Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Retro Gaming Celebration

At this juncture, if you have read any of my previous party related blog posts you have gathered a few things: I suck at directions, I procrastinate, and most importantly - I make creative shortcuts and "bandaids" to save my ass. I started planning a summer party that sort of celebrated my birthday, my man's birthday, and just a gathering in general. I always have to have a theme because that is just how I operate. We chose a retro gaming theme.

Decorations were a breeze thanks to digital downloads on etsy. I got a pacman set of printables, and a mario set of printables. Cut the items out and pasted them to an existing party banner we had.

I used electrical tape and star balloons from the dollar store to make these guys:

Made a pirhana plant:

I saw this on the internet at some point in my journey to create the perfect party. But the day of when I went to find the directions for this I couldn't find it anywhere, seriously anywhere. So I went from memory on this.

I didn't want to bake an official birthday cake since it wasn't an official birthday party. I had decided that my clear and only alternative was making 143 cupcakes and building Mario with them...
 Not bad right?This was the finished product.

I found this ditty on Pinterest and followed the blog links to secure the knowledge I needed to convince myself that A-this was going to be super easy,  B- It was going to take no time at all , AND C- I was going to succeed with flying colors/minimal stress. Go ahead and laugh for me now. The internet is deceiving, and it gets the best of us.
The Daily Dawdle demonstrates this phenomena: http://www.dailydawdle.com/2012/11/16-hilarious-pinterest-fails-nailed-it.html.
I actually documented several of my steps just so I could finish up with a NAILED IT meme of my own, because I realized at the grocery store that this was going to be a much more serious undertaking. But I had already committed and there was no going back and going to the bakery and buying a cake like a normal human being was simply out of the question.

Here is the blog that I used as my guideline to create this nearly impossible treat: http://www.cuteasafox.com/2010/09/mario-party-credits.html?m=1
I applaud her for giving a very detailed diagram to follow as well as a few pointers involving frosting color combos, and the foam board trick as a platter. I too, procured a foam board that I quickly filled up WITH MARIO'S HEAD. Then freaked out because, where the shit is this huge Mario going to reside until the guests show up? Luckily I had a HUGE black table cloth and a HUGE dining room table that did the trick. If you don't own an excessively large table to fit this on. Run, turn back and run. Go to the bakery and buy a cake like a normal human being.

My half ass ingredient and directions list:


1) 3 boxes of cake mix - the back of the box will tell you that one box makes 24 mini muffins. THIS IS A DIRTY STINKIN LIE. One box produced enough mix for 48 mini muffins for me. Maybe I am magical and like Jesus I too can feed a multitude with just a few things. Doubtful. Just buy 3 boxes of mix (maybe an extra in case you jack something up along the line). I have several leftover boxes of cake mix thanks to Duncan Hines' misguidance. Maybe the person who made that up is eating half of the batter before it hits the muffin pan? That is 50% off, that is a big deal Mr. Duncan Hines. I should write them and ask for a refund for all these cake batter boxes I now have to store and not eat. My apologies for getting severely sidetracked. 
2) The stuff the cake mix requires. Eggs, oil, milk, whatever. 
3) Cupcake papers and an ungodly amount of mini muffin pans. Go ahead and ask everyone you know if you can borrow their mini muffin pans because there is no way in hell you own enough to get the job done.
4) Time. From start to finish this project took 2 days. Two. Days. Don't have two days to waste? Go to the bakery and buy a cake like a normal human being.
5) Large ziplock bags (if you do what I did and bake the night prior).
6) Frosting. This is up for debate, but I used 4 containers total, and wound up with a ridiculous amount leftover. Oops. And for the brown frosting? JUST BUY CHOCOLATE. Don't try to mix up brown. Just don't. I did, so just trust me and buy chocolate frosting.
7) Food coloring. I got a box of the contemporary colors.
8) Dark chocolate shavings. Unless you have a better idea for making black icing. For the black cupcakes I used brown frosting topped with dark chocolate shavings.
9) Printed copy of the diagram so you can build this monster with ease. I hit a snag here and will get to that snafu later in the Directions.

