Happy Hallowe’en!

It’s been super busy here with our family recently so I didn’t even have time to carve a pumpkin this year. I do have a couple shots of our decor and LongJohn’s costume for your enjoyment. And a promise of a new cookie recipe this week that I have yet to invent. Enjoy your day! 

Advertisements

Work in Progress: Poison Ivy Hallowe’en Costume

It’s getting to be that time of year, folks. And the annoying thing about posting seasonal stuff on a blog where you don’t necessarily plan too far ahead is that things like Hallowe’en costumes can’t be posted until *after* Hallowe’en, which is a little lame. But at least they can be inspiration for next year.

Poison Ivy 2015 33

This year, the Pie and I are heading out on vacation and we won’t be home for Hallowe’en. The Pie has a tournament in Toronto that weekend so I’m teaming up with Chel and her friends and we’re doing a group costume: Batman, Robin, and assorted villains. I am unreasonably excited to go as Poison Ivy and join the group. This costume has taken a considerable amount of planning, so it may even top Wolverine as one of my best costumes to date.

I’ll show you what I have come up with so far and hopefully it’ll inspire you as well.

One of the issues with female comic book characters, especially those written by DC, is that they tend to come scantily clad. And I don’t want to show that much skin. There will be children in our group. And sometimes it snows on Hallowe’en in Canada. And nobody likes being naked in the snow. So part of the challenge was to take the traditional PI getup and make it a bit more … modest. Because holy Hanna that is just not my style.

I started off with the basic corset, in green, and I found one on Amazon that also had a wee skirt that came with it (the skirt is MUCH shorter than advertised but oh well).

Poison Ivy 2015 2

After strapping myself into it in a rather undignified manner I realized that the flimsy, slippery ribbons that made up the laces were all that was holding the whole thing together. And I have quite a bit that needs holding in. I could see one of them snapping under the pressure and having a disaster on my hands.

Poison Ivy 2015 3

So I replaced the laces, front and back, with a sturdier material: parachute cord.  Not only was I now more confident that the corset bindings wouldn’t spontaneously explode, but it was actually easier to lace up because there was more friction with the cord.

Poison Ivy 2015 7

Now I could lace it up good and tight and it wasn’t going anywhere. Problem was, this thing is made for people with smaller … assets than I have, and there was some danger of a spill (and there will be children present), so I had to wear a bra underneath to keep everything where it should be. And the bra peeked over the top of the corset. Not good.

Poison Ivy 2015 21

I had to therefore disguise the bra as best I could (because there was no hiding it and I was sure as shooting not going without). Fortunately for me the local Fabricland is about five minutes from our house, so I popped in and found exactly what I needed.

Poison Ivy 2015 27

I basted some trim and sequins onto the bra wherever it was exposed. I also put some more trim at the bottom so that it would blend in with the similar trim at the top of the corset. The sequins might be overkill but I love them.

Poison Ivy 2015 30

Poison Ivy 2015 32

Right. I’m not hanging out anywhere now. This is good. But I’m so tightly strapped into this thing that I’m having trouble breathing. It’s not like I can simply loosen the laces – the whole thing will fall off. And it has no give whatsoever. I needed a bit of a release valve built into this to save my lungs. I bought some 6″ wide elastic from Fabricland as well, and I will cut out two of the back panels and replace it with four pieces of sewn-together elastic. This way the corset can still be as tight as it needs to be but my ribcage can also expand and contract as needed. But I had to go out of town twice for work (I’m in Indiana as I write this and as you read this) so it’ll have to wait until I get back.

Poison Ivy 2015 26

Then, there was the issue of hair. PI’s hair is red and long. Mine is short and brown. Normally I dress as a dude for Hallowe’en simply because having short hair makes it easy to do. This year I had to go to extremes. I picked up this wig for super cheap (thanks Amazon), and after an interminable wait it arrived.

Poison Ivy 2015 17
It’s been about ten years since I’ve had hair this long, or this red.

But how am I going to stay warm, you ask? Well I found a pair of green fleece tights and a pair of fingerless green elbow gloves and those are going to be very handy.

And then there’s this. This is an opera cloak hand-sewn by my great grandmother about 100 or so years ago. I used to play dress-up with it all the time and amazingly it’s still in beautiful shape. It hasn’t fit me across the shoulders and chest since I was about nine years old, however (my great-grandmother being one of those tiny elfin type ladies). After some consultation with my mother we decided to remove the sleeves to give me some more room to move around. She’s working on it as we speak.

Poison Ivy 2015 1

I have some other grand plans including temporary tattoos, fake vines, and lots and lots of glitter. I’ll keep you posted about how they turn out!

Happy Hallowe’en!

Hallowe'en 2014 1

We’re excited to spend our first Hallowe’en in our new place – there are tons of kids everywhere, so we went all out. They’re predicting rain for today so I’ve only put up half of our decorations for now. We can’t wait to have our own house with a big front yard that we can fill with all kinds of spooky spectacles.

Hallowe'en 2014 3

I have some red lights to put in the chest cavity of Skully, our skeleton.

