Skyrim Cosplay Progression: Completion of Boots and Helmet

Bx_YenmIQAIqe5VGAH!!!! So after almost four weeks of slaving over a table covered in hot glue, paper mâché and spray paint, I have finally completed my helmet and boots for my Skyrim Nord Cosplay! In all honesty, if I wasn’t dedicating 70% of my week to a trecherous online Marketing class I’d probably be finished a lot more by now – finishing my degree is just SOOO getting in the way of my paper mâche-ing! Uhg. Worst. But that’s okay, I still have a month to complete the rest of my costume, and everything should be done (hopefully) by the week of October 25th – in time for Halloween and in time for some badass outdoor pictures my bestie will be taking of me with her super awesome camera. I’m actually a little nervous taking pictures because of how they might turn out. I’m a little camera shy when other people are taking my pictures. Unless it’s a selfie, I feel awkward and out of place – but I’m hoping that I can just suck it up for this. And, besides… I’ll be wearing a helmet so maybe that will help a little bit. My last update of this helmet was a few weeks ago and I was just past the foam and cardboard stage. You can find my previous post here. I did a lot of searching for some sort of tutorial to help me with this since I’m so new to costume making, but I found this amazing tutorial here that I’ve been using to help me along the way. Once I had my helmet skeleton I began the paper mâché stage.

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 I covered the entire helmet skeleton, inside and out with paper mâché. I decided to use a flour and water mix for the mix rather than a glue and water mix. My reasoning behind this was that a) I find I can waste alot of stuff, particularly when I don’t know what I’m doing, so I’d have less of an issue with wasting a small amount of flour rather than a large amount of glue; and b) because it’s cheaper to buy a bag of no name flour than it is to buy a bunch of glue.  Essentially, to make the mix, all you need to do is add flour into a bowl and then water and mix until you reach your desired consistency. I’ve noticed that I enjoy a much runnier mix rather than something thicker, especially when using toilet paper strips as I’ve found the thicker the mix the more difficult it is to apply the toilet paper strips. One downside to using flour and water paper mâché mix is that you must wait for each layer to dry completely before adding the next in order to avoid any potential mold. This was a little setback in terms of time but since I gave myself 2 months to complete the project it wasn’t’ a huge deal.  Once I had one layer of mâché over the entire skeleton, I added foam strips back over the eyes and down across the helmet from the front to back in order to make the detail “pop” a little more. I didn’t tape these on but rather hot glued them on to ensure all the edges were nice and defined.

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The next step was to create the “holders” for the horns. I did this by attaching cylinder-shaped foam pieces to the sides of the helmet. This took a lot of random measuring and taping to get it the way I wanted. I then added a layer of paper mâché to the entire thing. Once it was dry I made the horns.

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I made the horns by layering foam and newspaper around a piece of hanger into a horn shape.  The hanger came in handy when trying to bend the horns into the shapes I wanted. I then stuck them into the horn holders on the helmet and then secured them there with a hot glue gun. I also used tape to hold the horns together.

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Next I covered the main helmet with toilet paper mâché and the horns with regular paper mâché (i.e., newspaper) and then again with . Once toilet paper mâché. Once dry I covered the entire helmet with gesso. Gesso is something that painters use to prepare their canvases before painting. I applied several layers of gesso to the main part of the the helmet and sanded in between to try to give my helmet a smoother finish. I found working with toilet paper mâché was very difficult and it was hard to get all the strips on there neatly. I made the rings around the horns using toilet paper and then added one more layer of gesso.  I did not sand any part of the horns.

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I made the armor for the boots in a very similar way. I cut out pieces of cardboard, added foam to help with bending, and then added a layer of paper mâché and toilet paper mâché and then layered with gesso and then sanded.

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Once the helmet had completely dried I started to paint. I used three different colours – metallic black, silver, and bronze. I first painted the entire thing black and then spray painted it silver. I added bronze for a “rusted” effect. I did the same for the armor on the boots.

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I’m pretty happy with the turnout.  It was alot of work but it looks totally badass. Once the armor for the boots was dry, I hot glued fur that I had torn off the hood of a jacket arount it. I then glued it onto a pair of brown leather boots I picked up at the Salvation Army for $6.00. I added straps to the bottom of the boots and more fur to the top. I wrapped a few leather staps around the back of the boots as well and glued them into place.

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Annnnd that’s it! I’m currently working on my shield, and will then do my gauntlets and then my main armor, which I have chosen to do mostly leather with some fur (if I have any left). I will add a belt as well. Most of the material I’m using is from old leather jackets that I picked up at value village/salvation army. I will likely do my main armor similarly to Aela the Huntress, but with a teensy bit more material. Anyway that’s it for now!!

