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Crafty Compilation – w/e 01/28/17 – w/e 02/25/17

Ugghhhhh.  Is February really almost over?  Is that a thing?

Sigh.  When there’s nearly 4 weeks of everyone in your household getting back-to-back gastro, time can really get away from you, y’know?

I’m obviously behind on these little compilation posts of mine, so rather than upload a bunch of weeks’ worth of recaps in quick succession here’s an overview of the non-own-post-worthy stuff that happened during these last few weeks:


Knitting

  • Comfy Socks

My travel knitting socks have become my sit-on-couch-watching-Supernatural socks because I’ve only been back to work part time as yet and there hasn’t been much need for a travel project.  No pics, but the first one is about mid-foot.

  • V-neck sweater progress

The sweater was moving along at a great pace, as stockinette projects tend to do, until I was nearly finished the front.  You split the front at the v-neck, working each side individually.  I’d finished one half and held it up against me to see how it was gonna look…and noted that the v-neck began roughly in the middle of my rib cage.  I’m not one to shy away from a low-cut top but that’s a bit much to wear without an under layer, even for me.

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I calculated the height I wanted it to start at and ripped back, making notes so I could add that many rows before the split.  I have ripped this yarn back so many times I’m surprised it hasn’t fallen apart by now!

Crochet

  • Kitchen soap cozies

As part of my massive cleaning kick (see ‘other stuff’ below) I threw together these liquid soap bottle cozies for my kitchen.

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The counter used to be a giant mess (pic censored to spare your eyes) and the cleaning supplies weren’t hideous but the kids (and I) had a hard time remembering which pump bottle I’d refilled with dish washing liquid and which one was hand soap.  The ‘dish’ one used to say ‘DISH’ in scrawled black Sharpie but it kept wearing off the bottle.

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I didn’t use a pattern.  It took longer to keep casting on, starting then ripping to get the correct number of stitches than it did to actually work the two pieces.  In the end they took 30 sts, and I worked 4 rows of single crochet for stability, followed by 3 of double crochet (so it wouldn’t take as long to make), then 3 more rows of sc to have a more closed-in area to embroider on, another 2 rows of dc and then finished with a row of sc to stabilize the top.  I embroidered the words and then sewed the cozies together in place on the bottles.  They do stretch enough to be removed and since they’re dishcloth cotton when they get dirty or covered in soap drips I can wring them out a few times and they’ll be good as new.

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Coloring

I’m not going to keep showing the coloring for each day… I tend to do them in batches as the images can start getting repetitive and I’m not always in the mood to work on them.  I’ve got them mostly completed through til February 12th or so, but I haven’t taken pics of them all yet so here are the last few I did photograph:

  • The Princess Bride coloring book

I have been ADDICTED to the new coloring book my brother got me for Hanukkah.

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This book is gorgeous.  It’s the entire movie in coloring book format!  No matter what your favorite scene from the movie might be, there’s a page ready for you to get to color it!

I always use the pages in the back of the book to swatch the supplies I plan to use.  I knew the pages were thick enough to allow water applications for my Inktense, but the little swatch sample I keep with the pencils is on beige paper.  I want to try to go for screen-accurate colors when possible, so I decided to swatch out ALL the Inktense colors.

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I gridded it out with a ruler then scribbled a tiny bit of color on one side of each cell.  Once it was dry I added the color numbers next to each but didn’t photograph that.

I’ve since begun working on some of the pages.  I’m going in order and have 4 pages in various states of completion.  It’s become my reward each night after I get the kids settled and tidy up and do laundry or whatever.  Chores done = coloring time LOL

Other Stuff

  • Cleaning!

Oh.  So.  Much.  Cleaning.  (…she says, pretending it wasn’t her own craft supplies making the mess in the first place!)  The house is long overdue for a big, thorough clean, and the first thing I’d tackled was the hutch in our dining room.  As you can see in the ‘before’ pic below, it was a massive jumble of an ill-organized mess, so crammed full of unnecessary things that there was no room for the things we DID need to store there.  During the brief lull between the kids’ gastro sessions I revamped the storage to better handle the things we needed.  My cake decorating supplies are still there, with the closed containers now spanning the top sections, and the open boxes and packages hidden inside the center.  Now the unit has become more of a central home art hub, with my drawing and coloring supplies on the left, and all of the home’s coloring and instructional drawing books on the right.  I’d grown up leafing through drawing books from a very young age and I didn’t want the boys to miss out just because mine were hidden away in my office.  The center square thing has become a homework depot (rather than homework remaining piled on the table or chairs during the week) with space for their binders and duotangs, as well as now being pre-stocked with construction paper, looseleaf, bond paper and cardstock, and the horizontal storage unit is all set up for them with glue sticks, scissors, erasers, sharpeners, etc.  All of their colored pencils and markers and such are in the top drawer right under the coloring books, so whether they’re up to some crafting or sitting down to homework, everything they need is right there.

