i almost forgot to introduce myself. my name is stilton, geronimo stilton.

so, the kiddo wanted to be geronimo stilton this year (he's even perhaps given up on being a bug scientist, and wants to be a newspaper editor instead). we started with this...

... then this...

... finally got to this...

... ha, it almost fits me...


now to get to work on christmas.


squash the muffins!

muffins are in the oven!

i used a butternut squash this time, as that's what i had on hand. also, instead of bran cereal, i crushed 4 weetabix, and added a touch extra flour because it seemed a bit gloopy. batter tastes good, i'm sure they'll be yummy. and i do remember when i was little, my mum saying canned squash made a better pie than canned pumpkin.

pumpkin muffins

1/2 cup soft butter
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup pumpkin
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup crushed bran cereal
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans + 24 whole pecans

cream butter & sugar. beat in egg and vanilla, stir in milk and pumpkin.

combine flour, cereal, baking powder, and spices. stir into pumpkin mixture until just combined. stir in raisins and nuts.

divide batter between 24 greased & floured muffin tins. top each with a whole pecan. bake at 400f for 20 minutes.

another sick day

i feel like i have had a creature lodged in my sinus cavity behind my eyes for the past week, and it has finally won the battle for supremacy in my head. body aches, mild nausea, sore throat, pick a symptom and i've got it. last night i had a lovely neo-citran and am tempted to do that again but afraid i'll fall asleep and miss picking up my son at lunch!

and today is an important day. for today his afternoon preschool program is having their hallowe'en party! so i will bring his costume & dress him up before i take him over there. pics to follow. i hope the jacket fits all right, i haven't had a chance to try it on him. eep!

meanwhile, we're supposed to bring a snack or something to share with the kiddies. i was going to just bring something prefab, but since i'm home, i've dug up a muffin recipe that looks fairly low-effort. roasting a squash from the garden for it as we speak.

and now, i think it is time to retire to the chesterfield with another episode of brideshead revisited and a pot of tea!


down to the wire, as always

it's the night before the hallowe'en party at the kiddo's preschool, and i'm still sewing. and suffering - feeling flu-ish actually, some creature took up residence in my sinuses last week, and i've held it at bay so far, but i think it's about to win. sigh.

thankfully all that's left to do is a little hand-sewing. the wonderful tg googled solutions to my supermatic's problems yesterday while i was out, and presented me with a printout of solutions. reading it after a nap, it was easy to diagnose the problem: needle inserted at wrong height! fixed and yay.


hallowe'en count down: 8 days

had a semi-productive sick day today. there's only so much you can do witha sinus headache, but i dug out my pattern and fabric and cut out the pieces for geronimo stilton's suit, and picked up where i'd left off with his head.

i'd gotten the idea to use plastic cut from a laundry detergent bottle to stiffen his ears. but i got the idea after sewing them up and finding they were a bit floppy. so today, i took on the mindless task of picking out the stitches, inserting the plastic, and then re-sewing, and then sewing them on to the head.

hand-sewing is good sick-day work. i curled up on the sofa with a glass of milk, a piece of buttered toast, and the trotsky. which i quite enjoyed, despite some awkward lines. i was a little disappointed in colm feore (maybe because my expectations from him are always so high?); genevieve bujold was awesome. as coming of age films go, it was definitely a bit of all right.

anyway i had got the head mostly done on the weekend. actually i'd drafted the pattern and cut out the fabric ages ago, but when the kiddo got sniffy about it not being the right shade of brown, i lost a bit of motivation. also, was busy making thanksgiving desserts, and craft fair stuff (some of which you can see in my etsy shop). hallowe'en kept getting pushed back. next year i'll be smart and do the hallowe'en stuff in july.

note: it is hard to take a picture of oneself wearing a mousehead. just awkward. but soon it will be all done and i can take a proper pic of the whole costume!


finally, five years later... mask stands!

here's a little project that sat around waiting for me to do it for a long time, although it was not difficult at all!