DIRECTIONS (I started this endeavor around 9:00ish pm):
1) Print copy of the diagram.
I thought it would be nice to include my husband and have him do this step for me since our printer at home is on the fritz. He even went so far as to texting me a pic of the diagram in his hand so I knew it had been done. All a farce. He came home without it. His one job was to deliver the one sheet of paper. My advice? Go ahead and let go of any hopes that you will have help with this endeavor and resolve that you will be a lone wolf in a baking hell. You may be able to trick someone by telling them it is a simple craft project you need assistance with. You will be on the fast track to doing this 100% solo if you say anything along the lines of "I am baking and decorating 143 cupcakes and then I am intricately organizing them according to a diagram".
2) Bake the mini cupcakes according to the package directions - don't forget you will get much more from each box. Dirty liars.
3) Let them cool.
Once you get to this point you may actually start crying because in the grand scheme of things you really, aren't even halfway done.

4) That last step wrapped up at 1:00 am for me, so I counted out and bagged them according to what colors they would be frosted with. Thought this would save time the next day.
 If you don't have a psychological issue with organizing the shit out of everything you can just go to bed without doing the bagging by number and color ordeal. Yea, do that instead.
5) Get some sleep.
6) Few hours until party time: Start mixing frosting colors. I wish I had photographed how we mixed our colors. My husband jammed the mixer blade into his drill and mixed them for me. I think I was too busy saying, "OHMYGOD what are you doing to the frosting" to actually take a picture. His methods worked well, he earned forgiveness for forgetting the diagram.
7) Frost all of the cupcakes according to the diagram that you may have to be following via your smartphone. Or your printed diagram if you are so lucky.
8) Find the biggest surface in the history of ever, and start building your Mario. This was actually the most fun part for me.
9) Walk out of the room. Pour yourself a drink, chug. Walk back into room take a glance at your amazing work of art and start singing WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS MY FRIENDS. Replace I with We if you feel so inclined.
 I seriously felt like I won the lottery when I realized that I actually made it look like Mario.
10) Take lots of pictures. There must be photographic evidence, because if someone touches that shit before you document it you have every right to kill them. Slowly and painfully.
11) Psychologically prepare yourself for party guests devouring the whole operation.
12) Eat and enjoy.
13) Drink 3 pitchers of sangria with your friends and play retro video games, then go back and eat more cupcakes. Rinse. Repeat.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Through the Veil 2014

Photo compliments of http://www.cg-photo.biz/


Since my first visit to the experience that is Through the Veil I have found myself spiraling into opportunity after opportunity both with the event, and outside of the event. 

It has helped me immensely in all areas of my life. To work harder, love harder, play harder. To think clearer, feel more, see more. Through the Veil has answered questions I feel everyone comes across at some point, and it holds out it's arms and takes in anyone that will allow it to. And it is just one weekend a year. Crazy right?

I am going to try to as briefly as possible explain the event and how my involvement has evolved.
Disclaimer: being brief went way the hell out the window. Way the hell. 

Thanks to my friend from the paranormal group I used to investigate with - fellow investigator (Jordan Duncan) convinced me to give it a try five years ago. My first year was Through the Veil #2. I had reservations about the -woman in charge- the director, Michelle. I had heard several negative things about her (from what I would learn later were very manipulative people) so I had a seriously skewed pre-conceived notion. I came into it judge-y and for that I am regretful. I was pregnant with my daughter at my first event. Had some interesting input from a few people that asked if they could touch my belly, which seemed odd to me at the time (I wish I could recall the face to the name of the woman who said "she" was going to be just fine). I didn't fully submerge myself into all 3 days, but I did hear some pretty amazing speakers in our short stint there that weekend. I was still too busy in the "I'm a new paranormal investigator and I want to believe that it is all just science". The touchy feely, these are spirits, your life has a bigger purpose here, and all the woo woo stuff went straight over my head. Straight over. I didn't feel moved or seriously motivated after that first event. I didn't let it. However, I had found a shop that had been a vendor that year, the Meditating Mantis. I would have NEVER found the Mantis without TTV, and my time spent in that shop until the day they closed their doors for business was invaluable to me. I began regularly meditating. I could write a novel of a post about my experiences and the synchronistic events that came from that. *adds to the to-do list*

The second event for me- Through the Veil #3. I was also sporadically at this one, didn't get down and dirty and go to all of the discussions, panels, and lectures. I was extremely impressed with the opening ceremony, and hearing James Redfield speak obviously led me to checking out the Celestine Prophecy series. I still hadn't quite "gotten it" by the time the weekend was over. I was too involved in life and it's motions, and trying to figure out the new mom thing that I wasn't paying attention.

