I’m behind this year. Normally I start Halloween crafting in August, but it’s been that kind of year. Anyway, Tuesday I got started on the monster plants. These guys are supposed to be a super cheap thing you make with dollar store pumpkins, green paint that I guess you already own, real leaves, tree branches, flower pots, and expanding foam. If you’ve ever made a dollar tree craft you know the first rule is that your dollar tree does NOT have the item, never has, and never will. Since they had to be hollow, carveable pumpkins, I ended up having to buy them from Michael’s for 20$ a piece. Yeah, so much for cheap. But, I have the pumpkins, so time to get on it.
See my cool little pencil lines? Don’t they look nice? The directions suggest using a pumpkin carving kit to cut that pit, but mine is buried in a mess we didn’t get to work on this summer like planned, so instead I used a steak knife. It was actually pretty comparable.
Roar. Looking good except now I have to duplicate that on the other side…so how am I supposed to manage that when I am incapable of symmetry? Yeah, I had to make a pattern. I’m not going to lie, it took longer to figure out how to make the pattern that would curve around the curved pumpkin, and make it match what I already had, than it did to cut the thing. But, after a lot of trial and error I cam up with this hinged design.
Best part is it could flip both ways (since it has to be backwards for the other side of the pumpkin. Anyway, so taped it on, traced it, then cut it with my handy steak knife.
Nom! Nom! Then I did the whole thing over again for the second one.
And the final was to do a spray paint test and make sure the paint wouldn’t eat the foam. I used the scrap piece and it did okay.
So I just need to get paint, leaves, and expanding foam. Since I’m sticking them in the bushes I’m going to use a couple of last years black buckets instead of a flower pot. I’m also thi king about making some googly eyes to stick randomly in the bushes, too. I have the plastic “eggs” from the Fashion surprises (like the mini brands but they are tiny purses) so I’m thinking of using them. We will see.
In other news, the electric company is still at work in the yard.
And they have done something weird. All along where the lines go is a raised incline now that’s cracked.
The driveway is the worst
We talked to them and they are going to squish it back down flat. It is apparently a thing that happens sometimes – they had a term for it – so hopefully it will be taken care of.
As for yesterday we did our weekly Council Bluffs trip and ate at Hu Hot.
And from there things went down hill, but that’s another story.
Anyway, for now I leave you on a more interesting note. Pumpkin Spice Cream Pie. Is it just me or isn’t that what Pumpkin Pie is, already???? Is dumping a can of spiced pumpkin pie filling into a bowl and adding an egg before dumping it into the crust too complicated? (Or yu can skip the egg and get a nice custard. I’ve done that before because I was out of eggs).
And now I leave you because I have work to do before the family gets here.
Have a Hu Hot kinda day!
Yesterday started with a surprise…
Yep. Random dude taking a break on my porch steps. I didn’t care particularly, it was just as I said, a surprise. I thought about saying hello but by the time I got dressed and outside breaktime was over and they were down the road aways. They’re redoing our street, and it looks quite nice.
Got stuff in the mail, including my tiny food that comes with random slime….
My canister sets for the pantry that people demanded I wash first…(the lids are still wet)
And the world’s tiniest rolls of contact paper.
But it worked for what I wanted, anyway. Took every single scrap of the black but it just made the three boxes.
Then I got randomly sick, which is a thing that happens, so nothing else to talk about. Not even any ice cream.
Have a stuff in thr mail kinda day!
Had some time last night to get the stickers test printed on the sticker paper and cut out via the handy dandy cricut.
Yeah, that made it sound easy. It took over an hour. First all the colors were messed up, so we tried aligning the ink cartridges…ha! All we could get was an error at the scanning portion. “Scan test failed”. Multiple times. Finally I said screw it, and we tried cleaning the head of the ink cartridge. That helped a little. Then we cleaned it twice more with alcohol and printed two full sheets of nothing but red. That finally did it, and we were able to create the matte stickers you see above.
I’m not a fan of matte. I think glossy looks far more professional. I should have researched the sticker paper better, but it was cricut brand and on sale at half off and the description said to use the “kiss” setting to cut only the sticker and not the backing paper, which meant cutting it would be easy.
The cricut maker has NO kiss setting that I could find! So after half an hour I finally turned to YouTube who told me to use the sticky note setting. Which worked perfectly, by the way.
But they’re still matte.
So I wondered what would happen if we printed it, then put a layer of clear glass contact paper on it, then cut it? That would make it glossy and protect the design, too. (I love clear contact paper, for future reference. That stuff is great).
So we did that. Needless to say that stickynote setting no longer worked. We tried increasing pressure. Nope. Used the sticker paper preset. Nope. Etc. Etc. It took several tries, but….
