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

Living the Plantlife

photo 3So I want a garden. I want to grow squash, peppers, strawberries and zucchini. I want to grow corn and potatoes, regular and sweet, and I want to grow tomatoes and jalapenos and even herbs.  I want to grow everything. All my own stuff. Two problems: 1. I kill everything, and 2. I live in an apartment with no yard to grow a garden.  But this year I decided I just HAD to grown SOMETHING.  And after promising myself that I would not forget to water my beautiful plant babies, I decided to buy some cherry tomato plants and a few jalapeno plants.  I also decided to to grow come herbs: coriander, parsley, basil lettuce leaf, rosemary and chives.  Since I don’t have a place to put a garden, I borrowed a few planter pots from my boyfriend’s mom (she is my teacher in this whole… “growing thing”) and put four small jalapeno plants in one pot, four small tomato plants in another, and all five of my herbs into the third.  My tomato and jalapeno plants have yet to sprout, and according to their little plant information sign thingies, tomatoes take about 60 – 65 days to mature and jalapenos take 60 to 80 days to mature.  So I should see some tomatoes around the end of July and the peppers probably closer to the end of the summer.

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 I am super duper, over the moon ecstatic about my mini garden.

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When my boyfriend and I {hopefully} buy a home next year, we will plant a big garden with as many veggies as possible.  And eventually, we want to build a greenhouse when we can grown our own produce all year round. Of course, that’s a stretch from my three potted veggies and herbs, but we’ll get there one day.  For now, I’m just working on not accidentally killing the plants I have now. I can rarely keep plants alive inside my home, but I think the reasoning for that I don’t care enough to remember to water them… and then they die.  Which, is sad, I don’t want to be a plant murderer, I want to be a plant grower, a gardener, a herb whisperer, a seedling soother, a shrub nourisher.  I want to be like professor sprout from Harry Potter, just a total boss when it comes to gardening.

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I of course, had to purchase a bright pink watering can. Because, you know, it’s pink, and pink water cans water plants more efficiently. Everyone know that.

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 Now, onto the recipe I’m going to share.  The recipe is simple, quick, excellent for a weeknight meal, and contains loads of fresh rosemary from my herb garden.  I can across this recipe at bakedatmidnite.com while browsing Pinterest and tailored it a little based on the veggies I have in my house.

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Roasted Rosemary Chicken and Vegetables

serves two

Ingredients

  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced into small pieces
  • 1 cup mushrooms, cut into strips
  • 1 large bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup red onion, sliced
  • 1 tbs olive oil for browning chicken
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

to make the sauce

  • 2 large rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Cooking Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and add to the skillet, browning on both sides.  This should take 5 to 8 minutes per side.
  2. Add all vegetables to a large bowl and toss in 2 tbsp. olive oil. Spread the veggies evenly over the bottom of a n oven safe baking dish. Top with brown chicken.
  3. Mix all sauce ingredients together and pour over chicken and vegetables.  Add another few rosemary sprigs (whole) on top if desired, and bake at 400 F degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

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So, super fantabulous right? Love love love this recipe and it’s great because it doesn’t really require much effort, making it a perfect weeknight dinner.  I like to add a little more wine to the mix as well.  After I pour the sauce over the chicken and veggies, I dump a little more wine over the chicken and veggies so that the veggies are almost completely immersed.  This helps ensure the veggies will soften a little more.  Ken likes his veggies a little firmer so this time around I didn’t do that, but I prefer a softer veggie.  I love the fact that I can use a little bit of what I’ve grown in this recipe.

I absolutely wish I had the ability to start my big gigantic vegetable (and maybe fruit?) garden this year, but I guess I’ll just have to wait until my and Ken have a backyard to plant one in.  Happy baking!

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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!!!!

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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Gum Paste and Fondant Flowers

So this week, instead of my usual “cupcake flavour of the week”, I decided to put some of the skills I’ve developed from my cake decorating course to use and created some amazing flowers to top some basic chocolate cupcakes.  This took a lot of time and effort over the weekend, but in the end I was able to create eight cupcakes with daisy toppers, eight cupcakes with rose toppers, and eight cupcakes with fondant blossom and sugar pearl toppers.  The daisies and blossoms were simple enough, but the roses took a lot of time, about 10-15 minutes per rose, plus some preparing the day before.  Can you say dedicated? Eek. Anyways, I had tons of fun putting these together, and so far they’ve been a hit.  At risk of this post being the longest post ever with all of the details I’d have to divulge regarding each flower, I decided to create a new section on my blog labeled “TUTORIALS”.  This page will be the designated how to page, and I will refer to it from now on for all of my future tutorials.  On another note, this week is my last cake decorating class! Yes, I am quite sad about this…I just want it to go on forever! However on the plus side I will be completing my master cake this Thursday, and will be giving it to my Aunt for her 50th birthday.  I’m planning a zebra print cake, yes, you heard it right, zebra print, with a hot pink bow.  It will be centered on a fondant covered, decorated cake board that I already prepared in last weeks class. Hopefully this doesn’t blow up in my face, zebra print looks complicated.  Wish me luck! I will update with my progress on Friday.

