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Goodbye old site!

The time has come (the walrus said) for me to move on to a shiny new domain!

Over the last couple weeks I’ve slowly but surely been working on a new home for this blog, one that provides me with a multitude of new options to explore and customize until all my geeky needs are filled. The road to nerdvana has been filled with setbacks and frustrations, but I feel that I have finally gotten the new site working well enough to be shared with all (2) of my loyal readers and the rest of teh intarwubz.

That being said, over the next month or so you’ll see this blog slowly begin to disappear into the vast nothingness that is the data stream. I’ll start by deleting the oldest posts and working my way forward until this site is no more. But don’t worry, everything is already up on the new site, safe and permalinked in a shiny new paid-for server.

So clink on the banner below to come and visit me at my new digs, and maybe leave a comment or two? With any luck, I’ll see you all there.

Come visit my new home!

Change is coming…

While this isn’t much of a post I thought I might let you all know two things:

1. I am currently working on upgrading this blog, and will hopefully be rolling out a fancy new site with all the bells and whistles soon! I’ve purchased hosting and will be forwarding everything over to my new domain just as soon as I get it all figured out.

2. Today I entered into the Neil Gaiman Audio contest, which offers the winner a speaking role in the new recording of American Gods, as well as the opportunity to meet Mr. Gaiman himself. Now, considering there are literally hundreds of entrants into this contest already, I’m not terribly optimistic about my chances. But it would be lovely to see a few votes float my way between now and the time the contest ends. So do me a favor? Go listen to my recording, and if you like it well enough, send a vote my way.

You can vote for me here.

Magical Cupcakes

Several months ago I stumbled across a little website called Bake It In A Cake! whilst browsing the vastness of the internet. My introduction to this website was to discover that this amazing kitchen goddess had found a way to bake tiny pumpkin pies, inside delicious vanilla cupcakes.

Allow me to repeat: Tiny pies! Inside CAKE.

Of course, my love for baking, combined with my love for all things pumpkin immediately made me decide that I needed to find an excuse to make these amazing little things. Which I did, in the form of the Renaissance Faire. I made them as a thank-you present for the two guilds I worked with during that event, and they went over so incredibly well, that I knew I’d make them again someday.

That someday turned out to be last week.

A friend of mine invited me to a cookie exchange party she was having, and when she mentioned that she’d seen the pictures from my first round of pumpkin pie cupcakes on my facebook, I offered to make them again for her party. And once again they were a wonderful hit! This time though, I had the foresight to take some pictures during the baking process:

Baby pie crusts!

Mini pumpkin pies getting baked into delicous goodness.

Baby pies ready to be put into cupcakes!

Delicious pie-flled cupcakes ready to be frosted!

Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting! NOM NOM NOM!

At this point I would like to make a note: the first time I made these, I could not, no matter how hard I tried, find cinnamon chips anywhere. This is a necessary ingredient for the frosting, and yet since I could not locate any I substituted plain cinnamon and made the frosting without that component. If at all possible, do not substitute out the cinnamon chips. Without them the frosting gets runny and melty and it just doesn’t taste the same. This batch was made with cinnamon chips, and definitely tastes much better.

Cupcakes frosted, decorated and ready to go!

Don't they look delicous?

As it turns out, these cupcakes are so amazing, that I will be making them yet again for a tamale making party I’ll be attending this weekend. If you make these, I guarantee you they will be epic. And you will get at least one (very awkward) request from someone who wants to bear your children in gratitude for the delicious, cinnamon-y, pumpkin-y treat you have just bestowed upon them (so far I’m up to 4, but who’s counting?).

And for those of you didn’t believe or understand when I said that there is a whole pie inside?

No really, there is!

I *almost* had more fun dissecting these than I did making them. Almost.

Bake It In A Cake’s Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Buttercream

Makes about 24 cupcakes (filled with AWESOME!)

Back with a vengeance!

Well… maybe not vengeance, per se, but I’m definitely back!

