Saturday, October 31, 2015

Monster eyes...are watching you! Watching your every mooooove...

It's Halloween!  Since I'm being lazy and staying in pajamas until after lunch, I thought I'd go ahead and do a quick blog post in case anyone needs a last-minute Halloween dessert for a party later.  I'll start with the monster eyeball cake I made for Todd's work this week.  The inspiration came from Haniela's web site, and I got the recipe from Baking Bites - although an vanilla loaf cake/pound cake recipe will do.  The original web site isn't clear, but you'll need to make about 2 1/2 loaf cakes!  I learned this the hard way at the last minute.

First:  mix up one loaf cake recipe.  You'll be separating it into thirds, but definitely make one a lot bigger and one fairly small.  Color one side green (this will be the monster iris), the smallest side black (for the pupil), and toss some colored jimmies into the white batter.  Spread it onto a VERY WELL-SPRAYED COOKIE SHEET (I learned this the hard way too) and bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Use large, smaller, and smallest cookie cutters to cut out the parts.  I used a football shape for the white of the eye and the cap to my vanilla for the pupil.  Piece them together...

...and freeze for 4 hours.  I just couldn't find the right size for the iris, and I didn't have time to linger over this irritating detail, so I just made do.

Meanwhile, mix up your other 1 1/2 loaf recipe and color it purple.  After your eyeballs are frozen, line them up like little soldiers in the bottom of the loaf pan and pour the purple batter around them.  See, I didn't bother to make the other 1/2 recipe and I didn't have enough batter to really cover the eyeballs.  What is shown = one loaf recipe.

You get a nice rise during baking...but for me, not nice enough.

Oh, well, frosting covers a multitude of sins.

I used the grass/hair tip to make monster hair, but I couldn't seem to make it work on the sides of the loaf.  I think my icing was too stiff.  Again, short on time, so I just gave it a flat finish.

At least the top looked cool.

I used some royal icing eyes I had stashed.  Todd took it to work and got rave reviews!  Even though my eyeballs were unbalanced because I didn't have the right size cookie cutters, and even though I was too impatient to add another 1/2 loaf's worth of batter, you could still see that you had a MONSTER EYEBALL looking up from each cake slice!

For my "official" Halloween treat this year, I decided to make cookies - a spider on its web.  I had cookie cutters for both.  The spider web is easy.  Bake the cookie, outline with a thicker royal frosting, and fill it in with a thinner version.  While still wet, spiral-swirl black frosting in the center...

Take a toothpick and, starting from the center, drag out to each point.


Outline your spiders with thicker frosting...

...fill them in with the thinner version, and pop some royal icing eyes in.

Squiggly mouth comes after everything dries.  The final result?  Love.  

At our house today, we've got our decorations up.  Creepy glitter ravens...

Hands poking out of every drawer and cabinet...

...and lots of "miscellaneous."

Games (and some work, sigh) today, and a scary movie marathon tonight!  Even though I'm not eating sugar, we are going to load up on some guilty-pleasure carbs.  Haunted bagels, anyone?

Happy Halloween!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How much wood...?

Oh happy rainy autumn morning!  The cool weather has brought a lovely change to our back yard.

The tree directly outside our sun room door is such a vibrant yellow.  This is definitely our favorite room of the house, and certain times of year, like the fall, are even better!

There's still enough sun to keep the cats happy...

...but it's finally cool (and delightfully mosquito-free) enough to get outside and move around comfortably.  Todd finally moved the kayaks outside...

...and built a rack in our carport.  Easy access means more time on the water!

Cooler nights mean fires down by the water, too.

We have our intrepid guard dog...

...and "the thinker," trying unsuccessfully to best me at Scrabble.

There's a new creature in our little animal kingdom here that I've been seeing more and more...a woodchuck (groundhog)!  He is irritatingly difficult to photograph.  By the time I see him, fumble with my lens, and take that first shaky shot (just like when making crepes, the first one's always a goner)...

...he's scampering off into the woods.

The other day I caught him running down a tree trunk (woodchucks climb trees?!?) before escaping into the brush.  Why are they called groundhogs?  From Scientific American:

"Groundhogs are also variously referred to as woodchucks, whistle-pigs, or land-beavers. The name whistle-pig comes from the fact that, when alarmed, a groundhog will emit a high-pitched whistle as a warning to the rest of his or her colony. The name woodchuck has nothing to do with wood. Or chucking. It is derived from the Algonquian name for the critters, wuchak."

Pretty interesting!  I'm going to keep my camera ready and hopefully I can get a good shot!

I've been moving forward in my quilting class.  First we made a crazy quilt square.  My square is a sad commentary on what happens when you stretch some fabric to fit and let other fabric lay slack.  Sigh.

Onto the next project.  We were given four 12" squares of paper and 4 black strips.  The black strips were sewn diagonally through the middle, and strips of random sizes and patterns sewn on, all in a row, until the square was covered.  Then it was trimmed, ironed, and paper removed from back.  Once all 4 squares were done, they were sewn together to make a pillow front. 

I thought it would look awful, but it's kind of growing on me.  Sorry for the poor picture's very overcast today.

I also embroidered a little sign for a friend who just had a baby and sewed fabric strips on the edges to make a little frame.

I used stem stitch to embroider the name 'dovey,' but in hindsight it was too clunky for such a small space.  If I could do it again, I'd use a straight stitch or back stitch to make it more simple. 

In other craft news, I made this card for another friend's birthday recently.  I blew up the image on the computer screen, traced it, cut out all the parts, and glued them together.  The sentiment was a mishmash of various Viking puns I found online.  I love it! 

Of course, I spent my entire weekend baking and decorating Halloween cookies, and I have a little more to do this week.  I'll try to do a Halloween blog post later this week with all the ideas. 

Have a great week!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Gingham and Gingersnaps

We've been enjoying the slowly cooling temperatures and the sunshine.  Well, not quite as much as Bosewichte.

More leaves turning...

I found this wire candle holder at a thrift store for fifty cents. 

Normally I don't like wire things but there was something about it that inspired me to buy.  I made a little fall vignette with it.

I decided to go set up our "fall table" as well.  Almost everything on it is thrifted except for the pumpkins and salt/pepper shakers.

Keeping with the theme, I roasted a pie pumpkin and some butternut squash...

...mixed in some curry, cinnamon, chili powder, onions, garlic, homemade veggie broth and cream...and made soup!

Perfect after a long day of yard work.

Outside, it was nice to see the camellias starting to open up.

Welcome back, old friends!

I haven't baked for a while because it's been so busy, but yesterday I took a little time to make soft spicy pumpkin gingersnaps for Todd's office.

I'm currently on a sugar fast so I couldn't even lick the bowl, but Todd assured me that they were indeed soft, spicy, and delicious!

As I mentioned earlier, I have been absolutely swamped with work, working late into the evening (well, 8 p.m., which is late for me!) most nights.  I've also been dying to work on sewing projects this fall.  They're accomplished in little spurts, unless it's an incredibly quick project.  I did one such project yesterday.  I had a huge light plaid pillow on the couch, and I was bemoaning the fact that I was going to have to put it away until spring because I wanted to have fall colors out.  Todd said, quite reasonably, "Why don't you just make another cover for it for fall?"

I pulled an old plaid shirt out of my fabric stash and spent about 15 minutes seaming up the sides.  The pillow popped right in.  Because one side is buttoned, I can easily insert and remove the pillow when I want to show its spring colors.  An easy and quick project!

I've also been stealing away to work on my quilt, a few minutes at a time.  I love the gingham.  The dots, not so much, but I have high hopes for the overall effect.

Hope you're having lovely fall days too.  Have a great week!