Look what I’m working on again

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Explanation of why I haven’t been posting

Skyrim

Po-tay-toes

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Boil ‘em, mash ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew… I’m so hobbity it hurts. ;)

TARDIS

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I’m so stinkin proud of this. I stitched the details on freehand. :)

Pinkie Pie Pony Hat

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You may remember I made a Dashie hat for my kiddo a few months ago. This one is for her best friend. It’s almost done… Whattaya think?

Dornish Peppers

I first made this recipe for my Game of Thrones premiere party back in April. I am now addicted to them and I need an Anonymous meeting for them. So I’m going to get you all addicted to them and then we can have meetings and eat them together. ;)

The original recipe for this came from Inn at the Crossroads, a blog that specializes in Westerosi cuisine. I love them and their mission (they have a cookbook out now!), but I have made some modifications to their original.
I also want to mention that, as a work in progress, I have actually made some more adjustments to this process since the date that I took these pictures. I’ll make note of the changes as I go. I would normally have waited to share this until I was more settled on the recipe, but I’m sharing this recipe at a tutorial event on Saturday and I wanted to have it available if anybody wants to know the recipe.

These are the ingredients you’ll need:

- Peppers. Bell peppers of any color are nice, and I’m a big fan of the “mini bells” that I’ve found at the market this season. Spicy peppers like jalapenos are also good for this!

- Goldfish crackers. Other cheesy crackers will work as well.
- Onions. I used two small ones this time, but one large will do as well. Adjust to your preference.
- Cheese. Cheddar was my choice this day. I also have used Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, and Mozzarella. Any of these are nice.
- A block of cream cheese. I never said these were light on fat.
- Spices of your choosing. I always put cumin in. Garlic and red pepper flakes are nice, as are chile powder and just about anything you’d like to add.

There are essentially three parts to this recipe: the filling, the topping, and the peppers themselves. First, let’s prep the peppers so they’re ready when we are. Use a paring knife to remove the stem end of each pepper, and then cut it in half so it can lay flat. Remove all the seeds.  If you’re using spicy peppers and don’t want them to be too hot, make sure you get all of the white membrane inside as well.
If you’re using smaller peppers like jalapenos or mini bells, you can simply cut off the top and scoop out the seeds, leaving the peppers intact. This is my current favorite way to do them, but I also really love the big bells.

Next, let’s create the filling. Chop up your onion(s) into a small dice. Here’s one of the biggest changes I’ve made – put these onions in a skillet with a splash of oil and cook them first. They’ll get soft and transparent, and a little brown around the edges. You can add spices directly to the onions if you like (garlic and red peppers are good here). I feel that the added flavor, not to mention softness, of the cooked onions is way better here. You may skip this step if you choose, as I did on this preparation.

Now you can shred your cheese, if it’s not pre-shredded. There was, at one point, a measurement involved with this, but I just eye it now. When the mountain looks big enough, I’m done. Haha.  You’ll also want your cream cheese softened. If you cooked your onions, all you need to do is put the cream cheese in a bowl and put the onions on top and they’ll soften it right up. If you’re going with raw onions, try popping it in the microwave for a few seconds (withOUT the metal wrapper).

Put your onions and cheeses in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Looking at this photo with a bit more practice, I can say that there are a few too many onions in here and perhaps not enough cheese. You can adjust the ratio to your liking of course. You can also add any spices you’d like at this point. I generally don’t, though, since the onions are already spiced and I’m about to spice the topping.

Pop some cheesy crackers into the bowl of your food processor and crunch them up. You can also just beat them in a plastic bag but that takes too long for me. You can make the topping as crunchy or as fine as you’d like. I prefer it somewhere between the two, with some larger chunks but also a lot of fine-crumb sized pieces. While the crackers are spinning, add the spices. The spice that must flow here, for me, is cumin. Not too much; you don’t want to overwhelm it. Red pepper flakes will add a nice kick, and garlic is never remiss. Paprika and chile powder are also nice, and I bet nutmeg would make a good appearance as well.

