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on the way to Hogwarts

Those who follow me on Instagram/FB got a sneak peek at Henri’s Halloween costume this year.  The boys fell hard into the world of Hogwarts when we began showing them the films this year, though we stopped after the 5th one because they were getting a bit too dark.

Jakob wants to be Draco Malfoy.  It was his original costume choice, now possibly swapped out for a Minecraft Enderman, but in general, he wants to be a Slytherin.  He thinks Harry was put in the wrong house, and that Slytherin is where it’s at.  It’s less to do with the negative traits or a penchant for the color green, than it is that, as he likes to remind me, “We love snakes, Mom.“.  Yes.  Yes we do.

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Jakob, age 4, with friend.

The Snake is my Chinese sign and a long-favored creature of mine, and that love transferred down to my oldest.  In fact, we’d have a pet snake at home if it weren’t for 2 things: 1. I would be too heartbroken to feed it mice, and 2. my father-in-law would never visit again.

In any case, if ever he were to dress up as anything from the Potterverse, it would be in Slytherin colors.  But Henri?  He’s Gryffindor all the way.

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Doesn’t he even LOOK like a young Harry???

We bought those glasses and wand last weekend at the local Halloween store, and my mom lent us a black grad gown that is PERFECT for his robes.  I’d like to find time to make a crest for the robe, but the main finishing touch for his costume is the scarf, so I decided to get on that last night.

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The burgundy isn’t quite right, but I’m working with stash yarn and I don’t think he’ll mind too much.  The pattern is my own, such as it is.

CO 30 sts with burg yarn.  Work 1×1 rib for 30 rows.  Change to yellow, work 1×1 rib for 30 rows.  Repeat, ending after a burgundy section.  Add fringe.

I decided against working stockinette because I really didn’t feel like taking the extra time to make it doubled or in the round, and a flat panel of st st would curl like crazy.  1×1 rib contracts enough to look almost like stockinette and won’t curl, making it quicker and easier for a 6yo’s Halloween costume.  🙂

UPDATE AFTER HALLOWEEN: Here’s Henri’s final costume!


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SuperBaby, revisited

The boys keep talking about what they want to be for Halloween this year, and it has me reminiscing about Jakob’s first Halloween, and one of my very first designs.

Here’s a repost, coming to you from all the way back in 2007.  Lookit how wittle he was!!

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From November 2007: May I present…

SuperBaby!

SuperBaby’s special powers include drowning his adversaries in massive amounts of drool, and the ability to shove anything into his mouth. Foes are often foiled in their plots by his awesome cuteness which requires all who pass to stop, come closer, and kiss him.

SuperBaby also managed to stand by himself (leaning on the sofa) for the purposes of taking this photo.
His detachable cape is this season’s “in” accessory. No SuperBaby would be caught dead without a cape this year, and we hear that shiny red is the new black.

The pattern is my own, for both the outfit and the cape. I had Yannick’s help in creating the baby, and the Superness is all his own. 🙂

By the way, these are the pumpkins that Yannick bought for outside our house. Should I be insulted that the “Daddy” and “Baby” pumpkins are perfect, and the “Mommy” pumpkin is all lumpy and deformed?

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Heh.

My brother Aaron edited that pic up there and now SuperBaby looks right at home, defending the city.

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He wore the outfit again for Purim too.  🙂

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A little while later I’d contacted DC inquiring about permission to write up and publish the pattern.  (They, duh, refused me).2746347727_708f81ccb0_n

So… I modified it into a generic superhero instead, and now anyone who wants to can knit up their very own!

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The pattern is written for ages 6-12 months [12-18 months], and includes full instructions and charts for the costume, the two shown chest shields, and the cape.  There is also a blank chart with instructions on how to design your own shield, in case you want to personalize it with your favorite SuperBaby’s initial.

It’s on Ravelry here.


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you say it’s your birthday…well it’s my birthday too, yeah

I’ve been complaining lately about not finding making the time to post.  I have a backlog of images that I want to share, tutorials and baked goods and crafty things of all sorts.

Today’s my birthday.

IMG_7172To celebrate, I’m gonna do it (post, you pervs LOL) and share some of the things that have been keeping me busy the last month.

IMG_5997Henri finished his first, then his second chapter books.

He won’t go to bed without a book and a flashlight.  (He gets that from me).IMG_6067Jakob discovered Grumpy Cat.

