1. Ultimate Harry Potter Party: The Spiny Serpent

    October 31, 2013 ♥ Posted in: Food, Geek Events, Kristina Makes Things by Kristina Horner

    Hey guys! Rather than try to figure out her vision myself for this post, I figured it would be better to give you guys the real deal. I introduce to you my friend and roommate Liz Leo, the mastermind behind the Spiny Serpent portion of our Knockturn Alley party.

    Welcome, welcome to my shudderingly sinister shop the Spiny Serpent! Don’t be scared- step right this way…*


    The Spiny Serpent is home to all things creepy, crawly, and scaly. You simply can’t find stock like this anywhere else in the wizarding world. We have your spiders. We have your maggots. We have your miniature poison-egg-laying dragons (perfect for brunch with ex-boyfriends).


    A regular here at the Spiny Serpent, Mr. Dungeon Troll (his parents weren’t very original), once told me a story about how a pesky boy wizard stuck a wand up his nose when he was just trying to go to the bathroom during a Halloween party. We decided to honor his tale with a pretzel and dip delicacy (the dip featured here is cheese, as we ran out of real bogeys just moments ago).


    We have scores of dragons that lay all sorts of pernicious confections. Some eggs make perfect smoke bombs to be used for sneaky escapes. Others contain scrolls that predict the future. These- well these are chicken eggs that I hard boiled, gently cracked the shell, and soaked in red and black food coloring for a few hours- I tend to save the real dragon eggs for higher paying customers.


    Maybe window shoppers like yourself might be more interested in some dragon scales and goblin blood- only a knut a scoop. Our dragons shed like mad in the summer, so we sell the scales by the bag all autumn long. However in a pinch blue tortilla chips and verde salsa will get you through a dry spring.IMG_5431Finally, if you’re like me and you spend a large portion of your time wrestling giant flesh eating slugs away from your nursery of carnivorous shrubs, sprouts, and seedlings, then you’ll be needing this drink to take your mind off of your struggles. This “Flesh Eating Slug Repellant” features margarita mix spiked with tequila, limeade, and ginger ale- plus the salt around the rim will make sure the slugs don’t go for your flesh as well. (Oh, and please forgive our signage’s spelling error. Our house elf Winky must have gotten into the sauce before practicing her penmanship.)

    Hmmm- so you won’t be purchasing anything after all? I see how it is. I can’t say I’m surprised, as business here in Knockturn Alley is always slow- most people only tend to come here by an accidental sneeze anyway. Well, regardless, thank you kindly for visiting my shop. And in case you’ve found the ramblings featured here witty, waggish, or whimsical in any way please feel free to stop by my blog, where I’ve set up shop during the rest of the year. I’m sure I’ll see you again soon.*

    *cue ominous music

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  2. Utimate Harry Potter Party: Borgin & Burkes

    October 30, 2013 ♥ Posted in: Food, Geek Events, Kristina Makes Things by Kristina Horner

    The largest shop at our Halloween party was Borgin & Burkes, naturally, as it’s the only Knockturn Alley shop we really know anything about. For some reason our house has a built-in bar, so we designed this shop around it. Technically it was assigned to my roommate Justin, but it was more a collaboration between all of us.


    The idea was to have food in the front, and a museum of artifacts “for sale” in the back.


    Each of the dark artifacts had a tag on it with the name and a price. Some were things we happened to have sitting around the house already (like the books and creepy picture frame and hourglass) while others we either purchased specifically for the event (ie. George’s ear) or entirely made from scratch.


    This hand of glory was made by my roommate Liz. She worked on it for days, creating the entire thing out of popsicle sticks, hot glue, paper mache, acrylic paint and wax. You can read her hilarious and disturbing tutorial here. The red display pillow we happened to find at a consignment store on the same day as the party, which was exactly the sort of luck we kept running into throughout most of the party-planning process.


    Eia created this pensieve. The concoction inside is a mixture of almond milk, blue food coloring that we took care not to mix too thoroughly, and fine glitter. If you create a pensieve for your own party, please make sure your guests don’t confuse it with another punch bowl!

    Next up were the food and drinks for Borgin & Burkes. We went pretty dark with everything at this station, which was surprisingly fun for creating snacks. Every party needs chips and dip, so that was an easy one.


    One of my all time favorite party foods is stuffed mushrooms, which are inherently creepy looking. Those were a hit and instantly fit at the Borgin & Burkes spread. I forgot to put a tag on these ones, but I thought they looked a bit like mandrakes:


    And finally, the drinks. No wizard party would be complete with Firewhiskey, and I also really wanted to create a drink for Draught of Living Death:


    The firewhiskey was just Fireball whiskey (no use making it more complicated than it needed to be), while the Draught of Living Death was a bit more on the fancy side. We used drop shot cups with cranberry juice on the outside, and black Blavod vodka on the inside. It’s pure black! It absolutely had that creepy, foreboding look – but was quite popular with the guests.