Now that you’ve got all the parts, it’s time to assemble! Simply scoop the filling into the peppers. If you’re doing it popper-style with whole peppers, you may want to use a chopstick to press it down into the tip of the pepper.
Then, add the topping. Just sprinkle it on and press it down into the cheesy filling a bit. Or, you can pick up the peppers (the smaller ones) and just dip them in. The original recipe called for an egg wash and some rolling, but I didn’t like that very much.

Pop those babies into the oven! I think I do them at 350F for, oh about 15 minutes? I’ll be honest – I don’t time it. 350 is the default for my oven so I go with that, but then I just kinda keep an eye on them until they get all melty and soft. You can poke and prod them if you’re concerned about pepper texture.
However long it takes them in the oven, when they come out they are full of molten cheese and absolutely delicious. I wasn’t kidding when I said I was addicted. These make a great appetizer, of course, but I’ve also served them as a main course with a side of rice! And don’t worry about making too many. On the rare occasion that they’re not all eaten immediately, just put them in the fridge. Warm them up a bit in the microwave the next day and they are Even Better! (If that’s even possible, that is.)

Have you ever made a “geek recipe”? What was it, and how did it turn out?

A Hasty Photoshoot

As you may know, I’ve been busy with a lot of projects the past few weeks. So busy that I had to halt all of my online activity to make time for them. The biggest of these projects is a personal project – costumes for the upcoming Renaissance Faire! We’ve always loved these and have even done costumes before. We decided to really go all out this year though, with full new costumes for all three of us. I’ve been working my tail off, making all three costumes by hand!

Before I share these photos, I have some caveats: 1) it was late at night, 2) it was swelteringly hot, 3) we both felt ridiculous, 4) these photos were taken with a Blackberry. So, not the best camera or photo conditions, and not the best time or mood for taking flattering photos. In other words, we both look less than our best.

This is the bottom layer of my costume. It’s a simple square-necked muslin shift. I actually really like this pattern and the shape of the dress. Might make some similar things for actual everyday wear. This is the typical undergarment that every woman from the 15th century (or thereabouts) would wear. It wasn’t really intended to be seen, but mine will be. The neckline is a bit too wide for me, but that’s okay in this instance. I am thinking of adding some embroidery along the neckline. Blackwork would be a nice nod to Catherine of Aragon, but I’m thinking I’ll do a white-on-white border design. I am wearing some yoga pants underneath because I didn’t feel like taking them off. I have a somewhat tighter pair that I’m planning to actually wear to the faire, for comfort.

And here is the top layer! The corset is the only thing not made by me (well, except the parts of hubby’s costume that he’s made himself). We bought it a few years ago at, you guessed it, a Ren Fest. (Our favorite one, in fact.) It dictated the color of my costume; otherwise I would not have chosen a red skirt. (Red dye was too expensive for ordinary people back in the day, and also I don’t care for how I look in red.) (My corset actually is reversible but the other side is a very dark blue that looks black and that didn’t really work for me either.) If I look a bit uncomfortable, it’s because the bottom of my corset is laced too tightly, and the top is not laced tightly enough. Hey, we were not going for perfection for these photos.
The skirt is a wraparound skirt and it overlaps on the left side there by my hand. I’m planning to conceal a pouch or two in there. I don’t really have a “character” exactly, but as I’ve worked, I’ve imagined my clothing as belonging to a sort of secretly-badass innkeeper, with a knife under her skirts and taking no shit from nobody. Yeah, basically a medieval River Song because that’s how I roll. Oh and for shoes, I bought some nice grey flats from Target. They rock.

Remaining items to be made: a pouch or two, for carrying things. Possibly a wrist bracer. Decorative items like necklace and earrings. Hairpiece. I’m also thinking of making a fabric vest-like thing to wear as a substitute for the corset if I get tired later in the day.

Now for the boy! This is part one, and it’ll actually probably be a part of most of his future costumes. Yay for multitasking. I am absolutely in love with the shirt. I spent days and days on it, and I am SUPER proud of it. The blue details turned out better than I imagined. There are silver buttons at the cuffs and top of the placket, but you can’t see them here. The pants are also handmade although in the end we probably could’ve gotten some karate pants and been fine, haha.

