Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Death Before Decaf hoop and a Welcome to Night Vale Cake

Last Wednesday was the birthday of one of my most bestest friends, Miss Rebecca. Of course, this meant that a celebration was in order so I texted her asking what flavour cake she would like. I got back "surprise me! But not spiders" and so promptly decided that spiders must be somehow involved (I am cruel in that way). This, in my mind, transformed into spider wolves and from there it was pretty obvious (well, to me anyway) that the cake should be Welcome to Night Vale themed.

I do not have a good history of cake making. I think this is mostly because I almost always try to make them too quickly. This means that my cakes are often crumbly, half stuck in the pan, and have a melted look because I tried to ice them without waiting for them to cool down. But not this time! I used my recipe for Anzac Cake but doubled it and made two round cakes. I made two because I was worried one of them would turn out awfully, but, as luck would have it, they both made it out of the oven with only minimal sinking in the middle.

I went all out on greasing and lining the pans with baking paper and, lo and behold, both of the cakes were removed from the pans without breaking in half! This is a minor miracle in my kitchen. I let them cool overnight, and then returned with grand icing plans. 


Since both the cakes were looking lovely, I decided to use both of them; so I made some coconut icing (desiccated coconut + icing sugar + water) which I added between the two cake layers. It's probably fair to mention at this point that this cake is not diabetic friendly - I had to take a lot of insulin to eat a slice, but it was totally worth it ~___^

The icing on the top of the cake is the same coconut icing, but made purple with the help of some blue and pink food colouring. This icing is pretty thick but is only really good for flat surfaces; it will just fall off if you apply it to the side of a cake. 

So for the sides I made another batch of icing; coconut + icing sugar + water + unsalted butter, which I mixed with an electric beater until it was fluffy. I added food colouring again, but made this batch lighter so that the finished cake would have some contrast. I used a butter knife to apply it; I really love the textured look I ended up with.

I have seen some amazing Night Vale cakes in my journeys around the internet, but I knew I was going to have to stick to something relatively simple if I wanted any chance of pulling it off. I settled on a view of the night sky above the Arby's with the Night Vale eye added in at the top.

I used tubes of writing fudge for this, because I had them on hand and because I am totally unskilled with a piping bag. 

The tube was a little too thick to properly recreate the Arby's logo, but I think it's still vaguely recognisable which is really all I was expecting anyway ~___^ For the centre of the eye I used a little bit of the extra butter icing and layered the writing fudge on top of it.

And when the candles were put in and lit up here's what we have; a view of the lights above the Arby's! ^___^

As you can probably tell, I had a little fun with creating a Night Vale style photo shoot for this cake; I started off thinking I didn't have much I could use as props but after a scout around our house I ended up with my LSP headphones, some plastic spiders from our Halloween decorations, and a tiny chemistry shot glass set (I have never done a shot in my life, but I also can't resist teeny glassware so ...). I also printed out the flyer for Big Rico's Pizza and an Alert Citizen Card which are now on my fridge; I think they really made the scene! I am ridiculously pleased with how this cake turned out. I made Scott and Rebecca admire it multiple times before we were allowed to eat it ~___^ 

And I can report that it was delicious; the cake was moist and held together well, and the coconut icing is a great combination with the Anzac biscuit flavour. It really was a bit enormous though, especially since there were just three of us celebrating that night. As a result, I have eaten way too much cake in the last week. My taste buds love me, the rest of my body ... ehhh, probably not so much. Still, that's what exercise is for, right? ~___^

I also made Rebecca this Death Before Decaf hoop using a pattern from Urban Threads. I think I've mentioned before how much I like their patterns; they have some great designs and I always end up buying more than I need when I visit their site. This hoop is kind of a matching pair with the Eat Your Greens hoop that I made for Bec earlier, but I think the white stitching is a lot easier to read against the purple fabric than it is against the green.

