Monday, November 09, 2009

Best. Halloween. Weekend. Ever.

I didn't have a lot of plans this past Halloween weekend. Gabe and Margaret graciously invited us to their monster cupcake decorating party on Friday, but there was to be no dressing up or pumpkin carving on Halloween day. I was a little disappointed, but I'm an adult living in Australia, what could I expect from this American holiday for kids?

A lot, as it turns out. Gabe and Margaret's second annual monster cupcake decorating party was a huge success. I offered to bring my own glutard cupcakes (courtesy of this delicious recipe), but Margaret, an experienced baker, made not one but two types of gluten free cupcakes all on her own! I was impressed by her baking prowess (she adapted the recipe I sent, a daring move when you're working with glutard flour) and grateful that I had my pick of vanilla or chocolate cupcakes, just like everyone else!

None of us adults were dressed for the occasion, but my boss' children came in costume and that really put me in the Halloween spirit (no pun intended). We filled up on spicy bowls of chili and of course, overloaded on sugar from fluffy cupcakes, sweet green and orange frosting and lots of candy! None of my cupcake designs came out as intended (making a skull from brown and white M&Ms on a three inch cupcake doesn't work), but a good time was had by all.

In fact, we were having such a good time that Thor and Jennie decided to throw a Halloween party the next evening. Bless their hearts, those two Brits went absolutely wild transforming their apartment into classy Halloween central. They spent their entire day searching for decorations and preparing for our arrival and their efforts really showed! They had balloons, an orange and black Trick or Treat banner and had even switched out their light bulbs for spooky red ones.

Thor didn't realize that part of the drama/fun of pumpkin carving is scooping out the pumpkin's stringy, goopy insides and had done all the work for us on four different pumpkins! All we had to do was draw jack-o-lantern faces and carve. I wanted our pumpkin to say something about our surroundings and was inspired by the kangaroo crossing road sign. Mickey gives me all the credit for our good results, but his carving was top notch.

We lined our four pumpkins up along the window, lit candles inside and enjoyed their glow while we binged on snacks, chips and more candy. Nostalgia inspired us to watch the classic It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. We had no idea that the television special is 43 years old; it's so clever and timeless, easy for young and old to enjoy. We followed that with Black Sheep, a kiwi horror comedy about zombie sheep. It was preposterous and not afraid to make fun of itself, good for laughs and not nightmares, thank goodness. Thanks, Thor and Jen, yours was the best last minute Halloween party in history.

We kept the festivities going into Sunday as well, spending a sunny morning on the coast admiring the Sculptures by the Sea at Bondi and Tamarama. The annual event always draws a big crowd and we were glad to arrive before the rush. I enjoyed it because sculptures that I might not have given a second look in a museum seem to make more sense in the context of the water and cliff side. I still had no patience for the abstract, shiny metallic sculptures, but genuinely loved the colorful installations and those that moved with the wind.

As if the weekend couldn't get any better, we spent Sunday afternoon at Jess and Chris' Mexican fiesta, an occasion very loosely tied to El Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead). They provided all the fixings for carne asada super burritos: grilled steak and peppers, rice, refried beans, cheese and salsas all wrapped up in homemade flour tortillas. We also gorged on chips and guac and Jess' margarita pie for dessert. Wow, what a treat!

Almost nothing can compare to the excitement of planning one's Halloween costume and dressing up for trick or treating on October 31 as a kid. However, if the Halloweens of my future are still filled with sweets and good friends like this one was, I'll be a happy lady.

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