I also did a similar complete overhaul to the den (I think that was between mine and Yannick’s bouts… ughhhh…), and am currently on a break with the kitchen about 85% complete to work on my office.  No pics of the rest cus there’s only so much of my mess I want to make public LOL

  • My hair 🙂

In the middle of all the illnesses I returned to work for the first time since roughly August.  Finally getting to be around people again was reason enough to treat myself to a little salon time, and I redid my crazy colors once more.me 2017-02-09 2.png

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If interested in any of the items I mentioned in this post, you can check them out below:
Creative Coloring Throughout the Year 2017 desk calendar
The Princess Bride coloring book
Derwent Inktense pencils
  • these are affiliate links.
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Last-Minute DIY Pikachu Costume

All month Henri has been telling me he planned to wear his Creeper costume for Halloween this year.  He’s brought it up many times and even pulled the head out of the dress-up bin in our den to try it on and be sure it still fit.  And then this past Friday his class went to circus school for the day and he came home like this:

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and then told me he wanted to be Pikachu for Halloween.

This guy:

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Um.  Okay.  We had nothing at home I could use to make a physical costume, but I knew we’d be going to Walmart the next day so I told him if we found a set of face paint, I’d buy it and would paint his face like Pikachu.

Saturday we were at Walmart and found some inexpensive face paint, but then he started complaining that he didn’t have Pikachu’s ears.  I thought about it a little and told him we’d be going to the dollar store next; if he found a headband that fit him I’d buy some yellow felt and make him some ears.  He found a girl’s one with a plastic bow attached, but it was yellow and fit him, and they had a pack of felt with yellow in it so we brought it home and I set it aside.

Yesterday I was at my parents’ house for dinner and Henri made a comment about being excited to wear his Pikachu costume to school the next day and I realized – oh crap, Halloween is tomorrow!

Ahem.  Forgive me, my brain has been a little foggy lately.

We got the kids home and to bed and then I sat down and made Henri’s costume.  It was quick, and it was easy, and it used either dollar store supplies or things you may already have on hand, so if you’re stuck for a last-minute costume, here’s how you can whip  this up in plenty of time to go trick or treating tonight.  Grab a friend who’s dressed like a Pokemon Trainer and you can be your very own live Pokemon Go team.  🙂

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The first thing I did was carefully cut off the plastic flower on the head band, then I put it on Henri’s head and marked off where the ears should sit.  As it happens we have a large Pikachu doll that was the right size to trace for the ear shape, but you can just freehand it.

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After the ear shape was drawn, I drew a second line about a quarter inch outside it, for a seam allowance.  Then I cut out the shape through all 4 layers of yellow felt.

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The next step is to sew the ears together.  I used yellow thread and a simple running stitch since the ears wouldn’t really be under any tension.  I left the open end edges unsewn for about a quarter inch so I had enough fabric open to gather over the heandband.  If you don’t want to sew, you could also glue the sides shut, but if you do make sure to put the ear side that you drew on on the inside to hide the pen markings.

Next I colored the ear tips with a black sharpie.  The mess you see on the right is the transfer of ink from one side when I flipped it over to color the other side.  I’m showing you this so you can be prepared and cover your work surface.

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Once the tips were colored I stuffed each ear with some loose batting then sewed them over the sides of the headband where I’d previously marked.  I used a blanket stitch to close the open edge but you can use any stitch you like, or glue them shut as well.

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Here are the finished ears.  They look silly off but are kind of cute on.

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(Yes I had to try them).

While I was working on the ears I kept glancing over at the tail on our stuffed Pikachu and realized it wouldn’t take that much more effort to make one too, and surprise Henri.

To start I took some cardboard from our recycling bin and sandwiched it between two sheets of white cardstock with a regular glue stick.  To make sure it dried well I placed it flat on the table and set some heavy books on it.  Once the ears were done the cardboard had fully dried and I was able to trace Pikachu’s tail onto it.

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Then I cut out the tail.  I brainstormed a few different ways to attach it to Henri.  I don’t like the idea of sending a 7yo to school with a safety pin on his butt, so I came up with a belt method.  To make it work I carefully pried back about an inch of the tail section and folded the cardstock on each side outwards.

I used my Spectrum Noir markers to color the yellow of the tail and then colored the lower edge with a black Sharpie, completely overlooking the fact that it’s supposed to be brown, because I was working in dim lighting.  D’oh.

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To make the belt section, I first cut two holes into each side flap.  I then threaded three strands of yellow yarn through each side, made a knot to secure them near the top, and then braided them into belts which I could then slide through the belt loops on his jeans and tie at the front.  I made them longer than needed because I didn’t have his waist with me to try them on, and had planned to cut the excess this morning but we ended up just tucking the ends into his jeans.

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And there you have it!  Add in some yellow face paint, bright red cheek circles and a black triangular nose and poof-

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You’ve got one happy Pikachu.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

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Looking for more Halloween costume ideas?  Check out this post.


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DIY Pirate Accessories From Dollar Store Items

When my boys were little, they wanted to be pirates.  Henri especially – it was either a Viking or a pirate, depending on the day.  Inspired by Jake & the Neverland Pirates they drew treasure maps with large scrawled Xs and hid their toys and told me it was their secret booty.

I wanted to give them some real toys to play with, but all the pirate-themed sets I could find weren’t safe for my rambunctious 3-year-old.  I needed something childproof, and ideally inexpensive.  Finally, after catching him trying to use his sippy cup as a spyglass just like the Backyardigans had on one of their pirate-themed adventures, I had an idea.  One trip to the dollar store and some recycling-bin scrounging later, these fast, easy, and inexpensive toys were born.

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First up – the binoculars.  (Btw…yes I know pirates didn’t use binoculars.  But I couldn’t be certain my kids would use the spyglass as such, and not a makeshift sword, so I wanted to give them another sight-related option.  Feel free to leave this one out, or use it for a different play idea.  Perhaps an adventurer, bird-watcher or a fun game of I-spy?) For the binoculars you will need 2 clean toilet paper rolls, one cube from a dollar store packet of wooden craft shapes (about the size of a sugar cube), and a roll of electrical tape.  At my dollar store this tape comes in a set of 4 colors all packaged together.  You can use Washi or other decorative tapes on the outside, but I would not use them for the support structure.  If you want to use them, apply them at the end, for decoration.

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Step one is to cover the tubes in tape.  I had done these first, and only later realized I should have covered the exposed edges FIRST, THEN wrapped the sides.  When I get to the spyglass you’ll see I fixed that.  If you want to be smarter than me, fold little pieces of tape over the exposed edges first.  Be careful to not place the inside edge deeper than the width of the tape itself so you can cover it later.  I have enough tubes for 3 sets shown because my neighbor’s young son was also really into pirates and I wanted to surprise him with a set of his own.

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Step two is to cover 4 of the sides of the cube in tape.  Place the tape on one edge of the cube and just keep wrapping around the other 3 sides until you reach the beginning again. You’ll be left with 2 exposed edges that are opposite of each other.  Don’t worry about covering them, as they will be against the tube rolls and won’t show.

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Step three is to connect the rolls to the cube.  Place it a bit in from one edge so it looks like the bridge on a pair of binoculars.  Be sure to place the raw, exposed edge against the tape so the covered sides are what is shown.  Secure well with more tape.

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This is what it looks like when you have three rolls done.  I’d run out of tape, and had to go buy more to get more blue… d’oh.

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This is when I covered the edges and realized I should have done it first.  Oh well.  If you’re like me, and goofed, place short strips around the exposed edges.  This is for aesthetics as well as durability – no open edges means it’s less likely the toy will tear or fray after some hard toddler use.  Be sure to not place the inside edge deeper than the width of the tape itself (see: left roll).  Once you’ve covered the edge completely, cut a length of tape to fit on the INSIDE of the roll, and place it around, as close to the edge as possible, to cover and secure all the short edges (see: right roll).

