Monthly Archives: October 2008

Halloween Harvest Festival @ Pierce College

Every year around this time, Christine and I head out in search of cool amateur haunted houses in the valley to explore. But this year, with our own little pumpkin on the way, Christine opted out of our tradition for fear of being bumped, pushed or just plain scared to high heaven along the way.

So, instead of going the local, down and dirty haunted house route, we decided to explore something a little more organized and fair-like this year. That way Christine could chill with some cotton candy while Ryan, Laura, our friends Patty and Mike and I screamed our lungs out in the haunted house.

And after many years of hearing about it, we finally schlepped out to Woodland Hills for the annual Halloween Harvest Festival at Pierce College. We had heard before that this place had one of the scariest “pay” haunted houses in the area, but when we learned that they also have a haunted corn maze on the premises, well, we were sold!

I’d never been to Pierce College before, but that place is way out of the way…I’m talking barely in L.A. county. And the campus is positively massive, with acres of corn fields, pumpkin patches and other assorted growing spaces dedicated to the school’s renowned Agricultural Department. I gotta say, the sheer volume of land out there was insane, you kinda felt like you were in another state or something…

But the coolest part is that if you park in the far lot, you get to enjoy a free tractor-pulled hayride through the fields to the festival grounds! Cool, huh? Even Christine, a hayride aficionado from way back, was impressed…although she was quick to point out that the bales we were sitting on were comprised of straw, not hay as we first surmised. They don’t call her Farmer’s Daughter for nothing, yo!

Anyway, aside from tons of what we think were free pumpkins and a petting zoo — which is only open during the day — the Harvest Festival is also home to some of the finest fair food we’ve had since, well, last year’s visit to the L.A. County Fair. Giant turkey legs, kettle corn, funnel cakes, you name it, they had it.

Of course, being the girlie man that I am, I wanted to hit the haunted house and corn maze before eating, you know, just in case I threw up or something. So, while Christine chilled with her cotton candy, Ryan, Laura, Mike, Patty and myself headed into the daunting haunted house.

And…Oh. My. God. Was it scary!! I clung to Ryan’s jacket with my eyes closed almost the entire time, and halfway through, as we passed an emergency exit, Patty got so scared that she actually burst into tears and left. I wasn’t crying, but man, how I wanted to! So, I took off with Patty and Laura while Ryan and Mike finished the tour alone. Yes, I left with the girls…sue me.

For anyone out there keeping track, I should also note that this haunted house is not nearly as scary as the bone-chilling “Shipwrecked” event they have every year at the Queen Mary, but it was a pretty close second.

It’s not that the scares were that original or anything, but the looks on some of the people’s faces in there were downright murderous. These are not your garden variety haunted house workers, amigos…even without their make-up, these carnie folks looked and acted, well, dangerous. Seriously…we checked our wallets when we came out!

And then, since we had paid for both the house and the corn maze (and I am loathe to ever not get my money’s worth!) we hit the haunted corn maze out front. That horrifying winged beast in the picture above acts as kind of the maze’s gatekeeper, and when he is moving and screeching, well…you kinda want to wet yourself. I’m not kidding, he was freaky!

But the maze itself was actually quite cool. Instead of picking on me — as the ghosts and goblins did in the haunted house — they fixated on Ryan this time, so my journey on his coattails was actually pretty scare-free. Don’t get me wrong, the maze was still very creepy and totally long — someone said it winds almost a mile and a half through that dark-ass corn field! — but it was more cool creepy than, you know, crap your pants creepy.

So, if you opt for the Multi-Pass Ticket, which is $20 (versus $13 for just one haunted area) I’d suggest you hit the haunted house first, then catch your breath in the corn maze. And then, and only then, hit the fair food!

Like I said before, they have all kinds of crazy-good food and all of it was awesome and totally cheap, but I think the highlight of the Festival were the fresh-cooked donuts pictured below. Fried to order, they were freaking amazing…and when you added a healthy dusting of powdered sugar, well, these were some donuts for the ages, man. Spectacular!