five (yes, five!) years ago we went to zambia for a month, and among the things we brought back were two wooden masks. but we needed a way to display them! i foolishly thought it would be easy to but some sort of hat stand and adapt it, but i was woefully wrong. le sigh. so i had a little think about how one could make such a thing.

i imagined a version of some of the display racks i'd seen in shops for hats (although i couldn't for the life of me find such things in the right configuration and price for me to purchase): a base, an upright, and a knobby bit on top:

fairly simple, right? the wooden bases were cedar deck-components bought at our local hardware emporium - they're meant to cap 4x4 posts, and there's a good variety of them available most places you would go to buy stuff to build a deck. the upright section is simply a length of 3/4" dowel. the top, because i couldn't find wooden ones, is ugly white styrofoam.

i got a 3/4" spade bit and used my trusty old hand drill to drill down through the centre of the wooden bases - almost but not quite all the way through, leaving just under 1/4" thick at the bottom. then, i inserted the dowel with a load of glue, and anchored with a wood screw which i drove up from the bottom. solid. i also screwed a couple of mending plates on the bottom of the base, for added weight and stability.

the styrofoam balls... drilling in styrofoam is a messy unpleasant job. but it got done. those got glued on the top.

now of course, they looked pretty ugly. here's where the papier mache comes in. i made a simple paste of 1/2 cup flour, 2 cups water, cooked for about 5 minutes and then left to cool. i had a bunch of natural brown tissue paper in my collection of tissue and wrapping paper saved from every gift that has ever entered the house, so i used that, and covered the stands in their entirety, from the top down. the styrofoam balls got extra layers, as did the join between styrofoam and wood - my drill holes were messy, the balls were wobbly, all the stability they have now is due to papier mache. layers of it. these don't need to be exceptionally sturdy; the masks are made out of a fairly lightweight wood so they weigh less than you'd guess to look at them (makes sense, considering they were originally made to be worn by people). and, they're going to be sitting out of harm's way, on top of the piano.

i was originally intending to use a dark stain over all, but the natural light brown was sufficiently innocuous that i just left it.

ta dah! i'm feeling a bit pleased with myself now. although the top of the piano is probably getting too crowded for its own good. i should probably rearrange the living room bookshelves to make room for the basket o' sheet music up there, at least.


i did it!

survived my first craft fair!! a bigger turnout would have been nice, but what can you do. it was still a fine day and i met some cool people and made a few sales! unsurprising really, when a doctor who fan approaches a table of bowties. and now that i'm home, i've posted some of what i didn't sell on etsy - more to come - and realized i misspelled my etsy url on the tags. yikes! ah well, best to learn these lessons the hard way on a small scale, rather than a grand catastrophe.


another busy day

thanksgiving is upon us once again! so today i'm making the same as last year: my usual 2 pumpkin pies, and the non-pumpkin dessert is once again sticky toffee pudding. when i asked the beenster what i should make in addition to the pies, he said "pudding" and looked at me like i was crazy for even asking. so, pudding it is! and cheese crackers. my brother-in-law dropped by this morning, and saw a big lump of imperial cheddar in a bowl with some softening butter, and said, "is that cheese? it - wait! you're making - mmmmmmm! happy!" which is pretty much the kind of reaction that makes me want to do more more more. love the appreciation!


getting ready...

so one of the things i wanted to do for the craft fair was t-shirts - they're something easy for people to pick up. but i didn't want to make them all the way from scratch - neckline ribbing is annoying to do, and i didn't see fabric cheap enough to make it feasible. no one is going to spend $50 on a kid's t-shirt.

so on the weekend, i found some cheap 5 for $10 adult-sized t-shirts in chinatown, some light grey heather, some dark grey heather. i started on them yesterday by dying half of them green and half blue:

doesn't show up great in this picture (too early in the day yet for natural light!) but they have a nice heathery look to the colours. next will be chopping them up (preserving the neckline for laziness) and making kids' shirts out of them. scraps will be used for things like lining ties.

finally will come the stencilling. i have (what i think is) a pretty cool idea for an illustration. i'm excited!