As per usual I printed out the pattern onto thin paper and then stitched the main part of the design through the paper. I had to spend a while ripping off the paper at the end, but it really does do a good job of ensuring that the design is replicated accurately. I would still like to try out different embroidery transfer methods, but that will have to wait until next year when I (hopefully!) have a job which allows me extra disposable income to spend on craft supplies ~___^


After I had stitched the main shapes down and removed the paper, I went back and did all the little sketchy details and the thicker sides of the "death" and "decaf" letters.

The roses are one of my favourite parts of this hoop; I just think they look fab. I also really like the curving ribbon which holds the text. When I first did it it looked a bit meh, but after adding in all those little lines on the back of the ribbon and the little curving details it really transformed into something special.

I also really love the cute little skull tea cup. This hoop would be a great present to give with a tea set and some tea bags or coffee beans. (Non-decaf includes tea, right?)

My husband, who seemingly can't live without iced coffee, was a big fan of this hoop too; I'm kinda tempted to make up another one for him/ our hoop wall. But I think that will have to wait until I regain feeling in my pointer finger ~___^

I've got one of my final assignments due this week, so I guess I better get back to doing that. However, I will be back next week with more Halloween projects (I realise that this post is not totally Halloween-y ... but it had a skull in it so that counts, right?? ~___^). I hope it stops raining so that I can do some outdoors crafts; but only time will tell!

- Lisa xx

P.S. Another big "Happy Birthday" to Bec; I hope you had a super fantabulous day ^___^

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Perler bead witch kitty Halloween wall art

Hello! This week it was a race between two projects to see which I would finish on time for this post; my perler bead witch kitty won! This project is pretty obviously closely related to the kitty banner I posted last week. I started off that project thinking I would make five cats and have them all on a string as a banner but then I changed my mind. I used the two green cats for the banner because they kinda seemed to go together, and I was left with this witch kitty.

I've been working on an embroidery hoop hoping that I would finish it in time to post it today but since I've been doing more homework and less crafting ... it just didn't get done. I figured that since the perler bead cat was already made this would be a fast project to finish off.

I'd had this wooden hoop in my stash for a while; it's not an embroidery hoop, it's just a ring made out of what looks like either cane or vine. I have no idea why I have it, but it came in handy for this project ^____^ I wrapped it in orange wool, securing the ends with a bit of hot glue.

I also used hot glue to attach the cat to the ring once it was wrapped, but it still needed something. I brought these paper pendants from the scrap booking store; they are made by American Crafts and they come in a pad, so you just tear one off when you want to use it. I decided a pun was the perfect thing to add, so I got out my liquid chalk pen and added this little line.

The pen tip was a little thick, so I probably would have been better off with finding one of my metallic paint pens but I wanted to create a kind of blackboard look and I think that it does work in that sense.

I used some black and white baker's twine to attach the pendant and add a hanging loop and then hung it up next to some free postcards that my library has been giving out. Skulls and zombie hands? I'm pretty sure that ups the coolness levels of my job significantly! ~___^

My next Halloween project won't have anything to do with cats, but please do forgive me if I post it late. My university workload seems to be increasing no matter how many hours of study I put in and since it is my final semester I am really getting quite stressed about the prospect of not doing as well as I think I should. As I've been saying to approximately everyone lately; I can not wait until this semester is over! The end is within sight and I'm desperately hoping that once I graduate I will find a nice, calm 9-5 job that allows all my spare time to be spent crafting ^___^ Only four weeks to go ... the countdown is on!

- Lisa x

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Frankenkitty and Zombikitty Halloween banner

Hello! As promised, here is the first of my Halloween projects. Yay! ^___^ I've been meaning to make a banner to go above my TV for a while now, so I figured this was the perfect opportunity. I used some cute cross-stitch patterns to make the two perler bead cats; one is a Frankenstein's monster and the other is a zombie. They're more cute than creepy though!

I'm not sure what this type of fringing is called (all I know is that it reminds me of the kind of dresses flappers used to wear) but I've seen it used on a few banners before and since I had some in my stash I figured it would be the perfect thing to use ^___^

All in all, this was a really easy project to make. Creating the kitties took a bit of time, as perler bead projects normally do, but I made them while catching up on TV shows so it wasn't so bad ^____^ The cats are about the size of my hand, so the banner is eye-catching, but not massively huge.

My favourite parts are the glow-in-the-dark perler beads; can you tell I'm kinda obsessed with glowing things at the moment? ~___^ After I had finished ironing the cats (and leaving them to cool down) I used hot glue to attach them to the fringe banner, and I also attached a loop of wool on their backs to use for hanging.

I used some glittery silver "thickers" (yes, that's really what they are called!) to spell out the words; since they have sticky backs I just pressed them onto the fringing. I may need to reinforce them with glue later on, but they are doing fine at the moment! ^___^

I wish I had a fireplace to create a display above, but for now my TV will have to do! I've added the glittery skulls I made to the top to pretend that I have a mantelpiece ~___^

In other news, I've only got five more assignments to go this semester! They're all big ones, but I'm excited to be nearing the end of my degree ^___^ Now I'm just hopeful that I can find a job in my field! Fingers crossed, hey? 

- Lisa xx

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Rainbow cloud ribbon hairbow holder

Hello! As you probably know, I really like hair bows. I like wearing them, and I like making them and this has resulted in me having *a lot* of them! I was keeping all of my hair things in a plastic cauldron on my dressing table but it was really getting much too full and so I decided to make some hair bow storage.

I've had clouds on the brain for some reason lately so I pretty quickly settled on a cloud shape with rainbow ribbons to attach the bows to. I went and visited my dad a couple of weeks ago and while we were doing some shed work (this is code for mainly drinking cups of tea while looking at blue prints and throwing the ball for the dog) I explained to him my idea. Despite seeming somewhat confused why a grown woman would want, let alone need, a hair bow holder, dad dug out a scrap piece of wood for me to use.

I drew out a cloud shape with a pencil, and then used my jigsaw to cut it out. It looked a bit rough though, so dad and I used some small files to shape the puffy bits (that's the technical term) a bit better and then I sanded down the whole thing so it was nice and smooth.

I gave the cloud a coat of flat white spray paint, added a smiley face, and then used a staple gun to attach ribbons to the back of it. I also added a hanging wire by hammering in two small nails and wrapping picture wire around them. 

I used about a metre of ribbon for each colour; my collection has definitely got room to grow now! Please excuse my small bookcase butting into the photo here; it's made of jarrah and is therefore waayyy too heavy to move. 

I made most of the bows on here; but the clover and cupcake clips at the bottom are made by Twinkie Chan, the Catbug, BMO, Bee and Puppycat, and LSP bows I brought from Oz Comic Con, and the white and black polka dot bow was made for me by Bec ^___^

It looks good next to my hoop wall, and now I can actually see all my bows at once which I think will make choosing them to match outfits much easier ^___^ I will admit that this project would also look pretty at home in a little kid's room but, hey, there's no reason why grown ups can't have rainbow clouds too, right? ~___^

I'm so excited for Halloween this year, I've got a project planned for each week of October and I can't wait to get started on them and share them with you! I'm thinking zombies, witches, vampires, monsters, bats, skulls ... no wonder this is my favourite holiday! ~___^

Until then!

- Lisa xx

Monday, 22 September 2014

Shrinky dink puppy dog necklaces

Hello! I'm a bit unsure of showing you this project as they are gifts for some friends who may or may not be reading this ... well, if you receive one of these in the near future, just pretend to be surprised, ok? ~___^ I know cats are all the rage these days, and while I do have a soft spot for the neighbour's kitty who sometimes visits me, I must admit that I am a dog person at heart. So when I found a whole heap of puppy vectors, I knew I had to make something! I decided on necklaces because I really don't wear them a whole lot, but I am seriously tempted to make mine into a brooch. Which would kinda defeat the whole purpose of making necklaces ... Hmmmm, anyway.