Armor! This sword-arm construction is actually two pieces – a shoulder piece and a wrist/forearm piece. They are both made of faux leather and are custom-fit to his arm (his upper arm is several inches shorter than the pattern, for some reason). It’s backed with a feltlike stuff and is pretty dang comfortable. I’m wearing it right now actually because I got curious as to whether it’d fit me. Both pieces can be worn separately and can go on the left arm as well (but you’d need a squire to help fasten the shoulder piece since the buckles would be in the back). The wrist part took only a few hours total, but the shoulder took longer than I expected. I really enjoyed making these and I’m hoping to actually make some to put up in my Etsy shop. If you’re interested, let me know!
There is also a chainmail shirt in the works that’ll go on just under these pieces (so the buckles are on top). I started it and taught him how, and Jonathan’s been working on it steadily in his spare time for weeks. We bought all the rings from Etsy for convenience and improvised the shape, and it looks great. I’ll share a photo when it’s done.

Here are the finishing touches. The sword, well, it’s not really part of the costume. It’s a Sting (we are nothing if not nerdy) that he decided to use as a photo prop. We are hoping to purchase a proper longsword this year!
The shield has an interesting story. It began life as a metal-mesh tabletop fruit basket at Pier One. At some point, lacking a surface to set it on, we hung it on the wall and noticed that it resembled old shield displays. After months of that thought rattling around, we finally decided to try weaving some suede lacing through it. This idea yielded the final result you see here. I love the serpentine pattern of the metal and the black leather. The top section is marine vinyl with a leathery look. We ran out of suede lacing, and that stuff is expensive. I really like the finished product, with the scalloped edge. The silver accents on the top are fleurs-de-lis, originating from our heraldic arms.
There is an open-sided tunic that is about half-done, sitting on our bookshelves. It’s the same deep blue as the accents on the shirt, and I have embroidered a water bouget (another piece from our heraldry) to applique onto it. However, I improvised the shape of the tunic and I am very unhappy with how it has turned out. I’m hoping to salvage it, since the fabric was NOT cheap…

Still to do for him: not much actually. There may be a hat forthcoming, and of course the tunic if I can manage it.

Did I say three costumes? Oh yes I did. There’s also an adorable pink satin dress for our daughter, which she’ll wear over some pink pants with her (purchased the same year as the corset) fairy wings. No pictures of her since, as I mentioned, it was late. I still need to make a hairpiece for her, and possibly a necklace or some other sparkly jewelry.

I’m pretty proud of these things, and I hope you like them too. I also hope you haven’t given up on my blog. I’m still here! I’m just sooo busy. With only accessories left to make, though, I might have a bit more time to spend here! Don’t go too far!

Do you like Renaissance Faires or festivals? Do you like costumes? Let’s talk about nerdy fun!

Sneak Peeks

You may or may not know this, but my husband and I love renaissance faires. We both grew up a stone’s throw from one of the best: The Texas Renaissance Festival. We miss it a lot now that we live way up here in New York, but we console ourselves with Sterling Renaissance Faire. It’s not as big as TRF, but we had a TON of fun last year. It was the perfect size to see everything, and the shows by the Bless the Mark players were absolutely amazing. We are obviously planning to attend again this year (possibly more than once).

I shared that bit of trivia with you to introduce the stuff I’ve been working on and thinking about the last couple weeks. We’re planning to dress up in costume this year!

The last time we attended TRF, we got our “family crest” researched. This shape here is a water bouget, the central figure for the heraldry of our last name.

I embroidered this with DMC Ecru on some plain off-white fabric. I’m going to make a tunic for Jonathan and applique this onto it. I’m fairly happy with how this turned out, although I definitely feel it could be better.

We haven’t yet gotten the fabrics or patterns for any of the clothes (except for some off-white cotton gauze), but I’m planning on a deep blue for Jonathan’s tunic.

He’s also going to be armored up. His “character,” such as it is, is basically a hedge knight – non-landed, non-nobility, knighted-for-valor sort of thing.