IMG_6262I’ve been hooking.  (Heh).

IMG_6446I caught a toad and the boys got to hold it.

IMG_6449Doesn’t it look like he’s almost posing?  (The toad).

IMG_6612We finally assembled the boys’ beds into a bunk bed in Jakob’s room…

IMG_6642…and Henri got bunk beds too (I forgot to take a better ‘after’ pic)…

IMG_6628…so of COURSE the first thing they did was have a sleepover.

IMG_6635They became ninjas (or rappers, I can’t quite tell which)…

IMG_6739…and climbed trees…

IMG_6818…and did shadow-puppet shows…

IMG_6821…and dressed themselves with no regards for color or pattern.

Finally the summer drew to a close, and they had their first day of school.IMG_6881They kissed each other goodbye (I couldn’t resist this pic!!)…

IMG_6886…and then Mr. Grade 3 went off on his way…

IMG_6891…followed not long after by Mr. Grade 1.

In what may be the BIGGEST surprise of the summer, I managed to transform my office from this:

IMG_6952(Don’t judge me)

…to this:

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(I KNOW, right???)

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Funny, I always thought he was priceless.

And that works us back to today.

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This is what 38 looks like.

Have a great weekend!


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Throwing A Minecraft Birthday Party

First came the Minecraft lootbags, then the Minecraft fondant toppers, and then the Minecraft cake.  Now’s where it all came together – the final Minecraft birthday party.mc party collage

Once again, this was Henri’s 6th birthday party, from back in January.  Jakob just had his own Minecraft party but I didn’t change much except for the cake, and that will get its own post shortly.

There are a lot of ways you can incorporate Minecraft ‘foods’ into your own party.  A quick look through Google images or Pinterest will show idea after idea, I pulled some of them out and added my own to get what worked for the small group of kids we had.  If you’re having a larger party, or its for a gaggle of teens, you can really go all out with some creative food arrangements.  I’ve seen everything from pretzel-grid trap doors to a soda maker doubling as a brewing station!

mc party dinnerI didn’t go quite so elaborate.  Only 10 kids, a few lingering adults, and I knew the children would be rushing through the food to get back to playing video games (we were at an arcade).  The place provided pizza, so I added a quick veggie side dish to the table.

mc party dinner carrot

Clear enough?  🙂

mc party dessert

I had a little more fun preparing the dessert table…mc party dessert 02

Regular and Golden Apples…mc party water buckets 01

…Water Buckets… (blue raspberry Jell-O… would have been cuter in plastic shot glasses if I’d thought about buying some in time)…mc party tnt

…and TNT  (red licorice bundles with black licorice whip wicks).

Combine these with the Minecraft lootbags the kids got when they left, and it made for a party they could all dig.  (Get it?)  😉

Can I just say that I love the dollar store square dishes and platters?  Love them.

mc party cake closeupHenri really enjoyed his 6th birthday party, and I had a lot of fun putting everything together for it.

You can download and print the images below to make your own Minecraft party.  I copy/pasted a bunch onto an Excel spreadsheet so I could fit as many to a page as I needed.  The TNT strips were sized at 3″ tall by 5″ wide (the block of 10 strips), the water bucket graphic is 1.75″ wide by 2″ high, and the apples and carrots were 2.25″ by 3″.tnt 3inby5in water bucket 2inby175inred apple 3inby225in golden apple 3inby225in carrot 3inby225in

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More Minecraft fun:

How to make Minecraft Steve and Creeper heads


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How to Make a Minecraft Cake

From the lootbags to the toppers, next up in the Minecraft-themed birthday party is the yummiest part… the cake!minecraft cake

Jakob turned 8 over the weekend.jk8

I know.  I don’t know where the time went.  I’ve been blogging since before he was born, and now he’s 8 and such a good kid.  Of course he wants a Minecraft-themed party too, but, um, I haven’t begun to do anything for it yet, so instead I’ll finish showing you what I’d done for Henri’s Minecraft party, back in January.

mc cake front

To be honest, it’s not my favorite-looking cake.  I’m a lot prouder of the loot bags and the toppers than I am of how the cake turned out.  But- and here’s the important part- HE loved it.  (And it was delicious).

I started out by baking 2 9×11 chocolate cakes.  My kids prefer vanilla but going for the ‘dirt’ look I knew it would be easier on me to have a chocolate base in case the chocolate icing didn’t fully cover everything.  I also filled an 8×8 greased dish with blue Jell-O prepared as Jigglers, and set that to chill.

