Saturday, 31 October 2009

Happy Halloween

Jack Skellington Pumpkin, carved quickly in about 20 minutes with no template and being rush by a very excited Happy Zombie Boy! Happy Halloween Everyone!

Friday, 30 October 2009

blood, rice and tears

Supernatural drink tumbler (diner coffee only)

Before we had a little jaunt down to the south coast to have a mini holiday staying at a lovely little thatched cottage (pictures soon but they aren't downloaded from M's camera yet) I did a bit of crafting while packing the suitcase. The crafting was for Flamesparrow who lives in Bournemouth and who we were going to visit and get to cuddle her new little flamechick. I had bought a lovely little red and white striped outfit (as Toby as I could find) and thought I would attempt to do something crafty for her as I actually felt creative.

another view

I didn't know what to make for her at first but I seemed to have remember promising her a lavender and rice bag for minor aches and pain so I dug out the small bit of tattoo fabric and H helped me sew it into a pouch and fill it with rice and quite a bit of lavender. H said it was perfect and that Flame would love it, because we made it special with love. H then wandered off with a box of wooden beads saying he had something important and secret to make.

tattoo lavender and rice warm bag

So I finished packing the suitcase, made a cup of coffee and then I looked at the new design your own tumbler I bought from Starbucks the week before, I had bought it for myself but hadn't gotten around to doing anything with it (hectic week from hell). The tumbler stared back at me and then I remembered Flame complaining that she didn't have a Supernatural (addicted to the show) mug like me (Frizbe bought it for my birthday last year and it lives at the shop for book group) . I thought I would make a Supernatural tumbler for Flame, using a vintage dictionary page (tea stained), red food colouring for blood (*ahem* I have misplaced my box of paints), and hand stamped Supernatural (which sinks a bit on the 'A' and 'L').

tattoo warm bag for Flamesparrow

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Can you hear it?

Miss Gulch... can you hear the music yet?

The Boy... .can you hear it now?

Friday, 23 October 2009

Skellingtons, vampires and applesauce

cinnamon apple sauce

I should be doing a post for each of these creations but I just finished the Jack Skellington cake for H's birthday party later and I am terrible pleased I think I may fly about the room in a minute.. or at least fly up to wash my hair....

Jack Skellington cake

really must run as I cant find my witches hat and I need it for H's party (his actual 6th birthday isn't till Monday)

vampire cupcake


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Halloween Meme

The wind blows bitter through the last of the autumn leaves, time to huddle by the fire a spell, clutching a cup of steaming tea (coffee or cider you choose your poison) soon all manner of ghosts and goblins will be ranging the streets in search of sickeningly sweet treats. Time for a Halloween Meme (the questions of which I compiled from a few different meme floating about the tinterwebs)....

What is your favorite work of horror fiction? hmm I love the Stand by Stephen King, though I suppose its more epic than a simple spine chiller. I used to obsess over the stories on tape when I was in elementary school, you know the beep turn the page ones, there used to be a couple of spooky stories I would listen to again and again. Like the one about the woman with the ribbon around her neck who tells her husband never to touch it and he does, and her head rolls off... and the one about Bluebeard .... I'm also quite addicted to the Anita Blake, and Sookie Stackhouse series which I suppose are technically paranormal romance/urban fantasy/gothic

What is your favorite work of science fiction/fantasy?

Who is your favorite monster? hmmm Vampires

Favourite Horror movie? ohh I love all sorts.. especially crappy ones.. nothing is more fun than being curled up in a dark room laughing your ass off at some terrible monster movie... Resident Evil, Monster Squad, Critters, Aliens, Young Frankenstein, the Nightmare Before Christmas, Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice...... I could go on and on but my brain is sluggish today.. I need coffee stat!

What horror movie gives you the most chills? Alien scared me half to death the first time I watched it as a kid.. after that its never quite the same chill....

What character from any horror film would you most like to play? Alice in the Resident evil flicks... she kicks ass and survives

Freddy or Jason? Freddy

What is your favorite Halloween treat? candy corn.. or haribo sour cherry candy

Ghosts or goblins? depends on the Goblin I suppose some can be quite cute... or can be evil like the little bastard that pops out of the toilet in Ghoulies 2

Friendly-faced jack o’lantern or scary one? friendly

What is your scariest encounter with the paranormal? nothing specific but sometimes you go into a house or place and it just feels creepy.