-XOXO
K. Bakes

Happy September: Cosplay and the Perfect Buttercream Frosting

Eeeesh. So I apparently abandoned my blog for the summer. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write… honest. And to make up for it I will share a wonderful recipe for the perfect chocolate buttercream that I found recently on Averie Cooks. But that will come later, fist I have a few fun and exciting updates.  First, I’m not sure how avid my fan base is, but those of you who follow me often enough will know that over the last year or so I’ve been slowly turning this baking blog into an everything blog. The next few months will be no different, because as my blog has grown, so have my interests, and I’ve moved everywhere from baking and cooking, to cake decorating, to DIY and arts and crafts, and now I’ve developed a love for Cosplay and Costume Making.  Last Halloween I made a fantastic Minion Costume and this year, I’m going all out with some badass Skyrim Cosplay! Here’s my progress thus far:

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I don’t know how much of a detailed tutorial I’ll post, but I’ll try to post more photos when I start adding more to my helmet.  I constructed this out of soft cardboard that I pulled from empty cereal and granola bar boxes. I cut out a few long strips, measured them around my head and then taped them together using electrical tape to make a large circle. I cut up the various shapes I needed and affixed them to the circle. I used foam paper to fill in the rest. I layered it with two full layers of foam.  I plan on using paper mâché to create the rest of the helmet, and then painting it a combination of black, silver, and bronze. I can’t wait! I’ll be completing the rest of my armor with a similar approach.

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In the end, it should look somewhat like this:

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I’ve also started a little vlogging here and there, and been having a lot of fun doing it. You can find my channel here. It’s all about Life as Kelsey Bakes, and I’ll be sharing all of it on here. 

Remember to please like and share my videos and subscribe to my channel!! Now… for that recipe I promised.

I make these bad boys for an end of summer work barbecue at my boss’s house. This has to be the best chocolate buttercream I’ve ever made. I don’t know why, but it was just better than anything I’ve ever made before, from it’s consistency, to it’s taste.  You can find the full recipe here along with a recipe for some yellow cupcakes.  We were celebrating a kind of end of summer-going away party-kelsey’s birthday party…thing.

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Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Makes enough frosting for 12 – 15 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softenend
  • 1/2 heaping cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. cream or milk

Directions

  1.  Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Scrape down the sides as needed.
  2. Add the cocoa, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, another 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides as needed.
  3. Add the cream and continue to beat until well combined. Note that it may not be necessary to add the cream, and you can omit it if you’ve reached the desired consistency. I had to add some, as my frosting was chunky and much too thick.
  4. Transfer frosting to a piping bag and using a Wilton 1M tip (for the standard cupcake swirl) frost the cooled cupcakes.

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So there you have it! This is a great recipe because it gives you the perfect consistency for frosting cupcakes. Of course, if frosting a cake i’f add a lot more cream to thin it out for the full crumb coat/coat. It was also my birthday a few weeks ago. I got spoiled, as usual.

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You can see one of the super duper fun gifts I got below. Have an excellent day! Happy baking!

Spring Cleaning and DIY Storage Ideas

Okay so Summer is almost upon us.  I’m been slacking on finishing up my Spring Cleaning, but I’m slowly getting there.  Pinterest is an amazing place.  My favourite thing about it (aside from the million upon millions of recipes, and fashion, and fitness pins) is that it can help you transform your space from boring to magnificent.  There are SO MANY great DIY renovation and decoration ideas that I could literally spend my entire day perusing pin after pin, board after board.  It’s enough to make a girl go crazy… and keep her up at night because all she’s thinking about is DIYs; it’s enough to make a girl start tearing apart her apartment in preparation for all the incredible DIYs that are about to happen…  I might be talking about me. I am talking about me.  I have a SERIOUS Pinterest addiction right now.  And it is TAKING OVER MY LIFE BUT I DON’T WANT IT TO STOP BECAUSE I LOVE IT SO MUCH.  But enough about my obvious need for a twelve step program – let’s talk spring cleaning, and lets talk DIY storage, on a budget.  I’m not exactly hurting for cash, but I’m not about to blow a bunch of money on an apartment that I likely won’t be in for more than another year or so, especially when I got debt coming out of my ears, an upcoming school semester (kill me now please) and a house to save up for.  You know when you just get tired of where you live? I’ve been feeling like that for a LONG time, and I got to a point a few weeks ago where I literally wanted to move because I was so annoyed about what my place looked like.  My apartment isn’t hopeless, it isn’t awful or a lost cause, I have a nice space for a great price, I just hate it right now and need to make some changes.  So I want to make some DRAMATIC and DRASTIC changes to my apartment, without spending too much money and not so many that my landlord has a heart attack when I move out – which is why I turned to Pinterest for some help.

Want to know what the first step to making your space great? Clean and reorganize – make better use of your space.  In other words, clean up your shit people.  Figure out what you want and what you don’t, get rid of all the unnecessary crap you’ve been hoarding since your last major spring clean and scrub the life out of all the dirt, grease and grime hiding in every nook and cranny.  Nothing makes me happier than a nice organized clean area with no unwanted junk lying around.  You know that cupboard of yours that is so full of mismatched Tupperware and storage containers that you literally have to brace yourself before opening in case of a plastic lid and container avalanche? Clean it up.   

