Saturday, October 26, 2013

Monster Mash & Birthday Bash at the House of Nash IV

I have a quick follow up to our last post.  A friend and former Contracts TA from law school posted a comment about our Halloween costumes on Facebook to say that her grandma was one of the original Rosie the Riveters and her grandpa was in the Navy during WWII.  She had sent her grandma the link to our pictures and her grandma sent the following message back through Erin for me (which I am reposting here with permission): 
"Your friend is very talented...and I loved the sepia photography..brought back many memories....I tried to reply to her message but it did't if you can please tell her I was there on VJ day and was kissed by hundreds of happy servicemen..went home with bloody lips but no complaint...also tell her I was proud to help build the B25 bomber and belonged to the U.S.O and gave up silk stockings for leg paint!"
Amazing, right?  Also, Carrie asked for a picture of our costumes in color, so I am posting one here (which is cute but doesn't show off the costumes as well as the vintage photos do, I think). 
Anyway, last weekend (how has it already been a week?!  This was the fastest week in history, I think, because I have no idea where time went the past 7 days) we threw our 4th annual Monster Mash & Birthday Bash at the House of Nash (our nerdy birthday slash Halloween party) for about 40 friends (well, that included all the kiddos).  It was our biggest group yet but we LOVED having such a big party and thought it was our best one yet.  No more intimate gatherings for us - apparently we are all about throwing ragers over here.  It helped that the weather was PERFECT.  The very first year we did this it was rainy and freezing and we never could have pulled off such a large group but with the gorgeous weather and newly landscaped backyard (including all the yard lighting that Paul has installed) it was no big deal hanging out outside even when it started getting dark. 
We set up Clara's picnic table (seriously the best present ever mom - we have used this thing like crazy and the kids love it) with benches and extra chairs from Clara's play table and the kids crowded around and ate together really well which was so nice for the adults who were able to visit with each other while monitoring the kids. 

This year we served Barbecue Beef Brisket (same recipe I served at the Ward Christmas Party last year), mac & cheese (from Costco because it was easy and I didn't feel like experimenting with a new baked mac & cheese recipe since I am still searching for the perfect one and clearly, in my opinion, Costco has already found it), vegetables with dip, fruit with a caramel cream cheese type dip of my own invention (ask me for it and I will send you the link to my tastebook page with the recipe because it really is my favorite fruit dip ever), baked brie with crackers as an appetizer as people were getting there (oh my heavens this was divine.  DIVINE I tell you.  I am a huge fan baked brie and apparently so are a lot of our friends because this got rave reviews), and black forest cake, sugar cookies, and gingerbread skeletons for dessert.  We were really happy with how the menu turned out because it was easier to prepare and serve than past menus.  We just love the party planning aspect of coming up with the right food to serve and then executing our plan - Paul and I do it together and make lots of lists and divvy up tasks and we are always so giddy about pulling it all together.

Yes, here are some pictures of some of the food.  First up, the brie, which was my favorite thing of the night.  I particularly loved it with the thinly sliced, slightly crisp, red D'anjou pears.  Here is the entire recipe - 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed, 1 wheel of brie with the rind on, and 1/3 cup apricot preserves.  Place the brie on the puff pastry, top with the apricot preserves, then wrap the pastry around it and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.  Be still my heart.  Has anybody out there tried baked brie with cranberries and walnuts or with sweet jalapeno jelly?  Because those were the other two brie options I was debating before going with apricot.  (Disclaimer:  Paul, unfortunately, does not understand my brie obsession.  I am working with him to correct the deficiency in his palate.) 

The fruit dip.  We had lots and lots and lots of fruit, which is always a good idea.  You can never go wrong with tons of fresh fruit at a party.  It is always eaten.

The brisket.  If you want the recipe, it is at the bottom of this post.  Whenever I make it (including at this party) I get multiple requests for the recipe and it is so embarrassingly easy that I am happy to hand it out.  If you haven't had it yet, you should totally try it.  My mom serves it with baked potatoes but I prefer mac & cheese as my side with brisket. 

But the best part about the party was seeing all our friends, some of whom we just don't get to hang out with enough.  Like my law school friend Adam and his family who only live 30 minutes away but who we haven't seen in forever!  (Don't worry - we are planning to remedy this by hanging out again soon since Adam's wife Diana is totally a bosom buddy who shares my obsession with quilting and good food - I basically want to repin everything she pins on Pinterest which is the new standard for bosom buddies I think.)  Adam was a rocker, his little guy Joseph was Spiderman, and Madeline was a lalaloopsy doll (I think?  maybe not? I'm not up to speed on cartoons/toys for kids in her age bracket).