To make your own puppy necklace, you'll need;
- shrinky dinks
- scissors and a scalpel
- a pencil
- silhouettes of puppies (I scaled mine to be the width of an A4 piece of paper and could fit two dogs on each sheet)
- an oven
- E6000 glue 
- jewellery findings, chain, and pliers

The first thing I did was print out my silhouettes and use my pencil to trace the shapes onto the shrinky dink sheet. I used white shrinky dinks, but they are not totally opaque so it's really simple to trace out the outlines of the dogs.

Then I started cutting out the general shape using my scissors. Keep in mind that shrink dinks can split pretty easily; I find that for corners, cutting from either direction into the corner is much neater than trying to cut in one direction all the way around.

I used my scalpel to cut out little details on the dogs, like the ears and a curly tail that would otherwise just look like a strange growth.

Once they are all cut out, erase any left over pencil marks and then pop them in the oven. I put my shrinky dinks onto a sheet of baking paper and baked them at the lowest setting.

And this is how they came out; it appears they've contracted boneitis. Oh dear! So, I repeated all the steps above, except this time I baked them on a tray, on a sheet of baking paper, with another sheet of baking paper on top, and another tray on top of that. Those puppies weren't going anywhere!

And they turned out perfectly, hurray! ^___^ Except that I was distracted while cutting out the second Husky puppy and forgot to use my scalpel to include his tail details. Opps. I think I'll need to keep him for myself and make another for my friend. I'll still love you, Husky-with-strange-growth-on-your-back! To give you an idea of size, the Husky is about 8cm wide and 7.5cm tall.

I also made a Beagle who is just a little shorter at 7cm tall ...

 ... and a Dachshund, who is longer (8.5cm) but also shorter at 4cm tall ...

... and a Labrador who is the longest at 9cm, and is also 7cm tall ^___^  I glued bails onto the backs of the dogs with the E6000 and then it was a simple matter of threading through some chain and adding the clasp.

I really like how crisp the plain white shrinky dinks look, but I think these would also look great as metallics. Golden retriever, anyone? ~___^

- Lisa xx

Monday, 15 September 2014

"Don't let the muggles get you down" scrapbooking paper quote banner

Hello! Have you ever tried to write a analysis of your own fantasy story? That's what I'm doing for my homework right now, and I've gotta tell you, it's tough. Anyway, I took a break from research and writing today to finally finish and hang my Harry Potter inspired banner.

I have a lot of scrapbooking paper, but I don't do a ton of scrapbooking (full disclosure: I used to do heaps of scrapbooking and cardmaking in high school when it was cool ... or at least I thought it was. Was it really ever, or was that just me?). I keep on buying scrapbooking paper though because it's just *so pretty*! I have a real problem with buying pretty stationary products; I also have too many gel pens for any one person to own. Scrapbooking paper is great for backgrounds for small project photos, but that doesn't really use it up! So I decided to actually put some of this stuff to use, and make an oversized quote banner.

The first thing I did was to create some templates using Adobe Illustrator. I used the Bell Gothic font in 800 pt size, which made each letter fill up one A4 page. I wrote out the whole quote on a scrap piece of paper and counted up how many of each letter I would need, and then I cut out all the repeats at the same time.

After I had all the letters cut out, I layed them out on my dining table to make sure they looked good in the order I had them. I used a lot of patterns and colours to make a banner that kinda clashes ... in a good way, you know? I used regular sticky-tape to attach the letters onto blue and white baker's twine and then attached them above my big bedroom bookcase using washi tape. I used washi because it doesn't take off paint, but this wasn't the best idea. The banner hung up for a couple of hours ... and then it started to slip. I'm going to buy a couple of removable wall hooks and give them a go instead.

My only other tip for making a banner like this is to make the baker's twine much longer than you think it should be! I thought I would have heaps of string on the ends, but as you can see, the string next to the first letter is a tiny bit too short >___< Nonetheless, I'll take my banner's advice and not let the muggles get me down. Even if the aforementioned muggle is me ~___^

- Lisa xx