Organize and maximize your space

If you live in an apartment like me, you likely don’t have the freedom to knock down walls, replace cupboards and rip things apart, and why would you want to? Unless you’re sure this is going to be your place forever you probably don’t want to fork out the cash to do such things. So, where do you start?

Clean out your closet: If you’re like me, your closets can get extremely disorganized – I fill them with crap I don’t need, and all of a sudden, they are bursting at the seams, ready to pop open at any moment.

  • Take everything out and scrub every surface clean.  Vacuum the bottom of your closet and wash it if it is flooring.
  • Purge.  Get rid of everything you don’t want and remove things that don’t belong there.
  • Use boxes and bins to organize your things.
  • Wash all you linens and spare blankets.  Yes, ALL of them.  Even if you don’t have surprise guests over very often, take a sniff of those sheets you haven’t washed since last spring.  Would you sleep with that? No? then wash it.
  • Check expiry dates – all products have them.  Check all your medications, ointments, creams, scrubs and makeup.
  • Replenish your stock – make a list and restock your supply.

Use closet/cupboard doors to maximize storage space:  Utilizing your doors can not only give you MORE storage space but can also give you ease of access to the stuff you use most.

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Install shelves, wire racks or even use a shoe organizer on the inside of your kitchen cupboards to organize your spices, or in your bathroom to tidy up your scrubs and lotions.  Use magazine holders to store food packaging items such as plastic wrap and tin foil.  I picked this up for about $5.00 at Staples.

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Make a plan to keep things organized: I know, seems almost impossible.  Every time I clean something, I say to myself  “this time, I’m going to keep it clean, this time will be different,” and if you were to see the condition of my bedroom right now, you would probably be disappointed in my inability to keep my promises – but do everything possible to keep your space organized.  Label your boxes and bins so you’re not constantly throwing things in the wrong spot.

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Click the image above to hit up the free printables from lifeinyellow.com.

Utilize Mason Jars to Help with Storage

 I LOVE mason jars. Why? Because they’re freaking awesome, that’s why.  About a year ago I scored BIG TIME, and while tossing a bunch of trash in my apartment building garbage room, I stumbled across an entire box full of mason jars.  Naturally I scooped it out of there, free mason jars? Yes please. I’ve used them here and there for things, but I in general I only give my cupboards a good scrub once a year, so this year I decided to put these lovely jars to use by decorating them all pretty and using them for some much needed cupboard organization. I wasn’t about to just toss these mason jars in my cupboards unlabeled and undecorated, so I picked up some patterned duct tape and Martha Stewart Jar Labels from my neighbourhood Staples store and got to work.  I covered the lids with purple owl patterned duct tape, and surrounded the outside in a thin pink patterned duct tape.

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My cupboards are almost all organized and I’m super pumped about my duct tape decorated mason jars. The great part about it, is that it was very inexpensive to do it! The tape and labels cost about $13.00 and the mason jars were free! Of course you can always buy your jars if you don’t have any lying around.

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I hope this helps! And I sure hope you’re not as behind in your spring cleaning as I am.  At this rate I hope to be done sometime before fall… maybe I’ll call it summer cleaning from now on… hehe. Happy cleaning!!

Spring Cleaning Shenanigans in the Kitchen

Can you believe tomorrow is the first day of Spring?  Neither do I… it doesn’t seem like it – the amount of snow we have here is just silly – and we are being threatened with more as we speak. Uhhhg when will it end!!?!?!?!

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So I have a confession: I’m not a fan of cleaning.  You’re probably like, “well, NO ONE is a fan of cleaning”.  But I seriously hate it.  The only time I voluntarily pick up a vacuum, without a complaint or protest, is when I am studying for an exam, because studying is the only other thing in this world that I hate more than cleaning.  So in my years of adulthood, I adopted a rule – if you can’t see it, it’s not messy.  I am pretty good at keeping my living space clean-ish.  If I start getting a clutter, I move that clutter to the closet of no return in our gaming room – we put all our junk in there, and when it gets too cluttered (meaning my boyfriend can’t access his clothes) we clean it out, but most of the stuff in there ends up in the trash or goes to goodwill.  I have never once pulled out my oven to see what’s living underneath it, nor have I done this with my fridge.  I only clean my floors when the dirt is visible.  Dishes don’t need to be done daily.  My bedroom door is usually closed to hide the laundry disaster that encompasses every square foot of the floor. And, honestly, I’m fine with it. As long as no one makes an unexpected visit, I can usually tidy our space in about an hour (minus our bedroom).  Obviously, as you can imagine, my space is in need of a little spring cleaning.  I’ve never done a true spring clean before.  In the past, spring cleaning to me meant washing my duvet and wiping the baseboards.  It didn’t mean cleaning every nook and cranny I could squeeze my hands through.  It didn’t mean dusting every surface and scrubbing the floors. So this year, I decided to take a new approach and vowed to do it right, for the first time ever.  This year I decided I would clean everything – that I would re-organize and make proper use of all my space, and yes, that I would clean under all my appliances.  Well my friends, this is day two, and so far I have managed to tackle my kitchen (minus the cupboard re-organization, which seems more like a weekend job to me).

