Mighty Thirst Halloween: Bloodthirsty Mulled Wine

I’m posting a Halloween-themed cocktail every day this week, because I cannot wait for Halloween. GAH.

Did that guy seriously show up to your costume party in a T-shirt and jeans? He did. Does that guy hope to be drinking your booze this evening? Then perhaps he should consider attending as a vampire.

Bloodthirsty Mulled Wine

– 3 Tbsp. Honey
– 2 strips lemon zest
– 2 strips orange zest
– 2 strips ginger
– 2 cinnamon sticks
– 8 cloves
– 1 tsp vanilla
– juice of an orange
– 2 bottles cheap red wine
– 3 Tbsp. Grand Marnier

Add all the non-alcoholic ingredients to a pot, and bring to a simmer while stirring, adding more orange juice or a little water if necessary to keep it from burning. Once this mixture is syrupy and you can start to smell the spices, add the wine and Grand Marnier and bring it to a boil. Then turn the heat to low and keep the whole mess on the stove so guests can ladle directly from the pot. Pro tip! Make sure your pot is big enough because if it boils over, the alcohol will ignite, and flames will ensue. Or so I have heard.

Here’s to pillowcases full of candy, babies dressed like fat, furry animals, and TPing the neighbor who hands out rasins. What are you toasting this week?

I’m making 100 cocktails as part of my Life List. This is number twelve. Here are the rest:

1. Shots in ‘Cots
2. Avocado Bourbon Shake
3. The Vacation
4. Sassy Lassi
5. Cherry Bing
7. Toddy Shots
8. Cafe Picante
9. Gin and Juice (Box)
10. The Neighbor
11. Halloween Spiked Cider

Mighty Thirst: Halloween Spiked Cider

This is what I serve at my annual pumpkin-carving party. Hot cider is usually too sweet for me, so I add unsweetened cranberry juice — not cranberry cocktail, but the real stuff that’s just smooshed cranberries — to make a pleasantly tart variation.

Halloween Spiked Cider

-3 Cups Unfiltered Apple Juice
-1 Cup Unsweetened Cranberry Juice
-6 Cloves
-2 Cinnamon Sticks
-2 Strips of Lemon Zest
-2 Strips of Orange Zest
-Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum

Combine everything but the rum in a saucepan, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add rum to taste. I do about a shot per cup. Bourbon and brandy work too, which makes this an excellent party punch. Just line the bottles up next to the stovetop. Non-drinkers can just have cider, drinkers can choose their poison.

If you want to make your own apple cups, use a circular cookie cutter to punch out the top, and hollow out the inside with a spoon. Grapefruit spoons work particularly well. If you’re a meticulous sort, you can add a few drops of candle wax to seal the bottom, sometimes the seed chamber connects with the bottom and the cup leaks.

Here’s to roasted pumpkin seeds, mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and decorative gourd season, motherfuckers. What are you toasting this week?

I’m making 100 cocktails as part of my Life List. This is number 11. Here are the rest:

1. Shots in ‘Cots, 2. Avocado Bourbon Shake, 3. The Vacation, 4. Sassy Lassi, 5. Cherry Bing, 6. The ABC, 7. Toddy Shots 8. Cafe Picante 9. Gin and Juice (Box) 10. The Neighbor

Toddler Halloween Costume Retrospective: An Emotional Rollercoaster

Age 1: Hank will not wear a hat, thwarting all adorable handmade costume options. Mai helps me safety-pin some strategically arranged faux fur to a brown hoodie to improvise a baby Big Bad Wolf costume. He tolerates the hood for 30-second stretches before bucking.

Age 2: Hank will not wear costumes. Dress-up boxes make him keen. Despondent, I purchase this toddler Elephant costume at a thrift store for $5, knowing that if I make something by hand, I will not be sane about his refusal to wear it. His father bribes him with chocolate.

Age 3: When prompted, Hank asks to be Nemo. My glee borders on mania. My gluegun runneth over. (FYI: Nemo/Fish Costume tutorial that can be adapted for adult sizes if you’re feeling it.)

Age 4: Hank asks to be a Monkey Robot. Say it again, I whisper. A monkey robot. This! This is my child. I spend hours fashioning the monkiest robotiest costume possible. Halloween! We are a Halloween family.

Age 5:
A year later, there are still tears of pride standing in my eyes as I ask,
-What do you want to be for Halloween this year, Hank? An astronaut race car driver? A mad scientist superhero?
-A ghost!
-A ghost?

Monkey Robot Family

Hank asked to be a Monkey Robot for Halloween, so our work here is done.

Here is my child dressed as Everything That is Awesome. I based his robot panel on Arlo’s robot costume from a few years back, which is the work of my supermom designer friend Jen Robbins.

Bryan and I were thinking of going as mad scientists, until we hit upon the scheme of going as a robot and a monkey. This is my subdued girl-robot costume, with Blade Runner hair and mini-loaf tin shoulder pads.

The best part of the costume were the leg circuits. We drew them on with Crayola markers, then I put nylons over them.

I figured I’d just wear pants until they washed off, and then belatedly remembered we have fancy plans tonight. Le sigh. “Hello, I’m the girl with the sub-par tattoos.”

