Thursday 29 August 2013

Way Out West Murder Mystery Pt 2

It is the spring of 1884.  America's west coast is slowly being populated with small towns full of settlers, come to prospect for precious metals, set up ranches and run dubious saloons - and now the railroad is coming!

Cactus Gulch is one such small town, founded 20 years ago and tonight is has a festive air as the townsfolk get set to start their 20th anniversary celebrations.  However, all is not running smoothly.  Land disputes, disreputable card games, strange folk from out of town and hostile Indians all add to the tense atmosphere.  Join us in the Silver Dollar saloon as celebrations begin and find out how the evening unfolds ...
Once the invitations were sent out and my costume was sorted the next two steps were the food and decorations.  I had so many ideas but had to rein them in to affordable options! LOL  I saw an e-card the other day which said "An evil witch cursed me at birth with expensive taste and no money!".  While I don't go to quite that extreme, my mind does kinda go wild ... as in beyond my abilities and budget :)

I mentioned yesterday that I found some great on-line image resources.  My favourite was the digital collections at Duke University.  They have collections of sheet music, women's lib stuff, and many more.  Their online advertising collection is wonderful!  This one was particularly funny ...

HAHAHAHA!  It continues on a second page but I think you get the idea.
We are sure that the fact that it was "illustrated by models, especially of the feminine structure" would have reeled them in!  We all had a giggle at this one.

I printed off lots of vintage adds and used them in my decorating.  Free Form Games recommend that you have a large room for the guests to mingle in with another area/room for more private conversations.  We used our games room as the Saloon and then we turned our living room into a General Store/Mercantile.

We had a huge piece of calico that we used to cover our store at shows/fairs and we used this to hide the TV and create a backdrop.  I then created a buffet area using some plastic gingham table clothes that were on sale for a couple bucks.  Everything else came out of my stash or off the printer.

The buffet table
Here is the Mercantile we created.  Lots of food and medicine related advertisements here.

There is fruit and veg in the basket and the wood bin says potatoes
I printed off old medicine labels and stuck them to jars and pots.  Then I filled them with flour and coloured water.

I wonder if any of these will be used on the night!
Yes, the next add does mention cocaine.  I wonder what the babies thought????  I bet it made the toothache go away!

The Princess made these cupcakes.  They were her contribution to the night.  As we were making the cakes our power went out!  We have a gas oven so we could still cook but it took The Princess an hour to hand mix these ... you could say they were authentic!

mmmmm ... cupcakes!
And a few more adds in the Mercantile ...

I love the picture for Hunt's Remedy
Next up was the Saloon.  With the power out I couldn't cut out the lettering!  Thankfully it came back on and I quickly cut everything as it had been forecast to still be out at 7:30pm.  We almost had a REALLY authentic wild west night!

Welcome to the Silver Dollar Saloon
We printed off old reward posters to decorate the Saloon, along with more 'manly' adverts.

Is that you on the poster????
I couldn't get enough of these!
We decorated the bar with peanuts and chips/crisps.  Everyone brought their own drinks and we put them all in the bar.  Our junior bartenders helped to serve them (just don't tell anyone!)

Creative use of a vase :)
Silver Dollar Bar
Now that everything is ready we are good to go ... Lets the party begin!

Can't wait!
I tried to put a rinse in my hair to make it black but even after two bottles it was only a dark brown.  The next morning however it was almost black ... note to self - dye hair the day before! (and it is still washing out LOL)

Stocking up on supplies ... am I the murderer????
Here are our three 'Assistant Bartenders'.  The boys were supposed to be on camp but it was cancelled and as they were all home they were roped in to help.  The host for this game was the Bartender (The LOML) and he was responsible for the running of the game.  As he also had to see to serving the food and pouring drinks he needed some assistants.  The kids were only too happy to join in as they knew the food would be worth it :)  They helped reheat the food, pour drinks, and clean up.  They were terrific helpers.

The Thinker, The Extrovert, The Princess
We're ready.  Where are all the guests???

Ready for fun?
Everyone soon arrived and the fun began.  I can't really show you all the individual photos without everyone's permission, but everyone got into the spirit of it and dressed up.  We had more male than female roles but had more females than males ... did you follow that?  So we had some cross dressers, complete with beards and/or mustaches.  The host really does have lots to organise so if you are going to have a murder mystery night with friends I suggest you either have someone cater, have two hosts, or have some helpers like we did.

We forgot to take photos of the food but here we all are lining up to eat!  We didn't have anything traditionally 'wild west' as we cooked the main with meat from the freezer.  We had choice of slow cooked beef vindaloo and/or chicken tarragon, served with green beans & bacon, and our yummy sweet potato crunch.  I did once promise you the recipe when I got a photo, but as we forgot the photo again, I wont torture you any longer.  It really is yummy!

Way Out West!

Sweet Potato Crunch

2 eggs
1/3 cup evaporated milk (NOT condensed milk)
1/2 cup margarine or butter
3/4 cup sugar (Original recipe was 1 cup! ... feel free to lower this - I usually make it 1/4 cup for special occasions and nothing for everyday)
1t vanilla
3 med sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked and drained

Mix above ingredients until creamy, put in heatproof dish.

1 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans

Mix together until crumbly and sprinkle over potatoes. Bake at 375°F/190°C until top is crispy (1/2 to 3/4 hour approx)

The first time I tasted this I was only little.  My Grandma always rounded up stray American's for Thanksgiving and they usually brought something.  This was made by two spinster sisters (The Boots) and it became a firm family favourite.  Like most American recipes from that era it was very sweet.  When it became my responsibility to make this I lowered the sugar to 3/4 cup and then kept lowering it until it became only 1/4 cup.  That small amount of sugar really does make it seem like a treat (especially if you don't have access to local sweet potatoes), and as we don't have it too often I tend to put it in.  But as there is also sugar in the topping it really doesn't need it if you are going to eat it more often.  We very rarely ever have leftovers when we serve this unless I make extra.

For dessert I really couldn't decide.  I wanted all my favourites but had to narrow it down to only three, while keeping everyone happy.  I would have added a German Chocolate cake and pumpkin pie (I considered pumpkin and pecan pie too).  But in the end I went with my absolute all time favourite ... banana cream pie (NO meringue).  And added in angel food cake with cream and strawberries, and key lime pie with meringue.

I was waiting to make the angel food cake when the power went off.  Let's just say that The Thinker was happy to have the power come back :)  He was whisking egg whites like his life depended on it!  Thankfully I made the pies the day before.

It was a fabulous night and I won't spoil the story for you in case you decide to give the game a try.  We laughed so hard my cheeks hurt the next day.  The game is very flexible and it involved double dealing, blackmail, more murders, and in the end we were all so caught up in our own deals that only the murderer knew 'who done it'.  It was like an episode of Taggart, Midsummer Murders, Inspector Morse, and Lewis all rolled into one!

It was a fabulous way to spend a birthday with a group of wonderful friends.

See you on Sunday for Storytelling Sunday.  I also hope to catch up on my blog reading this weekend and should be dropping by.



  1. It's brilliant! I bet everyone had an absolute ball

  2. Wow! Chipper, I just read the two part posts and it looks like an absolutely fabulous night! I do have to admit that the 'Newcastle United' sign at the Wild, Wild, West Saloon made me giggle (definitely something that was out of place or didn't belong).
    Thanks for sharing,

  3. Oh my, I am just amazed at the huge amount of preparation you put into this! And how wonderful that you guess played along so wonderfully in those costumes. So glad it was a happy occasion because you really deserve it :). Those posters and adverts are priceless ...


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