Friday, November 28, 2008

Duffman and Sushi (Costumes)

I was on a great blogging streak and then got sick (again) from the kiddos at work and it fell off my list of priorities. I'm better now and have a couple of extra days off for Thanksgiving so here is a big bonus post with photos on the Halloween costumes I created this year:

The weekend before Halloween a friend and I decided we were going to come up with original costumes and make them ourselves. She settled on a slot machine and I was to be a piece of sushi (it was this, a Lego piece or a box of wine). I also offered to make a Duffman costume for the boy, so I was pretty booked for the week.

I did the costumes piece by piece whenever I had free time and didn't take enough pictures for a play-by-play but here are the finished products and a description of how I made them:
Award-winning homemade Duffman costume in all its glory (this is a character from the Simpsons, if you're not up on your cartoon trivia)

From head to toe:
Hat: a $2 women's red baseball cap with a printout of the Duff logo glued on
Cheap-o sunglasses
Cape: a large rectangular piece of red fabric tied at the neck
Shirt: I painted the Duff logo on a plain light blue shirt from Michael's by making a stencil out of freezer paper (easy way to create any design on fabric - I'll do a tutorial on this sometime soon)
Belt: took a cheap canvass belt, emptied Diet Coke cans and covered them with red construction paper and computer printed Duff logos, used fabric glue to attach to belt
Underwear and sweatpants bought from Walmart in men's and women's sections, respectively (seriously)
Boots: old combat boots laying around the house + white spray paint


Here is a shot of sushi (awkward pose - I was told to "act like your costume" and was thinking "please don't eat me").

Seaweed: 2 pieces of black poster board, stapled together, trimmed a bit shorter, and glued to makeshift ribbon suspenders. It was sprayed with dark green glossy spray paint (the paint is optional but added a nice sheen and a slightly more realistic color)
Rice: cluster fiber stuffing (usually used to stuff toys and pillows)
Tuna/avocado pieces: tissue paper glued to cardboard
Roe (fish eggs): ping pong balls painted with fluorescent orange spray paint and glued to a hat using a combo of fabric glue and spray adhesive (it took several layers of spray while the hat was put on a baking bowl to keep its shape)
Wasabi: 2 pieces of lime green foam cut into the shape and sewed together (this acted as a purse as well
Ginger: light pink felt cut into rectangle with round corners, glue to wasabi in crinkled fashion


I don't like to support Walmart and usually avoid shopping there but I was working with a short deadline and didn't have time to shop around thrift stores or other places. Next year I will definitely focus on repurposing old/secondhand materials instead of buying new stuff.

P.S. Check out this site for ideas next time you're going to a costume party! It has tons of original and creative homemade costumes.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

No More Phonebooks!


Finally! No more phone books. If you're like me and rely more on Google than the yellow pages, go to this site to opt out of receiving them and stop wasting all that paper!


Photo courtesy of yellowpagesgoesgreen.org

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cottontail Cottage: A Rabbit Haven

Meet Cinnamon


This is what Cinnamon's boxes used to look like
(plus a gratuitous cute sleeping bunny pic)


Enter Cottontail Cottage, a 3 story palace made of double-wall chew-safe cardboard


Checking it out...


Look, a window!


It took her a few days, but she made it to the roof


For all you rabbit lovers out there, Cottontail Cottage is both Cinnamon- and Steph-approved (no more flakes and pieces of cardboard everywhere!).


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Inspiration

Sunday was a perfect fall day; sunny and clear with a crisp chill to the air. I went for a walk with a girlfriend down to a pond and was immediately inspired to return with my camera. It was an hour or so before sunset and the light was wonderful. It was an inspirational, peaceful and calming (not to mention spontaneous and free!) way to indulge my creative side.

Here are some highlights:Walking down the bike path...


The light was filtering perfectly through the leaves


Peaceful pond


This spontaneous photo shoot definitely re-sparked my interest in photography. I love taking pictures but am self-taught and don't know much about lighting, angles, editing, etc. I'm thinking about taking a digital photography class at the local community college next semester to learn more and improve my photos. Either way I love the way these shots came out and plan on framing a couple of them. I hope you enjoy them!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Low-Fat Whole Wheat (but still delicious) Carrot Muffins

I had 4 giant leftover carrots from the cake in the previous post. What to do?

