Halloween Progressive Dinner and Costume Party!

If you’re not too old to carve pumpkins, then you’re also not too old to dress up for Halloween!

Every year, our friends get together for some kind of a costume party whether it’s a murder mystery party or a progressive dinner which is what we decided to do this year.

It’s so incredibly fun to plan a costume and to shop for it as cheaply as possible.  I’ve been planning my costume for a month now, and Allison and I have loved running back and forth between Target, Goodwill, and our local costume shop in search of the perfect accessories to complete our looks.

The Other Mother and Joan Holloway
The Other Mother from Coraline and Joan Holloway from Mad Men

I love how creative it all is. We both got our outfits from Goodwill, tailored them ourselves, and made our accessories. I glued large, black buttons to round pieces of foam (so I could blink), glued that on to a plastic frame, tied some clear elastic on to the sides, and there I had them—two button eyes I could actually (kind of) see through.

The Other Mother from Coraline

Allison had a heck of time trying to find a wig that didn’t look stupid and wasn’t too expensive. When I bought a $13 orange wig from the local party store, it definitely didn’t look as glam Joan Holloway as I wanted.

Carrie in the red wig
Well, the black mustache and goatee don’t help, I realize.

With just a few snips, some styling, and some brown hair spray (to tone down the orange), we whipped up an acceptable Joan Holloway wig.

My Joan Holloway hair

But the best costume was actually the most uncomplicated of all: Seth as Steve Jobs.

Before the shave and haircut
Before the shave

After the shave and haircut
AFTER the shave

Seth hasn’t been clean-shaven since high school, so it was quite a shock to see him all baby-faced.

The Other Mother and Steve Jobs
Seth (sans classic hat) as the late Steve Jobs and me as the Other Mother from Coraline

Halloween Progressive Dinner

Allison and I were in charge of the main course, so we figured the table needed to be a little fancy.

Fall table

Fall table

Fall table

Place setting
Place settings

Glitter pumpkins!
Ahead of time, we made these glittery pumpkins. We just painted them with glue (we used Modge Podge) and sprinkled them with glitter. We ended up using them as centerpieces.

For our course, we served Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic and Braised Swiss Chard.
Forty Clove Chicken and Braised Swiss Chard

The Other Mother

Joan Holloway

Halloween Progressive Dinner!

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How to Throw a Pumpkin Carving Party

We don’t care what anybody says; you’re never too old to carve a pumpkin!

It’s a tradition now to host an annual pumpkin carving party to which our guest bring their own pumpkins to carve. We provide everything else: chili, homemade eggnog, cornbread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin carving materials, etc…

Pumpkin Carving Party

Halloween is not my most favorite of holidays, but it’s the one holiday that families generally don’t spend together doing family things which means that the Schaeffers get our friends all to ourselves!

The house!
The front of the house all decorated for Halloween. The glowing lanterns lighting the sidewalk are shaken up glow sticks poured into Mason jars. The two glowing orbs on the porch are drilled pumpkin with orange Christmas lights sticking out of them. Seth made them for me!



Christmas light pumpkin
Finished product!

As this is our fourth year hosting this party, we’ve gotten it down to a more precise science from when we first started. Here’s what we do; hopefully, these tips will make your pumpkin carving party go a little smoother!

To Buy:

  • Food
  • Several large, plastic tablecloths
  • Several pumpkin carving kits (I just buy a couple every year—now, I think I have about 12 sets)
  • A large bag of tea lights

Party Time!

I usually serve chili, salad, cornbread, and pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream. It would cut down on cleaning time if everyone carved pumpkins outside, but unless you live in, say, San Diego, it’s probably going to be too cold. So, I improvise a little bit; I spread out several large, plastic tablecloths (they’re $1 each at Walmart) on the floor, making sure to overlap them. Then, my guests can carve their pumpkins on the floor to their hearts’ content! After the party, I just throw the tablecloths away, and I haven’t gotten any pumpkin guts on the floor. It really works!

Laying out the tablecloth

Laying out the tablecloth

Also, as the guests are de-guts-ing their pumpkins, I try and set out several bowls just for seeds. I ask my guests to try and sort seeds as they go along. This makes sorting go by much quicker in the long run, so you can roast your yummy pumpkin seeds later.

Pumpkin Carving Party

Pumpkin Carving Party

Pumpkin Carving Party

Pumpkin Carving Party

Love that face!

Pumpkin Carving Party

Pumpkin Carving Party

The perfect cup of coffee

Pumpkin Carving Party

Making of the Coraline pumpkin
I like to use an Exacto knift so I can shade a little better.

Pumpkin Carving Party

Pumpkin Carving Party

Halloween Progressive Dinner

Every year, I buy several pumpkin carving kits, and, as this is our fourth year doing this party, we have about 12 sets the guests can use. I also buy a cheap bag of tea lights so we can light our pumpkins at the end. For pictures, I’ve found that three tea lights per each pumpkin usually yields the right amount of brightness for pictures.

All of us!

Pumpkin Carving Party
Allison’s pumpkin

Pumpkin Carving Party

Coraline-inspired pumpkin!
My Coraline-inspired pumpkin!

Posted in How To, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Top 10 Things We Love About iOS 5

1. Notification Center: The iPhone’s notification center is a huge improvement to the way the phone works. Things like texts or twitter notifications no longer get in the way of what you’re doing at the moment. You see a subtle little drop down that says you have a message that you can read if you’d like then. If you don’t read it then, it’s ready to go in the notification center later.

2.  iMessage: If you’re on an iPad, iPhone, or any other iOS device, message any other device—it’s just like texting except iMessage doesn’t go through your cell phone carrier, so you can message unlimitedly.  It’s free, fast, easy, and synced.