Hallowe'en 2014 6

I’m especially pleased with the pumpkin this year – I got a ghost pumpkin, the white kind, and made it into the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, the evil villain from Ghostbusters, one of my favourite movies of all time.

Hallowe'en 2014 9

And my fall leaf wreath is seasonally fitting as it decays.

Hallowe'en 2014 4

Our Hallowe’en party isn’t until tomorrow, but the Pie STILL doesn’t have his costume ready (TSK!). I’m going as a gorgon, as the party is monster themed. Because I have short hair, I made a hat of snakes to look like my actual hair. I used Model Magic because it’s flexible and lightweight. I named myself Zola, so I could introduce myself as the Gorgon Zola (like the cheese! Get it? GET IT?)

IMAG1455-1-1

This is WAYYYY less itchy than that horrid beard I wore last year (though I did win best costume because Wolverine is awesome).

IMAG0080

Have a safe and happy Hallowe’en!

Happy Hallowe’en!

I’m actually disappointed: this is my six hundredth and sixty-SEVENTH post, so I can’t say that it’s #666.  Darn.  So this is me looking disappointed.  Yes, I moonlight as Wolverine.

IMAG0080

Actually, we went as Off-Day Avengers to our most recent Hallowe’en party.  Here you have Peter Parker (Spider-Man):

IMAG0086-1

Tony Stark (Iron Man):

IMAG0088-1

Clint Barton (Hawkeye):

IMAG0089-1
This is especially funny because Trav is wearing a SIMON COWELL wig. And Hawkeye is supposed to be blond …

And me, James Howlett/Logan (Wolverine):

IMAG0091-1-2
Not much difference between civilian Wolverine and actual working Wolverine …

I’d show you our pumpkins but as of yesterday (when I wrote this), we haven’t had a chance to carve them yet.  I bet mine will be a giant squid.  Just sayin’.

Have a safe and happy one folks!

So Long Sucker! Creepy Hallowe’en Sucker Stand

Sucker Stand 34

I actually made this project LAST year, but because I never get my holiday stuff organized in time to publish it any time before the holiday it’s for, I decided to set this up so I would look timely and well-prepared this year.

MUGS Mixer 6

Anyway, last year, back when the Pie and I were still in St. John’s (weird that we’re not there anymore), Fussellette organized a mixer for the geographical society at MUN and she decided on having a candy bar for everyone to snack on while they got jiggy (do people even say that in the far-off future of 2013?  Better question: do people even say that NOW?).  I volunteered to make a stand for the suckers Fussellette insisted on having, along with our FORTY POUNDS of other candy that we bought.

Sucker Stand 2

You might like to make something like this for your own Hallowe’en party.

Sucker Stand 32

At first I thought I would just do something plain, like a store display, but maybe with some sparkly skulls we’d picked up from Dollarama.  But then, I was looking at a shoe box and I was struck dumb with inspiration (not true: I immediately texted Fussellette about my genius and then told the Pie all about it, despite him not wanting to know).  So here’s what I came up with.

Sucker Stand 5

I’m going to make a grave yard — well, part of one.  It will have a freshly covered grave with headstone and some nice grass all about, and little holes for holding all the suckers.  That will be the top of the box.  Then the extra suckers (there were 100 in the bag) can be stored inside the box itself.

So first, on the shoe box I drew where I wanted the grave to go.

Sucker Stand 6

Then I used a punch to make some evenly spaced holes where the suckers would eventually fit.

Sucker Stand 7

In order to make it so the suckers didn’t just slide all the way through the holes until they were stopped by their candy tops, I had to construct a little hanging platform on the underside of the box lid that would prevent their sliding around and also not interfere with the opening and closing of the box itself.  I just taped a few pieces of spare cardboard in strategic places and there we go.

Sucker Stand 8

Sucker Stand 10

Now I got to do the fun stuff.

Sucker Stand 4

I had a package of Model Magic lying around that I didn’t yet have a project connected to, so I figured its lightweight nature would be perfect to make a gravestone.  A bit of shaping (not too much, as I wanted the stone to look old and cracked) and some choice words (stamped in with the same punch I used for the holes) and I set that aside for the requisite 72 hours to dry.  I’m going to paint it later.

Sucker Stand 13

To ensure that the surface of my gravesite didn’t end up accidentally filling in the holes I punched, I marked their places with wooden skewers.

Sucker Stand 11

Then I went outside.  This moss I hauled up from the path next door and the dirt is from my garden. This explains why I can’t grow anything.  I keep taking all the dirt.

Sucker Stand 3

Spread some Mod Podge.  Attach some moss (I snipped off only the tops of the moss, and replanted it when I was done).  Repeat.

Sucker Stand 14

For the grave dirt, I mixed my garden dirt with some Mod Podge to make mud of sorts, and spooned it onto the area.  I added a few rocks for visual interest, and then sprinkled some un-glued dirt on top to get the colour right.  Then I left THAT for 48 hours to dry.  You can still see the box through some of the moss but honestly, I don’t think anyone else would look this closely at a candy dispenser.  Mostly they are probably just thinking “Free candy!  Gimme!”

