Thursday, October 29, 2009

Spider Cupcakes

We made spider cupcakes today!  I think they turned out pretty well!  The original plan was to use gumdrops for the spiders, but I couldn't find any of the larger gumdrops at the store, so we decided to try something new.  We used homemade tootsie rolls for the whole spider.  It was a great 'kid friendly' activity.  I baked up a plain old cake mix from the store, used our favorite frosting recipe (cream cheese frosting, yum!), hot fudge sauce for the spider webs, and the homemade tootsie rolls to mold the spiders!  I will give you the tootsie roll recipe in case any of you want to give it a try!
Tootsie Rolls
 5 Tbsp butter, melted
4 Tbsp cocoa
1/2 cup Karo syrup
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup powdered milk
3 cups powdered sugar
Mix all ingredients together and knead until everything is fully incorporated.  This should keep the kiddos occupied for awhile.  Then, roll into desired shapes!  Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Crochet Bunny Costume Pattern

My 5 yr old decided he wanted to be a bunny this year.  I think he's figured out that he gets lots of votes at the annual family Halloween Party on the cuteness factor and he's trying to capitalize on it!  That, and he thinks that the neighbor's new bunny is pretty cool.

Anyway, I wasn't really excited to sew a big furry bunny suit.  I've sewed enough furry suits to really want to come up with an alternative that would still look good and be a bit original.  I came up with this version using a pair of gray sweatpants already in his wardrobe, a gray turtleneck I purchased at a local thrift shop for $3, 2 skeins of yarn, silver pipecleaners and one sheet of self-adhesive pink felt.

I wrote up the pattern as I went, hopefully it is pretty accurate.  If you have any questions about it, feel free to comment.  I will try to answer any questions or concerns you have!

This pattern is for a child size hat, mittens, 2 bunny ears, and one bushy tail.

Things you will need:  Grey pants and long sleeved shirt to fit child, 2 skeins worsted weight yarn in a gray to match the clothing (I used 2 skeins of lion brand jiffy yarn in silver heather), silver pipecleaners (I used 14), one sheet of pink self-adhesive felt, a size j and a size p hook, and one tapestry needle.

Gauge: with J hook and 1 strand, 4dc x rows = 1 1/2 ".  With P hook and two strands, 2 sc x 2 rows = 1".  The gauge is not super important.  You need to be in the ballpark for the hat and mittens to fit.  The tail doesn't matter, and the ears are somewhat forgiving where the pipecleaners are so flexible.

Notes:  within a row, if it says to repeat around, repeat the portion in between **.  Also, if it says to dc around, or sc around, it means to just make one row of dc or sc.

Hat:  Ch 3, sl st to 1st ch to join.  Row 1:  ch 3, 14 dc into foundation loop, sl st to top of ch 3 to join.  Row 2:  Ch 3, dc into top of ch 3, 2 dc in each dc around.  Sl st to top of ch 3 to join.  Row 3:  Ch 3, *dc in next 5 dc, 2 dc in next dc*, repeat around then sl st to top of ch 3 to join.  (35 dc + ch3)  Row 4:  Ch 3, dc around, sl st to top of ch3.  Row 5:  ch 3, *dc in next 6 dc, 2 dc in next dc* repeat around ending with dc in last dc, sl st to join.  (41 dc + ch 3)  Row 6 - 13: ch 3, dc around, sl st to join.  fasten off and weave in ends.

Bunny Ears:  take 3 silver pipe cleaners and twist together into one long straight line.  Make 3 more of these.  Then take two of the groups of three and twist together at one end to form the top point of the ears.  Take the other ends and fold them in towards each other and twist together forming a bunny ear shape.  The end shape should measure approximately 2 inches across on the bottom and be about 10 inches in height.  Make one more of these so you have 2.  Use two strands of yarn together for this and use a larger size p hook.  Row 1:  Attach yarn to bottom corner of ear (pipecleaners) and sc 4 onto the bottom edge.  Row 2-3:  ch 1, turn.  Sc in each sc across.  Row 4-5: ch 1, turn.  Sc across row, increasing one sc (this means you need to make 2 sc in one of the sc on the row)  Row 6-8: Repeat row 2.  Row 9:  Ch 1, turn.  Sc across, decreasing one (this means you need to do one sc2together on this row).  Row 10-13:  Repeat row 2.  Row 14:  Repeat row 9.  Row 15-17:  Repeat row 2.  Row 18-19:  Repeat row 9.  Row 20:  Repeat row 2.  Row 21:  ch 1, turn.  Sc 2 together, fasten off.  (If you leave the tail of the yarn, you can crochet over it in the next step.)  Edging:  Using a J hook and one strand of yarn, sc around pipe cleaner and raw edge of crocheted ear.