Do you believe in ghosts? yes.. why not? there are too many things out there that we don't know about.

Would you rather be a zombie, alien, or psycho? hmmm an alien with a fast ship methinks

Favorite Halloween costume? as a kid I liked to be a witch, a cat, or a vampire.. I don't think things have changed all that much

Best thing about Halloween? candy and crappy movies and just the whole thing.. I think I would live in Halloween Town if I could.

Person in your family who most likes Halloween (not counting yourself)? the Boy... he thinks Halloween is the best thing ever! the last 3 birthday parties have been a Halloween theme.. this year I have to make a Jack Skellington birthday cake.. I think I can pull it off.

Are you superstitious? If so, name at least one superstition of yours. not particularly .. at least nothing I can think of right now.

If you have read this consider yourself tagged leave me a comment and I will trundle over to read your meme answers and hopefully remember a few more crappy horror movies to gleefully add to my list!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

the cookie cutter caper

skull cookie cutter

So I was sitting here curled in my favourite chair thinking about Halloweeny things and this little worm of a though crept into my pestered and pestered.

Me: Halloween soon… and I need to sort out a pumpkin shaped cake for the Boy's birthday

my brain: Nah don't want to do that...

me: must look up icing recipes and find a bunt cake tin to make the cake pumpkin-y.

my brain: Boring

me: I have had a crappy week, I'm tired and I need to do something productive.

my brain: thats no fun.. I know Dia De los Muertos.

me: What?

my brain: the Mexican Day of the Dead

me: I know... what about it.

my brain: cookies!!!!

me: what?

my brain: sugar skull cookies.

me: I don't have a skull shaped cookie cutter.

my brain: the internets

me: *sigh*

my brain: that's it that’s perfect!

me: its not available.

my brain: ask our friends... tweet it

goes on twitter.....pleads for skull cookie cutters...

meridianariel *grump* trying to find a nice "skull" cookie cutter to make sugar skull cookies .. gerrrr help?

snowflakeunique @meridianariel found these ones.

meridianariel @snowflakeunique lovely but the postage ouch...any uk ones? All I have seen are sets and I only want a skull for Dia Dae los Muertos cookies

snowflakeunique @meridianariel good old lakeland ?

my brain: lets go shopping in Derby...we need clothes and coffee too.

me: I hate shopping... but it would be nice to get out of the house... coffee is good...and there are books..

my brain: yay.. and cookie cutters....
so off my brain and I trundle to Derby, in search of cookie cutters... FAIL .... the only skull cookie cutter is one in a Halloween mini set from Lakeland, as I already have Halloween cookie cutters (bat, cat, tombstone, ghost) and dont need more. In the mean time I meet up with my friend Ali and have a blubber about being homesick for the states, depressed, and despairing of the state of Halloween around these here parts, I refrain from telling her about my cookie cutter obsession. I shopped for clothes drank rather too many iced lattes.

my brain: no cookie cutters then? *is sad*

me: nope

my brain: we're clever and crafty can't we make one?

...googles on phone with free mall wi-fi while drinking iced latte. Cookie cutter tutorial

me: *snorting with laughter* sharp metal? and stuff from the hardware store.. I'm thinking not.. hmmm I wonder....

my brain: wait... what?

me: what if we got a round cookie cutter and reshaped it?

trundles off to a cook shop and purchases a large round metal cookie cutter.
meridianariel Have bought a round cookie cutter and am going to bend it into a skull shape! I will win or die trying.

--------------------------dude zombies...go see it NOW!

Then Matt met me at the mall and we went to go see Zombieland and the cookie cutter was forgotten.

Me: OMG Zombies!!! *zombie glee*

Matt: *zombie glee*

My brain: dude zombies rock! *zombie glee*
The next day I sit at my desk and get the pliers out and being to shape and bend the cookie cutter, using my hands, the desk, and the pliers.

My brain: that’s not a skull….it’s a mushroom!

Me: It’s not finished yet!

My brain: just saying like…sheesh.. trying to be helpful and all.


My brain: it’s a skull! It’s a skull… It’s ALIVE!!! *mad scientist laughter*

Me: *sighs*

My brain: cookies cookies cookies cookies…

Me: *face palm* it’s not the Day of the Dead yet…

My brain: … cookies?

