baking

I want my mummy!

I’ll keep this short, because who wants to read about cupcakes when they could be assembling last-minute Halloween costumes?  (Speaking of which: according to WordPress stats, people are finding this blog by searching “Dolores Haze costume”.  This makes my day in ways you cannot imagine.  I wish I didn’t already have a costume lined up myself; there are at least a couple of people who would appreciate the reference.)

But…following my last rant about overpriced festive bake kits at Target, I saw an equally overpriced kit at Chapters to make mummy cupcakes.  The kit made 12, and it cost $10.50.  And, okay, yes it came with candy eyes, but how important are those to the overall integrity of the finished product?  And do they really taste like much?  So I broke out my trusty chocolate cupcake recipe as well as that for buttercream icing, and made my own, no doubt tastier, version.

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I used a basketweave tip (Wilton #47, I think) to pipe on the bandages.  That was tricky!  I’m a big fan of symmetry and pattern, and to try to maintain a random order of bandage direction?  Killer!  The eyes are mini chocolate chips, and the mouth is red gel food colouring applied with a toothpick (my parents’ idea; before they suggested it, my mummies had a bit of a Hello Kitty vibe and no mouth to speak – ha! – of).

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(Yes, that’s my mummy holding my mummies.)

Have a safe and happy Halloween, everyone!

baking

Because black cake is nothing if not festive

Ahhh….I love Halloween.  I might have mentioned that before, but it bears repeating.  This is an entire day where you’re expected to wear a costume and eat candy.  If television would air Technicolor-filmed musicals all day instead of horror flicks, it just might be the perfect day.  And I don’t let being an adult (ha!) with a career (ha!  ha!) stop me – I’m shameless, and will show up to work in costume even if I’m the only one in the whole office who’s dressed up.

While browsing the Halloween department at Target recently, I was a little disappointed.  Sure, Tar-zhay had some different costumes than WalMart (for which I have yet to come up with an adorable, French-sounding pronunciation), but their candy selection was rather mundane.  Same old, same old – and nary an Eat-More in sight.  (These are a precious, precious commodity, and I would trade my strictly hypothetical firstborn for a bag of the minis.)

Ah, but they did have some different food preparation products – juice blends with ghoulish names, a set of four different sprinkles in test tubes, some cake mixes.  One that caught my eye made an orange-and-black marble cake with purplish icing.  Cute.  The price?  $7.99.  Eight bucks for something I could do myself?  No way was I paying that kind of money!  So I came up with this:

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This is the basic marble recipe from…well, you know.  I used gel food colouring to get the batters just the right shades, and then proceeded to fill and swirl as usual.

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With purple icing!  Clearly, my marbling skills need work; this one looks mostly orange.

Now the only hurdle to clear is whether my test audience finds black cake appetizing or not.  Come on, it’s chocolate….

baking

That old black [cat] magic has me in its spell….

While most crafty/cook-y bloggers are no doubt posting homemade cornucopia centrepieces or locavore turkey and stuffing recipes this weekend, I decided to bypass Thanksgiving entirely in favour of Halloween, which is frankly far more fun.

From the instant I first saw the recipe for Black Cat Cookies in Hannah Kaminsky’s Vegan Desserts, I knew I had to make them.  Because…OMG…cats and cookies?  That’s pretty much a whole-package dessert right there.  And yeah, I realize it’s just a jazzed-up chocolate cookie, but I loved the inclusion of black cocoa powder to get that deep colour.

I vant to suck your blood...

I probably should have used a metal cookie cutter instead of a plastic one with little details etched right in, since I found the dough just a tad sticky and difficult to use with the cutter I chose (my fault – I added more liquid than the recipe called for when my dough wasn’t coming together as nicely as I had hoped).  But any headache I may have had while rolling and cutting paid off later when I didn’t have to frost-in any features.

Okay, so they’re not quite black, but a deep brown.  But I found a no-frosting-necessary way to make them look darker:

Flip the background fabric around!  Score one for innovation!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cross-stitch and Embroidery, General Sewing

She’s got the moon in her eye

When I first found this pattern, I was abruptly reminded of driving to the grocery store with my mother, my cousin and I sitting in the backseat, singing along with the golden oldies on the radio.  When the Eagles came on, my cousin went right on singing, labouring under the delusion that the woman they were singing about was itchy, not witchy, and then interrupted herself to wonder aloud just why she was so itchy in the first place.  (The unspoken consensus in the backseat seemed to be VD, although this is an archaic term that we didn’t actually know back then.) From the front seat, my mother pointed out that the woman was in fact witchy, not itchy, and this put rather a kibosh on our impromptu concert.