Here you can see a six-rails wide strip of European 4-in-1 maille. We’ve been tag-teaming on this one. We’ve done about half each, at this point. I think he’s wanting to finish it himself, which is probably good since I’ve got lots of sewing to do.

This is the length of the piece. If I hold one end at my shoulder, it reaches to the floor. It’s 6-wide at one end and 4 at the other because of how Jonathan’s weaving it.

It’s going to be a shirt of mail, eventually. This long strip will hang over one shoulder. When this piece is all evened up, we’re going to start on the center part, forming the neckline and the torso. I have no idea yet how we’ll do the shoulders/sleeves. Cross that bridge when I get to it.

I’m fairly sure now that this is approximately what I’m going to make for our little fairy girl. She already has a fantastic pair of wings (which we bought at TRF in 2009). I need to sit down and have a good look at a pattern for this shirt. :) Don’t you just love how it criss-crosses in the back? Even without sparkly pink wings (because she will inevitably want them off), Charlotte will still look like a little fairy. (Photo from this post at Colette Moscrop.)

No, I haven’t mentioned what I’m going to wear, because … I don’t know. I kinda want my costume to tie in with Jonathan’s, but I’m not sure how. I’d also really love to make a Female Link costume, or a character from Game of Thrones (n0t sure who, though). Sigh.

There are things going on here aside from costuming. Not very much crafting, I’m afraid. Soooo busy. My garden is looking absolutely lovely. My house is a complete pigsty. LOL. I took a bit of a break from reading (unintentionally), but I’m still working on Dance with Dragons. Loving it! The books continue to pour in (and out) from Paperback Swap. I have a HUGE stack of new books. :)

I may be teaching a crafting tutorial at an FRG event in July. Well, I said I would, anyway. I just have to figure out what I’d like to teach! I’d love to do chainmaille, but it’d be difficult because of the “needing a million pairs of pliers” issue. So I’m leaning toward embroidery. What do you think?

We attended a Sesame Street event earlier this week! It was pretty great. I’ve got photos of it up on my facebook (sorry, random internet people, but they’re private). I made a daisy chain while we were waiting for the doors to open.

I always have hundreds of planned projects, but one that I am REALLY hoping to start on soon is this!

I’ve been jonesing after this baby for months now. There are a zillion colors in it, but I have quite a few colors already so I think I’ll finally print out the pattern, assess what I have, and make a start (and a list of colors to obtain). I even have a scroll frame now, which should make it easier to do! The pattern for this lovely thing can be found at this Sprite Stitch thread.

That’s all I can think of to share right now. :) See you in a few days with my Web roundup. In the meantime, let’s chat! What are you working on?

Busy Busy Busy

I don’t know why exactly, but I’ve just been insanely busy lately. I enjoy most of the things I do, but it seems like I haven’t had any downtime in forever. I haven’t even had spare time for reading! Today I’ve got a collection of pictures to share, of some of my recent projects in progress!

This is a quick shot I took of my to-do list just before I sat down to upload pictures and write this post. The right side is tasks for my home or family – stuff like “clean the fridge” and “mail Mother’s Day cards.” The left side is personal projects or desires, mostly for Etsy or for my blogs. Yes, it’s giant. And it’s mostly not very itemized. It just says “clean,” instead of “clean living room and bathroom and bedroom and kitchen,” for example. Told ya I’m busy.

I’ve been trying new recipes, but I haven’t been photographing them. I’ve got such a backlog of recipes to blog about. So it’s a great time to try new things, so I can improve on them before I blog about them. This is last night’s dinner – Spinach, Ricotta, and Parmesan Stuffed Shells. I based them off a recipe I shared with you a few weeks agoSpinach-Stuffed Canneloni by Happiness Stan. Delicious, although there are a few things I’m going to do differently next time. I’m really loving recipes that fold the vegetables into the main dish, because we have a tendency to forget to make the veggie until the food is done. Also, I officially love ricotta. It makes such lovely leftovers.