Take the pink felt and cut out two ear shapes a bit smaller than the crocheted ears.  Remove the backing from the felt and stick to the ear.  To finish the hat, you will need to try it on the child who will be wearing it.  Mark where the ears will go.  Before sewing the ears on, bend the bottom straight edge and the sides of the ear so that it is curved in a bit around the pink felt.  Curving helps them to stand striaght.  Sew on the ears in the desired position.  I put mine close together and actually sewed them together on the bottom center edges as I was sewing it to the hat.  To give additional stability to the ears, I took 2 more pipecleaners, folded them in half and twisted them together.  Place these inside the hat under the ears.  Take the edges and fold them so they stick up through the hat behind the ears.  Bend the pipecleaner so the portion inside the hat remains flat against the head and the edges poke straight up behind the ears.  The ears should rest on the pipecleaner edges.  They may still flop around a bit.  If you wish them more stable, us more pipecleaners and you may stitch them in place.

Mittens:  Using a J hook and 1 strand of yarn beginning at cuff edge Row 1:  ch 6, sc in second ch from hook and each ch across.  (5sc)  Row 2-16:  Ch 1, turn.  sc across row in back loops only.  To join edges, ch 1, turn, and sc both short edges together.  Row 1 of body of mitten:  Ch 1, sc around the edge of the ribbing spreading 18 sc evenly.  Sl st to join.  Row 2:  Ch 3, dc in each sc around increasing 3 stitches.  Sl st to top of ch 3 to join.  Row 3-4:  ch 3, dc in each dc arount.  Sl st to top of ch 3 to join.  Row 5:  Ch 3, skip 4 dc.  Sl st to 5th dc, ch 3, dc in next dc and each dc around, dc in each ch and sl st to top of ch 3 to join.  (20 dc + ch3)  Row 6:  Ch 3, dc around, decreasing 3 stitches.  Sl st to join.  Row 7:  Ch 3, dc in each dc around.  Sl st to join.  Row 8:  repeat row 6.  Row 9:  Ch 3, dc around decreasing 5 stitches this row.  Sl st to join.  Row 10:  Ch 3, dc2tog around ending with one dc in last stitch.  Fasten off leaving enough to weave through the top of each stitch and pull tight and fasten.  Weave in end.  Thumb:  Attach yarn to thumb opening.  Ch3.  Make one row of dc (8dc), sl st to beg ch.  Row 2:  ch 3, make a row of dc decreasing 2.  Sl st to beg ch3.  Fasten off, leaving end long enough to weave through tops of stitches and pull tight and fasten.  Weave in end.  Make 2 of these.

Tail:  With 2 strands of yarn and P hook, ch 3.  Sl st to first ch.  *Ch 16, sl st to ch3 loop.*  Repeat this until the tail is as bushy as you like or until you run out of yarn.  I ran out of yarn.  To finish , sew the tail to the seat of the gray pants.  
Hoppy Halloween!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Turkey Day Hat

Well, if any of you out there love family and food as I do, you must look forward to Thanksgiving Day all year long!  I'm already thinking of what roll recipe I'm going to use, and what kinds of pies I get to bake!  And I get to share it all with my family!  What could be better?  
So, here is my ode to our beloved Thanksgiving Day.  Making the pattern up as I went along, it turned out a bit crazy, but also a bit fabulous at the same time!

Maybe sometime I'll write up a pattern, but for now, it stands alone, completely unique screaming,  "I love turkey!"

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Caramel Apple Butter

Through late summer and fall it seems I find myself in the kitchen canning several times a week.  I have canned tomatoes and spaghetti sauce for several years, but as time goes by I seem to add more and more things to the list.  It's become almost an obsession, trying to fill all of those jars, getting my storage area as full as possible.   Here is a picture of a portion of what I have in our storage area.  Alas, it has turned cold and all of the vegetables have frozen.  Not so for apples.  Those of you with apple trees are probably just getting started.  I have been canning applesauce and apple butter.  I've experimented with a few apple butter recipes and have found one that I love.  So, I thought I would share!

Crockpot Caramel Apple Butter

14 c applesauce  (use about 6 lbs apples, I cut and core mine, then cook them down in a small amount of apple or grape juice, then run them through the food mill to puree and remove the skins)
Place apples in a large crockpot.  Add 4 cups sugar and mix in thoroughly.  Cook on high without lid for a very long time stirring occasionally.  The batch I made today was in the crockpot for about 14 hours (I made applesauce last night and just left it in over night).  It doesn't need to be that long, just until it is cooked down to a butter consistency and turns a dark amber color.  Unwrap and add 43 caramels to the pot.  When caramels are melted and incorporated, check the temperature with a candy thermometer if you have one.  It should reach about 160 degrees F.  If your crock does not get hot enough, move the butter to a pot on the stove.  Pour into prepared jars and process in a water bath for 15 minutes.  (Please adjust these times according to your local extension offices guidelines for your altitude)  If you like, you may add 1/4 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp cloves, and 1 tsp cinnamon.  This recipe makes 6 pints or 12 half pints.