After completing “Scaredy Cats” from the Just Cross Stitch Halloween issue, I tackled “Witchy Kitty” by Brittercup Designs, and then turned it into a cute l’il pillow ornament.

I used plain old DMC threads instead of the fancy-pants overdyed ones recommended in the instructions, but I think it looks just as good.  The one thing I’m particularly proud of is using Kreinik glow-in-the-dark fine braid to do her potion; it makes the piece really pop.  I fashioned a corded hanger using the same colours I used in the design, and then….

….I backed it with some wicked cool fabric with glow-in-the-dark kitteh eyes on it before stuffing it.  I now have the better part of .3 metres of that stuff in my stash, and I’m going to have to find a project for the rest of it.

Happy Halloween!

(And now the Christmas stitching begins…!)

Cross-stitch and Embroidery

It’s ghoulicious!

According to the editor of Just Cross Stitch magazine, Halloween is the second most popular occasion to stitch for.  I don’t know whether the sample size for this pronouncement includes only readers of this particular publication, or stitchers in general, but that still can’t dissuade me from devouring the annual Halloween ornament issue.  My mother decided she liked “Scaredy Cats” by Val’s Stuff, so I stitched it for her:

I did not have 30-count Peoria Purple in my stash as prescribed in the magazine, but lo, 14-count Lavender Whisper aida still lends a bit of colour.  I layered the finished piece on top of two pieces of stiff, sparkly felt, and slipped a loop of black ribbon in between the black and purple felt to make a hanger.  I also tweaked the “a”s and the “s” in “cats” to make them slightly less blocky, but that was just a personal choice.

It now hangs in the living room, teasing the living and breathing cats in the house to no end.

Cross-stitch and Embroidery

Bewitched Kitty

I bought this Mill Hill beaded kit last year just after Halloween – thereby eliminating the pressure to have it finished before.  Oh, yes.  I’m clever, I am.  After finishing one of my UFOs (pictures still forthcoming), I thought it was time for a quick-stitch project that would provide almost instant gratification.  And right I was!

It’s actually pretty tiny, maybe 2 1/2 inches tall.  The kit came with a pin back, but honestly, I’d be paranoid about something happening to it (flimsy perforated paper, delicate beads, potentially de-secured thread tails – ack!), so I used one of Kreinik’s new holographic threads to make a hanger and turn it into an ornament instead.

My own bewitched kitties seem quite enthralled with it, as the living-room sun glints off the beads, so it’s now hung safely out of harm’s way.

General Sewing

Halloween ahoy!

I do love Halloween – I think it may very well be my favourite holiday.  The stores stay open, no dopey special dinners required…and you get to wear a costume and consume unholy amounts of sugar!  More holidays should be like that.

Anyway, I’m showing up at work tomorrow as a somewhat contemporary (assuming this is somewhere in the late 1940s) Little Red Riding Hood.  I’ve had the pattern for the cape for a while, but only just got around to making it.  See, I found this sweet gingham square-dance dress (according to the tag) at a vintage store, and immediately fell in love with it as it reminded me of something that Vladimir Nabokov’s Dolores Haze might wear.  However, I had the sneaking suspicion that if I showed up wearing the dress and had to answer the inevitable “What are you?” with “Lolita”, I’d be subjecting myself to a barrage of “But what’s your costume?” and so on.  Just a hunch.  *sigh*  The cape was a very necessary addition, using a Simplicity pattern whose number escapes me at the moment, and made from (believe it or not) an old satin sheet.

So I decided to reinterpret Red Riding Hood as a slightly more modern girl.  She’s going to be a bobby-soxer, with saddle shoes and cuffed white socks, a nifty wicker lunchbox-cum-purse instead of that boring old basket, and hopefully a knowing gleam in her eye as she fends off the office wolves.  *snerk*

Modeling the requisite red satin cape, made with my own two hands, over the nymphettish dress, is my dress form Dolores (herself named after little Miss Haze).  Please ignore the blurry background, as I chose to smudge the clutter out rather than actually, you know, tidy up.

...you sure are looking good...