Sunday, October 17, 2021

Sunday Brunch #Halloween Memories + #Giveaway hosted by Maya Corrigan

: Halloween will be the focus of Mystery Lovers' Kitchen's posts for the next two weeks. To kick off the celebration, let's talk about a favorite Halloween memory. What costume, trick or treat, food, or party from the past still haunts you?

When I was growing up, Halloween wasn't the huge holiday it is now it. Costumes and trick-or-treating were for little kids. Older teens and adults didn't "dress up" for the festivities. But by the time I was working for a tech start-up, that had changed. One Halloween the thirty of us in the company came to work to compete in a costume contest. None of us wore masks because we had to work all day in our costumes. I dressed as an avatar from one of our software programs--a little girl with long black hair, an orange bow, and a yellow dress with black polka dots.

Until I sat down at my desk, no one recognized me. My husband was away that week and, when I later showed him a photo of the group in costume, he identified some of my colleagues, but he couldn't find me in the photo. He insisted I wasn't in it. I realized then that if you have short blond hair, you can disguise yourself by wearing a long black wig and clothing different from your usual outfits. In a book that came out fifteen years later, one of my characters did exactly that to hide her identity. By the way, the costume contest winner dressed as a cocktail. She's on my left, wearing a martini glass on her head with a monster-sized olive in it.

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MADDIE DAY: That's a great story, Maya! I did something similar. I've always loved costumes and fooling people. From when I left high school until I became a published author, I haven't worn makeup or lipstick or heels (still don't wear heels). So I went to a work Halloween party (in the evening) decades ago in a black puffy wig, a tight white jacket, tight short skirt, fishnet tights, and red heels. Red lipstick, black pointy glasses (from eighth grade!) and a cigarette rounded out the outfit. NOBODY knew who I was. I have pulled out that wig and those glasses for many a party over the years. Here's a pic of my best friend and me in matching crazy outfits, the same black wigs, and clownface at a party. We fooled people there, too.


LUCY BURDETTE: I love Halloween too and we often had costume parties in graduate school! Luckily, Key West is a town big on costumes too, so I've been able to weave quite a bit of that fun into my books. Knowing how to sew makes the costumes easier to produce. I'll show you a few of my favorites from over the years. Here's me as Wonder Woman, circa 1982:

And here's me as Kermit the frog with a pumpkin cornmeal poundcake to celebrate the season. Believe me, absolutely no one knew who I was as this party!

And finally, this is my hub and me getting dressed up for the zombie bike ride in Key West. This was research for a scene in Killer Takeout!


LESLIE KARST: I loved Halloween as a kid (though not so much now—the ringing doorbell and strangely-clad kids terrify my poor dog). And what I loved the most about it (besides the candy—duh!) was being able to dress as I wanted. These were the days when girls had to wear skirts or dresses to school, something that even as a seven-year-old I detested. So here’s how I dressed for Halloween that year:

As far as my adult years go, my favorite memory of the holiday is the Pumpkin Fest my friend Craig used to host on a yearly basis, where friends would come to his house and mass-carve pumpkins for the entire community to come and admire. (And on the big night, he’d also host a terrific meal at his house.) One year we carved about 700 jack o’lanterns!

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LESLIE BUDEWITZ:  This topic sent me back a few decades remembering the fun my parents had helping us dress up for Halloween. One year, they blew up giant balloons and we covered them in papier-mache with strips of cut newspapers and white glue, then when they hardened, burst the balloon and cut it out, cut a jack o'lantern face, and spray-painted the whole think orange. Voila, the pumpkin kids! Not that easy to walk in, but fun. And my dad thought bobbing for apples too messy -- not good to get kids wet and send them home that way on what could be a very cold day -- so he tied apples to long strings he attached to the ceiling and we had to bite the apple that way! (Obviously, I dressed myself the year of this photo!)

In my community, so many kids live out in the country or in areas where trick-or-treating house to house isn't safe, and a Halloween snowstorm is not an uncommon thing. So the village merchants---you know them from my Food Lovers' Village mysteries, based on my real town---turn our main street into Halloween Central. Business and traffic all but shut down, and merchants dress up and stand in their doorways handing out candy. Mr. Right and I have been known to wander into the village, find a rock wall or bench to perch on, and take in the sights. For a few hours on a late October afternoon, the streets are filled with joy as aspiring superheroes, ghosts, wizards, and other costumed creatures roam freely and safely, and just about everyone in town sports a grin as wide as Mr. Jack O'Lantern's. 
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TINA KASHIAN: I loved Halloween when I was young, and I still do! My teen girls still dress up and help hand out candy at home and then go to parties with friends. When I was young, my mother sewed our costumes. I learned how to sew from her, but I am not as good and rarely practice. Here’s a picture of me as a kid wearing a costume my mother sewed.


Here’s a pic of me from last year. Happy Halloween!

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PEG COCHRAN: So fun to recall all those Halloween memories! One childhood memory that wasn't so fun was the Halloween it rained and I was carrying my candy in a paper shopping bag...which was a bit too big for me so I alternately carried it and dragged it along the ground.  You guessed it--the bag broke!  Better memories include making costumes for my daughters. I remember my younger daughter watching in amazement as I turned a bolt of fabric into a harem costume for her.  I made a Dalmation costume for my older daughter--complete with glued on spots--and no one recognized her when she got to school!  To complete the 101 Dalmations theme my younger daughter went as Cruella de Ville.  Many years later, I went to a Halloween costume party as Cruella de Ville bringing things full circle! 