When I sat down to work on it I didn’t have a plan.  I knew I’d baked enough cake to stack layers, similar to the grass in the forest biomes.  (Yes, I play LOL).  I knew I had enough chocolate icing to slap it all together.  I knew I had a finite amount of “water cubes”, so I started with that.

mc cake back

I turned the Jell-O out onto a mat and squared the edges, then cut it into 2″ sections.  Then, after leveling the cakes, I used toothpicks to divide the cakes into 2″ sections as well.  Then I began to cut.  I held my platter over the cake to figure out how much to cut off to make it fit along at least 2 sides, and then cut away enough of the ‘front’ to fit the water ‘cubes’.  Then I cut the upper layers, holding and testing until I had something that had as little waste as possible while still looking as ‘unboring’ as I could manage.  (Technical term).

I stuck the upper layers down with icing then dirty iced the whole thing before sticking it in the fridge a few minutes to set up.  Then I gave all the sides a thicker coating of chocolate icing.  The ‘grass’ was piped with a star tip and not-completely-mixed vanilla icing and green icing gels, so there’s a slight variation in the color.  I was hoping that the shading, along with the star tip, would help it look ‘pixellated’ like the game.  I also piped some areas, leaving others blank, so as I ran low on icing and mixed in more, the colors would be different even within those areas.  (Best seen in the overhead view, above).

mc cake good

I placed the Jell-O in only AFTER the cake had chilled for a few hours.  I was afraid one would leech water out of the other and that I’d end up with a gooey, dissolving mess.  Then, at the party, I stuck the figures on just before serving, including tucking Mr. Squid under a few water cubes.

Even though I wasn’t as crazy about it, the kids loved it, the birthday boy loved it, and there were enough fondant figures so everyone who wanted one got one to eat.  (Apologies to their parents for any resulting sugar-rush).mc cake 01The great thing about Minecraft is that it’s SUPPOSED to look boxy – it’s all squares!  So whether it’s by shaping a cake, cutting rice krispy treats into cubes, or cutting brownie squares and topping them with green-tinted shredded coconut, there are a ton of ways you can make an easily-recognizable Minecraft cake.

Up next- putting it all together for the party!

Henri’s other birthday cakes so far

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More Minecraft fun:

How to make Minecraft Steve and Creeper heads


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I may have gone too far.

In addition to everything else I’ve been working on lately, I had the idea for a new project, a little something for the boys.  In preparation for an eventual post about it, I needed a simple picture.  Both boys, side by side, looking sad.  Easy right?

Apparently not.

 photo 1Ok… Jakob, that’s not bad… I guess.  But Henri, what are you doing?  Open your eyes.photo 1(1)Geez… what?  No.

Jakob, you’re good, kinda.  Stay like that.  Henri, please.  Could you try to look a little less bored?photo 2(1)LESS bored.  I said LESS bored.  Jakob… you look like the eagle from the Muppets.photo 2(2)Um… okay?  Fine.  Henri, that’s the best I’m gonna get.  You just freeze like that.  Don’t move.  Ready and- uh Jakob?  What are you doing with your face?photo 3(1)That’s… not much better.  And Henri- I can see you starting to smile.  You’re not fooling anyone.photo 4Whaa?  Jakob- now you look… I dunno… nauseous or something.  And Henri, come ON!  Now you look both bored AND moderately amused.  SAD.  We’re going for ‘sad’… okay?  photo 5AH!  No!  Henri, you look like the poster kid from some horror movie.  And Jakob- that’s ‘m’ad.  We want ‘s’ad.  Wrong emotion.

*glances at clock and decides to exaggerate slightly*

Ok forget it.  We’ll try another time.  You guys took way too long, now there’s not gonna be any time for dessert. 

*starts to get up, then looks back when the wails start*

What are you two… hey… are those tears??

photo 4(1)

I’m sorry!  *click* I didn’t mean it! *click* You’ll still get to have dessert. *click* Look outside, how bright it is.  There’s plenty of time, silly boys… *click, click, click*

photo 5(1)The downside?  I’ll be hearing about this for years.  Jakob still reminds me about the time when he was about 2 and ‘you were gonna leave me in the park, and you started walking away because I wouldn’t get out of the swing, and you were gonna leave me there forever and I’d never see you again, and that really wasn’t… you really shouldn’t…’.  (The story tends to end when he starts choking back heavy, guilt-inducing sobs).