Me: no

My brain: you suck…

me: whatever...

the end

what? True story it totally happened that way.

poison peach

poison peach

I really got into this swap after much dithering, fussing, crying, and whimpering over my crafting abilities. I knew I wanted to make a peach (because that's what the Goblin King gives Hoggle to give Sarah) and had 3 attempts before settling on this final peach, made with linen, a vintage doily, felt, a stick and a vintage button, and stuffed with poly-fil and dried lavender. I was terribly worried about it and dithered for a day about sending it or not, but after not looking at it for a few hours and going back to it my nerves calmed and I was very pleased with how it turned out and a part of me wanted to keep it for myself.

Sarah with book illustration

The illustration I did of Sarah reading from the Labyrinth, its not as dark as this but its the best picture I could get after a dismal day and messing about in paintshop for ages. I'm glad Amanda says she likes everything because I was so worried as she is fantastic and makes such beautiful children's clothing and sent me such a fab swap. I did think that even if she hated everything I had still bribed her with Reece's Pieces so she couldn't complain too much! ;)

terrible picture of everything sent, including: oreos, reese's pieces, knitting needle bangle, onyx and mandarin jade bracelet, illustration, needle book, and a fat quarter of fab fabric

another view of the poison peach from the Goblin King

swap candy recieved.

mine, mine, mine mine mine, not yours MINE!

Last week I received my 80's Fantasy Movie Swap parcel from Amanda, now as the weather has been so grim my photography skills have gone terribly down hill, and as I already guilted Matt into taking photos of my pumpkin shaped cornbread muffins I was on my own. But even in a bad photo you can guess how much I squealed at opening the parcel to find the Goblin King gazing at me in tote bag form!

The bag is filled with my usual supply of purse junk, (ipod, wallet, journal pens, receipts, candy, junk...not that I'm messy or anything)

What would AUGRA do? bookmark

Who is Augra you ask? well if you don't know you really need to watch the Dark Crystal because its incredibly funny on so many levels... and not just because I recorded the Dark Crystal and forced H to sit still and watch all of it with me. *evil laugh* Amanda also included two little unicorn buttons, and some cute fabric for me to play with, unfortunately the oreos were stolen by the cookie monster...aka Matt and have disappeared from the house with only a small trace of crumbs.

Monday, 12 October 2009

sweet cornbread with maple butter

Sweet Corn Bread with Maple Butter

3/4 cup cornmeal (semolina)
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup white (caster) sugar
2 eggs
1 cup milk (any)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).

grease muffin tin or line with paper muffin cups (I used silicon jack o' lantern shaped muffin tin from Salisbury's).

Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar. egg, milk, baking powder, salt, and melted butter: mix until until blended. *

Scoop batter into prepared muffin pans. The batter will be very liquid because of the amount of milk and melted butter this is fine no need to worry it will be absorbed by the cornmeal/semolina.

Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top of muffins before baking if desired.

Bake for 15- 20 minutes remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before removing from the muffin tin.

*Fresh chopped jalapeno peppers can be added at this time, as can chopped red pepper and/or tinned sweet corn(about ½ to 1 cup tinned sweet corn). I left the muffins plain so that they could be topped with maple butter.

Maple Butter
½ cup butter (slightly salted) at room temperature
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Mix the syrup and butter in a bowl with a spoon or electric mixer. The amount of syrup is to taste if you like the butter very sweet add more, or use very little for the slightest hint of maple flavour. Place in a small bowl or ramekin and refrigerate until needed.

cook's notes: I have been living in England for over ten years and it took a good 8 years to figure out semolina is cornmeal... yeah I know I should have been born a blond.

I made maple butter as I ran out of honey to make honey butter, but M says the maple butter knocks honey butter out of the ballpark... you know big sports enthusiast that he is. H was very pleased with the pumpkin shape and thinks that all muffins should be Halloween shaped!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

button sugar cookies

cookies in the jar o'

Button Sugar cookies

Makes 2 dozen
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
A few drops food colouring
Mix together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar; add dry ingredients, and mix well

add egg, milk, and vanilla; mix well.

Separate the dough to incorporate different food colourings.

Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into discs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 180C (350 degrees F) Line baking sheets with greaseproof paper.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness.

