Wednesday, July 13, 2011

So Long Harry, I'll Miss You…...

Chase wearing Potter glasses from Build-a-Bear
If you know me then you know I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan(atic).  I love all things Harry; the books, the movies, the costumes, the food, the crafts, the blogs, the podcasts, the INSPIRATION…… Pottermania is reaching a fever pitch right now because, unless you live under a rock (or attend Durmstrang) you know we are only a few days away from the final movie.  In little more than a decade, we have discovered a character named Harry Potter; met his family of terrible Muggles and his magical friends-Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, and Sirius.  We were introduced to his teachers-Dumbledore, Hagrid, McGonagall, Snape, Flitwick and Trelawney as well as his enemies Voldemort, Lucius, Draco, and Bellatrix.  We learned how to pronounce "Hermione"- who else called her "HER-me-o-knee' for the first book or two?  We learned about towns like Little Whinging and Hogsmeade and the castle that is Hogwarts.  We learned how to use a wand to cast helpful spells like "Acio", "Lumos" and "Expecto Patronum" as well as terrible spells like "Crucio", "Sectumsempra" and "Avada Kedavra".   Harry taught us how to play Quidditch and Wizard Chess.  We met creatures both fascinating and terrible...who could forget Aragog or the Basilisk; the thestrals and "Beaky" the Hippogriff?  We learned about wizard treats like Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice, Treacle tarts, pumpkin pasties, and rock cakes.  Harry's favorite candies, like Chocolate Frogs, Bernie Botts Every Flavor Beans, Ice Mice and Whizbees were born in the imagination of JK Rowling but licensed and manufactured by clever candy companies and sold to Muggles world wide.  The wonderful world that is Harry Potter is complex, magical, terrifying, wonderful, clever, deadly, fun, dangerous and oh, so fantastic.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows II comes to a theater near you Friday at 12:00 am. and I'm finding it hard to believe that it is almost over.  Harry has been a big part of my life for the past 12-ish years and while I know that Harry will continue to spark the imagination of children and adults for decades to come, there will never be a time like the first time. Those of us lucky enough to get caught in Harry's spell from the beginning got to experience a ride that literally takes my breath away.  Waiting a year or two for the next book was and oh…… the same time.  The movies were done so well that a new movie release became another reason to stand in line at midnight.  Harry wasn't just another book- just another story- it was something much deeper and much, much, more extraordinary.

From the first movie
Harry Potter and Sorcerer's
JK Rowling, famously wrote her story at a cafe while her daughter napped.  One can only wonder if she had any idea of how profoundly her story would not only change her life, but also change the way kids look at books.  She literally got kids to read again… not just read, but read thick, heavy books with lots of weird names, bizarre words, and strange creatures.  The stories are rich because she drew forms many sources: literature, mythology, folk lore, and history.  Her stories are detailed and complex-yet fun and exciting to read.  Rowling got kids and their parents to stand in line at midnight to get a book.  A Book!!  Who ever heard of standing in line at midnight to purchase a book?  It was unprecedented.  Concert tickets? Hell yes!  Movies? Maybe.  Books?  What????  But for Harry, we did stand in line.*** Book stores held release parties with HP-inspired activities and costume contests.  Children walked around the stores carrying wands, yelling out spells, drinking butterbeer and noshing on a chocolate frog.  Rowling not only got kids reading again, she changed the face of children's literature by forcing the New York Time's Bestseller list had to add a Children's section because the Harry books ruled the list for so long; shutting out authors of book aimed at adults.  One only has to scan the titles in the children/teen section to see that is now dominated by stories heavily influenced by Harry Potter; stories about wizards, dragons, and magic.  Of course there will be other stories that catch our imagination and keep us captive but none like Harry Potter.  ***In recent years, we also stood in line at midnight for Edward- but there was no fantastic party/no sense of camaraderie in the bookstore or the cinema? We shall avoid comparing the movies because, while I LOVE Rob in all his sparkliness, the movies are not exactly cinematic works of art.  Can a sparkly vampire truly be compared to the boy wizard?***

I met Harry Potter when I was giving the first 3 books, before the phenom had begun, by my friend Liz.  Her older girls fell in love with them and both Liz and her husband had read them and enjoyed them.  Ryann (who is now 12-years-old) was 9-months old at the time.  Because I often read while putting her down to sleep with my favorite lullaby music playing, to this day when I hear the music from this CD, I am instantly transported back to the days when Harry Potter, and my little Ryann, were new-I get a little choked up.  It seems like it was yesterday and 100 years ago.