I wish I could tell you that ninjas kidnapped me from my dorm room one night and spirited me away under cover of darkness, only to be discovered escaping by a band of wayward pirates, and as morning’s first light crept across the bow of the ship an epic battle was waged between the crew of the Scarlet Temptress and the clan of the White Order like none had seen before nor ever will again, leaving only one who could lay claim to my soul…

But  sadly there were no ninjas (though there were some pirates), and my soul is still safely housed inside my body. Just kidding. We all know gingers have no soul. Instead, life got in the way (as it usually does), and I often found myself either at a loss for words, or with far too many and no time to type them all up.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been crafting though! Hoo boy have I been crafting! I did my best to take pictures when I could, and in the coming weeks/days/etc. I will be updating this blog with evidence of my crafty nature, so that my readers (all 4 of you) can see what I’ve been up to in my absence.

In the meantime, here are a few things I’ve done recently to tide you over:

Thing One:

A couple months ago I began seeing a therapist again for the first time in years. She quickly discovered that I love to create things and am a creative person in general, and therefore has been coaching me to use this as a means of working through/with my various issues. One of the things she asked me to do was to “visualize” my depression, and eventually I was able to describe it as sort of a rorschach test, made up of varying shades of reds, oranges, and yellows flowing through an inky blackness. Once this description was established, she asked me somehow create this visual, using any type of media I desired.

Depression

I chose to paint it, since I figured that would be the easiest way to get the textures I wanted, and since in my mind the image I described is so large it encompasses my entire field of vision, giving you the sense of feeling surrounded, I hunted for the largest “canvas” I could find. This wound up being a piece of plywood about 2 feet by 3 feet in size, and it weighs a friggin’ ton*. I used black spray paint for the base coat, then worked with various brush sizes to splotch on the colors in three separate layers. I then sprayed a final coat of black spray paint over the top of everything to give it a sort of blurry, cloudy look.

Thing Two:

Early last week I got a message from a friend asking me if I wanted to go a “country event” on Saturday. I said yes, not really knowing what I was getting into, and Saturday morning said friend showed up at my door with a costume in hand for me to wear. It turned out that “country event” actually meant 1870’s Frontier Era Reenactment event, which is completely different than what I had in mind.

Me doing my best to look like an 1870's rancher/housewife.

While we were wandering about the little town, I discovered a group of spinners working in one of the buildings near our camp. Since I’d had the foresight to grab a basket of knitting supplies (including my drop spindle), I seized the opportunity to re-learn how to use a drop spindle and spin my own yarn from the kind ladies who were willing to teach me.

Drop Spindle with Blue Wool

I probably spent a good hour or so being coached and getting helpful tips on how to get just the right amount of twist on the fiber, how to pull from the bundle, etc. It was a ton of fun and I made sure to get some contact information on their spinning group, which means now I have someone I can run crying to when I mess up get help from when I need it.

And of course, because they were crack dealers lovely ladies who want to share their knowledge and art with others, they gave me this when I left:

Lots and LOTS of future yarn!

I look forward to finishing this skein of wool, and then knitting something nifty with it when I’m done. If I can keep up this skill well enough to actually produce the occasional skein here and there, then I will get to knit more with actual, honest to gods, hand-spun WOOL, which would be a beautiful thing.

Thing Three:

A couple days ago I discovered a link to instructions on how to make your own Star Wars snowflakes on several of my friends Twitter feeds. After making the appropriately nerdy excited “OMG!!!” noise, I decided to try making a set for myself.

Boba Fett/Clone Trooper and Darth Vader Snowflakes

I’m pretty happy with how they turned out, though I do wish my Vaders looked a little more “Vader-y”. As a Generic Winter Holiday treat for you all, here are the directions!

Star Wars Paper Snowflakes

Be sure and watch the Star Wars Holiday Special while you make these, for an added sense of festivity.** Enjoy!

*1 friggin’ ton = approx. 10lbs multiplied by exaggeration

** Do not EVER, under any circumstances watch this. You have been warned.

Not long ago I met a lovely couple through a mutual friend, right after they’d had their first child. I got to see the little one a mere week or two after she first came home, and she is absolutely gorgeous. In fact, she is so adorable that my first instinct upon seeing her was “I must knit her tiny things!!!”. And thus, the saga of Baby Bear began.

I have a pattern for teddy bears that I actually really like, because it’s simple and produces cute little bears. It’s actually the pattern from the Mother Bear Project, which is a wonderful charity that EVERYONE should support. Their goal is to provide support and comfort to children affected by HIV/Aids in emerging nations. One of the ways they do this is by asking people to send them hand-knit bears, which they then give to a needy child.

