My Mom’s Annual Spookfest, 2011

The annual Rose family spookfest was held this weekend, and we did it up in grand ghoulish style. There were candy apples and coiled intestines (ew), pink-cheeked little girls and a Grandpa with a grin, even severed hands hiding in corners, and on cupcakes.  A look inside our bash:

(The coffin that my sister’s husband built, now in its second year.)

Marshmallows, peanut butter, apple slices, and a total pain in the you-know-what.

Mini lady apples make these perfectly party-sized.

Layered burlap and cheesecloth for spook-tacular tablecloths.

I  made pumpkin-shaped Rice Krispie Treats, with fondant and tootsie roll leaves and stems:

Graveyard cupcakes:

Soup buffet:

Spooky seven-layer dip:

My sister’s awesome giant pumpkin popcorn ball (note the stem):

Happy little boys bobbing for apples:

Spooky decor:

Pumpkin cupcakes with maple cream cheese icing:

Our new favorite trick: a mechanical severed hand that walks across the floor on its own, triggered by motion nearby. My aunt SCREAMED. It was awesome. We dressed up this version from Grandin Road, which happily landed in my mailbox at work this summer and has been entertaining all visitors to my cubicle for months.

This year, we ventured into some extreme gory territory to please children who are now teenagers, and unimpressed with apple bobbing and dry ice in witches’ brew. Lesson of this experiment: people will eat anything.

Totally dorky, but it made us all laugh: Mount Mushmore (hummus with a peanut butter candy head garnish).

Revolting (cheeseball covered in prosciutto, courtesy Heidi).

And, I’m sorry, but it had to be done. Kitty Litter Cake:

(Will got to serve it, much to his delight.)

As ever, SCABS. (Beef jerky).

And the famous ribs:

Costumes: pretty kitties.

Pink cheeks.

Sleepy skeletons. Note the binky:

Homemade paper dolls and dice:

And a sweet little boy who I found hanging out on Grandpa’s lap:

Happy Halloween.


By |2011-11-01T03:01:27-07:00November 1st, 2011|Parties|3 Comments

Me for you, and you for me alone.

My Granna loved to count: 87 years, 7 children, 29 great-grandchildren, 34 grandchildren — 17 married and 17 not, and “some of them,” she told the nurse, with a mischievous grin, “should be.” (For the record, she was absolutely talking about me.)

She had lists of the elephants she collected — over 703, the countries she visited — something like 23, lists of the days she slept at home, and the days her marigolds bloomed (and how many), and the days she spent driving all over Arizona to cheer on one of her grandkids at a choir concert or school play or meet a brand new baby. She saved everything — tiny scraps of paper filled with her old-fashioned handwriting: scores from card games and check numbers and lists of how much milk cost in 1944, when she was married.

In her bathroom, I found a love note from me, and in a bedroom drawer: every letter my mother ever wrote her, saved in a neat stack of yellowing paper.

She died on Saturday, with her family around her — including my Grandpa, her husband of 66 years and 356 days, who offered a prayer after she had passed. “Heavenly Father,” he said, “thank you, for her.”

Their song was Tea for Two, and she liked for us to change the words:

We will raise a family,
four boys for you, three girls for me,
Can’t you see how happy we will be.

By |2011-10-11T16:49:08-07:00October 11th, 2011|Stories|0 Comments

My Mom’s Easter decor

Her achievements in ingenuity continue:


For Easter lunch decor, my mom made a “nest” out of cats claw vines and Oasis, and filled it with hard-boiled eggs. She is the fount of all creativity — at least in our family.

More Easter scenes — tulips, chandeliers, and boys:

Cousins in matching outfits:

Also: there was a bunny, of course.

By |2011-04-28T02:53:29-07:00April 28th, 2011|Parties|1 Comment

The annual Rose Family Halloween Bash

My mother is the original Halloween fiend. As soon as the idea books hit newsstands, she starts plotting her annual bash. It’s always a haunted, spooky delight.

This year, she imported extra ghoulishness.  She asked my sister’s sweet and skilled husband to BUILD A COFFIN for the buffet, complete with nailhead trim. It’s awesome (go Jason!)

