Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

So, here's how one looks after a sleep deprived evening finishing one's Catwoman mask.

Since this mask is looser than the other one, I added a button to the back so I could tighten it once it was on.  Naturally, it is a button I found that could potentially become incredibly necessary, but that I feel is better used to tighten my Catwoman mask.

The real Catwoman may have a natural affinity to cats, but my mask seemed to upset Zoot.  Which is good since I didn't want to get light colored cat hair on my crime-committing suit.

Also in this picture you can see the sewing machine that broke before the dress was finished.  The actual dress was a very last minute purchase from the dancewear store under Premiere Costumes.  I'm pretty sure it's liturgical dancewear, but it probably isn't when you wear boots and carry a cat o' nine tails.

Apparently I don't have any pictures with the cape my mother made.  I made two cat's head pins out of felt to attach the cape (since the collar was canceled).  I got the idea from this costume variant, but I remembered it wrong.

I'd like to alter it to try to put a slit in the dress, but I can't sew and I suspect the seamstress might be reluctant.  And dancewear is expensive, yo, so I'm reluctant to try it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Your Face is Your Fortune

There's nothing quite like the quiet dignity and grace of dragging a scrap of fabric up and down Ben Franklin's yarn section so you can get the right color for your Catwoman mask.  Golden Age Catwoman, not Batman: The Animated Series Catwoman.  TAS Catwoman was like, so two months ago.

Still, it could be worse; my nose could be gushing blood I could have one of these masks.  I am old enough to remember the tail end of the "plastic mask+plastic smock with a picture of who you're supposed to be" era of children's Halloween costumes.  I remember being absolutely thrilled to have a store bought Moondreamer costume, not some lame costume my mom made me that actually looked like the thing I was supposed to be and didn't obscure my vision!

Like everything I loved as a child, Moondreamers was a cartoon that existed to make me want to buy things.  It had something to do with space and possibly lessons about "teamwork".

If this picture isn't my actual costume, it's probably pretty close.  As you can see in the picture of the character on the tunic's crotch, she didn't actually have the Moondreamers logo or a picture of herself on her crotch in the actual cartoon.

Anyway, it's the Black Kitty Hat pattern, with the same alterations for my enormous brain.  I tried to make an opening in the back for my hair, but that didn't work.

This time I used Lion Brand Wool Ease instead of Red Heart, and for some reason I was able to do the connecting chain thing and still pull the mask over my head.  I think this yarn has more stretch to it.

Despite the solemn vow I made during my last Catwoman project, I did not actually crochet the eye holes straight onto the mask because that would probably have taken careful planning and spatial reasoning skills.  I made a chain and decided that maybe I'd make another chain.

I figured trying to sew things to a mask currently on my face was a bad idea.  Especially since if I stabbed myself in the eye with a needle, I would have to explain that it happened while I was trying to sew a Catwoman mask I was wearing.  Also, I might get blood on my mask.

I would need some method of attaching one item to another item so that I would be able to sew them together while not at risk of yet another moronic injury.  Pins!  But the kind of pins that would not horribly backfire when you removed your Catwoman mask or your analrapist head-stocking.  Safety pins!

You know you've made the right choices in life when you find yourself wearing a crocheted hood with a string pinned to it while crocheting another string from the other side of the yarn.

Eventually I'm going to have to figure out that "MySpace angle" all the kids are using.

If you look closely, you may notice that my mask does not actually hide my identity unless you are unable to recognize facial features or we are in a manga (which I guess is kind of the same thing).

I wasn't happy with the way the eyes turned out on the last mask, so this time I decided to err on the side of too big/completely useless if I try to steal something.  I might do something about this, but then again I am incredibly lazy.

I think the most important lesson I've learned is don't sew your ears to your mask without checking how it looks.  Because then you will get to know the joy of removing the ears while terrified you will accidentally cut into the base of the mask and have to start all over.

I guess finished pics after the holiday?  I feel like you'll all be much more impressed with the finished project if you only think about me staring at you with my dead eyes like the world's least impressive Mexican wrestler.

Monday, October 18, 2010

BATS--The big, bug scourge of the skies!

Friday was this month's Movable Feast, so I decided to be nice and bring in food.  And by "be nice", I own too much Halloween themed baking shit, and I'm probably not going to have a party this year.  Also, I assume "bring in food" is roughly equivalent to "donate money for all the free wine I intend to guzzle".

I assume we all have fond memories of ghost cakes from Halloween Past.  The only thing to say is that trying to find the pan instructions on the Wilton website is a pain in the ass.  Seriously, why do I get Spooky Cinnamon Rolls before I get "here is how to bake things in this pan"?  Wilton's instructions also assume I have the fortitude to bake 18-20 ghost cakes, which would require washing the pan multiple times during baking rather than putting it in the sink and waiting for the mythical Brownies to clean it.  (IMPORTANT: Do not say any stupid poems and look in a reflective surface or you will learn an important lesson about performing household drudgery.)