See that tiny circle on the right side about halfway up? Yeah. We got it to work.
Who knew that sticker paper and contact paper were that thick? To be fair, this sticker paper is pretty close to cardstock. Way thicker than I expected.
Anyway, so that’s sorted out. Now we have to print them all up, but that’s for another day. Until then, gotta get dinner made.
Have a successful cut kinda day!
I know, I’ve been absent lately. I’ve found it’s easier to just post everything on Facebook and forget it. Yeah, it’s the lazy way, but it’s also where everyone is. Blogs are less and less popular because they take “too much time”.
Anyway, that aside, it’s Halloween time, and we had our annual Halloween party. Instead of doing one of the murder mystery parties like we’ve done the last two or three years, we did a Harry Potter party this year. (We did one back in 2005 that you can see here.)
Getting the wands ready (I also made the sorting hat from cardboard, paper, and tape but hubby has those pics and refuses to send them to me)
The wands are made from chopsticks and hot glue, then spray painted, then I used acrylic paint to make highlights on them. They turned out pretty cool. The photo doesn’t really do them justice.
A quick trip to Olivanders to get our wands (we did a blind choosing because the wand chooses the wizard) Inside each box was a slip of paper to tell you about your wood and core (I didn’t think when I made them, so they were all the same length. I should have snipped some shorter. Oh well.)
Our school shopping complete, it was time to catch the train to Hogwarts! And what train ride is complete without some chocolate frogs and bertie bots’ beans? (I made the frogs out of melted chocolate chips and a mold.) That was supposed to be butter beer, which I know is really in hogsmead, but oh well.
On to the great hall!
Now it was time to get sorted! Put on the hat, draw a pin from the bag, and read us what the hat said to you! (because we had five people and only four houses, one of us got to be a teacher. That was me. wOOt!)
Of course we had to put on our ties
Now that we’re sorted, it’s time for school! History of Magic was first, with our Harry Potter quiz. 45 questions later, I was actually the winner (I only missed 11), but since I was a professor ad not in a house, the runner up got the ten points, and that was Gryffindor.
The next class was Defense Against the Dark Arts, where we “learned” to cast the patronus spell. To “find” our patronus, we had to answer questions, each worth so many points, and then added up the points and that was the patronus we got. I went with white plushies since patronuses are supposed to be white.
And here are the results:
At that point it was lunch time! I got some of the recipes from the feedfeed.com. I also learned I do not like Gorgonzola cheese (the cheeseball/witch hat). Hubby loved it, but the rest of us were happy to never taste it again. The brie on the other hand was delicious! I need to save that recipe and maybe use it at Christmas or just for fun. We did change the ritz crackers by leaving off the peanut butter (we put the cheese on the bottom cracker, then microwaved it long enough to make it soft, then stuck the legs in) and we didn’t have slivered almonds so instead of vampire mouths we have monster mouths. And of course there’s pumpkin pasties because Harry Potter!
After that it was time for Potions class!
We each got a potions recipe and had to scavenger hunt the ingredients. Hufflepuff got ten points for finishing first, and Ravenclaw lost 5 points for trying to cast a hallucination spell on us to cover up his shoddy ingredients. Gryffindor got an extra five points for going to the basement and looking through the Halloween decoration boxes to find the leech we made back in 2005 for that party.
After that we had Muggle Studies, where we learned to dress like muggles (if you’ve read the books you know that the wizards always wear stupid clothes when trying to fit in as muggles). We had made some random clothing items and put them in jars and you had to blind grab, then we voted on who had the “best” (aka worst) Gryffindor won the most.
After that it was supper time (yeah, we had a long party, this stuff takes time!) We had pumpkin juice, treacle tarts, cauldron cakes (in case the treacle tarts were terrible – we actually didn’t eat the cakes last night, but did have one each for tea today), Hogwarts Letters (crescents stuffed with cheese, ham and onions), veggie wands, and chips and dip because we like chips and dip 😉
Then it was time to award the house cup. I had been giving and taking away points all day for various things (Slytherin lost points for Avada Kadavering someone at one point)
And as you can see, even though Hufflepuff got 18 points for making two rounds of punch (it involved scooping orange sherbet and vanilla ice cream, which we all hate to do) Gryffindor was still the winner because Hufflepuff had too big a mouth and kept getting into trouble.
Anyway, I had a lot of fun and thought it went pretty well. I’m saving all the pieces we used, in case we want to have one again in ten years or so 😉
Have a Harry Potter Halloween kinda day!
And here we are – a week’s worth of thankfulness!