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MARY JANE MAFFINI:  I love Halloween. Always have, always will.  The photos and stories here today are so much fun.  Thanks to everyone for hanging on to those photos and sharing and to Maya for the entertaining topic. 

As for me, I look back fondly to the days when hordes of shrieking kids would burst forth onto our street as soon as it was dark, scrunching through dry leaves.  Most were wrapped in crepe-paper costumes and brandishing lit sparklers or firecrackers or both.  We waltzed into strangers’ houses and collected pillowcases full of treats and, if we were lucky, lots of candy cigarettes with bright red tips.  There wasn’t a parent in sight.  What could possibly go wrong?  

 When my kids were growing up, we were more safety conscious and I went out with them on Halloween. I could never resist wearing a costume, although I drew the line at trying for treats. These days we take a more homey approach and wait to answer the door. But as the day approaches, my husband carves the Jack-o-lanterns and I get the dogs’ costumes ready.  

Penny is dressed as Miss Pumpkin and Ivy always feels she's Wonder Woman anyway. As you can see, they are eager to trick or treat even if it's at home.  They've been promised something special if they stay still for the camera.

Some of you may recognize our daughter Victoria's Peachy the Pug aka Walter from the Victoria Abbott Book Collector mysteries. There's always a pug on the cover!

We always haul out the black cast-iron cauldron and fill it with Reese’s Pieces.   If Victoria is around we pop spiders in our hair or we may go with witches’ hats and cue the spooky music.   

If we are lucky on our dark road we’ll get four to six kids and an equal number of parents. The dogs are always a big hit. Last year with COVID we saw only our next-door neighbor’s child.  We were distanced and all wearing masks.  As you can imagine, this left a lot of Reese’s Pieces and they went straight to our waistlines.  I have high hopes for this coming Halloween and look forward to hearing what all of you remember or look forward to on October 31st.   Maybe it's reading the fabulous batch of books in the giveaway.  Whatever it is, enjoy!

CLEO COYLE: Great topic, Maya! Halloween is such a fun holiday. I have many wonderful memories over the years: from my childhood all the way up to viewing the fabulous floats, puppets, and costumes in New York's annual Greenwich Village Halloween Parade (check out a parade video here). I love how this holiday gives kids (and adults!) a chance to express their creativity, imagination, and a way to interact with their communities. When I was a little girl, my sister and I carved our own pumpkins and made our own costumes (we always made them ourselves, no need for store-bought anything). We went trick or treating with groups of friends and had fun visiting the neighborhood houses, many of which were imaginatively decorated. Some even had sound effects (ghostly moaning and thunder rumbling). Afterwards, Grace and I would dump out our bags of candy booty on the living room floor and trade favorites (2 Clark Bars for 1 Baby Ruth, deal)! And speaking of favorites…
Click the photo for Cleo's recipe:
Candy Apples with Honey

Homemade Candy Apples continue to be among my favorite treats at this time of year. I even came up with my own version of the recipe, swapping out corn syrup and using honey instead (it’s delicious). In another version, I went for a spiked candy apple for adults. I’m happy to share both recipes today, just click here or on the photos (above or below). There’s a free PDF of both recipes that you can download with plenty of tips and photos. Happy Halloween season, everyone! ~ Cleo 

Click the photo above for Cleo's recipe
How to Spike Candy Apples for Adults


To be entered in this week's drawing,
join us in the comments.

What costume, trick or treat, food, or 
party from the past still haunts you?

Include your email address,
so we can contact the winner!

Comments Open through
Wednesday, October 20

>> CRYPT SUZETTE by Maya Corrigan

by Maddie Day

 >> KILLER TAKEOUT by Lucy Burdette

>> THE WOLFE WIDOW by Victoria Abbott

Comments Open through
Wednesday, October 20



  1. I went to a costume party dressed as a sexy devil with all the glitterized accessories and won second place. A Yeti won first. I still think I looked better! 3labsmom(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. I love dressing up. Nothing really haunts me from Halloweens past. It is always fun! I love embarrassing my family LOL

  3. My favorite costume was when our daughter went as a rodeo clown. She was in my Dad's (he was a large man) held up by suspenders, my Mom's shirt, her own rodeo straw hat and her face made up. It was a fun costume to put together with elements from everyone in the family. It also taught her that costumes didn't have to be bought to be fun.

    As for food, nothing beat my Mom's caramel apples or caramel popcorn balls. Maybe it was because it was the only time we had them that made them special, but I think it was the love they were made with.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Good costume and a good lesson to learn. Thanks for commenting, Kay. ~Maya

  4. As kids, we never had anything fancy for costumes so as an adult I like coming up with something good. One of my favorites was going to work as a trick-or-treat bag with real candy bars stuck all over.

  5. My favorite memory was my seventh grade Halloween party. I went to a rural school that went through eighth grade, and back then everyone got to have a party and dress up. I dressed up as a mummy and my miniature poodle got to go to school with me, as my mummy dog. She wasn't super cooperative though, so I only put a couple of strands of "mummy wrap" around her. She did like the attention everyone gave her while she was there, which was like 15 minutes, before my mom reached her and took her back home.

  6. I remember dressing up each year and loved Hallowe'en. We would walk through our neighborhood on our own and never had a worry since this was the 1950's and fun. The best costume was Anne of green gables. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. Thanks for your comment, traveler. Costumes based on book characters are great.

  7. Every Hallowe'en was wonderful. We so looked forward to this amazing time. Dressing up in costumes which our mother created and walking the streets where we lived was a memory which still stand out even though things were simple and quiet we enjoyed it. My costume of a ballerina was my favorite. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

    1. Lucky girl being dressed as a ballerina!