This weeks cupcakes were a “floral themed” bunch.  Here are some pictures of the scrumptious awesomeness that were my cupcakes. Follow the links to see the tutorial for each flower.  If anything is unclear comment and I will get back to you ASAP.

Gum Paste Roses

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Gum Paste Daisies

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Fondant Flower Blossoms with Sugar Pearls

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How to Make a Fondant Bow

So on Thursday I took my first cake decorating class.  Practice makes perfect and I figured there’s a few things the teacher could show me that I may not be able to perfect by watching You Tube videos.  The class was Wilton’s course 3: Gum paste and Fondant (yes I plan on taking 1 and 2 eventually), and it was awesome I learnt so much!  With the course I purchased a a student kit that contained all of the tools I’ll need for the course, including…drum roll please…a ribbon cutter! One of our first tasks was to create a fondant bow.  I’m sure everyone remembers my Christmas cake, but to refresh your memory:

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So with this bow, I hand cut the bow loops with a knife and a ruler, and by following this tutorial I was able to create a fabulous present cake!  The bow loops, once completely dry, were placed on a blob of buttercream at the point on the cake where I wanted the bow straps to meet.  The Wilton class taught me how to create a bow with no buttercream, and by using a ribbon cutter which made things a lot easier.  Also, another tip I got was to use a a roll and cut mat when working with the fondant or gum paste, and I found this was most helpful in preventing the fondant from sticking to my work surface.  This was a pretty exciting revelation for me and i think it will make covering a cake in fondant a lot easier next time (and less of a mess!).

What you’ll need:

  • a roll and cut mat
  • a fondant roller
  • a ribbon cutter set up for 1 inch cuts
  • a gum paste and fondant mix (I did 6 oz fondant mixed with 6 ox gum paste, but I definiately had alot left over so you probably don’t need that much)
  • vegetable shortening
  • small brush
  • 1/4 cup of water mixed with a small amount of gum paste (broken into pieces) – this is your glue.
  • Wilton circle fondant cutters

Step one: Roll out your fondant and gum paste mix until approximately 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch thick, ensuring that it is equal on all sides.  If it becomes sticky, while you’re kneading your fondant before rolling, apply a small amount of vegetable shortening to your hands and it will help.

Step two: Create your bow loop strips! On your ribbon cutter you will have the option of using straight, wavy, or zig zag cutters.  I used wavy.  Run your ribbon cutter over your rolled fondant, pressing firmly to ensure you cut all the way through (this can sometimes be difficult with thicker fondant)

Step three: For this bow, you will need 14 to 16 bow loops, each bow loop should be 1 inch wide (which your roller should take care of) and 5 inches long.  You can cut them using an angled spatula.

Step four: Once you have your bow loop strips, add a small amount of  your gum paste and water mix to one end of the strip using a small brush, and loop the strip to make the bow loop.  Press the ends together firmly, and then cut the edges where you made the press using a angled spatula.  Once this is done, place the bow loop on its side, and form them into bow loops.  Try to curve them “up” slightly, they will be easier to place into a bow.  Allow them to dry slightly, I left mine to sit for about an hour or so, but the thinner the bow loops the less time it takes.

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Step five: Make your circles.  The Wilton circle fondant cutters come in a pack of three.  Make a circular fondant cutout of each of the three sizes.

Step six: Place the biggest circle down on a piece of waxed paper.  Now you’re ready to start assembling the bow! Brush a small amount of the water and gum paste mixture on the bottom of the end of the bow loops, and press them to the circle.  Because the edged of the bow loop have been cut off they will easily fit around the circle.

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Step seven: Once the first row is done, place the medium circle over the edges of the bow loops, and start your second row.  The bow should be place between the spaces of those in the first row.

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Step eight: once the second row is complete place the smallest circle on the bow loop edges and complete your final row.  Add in any extra bow loops where possible to fill in any gaps.

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And voila! There’s your fondant bow! Of course you can do it in any colour, in any size, with any type of cutter attachments to make the bow different.  The possibilities are endless! Happy decorating!

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