    I really loved that our party guests all took the time to walk through and take in the detail we put into each shop, and Borgin & Burkes was definitely the most exciting one for crafts and artifacts. I love the scene in Chamber of Secrets when Harry mistakenly ends up here and wanders through some of the creepier things on display, so we wanted to try and recreate that feeling. Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and stay tuned for the remaining two shops!

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  3. Ultimate Harry Potter Party: Apothecary

    ♥ Posted in: Food, Geek Events, Kristina Makes Things by Kristina Horner

    The first shop from our Knockturn Alley party that I am going to highlight is the Apothecary – which is the one I made! I have always loved Halloween spreads that include a bunch of creepy glass jars and vials, so I called dibs on this one to give that idea a wizardy potion bottle twist. Here’s what I came up with:


    My shop focused a bit more on decorations than most of the others; I wanted to give the table the illusion of a pretty tea party that wilted and rotted after years of neglect. I was able to use a lot of things we already had in our house, actually. The tattered bunny was a leftover prop made for a costume I wore to a horror movie party, the doll with the bleeding eyes was actually Liz’s from the dinner party we went to last week. My favorite prop made specifically for this party, however, was the “doll in a jar”. I was inspired by watching a few two many episodes of American Horror Story:


    The candy wands were kind of an afterthought, to be honest. I bought a tin of Pirouettes because they have that tea party feel, and realized as I was setting them out that they could double as wands. That’s the fun of throwing a themed party like this: the Harry Potter universe is so expansive that it’s really fun and easy to tie in just about anything.

    Keeping up with crafts, here’s the array of potion bottles I made:


    You’d be amazed how much of this stuff is entirely normal household items! From left to right we have sliced peaches in a light syrup, then the Eye of Newt bottle has yellow dyed water with sugar babies at the bottom to look like eyes. Next the fancier bottle has chopped up cauliflower stems in blue dyed water, and the Dragon Blood vial is simply Orange Crush soda. Second to last is an actual non-edible slime mixture, and finally the largest jar has cauliflower stalks and beef broth (which I thought looked a bit like cat brains).

    Now that you’re good and hungry (haha) let’s move on to food!


    These pastries ended up being kind of a mistake, but they worked out just fine in the end and were delicious as well! I meant to make little pastry purses but they all ended up opening while they were baking. That was just fine though – I thought the blueberries wedged inside the flaky casing made them look like a sort of poisonous plant, so Venoumous Tentacula they became!


    I was quite proud of the drinks at my shop: This first one came in these lovely test tube vials and were dubbed Veritaserum. The potion is always described as colorless, but I still wanted to do something fun with it, so I created a raspberry vodka and tonic water mixture (because tonic water reacts under blacklights). You can’t quite tell in this picture, but these drinks were a perfect addition to the glow theme at the party (and were quite popular for it). You can get the test tubes and rack here on Amazon.

    Next up was the Polyjuice Potion. I was quite proud of this one:


    Just short of putting actual bits of things in the shots (no one wants to drink anything that has pieces of hair or fingernails in it, even on Halloween) we wanted to create a texture that still looked chunky enough to be Polyjuice Potion. These jello shots were a labour of love, creating three different colors of jello and spooning them into the cups separately after letting them firm up a bit. I used this recipe as a guide (though as cooking usually goes, they turned out a bit differently).

    Needless to say, the Polyjuice Potion was another popular item during the party, though we did hear they were quite strong. Whoops!

    So, that was the Apothecary! There are still three more shops to feature, so please look out for those. I’m more than curious to hear your thoughts, and let me know if you’d like the recipes for any of the food items mentioned above!

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  4. Never Too Early to Start Halloween Planning

    September 21, 2013 ♥ Posted in: Journal, Nerd Topics by Kristina Horner

    Halloween is my FAVORITE holiday. My housemates and I always throw our group’s Halloween party, I never miss a year when it comes to carving pumpkins, and I’ve already started looking up corn mazes. Not to mention, costume planning.

    Some people have made fun of me for starting to plan my Halloween costume in September, but it’s never too early! If you plan on ordering anything for your costume online, you almost HAVE to start early, since shipping can sometimes take upwards of a few weeks!

    I’ve never been one to just buy a pre-made costume from one of those Halloween Super Stores that pops up in the month around Halloween, so this kind of foresight is important if you want to make sure your costume is awesome. Which I do. This year I am planning on being Barbie from Toy Story 3. Because of course I need another excuse to buy a skin tight body suit.


    Now I just need to convince Joe to dress up as Ken. We’ll see about that. He’s been struggling against it since I first asked him, about a month ago.

    I’ve honestly been thinking about this costume since LAST Halloween, when I opted for a team costume rather than doing something solo. Last year’s costume was one of my favorites though, so I don’t regret it.


    In honor of all the exciting Harry Potter related news lately as well, I think we’re going to add some big Potter elements to our party this year. That means breaking out the Harry Potter cookbook, concocting some excellent themed drinks, etc. I’m pumped.

    I guess there isn’t a huge point to this post, aside to talk about how much I am anticipating everything that surrounds Halloween, and how it’s all right around the corner. I’m curious if anyone else already knows what they’re dressing up as, or have started working on said costume? Let me know in the comments, and I will keep you updated on how the month goes!


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