A new project! Care to guess? I shared the inspiration for this with you just a few days ago. It’s rock candy! I loved the jewelry idea from 1 Fine Cookie, but I decided I’d better try out just plain rock candy first. I stirred up some sugar syrup, added in a little of the flavor extracts I had on hand, and some coloring. It’s a pretty simple concept, so I don’t anticipate any problems.

Here’s a quick shot of some earrings I knocked together today. The ones on the left are for Kako. They’re a version of my Corkscrew earrings, with silver-colored copper wire and Sapphire blue freshwater pearls. They turned out a bit longer than I expected. The ones on the right are pearlescent black glass pearls, wrapped with 26-gauge wire. Quite delicate. I like them. Look for them in my shop on June 1st!

Here’s a sneak peek of another commissioned jewelry piece. My friend Ri likes cameos like my Secret Cameo earrings, but doesn’t wear earrings. So I went on the hunt for a necklace for her. I found this classic-looking pendant, and embellished it with 28 green Swarovski elements. It hangs at about the breastbone, from a double-loop of black cable chain. I’m really happy with it.

I’ve also been sewing! This is a prototype of an e-reader cover that I’m hoping to produce for my shop, but it’s giving me fits at the moment. I’m happy with the front side, but the back just isn’t cooperating. I’ve got an idea I’m going to try next time I sit down with it, so hopefully it’ll work out well.

My sewing has been successful on other fronts though. Here’s a shot of a “string backpack” I knocked together from 2 fat quarters. We have a similar one (that we found in a parking lot haha) to carry dog-related items when we take Charlie for a walk. This one is the new home for kid-related stuff when we walk to the park. I really like the two velcro’ed pockets on the front, to stash my keys and wallet.  I’m thinking about Etsying these as well. What do you think?

If you want to find out what this is, you’ll have to read about it on the Snark Art Blog!

In honor of Matt Smith’s debut as the Eleventh Doctor 2 years ago, April 3 was Fish Custard Day. (Go watch The Eleventh Hour; you’ll understand.) I got brave and tried it. It was actually pretty good!

Here’s a process shot of a set of items that should be appearing in my shop on Listing Day (the first of June). Care to take a guess?

Another process shot, of a very old and long-since-completed project. I had this lovely skirt, but it was longer than I liked, and, um, too small in the waist. So I shortened it by hacking off the top. I’m quite happy with it. I’ve got to get the courage to model it so I can put up a proper post about it.

When I joined Paperback Swap a few weeks ago, I went through my box of “get rid of” books and listed them all. Except a few. Four of the seven Chronicles of Narnia books, in pretty rough shape. I couldn’t list them, but I didn’t want to just throw them away. So I salvaged them. I cut (by hand) hundreds of circles from the pages, and glued them onto a paper lantern I already owned. It turned out AMAZING. I’ve got a ton of scraps, as well as a whole book and a half, left, so I’m thinking about other things to do with the papers. I kept a couple of the chapter illustrations, and am thinking of using my scanner to blow them up and use them as embroidery patterns. The scraps of paper might get blended up into pulp so I can make “fresh” paper – I’ve got a bookmaking project running around my head too.

PONY CUPCAKES. Our FRG had a “cupcake social” this past weekend. (I apologize to my Pinterest followers for the deluge of cupcakes that one day that I was looking for ideas.) I made these little picks from the box art (yes I saved it, why do you ask) from my daughter’s ponies. I am particularly proud of these lovelies. Definitely expect to see a post featuring these babies in better detail soon.

Last photo of the day! This is a shot from wayy back at the beginning of April, the day of the season two premiere of Game of Thrones. I prepared a fabulous Westerosi feast. Somehow, the blog never got written about it. I made a number of amazing recipes that day though, and I plan to share them – especially those lovely Dornish peppers you see on the right in the foreground. Deeeeeelicious. Fresh bread dipped in salt was also a revelation of flavor.