I have no idea why I don't remember to always just put melt the frosting (especially if the structural integrity of your cake surface is less than ideal).  Take the top off, make sure there's no foil on the can, and stick it in the microwave for 30.  Stir, and enjoy a smooth, glossy texture.

The tormented souls doomed to wander the Earth on the right have melted frosting.  Those miserable spirits trapped between worlds on the left have room temperature frosting.

If you're not going to let some baking goods company boss you around and are only capable of enough motivation to make 6 ghosts, you'll have enough cake batter left to make 12+ cupcakes.

I'm not really happy with the purple frosting.  It's paler than I'd hoped, and I want you to know that I was most generous with the concentrated "violet" icing color.

Wilton started selling molds for candy picks for those of you who feel that a single serving of frosted cake does not provide enough sugar.  And for jerks like me.

And they've got bats.  I could bake cupcakes in bat-baking cups and then put bat-candies on top of them!  And then after Halloween, I can just make non-holiday themed Bat-cupcakes!

Unfortunately, the Bat Candypick Mold does not come with the Dark Knight's tactical mind or even the Dominoed Daredoll's shopping abilities because it turned out that I had just enough orange candy melts to make 7 bat-candies.  There are 12 11 cupcakes.  I'm not so good with the math, but I suspect that 7 is not 12 11.

Today's candy-related blonde moment: I have red candy melts and yellow candy melts.  Red and yellow make orange.  There must be some way to turn this to my advantage...

(The candy mixing reminds me of my grandfather's Kodak retirement party)

When you're making orange, you generally want to use more yellow than red.  However, it is possible to mix red candy melts with yellow candy melts to make orange candies.  The message here is that arts education is important and is useful in the real world.

Although a bigger problem for me seems to be remembering not to fill the entire candy mold when I only need 5 4 stupid candy picks.  Damn it, I really am horrible at math.

Bootleg Orange is a little bit darker than Licensed Orange (and it's just now occurred to me that I'm not actually using Wilton Brand Candy Melts, but their Ben Franklin cousin.  Fortunately, I enjoy verbally undermining copyrights).  I assume this is the sort of thing that nobody cares about.

  Next super-important problem to solve: what does one do with spare candypicks?  The options are either bring them tonight or chuck them in with the candy-coated cookies I'm definitely not going to forget to bring to karate again.

 I did think about bringing the cookies with me tonight, but I figure there's a difference between my definition of nice and the sad, desperate girl with no friends who bakes all day.

Friday, October 15, 2010

612 Wharf Avenue

Have I complained about Blogger's new photo uploader?  Because I should.  But I'm going to complain about other, epically important things instead.

It's Halloween season, which means it's once again time for candy-covered Oreos!  Well, candy-covered Store Brand Chocolate Sandwich Cookies because I'm not made of money.  You're looking at basically an entire package of Store Brand Chocolate Sandwich Cookies that have been pressed into sweet, sweet candy.

There was some confusion about the candy making process in Modernist Literature, so, here's Kate's Old Fashioned Candy Recipe:

  1. Buy a package of candy melts.  Prepare delicious,
  2.  "homemade" candy by opening the package.
  3. Pour candy into bowl and melt in microwave
  4. Spoon candy into plastic tray shaped like things
  5. Tap tray against counter as if this will actually remove the air bubbles
  6. Press Store Brand Chocolate Sandwich Cookies into candy
  7. More tapping
  8. Place tray in refrigerator to set candy
  9. Go watch TV
  10. Remove cookies from tray, using hand or knife to remove any excess candy around the edges (if you are Kate, do not use a knife because you will probably injure yourself and then feel compelled to tell everyone the real, idiotic story rather than making up something with slightly more dignity)
  11. Shamelessly accept compliments on delicious, "handmade" treats

Mixed in among the cookies are skulls.  

I was really excited to find the candy skull mode.  Most of you will assume that this is my usual, world-hating cynicism, but the depressing thing is that I was briefly capable of genuine happiness when I thought about making candy skulls.

What I didn't realize was that the 3-D Candy Skull Mold has 8 cavities, but each skull has two pieces (don't ask me how I interpreted "3-D" when I thought I could make 8 skulls at once.  I don't know either).
This means you can only make 4 skulls at a time.  Another issue is that you put candy in the mold, put it in the fridge to set, and then paint melted candy on the back of one skull piece to "glue" the pieces together.  

Fun fact: the melted candy sets in the fridge, but it will also harden at room temperature  [inappropriate joke]. So, by the time your skull pieces are ready for assembly, you need to melt a small amount of candy.  There's also the issue of whether or not your front and your back will be perfectly flat (Spoiler Warning: They won't be) and getting them to fit together.