Here’s a peek inside our family bash:

I love hearing the excitement in my mom’s voice when she tells me about her latest gross-out menu offering. This year brought a couple shudder-rific entries. Number one:

(Shrimp cocktail, anyone?)

Number two:

I know. GROSS. It’s mini marshmallows and caramel dip and all kinds of wrong. It wins the gross-out award of the year.

Ty and I laughed while I prepared my offering:

Spinach dip, if you please. Ty kept telling me how to shape the mouth to complete the effect. I know. It’s digusting. (And pretty funny, for a pumpkin.)

For the squeamish, we offer appetizing treats as well: cobweb cupcakes and  mummies.


Mmmm: caramel corn just tastes like October. Kapri makes this every year.

From Heidi, these are delightfully revolting.

Bread bones — for dipping in the soup, of course.

The mood is all candles, shadows and mystery.

















Parade of costumes: my sisters dress their families in themes. Scarlett was a mermaid because her brother wanted to be a fish. (Her father was a fisherman, and her mother — who is expecting — had a fish tank on her belly.)

Heidi’s family went with the farm motif.

She’s also expecting (at right). She says she feels like a pig, so her costume was apropos. (And my cute Kenslie is at left).















The spooks showed up and made mischief.















When it was good and dark and late, we all gathered around candles and a big black cauldron while the head witch prepared her brew — filled with goblins, dried bones, mummified snakes, and varied horrors that the children drop in the pot one by one, screeching.




























Finally, it’s time for the secret ingredient that makes the magic happen.

(I think the secret ingredient at this party is actually my mom.)

For more creepy food and general hijinks, relive our party from 2008 (starring the witches finger cookie recipe many of you have been asking for.)  Happy Halloween!

P.S. While I was searching for 2009’s party post, it seems I never published it. The greatest hits:

By |2010-11-01T02:59:18-07:00November 1st, 2010|Parties|2 Comments

Easter Chez Mom

My mother had us all over for Easter lunch. Won’t you come in?

The windows were open, the sun was bright, and she had cleverly raided her yard for decor. (My mother: the original source of all Rose family creativity.) On the front door: cat’s claw vines that she trimmed from the fence and wound into a wreath.

Flowering vines found their way into vases, and my Mom let them stay long and wild. Genius.













Chocolate bunnies are totally deserving of elegant display (and totally cute). Go, Mom.

My Dad brought a carrot harvest from his garden, which we turned into decor. (And then ate — raw. His carrots tastelike soil and sun.)

Scarlett — my niece and favorite Easter egg, decorated the lawn in a white tutu and beret. (Her mother is brave.)

Very brave — the whole family dressed in white (and went home unscathed).

I wore black linen. I am boring. (But Ty in white linen? Yes, please.)

Baby Taylor, with eyes the color of the sky, and his Papa — my dad. I like a man with the gumption to wear pink.













Below: my Mom and Kenny. Everybody likes Kenny. (He was a basketball star in France, long before the days of Tony Parker, which my nephews are going to think is SUPER cool as soon as they figure it out.)

For lunch: sandwiches and salads. My mother — and her daughters — are devotees of pretty food.













There were deviled eggs,yes, but my Mom made them look like hatching chicks. The kids were pleased (and me, too).













For dessert, a Pop Cake — a glory of my family and the ’80s. And my Easter gift to you is the oh-so-easy instructions, straight from the recipe box my mother got for her wedding.

Pop Cake

Bake a boxed white cake in a 9-by-13pan according to package instructions. Let cool one hour. Poke cake all over with a skewer. You want the holes to be about a centimeter apart. If you have a serving fork with large tines, use that to save time.

Dissolve one small package strawberry Jell-O in one cup of boiling water. Add one cup of strawberry soda, like Crush. Stir. Slowly pour mixture over cake, making sure to distribute evenly. Let sit at least two hours, or overnight.

To frost the cake (cake must be completely cool, so I do this at the very end): make a large package of vanilla pudding. Add two cups of Cool Whip. Spread over cake, and serve with fresh strawberries.

Happy spring.

By |2010-04-18T02:56:54-07:00April 18th, 2010|Parties|1 Comment


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