Arsenic & Old Lace: A Halloween Party

October 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Happy Halloween!

I love Halloween–I love candy! and costumes! and pumpkins! and weird folklore and traditions!  It is a match made in holiday heaven.

Last year I helped my friend Angela with her Halloween Murder Mystery party, and it was so much fun that we decided to throw another Halloween party this year.

Because we are grown-ups, and we need all of the excuses to wear costumes that we can get.

For our theme I chose one of my favorite Halloween movies, Arsenic & Old Lace

If you haven’t seen this movie, then run out and get it right now. You have two days until Halloween is over! You won’t be sorry.

The party was a candy potluck–guests brought a bag of their favorite candy to add to the table, and there were treat bags to be filled and taken home–but there were a few more treats for the lace-draped buffet table as well…

Green mad scientist punch, sparkling grape juice, pumpkin soup….

Sugar cookies, s’mores on sticks, mummified baby fingers (okay, okay, they were just pigs in a blanket, and you can’t even see them because I forgot to take the towel off of the basket)

Poisoned apple with caramel sauce and toppings–marshmallows, toffee bits, and chopped almonds

Gingerbread cupcakes with marshmallow filling, served with whipped cream

And, not quite in theme, an experiment in cookies honoring Día de los Muertos:

What will you be for Halloween?  I was Salome, and St. John the Baptist was my date for the evening:

Beauty and the Beast Winner!

October 30, 2010 § 2 Comments

So, I have a Halloween party to show you in a series of blurry pictures, but first there is some very important business to take care of!

THE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST CUPCAKE WRAPPER GIVAWAY!

And the winner is….drum roll….

 

NIA! Here’s what she had to say:

Okaaaay so, hi, my name is Nia, and I’m a fellow Beauty-and-the-Beast-aholic. (hi, Nia!) My favorite part of Disney’s Beauty & the Beast is…
when Belle yells back at the Beast while cleaning his wounds. also ALL the songs. also the “baroque” joke. also the Beast who is super awesome. I think they did a good job with him. I never noticed before this most recent watching how much he looks like his human self even in beast form. good job, Disney.

I also like you. I want you to be my ghostwriter for my blog, because I’m too lazy/busy to write it myself. sound cool? great.

Hurray!  Also I like you too, Nia 😉  Now make sure that I have your address, and these cupcake wrappers will be yours!

The Meaning of Meraki

October 20, 2010 § 16 Comments

According to an article at NPR called Translating the Untranslatable, which is all about the book In Other Words: A Language Lover’s Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World, there is a word in Greek that I want to be able to apply to everything I do:

meraki [may-rah-kee] (adjective)

This is a word that modern Greeks often use to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing, whatever it may be. Meraki is often used to describe cooking or preparing a meal, but it can also mean arranging a room, choosing decorations, or setting an elegant table.

Beauty and the Beast: Link Round-Up & Give-Away

October 18, 2010 § 5 Comments

Thank you for being my guest and celebrating Disney’s Beauty and the Beast with me!

To show my appreciation I’d love to give each and every one of you a hug and a piece of cake, but it’s a little hard to manage that through the computer screen.  So I’d like to do something else instead!

To help one of you host your own Beauty and the Beast celebration, I want to give you this set up cupcake wrappers

Just comment on this post and mention your favorite part of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Or your favorite thing about me. Or your favorite version of Beauty and the Beast by someone other than Disney.  Or really anything that you feel like mentioning.  I’ll draw a name from a hat and the winner gets the cupcake wrappers, hurray!

Are you looking for even more ideas?  Then here are some links, just for you!:

Belle’s Valentine Bookmarks via family.com

Mrs. Potts Cake Pops by Bakerella via family.com

Cogsworth Cupcakes via family.com

Strawberry Rose Shortcake via family.com

Paper Roses via Ruffled

Rose Barrettes via the Purl Bee

Paper Roses via hubpages

Do you still have the Beauty and the Beast bug, but you’re all Disney-ed out? Try these alternative! They all have the Grey Eyed Girl Seal of Approval.

(click an image to go to the Amazon listing):

How to make…fancy cupcake wrappers, part 2

October 17, 2010 § 3 Comments

While the Beast was lurking in his castle, being mopey and full of rage, he didn’t pay much attention to his wardrobe.  He stuck to the basics: the cloak.  It is important that he wear a cloak, so that he can swirl it.  There’s a lot of impressive cloak swirling in the movie, and I love a good, swirly cloak, so I had to make a cupcake wrapper for it!