I figured my options were:
feed them to my bunny (pictured mid-bite with her 2nd favorite treat) and/or make random dishes with shredded carrot.

Since both of these options would surely fail to use up 5 cups of shredded carrot before they went bad, I turned to baking. After searching for a healthy version of carrot bread, I came upon a recipe for low-fat carrot muffins using whole wheat flour on RecipeZaar.

After doubling the recipe to use up all the carrots, I had 23 muffins, half of which got a drizzle of reduced-fat cream cheese icing (about 2 T reduced-fat cream cheese, 3 T powdered sugar, 2 T milk - adjust ingredients as needed to make the right consistency):


Here's the recipe with a few adjustments:
* 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 2-4 teaspoons cinnamon**
* 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 1 egg, slightly beaten
* 3 tablespoons oil
* 2 teaspoons vanilla
* 1/2 cup nonfat milk
* 1 8 oz can crushed pineapple,
well drained (I forgot to drain it and ended up squeezing moisture out of my carrot-pineapple mixture)
* 1 1/2 cups grated carrots
* 1/2 cup raisins

1. Set oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners or spray tins with non-stick cooking spray.
3. In a large bowl mix together first 7 ingredients.
4. In a small bowl whisk together egg, oil, milk and vanilla.
5. In a medium bowl mix the shredded carrots with the crushed pineapple.
6. Add in the oil/egg mixture into the carrot/pineapple mixture; mix well to combine, then add to the dry ingredients; mix JUST until combined.
7. Add in the raisins.
8. Divide the mixture between the 12 muffin tins.
9. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the muffins test done.

**The original recipe called for 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, but it's my favorite spice and I always add way more than I'm supposed to. Do whatever you feel is right ;)



Of course, the bunny (aptly named Cinnamon, a.k.a. Cinnabun) still got her treats too:

She's kinda spoiled ;)

Carrot Birthday Cake

My friend Jen's birthday fell over 4th of July weekend and she requested I bring a baked good to her BBQ. So of course I wanted to make her a fabulous birthday cake using my new decorating tips. At first I tried to go the cheap & easy route and looked for a cake recipe with ingredients I already had at home, but then I remembered her all-time favorite: carrot cake. After searching around the 'net for a good recipe, I decided to go all out and grate whole carrots instead of getting pre-shredded (well, I decided this after the boy pointed out our nifty lil' food processor came with a grating attachment), and of course make everything else from scratch. I only mention this because I bought 7 big carrots so I wouldn't run out and ended up only needing 3 (yes, there was 1 whole cup of grated carrot in each one of those bad boys!) so that led to my next post, making 2 dozen carrot muffins.

Annnnyway, on to pictures, decorations, recipe and review:
The top of the cake, in the cake box I got for free from a grocery store (makes it so much easier to transport plus it looks all professional and store-bought)


All lit up with matching candles! This happened by pure luck, as I found them hidden in my cupboard and they happened to match the frosting I'd already made.

I can't locate the cake recipe I used :(. I have a bad habit of using a recipe and then just closing the window without bookmarking it. Now that I'm blogging I'll have to be more diligent about saving recipes and taking pictures. I do remember that the recipe did not use crushed pineapple, which surprised me because I've always used that in carrot cakes. I used a basic cream cheese frosting (with Neufch√Ętel, which has 1/3 less fat than regular), which was good but a little too sweet. For the pink parts I used good ol' buttercream because that was thicker and easier for piping.

Friday, July 11, 2008

First post!

I love reading blogs, especially wedding and craft centered ones, so here I am. I get a creative urge every couple of weeks and have been exploring different crafts and creative outlets, including photography, baking, painting designs on clothing, making ornaments and costumes. Now that I'm a couple years out of college and living with my partner, I'm also starting to get into decorating the house and making it look a little better than just mismatched hand-me-down furniture lingering from our college days.
I've always loved baking, although I often lack the time and motivation nowadays to make anything, unless I have people to share the goodies with. Here are some cakes and other goodies I've made in the past...



Birthday cake for a chocoholic: chocolate cake with chocolate and raspberry ganache filling and chocolate frosting


Corset cake for a friend's bachelorette party


Stork cake for a friend who is pregnant


Flourless chocolate cupcakes with fresh strawberries and powdered sugar