I assumed my kitchen would be the hardest job.  I’ve never cleaned my oven, never scrubbed down my fridge, and have certainly never checked out the situation below my appliances.  I wasn’t sure where to start, so I of course logged on to Pinterest to figure it out.

Make a game plan

The first step in starting a major spring cleaning overhaul, is to plan it out.  Make a list outlining everything you want to do, and then divide it by room.  Focusing on one room at a time will help you stay on track, especially when you’re as disorganized and distracted as I am.  I found a few sample lists online and then made my own according to what needed to be done in my apartment.

Spring Cleaning Checklist

Deep clean your kitchen

Maybe you’re more organized then I am.  That’s likely, since I’m grossly unorganized and avoid housework at all costs.  Either way, if you haven’t given your kitchen a true deep clean since your last bout of spring cleaning, you probably need to prepare yourself for the amount of dirt you’re about to face.  I of course found tones of great cleaning ideas on Pinterest – Here are some ways to give your {dirty} kitchen a {serious} cleanse.

1. Clean that {dirty} sink with baking soda and water: I truly discovered a gem here when I finally used baking soda as a cleaning agent.  I always thought, wait, it doesn’t have bleach in it?  Then I’m not using it. It actually worked BETTER than most of the cleaning supplies i have at home AND it’s not toxic or full or harmful chemicals.  Simply sprinkle the baking soda evenly over your sink, scrub with a toothbrush or sponge, rinse and done! Clean sink.

2. OR, use a lemon and salt: 

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3. Scrub that {dirty} fridge: I’m so bad at keeping my fridge clean.  I had to majorly disinfect the thing it was gross.  So I will try to make an effort to keep up with daily and weekly cleaning, not just season cleaning – say no to fridge neglect! Click here for Martha Stewart’s take on hoe to clean your fridge the right way.

4. Reorganize your fridge and freezer: How many times have you cleaned out your kitchen, and cursed yourself because the damn grapes went bad because they got pushed behind that giant Tupperware container of leftovers that no one wants to eat (or something of the sort)?  Crap goes bad in my fridge ALL the time.  Sometimes I just don’t see it. It goes bad, which is irritating for my belly, that got a sudden urge for grapes, and also for my bank account, which screams at me every month when it sees how much money I spend on groceries.  Organize your crap people!

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5. Plan out your meals and grocery list: keep you fridge and life organized by planning out your dinners for the week.  Keep a dry erase sticker, note pad, or chalk board sticker on your fridge so you can stick to your game plan.  I use a weekly dry erase planner from Martha Stewart’s Home Office collection.

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6. Steam clean that {dirty} microwave with water and lemon: combine one lemon, cut in half, in a bowl of hot water.  Microwave for about 3 minutes, and then allow it to sit, door closed, for another 5 minutes.  This loosen the sticky caked on mess so you can easily wipe it away with water and a little dish soap.

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7. Clean that {dirty} oven: I read a lot of different things regarding the PROPER way to clean an over.  I am not lucky enough to have a self cleaning oven, so it was pretty intense trying to get the damn thing clean.  I used odor free easy off (which didn’t quite do the job I wanted) and then did a second scrub with just baking soda and water.  I formed a type of paste, spread it around my over, let it sit, and then wiped.  The dirt came off clean and my oven is sparkly clean.

8. Clean between your oven glass:  I think this was the best trick I discovered on my road to a cleaner kitchen journey.  Click the picture below to learn more about how Ask Anna  did it with nothing more than a hanger and a Windex Wipe.

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9. Clean that {nasty} toaster:  Sometimes simply emptying the crumb catcher isn’t enough.  Use a pastry brush to get out all the crumbs in those hard to reach sections that just never seem to get clean.  See the full instructions here.

10.  Keep that {stinky} garbage smelling fresh:  My garbage ALWAYS smells. I hate it.  After completely sterilizing your garbage sprinkle a little baking soda at the bottom so it stays smelling clean.

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Of course there are TONES more tips and tricks – these were just my faves.  This site was REALLY helpful and this site had a bunch of homemade recipes AND printables – trust me I will be all over this.

I would love to commit to keeping my house clean and organized all year around – and I stumbled across a great resource for helping you do just that.  It’s stopping the fridge neglect, eliminating the dish pile-up AND helping you avoid the dreaded spring clean.  It has some great FREE printables, so make sure you check out the year round cleaning checklist!  I’m using this as a guideline to help get the house a little more organized and keep it that way!!*

*Note: spring cleaning initiatives are like new years resolutions – hopefully I can keep this one, yikes!!!

Happy Cleaning!!!!