They look really good, and if I needed some mindless repetitive task to put off reading British literature, I'd probably get into full sweatshop mode on these...except I think the shape/design of the human skull makes it unable to stay upright in all of its 3-D candy glory.  Once again, I think Wilton is just giving me these impossibly awesome looking pictures so I can be taunted by my candy crafting inadequacies (See also "Painting Candy Details")

Sunday, October 10, 2010

T is for Tiger and Thessaly

 Thessaly's birthday was this weekend, so naturally I started working on a toy for her well in advance and then somehow ended up working until the last minute.

Which is why I have no progress pics.  Anyway, this is a pattern from Amigurumi Two with some modifications.  Shown here, I've just realized, with my first sad attempt at an Ana Paula pattern--Ugly Cup.  Ugly Cup's punishment for my failure is to be jabbed with pins for making me feel bad about myself.

I wish Tina Tiger Hello Tiger's eyes were a bit bigger, but what's the point of having assorted cat eyes if you don't use them?

All of the stripes on her face are individually crocheted and then sewn on.  The muzzle's also a separate piece (the head itself was worked from the top down).  The skirt was something I improvised the night before.  It's worked in double crochet because I was hoping to make the blue border a ripple pattern (like the bag I made for my first Glee swap and the afghan I'm working on now).  Ripples require either multiple rows or advanced math.

Because children's toys are serious business, I decided that this was a female tiger, and the only way to ensure that seemed to be clothing.  If Hello Tiger ever gets a male friend, he's going to be wearing pants since I irrationally dislike female animals wearing clothes while the male animals are naked since that just encourages the idea that male is the default.  Maybe it's not irrational.  Maybe the patriarchy just doesn't want me to use handmade stuffed animals as an outlet for my feminist fury.

Anyway, the original pattern has the tail solid orange like the arms and legs, but I figured it was worth the extra effort to add the stripes.  For those of you playing along at home, start the tail with black yarn (you're starting at the tip that's what she said).  Work about 3-4 rows in black, then change to orange.  I just sort of eyed it to see what would look best.  Also because at some point during the tail I lost count of my stitches.

 Naturally I missed the shot where Hello Tiger is lovingly hugged, but at least Hello Tiger is at least as entertaining as emptying gift bags.  I did consider using the box my new boots came in since the box is always the best part of any present, but do I really want to have it confirmed that you can fit a one year old in the box my shoes came in?

I was really proud of myself for remembering not to carry my Wonder Woman purse while wearing my Wonder Woman shirt...and then I gave a Batman book and a Wonder Woman book along with Hello Tiger.  Clearly I should've gone with my Catwoman shirt to tie all three presents together.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Kitchen of Tomorrow

I think everything I've recently finished/am working on is a present for someone else, so maybe it's time to talk about my spite-present from Kristen.

When I first heard about the The Star Trek Cookbook, I was like, "Making food I have no intention of eating but want to bully others into consuming?  And Star Trek?  I am all about this!"  And then I saw that it involved Neelix.  For those of you who actually go outside and have friends, Neelix is the worst Star Trek character ever.  He is the Snarf of Star Trek.  And based on what I've learned from The Star Trek Cookbook, he is also a teetotaler:

If you're serving this dish to your family, however, and are not out in one of the great national parks on Earth, you probably won't want to include the booze--nor should you--but you can add a down-home Smoky Mountain taste with a product called liquid smoke.

And then there's three different non-alcoholic versions of a drink "reputed to have the devastating impact of a photon torpedo".  None of which look like they'd be anywhere close to the color shown on screen.  (Which seems like an incredibly nerdy objection, but I don't think it's possible to be "jiggy with it", as the kids say, while getting cocktail recipes out of The Star Trek Cookbook.) I assume that, as usual, the answer is vodka and food coloring.

In the spirit of spite, I decided my first Star Trek cooking project should be full of two things Kristen hates: Voyager and mushrooms.  Jeri Ryan's Wild Mushroom Soup is good, but not actually a meal unless you're contractually obligated to stuff yourself into a Borg catsuit.

Food to assimilate:
  • 1 pound assorted mushrooms, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 large russet potato, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, halved and sliced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 quart chicken stock, defatted
  • salt and pepper to taste  for chumps to add to their own damn soup later
I feel there can always be more potatoes, so I grabbed a few red ones instead of one large russet.  I still have absolutely no idea what it means to "defat" chicken stock or how exactly that happens.  Also, you can buy jars of pre-minced garlic.  If this has any effect on the taste, I just want to remind you that there are few things more delicious than laziness.

Sauté the mushrooms, onion, and garlic in 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil (or, my preferred technique, what looks like an appropriate amount) until tender, then add the remaining ingredients.  This is possibly missing a step if you're using bouillon cubes to make your stock (1 cup of water for each cube, 4 cups in a quart)--I sauted the vegetables in a smaller pot while making the stock in a larger one.

The recipe says to let the whole thing simmer on medium-low for about twenty minutes, but the potatoes are still going to be fairly firm (especially if you are an individual and thus incapable of precision dicing).  Put them in the soup while you're sautéing everything else.