In an open letter to her cousin on his birthday,

“Happy Birthday! One day, one day, I hope to hang out with you, because if there is anyone who can out silly me, I suspect that it’s you. When that happens, I have got to try the gumbo you often talk about making. I’ve noticed you posting lots of words of wisdom lately, but refuse to believe that this means you’re getting old cause I’m right behind you. May this year be your best year!”

How I Made My BMO Halloween Costume

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I have to learn how to ask more questions when the boyfriend mentions things. He mentioned that there was a party that we were invited to. He mentioned that I should bring Alex. He didn’t mention that it was a Halloween party. I should have asked, you see, it is now late in October, a simple question would have done me a solid. A simple question would have meant that I could have worked on my Halloween costume over a week’s time instead of, you know, the day before.

IMG_0492However, because I work somewhere where dressing for Halloween is encouraged, I had already been thinking of being Beemo from Adventure Time. But for me, a Halloween costume has to meet certain standards. I need to feel fully clothed in it. I need to be able to work in it without constantly bothering with it. If I take part of it off later, I still need to look, well, I don’t want to cringe anytime someone sees me because I know I look extra wild. Sitting is important; I need to be able to sit in the thing.

It seemed like a Beemo costume could meet these standards if I did it right. This meant no dressing in a box.

IMG_0491This is when I decided to bring on the felt. This is also when I started Googling BMO. Remember, I needed to do this costume in quick order. The day I started making this costume, my son had a half day at school. So, I needed to drop him off at 8:00, and pick him up at noon. We also had a parent-student-teacher conference scheduled for 4:20 which means that I also had to go back to the school in time for that. Did I mention that my son doesn’t go to his local neighborhood school? He goes to a school that is about 12 miles away, and usually some sort of traffic mishap stands between home and school. I’m not complaining; I love the school, but the point here is to describe the day. Then I get a text asking me to pick up some food from Mr. Hey-I-thought-I-told-you-it-was-a-Halloween-party. So I did that, meaning a wait in line and more time down the tubes. That is the scenic way of saying that I was in the fabric store pretty much saying, “Um, I’ll take one half yard of this. And um…..let’s see….”

There are a lot of Beemo costumes out there, and most of them involve boxes, which totally make sense. I looked at a few of those in the store on my phone (before I dropped it and cracked the screen; that came later). Then I thought, I can do this. Then, the phone turned off due to lack of charge. That’s when I thought, now what color are his controls?

At home, I made a sketch so that I could figure out how I wanted to go about putting this thing together. And this is how it came together.

IMG_0496Materials
1/2 yard light blue felt
1/2 yard dark gray felt
2 yards (72″) teal felt
6 9X12″ sheets black felt
1 9X12″ sheet hot pink felt
1 9X12″ sheet blue felt
1 9X12″ sheet green felt
1 9X12″ sheet dark green felt
pins
tacky glue
ruler
marker or pen
hand sewing needle
teal thread
black thread
pipe insulating tubing
craft foam (the kind you buy by the yard)

The first thing I did was to cut out the four sides of this costume.

So, I had Beemo’s front and back, and the sides. The sides are shorter than the the front and back because this deficit gives me a space to put my arms. Then, I cut two strips that would join the front of the costume to the back of the costume at the top. So, this was basically the shoulder area of the costume.

Once I had these pieces cut out, I started to decorate the front and the back of the costume. The light blue felt made Beemo’s screen; I eyeballed a squarish shape. I used black felt to make his eyes and mouth. I made his controls using the small sheets of felt, again eyeballing the shapes. I placed this felt onto Beemo’s front.  His back consists of ventilation slots (made from gray felt), and a slot for VHS tapes or something, which I made from two strips of dark green felt.

This project involved a whole lot of ‘eyeballing it.’

For the sides I cut out two sets of these letters, “BMO” from black felt.

My plan was to glue all of these into place.

However, I have learned from creative ventures past that once you start feeling tired, you should think about taking a break/stopping for the night. Once you feel tired and cranky, you should just drop your scissors on the floor and run away. So, this is where I stopped. 

The next morning, I had to attach BMO’s features. I had intended to just simply glue all of this down. I glued most of it down, but discovered that I was running out of tacky glue. So, I sewed some of the darker pieces down, using black thread.

