Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Bewitching Peddlers of Halloween!

Tomorrow morning my husband and I jump in the car and head out to Marshall, Michigan for the Bewitching Peddlers of Halloween art show. I am so EXCITED! 

If you're going this year too, make sure you look for me and say hi! I'll be at the early buy part of the show at 8am, and I'll be wearing my new, bright orange, Halloween Witch dress- if I can wear my pumpkin shoes, I'll have those on too.

This show really kicks off the season for me and believe me when I say it is magical. To be surrounded by such amazing Halloween artists all in one place is awesome, but add in the beautiful booths and you'll be in spooky heaven. If you haven't been before, make sure it's on your bucket list. Keep an eye on my Instagram account for photos of my trip. I hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 8, 2022

The Scariest Hour of Halloween: So, You're Hosting a Halloween Party

What's the scariest hour of Halloween? It's not midnight or even 3AM. It's not the hour when your trick-or-treat candy is about to run out and you see a busload of kids pull into your driveway- although that ranks up there. 

No, the scariest hour of Halloween for me is the hour before our Halloween party is about to begin. Ask my husband; he'll tell you. He gets really nervous as that hour gets closer. He tries to stay at least 8 feet away from me and gives me sly, worried, sidelong glances. He gets very quiet.

One hour before the official start of our party I turn into a panicked maniac. I'm like a cross between a mad scientist and a werewolf. Simultaneously throwing food and alcohol around and biting the heads off anyone trying to help who cannot read my mind. My stomach is in my chest and my heart is in my throat. 

What are you doing? Fan those slices of cheese! No the cookie tray is all wrong! Alternate colors for gods sake! Who put these napkins here! Turn the music down! Turn the music up! We need more ice! No!No!No! You can't mix IPAs and Ciders in the same tub! Who was lighting candles? You forgot half of them! Oh, never mind. I'll take care of it.

Me, looking calmer than I was
while my friends worked furiously behind me

Sound familiar? You've either arrived early at a party at our house or you're a demanding control freak with unobtainable standards like me. If it's the latter, you're in the right place. (Hi.) If it's the former, I'm so terribly sorry. I'm learning to do better.

So what's a ghoul to do? I love the idea of throwing parties. It's the reality that throws me. 

Well, I've decided to let the orderly Kitchen Witch sweep the mad scientist and werewolf out of the house this year. I've been ruminating on my situation (our Halloween party is only weeks away) and thought you might perhaps find my revelations useful. 

Let's be realistic. We only have four segments of 15 minutes the hour before the party starts. That's not a lot of time. Trying to do too much only leads to chaos. To make the Scariest Hour of Halloween less frightening, I'm going to have to do a party run-through the day before. I never do this the way it should be done and things are going to change.

New & Improved Rules for the Scariest Hour of Halloween

Start the music and light the candles (1st 15 minutes)

Music can be relaxing. I always hated starting the music too soon because I thought what if all the best songs play first?! Who cares! I'm making a Scariest Hour playlist of all my favorite songs and I can repeat them later in the playlist. 

Light the candles early. Again, it sets the mood and gets this task out of the way. Candles won't burn down for at least a couple of hours. I can always tuck some spare ones out of sight in case I need to relight.

Ice the drinks and set out the food (2nd 15 minutes)

We put our beer and cider in tubs of ice. For some reason we always try to do the ice and arrange the cans at the same time. This year I'm putting the cans in the tubs the day before. That way we just have to pour the ice over the top. If I add some cold water to that, they'll cool down even faster. (If you're using metal tubs, I suggest lining them with a garbage bag. Crawling on your hands and knees trying to mop up water between the legs of guests is a mood killer. Been there, done that.)

Set out the food onto the buffet table. The less temperature challenged the food, the better. In the past I've served hot foods and frankly that gets crazy at the last minute. Unless the appetizer can  be made in a crockpot and quickly transferred to a warming dish it's off the menu this year. I'm serving room temperature foods that can be made ahead of time and placed on the table 30 minutes before the start of the party. No complicated platter preparations- that all will be done ahead of time, wrapped in plastic or aluminum foil and kept in a cool place)

Powder my nose and take a few photographs (30 minutes mark)

I never take a moment to fix my hair and adjust my costume before guests arrive. This year I'm going to take 5 minutes or so to powder my damn nose. And then, I'm going to take some photographs of the buffet table and chilling drinks. I never get a chance to take these photos before the guests arrive and the table becomes disheveled. I will take pictures of the party decor (sans the table) the night before in a dry run. 