You will need

–maroon scrapbook paper

–maroon tissue paper

–the Beast cloak template

You’ll cut out two pieces, the tissue paper taller than the scrapbook paper.  You want the tissue paper to have a ragged edge, like the torn hem of the Beast’s cloak, but if you just tear the paper you won’t get the look you want–the paper will want to tear on the grain, rather than raggedly.  Instead, take a damp cloth and dab it along the upper edge of the tissue paper

Then pull the damp edges off with a pinching motion–

Then tape the edges together and voila!

 

 

Fortunately the Beast managed to find another outfit in time for the ball

(maybe he was friends with some mice)

To make the Beast’s fancy suit, you will need

–blue scrapbook paper

–yellow scrapbook paper

–a small piece of white tissue paper

–a gold paint pen

–the Fancy Suit Template

Cut the two primary pieces out of your blue scrapbook paper and set them aside.  Cut the smaller waistcoat piece out of your yellow scrapbook paper, and cut two slits for the cravat

Fold this center flap back, and put a bit of double-sided tape on it

Crumple your tissue paper a bit to give it texture, and put it into the slot, crumpling and gathering it, and fold the flap back up to hold it in place

Fold it over the back and trim the edges, then glue or tape them down on the back of the waistcoat

Put double-stick tape on the pointed flaps to either side of the waistcoat and attach it to your coat pieces

You’re almost done!  Just use your paint pen to add the final details to your wrapper–a ‘v’ on either side of the cravat for a collar, a double row of buttons down the center of the waistcoat….

…and a row of buttons down either side of the coat, and a line around the top and bottom edges of the wrapper

And voila!

 

Fancy suits aside, I think we can all agree that there is one dress in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast that outshines all of the other outfits:

Now there is a dress that fulfills all of my childhood fantasies (Off the shoulder? check. Gloves? check. Giant, fluffy, swirly skirt? check!)

For Belle’s ball gown, you will need

–yellow scrapbook paper

–yellow tissue paper

–a gold paint pen

–double sided tape

–ribbon roses (look for these in the button/ribbons/notions aisles of your local craft stores)

–glue

–the Fancy Suit Template and Belle’s Ball Gown Template

Belle’s ball gown has four layers–the smallest one will be cut out of scrapbook paper, and the other three tiers will be cut out of tissue paper.

Use your paint pen to draw swags on the scallops of the tissue paper layers

Now just stack your layers up–apply double sided tape to the back of your scrapbook paper and lay it on top of the smallest tissue paper, then apply double sided tape to the back of the tissue paper and lay it on the next size up, and repeat.  Make sure that you put them on in the right order, because it is a pain if you put them on in the wrong order and then have to peel them back off without tearing them and start over.  Ahem.

Glue on your roses–I used my hot glue gun, but you could use any craft glue that will dry clear

 

And voila!

 

How to make…fancy cupcake wrappers

October 16, 2010 § 1 Comment

I love all kinds of crafts, but I have a special weakness for costumes.  Dress-up was my favorite activity as a child, and it continues to be one of my favorite activities now–I always look forward to the renaissance faire and the chance to indulge my interest in historical clothing.  In high school and college I spent a lot of time in the theatre departments doing costume work.

So it’s not really surprising that when I wanted to make special wrappers for my Beauty and the Beast cupcakes, my inspiration came from the outfits in the film!  I couldn’t help myself.  I made six wrappers, four for Belle’s dresses and two for the Beast.  Here is how a few of them were made:

The wrapper inspired by Belle’s blue dress is the most basic, and calls for

–bright blue scrapbook paper

–the cupcake wrapper template for Belle’s dresses

–double sided tape

Print out the template and cut it out, then trace around it on your scrapbook paper and cut it out again.  Don’t lose the template! You’ll be using it again for the other dresses.

Mark the overlap–

Then tape the edges together, and voila!

Belle’s green dress, which she wears during the library scene (one of my favorite moments, of course–I would fall in love with anyone who gave me that library), is a little more complicated.  You will need

–dark green scrapbook paper

–lighter green tissue paper

–double stick tape

–the cupcake wrapper template for Belle’s dresses

You’ll use the Green Dress template for the scrapbook paper, and the Basic Template (the one you just used for the Blue Dress) for the tissue paper

And then just apply double sided tape to the back of the scrapbook paper, and lay it on top of the tissue paper

Then just wrap it around and secure the ends together, and voila!