3.  Reminders:  Brilliant. It’s an easy way to keep track of your “to-do” list. It’s a way to remind you to do something based on the location you are currently at. You can set a reminder of what to do when you are near a certain place, when you show up to a place, or even when you leave a certain location. It’s brilliant.

4.  Built-In Twitter: Twitter has always been a separate app…until now.  Since Twitter has become so popular and useful in social media, Apple has decided to integrate it into their new operating system.

Just plug your login and password information into Settings, and you can tweet directly from Photos, Safari, Camera, YouTube, and Maps.

5.  Photos:  It’s always been a pain to grab that picturesque moment in only a few seconds; you used to have to unlock your phone, search for the Camera, and open it.  iOS5 changes that. All you have to do now is double tap the home button and tap the Camera app button to access it. The + volume button now work as the camera button, so you can keep the camera still and get the shot you want in only a few seconds.

6.  Speed:  From what we’ve seen thus far, the iOS 5 platform is FAST. It’s smoother than it’s predececor and helps make the usability factor go up substantially.

7.  Newsstand:  Subscriptions to magazines and newspapers used to be managed through out-of-Apple realm in the past. therefor, we’ve both kind of avoided it. It’s nice to have something to browse through when you have a few seconds of downtime and Newsstand now keeps all your favorite magazine subscriptions up to date.

8. Safari on the iPad:  Reading content on an iOS device has been about as easy as any in the past, but they’ve made it better. You now can hit the reader button at the top to make each website even more readable. The new Safari even features tabs like the computer version (as opposed to the dropback windows). It’s faster and more convenient.

9.  iCloud: For us, it’s never been an issue to just plug in the phone or device to the computer to update, but apple has finally… cut the cord. They’ve made each iOS device it’s own stand-alone device and handheld computer. Love it.

10.  Airplay Sharing: Sharing your iPad 2 or iPhone 4s screen to your Apple TV with video mirroring is now just a matter of hitting a button. It makes doing presentations with your iPad even easier than it’s been. Share a presentation with Keynote, or share photos or videos you took of your vacation.

Apple has, yet again, changed the way we all communicate and operate for the better. Life just got easier.

Posted in Digital Life, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Coffee Cupping at Victrola Coffee

Victrola Coffee

Not indulging in Seattle’s coffee while IN Seattle is like going to New York and not seeing the Statue of Liberty or avoiding the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Seth is one of the biggest coffee drinkers I know, so you can imagine how excited he was as we pulled into Seattle; he kept trying to reassure me that we were entering the land where drinking (practically) gallons of coffee a day is perfectly normal and accepted.  I had my doubts.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, our relationship about coffee can best be described here:


Suffice it to say that I (Carrie) am not a coffee drinker, but I figured, you know, when in Rome…

So Jeremy took us to Victrola Coffee for a coffee cupping (which, by the way, goes on every Wednesday at 11 am and is FREE to the public!). Coffee cupping lets you taste a bunch of different unique coffees side-by-side, allowing for contrast and comparison.

Victrola Coffee
Victrola Coffee on Capitol Hill in Seattle

Roaster at Victrola Coffee
Victrola’s coffee roaster

Victrola Coffee

Coffee cupping at Victrola Coffee
Coffee cupping!

First, we started out rotating around the table and smelling different types of freshly roasted coffee grounds.  It was so helpful to smell a bunch of different coffees side-by-side.  I feel like even a complete novice coffee drinker such as myself could pick up on many of the different coffee nuances.

Coffee cupping at Victrola Coffee

Coffee cupping at Victrola Coffee

Then, they poured hot water over the grounds to release more of the aroma.  A “crust” formed on top of the coffee which, after a couple of minutes, they “broke,” causing the grounds to sink to the bottom.  At this point, we pulled out our spoons and started slurping. The goal is to cover every part of your tongue with coffee so you can experience all the flavor at once, and apparently, slurping is the best way to achieve that. The whole room was alive with all our slurping sounds.

Coffee cupping at Victrola Coffee

Coffee cupping at Victrola Coffee

I think the best part of the experience was how chill everyone was. The Victrola staff was so inviting and wonderful—not snobby at all. (There’s nothing worse than true coffee snobs…well, maybe wine snobs…) Truly passionate about coffee, they wanted to share their passion with all of us, and Seth and I loved learning about the fruit of their efforts.

Coffee experts at Victrola Coffee
Victrola staff with their coffee tree!

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Seattle Ferry Ride

To get to Cape Flattery and Neah Bay from Seattle, we had to take the ferry to Bainbridge Island.  We had only ridden one other ferry in our lives—the one from Manhattan to Governor’s Island in New York, so we were pretty darn excited when our friend Jeremy said that not only would we would be riding the ferry—we would be driving our car right on to it.

Now I know that for some people, namely those who live on Bainbridge and work in the city, ferry rides are no big deal.  However, Seth and I were ecstatic.

Our ferry took off at 1:15 pm, so we made sure we were there at least thirty minutes ahead of time.  When we drove up to the ferry, we found others waiting in line in their cars.  We paid (I believe it was $28 for the Subi), and then parked in line.  At this point, once your car is in line for the ferry, you can get out and eat at one of the nearby food joints in the area, making sure you make it back to your car in time for boarding.

Waiting for the ferry
In line for boarding

We parked bumper to bumper in a large, garage-like room open on both ends. Once the ferry starts moving, we got out and wandered around the upper decks; most people stay in their cars and read. However, Seth and I stood at the bow of the boat and danced together in the wind which was so strong we thought we’d be blown over. The “regulars” looked at us like we were crazy.

The Subi on the Ferry

Ferry Ride!

One of the coolest parts about riding the ferry, however, is the view. Riding back at night, we got to see Seattle from a new angle, floating gently on the water.

Mount Rainier


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