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Now it was time for me to sew the thing together. I had bought some upholstery interfacing for this project. I cut out a piece for the shoulder rectangles and the upper edges of the costume. It helped stabilize things, but not as much as I had hoped. This is why both craft foam and pipe insulation are involved. I cut two pieces of foam that were the size of the shoulder area of the costume and stitched them in place. This helped quite a bit.  And I was able to wear BMO to the party after trimming his threads.

IMG_0510I wasn’t quite happy though. There was more floppiness in the costume than I wanted. This is where the pipe insulation came in

The pipe insulation was for the edges of the rectangles that form BMOs body. The idea is to give it a bit more structure without weighing down the costume. So, I began to hand stitch these into the costume. Turns out that the thread just ripped through this. So instead, I made a little felt tubes around parts of the insulation and sewed felt to felt, which worked.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the costume, and I hope that all of the kids who see it on Halloween will get a thrill out of it.

bmo

The Dynamo

Cupcakes tribute to Lyndon Johnson.

Lyndon Johnson is my longstanding presidential crush (not to be mistaken for who I see as the most handsome of the presidents.)

Sometimes I blame this obsession on a cold.  I was home from work convalescing on the couch and I decided to watch LBJ American Experience. As I drifted into and out of shallow sickness sleep, this movie about President Johnson played on. When I woke up, I was intensely interested in LBJ. I’ve been interested in him ever since.

You can tell, based on the titles of LBJ biographies that LBJ was a force. A dynamo? He’s been described as not only a “whirlwind,” or a “tornado” but as, also “a steam engine in pants.” It seemed to be a challenge to avoid being swept up by him, by his energy.

(This is the part where you just have to imagine the noise that I made, either that, or you need to pretend that I never, ever said that.)

Lyndon Johnson believed that the president should be evaluated separately in the categories of domestic policy and on foreign policy. This makes sense. He knew that Vietnam would be the shadow cast over every domestic achievement for which he worked. He understood what motivated people, what made them tick. He also understood how his legacy would play out.

LBJ was portrayed as heartless at times. “Hey, hey LBJ how many kids did you kill today?” He always knew the answer to that question. Each night he woke up to find out the casualty numbers. He knew. He cared. He just couldn’t see a way out.

He did, however, see that the government could help people. He had vision, and secured civil rights advances that shaped the direction of opportunity for years to come. He had seen poverty up close as a boy in Texas Hill Country. He never forgot it, and dug in to make change. He understood the impact that poverty had on people’s lives. He understood how powerful education could be as a force for advancement in someone’s life, and he used the presidency to move forward in those areas.

It’s arguable that a Lyndon Johnson could not have had the successes that he had in his brightest days now. In the age of  continuous documentation of every element of our lives, more so for the famous and the leaders, there are many techniques and characteristics that Lyndon Johnson exhibited that would make him very unpopular today. A man, though, can not be erased from his times. 

He can, however, be remembered for his energy.

Whiskey scented cupcake with pie filling center in tribute to President Lyndon Johnson.

The cake:

This cupcake features pecans because Johnson’s native state, Texas, is one of the biggest pecan producers in the United States. This cupcake features pecans both in the filling, which is pecan pie filling, and in the frosting in the form of chopped nuts. The cupcake itself is more basic. It is a whiskey-scented cupcake. The buttercream frosting, too, is kissed with whiskey, though not Cutty Sark, LBJ’s favorite. Finally, because this is a cupcake that is celebrating the power, the strength of LBJ’s personality, the flavors needed to be over-the-top, too. That is why this richly filled cupcake is drizzled with chocolate.


dynamo3

Pear Butter Funnel Cakes

Pear Butter Funnel CakeI had a pot of barely used oil on my stovetop and I wanted to put it to good use.

That is the kitchen equivalent to, “It was a dark and stormy night….”

Part of me wanted to make donuts. The other part of me didn’t want to wait for donuts to proof. I was more in the mood for a culinary quickie.

Enter the funnel cake. Now, I originally planned to make pumpkin funnel cakes, it being October and all. I love the seasonal stuff. It makes me so happy! Because of this seasonal product lust, I had recently purchased a can of pumpkin. 