So, for those of you in the L.A. area who wanna get your scare on, or even just get your fried food on, head out to Pierce College tonight because the Halloween Harvest Festival ends Sunday, November 2nd.

And for the love of God, make sure and wear something grubby…we’re still scraping mud and straw off our damn shoes!

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Halloween Cupcakes: 2008 Edition

Farmer’s Daughter Bean here. I know it’s been awhile…but it’s too hot to bake during the summers in LA, so I haven’t spent much time in the kitchen. But now, with the harvest season in full swing, I figured it was time to make some goodies, and since my husband likes to say that Halloween wouldn’t be complete without my cupcakes…cupcakes it was!

First, I looked up some tasty recipes in one of my favorite cookbooks, Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans and came upon the Spiced Pumpkin recipe. Once I saw the pictures inside, I knew that I had to try these out! The batter looked so good I was dying to try some, but in my current state, I wisely resisted the temptation.

Tomás and my sister-in-law Laura — who were playing “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” all night while I baked — said the batter on the beaters was “delish”, so, I kept baking. Trust me, it took a lot of willpower to wait for the final product with Cream Cheese Frosting and cinnamon frosting spiderwebs, but it was definitely worth the wait.

The cake was very light and had just the perfect amount of pumpkin spice. I did switch it up a bit by omitting the crystallized ginger from the recipe, partly because I didn’t have any on hand, but mostly because I just kind of needed immediate satisfaction at that point. But the cupcakes still tasted great.

The other cupcakes I made that night didn’t turn out as cute. For that batch I used the Butter Cupcake recipe and the Cream Cheese Frosting from Cupcakes! again. They were supposed to look like little pumpkins, but the Tootsie Roll stems didn’t really turn out as well as I had envisioned them.

They still tasted good though, but Tomás and Laura (and later Ryan!) raved about the pumpkin spice…so, I’ll definitely make those again.

For those of you who have never baked from scratch, you must try it. And with the holidays approaching, there is no better time to crack open your favorite cookbook and give it a whirl. It takes a little longer, but if you like to bake, the results are totally worth it. Just ask the nerdy gamers in my living room!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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Obama-Biden magnetic bumper stickers!

By this time next week the race for President of the United States will be almost over and Christine and I will be either dancing in the streets at midnight or moving to Canada. But whatever happens, we’ll always have the rocking Obama-Biden magnetic bumper sticker that arrived in our mailbox today!

Our neighbor turned us onto these cool magnetic bumper stickers months ago — back when they just said Obama — and we finally ordered one for ourselves last week. The coolest thing about these guys is that they don’t stick at all, which means no gross sticker goo on your car. Yay!

And as you can see, even our tiny Obama — still winded from his last-minute campaign jaunt up the coast — is excited about our new bumper sticker. Seriously, he was up all night trying to get Christine and I to drive him to Nevada to help secure votes. Man…that dude is persistent.

So though we don’t have the time to road trip it to Nevada like some of our friends, you can rest assured that we will be driving the hell out of our car this week to show this bad boy off. And if we change the hearts and minds of a few die-hard McCain supporters along the way…all the better!

Go, Obama!

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It’s gonna be a girl!

Christine and I went in for our 21 week ultrasound today and were delighted to learn that we are expecting a little girl. Yay! As you can imagine, we are both pretty stoked, especially since we share a fondness for all things Barbie and Hello Kitty…and who better to pass that giddy fondness on to than a little tiny version of us, right?

Of course, we would have been just as happy with a boy, but as I have gathered from the enthusiasm from our families, a little girl offers them much cooler stuff to shop for. And speaking of, we made our first parental purchase today in the form of the super cute Baby Gap onesie shown below.

Yep, we went right from the doctor’s office to the mall. Crazy, huh? But, wow, how fun to buy little tiny clothes for your own baby! And to do it all at the store — not literally the same store, but the same chain, Gap Kids — where Christine and I met back in 1990, well, talk about coming full circle. Whoa…

So, while I must admit I was a tad disappointed at not being able to score the more boyish “Star Wars” and “Superman” onesies for our little one, I think once I get my hands on a girly Princess Leia or Queen Amidala onesie, all will be right with the world!

