Superhero Monogram

If you were a superhero, what would the symbol on your cape look like?  We had this conversation recently with Krystopf, Atlas, and Atlas’ sister, shortly after Izod was born, and so I had the idea to design Izod a little logo — you know, just in case he ever ends up being a caped crusader.

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“Izod” in Farsi means “angel,” so it was super easy to come up with an idea that would suit.  And there’s this stress test they use for the breakage point of metal called the IZOD test so I figured I would toss that in as well.  Accordingly, I made a giant “I” out of clay, stuck screws in it as it dried, and sprayed it silver to make it look like a piece of metal (sort of).

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Then I took a wing graphic I found on the internet and made it into a sort of stencil.

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I cut out the shape and used craft paint to fill it in.

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Then it was a simple matter to hot glue the clay piece in place. And some keys I nabbed from a mini keyboard.

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And that is it.

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For the Birds: Edible Holiday Ornaments

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Merry Christmas to everyone!  I hope you are all enjoying the winter holiday season, whichever tradition you celebrate.

Today we’re going to celebrate by feeding our backyard birds.  Both the Pie’s parents and my parents are supremely fond of the feathered creatures that appear outside their windows, so we thought we’d make them a little holiday treat, courtesy of Design Sponge.

First, I’d like to show you a little behind the scenes shot of my office during my Christmas gift-making chaos.  I made these on a tiny patch of floor I’d cleared specifically for the purpose.  It’s amazing what you can hide in a close-up shot …

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Aaaand the closeup.  You will need these things: waxed paper, a spoon, a giant bowl, a tablespoon measure, corn syrup, flour,

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and a honking hunk of birdseed.

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Plop 2 cups bird seed in your bowl with 3/4 cup all purpose flour (we doubled our recipe, hence the enormous amount pictured).

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Give that a stir, then drop in 3 tablespoons corn syrup and 1/2 cup water.  Stir that up too.  It’s gross.

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Prepare your moulds.  You can use cookie cutters on top of waxed paper, but I used these cake moulds I picked up at the Superstore.  If your surfaces are non-stick, that’s cool, but if not you might want to spritz them with a bit of cooking spray first.

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Spoon your sticky birdseed into your moulds and pack it down with a spoon.

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I had extra (obviously), so I made little pucks of bird seed in a muffin tin as well.

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Use a paint brush or straw or pencil to wiggle a hole at the top of each of your bird seed packs. Don’t make it too close to the top of the ornament, as you’ll need enough dried birdseed there to support the weight of the thing.

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Let them dry overnight and then tip them out onto waxed paper.  If they’re still wet, leave them longer to dry or, if you’re in a hurry, bake them for an hour at the lowest temperature in your oven.

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See, it kind of looks like a Christmas ornament …

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I used butcher’s twine to string up my ornaments.

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Then I wrapped them up in waxed paper and tied them with string to give as gifts.

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For the bird lover in every family.

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Victorian-esque Hanging Mirror … from Toilet Paper Rolls

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Okay so I’m not really setting any trends these days when it comes to weird stuff I make that I find on the internet.  I must be getting old.  Or it might be that I seem to never be sitting in front of my computer anymore.  In any case, I made this thing, and you can see things like it all over the internet.  But this one is mine.  And I like it.  So the basic ingredients you need for this are toilet paper/paper towel rolls (how many?  MANY.), a mirror, and something to mount your mirror in.  In this case, I had a 10″ round mirror so I stuffed it in a 10″ embroidery hoop.   You’ll also need scissors and pencils and rulers and glue and paint and something to stick to the whole shebob so it hangs.  Sorry for the technical language.

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Geez, where to begin?  Okay, start with your paper rolls, which you have been assiduously collecting for a month or two.  Or three.

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Pull all the paper bits off them, of course. This is how many I had. I didn’t end up using them all, but I figured from the outset it would be useful to cut them all in case I needed them later.

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Then I measured the depth of my embroidery hoop, which was about 1/2″ inch.

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So then I cut all the paper rolls into 1/2″ segments, to match.

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Now, I discovered that the mirror didn’t fit in the embroidery hoop if the inner hoop was still in place …

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So I took it out and tightened the outer hoop and that was fine.

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I set the hoop (minus the mirror) on my work surface, and then started thinking about a plan. There are many different patterns you can make with those little paper cat’s eyes.

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But I figured the best way was to lay it out around the hoop and see what it looked like. This was one incarnation. I may do that one again sometime.

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Then it all started to come together. I had a design in mind similar to those overly ornate Victorian embellishments, so that’s kind of what came out.

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I figured I would freehand the rest. So then I started gluing, using a hot glue gun.

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But at the top, I had that screw to contend with.

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So with some poking of holes and cutting of slits and things I got it all worked out.

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Then you just kind of keep going.

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When I was satisfied with the number of pieces of paper I’d glued together, I tested out the size and weight. Remember that adding a glass mirror to your design will make it significantly heavier.

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Then I painted. I bought a craft spray paint that was supposedly designed specifically for wood and paper. It turned out to be a different colour than advertised, and it seemed to just get absorbed into the paper and wood, but that was fine. I finished it off with a spritz of glitter and some sealant and there it is.

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Back onto the work surface, face down.

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I set some erasers inside the hoop to hold the mirror at the height I wanted it.

