Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

I hope you have a safe and happy Halloween!

I normally wear a costume to work on this day, but I just wasn't feeling well when I left this morning. I just didn't have the energy to get into the full regalia today. So I grabbed a pair of bunny ears before I went out the door and just wore them with my regular work clothes.

It's amazing how much attention one gets when one is wearing bunny ears, even on a day when people dress up. The ears made a lot of people smile, and that is a good thing. A lot of people cracked up because all they could see of me were my ears bobbing around over the cubicle walls all day (I'm too short for them to see the rest of me).

I made gingerbread for the first time last night. It was pretty good, but it was a lot of effort for what I got out of it. Way too many steps to prep the ingredients before they even went into the batter. I used my Pampered Chef TM mini-loaf pan to make four loaves. The recipe claims that this does not freeze well. I'm not sure why; maybe it's the chunks of pears that this particular recipe uses in the batter. I may reserve a little dab and freeze it anyway just to see. If it doesn't, I'll need to find a better, freeze-able recipe. The mister and I just can't eat sweets that fast, and it's better to freeze something like that so I can eat it in small portions later. (The zucchini bread I made this summer froze VERY well. I thawed out the last loaf this past weekend, it was just as moist then as it was the day I made it. Maybe I should just stick with that and banana bread.)

I found a great, versatile recipe for a roll-up this week. Basically, you use refrigerated pizza dough (found with the whomp biscuits near the milk), sliced deli ham, and mozzarella cheese. Remove the dough from the can and roll into a rectangle. Sprinkle whatever seasonings you like on it, to within a half inch of the edges. ( I used Italian seasoning, although I will probably vary it as I go.) Then spread thin slices of deli ham ( or turkey or pepperoni or whatever) over the dough, again to within a half inch of the edges. Then sprinkle with shredded cheese. The recipe calls for mozzarella, but you could use any other cheese you like. I want to try it with goat cheese! Then roll it up and pinch the edges shut. Put it on a baking sheet, seam side down, and bake according to the directions on the pizza dough container. Keep an eye on it, because it will burn quickly! Remove from the oven, let it cool for a moment, and slice it up. It will look like little swirls of crust, meat, and cheese. You can eat it like that, or you can make a dip out of salad dressing or spaghetti sauce or whatever takes your fancy. This is good for a snack, a quick dinner, or even lunch. If you try it, let me know what you think!

Oooh, making myself hungry now.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Comfort Food

I've had a rough week so far. I came home today feeling like a freight train had gone through my head. So I made some Appalachian comfort food: a pone of corn bread. Now, if you've never had Southern corn bread, let me describe it for you: it is savory, not sweet like the usual restaurant corn muffins (which I refer to fondly as "Johnny cake"). It's a white corn meal instead of yellow. Lots of butter... if you have a nice cold glass of milk to dip it in, that's even better. Some folks like buttermilk with it, but I prefer sweet milk (translation: regular, non-butter, milk) with mine. I hope to dive into it as soon as the mister gets home from karate.

A few words of advice for first-time Southern-style corn bread bakers:

- Pay attention to the meal that you are buying. I learned the hard way, that there is corn meal (much like you would buy flour) and then there is corn meal mix (kinda like Bisquick, except with corn meal). The mix already has the correct proporations of baking soda, salt, etc., to make it rise. Plain corn meal does not. My favorite mix is Three Rivers. I think it's only a regional brand, though, because in my short stint in Boston a decade ago, I couldnt find anything but Martha White. However, if you are lucky enough to live in a area where Three Rivers is available, I highly recommend it. Most of the measuring work is already done for you, and it is a high quality blend.

- Watch what kind of cooking oil you use in the batter. I advise using a mild-flavored oil, such as canola. I used olive oil once, and I hated it. Now, I am a big fan of olive oil over all, but it just overpowers the corn-breadiness of the batter.

- Be sure to grease the pan well (with butter!) to allow the bread to release when it is done.

- It'll keep on the counter for a couple of days if you put it in a sealed plastic baggie. You can reheat it by wrapping it in a paper towel and nuking it for 10 - 20 seconds, but it is also great cold. It is good for lunch the next day.

- Cast iron skillets are wonderful for cooking it in. They can go in the oven safely and are usually well-seasoned enough to release the bread well. The various pans you can buy to make corn sticks or corn "fish" or corn "cactuses" are fun too.

- Fried corn bread is a delicacy. This is basically pancakes, except you use cornbread batter instead of pancake batter. I don't change the recipe at all from baked corn bread. My daddy loves to make this, line his plate with the cakes, and pour white beans (cooked slowly all day in a crock pot with a ham hock) over them and crumble some more cakes on top... a feast fit for a king!