The upside?  I got my shot.


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Jake & the Neverland Pirates cake

Yesterday I mentioned a few cakes that I haven’t actually ever posted.  This Jake & The Neverland Pirates cake is one of them.

Way back in 2013 Jake & the gang were favorites around here, both the toys and the show.  “Aw, coconuts!” was a common complaint, and the Sharkey & Bones cd was on constant loop in my car.  I can still sing them in my sleep.

Anyhoo… in 2013 Henri turned 4, so of course he wanted a Jake cake.

jake cake

Now back then I wasn’t really thinking of the cakes in relation to the blog, because I wasn’t thinking of the blog much.  And I didn’t think anyone on my Facebook page would care about step-by-step pics… so I didn’t take any.  But I can tell you what I did.

The figures were the first ones I ever hand-painted.  I’d been traumatized by my horrible sculpting of the Dora and Diego figures in Henri’s cake the previous year (I can sculpt, not that that cake would show it), and there was no way I was going to start modelling all the Jake gang’s tiny details.  So I decided to try painting.

I cut printed images to the scale I wanted and cut them out on ivory fondant (the visible skin tone) the same way you can see here.  For painting I used a toothpick and Wilton food gels loosened with a bit of water, and a drop of White White to get the opacity.  These figures are small… as you can tell by the toothpicks inside them.  If you try it, don’t get stressed if they don’t look ‘right’.  Finishing details, like the whites of the eyes and jewelry/touches really make a difference, and they can only often be added once the base layer is dry.  Also, no matter how I think they look at 3am when I’ve finally finished… I’m ALWAYS pleasantly surprised the next morning when I look at them again.

Jake & The Neverland Pirates painted fondant cake toppersThe cake was another case of “I don’t know what I want to do so I’ll bake the cakes and figure it out later”.  I started by baking 3 cakes, a vanilla round and chocolate 9×11 and 8×8.

bucky fisher price

I used this toy ^ as a model for Bucky.  Easy enough, since we own it and I could have it on the table next to me.

The sand and sea is the vanilla round, torted with buttercream, the ship was made from the chocolate cakes and store-bought chocolate icing.

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The accents are all rolled fondant, bought white and tinted to the colors I needed.Photo 2013-01-20, 2 05 21 PM

I did the “sand” first.  After crumbcoating the round I put some fresh vanilla icing over half the cake and quickly covered it with crushed graham crackers.  For the sea I covered the other half with a thick layer of blue icing, stopping just shy of the white border.  I waited for the icing to crust a bit then chopped up where the white and blue met, for sea froth.  (Similar to the top of the Betty Boop cake’s hot tub).Photo 2013-01-20, 2 05 56 PMThe sails are paper flags I made in Excel (for the stripes) and topped with a graphic of a gold doubloon.  The crow’s nest is a cupcake/muffin liner.  The mast is a straw covered with brown fondant, with some wooden skewers down the center and through the cakes.  There’s a disk of fondant under the crow’s nest and a smaller one inside it, to hold it in place.

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The cannon is made from gray fondant and also stuck on a toothpick/pressed into the cake for support.  There are also toothpicks in the outer 2 legs of each of the 4 railings, and I allowed them to dry for a day before standing them in the cake, so they wouldn’t risk sagging.  Finally there was the …what’s that called?  Captain’s area?  (lol).  If you notice in the above pics, that’s the one piece that’s not in place elsewhere.  That’s because that solid plaque of fondant was so darn heavy that when I set it in place it made the whole back of the ship start to slide back.  I only ended up adding it at the party, RIGHT before serving… and even with that delay I still had to have my hand hovering behind it as I brought it out, so it wouldn’t fall.

I also waited until serving to insert the figures, but that was mostly because I was worried they’d break.

Photo 2013-01-20, 6 03 38 PMAnd of course, the birthday boy and his brother at the party, right before the best part- digging in!

(And you can see my hand supporting the large fondant piece).

By the way- this technique for the figures is really practical if you need to make items in advance.  This party was 2 years ago (!) and I had the figures in a tupperware in the back of my fridge until a few months ago, and they looked just as good as they did that day.  (I probably wouldn’t EAT them, though…)

Throwing your own pirate party?  Try these easy pirate craft ideas as party activities or loot bag stuffers!

Henri’s other birthday cakes so far