Bryan is a real natural in the role of monkey. It’s too bad we didn’t bring along any plastic poop for flinging, because I think that would have really made the costume. Next year.

More costume and Halloween photos on Flickr.

DIY Nemo Fish Costume for Your Toddler

Since Halloween is looming, I thought I’d post a quick tutorial for Hank’s costume from last year. Here’s what you’ll need:

A sweatshirt (3T) and matching sweatpants
About 30 felt squares (15 of each color) for your scales and tail
1 white felt square
1 black felt square
Stiff, starched fabric for the crown
Clean 28 oz tin can
Glue Gun
2 hours in front of the TV
Glass of wine

Sweatshirt costumes are great for toddlers because they feel familiar, so they’re easier to get on and off. This costume is great because you can use any color combos you want, which means that the stained sweatshirt you planned to throw away will work fine. We chose orange and yellow because Hank was into Finding Nemo at the time.

The tail is two pieces of felt hot glued in place. To make the bottom piece, I folded a felt square in half on the diagonal, cut away along the fold to make the tail shape, then glued the two sides together for extra stiffness. The top part of the tail is just a piece of scrap left over from cutting the scales.

I smooshed a large tin can until it was approximately scale shaped, and used it to trace the scales onto the felt. I folded felt squares in half so I could trace once and cut out two scales at a time.

The eye is felt too. I used drinking glasses as templates for the circles. The crown was a little trickier.

Mine is made from a reusable shopping bag, which was just the right stiffness. I cut a bunch of uniform rectangular strips, then bent them in L-shapes and glued the bottom parts of the Ls in a line along the top seam of the hood. I alternated which way the bottoms of the Ls were facing, and overlapped the strips slightly, so each strip kind of supported the one next to it.

I trimmed the top into a rough half circle, and trimmed away excess fabric from the bits I’d glued down. Then I took a leftover felt scale, cut it in half, and glued one piece on either side of the crown for added structure, and to hide the messiness.

You can see from this photo how I glued the scales — this sweatshirt is a 3T. I started at the bottom and worked my way up with the sweatshirt zipped closed. Take care not to glue over the zipper.

Same deal with the back, and voila!

You have yourself a little fishy. Happy Halloween!

Make 1,000 Lovely Things: Fishy and Jellyfish Costume


Behold! The cutest little fishy on the face of the planet.


And his little fish bum too! Oh. My. Goodness. The glue-gun burns were a small price to pay.


Bryan was a sea captain.


And I was a jellyfish. I made my hat from a lampshade.


The joy buzzer was the best part of my costume.


The whole costume only cost me like $11. Before going out for the night I added tentacles and a sweater. Surprisingly, there were tons of jellyfish on the street, the best one being a girl who had affixed blacklights to the underside of a white umbrella. I practically genuflected in the street. Happy Halloween!


Despite weeks of anxious keening whenever I tried to get near Hank with his elephant costume, it took Dad approximately ten minutes of coaxing to get our little guy suited up.

“How the hell did you do that?”
“I promised him chocolate.”

So Hank would put his hat on to obtain candy, and then remove the hat once he’d procured it. After about the fifth house, he just left it on. Suckah!

Later that night, Bryan settled in while I figured out what to wear to Meg and Rahul’s annual Halloween bash. I ultimately went as Mia from Pulp Fiction, because I randomly had all the elements in my closet.

Please note the faux hypodermic needle sticking out of my chest.

I was going to bloody my face, but Bryan advised against it on the grounds that the “needle” would only last 20 minutes or so and then I’d just look like some confusing modern-day Cleopatra zombie.

Shockingly, the needle went the distance. Around 2 a.m. I had to steady myself against a bathroom stall at the Makeout Room while another drunk girl peeled it off my chest. It wasn’t nearly as hot as it sounds.

What Big Ears He Has

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What Big Ears He Has, originally uploaded by MaggieMason.

Halloween in December! My friend Margaret Stewart sent us this photo, and she had the only shots of our family Halloween costumes. I’m Little Red Riding Hood, Bryan’s Grandma, and Hank is the Big Bad Wolf.


This year’s Halloween was super rockadelic. I dressed up as a Hotdog on a Stick girl, and Bryan (my ever-trusty sidekick) was an enormous hotdog on a stick. It was fun, if a little overwhelming because of all the Castro men exclaiming over Bryan. “What are you? What are yooou? OOOOHHH. NOOO. You aren’t! You naughty, naughty thing. Largest on record! Soo naughty!” Rusa has more photos. Other highlights:

The drunk guy who was doing a very convincing girl imitation in his living room window above the crowd. He had on some bikini thing and a mesh beaded top, and he was grinding to wild cheers from the crowd below (most of whom were unaware that he wasn’t a she). He ultimately grabbed onto his curtain rod to do a sort of improvised stripper routine. Of course the aluminum rod came crashing down, taking Paula Abdul right along with it.

The girl who passed me saying, “I wanted a guy to say that to me, not a girl.”

A brief exchange with Evan:

Me: Hey! Someone just pinched my ass!

Evan: Me too.