I spent much of the early part of the day on New Year's Eve getting ready for the party at The White Rabbit's house. This meant putting together the food we were taking, packing an overnight bag, and loading it all in the car.
In addition, I did my regular afternoon assignment, worked in a couple dog walks and a session of Dance, Dance Revolution, knowing I was likely to splurge at the party.
I couldn't leave as early as I would have liked, because the pet sitter couldn't take Una until 4, and I even got to her house a little late.
A camera phone pic of me raising a glass
On my way to The White Rabbit's house, I got distracted thinking about how I was going to put together the vegetarian chili I was contributing once I arrived, and I headed towards the home of The Cheshire Cat and The Paper instead. So I called The White Rabbit and got directions from the road I was on. That way I wouldn't have to backtrack.
When I arrived I was feeling frazzled, and the house was filled with people. Fortunately, I managed to grab a few people in the parking lot and get their assistance bringing in all the foodstuff. Once I got into the kitchen, I asked The Bhoo to help me to make the chili, and he was happy to do so.
He emptied a can of beans, a can of tomato paste and a can of diced tomatoes, along with chopped mushrooms into my crock pot, and then I added the spices. On the stove top, I sprayed a pan with cooking spray and cooked up the chopped onions, garlic, celery, peppers and carrots, to soften them up. I also put the kettle on to heat up water to make the TVP (textured vegetable protein), which I wanted to reconstitute before added it to the crock pot. I figured the whole process would go quicker then.
I cooked the corn separately due to an e-mail conversation I'd had with The Book Lover, who can't eat corn. I intended to have it available on the side for anyone to add if they wanted it. When the veggies and TVP were ready, I added them to the crock pot and stirred it all up, leaving a sign on top that said it would be ready at 6.
Then I made up some French onion dip from a packet that Mom had given me for Christmas as part of a gift basket. I simply had to add the mix to sour cream. In this case, I used fat free sour cream so it would be a little healthier.
We'd also brought along some movie candy that our dog walker had left for us, along with a Blockbuster Video gift certificate as a Christmas gift. I wanted to taste the candy, but I didn't need a whole box to myself.
When I stepped into the other room, I noticed the guests had already demolished the veggie tray I'd brought, so I chopped up an extra green pepper I'd brought and added that, along with some baby carrots The White Rabbit had in his refrigerator, which was his idea.
While the chili was cooking, I had time to chat with some people. The White Rabbit had started the party early that afternoon, so some people who had obligations were already beginning to leave. For example, The Martial Artist and The Book Lover left early to get their son to bed. I did get a chance to talk to them a little before they left. She apologized that she wouldn't be able to try the chili and told me I could add the corn if I wanted.
The guests at the party included our host, The White Rabbit; his cousin, The Cousin, her husband, The Photographer, and their daughters; The Genealogist; The Devil's Advocate; The Big Kahuna; Pimp Daddy; The Viking; The Treasurer; The Paralegal (who also left early); The Warrior Goddess; The Pop Culture Junkie; Batman; The Dormouse; The Cheshire Cat and The Paper; My College Roommate, her husband and her son; The Punster; The Con Ops Guru; The Court Wizard; The Bhoo and his two daughters; a friend of The Cousin's and her teenage sons; and The White Rabbit's college friend and his wife.
As you can imagine, with all these people, it got pretty crowded. At times, it got frustrating because I couldn't find a place to sit. Fortunately, though, I'm no longer suffering from the after-effects falling down the stairs a couple years ago and injuring my tail bone, so I could sit on the floor.
I tried to talk to most of the people there, but didn't get to talk long to some of them, including The Pop Culture Junkie, who nevertheless posed for an amusing pic.
When the chili was ready, I had a bowl of it. It was good. I found, though, that it got better as the evening wore on and it simmered more.
The Bhoo had made meatballs in a crock pot, and once they were ready, The White Rabbit made up several boxes of spaghetti, which went really fast. Also, there was a crock pot full of jambalaya, made by The Paper. She'd made it without using any red meat (like, for example, using turkey sausage) so that I could try some. Tasty and spicy!
Another favorite person of mine had to leave early, The College Roommate and her husband, who had to get their young son home. I had only a brief time to talk to her, so I told her she should call me and we'd get together. I snapped a cute picture of her son at the top of the stairs earlier in the evening.
I got to play one of my favorite games, Apples to Apples, which is a card game where you each get seven nouns. Then you take turns flipping over a green card with an adjective on it. Everyone has to put a card down from their hand that they think can be described by the adjective. The person who flipped over the card serves as the judge to determine which match is best. And the person who put down the winning card gets to keep the adjective card, with the goal of collecting five to win.
I played with the wife of The White Rabbit's college friend, The Big Kahuna, Pimp Daddy, The Cousin, her youngest daughter, and The Cousin's friend.
Pimp Daddy acts as judge
The Cousin and her daughters
We had a great time, especially with the adjective cards we won, saying that they applied to the people who won them. By the end of the game, there were four people, each with four green adjective cards and one card away from winning. I was one of them, and I remember that I had Demanding, Distinguished, Patriotic and something else.
The Gryphon arrived while we were in the middle of our card game, which made me really happy. He saw I was in the middle of a game, though, so we waited until later for a big hug. I remembered to pass the camera to The Warrior Princess to get a picture of us together, because sometimes I forget to have anyone take pictures of me.