1. I was grateful this week that Shaun sent me the info for GuruShots, a fun photo challenge app. They host challenges and you upload pics to it, and vote on other’s photos. Simple, fun, and the different themes could be an inspiration for taking pics if you want (or you can use old ones, which is what I am doing at the moment). If you’re on Guru Shots hit me up – I’m under Joleene Naylor (just using my FB account)
2. I was especially grateful to get the front/side flowerbed plastic put down and mulched. it took 40 garden staples! 40! 😮
3. I was thankful to FINALLY get a 100% IV Pokemon (This is their stats like attack, defense, etc. The higher the stats, the better they are when fighting.) I’ve only been checking IVs or a couple of months, so I may have had one before and tossed it without knowing (you have to use a separate app/site to check the pokemon’s IV).
4. I was also grateful that my rocks turned out so well. I’d be even MORE thankful if I could find some painted by someone else once in awhile!
5. On Friday i was thankful to finally catch Raiku! We did two raids and I caught him at both! This saved on grocery day, so it saved us having to go back to Omaha for a second day this weekend.
6. I was also grateful for getting the spindles for the front porch started and for getting the last of the blue and red painted on the deck (there are little squares that will go at the top that are also red, but they need nailed up still)
7. Sunday I was sick, but I was grateful to Amy Wilson for suggesting the anime Yona of the Dawn. I spent the whole day binge watching all 24 episodes. I need more. More!
Continuing the thankfulness thing, yesterday I was grateful that my soap worked.
Awhile ago I ordered some amazing soap from Bubbles Bubble Soap (Click the link, like the page, but know she’s not making new orders until fall.) Among the order was some lovely coffee soap. I’ve been careful and dragged out my bars of Coffee Soap (which I use only on my face) and so have just enough to last me until she starts making them again-
Or I did.
Then hubby inadvertently tried my coffee soap and found out that it takes all the carbon off of him from work. In a week he’s used almost half a bar.
Oh heeeeeeeaaaaaaal no!
So I checked online to buy some from someone else (to give to HIM) but it’s like 5$ a bar plus S&H and as fast as he is going through mine… yeah. That could add up fast. So I looked into making it myself. The idea of messing with lye scared me a bit. I’m not a careful, exacting person. I’m a chef, not a baker. I slop things, I don’t measure, you get the idea.
Then I found the remelt method wherein you’re not making soap, but just personalizing it. It looked a lot cheaper (2$ worth of soap from the dollar store) and a lot safe (no explosions) so that’s what I tried.
I got the initial instructions from Whole New Mom, though her instructions are for any kind of soap, not just coffee. She also calls for unscented, natural, blah, blah soap. Did I mention I got two bars from the dollar store? I just went for the least scented that they had, since we don’t care about making it a certain scent.
So how does this work, exactly? First, if you want coffee soap, you need coffee grounds. I saved them for a few days, because I’m the only one who drinks coffee in my house.
You want used coffee grounds, so the internet tells me, because new ones will “leech”.
On the day if, you’ll want to prepare whatever you’re molding in. The article suggested a loaf pan, but mine are huge, so I ended up using two mini loaf pans lined in wax paper.I tried pressing coffee grounds into the bottom to make the soap look pretty – and it did sort of work, but I don’t know that I’d bother again. Oh, I might.
Now, before you can melt your soap, you have to shave it. The site suggested a cheese grater. This worked well, but it took awhile and left some little chunks. You could probably just chop your soap up, though those chunks didn’t melt as well as the flakes did.
Some time later….
You can see the chunks I mentioned in the photo. Anyway, then you put the soap flakes in a double boiler to melt. If you’re like me, you don’t have a double boiler, so it means you have to put a smaller sauce pan inside a bigger one. Be careful – the water pops up around the edges a bit and could burn you.
Add 2 oz of liquid (I used coffee, of course!), then heat this over low/medium heat (depending on how hot your stove is (mine is super hot). Stir this for awhile and it will start to melt.
Keep stirring and eventually it will totally melt. The article said you’d have a lumpy, translucent substance. I had a creamy, pudding-like texture instead (probably because I melted a different soap than they suggested using). Anyway, when it was all melted I dumped in about three tablespoons of coffee grounds:
Stirred well, and divided between my two loaf pans:
I did sprinkle the last of the grounds on top, but it wasn’t very thick.
In about half an hour the soap had hardened enough I could pull it out of the pan and it held its shape.
It was pretty moist, so I let it sit overnight (as several “real soap making” articles talked about letting the moisture evaporate out, i assumed this is along the same lines, but very truncated.) Then, today, I cut it up:
I wrapped all but one up in individual pieces of wax paper and stuck them in a ziplock baggy for storage.
So, how does it work?
I have no idea. Hubby had to call in today because the truck wouldn’t start and he had to fix it. That means he didn’t get any carbon on him to test it with. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.