A DIY Christmas: Homemade Greeting Cards – Part II

Card 4 (8)I have had nothing but Christmas on the brain for the past few weeks! Unfortunately this has done nothing to help me study for my upcoming exams, and has caused me to become extremely distracted at work.  I have been listening to Christmas music non-stop and since yesterday I have watched four Christmas movies.  Ken and I went out on Saturday and bought a whole whack load of new decorations for our apartment, put up our tree, and added a fresh set of LED tube lights to our windows.  It looks amazingly festive!  If I’m not baking, decorating or shopping, I am cruising Pinterest for the next brilliant decorating idea or fun new recipe.  I am obsessed! With only a month left I have so much more to do.  Today I’m sharing two more DIY card designs.  These ones are incredibly more complicating than the other two designs I made a while back, and took much more time.  In fact, I’m still not done, but plan to be by next week (I hope?!?!).  With one of my designs I actually managed to get a little help – thanks to one of my wonderful co-workers (the same one who taught me how to operate a sewing machine) lent me her Cricut.  For those of you who don’t know, a Cricut is a scarpbooking tool that assists in cutting various shapes and letters… to make things go a little quicker.  It worked wonders on my last design and saved me a bunch of time.

The first design is a Christmas tree in the center of the card cover made from scrapbook paper circles, buttons and gems.  For each card I cut out about 8 medium circles (maybe 1/2 inch diameter) and 6 very small circles (about the circumference of the end of an unsharpened pencil).  The paper I used was mostly green since I was making a tree.  I used about 12 buttons per card and filled in any blank spaces with gems.  I used cardboard for the tree trunk and yellow scrapbook paper for the star.  I laid a 1/2 inch strip of light blue scrapbook paper horizontally across the center of the card and wrote “Merry Christmas” in the middle.

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So, to summarize, for this card you will need: a glue gun and glue sticks, 8 medium circles, 6 small circles, 12 buttons, gems, cardboard, yellow paper for the star, an ultra fine tip Sharpie and an 8 1/2 by 1/2 inch strip of scrapbook paper to go across the page.

Start by writing you message on the inside of the card.
Wishing you sparkle,
Wishing you cheer,
For a bright Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year!

Happy Holidays!

Do this first! I know when I am making these I will always mess up one or two.  If you mess up after you’ve decorated your card it will be much more devastating… trust me!  Next glue down your cardboard tree truck to the bottom middle of the card.  I like to place all my circles and buttons on the card before I glue them.  Start from the bottom and work your way up.

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I found the design worked best by placing 3 medium circles at the bottom and two on the second line.  I filled in the blank areas with buttons, gems and even drew in some stars on a few.  After line four you are going to want to use only circles and no buttons, leaving an at least 1/2 inch gap.  This is where your “Merry Christmas” strip is going to go… you don’t want there to be buttons under it, that makes for a really bumpy Merry Christmas.  Continue working your way up until your tree is done.  Add a small star to the top.

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Glue down your Merry Christmas strip across the area on your tree where there are no buttons.  Write your greeting and voila! Done!

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This card was incredibly time consuming, which is why I decided only to make 10 of these and 20 of the next design, since I had a Cricut to help me with it.  For each card I cut out two 1 1/2 inch squares, one 1 1/2 inch rectangle, and one 2 inch rectangle.  I used a small amount of red and white yarn on each card for the ribbons on the presents.  Lastly, I cut out “Happy Holidays” in green scrapbook paper.

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For this design, you will also need a glue gun and glue sticks, a white glue stick to glue on the letters, a Cricut (if you can get your hands on one… otherwise either print or trace out your letters using stencils), and an ultra fine tip Sharpie for your message on the inside of the card.  Start by adding yarn details to your squares and rectangles, and then glue them in place on the card.

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Cut out your letters and then glue them on the card.  Try to center them as much as possible.

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And that’s pretty much it for this one.  It still took quite a bit of time to make this card, but thankfully I saved loads of time by using the Cricut… I really need to buy one of these things. I truly don’t think I will every want to cut out a shape by hand again!
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I’m pretty happy with all four of my designs this year, especially since it’s the first year I have ever designed my own greeting cards, or even sent out greeting cards for that matter. I’m pretty excited and can’t wait to get them to the post office! Happy card making!

A DIY Christmas: Homemade Greeting Cards – Part I

card 1 (7)I love everything homemade. If it’s from scratch, I’m in love.  When my boyfriend and I decided to send out Christmas cards this year, I had the brilliant idea of making all homemade cards.  I chose four designs, two of which I’m discussing today.  I wanted a design that was relatively simple and, well, positively adorable.  I wanted these cards to scream Kelsey. And they do.  The reason for the simplicity is also because of the fact that I’m sending out 60 Christmas cards this year (15 of each design) and I really didn’t want to spend weeks making these cards.  Pinterest is amazing!  It is where I found all the fabulous designs for my Christmas cards.

