!), I didn’t get there until 11:45pm, then we were actually out of there with our 16 books by 12:45am! I got good photos of my ENTIRE costume on thankfully, just with flash which makes the fabric more rainbow-colored than the natural look in daylight. I was glad I was home so early since I needed the time since I was still finishing the castle, let alone I had butterbeer to bottle, pumpkin pasties & mandrake seedlings to make, etc! I am very glad I spent the time on the finishing touches like the blue candy water of the edge of the lake, and the ribbon along the exposed vertical foil edge at the bottom, since that made me feel like I had really finished it and was very proud of it! However, that took until 3am, then I copiously photographed it with my tripod, then I hit the wall that I couldn’t even keep my eyes open at all! That’s what the only 3hrs sleep will do! Ah well, I went to sleep at 4am, setting my alarm for 9am but waking up at 7:30, 8:30 & 9, got up, then since Sheila had offered that she could come over earlier than 11am, I called her around 9:30 after taking my daylight tripod photos of the castle, begging her to come over earlier! While Sheila was making & baking pumpkin pasties, I got email from Ruth saying she’ll be over around noon to help too…thank goodness! I would not have survived this day without them! Sheely & Rubby the house-elves were greatly appreciated!!! My entire house-elf crew this year was splendid. Rubby (Ruth) has been here all week, starting with 11 hrs last weekend, then Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday nights, then from noon on party day! Thanny & Kevvy (Nathania & Kevin) helped last Saturday night, then Kevvy helped again by taking the behind the scenes interview photos, Loory (Lori) came over Thursday night, and Sheely (Sheila) all day party day! Thanks to you all! You are all granted clothes if that’s what you wish, but I would hate to offend anyone! I know Dobby is a unique house-elf in wanting independence! ;)

Ruth filled all the adult & kid potions while I cleaned, swept, hosed down & set up the kid areas, finally printed my Honeydukes candy labels, finished & printed the Horcrux Hunt, printed more Whirled Words that never got used (sigh), then at 1pm while Ruth was mixing up butterbeer to bottle, I needed to get the dry ice or I’d never be ready in time when I got back. ARGH! I got to my reliable half-hour travel time each way source and there was a sign on the door for ice & dry ice to go around the block to some market, but when I got there “no, sorry we decided not to sell dry ice anymore.” When? “Monday” Are you kidding me?!?!?!? I called my mom to try googling anywhere while I was still driving, but those places were closed on weekends of course – if I’d known that I’d have been back to my 2002 plan of getting the dry ice on Friday!!! After going to the Albertsons by my house, I was sent to the Albertsons about 5 miles away, hitting every red light of course, actually getting dry ice thank goodness, but I didn’t get back to my house until 2:30, with the party starting at 4pm! I only got the inside webcam back online and a couple more things together & decided I needed to get myself ready before guests arrived, so I jumped in the shower, then the first guests arrived early at 3:15, before the kids treasure hunt clues were setup or the owls set up. I never did get any makeup on since my face never cooled down enough until after sundown, and I never got the corset on either, just the wings, head & gloves, with the head & gloves only on for photos. Still many successes though! The Polyjuice Potion with dry ice got made this time and was a big hit looking so disgusting but delicious. We went through almost two dozen each of the bottled butterbeer varieties and having Butterbeer Light available got great response, since the kids could have it too! Having the butterbeer capped in bottles kept the fizz well enough vs. the butterbeer in the jar going flat so soon during the party. I got probably 20 Mandrake Seedlings done “live” after only able to prep 12 beforehand, and they were also a hit & very cute! Lots of enacting the screaming when pulling them out of the soil! ;) The kids all loved the clue to clue treasure hunt, and I let them completely raid the treasure chest since they were all HP-specific prizes, and this is my final Potter party after all. The Horcrux Hunt ended up that everyone who tried got them all, but they all thought it was fun and loved my detail work especially on the Slytherin locket, and even though I tried to count ahead of time, I still somehow missed an owl or two for Ogle the Owls, since I thought it was 24 but was told a couple people found 26!

Per request, I cued up my Tivo a couple times to show the 5pm & 6pm broadcasts of my interview, which was well-received – of course, since these people are my friends! heh… As the Barbieri crew were leaving, they asked if they could take a castle tower with them, so I walked in and announced “Who wants to demolish Hogwarts?” and got a rousing chorus of “ME!” so I re-aimed the the webcam, got out the videocamera, passed my still camera to another, then counted “1 – 2 – 3 – ATTACK!” Boy that was hilarious! It had to be done, since if it wasn’t touched, I wouldn’t have had the heart of dismantling it all by myself, and it’s so huge there’s no way it can just stay on my dining table forever! Now it’s a grand mess, so it’ll have to be cleaned up along with the rest of the party aftermath, and we have great photos & video of the memory! :D

A few lessons learned: Very few potion recipes were completed, so that never got re-energized after the first time in 2002, so I guess it’s a “been there done that” issue vs. something fun to do multiple times. There were probably just too many quizzes vs activities but they have all been popular before. The most popular this time were the active ones looking around the party decorations for things, since Ogle the Owls and the Horcrux Hunt were the ones people did, and left the word & trivia-style quizzes alone. I insisted on Sorting people, but my photos are mostly crap because I tried to put the chair outside in the shade where there was a nice breeze, but I didn’t get their heads in the shade so I have dappled faces with difficult exposure for the camera to handle. The kids ended up playing some “unregulated Quidditch” getting the Snitch stuck in the power lines, knocking the outside webcam into the tree after 8:11pm and wreaking havoc on the poor Quidditch posts that were so hard to get into the ground in the hard Santa Clara Valley clay soil, but the adults didn’t seem too enthused to play an organized version. As long as everyone had a great time, which they all said they did, then that’s what matters! :)

All guests were gone by 11:20pm, another early party end considering some of my parties, but it did start in the afternoon. With such little sleep lately plus so much backyard mess I can’t really see, I’m just tempted to take a shower, leave the mess for the morning, then maybe start reading Deathly Hallows tonight! I’m meeting friends for breakfast at 8am, and I would like a little more sleep to recover though! I am now officially retired from throwing Potter Parties, since it’s the last book, and I wanted to go out on a high note. I was not able to do every single little party brainstorm I ever had, but I did all the major ones that I had always wanted to do but been postponed for many years due to time constraints, so I think I succeeded!

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Year Seven photos so far

We’re still collecting party photos from people, plus I did clean up the absolutely necessary stuff, but decided to relax & read vs. thoroughly clean up & take decor photos yesterday (no spoilers please since I’m only 2/3rds through!) but there are quite a few good pix here already:

I don’t have the video yet of my news spot, but when I do & get it posted, I’ll let everyone know… :)

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more party press!

I got email late Saturday night from an editor at asking how my party went and if I had any new recipes…here’s the article live!


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my NBC11 interview

I created a YouTube account just to host my NBC11 interview in hopes of saving our webserver traffic load…For those of who you haven’t seen it already, enjoy! :)

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