Friday, October 31, 2008

Fake Blood 101

Lj's Halloween Costume 08 = Pure Massacre

So, never say that I don't do anything nice for you.

As I mentioned yesterday, my costume this year is for me to magically transform myself into Carrie, and more specifically, Carrie in that scene where she gets a pantload of pig's blood tipped over her pretty wee head. The reasons why I chose this costume are threefold: One, I get to wear a tiara, and who doesn't want that. Two, I get to wear a long blonde wig, which is always fun. And three, I get to play with a hell of a lot of blood. And for a extremely huge horror movie enthusiast, I couldn't let this opportunity pass me by.

The easy way to create pigs blood effect would be to buy lots of that crappy "vampire blood" that is in all the stores this time of year.

But it wasn't enough. I would've had to spend my life savings to get the kind of volumes I needed.

So, in the spirit of the credit crunch, I decided to cheaply and easily make up a huge vat on my own. And it was such a huge success (even my next door neighbour thought I'd killed my cat or something) that I decided to share the fun with all of you. And show how you too can create some sexy blood with just a few simple ingredients, for any Halloween festivities you may be attending this weekend.  Or if you too want to just damn well freak your neighbours out.

So, this is based on a recipe that I found here when I was first researching how to pull off this hair-brained scheme. And the key ingredient that you will need is a wonderful thing called Arrowroot.

Vintage Boots arrowroot. Quaint.

Apparently, it doesn't matter if the arrowroot you have in your cupboard is from circa 1973, it still works just as well. 

Now after a lot of trial and error, I discovered this was the best thing to do with the arrowroot to get your water to the right viscosity, or gloopiness. Basicially, boil up as much water as you want to make into lovely blood. When it's boiling, take it off the heat. Then start off by putting two tablespoons of arrowroot powder into a small glass, and mix into a paste with a small amount of cold water. When you have it going paste-like, tip it into your hot water and stir. 

Lather, rinse and repeat until it gets to the thickness of blood.  To give you an idea, I did a large saucepan's worth with about eight tablespoons worth (adding two tablespoons worth of paste at a time).  But I've come to the conclusion that how gloopy you want it is up to you. I needed it gloopy, but still runny enough so that when I poured it over my costume it would drip all the way down the dress.

In short: blood is subjective. Do what you want.

The same goes for the colour, because arrowroot is white, and your mixture at this point is looking like grey goop.


For the colour I used small amounts of red poster paint, blue poster paint and red food colouring. I kept playing around with it and mixing til I got the right shade of red.

Once I was done, I just waited for it to cool down a bit. Then I hung my costume up on the line in the back garden, wig and everything and chucked it all over a bit at a time, using a jug for optimum pouring capabilities.

Dial M for MURDER!

I'm really pleased with it. I am now just waiting for it to dry. 

And explaining to the local RSPCA that I have not killed my cat, and I have the arrowroot to prove it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sneak Preview

For your very own bespoke polystyrene gravestone call 1-800-BITEME 

Dudes. So, the last couple of weeks have been Halloween central around here.  We are having a small party on the cheap (goddamned credit crunch) and so have been coming up with ingenious and thrifty ways to turn our Edwardian townhouse into a creaking dilapidated haunted house.

Well, actually, it's not been that hard. We just laid off the dusting for a bit.

As you can see above, we (oh, who am I kidding?... I) have made some very passable gravestones out of some old polystyrene packaging and cheap poster paint from Wilkinsons. I actually really enjoyed coming up with some oh-so-witty epitaphs and engraving them with a craft knife. And I have to say, they look pretty damn good. Who knew polystyrene gave such an effective cracked stone texture?!

Not me that's for damn sure.


The next job on the list is to carve up these awaitin' pumpkins. These were grown by my granddad, so also very cheap. And by cheap, I mean free. That's another money-saving tip for you, encourage your retired relatives to take up gardening. It really saves on your grocery bills. Plus you get to go round to collect your vegetable loot/bounty, and invariably get given some sort of hot drink and one or more biscuits. It's brilliant.


And I can't show you any more than that without giving too much away. But I think you'll all agree it looks pretty damn exciting.

Now, off to carve those pumpkins and cook up a huge vat of fake blood. I have finally decided that my costume is going to be Carrie, from everyone's favourite prom-queen thriller: Carrie. This involves a lot of blood. A lot.

Stay tuned for a full post-party report, pictures of all the best costumes, and punch-bowl gossip.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Four Do a Mini-Break in Battle (and Hastings)

Une Cottage

In yet another installment on my perpetual love-letter to my lovely friends, this weekend, after a meeting with an agency in London town (which we hope will prove fruitful on the job front), they whisked me off for a lovely weekend in a cottage in Battle, East Sussex.

Why Battle, East Sussex? Because my lovely friend Laura's mum owns the above charming little abode, and was away for said weekend. Enter us, stage right, to look after the cat and watch Strictly Come Dancing.

We didn't just tend to feline needs.  We also took a field trip to Hastings!

Pier = closed = unacceptable

We took a lovely, albeit windswept stroll along the seafront to the pier. With visions of playing with our pocketful of pennies in the slot machines and arcade games. You know the ones, where the gaudy machines with the taunting shelves of 2ps and 1ps move backwards and forwards and you put in your chosen token, willing for the jackpot, because let's face it, there's been a complete pileup of coppers for a good 15 minutes now, and surely, surely, this will be the one to tip it over the edge.