And now I suppose I should post this and head to bed. I got some photos edited the last two days that I will share tomorrow or the day after. Tomorrow is actually Blogophilia night, though I want to showcase my cool new art dolls, so we’ll see what ends up where.
Have a melty soap kinda day!
PS – Last night’s axe murder house photo is worth sharing (note the cool blue glow – there were people staying the night):
And the brother has a magician vibe going:
Christmas has come and gone, but it went well. We got those cookies done:
I finished making Mom’s present – the body is paper mache, the wings are cloth stretched over wire, and the fur is feathers. I am pretty proud of how it came out since I had no idea what I was doing and no directions of any kind:
I can’t say the weather was as cooperative, but though we didn’t get snow, we got some beautiful frost on Christmas Eve:
That day I also got an awesome early birthday present. A pair of lucky socks and an amazing homemade heating/cooling pack set whose cover matches the super amazing towel quilt (which I have my feet covered up with right now, incidentally):
That night we had our annual party, which involves enough munchies to last the entire week as leftovers 😉
Since we have a dinner with extended family on Christmas day, we opened our presents that night, too. We were supposed to give exclusively homemade gifts (or at least mostly homemade – like I had t-shirts printed up, but I designed them and did the art work) but some of us *cough* the brother*cough* didn’t want to cooperate with that, and of course Dad always just gives everyone gift cards. So, in the end we relaxed it and said we could buy stuff, which turned out good for me, because my dad is impossible to make something for. However, he did good with an airplane calendar, Trek jammies, and one of the two 35 MM film frames from the OS Star Trek (the other is still – hopefully- being shipped)
The hubby got a clock, a minion dish to keep all the stuff out of his pockets in, and an awesome Weedle shirt designed by me (and printed at Allied Shirts)
The bro also got a shirt, a LotR coaster set, and a Millennium Falcon blue tooth speaker.
And I cleaned up with a neck pillow ala hubby (he pulled out the stuffings and filled it with corn so I could heat it up for my neck – yes, people have been thinking about my neck this year!), a demon Harry from mom (Harrys are a legitimate thing in our house, we have a whole bunch of them from when we were kids that mom made – I apparently don’t have any photos uploaded except for the last Harrys we got, which was probably ten years ago.), while the brother opted for a large towel pillow, however it is waaaay too big, so we have to do some alterations on it (yes, I have a thing for the towel-y texture of towels. I find it immensely comfy). And then Santa (aka also the hubby) saw fit to gift me with a Ninja Coffee bar and some coffee:
So I had to try that out:
Christmas day was really warm, and we had the big family dinner that I didn’t get any photos of. mainly because it was so short that what time there was I spent either in the kitchen cooking or eating. Not sure why it was so short, since the weather was nice, but it went well, so that’s what matters. Hubby and I had plenty of time afterwards to clean up, do dishes, do some internet stuff, and then go look at Christmas lights. Essex usually has an amazing display, but this year they didn’t have very much at all. I guess people there had the same problem I had with not really feeling it this year. Though I admit, I finally got to hear some REAL Christmas music on the drive there and back – you know, stuff that is actually about Jesus and the angels, and all the stuff Christmas is based on rather than “Happy Holidays” and “Baby it’s cold outside”, and all the other secular crap that Slacker and those kind of subscription services play (don’t dare play the real stuff, do we?) so that did give me a burst of Christmassy feelings right there at the end. Now I know next year to f*** Slacker and all the rest and listen to the local country station (yeah, not being a fan of modern country, who knew??)
Also, going to Essex gave me the chance to take some gyms, and have some fun Christmas Pikachu fights:
Monday we finally hit the AMC in Council Bluffs to see Rogue One:
It was a good movie, and we all knew how it had to end because none of those characters are in Episode IV. Which is a shame because they are good characters. Seeing a young Leia and Peter Cushing in the movie was surprising – the wonders of CG – and I did miss the last five minutes because I had to run to the bathroom *sigh* but we’ll buy it when it comes out, so not a huge deal.
So, there was my Christmas. Now we’re back to business as usual-ishness (at least until New Years weekend). Hope your holiday was just as good!
Have a ninja coffee maker kinda day!
I know. I missed a couple days. Not because anything traumatic was going on, but just because I was busy and lost track of time. For instance on Friday I got my hair cut:
And we went shopping. Hyvee had some great items in the bakery I did not buy but enjoyed looking at:
Saturday I worked on Mom’s present -no pics coz I don’t want her to see it – and between Saturday and Sunday we got the dining room completely scraped, wiped down, and patched:
And today Mom and I made Christmas cookies!
They still need frosted, but all that’s left after that is 3 kinds of candy. Even better than baking though was that we got along for a whole day. I think that’s some kind of record.
And now I need to go to bed.
Have a getting along kinda day!