So, what will you need? For the first design, the Christmas Button Ball Card (came up with that one by myself, can you tell?), you will need: a ruler, ultra fine point black sharpie, 8 1/2 x 11 card stock pages (make sure you have enough sheets for all of your cards), a glue gun and glue sticks, and buttons (9 to 10 buttons per card).  For the buttons, try to use seasonal colours; I focused on red, yellow, green, orange and pink.  You will also need small gems with peel-able backs to you can stick them to the card stock easily (I bought mine at Walmart in the crafts section).

The first step in making the Button Ball card, is to fold your cardstock in half.  I made 15 cards with this design, so I folder 15 pieces of car stock paper in half.  Next, write your greeting on the inside.  I found doing this step second was helpful, because when I write fast I tend to have spelling mistakes, meaning I have to start over.  This would be really annoying if I have already done the design on the card cover.

Wishing you sparkle,
Wishing you cheer,
For a bright Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year! 

Happy Holidays!

I simply wrote the greeting on the inside of the card with my sharpie.  If you don’t trust your writing, you can always use a printed greeting and glue it into the center of the inside of the card.

Next, using a rule make 9 to 10 straight vertical lines across the folded card stock.  Try your best to evenly distribute the lines across the page.  Make the lines of various lengths.  Each line does not necessarily have to tough the top of the card – be random! At the end of each line, draw a tiny bow and the “tops” of your Christmas button balls.

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Choose your buttons for the card, and then using a glue gun, attached them to the bottoms of the vertical lines, just covering the button ball “tops”.

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Feel free to stack buttons on top of each other!  It adds some fun detail to this simple card, and can hide glue if the button is clear or if the glue comes through the button holes.

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Add 9 to 10 gems to the bottom left of the card in a straight line.  This was the most time consuming portion of this card design, as I had to peel the backs off each card in order to fasten the gems to the cover.  You may also glue the gems to the card, but I found this made a glue-ey mess and I opted for the more time consuming, but cleaner option.

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I wrote “deck the halls” with my fine tip Sharpie just above the line of gems, but write anything you want! These are your cards!

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Pretty simple right?  I’d say it took me about 2 1/2 hours total to make all 15 of these cards from start to finish.  Trust me when I say it was well worth it – I absolutely LOVE these cards! They are, if I do say so myself, positively adorable, and super clever.  Now, onto card design number two.  Let’s call this one the Paper Tree Christmas Card (apparently I’m not that creative when it comes to names).

What you’ll need:  a glue gun, button (3 to 5 per card) coloured card stock or scrap book paper (try to go greens, since we are making a tree), cardboard and a black ultra fine tip Sharpie.

The first step in making these cards is to cut out all the shapes you’re going to need.  Cut out 15 triangles (tree shapes) from various patterns of the card stock or scrapbook paper.  Make them all relatively the same size.  Next, cut each triangle horizontally into 4 or 5 pieces. Since each triangle is the same size, when you put any 4 pieces together in the right order, they should match up and make your tree.

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I used the “middle section” from a small sheet of cardboard to make the trunk, and then cut out 15 stars of cardboard as a topper for my 15 trees.  Next, simply glue it all together.  Start at the trunk and work your way up.

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It doesn’t have to be perfect.  The tree is meant to look a little choppy.  Once the tree is glued together, top the tree with a cardboard star, and add a few button Christmas balls.  I wanted to add Merry Christmas somewhere on the card, so in the upper left corner I went to work on my Calligraphy skills.  Considering I did it with a Sharpie I have to say I’m pretty impressed, especially since I haven’t practiced this style since I was a kid (Once I saw Harry Potter I tried to write with a quill and ink for months… I also bought a wand… and a cloak…).

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And there you have it! I wrote my greeting on the inside, signed it, and presto! Another 15 Christmas cards patiently waiting to be mailed.
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I  still have not picked out any envelopes for my cards, but i am on the hunt for some.  Ken and I think we are going to send a “late fall early winter” picture to accompany our cards this year as well.  I started working on my third card design and I really think I should have invested in a puncher instead of cutting out all the card stock shapes manually (apparently this is an actual scrapbooking tool that really exists… I learnt about it just today).  These cards are taking FOREVER to make, but they are my best yet and I can’t wait to share! Happy card making!

Halloween Things Part I: Candy Corn White Chocolate Cookies and a DIY Costume

Halloween is such a fun time of year:  It means fun eats and treats, horror movies, zombies, monsters and parties.  It also means you get to dress up as who ever you want.  This year I decided to make my own costume (bear with me… it was the first time I ever used a sewing machine. Well, not ever, but certainly the first time in the last 10 years).  My boyfriend and I are huge into gaming, but aside from a few Resident Evil characters, I really couldn’t say I had a favourite female video game character from the last year.  So I racked my brain for days trying to figure out what I wanted to be, and after spending way too much time on my phone playing Minion Rush, I settled on a pair of Minions from Despicable Me.  How could I not? I love the movie and everything cute, so naturally a Minion fit the bill.  Unfortunately no one in town could sell me a costume and it was way too late to order online, hence the reason for my sudden ambition over making my costume this year… How hard could it be, really?  So I went to the store and bough all my supplies, tracked down a sewing machine, and got to work.