Drink a toast to a great evening (15 minutes before the party starts)

Let this be the quiet before the party revs up. I'll pour myself and my husband a drink and make a toast to a successful party. We really need to set intentions- a spell if you prefer. A final walkthrough to admire our handiwork seals the deal and we're ready to great guests.

This is my dream of how the Scariest Hour of Halloween will go. (Well, actually my dream is to have the party catered with wait staff where I walk down a grand staircase 30 minutes after the party has started in a fantastic costume- yah.) 

Being realistic, the above four steps are all I can manage in 60 minutes- even that seems a bit rushed. In the past, I've tried to do way too much. In order for my plan to work, it relies on prep work earlier in the day and the day beforehand. Hosting a party that people will remember is a lot of work and takes a lot of planning, but it's so worth the effort.

You're probably wondering right now how this helps me to be less demanding and in control. It doesn't. Ha! That's going to take a lot of therapy and meditation. The good news is I'll try not to stress out my family and friends anymore. If I need help, I'll gather people at least 6 hours before the start of the party so that they have time to go home, relax, and get ready for a fun evening too. That's the point of a party!

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Documenting My Halloween Art Collection

It's not like I haven't tried several times before over the years, but each time I thought I found a way to easily document my Halloween art collection it failed. If you've been collecting Halloween art for a few years, I'm sure it has crossed your mind that you really should be writing down information about what you've purchased. I've been collecting for many years, and every time I thought about documenting the collection my eyes glazed over. 

My first attempt at least four years ago was to use an app called Sortly. I love Excel spreadsheets and thought that an app might work well for me. I could take a picture with my phone and enter the info about the piece right into the app. There was also a variety of folders you could use and at first it seemed great. But after about 2 weeks, I realize that while it was useful it wasn't easy for me to just look something up quickly and I soon stopped using it. I had to pay for a yearly subscription and after a year I had only documented about 15 pieces. At the end of my yearly subscription I downloaded what I had done into an Excel spreadsheet and there it sat. 

I stewed about the problem a few more years and was only able to gather all my receipts and business cards and throw them into a folder. Basically it was a mess, but at least I had everything in one place. Sort of.

After thinking about it for awhile longer, I realized that I really wanted something I could flip through with my hands. If someone asked me about a piece I wanted to flip open an index card file and find the piece quickly. I went out and purchased blank index cards, designed my own record that I could print on each card and fill out on the computer and searched high and low for the perfect spooky looking index card file. After a brief high of a few weeks, I had only completed six index cards before getting bogged down in the data entry and abandoned the project again.

Then, a few weeks ago, I got inspired to start again when I read a Facebook post from Jennie Hepler-Takens, Halloween artist and producer of the Bewitching Peddlers of Halloween.   She uses a system of file folders to document her collection. One folder for each artist and she just put the receipts and other miscellaneous information about the art in the folder. 

That sounded simple and was a bit more organized than what I currently had, but it didn't solve my desire to be able to quickly flip through records to find what I was looking for. (As you may recall, I have a terrible memory and need to look things up repeatedly.) I also knew that I really should put the information on my computer for security. In the event of a fire or some other reason it would be good to have my information in the cloud.

I realized I needed a large binder and some plastic sheets that I could just drop the info I had on an art piece inside it. The binder could have alphabetical dividers and if I designed a sheet where I could add additional information I had about the artist and piece I might be able to keep it up fairly easily. Canva made this part so much easier! I designed the info sheet that I could easily drop a photo into it.

I've been printing the info sheet with just a photo and then handwriting everything else into it. For some reason, I find this more satisfying (and quicker) that typing things into the form before I print. In the mornings I've been photographing a few pieces and printing out 2-3 forms that I can fill in throughout my day when I have a few minutes. 

My iPhone does a great job of scanning documents, so after I have a few forms completed I just scan them into a folder into the Notes section on my iPhone as a back-up. I label them with the artist's name and a number. Done.

So far this is working great and after three weeks I've documented 33 pieces! I like that I don't have to be on my computer the entire time to document a piece. Photographing and then printing out just a few forms each morning allows me to add a bit of information when I get the chance during that day.

This system may or not work for you, but find something that does! I'm lucky that I purchased many pieces on Etsy over the years and they still have my receipts, but who knows for how long. I know you're thinking that Halloween is upon us and you really don't have time to think about this right now, but you'll be making lots of purchases (if you're like me) and now is the perfect time to start documenting your collection. Start with the most recent pieces and work your way back. 

You can do it!

Uncle Rufus Guarding My Halloween Art Collection Binder