Earlier in the evening, I was eating pretty well, filling up on vegetarian chili, fresh vegetables, cherries and even some rice cakes. I was keeping track of everything in a notebook, too. But after my second glass of wine, my brain sort of misfired and I sampled some cookies and candy, too. Well, it was my last big indulgence for 2007, and hopefully it won't throw me off too badly for 2008.
After The Gryphon had a little time to unwind, we made the mulled wine, which is prepared on the stove top and is simple. You just add spices, like cinnamon, ground cloves and nutmeg, to the wine and heat it up.
When I tried to taste some later, I discovered a problem: it needed to be strained because of all the cloves. So The Photographer helped me to strain it into another pot. When The Gryphon and I talked about it later, we agreed that next time we'd put the cloves in a mesh bag so they could be easily pulled out.
The wine tasted pretty good, I thought. Considering that we'd made the equivalent of four bottles of wine (from two oversized bottles of Yellowtail Merlot), the wine disappeared by the end of the evening.
Of course, you were supposed to serve it in mugs, but all we had were plastic cups. The wine left an interesting residue on the side of the cup, blood red, making me think of Sweeney Todd.
The Dormouse, by contrast, had brought makings for a much neater drink: a standard martini, olives and all. He had his own shaker, his own glasses and even his own olive skewer, all secreted in a metal box labeled "Liquid Lunch."
About 9 p.m., I had to take my contacts out because my eyes were starting to get irritated and my eyes were even starting to tear up.
When I came back, I moved from room to room. The Gryphon was seated at the dining room table with The Cheshire Cat, The Warrior Princess, and a number of other people, so I joined them for a while. But the more time I spent near the table, the more I ate, so I moved on.
Then I drifted to the front room for a little while and finally to the basement to watch some people playing Guitar Hero. A little later, a group set up at the far end of the basement at a card table to play a fantasy-based card game involving dragons.
Games were definitely a popular activity at the party. After the Guitar Hero game ended, The Court Wizard and Batman took over to play a video game based on the X Men, while upstairs, The Cousin and her friend; The Con Ops Guru; The Warrior Princess and The Genealogist played Boggle.
The Gryphon and I talked to The Genealogist about her work. I spoke to The Bhoo's oldest daughter about the animals they keep on their farm, which are all miniature: mini horses, mini potbellied pigs, and even mini goats! I was fascinated to hear about all of them.
Around 11 p.m., people were making jokes about being old and tired, but near midnight we got our second wind. The White Rabbit took orders for either champagne, sparkling grape juice or sparkling apple juice. Then he busied himself filling all the champagne flutes, with help from The Dormouse.
Then we all gathered in the living room around the TV to watch the countdown on local TV, which was showing shots from the Philadelphia area, including Penn's Landing, where a lot of people were gathered. He also handed out noisemakers.
We counted down the last few seconds, and everyone popped the p0ppers, blew the noisemakers, cheered, toasted, hugged and kissed. And it was 2008!
The White Rabbit toasts the new year
And there was much rejoicing!
I followed a group of guys out onto the porch, where The Photographer set off his miniature cannon. You could hear other people in town, setting off fireworks, almost as if in reply.
I got cold, so I headed back inside and joined The Court Wizard, The Dormouse, The Cheshire Cat and some others in the kitchen. We were cracking jokes about the proper way to pronounce "champagne" — rhymes with "James Cagney." Then we were talking in silly French accents and wagging our heads as we talked.
The Dormouse did his Elvis imitation, holding his glass aloft, and then, after we discussed a Robot Chicken sketch with a chicken version of Law & Order, he did an imitation of Elvis as a chicken.
The Court Wizard and I were complaining that our glasses were really full and we were having trouble drinking all that dry champagne. When he found out that The Dormouse had been responsible for filling them, The Court Wizard told him that, "You've ruined 2008!" We agreed The Dormouse shall be the scapegoat for the entire year.
Then we all started talking like Mr. Gumby on Monty Python, declaring that our brains hurt and that we got stuck in the cupboard. The Devil's Advocate came in, stuck a finger ceremoniously up his nose and began to hum the French national anthem ("and now for a man with a tape recorder up his nose").
Pimp Daddy and The Photographer made some extremely colorful, exotic-looking drinks.
Pimp Daddy let me sip one, and it was pretty strong. I definitely didn't want any after all the mulled wine, plus the champagne. In fact, after he finished that drink, we suggested he stick to water the rest of the evening. He happily complied, knowing we were just looking out for him.
The party continued at a renewed pace for at least another hour before people began to take their leave. By about 2 a.m., I was exhausted and curled up in a chair to sleep until the basement was cleared out so we could set up our inflatable mattress. When everyone finally said their good-byes or began getting ready for bed, The Gryphon blew up the inflatable mattress using the pump we'd brought. It didn't inflate terribly well and deflated considerably overnight. We'll have to check to see if it has a leak.
Nevertheless, I slept well, in part because The Gryphon had insisted on me drinking water before going to sleep. I did wake up early in the morning, though, and take a couple painkillers, plus drink another glass or two, before going back to sleep.
I'll pick up with New Year's day in tomorrow's entry.
It's all fun and games on New Year's Eve.