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I love love love minions.  These bright yellow cylindrical little creatures are just fantastic. I’m not going to lie… last week Ken and I watched Despicable Me so that we could.. “get into character” in time for Halloween.  That movie never disappoints me.  I haven’t seen the second one yet though so no spoilers!

So onto my costume.  First I made the Minion goggles and beanie hat.   I found some large glasses at a costume shop, popped out the lenses and then painted the frames black with acrylic paint.  I traced out two large circles of cardboard, cut out smaller circles in the middle, and then painted them silver.  Once dry, I glued the silver circles onto the painted black frames using a glue gun.  Next, I made the beanie hat (I used this tutorial to help with the “sewing” part of it).

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What you’ll need:

  • bright yellow fleece material
  • black pipe cleaner
  • a needle and thread or sewing machine
  •  scissors
  • measuring tape
  • beanie hat pattern (which can be found here)  *I kind of eyeballed it since my printer was out of ink and it turned out fine.
  1. Follow the tutorial up until the four domed edges are sewn together.  You can absolutely do this without a sewing machine (I did, since I hadn’t figured out how to use mine at this point), it just takes a little longer.
  2. Create the inside band of the hat by folding up the bottom section of the hat.  I glued it in place using fabric glue as I did not want a seam here.
  3. Cut 2 to 3 pipe cleaners into quarters. Poke small holes at the top of the hat using sharp scissors and then thread the bottom of the pipe cleaners into the holes.  Glue them in place with the help of a glue gun.

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I also decided to make our overalls, which was the most challenging part of the costume.  Some advice: if you ever see overalls, buy them, because when you need them, you will not be able to find them, anywhere.  For my jumper dress I cut out two large rectangles of dark blue fabric.  I made sure to use my measurements (waits, bust and hips) as a guideline, so it would make more of a coke bottle shape and less of a box shape.  I sewed both pieces of fabric together using a sewing machine I had to get a quick lesson from a co-worker on how to operate the thing – thanks Mel!).  For the straps i cut out long pieced of fabric that we about 2 inches wide, folder them in half, and then sewed the edged together.  I then turned them inside out (with a little difficulty).  I made sure they were the length that I wanted, and then sewed them in place.  I glues on two large buttons at the base of the straps on the front side of the dress.  I then traced out a Gru logo in felt and hot glue gunned it to the front of the dress.

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For my boyfriend’s overalls, I used a pair of his snow pants as a pattern.  I first folded the material in half.  Then, I folded the snow pants in half, and traced along the pants with a white tailor’s pencil, giving about an inch and a half of extra room around the pants.  I did this twice and then cut out the pattern.  I sewed the “middle” seam together first, and ended up with two pieces of pant-shaped fabric.  I then laid the pieces on top of each other and sewed together the edge seams.  Once i was done perfecting the seams i finished with, surprisingly enough, what resembled a pair of overalls without straps.

photo 3 I added the straps as I did with the dress, and then glued on a Gru logo to the front of the overalls.  Ken and I both purchased some yellow knock off morph suits so that we could be yellow just like minions.  I cut off the heads and hands so that I could get the look I wanted (and the feet too since we were both a little tall for the suits).  You can fold in the cut edges and secure with fabric glue if you’d like.

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The costumes were an absolute hit! I thought we were being pretty original with these costumes but apparently the entire world had the same idea – there was an absolute minion takeover this Halloween and I can’t wait to see more costume pictures!

Now onto some fun Halloween treats… This will be a two part post, and I will be sharing one recipe today and the other a little closer to Halloween.  Ken and I will be visiting a few Haunted Houses on the 31st.  I love being scared.  I love scary movies and creepy houses and scary costumes.  I love it all.  There are a few places around town that are supposed to be very well done and I’m hopping that I’m am scared silly when I come out of there. If not I know there will be a good selection of horror movies on TV that will hopefully give me a scare before bed.

One candy that always comes to mind when I think of Halloween is candy corn.  This extremely sweet, bright orange, yellow and white candy is a favourite of mine.  Stop reading now if you are looking for a healthy treat because this one is full of sugary goodness.

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Some cookie facts: These cookies are buttery and soft, and I used both cornstarch and cream in the batter, making the cookies extra soft without being cakey.  This cookie should not be cooked for more than 10 minutes.  The candy corn should be on the interior of the cookies, not touching the baking sheet as the corn could melt or burn.  I got this recipe from AverieCooks.com; this is the second recipe of hers I have tried and so far she is two for two.