To make buttons:

  • you will need to cut out circles with a 1 3/4 inch round cutter
  • lightly press with a 1 1/2 inch round cutter ( I used a glass and a round cookie cutter).

making button holes

  • Make button holes with a skewer or other sharp implement (ahem I used the steaming thermometer that leave with the espresso machine)

Transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between.
Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once more. It will need to be put back in the fridge to set if it has become too warm.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Transfer to wire racks to cool.

cook's notes: I saw a picture of some beautiful button shaped cookies with a recipe, somewhere on flickr, but I lost the bookmark and I prefer to try things the my own way. yes I know I'm annoying like that... they were fun to make and as I have an assortment of star shaped cookie cutters I shall definitely make star buttons next time I bake cookies. OK I lie next time I bake cookies it will be chocolate chip ones but the time after that will be sugar cookies honest. I made the cookies in green, red/pink, and some that I left uncoloured. Unfortunately I have misplaced the picture files of the red and uncoloured cookies... *bangs head against wall*

Friday, 9 October 2009

Morello Cherry Bakewell Cupcakes

Morello Cherry Bakewell cupcake

Morello Cherry Bakewell Cupcakes recipe (a work in progress)
1 1/4 cups self raising flour
1 cup ground almonds
1 ½ cup caster (white) sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter (softened)
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons almond extract

1 jar morello cherry conserve (or other cherry jam)
½ cup flaked almonds
Paper muffin cases

Put the flour, ground almonds, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl. In another bowl mix the vanilla and milk together.

Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl.

Add half the flour mixture and beat until well blended.

Add half the milk and the vanilla and beat until well mixed.

Add the eggs one at a time mixing well between additions.

Add the remainder of the flour mixture and blend thoroughly.

Add the remainder of the milk and vanilla.

Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases, filling them ¾ full, put a spoonful of morello cherry conserve (jam) on top of the cake batter (it will sink down) and sprinkling a few almonds on top of the cherry conserve.

Bake for 15-20 minutes at 180 C until it springs back when you touch them.

Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then turn out of pan and onto a rack to finish cooling completely. Serve with custard, cream or ice cream.

cook's notes: the recipe is a work in progress, I have been playing about with it, as my first attempt the batter was too thin and the jam sunk to the bottom of the cake, but this recipe it only nearly sunk to the bottom (as you can see in the photo) there is just enough cake to keep the bottom dry. I could have tired the easy way and baked the cakes without the jam and then cut them to add the jam to the top but that wouldn't have nearly been as much fun. I'll keep you posted on any further baking experiments...

p.s. I know I'm terribly behind on blog posts, but I will make it up to you I promise, there will be another giveaway soon, and there is also a sale on in my etsy shop if anyone is interested to have a look round before I close the shop down for awhile.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

to the winner go the pens

the winner of my pen giveaway via the magic of RANDOM.ORG is

Hells who said...

Pens - that will draw on just about anything. Sounds very 'me'!!
Love the R2D2 apron - it could only be bettered by Han Solo (mmmmmmmmmmmm) ;-)

I don't think I have your email so if you can email me your address I will pop the pens in the post sometime next week!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Banned Books Week

This week is Banned Books Week, a time to celebrate the freedom to read. There shouldn't be a need to have a Banned Books Week but unfortunately there are thousands of books that have been burned, banned and continue to get challenged by individuals, groups and governments that find them offensive.

The books we read expand our minds, and make us the people we are. Books have always been an important part of my life, I can still remember my dad reading me stories when I was small, some of the books have been challenged. Every Christmas and Birthday I would be more excited about the books I received than the toys and clothes I got. One Christmas my dad gave me a copy of A light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein, I sat in a nest of torn wrapping paper and read my brand new book of poetry from cover to cover.

Literary exploration is so important, I read a book a night to my son, stories and poetry, including some of the very same books that my father gave me, books that have been Challenged, and Banned. I fear for the future, if these books that shaped me became banned and children and young adults the world over could not read them.

Books that have been Banned or Challenged at some point are not all masterful works of literature, but that is the magic of books and the stories they tell of history and unknown worlds to explore. I have read quite a few books on the Banned list, and not all of them I loved but they did make me think and I was glad to have read them.

The following list of some of the Banned Books I have read:
currently I'm reading 1984 by George Orwell for my Book Group, I have a huge stack of books to read though but I plan on getting a more Banned Books on the Book Group Reading list.

Question Authority and Read Banned Books!

a few links:
the ILA: Books Challenged and Banned in 2008 2009 a pdf
The American Library Association has a list of Banned and Challenged books
the School Collection list of Challenged Children's Books
Amazon list of recently Banned and Challenged Books
Amazon list of 100 Banned and Challenged Books