Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Owl Cookies

I made up the dough logs for these cut-and-bake owl shaped cookies for our Halloween party, but decided to stick them in the freezer for later when we ended up having more deserts than we needed. A week or two later we sliced them up to create these ~

Owl Cookies

Pretty cute, huh? Well, let's just say these three were the only ones to survive out of a huge batch ~ the candy corn noses melted on the rest & turned into a puddly mess! The first recipe I saw did actually use candy corn noses but linked back to the original recipe which used cashews instead, which is the recipe I followed. I did not bookmark the first one ~ perhaps she used a different baking temperature or time?

But the noses were not the only flub. While the lighter part of the cookie was not bad, the darker brown centers were dry and crumbly & just tasted terrible. The coloring was added by stirring in melted chocolate, which you would think would be tasty, but it did not turn out well.

While I did like the way the owl cookies were quickly shaped, I would definitely recommend ditching the actual recipe. Use a firm cookie dough you know & love and find another way to change the color!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

JapaneseTemari (Inspired) Balls

How About Orange is always a great source for crafting tutorials and free printables (I love her blog!). She recently found an online Japanese magazine teaching how to make little embroidered felt balls, inspired by the traditional Temari balls, but all of the directions were in Japanese. I offered to translate & she updated the post with my translation. How fun!

I know the translation is not the best as I had to do a lot of guessing and paraphrasing, but I think overall it turned out really well and explains a lot of parts that would have been difficult to understand with pictures alone. It was a nice change of pace from all of the vocabulary cramming I've been working on lately & I hope to be able to work on something like this with her again. Meanwhile maybe I should search for some Japanese craft sources myself & share the translations here!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Halloween Party

Most years we like to throw a Halloween get-together for our old college friends ~ an excuse to make themed foods & throw together a costume! There was no way we were going to attempt that last year with a newborn, but this time we were up to the task.

First I made a few new decorations. A while back we bought a set of 9 8x10 frames to fill up an empty wall that has been plaguing us since we moved here. I finally got around to hanging them & filled them with some Halloween themed papers & print-outs.

8x10 Halloween Frames

The top left & bottom right are from my old Skeleton Key fabric print with my "Happy Halloween" pumpkin stencil in the center. There are some paper snowflake style cut-out spiderwebs on the other two corners, a cut out of "Trick" & "Treat" laid over candy corn paper down the center, and on the sides is pumpkin paper where I painted on some jack-o-lantern details.

Then we have the pretty paper lanterns, inspired by some of Martha's. For the frame I cut a piece of black posterboard in half (long-ways), made a template & traced that side-by-side four times (with an extra tab to attach the ends together). For the orange parts I glued in panels of tissue paper and drew the designs with black Sharpie. The lanterns are the same on the opposite sides (two designs per lanterns), so I drew out my designs on scrap paper first & then traced that so they would be the same.

Halloween Lanterns

For the food we decided to make Hand-burgers, but were not able to find a good cookie cutter locally (only one tiny hand). If we had planned it far enough in advance I could have ordered one online, but with the short notice I had to make my own. I found a tip online that you could do this by buying a large cookie cutter, cutting it open & re-shaping it for your custom shape. I ended up having to use two & just duct taped the pieces together, since this is not something we'll use again, but you can also use food-safe adhesive or solder.

Hand-burgers, 1

I forgot to get good pics of them, but they looked great & were pretty easy once you have a cookie cutter! They even stayed together well on the grill, which we worried about.

Hand-burgers, 2

I also made this candy corn themed Cheesecake Mousse, which ended up being a mild disaster. I realized later that the cream cheese really needed to be warmed in order to mix smoothly with the other ingredients, but the recipe mentioned nothing about this. While they were still tasty, they were *full* of embarrassing chunks of cream cheese. Lesson learned!

Cheesecake Mouse

Our friend Candice brought over these adorable Boneyard Brownies (complete with label!), full of clever tombstone names & gummy worms.

Candince's Graveyard Brownies

And here she is posing as the Tardis with her husband dressed up as Dr. Who! The part on top of her headband even glowed with a blinking blue light. Awesome costumes!

Dr. Who & his Tardis