Mission: Party (Halloween Edition)

Alpha and Beta put together a Halloween party with over a dozen on their friends.  We’re not typically party people, but we do enjoy the chance to have people over.  I especially like it because it means I get a clean house.  🙂

We had a great time planning for, shopping for, and decorating for the party.  (Really.  The house looks great.)  Beta enjoys decorating, planning, and being surrounded by large groups; I don’t know how she came to exist in a family full of introverts.

Meghan and I tend to take a particular approach to events: plan very little and let things come together naturally.  The kids were happy to follow our lead.

One little personal detail: this party happened to coincide with our anniversary.  It couldn’t happen any other day, unfortunately: Halloween is mid-week; we had a birthday party to attend on Sunday; and Halloween parties after Halloween are just no fun.

Fast-forward to the appointed day, and a nor’easter bore down on us from the early morning onwards.  This wasn’t such a bad thing: I had wanted to keep the fireplace lit for the duration of the party and cold, bad weather is very amenable to that. Meghan made a (gluten-free) cake that made the house smell fantastic.  Beta and I rearranged the seats into one long couch, plus another smaller love seat back-to-back with the big one.

Guest started arriving promptly at one, and very quickly we had a dozen teenagers, not related to us and all dressed in costumes, in the living room of our house.  For some reason they all packed into the living room and refused to spread into the kitchen, dining room, or even the front room.  The decibels rose and Meghan and I retreated, occasionally checking on the kids, the fire, and the food.

The first movie of the day was Young Frankenstein, chosen through first-past-the-post voting. (I believe it had two votes, which was one more vote than any other option.)

Around 4 pm, as the first movie was wrapping up, I headed out to pick up pizza and more soda.  I came back to a relatively quiet room watching the Blair Witch Project.  You kind of have to pay attention to the movie to get the full effect, but I there was also an air of the forbidden – that movie has a reputation.

As people finished up pizza, the movie was just finishing the setup and was about to get scary, the power went out.  Whoops!  We checked with neighbors to make sure it wasn’t just us, checked the power company to see if they knew yet, and lit candles and lamps.  The kids took all this in stride and got busy socializing.  I was honestly impressed how they acted — sociable and comfortable, even though many had never been to our house before.

Power was restored in about an hour, and the movie resumed.  The end of the movie led to discussion of what the hell happened, because not everyone had paid attention in the beginning.

Unbeknownst to us during the week, Beta had been telling people that the party was planned to go until 10 pm.  The first kids dropped out shortly after pizza, and most kids had left by 8:30 or so, but a couple stayed for the duration and were picked up right at 10 o’clock.

All in all, it seemed like everyone had a lot of fun.  Even at the end, with three kids left, everybody was in a good mood.

Lessons learned: Megh and I now know to double-check what the plan’s details are before it’s announced, and Beta knows that a) 10 pm is just too late and b) nine hours is just too long. (She was exhausted, we all were, and I think she was glad to wrap up.)

Biggest lessons of all, though: Megh and I still know how to throw a good party, and Alpha and Beta saw how to make it come together by being a part of it and seeing how it’s done from the inside.

Flim Flam and Minutia

Sitting around the dinner table, Meghan shared a work story about hearing her name as she passed, only nobody said her name. The math teacher across the hall said, “bar graph.”

I also mis-heard it, at first, as “bargra.”  I’m trying to get it to stick as her new name.

A minute later, Beta is sticking something between her toes while we’re talking and Meghan blurts out “Stop that!  Now it’s all covered in toe groods!” (Nobody knows what that means or what she was trying to express, not even Meghan.)

And then we realized that Meghan accidentally revealed her orc-name: Bargra Togroods.

Last-Minute Chicken

This recipe is shamelessly copied from https://iwashyoudry.com/last-minute-chicken-recipe, which itself copied the recipe from “The Weekday Lunches & Breakfasts Cookbook.”

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika OR smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Enough olive oil to coat chicken
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine the garlic, onion, paprika, oregano, pepper, salt, and olive oil into a freezer bag
  2. Toss in the chicken
    • Most pre-packaged chicken thighs get folded into themselves, so be sure to spread them out as you put them into the bag so they get evenly coated
  3. Seal up the bag and mix everything thoroughly
  4. Heat up a grill pan over medium-high heat, or a grill, while the chicken steeps in it’s spices
    • If using a grill pan, add some olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan – but be sure to use a splatter guard
  5. Cook the chicken until not pink throughout, about 5 minutes on the first side and three or four minutes on the other side

Garlic Roasted Potatoes

This is a great side for pretty much any meat dish, especially on a cool fall day.  The smaller, skin-on potatoes are tasty and not nearly as bad for you as a full-size, peeled and boiled starch-bomb white potato.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of small red, white, and/or purple potatoes
    • Lots of supermarkets carry 2- and 3-pound bags of mixed, pre-washed small potatoes, which is really handy if you want more colors
  • Olive oil
  • 6 cloves of fresh garlic, crushed
  • A couple of shakes of black pepper
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of minced fresh parsley (optional)

Steps

  1. Preheat your oven to 400° F
  2. Halve and/or quarter your potatoes; chunks should be roughly between 1 and 3 cubic inches
  3. Toss the chunks into a freezer bag with the remaining ingredients, adding enough olive oil to coat the potatoes, then mix in the bag
  4. Spread the potatoes into a single layer on a pan or baking stone
  5. Bake for an hour, flipping everything over at least once to keep things from scorching