I haven't been able to work on my costume at all this week. I've had very little time to play at all. Hopefully things will lighten up soon.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Costume Updates

Well, I gave up on the homemade pattern for the gloves and bought a Kwik-Sew pattern. Silly me finally figured out that it doesn't matter if my pinky doesn't fit in a standard glove well... the McKone Raven gloves HAVE NO PINKIES. Why did I forget that?!? Anyhoo, I have a pattern now. Later this week I'm going to try to cut them out of the bolt of spandex lurking in the corner of my study. I'm losing weight slowly, so I'm not ready to cut out the dress part of the Raven outfit just yet. I want it to still fit me when I get to next Labor Day! However, the gloves should not change all that much. I can do them and the cloak (whose size shouldn't change at all), then the boots.

Ah, the boots! With my husband's clever tips, I think I have found a solution to the sole problem for my thigh boots. I have a pair of flat sandals that have served me well for several seasons. The tops are about to fall apart, but the soles are in great condition. I think I will recycle those for my boots. Spandex "hose" + Dr. Scholl's liner + some kind of heel cup + Glue! + soles may give me what I need. They are the right size, and it will be easier to remove the tops from these than from full shoes. He told me that I should take pictures of the process. If it turns out well, I might make an Instructable for it. We'll see how it goes.

I made the basic shirt for the Gar Logan bear last night. I found an old shirt of mine that I didn't wear any more and used it. It wasn't suitable for donation to Goodwill, but it would do nicely for this project. I love to recycle old clothes! I basted it and had him try it on last night, and he was quite happy with it. Later on, I will machine-sew it and add the purple collar, sleeves, and side-and-back panels. I have a piece of purple material from a Fat Quarter that will do nicely. If it turns out well, I'll post the picture of the finished product here.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

You Might Be An Obsessed Gar Logan Fan if...

...if the Fluff-n-Stuff (local version of build-a-bear) has a sale on GREEN BEARS this month. It looks like the one you drew a year ago, so you feel compelled to buy it.

...if you can put a wishing star in it, and you put in a purple one (which will make sense to my fellow members of RBSU)

...and if you don't buy an outfit for it because you intend to go home and sew up a McKone purple and white shirt for him...

GUILTY!!!!! I just need the material for the shirt...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Crafty web site

I found a cool crafty web site last night. I am getting more interested in multiple kinds of crafts -- especially needlework -- and this looks like a great place to get information and post pictures of your own projects:


It is a forum that has many, many members and has lots of great craft ideas.

I no longer have a reason to be bored. At all.

As Archimedes once said, "Give me a bottle of Mod Podge, and I will decoupage the world." Or something like that.

I have started work on the pattern for the McKone Raven opera gloves. I have never made gloves before, so this will be a challenge. I am going to mock up a pair from my scrap fabric pile, but I STILL need to keep in mind that my final version will be stretchy and should be cut somewhat smaller than the mockup. If all else fails, I can get a store-bought pattern to make them with, but I prefer to make them myself. I have incredibly small wrist bones that are very hard to fit into standard sizes. Also, my little finger is a little on the crooked side (on both hands)... gloves that fit the other four fingers tend to NOT fit my pinky!

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Jane Sagan Makeup

We had a wondeful weekend. We went to go visit my folks, since it was my niece's birthday. What a great time! My family is a lot of fun to hang out with. We took the land yacht out for the first time in a while and stayed in my brother's driveway.

While we were there, my wonderful sister-in-law helped me work out some of the green body makeup that I may use for my planned Jane Sagan costume. She does a clown ministry with her church, so she has a collection of various types of clown/theatrical makeup. We played with some Snazzeroo and some grease paint before we found a combination that seemed to work. She even jogged my memory as to the makeup that friends at Dragon*Con told me about. It was on the tip of my tongue for weeks... I kept thinking "Krylon". But then I would think, "No, KT, that's not right, that's SPRAY PAINT." (Then I would hear Jeff Foxworthy in my head, saying "Just say it with Krylon!" GAH!) But she told me the correct term: Kryolan. (Once I saw it written down, I could remember it. I can't remember a word very well if I don't know how to spell it.) It's amazing how just a few letters make such a big difference! Unless, of course, I want permanent body makeup. But that's a horse of a different color. Anyway, I was going crazy trying to remember that one brand name, and now I have it.

I liked the Snazzeroo. It isn't very expensive, and it felt light on my skin. I am concerned that it may run if I get too hot and sweaty (which is a hazard at Dragon*Con). We tried using a paintbrush and a sponge for applying it, and the sponge worked much better. I'd like to try some Kryolan at some point, too, but I think I am happy with the preliminary stage of my research so far.

Now for the preliminary stage for my eyes. The soldiers in "Old Man's War" have cats-eyes, which means... theatrical contacts! I have never worn these before, so I am doing my research. One piece of advice I have found that I will pass along... do not order theatrical contacts from anyone who does not require a prescription from a doctor. Even if you don't need them for vision correction, you still need contacts that fit your eyes properly. Ones that don't fit properly may damage your eyes. I have enough trouble with mine that I don't need more! I may check with my optometrist to see if he sells any specialty lenses. Some do, I have found. And he already has my measurements. I will need "powered" lenses... otherwise I'll have to navigate the con by sonar!

I am still going through various designs for the costume, with help from my older brother, who has also read OMW. He has a lot of great suggestions that will help in this design.