Third - Through the Veil #4. My paranormal group (of which I had become director of) was a sponsor, and was selected to host the event's paranormal investigation. I organized most aspects of that, including the guest's transportation. I had also been invited to be a part of the volunteer staff that year. I was surprised Michelle actually wanted to have me help out. I had a ton of fun (possibly too much). I would have begged for another volunteer position, but thanks to the wonderfulness of Michelle she invited me back hands down before I even went home that weekend. I actually did a recap post after that TTV event, it can be found here.

Fourth - Through the Veil #5. I had become disenchanted with the pomp and circumstance of paranormal investigating. I felt that my time of sitting in the dark surrounded by gadgets had only answered half of my questions. My heart wasn't in it, and I couldn't be happy with it so I made the decision to resign from the paranormal group. Having resigned from the group I offered a seriously hefty chunk of my time to devote to the event. The day I notified Michelle that I had resigned/was at her disposal she had let me know that her assistant was no longer working with her. Divine intervention if you ask me. I became her assistant and spent the next six months filling the event's vendor area. I second guessed myself the entire time, and I can't for the life of me figure out why. Fast forward to the weekend of. I not only learned a lot from the speakers (I made it a point to hear as much as possible) but I also learned a lot about myself. I also learned a lot about what I needed to do in the year following. I paid more attention to the connections and friends I was making over those 3 days. It was the first time I was physically pained leaving. I also realized there was no real way to thank Michelle for the chances she had given me thus far.

Fifth - Through the Veil #6. The event that ended just a few days ago. I must have done a bang up job on TTV 5 because Michelle kept right on plugging along with me helping as her assistant. Once the vendor area was squared away I was able to help out with other aspects of the event. From helping to prep the props, picking songs for the ceremony, to meeting with hotel staff to help plan the ins and outs. I still can't decide what convinced Michelle to utilize me is the capacity that she has, but I am happy she has.

So my answer to the most common question in regards to Through the Veil "What is it?". The answer would be:
It is a place to figure it out.
What it? Well, you get to decide. Maybe you are looking for answers, the next move, how do I, what do I, and so on.
Maybe you have all your answers, you just want to learn something new in general. That can be accomplished. It is thought to be about the bridging of the paranormal field to the metaphysical. This event spans quite a bit more though, in my opinion. I can't bottle it up, I wish I could so you could see exactly what I am trying to put into words. I constantly say that it is a life changing event.
If you let it be.
Things aren't always impossible.
(beautiful art print by the wonderfully creative Paulina Cassidy, whom I met at one of the first TTV events, & was a guest speaker for us this year.)

The power of positive thinking, the laws of attraction, synchronicity, it all works and is all very real. It helped me turn my shy, quiet, stay under the radar, go unnoticed, slide by life feeling mediocre attitude into something pretty crazy. I have discovered that I have a voice, and it is worth being heard. Michelle putting her faith in my ability to get the job done catapulted me into a few other positions that I just can't even wrap my head around yet. You are as lucky as you will allow yourself to be. You are as loved as you will allow yourself to be. You are as happy as you will allow yourself to be. I am happy to report that I am convinced to the fullest that I am lucky, I am loved, and I am happy.

The general theme for this year was I AM and a moving away from a robotic/programmed way of thinking.
Photo compliments of http://www.cg-photo.biz/

Spectacular statue designed by the one and only Shane Garner. I had the best time working with Shane and Michelle on the props this year. 

 We had a board set up where we all wrote versions of what we are. I wrote I AM: honored to be here. First thing to pop in my mind, and I just can't think of what better to say.

One of our guest speakers hit the nail on the head:
I AM ME, AND THAT IS ENOUGH. -Callea Sherrill

What is your I AM?

Can't leave out some of the photos of friends from this year's event, this is the only place I have ever been where new friends feel like old friends, or better yet - family:
My niece Chelsia, and Jordan, the guy who introduced me to it all!

 The lovely Michelle and I.
 Paranormal Illusionist Aiden Sinclair. Always a wonderful time hanging out with him! 
Ms. Sas sang me the coolest birthday song ever. I am convinced she is an angel without wings. She also gave me this:

It is just as beautiful as she is, and she made it herself. Amazing calligraphy work.