We had these dreams, but when we got to the pier, we found it abandoned, boarded up, and neglected. No garish amusements. Not even a cash machine. 

In short, Hastings Council: BOO YOU WHORE!

It was very disappointing. 

And so we frolicked on the beach instead.

James and Holly. They're frolicking. Oh they're frolicking...

Well, I say "we". Really I mean James and Holly. Because I wanted to take pictures, and Laura was not wearing the right shoes. Hey, sorry to spoil the illusion, but I'm just not going to lie.

When we got home, we were still feeling pretty bummed out by Pier-Gate. But it was ok, because we made enchiladas, watched Strictly, cracked open a few (read: more than should be allowed) bottles of wine, and played Monopoly.

Laura, Holly, Monopoly moneys and wine. An unbeatable and strangely intoxicating combination.

And all was right with the world.

Friday, October 17, 2008

It's a Dog's Life

The beach. Or biiatch. At B-Mo. Or Bournemouth. Look, whatever man.

Now, look. Bournemouth (B-Mo, as I like to call it), is not a bad place. It's quite pretty, you know, with the coast and everything, and there's the Isle of Wight and I like that to look at. 

But, there's not a lot here for me anymore. I have a few friends knocking about from school and things, but it's so frustrating because most friends that I know and love all live in London town, and it's like I have this whole life there happening, and I'm just not in it.

So my days, are basically spent looking for jobs, and taking my excitement where I can get it. It's not dissimilar to lives of two other things that I know and love...

Meet Arnie (left) and Banjo (right) dogs. Or dawgs. 

Apart from my family, these two bad boys were the things I missed most about home while I was in America. And we have been spending quite a lot of time together in the last month or so. 

They aren't going around looking for jobs like me all day... but they do kind of lie there, patiently... in the small patches of sunlight on the floor, or on my feet, or with their hot slobbery noses all up in my grill...

Or really really cutely like this:

Those are some hott doggs

Just waiting... for the excitement. 

The excitement?

Ah yes, the excitement. And let me tell you, with things the way they are at the moment. They, and I will take what we can get.

Even if it is just a walk on the beach as the sun is going down...

That piece of land is what is known as the Purbecks. And those things in the foreground are what is known as some Arty Clifftop Foliage. To give it it's Latin name.

Or, let's be real here, the crux of the excitement, at least as far as my dogs are concerned, is all contained within one small but perfectly formed rubber ball, and it's trajectory through the air yonder.. ho.

That's my mum. And Banjo. With said ball. I call this... "Anticipation". Oh yes I do.

Isn't that right Banjo? We take our excitement where we can get it.

And that's a tongue right there..

I don't know, but I like to think he's saying.. 

"Damn skippy, you fool, now take me back for my meal of dry dog food.. stat!"

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Friends are the Family I Chose Myself

Laura, Ian & Holly - Oh, and Holly's not a midget, Ian's just 12 ft 3 and Laura likes to wear platform heels

I always knew this, but since I got back from New York, it was made more apparent:

I have the best friends.

They know I have no job. They know I have no money. They know I am all sad and stuff since coming back from the best city in the world. 

So they get me to come to London, and pay my way for a weekend, just to cheer me up.

I nearly got run over by a bus for this

It's been really hard since being back. I spend most of my days on the job hunt, and it's thoroughly soul-destroying to apply for umpteen jobs a day for little reward at the moment. Unfortunately, I've decided I want to work in finance. And finance does not want to give anyone a job at the moment. In fact, it seems that they are even, EVEN, taking away jobs from people they've already given them to years ago! The bloody cheek. 

And on top of this, and missing New York like your mum misses Donny Osmond in his hey-day.. a trip to London with some of the best people in the world was just what the doctor ordered.

God bless them, every one

As you can see, we spent some time wandering on the South Bank. They took me to eat yummy Mexican food.  They took me out to get drunk and dance. Edit: They coordinated one of my favorite couples Helen and Miles to come and get drunk and dance too. This was muchly appreciated and even though blood was shed (really!), we had a super great time. Some tried to get me to request Britney Spears. Some were refused in their requests. But what was important, was they made me excited for the next bit of my life.  They made everything ok again.

Laura is an eggcellent cook

Oh and the next day, when I was hungover and sleepy, and sad because I wanted New York brunch.  They went to the supermarket to get supplies to make me brunch too.

Because they are just that amazing.

Sunset, as overseen by Nelson

Thank you.  You guys rock my tiny world.

Bad boys for life... Yes yes y'all, and we don't stop...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

There and Back Again?

Back in London Town

When I was little, I always had to know where I was going. Every time I was made to go anywhere on a journey I would feel inexplicably distressed if I didn't know what the destination was. "Where are we going?" had to be answered. And my mother would always placate me with the answer.

My dad on the other hand, has a funny sense of humour.  He would always, always, without fail, answer with:

"Oh... just There and Back Again"

When I was little this would infuriate me.

But then, a long time later in September 07, I had the opportunity to live and work in New York for 12 months.  And this blog was born.

And when I had to leave in September 08, after finding myself in New York City, and after leaving in tears and thoroughly destroyed at thought of where the hell am I going to go from here, I remembered my dad's standard reply from my youth. And it comforted me, because it meant I would be back one day.

Because this blog now, is about where I'm going...

And that's just There and Back Again