Halloween 2012 at Old Gory

Halloween is one of our favorite holidays. In fact, we have more boxes dedicated Halloween stuff than Christmas stuff. For 2012  Grimbil went as Captain Kirk and I went as token alien chick. Mostly I just wanted to wear my friend’s awesome pink wig. I’m pretty proud of my costume and makeup, especially since I did them all myself:



For our party we served our traditional flayed skin cheesehead

Puking pumpkin guacamole

and way-too-strong vodka zombie brain

I also tried making some witches fingers. I think they look pretty good, but didn’t taste awesome:

One of my favorite new additions to our decorations was these bloody handprints that I found at the pound shop:

We also fixed up the living room to look like a spider infested abandoned house:

We had bats and candles along the staircase

And a bit of a surprise lurking in the loo

Last year we set up our graveyard in the front of the house and unfortunately some of our gravestones were stolen, so this year we set it up in the backyard for the party. Note the not-too-subtle message Grimbil has incorporated:

For actual Halloween day, we took the afternoon off work so we could set up for the trick or treaters. We set up our classic graveyard scene, but with a twist. Cuz it wouldn’t be Halloween without a twist, right?

See, last year Grimbil dressed up as the Grim Reaper and stood next to the path to our door, scaring the kids en route to and from their candy. So this year we used our coat rack to create a decoy and set it up in the same spot.

Some kids remembered our ploy last year and so gave the Grim Reaper a wide berth (or were too scared to set foot in our yard). But the joke was on them: Grimbil was laying in wait behind the bench, dressed as a werewolf. Cue screaming and laughing and some crying.

Not sure how we’re going to top that next year, but we have some time to figure it out.


Halloween at Old Gory

For our second Halloween at the house, we kept some of the decor from last year (rats, spider chandelier, spiderweb rosebush, graveyard) but then we added some new twists:

The garden zombie was a huge hit (thanks Wes and Karen!):

Zombie by day…

…zombie from hell by night, thanks to some red glowsticks

In order to add atmosphere while also protecting the new couch, we went for an abandoned house feel by draping all the living room furniture in muslin…

… with the added creepy effect of the TV playing strange static-y images through its drapery (much creepier in person).

Otto isn’t much of a party animal, so he spent the night at the neighbor’s. We rigged up a fake costume for him in his crate:

I dug out my great-grandmother’s silver tea set and other random bits of silver. I highly recommend not polishing silver for about 20 years in order to get the perfect Halloween vibe.

We even made the bathroom a bit creepy with a mirror and some lipstick.  But what’s even creepier is that you can still see a hint of REDRUM on the door months after the fact.

Redrum as seen in the mirror over the toilet

Dad sent us some new friends to hang out with

We also had some special effects in the back yard, but they were all light-based so didn’t photograph well: 3 pairs of glowing eyes peeping through the honeysuckle, and a chomping skull lighting up the lawn. Thanks Dad!

On actual Halloween night Grimbil dressed up as the Grim Reaper and lurked in our graveyard garden while I played nice and passed out candy with our friend Marie.

Our take on American Gothic

There was plenty of shrieking and screaming from Grimbil’s victims. Some kids were too scared to walk past Grimbil to get candy. My favorite was the kid who, after jumping and screaming, turned to Grimbil and said “What is wrong with you?”


Otto’s first boat ride


A few weekends ago our friends in Cambridgeshire invited us (including Otto) for a weekend of boating on the river Ouse and general hanging out. So the three of us piled into our friends’ car and headed off for a weekend in the country. Otto wasn’t sure what to make of the boat at first and hid in the cabin for a bit, but eventually he got his sealegs and started being social.

Otto joins the party

He definitely enjoyed the short walks in the countryside while we were waiting to go through the locks and hanging out in the country pubs along the way. Walking on the streets in strange towns, however, not his favorite thing. We finished the weekend with a nice long walk in a nearby park with forests and fields and had a happily tired pup for the drive home. All in all, a great weekend!

Safety first

Better late than never…

Ok, I know Christmas is long gone, even if you include Jan 6, but Otto insists that I share the photos from our holiday photo shoot. He doesn’t want to have sat through that torture for nothing.

"Don't worry Otto, this won't take long. Now where's your Santa hat?"
"All I want for Christmas is to get rid of this hat"

We are still in the process of sending out our cards (I guess they’ll be “Happy winter” cards?) but they were too cute to keep to ourselves.

So, a belated happy holidays from all of us to all of you!

Ho ho ho!

The true test of a kitchen: Thanksgiving

Nothing puts a kitchen through its paces like Thanksgiving, and I’m happy to say that ours passed with flying colors, twice!

Thanksgiving decor compliments of our friend Toni

Round 1 was Thanksgiving day, when our friends Dwayne and Nancy kindly cooked us the traditional turkey with all the works while we were at work. They were visiting from the US and had just arrived at our house the day before, so the kitchen gets bonus points for being easy to navigate even when you’re new to it.

Round 2 was Saturday, when I spent the day cooking another Thanksgiving meal. Turkey, stuffing, roasted parsnips, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry relish, sweet potato & orange cups, gravy, and of course pumpkin pie, all made from scratch. The day was surprisingly low stress thanks to our awesome double ovens, continuum induction stovetop/hob, and my Thanksgiving timeline spreadsheet. How did I survive previous Thanksgivings with just one oven?

Otto enjoyed his first Thanksgiving(s). He seemed particular interested in our (first ever) attempt at brining a turkey.

Otto inspects the brined turkey to make sure we got it right

He also enjoyed the giblets we added to his kibble, the bits of turkey that somehow kept falling into his mouth, and the copious amount of napping we’ve been doing today.

Grimbil and Otto sleep off a Thanksgiving hangover


Halloween is one of our favorite holidays, and by “our” I mean the humans in this household. Otto wasn’t too pleased with the noise (perhaps the cackling witch doorbell wasn’t a good idea), the number of people at our party, or his costume:

Otto the bomb...

...to go with Grimbil's SWAT team costume.

He spent the first hour of the party hiding. Once we took his costume off, he became a little more social. Or maybe he was just trying out a new costume : “pity me and give me lots of cuddles.” Either way, he slowly made his way back down into the living room and spent the rest of the night camped out near the coffee table. He did however like his pumpkin (thanks Vil!)

Otto's first pumpkin (in ACDC font)

Halloween is not celebrated as much in London as it is back in the US, but it’s slowly gaining ground. The good thing about this is (so far) we haven’t had a competing Halloween party to contend with. The bad thing is that there is simply not the variety of decorations available here as there are in NY.  We ended up making a lot of our decorations:

I made 40 rats. Next year I'm going for 60

homemade chandeliers (yes, they're umbrellas)

We turned our front yard into a graveyard (thanks ebay!)

egg sacs made by yours truly

I get my love of Halloween from my dad. He is well known in his neighborhood for his Halloween decorations and for his penchant for scaring trick or treaters. When he heard that the decoration selection over here isn’t good, he lept into action and sent us an amazing care package full of Halloween fun. Unfortunately Her Majesty’s Customs wasn’t in the holiday spirit and held up the package, so we got it the Friday after Halloween, but still, we are so set for 2011. London, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet….