Monday, October 31, 2011

This Year's Halloween Costume Fail

Contrary to what my interest in Comic-Con might suggest, I am not a huge fan of dressing up and/or Halloween. This year however, I made an effort.

Of course I did not want to be something I thought a lot of other people would be, so I ended up on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Meaning, no one understood my costume. And no, I am not from Star Trek.

I decided to be Minmei from Robotech! Which is kind of weird because I never could stand Minmei. I would much rather have been Lisa, but I could not figure out how to make her uniform. So, Minmei it was. The tricky part was finding a dress pattern with the right neckline, and then finding a yellow turtleneck at the last minute.

For my Minmei costume, I ended up using Simplicity 2062 because it had the right neckline. The problem is that the "V" was created using a contrasting piece of fabric on top of the existing no actual "V,"(or maybe I should say "pointy-U"). Not fun to figure out two nights before you need the costume.

My solution? Trim an additional one-half inch off the neckline (not the rounded collar part) and finish it with red double-fold bias tape for the entire neckline. I probably should have trimmed at least one-inch, but I erred on the side of caution because it is really difficult to correct a cutting of mistake. Why double-fold bias tape? Because I figured I could do the outside corners (located at the top, where a collar might be) like I would when I do mitered binding on a blanket; and I could do the inside corners in the square neckline style. It worked!

The dress pattern is not very fitted (Minmei's is), or short (Minmei's is not), but I think using knit fabric helped. It also meant that I did not have to worry about frayed edges or sew a zipper into the dress. Other things I did to make this pattern work me included not attaching a contrast band around the hemline; cut the sleeves to what I think is the elbow line on the pattern; and used gray single-fold bias tape for the detail. As far as the body of the dress goes, I held up the dress front, and pinned the bias tape to the dress, and took measurements to make it somewhat even on the other side.

As I said earlier, one of the hardest things was finding a yellow, long-sleeve turtleneck. If I had thought about this earlier, I probably could have found one a lot easier. I settled for a mustard yellow turtleneck from American Apparel.

Minus the Star Trek thing, I am pretty happy with the way this turned out. And while it did not work for Halloween on the Hermosa Pier, I am ready for Comic-Con...if I ever decide to go again and dress in costume (something I have never done).

By the way, in case you do not know Robotech, here is a picture of Lynn Minmei.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dark Chocolate Cupcake with Peanut Butter Frosting

This was my first attempt to bake cupcakes from scratch. The recipes for the dark chocolate cupcakes and the peanut butter frosting are from America's Test Kitchen, and of course the cupcakes needed one cup of Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder. I figured I should not try and substitute this time. Thus began a ridiculous search for the stuff.

If you live in Southern California like I do, I would like to save you some time in your search for Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder. Go to Gelson's, the only grocery store I found that carried it. It was not to be found at Williams-Sonoma (where I had a disappointing retail experience), Sur la Table, or any regular grocery store. I have been told that it can be found at Penzeys, but that was too far for me on this particular night.

This is a very chocolatey cupcake, and I especially liked the frosting. Hopefully my guinea pigs enjoyed them!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fun with a Favorite Author

I know I have said this before, but I love author events. They tell you a little something about themselves and their work, they answer questions (which are generally intelligent and/or thoughtful),they hold autograph sessions, and they clearly love their readers.

Yesterday turned out to be one of these author days. My Sunday was supposed to be lazy. I planned on a leisurely morning, and then lunch with my best friend. The rest of the day was going to involve me slowly making my way home back up the 405. My first look at Facebook changed those it turned out, Maggie Stiefvater was in town, and it was the very last West Coast event of the year for her! So, I texted my friend from high school, the Hippofairy herself (a.ka. Mrs. O.), and she wanted to make the drive out to Redondo Beach to see Maggie.

I should confess right now that I had second thoughts about going to the event while I waited to hear back from Mrs. O. It has been no-life-busy at work, and I could seriously use down time, but I told myself I would only skip it if Mrs. O. was not interested. Thankfully she was, because I really would have regretted giving in to my exhaustion.

Back to the event.

The event actually featured two other authors, Cecil Castelluci and Jeff Hirsch, and now I have even more reading. For some reason, there was a serious lack of questions (um...I found out about this too late to think of something intelligent). In other words, the autograph portion started relatively quickly.

This was the highlight of my experience. When it was my turn to have Maggie sign my book, I mentioned to her that I had been at another one of her events about a year ago. She remembered that it was July 2010, in the San Francisco Bay Area! Holy crow, I thought that was so cool of her to remember. I tried to play it cool, and hopefully I did because on the inside I was one giddy little girl. Not only did Maggie sign my book, but she doodled in it this time.

The funny thing is that I was wearing a plaid shirt yesterday, like I was the last time I met Maggie. The funnier thing is that when I packed my shirt to take with me to my friends' place, I thought about how I wore a plaid shirt when I met Maggie Stiefvater. It seems like the Universe likes to give me little hints now and again.

By the way, the event was put on by Mysterious Galaxy Books as a part of the This is Teen experience. And, if you have not ever attended an author event, you are missing out! Look at your library calendar, or follow your favorite author who most likely blogs, tweets, or facebooks. They need our support, and many of these experiences are free to attend, and it is great for your brain!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Baby Girl Blanket

It's been the Year of the Boy among my friends having babies, so I really appreciate when I have the chance to make something pink. There are two baby girls who will probably be born within weeks of each other, and I'm ready for one of them! I am working on the second blanket, and I would be done with it by now if I hadn't taken it apart so many times.

This blanket was made with Vanna's Choice Baby in Pink Poodle. Another yarn that can be washed and dried, but I still like Bernat Softee Baby better for feel...although, Vanna's is much quicker to work with because it's thicker.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Baby Boy Blanket

Yikes it's been almost a month since I last posted! Work has been really busy, and I should be doing some of it right now, but I'm giving my brain a break. This blanket is for the son of my friends Mr. and Mrs. L. He was born in August, and I still haven't met him...something I plan to remedy that shortly. Hopefully they still can use this blanket. It was made with Bernat Softee Baby in Funny Prints, a yarn I like to use for baby blankets because it's soft and can be thrown in the washer and dryer.