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Obama resoles his shoes…

That old lying, hate-mongering, Republican VP candidate, Sarah Palin, might call herself an “intellectual”, vow to name her next son Zamboni — I’m not kidding, she actually said that! — and spend almost $5,000.00 a day on fancy designer duds, but when it comes to keeping it real, no one, and I mean no one, can beat our man, Barack Obama.

As you can see in the super cool pic by Time’s Callie Shell above, Obama saves his campaign money by having his shoes resoled rather than buying new ones. Yep, while the McCain campaign runs to Neiman Marcus three times a day to keep Sarah Palin looking “fresh”, Barack Obama runs to his cobbler. Awesome!

Seriously, can you think of another modern-era politician who would do something that freaking practical? Man, just when Christine and I think we could not love this dude any more…we do! Wow…

Thanks to our friend Danielle for the link to Shell’s rocking Obama campaign pics. To see more of these beautiful shots for yourself click here.

And, as always…go Obama!

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On the road with Obama

With the election just a couple of weeks away and getting crazier by the minute, Christine and I decided to take our brand new Barack Obama action figure on a quick campaign push up the coast to Northern California.

The fact that we were both itching for a fun, weekend road trip might have had a little something to do with it too, but either way, Jedi Master Obama came with us and as you can see from the pics below, the little plastic dude had a blast.

Not only did he get to cross the Golden Gate bridge during Fleet Week — and see the Blue Angels performing above us on the drive back! — but Obama also got to tour the rocking Charles Schulz Musuem in Santa Rosa, judge a surfing contest in Capitola, check out Sista Monica’s soulful outdoor gospel choir in Santa Cruz and best of all, Lil’ O got to wrap up his journey with some tasty hot wings at the Burbank Hooters.

And with stops at Taco Bell and the classic Bob’s Big Boy in Toluca Lake thrown in for good measure, well, I don’t know about you guys, but that kinda sounds like campaign heaven to me!

If you’re interested in seeing the full, unedited version of Lil’ O’s “rainbow tour” of the California coast, check out the Flickr set here, but in the meantime, enjoy the pics, remember to vote on November 4th, and, as always, go Obama!

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“The Strangers” on DVD

I should start by saying that the version of “The Strangers” that is coming out today on DVD is not the same one Christine and I saw in the theatre in June. The DVD cut of the movie is unrated and from everything I’ve read, that would make it ten thousand times scarier!

And with a movie this downright freaky, that is really saying something. Not only is “The Strangers” unnervingly quiet, but the sounds that are there rival “The Orphanage” in their goosebump-inducing impact. Seriously, even the knocks on the door in this movie will give you nightmares…just chilling!

Another thing we loved is that the concept here is so simple: troubled couple terrorized by strangers in the middle of nowhere. There is no goopy dialouge or clunky character arcs, this is a classic, old school scary movie that does what it’s supposed to do — scare you shitless! — and does it beautifully.

Trust me when I tell you that Christine and I were not the only ones screaming out loud in the theatre. This is one of those weirdly realistic films that gets under your skin way more than something supernatural ever could.

Sure, we might not be as pretty as Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler, but almost everything that happens to them in this movie could happen to us. Or you…or, well…now I’m getting all scared again just thinking about it!

Anyway, check it out on DVD and let me know what you think. Oh, and for the Liv Tyler haters out there — I happen to live with one. Christine likes to say that the reason Tyler is so good in this movie is because she doesn’t talk much. Ha! — rest assured that her performance here is probably one of the finest she’s ever committed to film.

Seriously, Tyler plays a sweaty, freaked-out chick like nobody’s business, baby. And those eyes…wow…must have been something in that Rivendell water.

So if you’re looking for some rocking seasonal scares, check out “The Strangers” today. And for the love of God, do not watch this movie alone!

We saw it together and still had to double and triple check all the doors and windows before going to bed. Yes, it’s that scary…

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