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Then you can use another length to go around the outside, covering those short pieces too.  (This step is unnecessary if you covered the edges first).

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Here’s a completed pair of binoculars.  The new blue tape I’d bought was darker than the original, so it gave a nice finished look, almost like adjustable lenses.  Even though they’re ‘only’ toilet paper rolls, the rubbery tape gives them a surprising amount of durability.  Don’t get them wet, however, as the inside paper is still exposed.

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Next I made the spyglasses out of paper towel rolls (though you can cut down wrapping paper tubes too).  As you can see, for these I was smart enough to cover the ends FIRST, THEN wrapped the tubes.  It’s easier to see on the white than the blue, but when you wrap, ease the tape slightly sideways so you can move along the tube/roll.  Because the tapes are rubbery, they’ll stretch to where you want them to go, instead of tearing.

Finish covering the tubes by wrapping a piece of tape around the inside of the open edges to cover the short pieces.  Because you did them first here, you won’t have to add more tape on the outside.

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(This picture makes me laugh because it’s such a typical scene in my house – the dining room table covered with mom’s crafty projects, the kids’ placemats and a bag from the latest dollar store run for supplies.  *chuckles*  Plus seeing the boys’ bibs reminds me just how long ago I’d made these.  Those are their “I ❤ Dic Ann’s” bibs.  *grins*)

Once the spyglasses have been covered with tape, use glitter glue (from the dollar store) to paint on whatever decorative touches you’d like.  I went with gold grip handles on mine.  Set them aside to dry overnight, using drinking glasses or other supports to avoid messing up the wet glue.

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For the treasure chests you’ll need some kind of chest-like container.  I was lucky that my dollar store had these little wooden chests, but you can use any container or box you have on-hand, even an old Tupperware.  I bought strips of glitter gem tape to decorate mine, but you can use sticker letters, nail gems, paint, or anything you like.  (Oooh they would look INCREDIBLE painted to look like real, aged chests!)

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Finally, you’ll need some pirate booty.  I got these acrylic diamonds from my dollar store, as well as the strands of ‘Mardi Gras’ beads.  I would have loved to include gold coins, but couldn’t find any on that visit.

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Decorate the chests.  My kids picked their favorite colors of these jewel strips and I cut them to fit along the top edges, but you can do whatever you like to the outside of the chests.

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To secure the booty inside, we’ll be using a high-tack craft glue.  If you have older kids you can omit this step and leave the treasures removable, but since two of my recipients were 3 years old and some of the jeweled edges were sharp or choking hazards, I elected to make my treasures permanent.  Plus this would ensure there was always booty ready to be discovered.  Place a thick layer of glue in the bottom of the case, a little more than you think you’ll need because the wood absorbs some.  Begin placing your chains and jewels down into the glue so that they look like they were piled in haphazardly.  Use more glue as needed to secure any loose bits.  Feel around to make sure any sharp edges are embedded in the glue vs sticking out.  Every now and then hold up or shake the box to see if any bits move or shift, and keep adding glue into every nook and cranny.  I went crazy on the glue because I know my toddler will find any loose edge to play with.  Don’t worry about the white glue showing as it will dry clear.  Finally, once you think your treasures are secure, set it aside to dry at least overnight.  I dried mine overnight then held it upside down and shook it around, then added more glue to any of the bits that moved.  One of the chests was going to be a gift for a toddler and I didn’t want to worry about any accidents on account of it.

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Here’s how my collection turned out.  They made fun play accessories for around the house and costume day at school, and were surprisingly long-lasting.  The boys didn’t manage to get the gems and beads out of the boxes for at least a year and a half, and the chests, the spyglasses and even the binoculars are all still intact in our dress-up bin all these years later.

If you make any of these I hope they give your toddler/child just as much fun as my kids had with them.  🙂

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How to make a Minecraft Enderman head (with bonus diamond block trick-or-treat basket)

Some of you may, like me, be suddenly realizing there are only ten days left until Halloween.  No stress – there’s still plenty of time to make a Minecraft Enderman costume, complete with a matching diamond block trick-or-treat basket!

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For Halloween last year Jakob wanted to be a Minecraft Enderman.  For reference, these are the tall, spindly black figures who appear out of nowhere to steal your blocks.  They’re neutral mobs who can teleport and will only attack when provoked by looking them in the eyes (which, to be honest, is kind of hard to avoid, seeing as how they’re the most vivid part of the things!).