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I bought this mirror from Value Village years ago and I think it was one of those display mirrors for crystal collections, so it already had this nice felt backing on it. I did two tracks of glue around the border and then extra-glued on a piece of hanging hardware.

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It’s cloudy today but you get the idea. I’m quite pleased with it.

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Treats Week: All Truffles, All the Time

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I think I would lead a happier life if every Wednesday was a truffle day.  Just sayin’.

I have an easy kind of truffles for you today, delicious to the max.  They make great nibblies to have on hand for guests who drop by, and also elegant little gifts.  And the best part of this recipe (which I have modified from here and here), aside from its simplicity and versatility, is that they’re totally vegan and gluten-free.  So you can make everyone happy.  Serve them with chokladboll for fika and it will be even more impressive.

Soak about 15 medjool dates (those are the big ones) for about 15 minutes.

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While the dates are relaxing in their nice bath, take about 1 cup dessicated coconut, and chuck it in your food processor.  Pulse that until you have teeny flakes, and set half of it aside for coating the finished truffles.

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Do the same with 1 cup walnuts, almonds, pecans, or nut of your choosing, reserving half for coating.  I toasted these ones first.

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Dump the other half of the coconut and nuts back in the food processor.

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Add the soaked dates to the food processor, as well as 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk.  Alternately, you can use a few tablespoons of coconut oil.

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Now what you should know here is that I both doubled the recipe and my food processor is really small, so I did this in batches and mixed it together in a bowl.

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Pulse that gooey mass until it’s all finely combined and forming a huge ball.  Chuck that in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

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Then you can start making truffles balls with your hands.  Take about 2 tablespoons of the mixture and roll it in your palms to form a rough sphere. This was my hand after doing the whole batch.

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Roll about a third of your truffles in unsweetened cocoa powder (with an extra sprinkling of cayenne if you wish), another third in your coconut flakes, and the last third in the crushed nuts.

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Keep these in the fridge, or freeze them for later on down the road. My doubled recipe made 48 truffles.

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They’re so pretty and tasty and spicy!

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Finger Knit Basket

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I know, it’s been a long time coming.  I promised to show you what I ended up doing with those long felted strings of finger knitting I made back in October.  Well here it is.  So my carpal tunnel in my wrists right now is so bad I can’t actually do real knitting for longer than ten minutes before my fingers go completely numb.  I’m getting massage therapy for it and it’s helping, but the road to recovery is slow.  As a result of this, I still haven’t finished the Atlas blanket that I was making for Krystopf and Atlas for their wedding.  I needed a sort of stop-gap present to keep them appeased (not that they even care) until I was ready to present them with the real thing.

After I felted that one ball of finger knit merino wool, I went on to do five more; in total, I had two black strings, two maroon strings, and two olive green strings.  The Pie actually finger knit one of the green strings all by himself, grumbling and complaining the whole time.

Then I felted each one by chucking it in the washing machine — and then the dryer if it was needed.  The green ones felted differently from the rest, despite being the same wool — so there was a longer string of green than anything else.

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I tied each matching string to its partner and rolled it up in a giant ball.

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Then I braided them all together.  This took a very, very long time, because I kept having to move the balls around while I was braiding.  I found it was easier to keep the balls from rolling all over the place and unraveling if I put them in saved produce bags from the grocery store.

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Finally I had a huge thick braid. The idea is to coil it all together, like so.  This would be the bottom of the basket.  Then sew the braid to itself, like you would a braided rug, or that doily I made last year.

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When I got enough of a base going, I started to loop the braid on top of itself, to form the sides of the basket.

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I kept the basket relatively narrow, not letting it get too wide (though that would be neat, too), and so I was left with a lot more braid once I’d gotten the basket to a size I liked.  I just tied it off and sewed it down and that was that.

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And that leftover green string?  I actually finger knit the felted finger knit, forming this tight little braid, the perfect length for a handle  Tada!

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I sewed that into the top of the basket and now we’re good to go!

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Distractions: Easy Finger Paints

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It’s Christmas Eve.  If you have small children, I’m sure your nerves are frayed with their over-excitement.  We’re having enough trouble dealing with just Rusty today, and he’s over thirty.

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Why not whip up this quick distraction tool (from Easie Peasie, what a great name) for the young (and old) to keep them busy for a while.  It’s worth the mess, I think.

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In a small saucepan, combine 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup corn starch, and 2 cups water.

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Heat, whisking often, until the mixture starts to thicken.  It happens all at once, so make sure you’re paying attention.

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BAM.

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If you keep going it will turn into plastic, so make sure it’s still stir-able when you take it off the heat.

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Remove from the heat and pour it into individual containers.

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Use food colouring to create the desired colours.

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Stir those colours in well.  Make sure you scrape the bottom and sides to get it all mixed in.

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I went with the classic rainbow.

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Keep the paints sealed and out of direct sunlight.  Give them a bit of a stir before using, because there will be a bit of a dry skin on top.

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When I was young my dad refinished our back room, where the laundry machines were, and the door to the backyard.  While it was empty, my mother chucked in a huge roll of craft paper and a pile of finger paints and I would spend hours back there, making a mess.  I’m handing these (along with a roll of craft paper) over to the Incredibly Little Hulk and Il Principe when they get back from Kansas so I’m sure I will be soon seeing some very painty little boys.

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