And I lost it.

It wasn’t the little can.

Where, oh where can my pumpkin be?

By the time I realized I had lost the pumpkin. (See, that doesn’t even sound like something that should happen). I had already mixed the dry ingredients for the funnel cake. I had also heated the oil.

I had to do something. 

Then, I remembered a stash of  pear butter that I made and canned a while ago. And I knew what had to be done.

And it was good.

Pear Butter Funnel Cakes
Print
Ingredients
1 quart vegetable oil, for frying
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup pear butter (apple butter would work here, too)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar, for dusting
Instructions
Place the oil in a deep pot over medium heat.
While the oil is heating, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
Add the eggs, brown sugar and pear butter and whisk until a smooth batter forms.
Check the oil by dropping a small drop of water into it. This should cause bubbling. If it causes popping, your oil is too hot.
Scoop about a half cup of the batter into a zip top bag or a plastic piping bag.
Cut a small bit of the corner from the zip top bag (or tip from the piping bag) and pipe batter into the oil in a circular pattern. Don't be worried if it looks strange at first, once the batter gets frying, it will be recognizable as a funnel cake.
Let the batter fry for a few seconds until golden brown on the bottom. Flip your funnel cake using a pair of forks or tongs. Fry until golden on the other side.
Remove the funnel cake from the oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
Dust funnel cake with powdered sugar using a sieve.
Repeat process with remaining batter. I like to place the bag in a cup with the tip at the bottom of the cup, then lift it from the cup. This helps to avoid spilling too much batter from the tip of the cup.
Adapted from Something Swanky: Deserts and Designs
sherlonya http://sherlonya.net/blog/

Links I Like

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These paper mache ghosts are the cutest! Don’t tell my son!

If you drool on your device, I know it’s my fault because: Ginger Macarons with Pumpkin Bourbon Buttercream.

I have a weakness for s’mores. Apparently, you can roast them in a mason jar.

Colors are fun. Sprinkles are fun. Donuts are fun. The combination has to be super fun.

You know what else is fun? Squirrel sugar cookies!!

Sweatshirts are so comfortable, but they can be kind of slumpy. Maybe with a bit of embellishment, I can figure out a way to comfortably wear them more often.

Because I have old lady tendencies, I have acquired a number of rollers over the years. I’ve been meaning to make some pouches or bags to store them for years. Maybe these, in different sizes, would be a good solution.

Quinoa + sweet potatoes + turkey + a slow cooker looks like a very good idea. 

 

 

Fast and Loose: Fried Rice

friedrice

I had some rice left over from some takeout and decided to make fried rice. This rice had the perfect texture, and I seldom have rice hanging around, so the decision was made essentially as soon as I put two and two together.

I had also cooked some bacon that day because it had stayed out of the fridge for a short enough time that I still wanted to eat it, but long enough that I wanted to cook it immediately.

So, this rice began using the grease from the bacon. I added a little canola oil to it to reduce the likeliness of making a smoky mess in my kitchen, then, once the oil got hot, I threw in some coleslaw mix that I had in the fridge. Next, I added some frozen peas to the mix, then came the rice.  Here, I stirred everything together, and added some soy sauce. By this point, things were smelling good and looking done. So, I cracked an whisked an egg, then stirred it into the food until the egg was cooked through. Finally, I added about two slices of cooked bacon to the mix. I bet you can guess that the sauce on top is Sriracha.

I didn’t put the Sriracha on my son’s fried rice. He enjoyed it, and took some to school in his lunch the next day. When he got home and discovered that it was all gone, he was disappointed. 

However, with a success like this under my belt, it’s more likely that I’ll whip up some fried rice in the future.

In an open letter to a man whom I watched close his front door for an extended period of time,

“I noticed you because of your bright sweat shirt. Then I saw you close your door, and then lock it. Then you pulled at your door handle. Then you jiggled it. Then you repeated the jiggling. Then you tried to turn the handle. Then you jiggled it some more. Then you did some other things involving your hand, that handle, and harsh movements. You saw someone you know and greeted them moving away from the door. Then you returned to the door and resumed your vigorous door-checks. I watched you for the entire duration of the red light. I guess you just wanted to be sure….”

Getting into a little of a lot of things.