And Diana was a princess (in her prom dress from high school no less! I told you she was awesome.)  Rebekah (their babe) was a cupcake even though she was not in costume while eating.

We had a vampire, referee, and karate kid...

...and a scarecrow and a princess (actually, multiple princesses)...

...pirate, cowgirl, black-eyed peas, black cat...

...a guy from India, Supergirl, and Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach (they won the costume contest for best family theme - so awesome, right?!)...

...and some Newsies (including a newborn in a "newspaper" wrap - haha) and a Witch.  There were probably more costumes that I missed, but I got most of them I think. 

I asked each of the adults to send me pics of them in Halloween costumes as kids, which I printed out and posted so that everybody could try to guess the mystery trick-or-treater.  It was actually really tricky and fun and was a great ice-breaker game, especially since we were mixing some groups of friends.   The funny thing is that of the 11 pictures we posted, there were 3 clowns and 3 witches.  Here is a picture of people gathering around to try to figure out the pictures:

We also had everybody vote on best family theme, most creative, and most traditional costume, then Paul tallied the votes and we awarded prizes (we are apparently really into prizes these days). 

This is Paul's buddy Matt, from work, and his wife Monica (also a lawyer).  We really like these guys a lot and were so glad they came to party with us.  Paul is always cracking me up with stories about his and Matt's conversations.

And Ryan & Nikki came with Piper (the cutest koala baby in the WORLD).  Have I mentioned on here before that Paul and Ryan have been friends since 2nd grade and that Paul set Ryan and Nikki up in high school and now they are married and have a kiddo?  Paul was a groomsman at their wedding. 

Since it is also a birthday party, I always make everybody sing to me always sings to me.  This year my friend and visiting teacher Joyce came and it was her birthday too (she actually came to our party on her actual birthday because she said they were celebrating both the day before and after for her with her family - my kind of girl - so we got to share a birthday song!). 

Clara was a big ham, like usual.  She actually really enjoys having tons of people over and having lots of friends to play with, especially the bigger girls.  I had a total "bad mom" moment with her though (nobody freak out - I'm about to explain) later in the evening when I was taking her potty and three princesses ran down the hallway beside us.  Clara looked at me and seriously explained, "mine not a princess mommy.  Mine Rosie a Riveter."  I felt SO BAD.  She so clearly has cottoned on to the princess thing despite my not emphasizing it (she won't even watch Cinderella which is the only princess movie we own) and realized all the other girls were in fancy sparkly dresses and she was in a denim jumpsuit.  As adults, of course we all realize how totally adorable Clara is in her costume, but as a kid she felt different from the others.  Which she was and which, frankly, is what I go for in our costumes.  Maybe 20 minutes later the little black cat stripped off her black and purple sparkly tulle skirt and discarded it, which Clara promptly found and pulled on over her jumpsuit before proudly prancing over to me while holding out the sides of the skirt with each hand and gushing "look mommy!  mine a princess now!!!" with an utterly beatific smile. 

Here she is in the purloined skirt going through her treat bag that we made for each of the kids who came (a small thing of Halloween playdough, glowstick bracelets, stickers, bubbles and two pieces of candy to get them pumped and primed for trick-or-treating). 

We are already looking forward to next year's party since each year they get better and better as we figure out how this party throwing thing works.  One of these years I am going to fulfill a bucket list wish and host a murder mystery party too... 


  1. Thanks for the color photo. I agree the sepia ones are better, but the color gives a better look at how the costumes are made. They look awesome. And your party looks so fun. Thanks for posting pictures of the food. That was possibly my favorite part about this post. Yum.

  2. I like to make "mini brie" using the small brie circles and small squares or puff pastry just for myself (weekday treats). I put cranberries, or other flavor jam, or's fun to experiment. I find that any of the berries (raspberry, cranberry, etc.) are good.

  3. It was such a fun party!! Thank you for including us. We're SO sorry we had to leave so early.

  4. It looks like your party turned out to be a great success! Such wonderful pictures, I love them. I know you are going to create amazing memories for my little boy :)


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