Sucker Stand 16

Sucker Stand 17

Sucker Stand 18

Once you’ve got all the stuff glued and set, you can take away the skewers.

Sucker Stand 19

While it was drying I tacked on some black construction paper with tape as a sort of border to the whole thing, and to cover the shoe box-ness of the shoe box.  Then I used craft paint to freehand a picket fence all around (you can see it in the finished shots).

Then, much later, I painted the headstone, filling in the text with black craft paint and adding a bit of texture here and there.

Sucker Stand 24

Sucker Stand 25

Sucker Stand 28

Hot glue that sucker (ha) onto the dried Mod Podge mud and we’re good to go.

Sucker Stand 29

Sucker Stand 30

Insert suckers. You can store extras underneath, inside the box.

Sucker Stand 31

EAT SUCKERS. MWAHAHAHAHAHA.

Sucker Stand 35

Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate Braised Cabbage

Tenderloin & Pom Cabbage 14

I actually cooked this recipe up on Hallowe’en, but with my garnish it looked so darned festive I had to push back the publishing date to sometime when people start thinking of roasting chestnuts and Frosty the Snowman.  But for authenticity I am listening to Toccata and Fugue in D Minor while I type this up.  Spooky.  Yet festive.

Tenderloin & Pom Cabbage 13

Anyway, there are lots of things you can do with pork tenderloin, and they’re extra handy when you’re in a rush because they cook so quickly. In addition to roasting up nice and tender in the oven, you can also slice up raw tenderloin into medallions for a fast fry, which is what we do here.  This recipe, modified a bit, comes from a recent Every Day Food.

Tenderloin & Pom Cabbage 1

First you want to peel off all the silvery skin on your pork tenderloin, to make it extra tender.

Tenderloin & Pom Cabbage 3

Then you can slice it up into relatively thin medallions.  Mine are about 3/4″-1″ thick.

Tenderloin & Pom Cabbage 4

Then you will take a small cabbage (red one will be prettier, but I prefer the taste of green) like this one.

Tenderloin & Pom Cabbage 5

And chop it all up into shreds.

Tenderloin & Pom Cabbage 6

Now, heat some oil in your beautifully seasoned cast iron skillet and cook your pork medallions on medium-high until they are done all the way through and slightly brown on the outside.  Put them on a plate somewhere and cover them to keep them warm.

Tenderloin & Pom Cabbage 7

Then take your cabbage and plop it in your still hot skillet.  Cook that, tossing occasionally, until it’s all wilted.

Tenderloin & Pom Cabbage 8

Then pour in about 1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice.

Tenderloin & Pom Cabbage 9

Raise the heat a little bit and let that simmer down until it’s reduced to about half and starts to thicken.  I used unsweetened juice, so I suspect if mine had had more sugar in it it might have thickened a bit more (notice how there are two incidences of duplicated words in that sentence?).  At this point, add in about 3 tablespoons butter and a dash of red wine vinegar and you’re ready to serve.

Tenderloin & Pom Cabbage 10

I garnished my rather sadly coloured green cabbage with some steamed frozen peas and some fresh pomegranate seeds for festivity’s sake, and we had roasted potatoes on the side.  It was highly tasty.

Tenderloin & Pom Cabbage 11

Happy Hallowe’en! Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Sucker Stand 41

Cheerio, all!  My costume this year is Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.  I found this blue Shetland wool suit in a second-hand store last winter, bought the vintage hat from Vintage Me & Mom on Etsy, and, well, I already have the matching corgi!

Sucker Stand 40

So I will be sweltering in this itchy and unflattering getup (the suit is super bulky) all day at the office, but it’s worth it because it means I get to enjoy the office Hallowe’en lunch!

Experimenting with Animal Portrait Settings
Did you say LUNCH?

Until then, we’ve been snacking on roasted pumpkin seeds leftover from our pumpkin-off the other day.

Pumpkin-Off 2012

The first thing you need to do is separate the stringy orange stuff from the seeds themselves. You can leave it on, and it will add to the flavour, but it tends to burn. The easiest way to do this is to put them in a strainer and run water over them.  Or fill the bowl they’re in with water and filter them out with your fingers. Then dump the seeds into a towel and dry them off.

Pumpkin-Off 2012

Preheat your oven to 350°F and haul out a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. In a large bowl, toss your pumpkin seeds with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Then add whatever spices or herbs or what have you that you’d like. I went with a sprinkle of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper, and some grated parmesan I had left over in the fridge. Make sure all those lovely ingredients get all over everything.

Pumpkin-Off 2012

Spread them out on your baking sheet so they’re in a single layer and roast for about 30 minutes. I made sure to stir them around about every 10 minutes.

Pumpkin-Off 2012

If you find them a little oily when they come out of the oven, dump them on some paper towels to absorb some of the butter before serving.

Pumpkin-Off 2012

Here they are, fresh from the oven and ready for snacking!

Pumpkin-Off 2012