The book release parties were the best; especially towards the final books.  There wasn't much going on when Goblet of Fire came out, but by the time Deathy Hallows was published, the parties were over-the-top FUN.  When the 7th book was released, we (me, Ryann, Chase and my mom) attended the party at Schuler Book Store in Grand Rapids.  Schuler a very large, family-owned book store.  It is my favorite book stores on the planet and I knew that the book release party would be over-the-top terrific fantastic.   The party was coordinated a professional Potter Party Planner AKA the chick with all the
Emma at London Premier
last week
(Potter)phernalia needed to host an authentic, prefectly good party.  And it was worth it.  The decorations were spectacular with a stable of brooms hanging from the ceiling, potion bottles of all shapes and sizes towering over the book shelves, the flags from the four Houses of Hogwarts were hanging from the ceiling, there was a menagerie of stuffed owls and snakes, wands and caldrons, and even a live animal or two.  There were crafts to be made and costumes to be judged.  The staff all wore costumes, adding to the festive atmosphere, and even the little cafe joined in the fun-serving cauldron cakes, pumpkin juice, and Butterbeer.  My kids were dressed up.  Ryann had an elaborate Hermione costume I had made for Halloween but Chase had nothing.  At 8:30 that evening I ran through the mall trying to find round-len glasses.  I was having no luck and panicking as I ran by Build-a-Bear I
Daniel in London
last week
Daniel in first movie
10 years ago.
happened to glance over and see the exact pair I needed on their bear wizard. But it was 9 pm and the gate was down.  I begged the woman to let me in- explaining that I needed those glasses right now or my little Harry would look like little Chase.  Thankfully she let me, rang me up,  and I was on my way.  I added his little black dress pants and white shirt and an eyeliner scar and off we went.  So, so, so much fun… though in all honesty, the butterbeer was terrible.  As with all the release parties we attended over the years, we got in line at about 11:45 pm and waited for the countdown.  At one minute before midnight, we collectively counted down to midnight, at which time we were handed a copy of Deathly Hallows and out the door we went.  Even Chase, then only 15-months old, made it through the evening without a meltdown and with his HP glasses intact).  Once home I had to decide: stay up and read or go to bed, wake early and read? Hmmmm….. I will admit now that I did take a peek at the epilogue, saw Harry's name, breathed a sigh of relief, and commenced reading chapter 1 and 2 before going to bed.  I didn't want a repeat of the shock that occurred when Dumbledore died in Half Blood Prince.

The Late Richard Harris
New York Premier 7/11
Although movies based on books- even best selling, over-the-top terrific books, have been horrifically bad.  Thankfully, the Harry Potter movies have done the books justice.  They were able to keep the entire cast consistent (with the exception of the loss of Richard Harris, whom I think embodied Dumbledore).  At the London premiere of Deathly Hallows last week, Emma Watson, aka Hermione Granger, was quote as saying "Daniel you are Harry Potter"  I couldn't agree more.  She broke down in tears later that evening.  I can't imagine working on a magical movie set- with the same actors, producers, animals, technicians, and assorted other movie people- for a decade and that decade accounted for 1/2 of your life….. the definition of bittersweet.

London Premier last week.
Thankfully, for those too young during the decade that was Harry Potter, the books and movies will live on.  It is amazing how many, products, games, crafts, foods, costumes, blah blah blah have been inspired by the stories.   Some of my favorite include:

Last month, JK Rowling announced the plans for Pottermore.  She describe it as a totally free, safe environment where fans can go to discuss all things Harry, Hermione, Hedwig, and Hogwarts.  The site, which will go live in October, will allow fans to order e-books of the series for the first time, interact with other readers, and learn about the background stories of various characters.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Universal Orlando opened their version of JK Rowlings imagination in 2010.   This is certainly on my "bucket list" of things to do and see.  I can't believe I can actually go inside Hogwarts or shop at Hogsmeade.

The Crafting World of Harry Potter
One only needs to enter "Harry Potter" in the search bar at either Etsy or Ebay to realize the vast array of products related to the boy wizard and his fight against Lord Voldemort.  I love to see what Etsy artists are designing….so many really, really cool pieces of art, jewelry and clothing items.  Some of the more interesting objects d'art I found on Etsy today include:
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Harry's Food Favorites

Butterbeer Jelly Shot from Rock Ur Party
Butterbeer Jelly Shot
One of my favorite blogs is Jelly Shot Test Kitchen.  I love it, not because I make the recipes, but because they are so freaking gorgeous.  The blogger/recipologist Michelle, reinterprets a cocktail as a "jelly shot"; not to be confused with the "Jello Shot".  Michelle goes old school, making her jelly's with gelatin and fruit juice all spiced up with alcohol.  I assume they taste fabulous but her true gift is the way she makes each shot look like a little jewel.  Today, she went all Harrypolooza and posted Harry-inspired recipes on both her blog and as guest blogger at rock ur party.  
On her own blog she posted her version of Chocolate Frogs.  How flipping' cool are those.  Part crazy, part disgusting, and I'm sure part flavor explosion.  I love the imagination and ingenuity of this woman.  
The inspiration for this blog, besides Harry himself, was a link I saw in my daily "Craftzine" email.  They profiled an artist named Justin who makes what he calls "cinemagraphs"; pictures with one part that moves while the rest is a still photo.  How Harry Potter is that?  Oh my, the pictures featured in the email made my heart pitter patter.  Justin even shares his instructions for making the magical little photos- essentially he uses a GIF file in the midst of the photo.  You can see some amazing moving pictures at his Tumblr page.  I can't figure out how to import a picture into my blog so you have to go to his Tumblr to view them but it is worth it.

I have 2 tickets to Deathly Hallow Friday at the midnight showing.  I can't wait….. are you planning on going to the midnight show?

Laters Baby,


  1. Love this post! I love Harry Potter too and I'm a little sad to see it all end this weekend with the last movie. Mr.K and I plan on going to see Deathly Hallows on Friday for our datenight. Have fun!Talk with you soon!

  2. walking here with a smile.. have a nice day ~ =D

    Regards, (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..

  3. I have guests for the next week and a half and will catch the movie after they leave.


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