Belle’s pink dress is more complicated than her other two, but I think it’s absolutely worth it–it’s soft and sweet looking and to make it you will need

–rose pink scrapbook paper

–lighter pink tissue paper

–narrow light pink ribbon

–double sided tape

–glue

–the cupcake wrapper template for Belle’s dresses

Use the Pink Dress template to cut out one shape from the scrapbook paper, and then cut the Basic Template out three times out of tissue paper.  Use the template to mark the placement of the ribbons on the scrapbook paper

Just make little pencil marks on the edge of the piece–this is the back side, and the ribbon will cover it anyway.  Cut short pieces of your ribbon and wrap them around the paper, securing with glue (make sure you use a glue that will dry clear! and I actually used my double sided tape, but glue might be simpler).

Now here comes the tricky part–the ruffle.  Apply double sided tape to the back of the wrapper, so that it’s pretty thoroughly covered.  Then take one of the tissue paper pieces you cut out, line the edge of it up with the scrapbook paper, and press down about a quarter of an inch.  Then fold it back for a bit, and then forward again, so that another quarter of an inch is stuck down, then fold it back a bit, and repeat–this is hard to explain, so perhaps a visual will help!

When you get to the end of one piece of tissue paper just keep going with a second piece, continuing to make your pleats until you get all the way across the wrapper.  If you get to the end and you have extra tissue paper, just trim it off–if you’re a little short, just cut another piece.  It’s not an exact science…

You may find that the top edge of your ruffle is a bit…uneven.  I found that it was much easier not to worry about keeping the top edge even while you were making the pleats–instead it’s much simpler to just trim the top edge after the fact, and voila!

How to make…stained glass cookies (sort of)

October 15, 2010 § 11 Comments

I’m afraid that this isn’t going to be a very good tutorial, because my methods were mostly an experiment in what Does Not Work (hint: getting your icing wrong Does Not Work).  But the end result was still pretty!  So perhaps if I tell you all about what I did wrong you’ll be able to do something even prettier.

First I made sugar cookies. From a package, because I am a cheater.  Then I made icing from these directions at i am baker and managed to get them wrong. My icing was much too thin, and I used an icing tip that was too big, and the long and the short of it is that my cookies had a rather thicker layer of icing that they were supposed to, and this layer of icing never hardened.

My plan for the cookies was to copy the enchanted rose as it appears in the wonderful stained glass prologue of Beauty and the Beast

Specifically, I wanted my cookies to look like this:

I had a few ideas about how to copy the image onto my cookies…and they all failed. Because my icing was soft and more like a glaze than icing and the outer crust cracked like a frozen lake if I touched it.  What to do?

In the end I did what I do best: I improvised.  I eyeballed.  I looked at the picture, and back at my cookie, and back at the picture, and back at my cookie, and I free-handed roses onto my cookies in black icing (with the small tip that I should have been using all along, and which much, much thicker icing this time).

I did my best, but I still ended up with some of the ugliest roses in the history of everything–see the lower right hand corner of this picture for evidence–

My lines were shaky and lumpy, my piping sloppy, and my cookies, frankly, looked abysmal.  I managed to fix a few mistakes by gently picking out bits of black icing after it had dried, but the real saving grace for these cookies?

The decorating gel.  You can buy it in your local craft or baking goods store in a multitude of colors.  It’s clear. It’s vibrant. After it sits it doesn’t harden like royal icing but it does firm up enough to handle touching or stacking (although if you’re stacking your cookies in a tin for a gift, or if you made them in advance for an event and they’ll be stacked for a while, I’d separate them with pieces of wax or parchment paper to keep crumbs from sticking to the decorating gel).  And suddenly that imperfect piping isn’t even noticeable–the bright colors of the decorating gel made even the ugliest of my ugly roses look good.

Application was simple–I just squeezed a bit of decorating gel into each section of the cookies (not too much! it will spread pretty thin, and you can always add more if you need to–if you put on too much it will flood into other sections) and gently spread it to the edges and into the corners with a toothpick.

A little time consuming, but easy, and the results were so worth it!

If you look closely, you’ll see that I used two shades of decorating gel–both pink and red–to give the rose depth.  There wasn’t a science to this, although I tried to focus the pink on the center of the rose and use it on the curled edges of the petals, while I used more red at the bottom of the rose. But it breaks up the color and gives some of the variation that you see in the window.

You can also see the black mark left by a line of icing that I picked off to improve the look of the rose–that smudge was a lot less noticeable in person, I promise!

I also broke up the bright blue background with bits of purple, and some of the cookies had a border of pink and purple, in an effort to match my original concept.

Was this project time-consuming and tedious?

Well, yes. But so pretty!

Would you do it again?

Absolutely, although I would really try to get my icing right next time.

Were they too pretty to eat?

Um, no. In my world, no cookie is too pretty to eat. That’s why I take pictures.

They were delicious!

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