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In the game Enderman can’t actually pick up diamond blocks, but that’s what Jakob wanted anyways.  To be an Enderman carrying a diamond block.minecraft-diamond-block

I was fresh off my “Skylanders Sprocket wrench pulling double-duty as secret purse” achievement so I thought if he’s gonna be schlepping a box around anyways… why not make it useful and turn it into his trick-or-treat basket?  So that’s what I did.  🙂photo-2015-10-25-8-10-14-pm

The first thing to do was assemble all materials.  In total the two parts of the costume required the following: a box large enough to fit over the wearer’s head, a second box to be the treat basket, paint in the appropriate colors, masking tape, ribbon, double-sided tape, scissors, a paint brush, and something (I used a styrofoam plate) to use as a palette.  Not shown is a gauzy black scarf from which I cut fabric to cover the eye-holes, but that step is optional.  Everything but the boxes and scissors came from my local dollar store, making this not only an easy costume to make, but a really inexpensive one too.enderman-head

ENDERMAN HEAD

Top row:

  1. Assemble all materials
  2. Cut off the flaps on the side of the box you want for the opening.  Tape down all other flaps securely, using double-sided tape on the inside and then masking tape to cover all seams on the outside.  Also use tape to cover the cut edges at the bottom.
  3. Measure out your grid on all 5 remaining sides of the box.  I used a simplified 8×8 grid for mine.

Middle row:

  1. Cut out the eye holes.
  2. Cover the cut edges of the eye holes with masking tape, then paint the Enderman’s eyes with two different shades of purple.
  3. Paint the rest of the Enderman’s head.  I followed a chart pattern using shades of charcoal and black but you can just as easily paint the whole rest of the head solid black.

Bottom row:

  1. Optional: tape a piece of sheer black fabric over the eye holes so they don’t show from the outside but can still be seen through on the inside
  2. Enjoy your new Enderman head!
  3. Wear with black sweatpants, a black sweatshirt, and black stretchy gloves.  Add a diamond block trick-or-treat basket for a complete Halloween costume!

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DIAMOND BLOCK TRICK-OR-TREAT BASKET

Top row:

  1. Assemble all materials
  2. Cut off the flaps on the side of the box you want for the opening.  Tape down all other flaps securely, using double-sided tape on the inside and then masking tape to cover all seams on the outside.  Also use tape to cover the cut edges at the bottom.
  3. Mix aqua and white together to get a few different light aqua shades.

Middle row:

  1. Following an in-game image of a diamond block, paint one side in shades of aqua, making one lower corner darker for shading.  Repeat on the other 4 sides.
  2. Add a border to all 5 sides using the aqua paint at its full strength.
  3. Paint the inside of the box black.

Bottom row:

  1. Make 2 holes in 2 opposing sides.  Knot ribbon through the holes to act as handles.
  2. Enjoy your diamond block trick-or-treat basket!
  3. Add to the Enderman head for a complete Halloween costume.

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One optional step that I did but is not obligatory at all is to spray the painted sides with a sealant.  I didn’t know what the weather would be like on Halloween and didn’t want to worry about rain causing the paint to run.

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And that’s it!  The longest part in making these costume pieces is waiting for the paint to dry.  🙂

(PS: Looking for the big guy’s little buddies?  Check out my tutorial for Minecraft Steve and Creeper heads here!)

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Pitfall: The Lost Expedition cake

Only 3 months late, here’s (finally) the completed Pitfall: The Lost Expedition birthday cake.
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The morning of Henri’s party I woke up and went downstairs, peering cautiously into the gloom of the laundry room to see how the cake had held up overnight.  There’s always the chance for decorations to slip, or icing to crack or worse – to discover that one of the kids had found the cake and begun to dig in…so I was nervous when I slowly approached.

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Then I breathed a sigh of relief.  It looked good.  I’d finished so late in the morning that I’d passed out, so seeing the cake again was a pleasant surprise.  I was actually feeling quite proud of myself.

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Oh yeah, I thought- Henri’s gonna love it!  All that remained was to transport it to the party without incident and then it would be-pitfall-cake-party-day-01

W-wait.  Why does something look wrong…?

Oh.