This isn’t even all of the amazingness that I’ve been up to! Here’s just a quick sample of the things I’ve got folders of pictures for: Homemade Butter, Cola Cake, Fried Chicken, Roasted Chicken, Lasagna, Onion Rings, Shield Weaving, and Wheat Bread. I’ve also got some great craft tutorials in the planning stages (it’s harder than you think it is to take process photos of delicate things). Oh, and I got my May Birchbox the other day – that blog will be coming soon.
Don’t forget – next week is Giveaway Week! Be sure to come back early and often for your chances to win free stuff!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this mishmash photoblog. Which project are you most excited to see more of?

Media Monday #3

This isn’t relevant to media, but I just wanted to share that I won another giveaway! This time from Button, Button. I chose the Rumpelstiltskin pattern and I’m excited to give it a go.
Also, speaking of giveaways, the Too Crewel one that I won a few weeks ago, an embroidery kit from Sublime Stitching, came in the mail today. It’s awesome and I’ll probably blog about it.

Books

I finished A Feast for Crows this week! There was a really interesting “revealing of information” toward the end, and I’m excited to see things start rolling in that direction. I took a few days off, haha, and started in on A Dance with Dragons. This book is already much more enjoyable, because it’s got Tyrion and Jon Snow! :)

I’m loving PaperBackSwap. I’ve got a huge wish list – seems like everyone else wants to read the books I want, lol. I’ve received several books, though, and they’re all in great shape. Is it bad that I want to hurry through DwD so I can get to these ones? Come join me! Send me a friend request and/or a message, if you like. And please take my old books!

Movies and TV

A great week, this! Just look at the pile of movies I found! :)

Repeaters:
Game of Thrones on HBO (Sunday evening) – This is my #1 priority show, even above Doctor Who. ;)
Grimm on NBC (Friday evening) – this show started out weak but it’s greatly improved. It’s really suspenseful and good.
Last Man Standing on ABC (Tuesday evening) – also improving as it goes.
Once Upon a Time on ABC (Sunday night) – if loving Mr Gold is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Also, loving Eion Bailey! (We’re still behind a little; don’t spoil me!)
Doctor Who plays frequently on BBC America, and if you’re not watching it there’s a deep void in your life. This week’s offerings include Midnight, Turn Left, and The Stolen Earth & Journey’s End.
Best Ink on Oxygen (Tuesday night) – a tattoo artist competition show. It’s pretty similar to the one Spike ran recently. Quite good.
The Big Bang Theory on CBS (Thursday night) – if you don’t know, nothing I say will help. Just watch it.

One-timers:

Fried Green Tomatoes (HBO Family, Thursday wee hours) – really awesome tale of life in the Great Depression, as well as an empowering bit of femininity.
The Shawshank Redemption (AMC, Sunday evening) – Morgan Freeman is all the reason you need to watch this.
Braveheart (AMC, Sunday wee hours) – classic.
McLintock! (AMC, Saturday) – one of John Wayne’s best.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (IFC, Tuesday evening) – do you know where your towel is?
I Am Legend (TNT,  Saturday evening & Sunday afternoon) – these are my favorite zombies. I hope TNT doesn’t butcher it.
Alice in Wonderland (Burton version) (ABCF, Saturday & Sunday evening) – visually stunning, of course, and a really interesting take on the tales of Alice.
The Face on the Milk Carton (ABCF, Sunday morning) – never seen this, but I loved the book series as a kid. If it stinks, it costs me nothing.
Finding Neverland (ABCF, Saturday evening) – Biopic of JM Barrie, creator of Neverland, starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. It’s a beautiful thing.
Gone in 60 Seconds (ABCF, Thursday evening) – one of Nic Cage’s better movies. With the added bonus of the Ninth Doctor as the bad guy!
Dune (BBCA, Sunday wee hours) – I recorded this a long time back and it got deleted before I could finish it. I’ve been waiting for it to come on again. :)
The Tale of Despereaux (The Hub, Saturday evening & Sunday afternoon) – I liked the story, but not a huge fan of the writing style of the book. Giving the movie a try. Missy should like it, anyway.

Now that you know what I’m watching and reading, tell me what you’re turning your rabbit ears toward! What’s worth reading and watching in the world this week?

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