Their bear pattern is free on their website, and while I have knit a couple and sent them in to the charity, I also really love the pattern as a gift for people, and therefore have used it to make bears for friends as well. When I set out to make a bear for the newborn, I realized that the standard size bear it produces would be far too big for her tiny hands to hold. So I decided to try to modify the pattern to make a smaller bear.

Baby Bear with too many limbs!

Once I thought the process out in my head, I began to knit the bear with a reduced number of stitches. She knit up pretty quick and I was pretty pleased with how well she turned out at this point.

Trimmed yarn and added skirt!

Once I trimmed her up so I could see what I was doing, I picked up stitches on the front and back and added her skirt. Once I put her all together with stuffing and all, I figured out a better way of doing this so that the skirt turns out more skirt-like and looks less oddly shaped.

Completed Baby Bear!

Yes her skirt is a little weird, but I think for my first time modifying a pattern on my own she’s not too bad. And for once the face I gave her doesn’t look terribly creepy (I’ve never been too good at embroidery)! Baby Bear is made of Homespun yarn and stuffed with hypo-allergenic filling, and she is entirely washer safe. Which is probably a good thing, knowing wee ones and what inevitably happens to their little toys.

Here’s hoping the little one likes it!

Renovations

A long while ago I bought a crafting book that I’d originally seen at a friend’s house. It is a lovely little book called Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt, and I’ve been waiting for the perfect excuse to break it out and try some of the patterns in it. Whilst attending a school production of the Vagina Monologues last month, I came across the perfect opportunity to do just that. They had these lovely purple t-shirts with the production logo on it, and all of the proceeds from their sales went to charity. Unfortunately, they no longer had my size in stock by the time I went to buy one. Undaunted, I bought one anyway, knowing I had the perfect solution waiting on my shelf at home.

After carefully pouring through the book several times to settle on which pattern I wanted to work with first, I finally settled on one that involves lots of cutting and lots of lacing, and sat down and got to work this week.

Working on the VDay t-shirt

The pattern calls for cutting out the sleeves, then removing 2-3 inches from either side of the shirt. The problem I ran into is that the shirt itself is so large of a size that in order for me to remove the right amount from the sides I had to re-cut the curved shape of the sleeves further into the shirt, or else I’d loose them all together. Once I’d figured that out I started work on cutting all the tiny little holes for laces that I’d need.

I used my pair of Fiskars Embroidery Scissors to snip out tiny holes along the sides of the shirt for the laces. Then I wrapped the ends of the t-shirt shreds I was going to lace with in tape to make it easier to thread them through the holes. I’ve still got a few steps left to complete the shirt, and I’m going to play with the design a bit more before I call it done. So far though, I like the way it’s progressing and I can’t wait to finish it!

The other day as I was catching up on Twitter, I came across a rather silly request from a friend, tossed out into the ether in the hopes that someone would give it life:

For some reason, even though I confess I’ve no talent for drawing whatsoever, this image struck me as so ridiculous that I couldn’t possibly let it slip by unnoticed. So, I grabbed my drawing pencils and my moldable eraser, and I sketched out the following pencil image, hoping it would bring a smile to my friend’s face.

Pencil Sketch of Holmes and Watson

I promptly sent it to her, and then went about my day ignoring the urge to color it in. I thought that having produced the sketch would be enough, and that I could be happy that it didn’t look as awful as some of the other things I’ve drawn. But of course, like all little kids who loved craft time best, I couldn’t let it rest until I’d gone back and finished what I started. And so, I grabbed my markers and pencils, and produced the following:

Colored version of Holmes and Watson

I even went as far as to poke about online to see if I couldn’t find out what color Holmes’ eyes are supposed to be (as I sadly don’t have my Sherlock Holmes compendium with me at present), but alas I couldn’t find such information. So I settled on dark blue, and hoped for the best. In the end, I decided it wouldn’t matter too much, as after all, they are supposed to be a cute, childlike, cartoon version.

The pencil sketch was drawn with Derwent 2B Graphic pencil, and then outlined with a ballpoint pen in some places, and crayola markers in others. It was colored in with Blick Studio Artists’ Colored Pencils, and drawn and colored on Strathmore Premium Recycled Sketch paper.

And no, I’m still not entirely sure why the mouse is there, but for some reason he needed to be. And yes, if nothing else, his name is Basil.