Oh no.
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Do you see it?

Remember in my last cake post when I was all cocky about the vines working out?  Hmm.  Looked like I’d spoken too soon.  The first vine I’d attempted had had a chance to set up while laying horizontally… so when I hung it over the edge of the back board to test out it held its shape perfectly.  The new vines, however… I’d rolled each out and tucked them into place under the top cake right away.  And they’d looked good.  ‘Great’, even, if I may be so bold.pitfall-cake-party-day-04

But overnight gravity took hold, and the once relatively-uniform vines began to sag slowly.  Some had narrowed enough to look delicate and thin, twisting and tangling among others in a pretty cool, natural way (see the ones on the right).  Others, though… like the ones on the left… they’d basically collapsed.  Luckily they’d thinned before falling, so the resulting puddle of vines still looked pretty natural, I guess…which was good because it would have seriously messed things up to try and detach them.  The only one I did detach was the vine that had attached itself to the waterfall.  I thought it ruined the illusion of flowing water to have a vine stuck up alongside.  😛pitfall-cake-party-day-06

This pic was taken on my lap in the car en route to the party, and is probably the only pic taken strictly with sunlight.  The color is pretty accurate though I find the blue too bright.  (That may have been my phone, it’s notorious for having a hard time photographing blues and purples accurately).
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I took a last quick set of pics at the party before serving.  Here’s the backside.  You can see how the vines here too have thinned and sagged.
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And here’s the finished cake, complete with Pitfall Harry himself.
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I waited until the very last moment to stick him in the cake, partially to avoid the risk of snapping the figure, and partially so he wouldn’t absorb moisture from the cake/icing and then have the fondant soften and fold over.  I likely needn’t have worried… there was probably enough ‘paint’ on the front at least to seal the moisture out, but the back was still bare fondant and I didn’t want to take a chance.pitfall-cake-party-day-10

Add one quick candle for the birthday boy’s age, and then I wheeled it over to his table.  It was a huge hit!  The kids got their choice of location to eat from and we served some to the parents as they came to pick up their children.

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In the end this is all that was left – a tiny bit of cake and a filthy board.

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I had planned to take it home and pop the fondant off the base stand so I could use it again, but sadly I broke it.  The fondant ‘glue’ was so strong in adhering the stand to the cake board, that when I was trying to separate the two I cracked the plastic of the stand itself.  I was impressed with the strength… but unfortunately it meant I had to throw out the stand.  Ah well.

PITFALL CAKE COLLAGE SQUARE

All the ‘making of’ posts:

1. Making a Pitfall: The Lost Expedition cake, day 01

2. Making a Pitfall: The Lost Expedition cake, day 02

3. Making a Pitfall: The Lost Expedition cake, day 03 part 1- Pitfall Harry, crocodiles and a healing spring

4. Making a Pitfall: The Lost Expedition cake, day 03 part 2- assembly

5. Making a Pitfall: The Lost Expedition cake, day 03 part 3- finishing


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Elmo Birthday Cake

I interrupt my run of Pitfall-themed posts because today is a very special day!  Do you know what today is?  It’s Elmo’s birthday!  Once again the red-furred baby monster has turned 3.5 years old, and in honor of the occasion, I’m sharing a cake that I made waaaaaaay back in 2012.  That’s not near to now, that was faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar away!

(Sorry.  Wrong muppet.  *coughs*).

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Back in 2012 I made this cake for my cousin’s son’s 2nd birthday.  I honestly don’t remember if it was a chocolate or vanilla cake, but it clearly had vanilla icing (lol).

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I made the face from fondant using a sewing pin image-transfer method (tutorial coming soon) and made fondant letters for his name, too.elmo cake 02

The sides were decorated with colorful Smarties  (that’s like M&Ms to you American folk, not the candy Smarties which we call Rockets here).elmo cake collage

Happy birthday Elmo!


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challenge complete

I managed to finish my dining room desk overhaul and whoa what a difference it makes!  A main benefit is supposed to be when I work on my next project… having all my supplies organized and at-hand… but an important EXTRA benefit is that now the desk is clean… which means Yannick no longer tries to avoid looking in the dining room’s general direction.  😉

The before can be seen in my previous post…and here’s the after:

desk after

What a difference, no?  All that space… just waiting for me to pile stuff on it… hehehe


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