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Now I did have some teeny tiny issues making these cookies (all my own fault I assure you).  The first was that I actually ran out of all purpose flour.  I didn’t even think that was possible.  On my way out to work yesterday morning I did a quick peek into my pantry and saw a huge bag of what I thought to be all purpose flour, but it turned out to be bread flour.  Not a huge deal… I used it anyway and the cookies turned out fine.  The only thing I found was that they didn’t quite “spread” when they were baking.  Whatever form they took when they were sitting in the fridge is the shape they stayed.  My other issue was that I a kind of missed the Halloween Candy Corn train.  Apparently it went by weeks again and everyone who wanted candy corn stocked up before I could get my hands on any.  I checked three stores and no luck, so I settled on berry flavoured candy corn.  It’s not quote the same (which is what I frantically explained to the cashier at the Bulk barn) but unfortunately I was SOL.  Next year I think I’ll pick it up much earlier.

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Candy Corn White Chocolate Chip Cookies

makes approximately 20 medium sized cookies. cookies can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one week, or in the freezer for up to four months.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cream or half-and-half
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups candy corn
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

Baking Directions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugars, egg and vanilla extract.  Beat on medium-high for about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the cream, flour, corn starch, baking soda and salt.  Mix until just combined (approx. 1 minute), do not over mix.
  3. Fold in the candy corn and white chocolate chips.
  4. Place 20 large heaping 2-tablespoon mounds of the batter onto a large plate or baking sheet.  Flatten them slightly, cover with plastic wrap, and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to five days before baking.  (**Note from author: do no bake with warm dough as the cookies will spread and bake thinner and flatter.)
  5. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Lightly spray with cooking spray.  Place the cookie mounds on a baking sheet, spacing each mound at least 2 inches apart, and bake for 9 minutes or until edges are set and tops are just beginning to set.
  6. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

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The purple candy corn does not take away from the taste, at all.  It’s just a different taste. This cookie still as Halloween written all over it. And it is so soft and gooey – no crunch just the way I like it.  I hope you enjoy the recipe! Happy Baking.
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A different kind of baking…

184Okay. I know. I suck. A month since my last post.  I wish I could say it was because I’m EXTREMELY busy, and have no time for anyone or anything, but let’s be serious, it’s summer, the weather is fantastic, and I’m spending the majority of my weekends at camp.  As I predicted I am just not making the time this summer.  Plus, after the sweltering 40 degree heat wave (Celsius, not Fahrenheit for my american friends) we just had, I am in no mood to turn on my oven in my unairconditioned apartment, no mood I tell you!    However, the other night I did throw a little something in the oven, and I really had to share.  It’s less of a “omg I want to eat this now” kinda thing and more of a “omg I want to keep this forever” kinda thing.  So, allow me to fill you in.

One of my best friends in the entire world is going on a big adventure, and moving half way across the world to England, where she will be teaching for one year.  She leaves next Sunday and will be hopping on the plane to her new home Monday night.  I am super excited for her.  I thought I would make her a little something for her trip.  Something…friendship-y.  So after a quick search on Pinterest I found a fantastic idea.  Friendship mugs! There are four of us in our little group, so I thought, why not make little friendship mugs for everyone?? Such a fun and nifty idea!  So i did, and here are the steps I took to make it:

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Step one. Buy a mug.

Step two. Buy a Sharpie.

Step three. Write on mug with Sharpie.

Step four. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Now, I gotta say, Pinterest, you have rarely steered me wrong, but as rinsed my beautiful new friendship mug I noticed a slight smudge from one of my lines on my Province of Ontario, right around the Attawapiskat area. Poor Attawapiskat. So anyway, I decided to do more research, and found this site. Thank you breebarkley for your fantastic DIY Sharpie mugs.  Although I only wish I had found you sooner. Here’s what miss breebarkley had to say:

1. Not all Sharpies stay the same colour once baked.  She implies that Red Sharpies often fade to yellow…mine didn’t but that’s probably because it wasn’t baked at the proper temperature.  Through her experience, BIC red markers seem to stay red.

2. Bake at 425 degrees, not 350 degrees, as the glaze on the mug is not hot enough to bind with the marker.

3. The mug needs to be placed in the oven before you turn it on.  This prevents cracking.  It should be baked for 30 minutes.  The timer can be turned on once it’s place in the oven (unless your oven takes forever to heat up, like mine, in which case you can turn on the timer once it reaches 425).

4. When the 30 minutes is up, do not take the mug out of the oven, instead, leave it in there while the over cools to prevent it from cracking.

5. Once the mug has cooled, do the water test….does the ink come off? smudge? anything? If so, do it again.

Other tips include letting the mug sit for 24 hours after drawing your design, using painters tape to help keep your writing straight, and using a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol to fix mess ups.  It’s also a good idea to watch your mug while its in the oven, they can sometimes brown a little bit.  You can find the full blog post at the link I provided above.

So I’m definitely rebaking mine, I want this mug to last me more than a day. This mug sure does hold alot though; I was able to fit in an XL tea from Tim Horton’s this morning…much needed caffeine as it’s Friday morning and my mind is already on my couch with a glass of red wine in one hand, and an Xbox controller in the other.  So I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial…. I know you can’t eat this kind of baking but still, is it not super neat??  Happy Baking friends!!!

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