Butters in his Professor Chaos dog costume

I’ve never been good at coming up with names for pets. My first cat’s name was Shadow. She was all black. (Really original, no?) Most other animals in my life have been named by friends or other family members.

When we adopted our dog, we were told that his name was Butters, and he’d had brothers (already adopted) named Kyle and Stan. Having watched many episodes of South Park since it’s inception, we knew that we had to keep the name! Well, come to find out, the name really is quite fitting for this dog. Akin to South Park’s Butters, he really is the sweetest dog, albeit sort of naive, but goodhearted and always eager to please.

Anyway, one day Butters (from the show) grew tired of being a people-pleaser, always doing the right thing, helping everybody.. thus one night, his alter ego was born: Professor Chaos. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professor_Chaos and/or http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/153471/professor-chaos-is-born) Complete with a tin-foil hat and gloves, and a green cape made from an old t-shirt, he vowed to rein chaos on every path he crossed!

I decided that our Butters needed a new Halloween costume, and Professor Chaos was the obvious choice.

 

 

Yup, he knows he’s adorable.

This outfit has really been a work in progress for the past few weeks. I made the helmet in September. It’s formed out of paperboard, covered in masking tape (scrunched up to look wrinkled) and then spray painted silver. There’s a thin clear elastic underneath to help hold it in place on his head, but it is still pretty loose.

I draped fabric over him and marked it to make a general template (a dog bodice pattern, if you will..) He’s kind of an awkwardly shaped dog.. large rib cage, short stubby legs! The armholes are actually a bit too big on the shirt, but you don’t notice when the outfit is all together. His blue top is jersey knit fabric. I sewed his cape out of dark green flannel, and it closes with a large piece of velcro along the side of the neck.  I sewed his booties out of plain gray cotton woven fabric, added more masking tape to the front, and then spray painted the front. I didn’t want to make it too thick or all the way around the foot, otherwise he couldn’t bend them to walk!

The button/chain detail was pretty fun to make.  I made the large gray buttons out of polymer clay, and affixed a pin back to each one. I also included a hole/connecting piece on the back of each one, to attach the silver chain. This piece actually came in handy, because I was able to pin the top edge of the shirt and the bottom edge of the cape together, so they would stay in place!

When all is said and done, I suppose I could have used aluminum foil for the helmet, but I was worried about it being too heavy – and quite frankly, I just didn’t want it that shiny!

Here’s a comparison of the two. What do you think?

Butters got some treats during the photoshoot for his excellent behavior, and a rawhide chew as a reward when we were through. He’s such a good dog!

Halloween Witch’s Finger Cookies

One of the things that brings me joy in life is making seasonally themed treats – typically involving baked goods – and Fall is no exception! For the past seven or eight years, I make these Witch’s Finger Cookies just before Halloween. Essentially they’re a sugar cookie topped with an almond. Their slender “finger” shape makes them all too easy to grab and eat.  Typically I dye the nails red, but this year I went for green. You could choose any color you want, and I suppose you could also dye the dough, too!

 

witch's finger cookies

Pretty gross, right? But oh so delicious!

witch's finger cookies 2

They’re brushed with egg whites, adding a slight sheen and a sweeter flavor. We ran out of blanched almonds, so we had to substitute some peanuts for “nails.” Kinda gross. Perfect!

I made the green batch with a friend of mine on what happened to be an unusually warm fall day here in the Bay. We probably should have refrigerated the dough again after shaping, before baking, but we were too anxious to eat the finished product to wait any longer!

Below is a photo from a previous year with the red nails..I can’t decide which color I like better!

red nails witch's finger cookies

Wondering where to purchase or how to make blanched almonds? It’s easy! Boil a small pot of water, toss in the almonds, and boil them for a few minutes until the skins start to look wrinkled.  Drain the water and let the almonds cool slightly in a colander (they get REALLY hot and retain the heat.) Now you can pop the almond out of the skin: I usually hold it from the bottom with one hand, and cup my other hand around it – squeeze the almond gently from the base, and it should pop out of the skin. They tend to pop out quickly, thus the need for the cupped hand.. unless you’d like to send your almond flying across the room. Not that I’ve done that before. *cough.*  Ta-da! Blanched almonds.

Here’s the recipe for the cookies, courtesy of Martha Stewart:

Finger cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 30 blanched almonds
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpats (French nonstick baking mats) or parchment paper, and set aside.
  2. Place food coloring in a shallow bowl. Using a small paintbrush, color one rounded half of each almond. Set aside to dry.
  3. Separate 1 egg. Set aside the white. In a small bowl, whisk together yolk, remaining egg, and vanilla. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter, confectioners’ sugar, granulated sugar, and salt. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Add egg mixture, and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the flour, and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Wrap the dough in plastic, and chill until firm, 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough in half. Work with one piece at a time, keeping remaining dough covered with plastic wrap and chilled. Divide the first half into 15 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece back and forth with palms into finger shapes, 3 to 4 inches long. Pinch dough in two places to form knuckles. Score each knuckle lightly with the back of a small knife. Transfer fingers to prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.
  6. When all fingers are formed, brush lightly with egg white. Position almond nails; push into dough to attach.
  7. Bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Cool completely.

Dictionary Lockets for Fall

I’ve been having a lot of fun lately searching through my dictionary cut-outs for seasonal images. Summer themes included all things nautical (lighthouses, mermaids, jellyfish, etc.) and it’s only right that I started finding images for Fall!

Here’s what I have so far:

Dictionary Locket - Belfry

http://www.etsy.com/listing/78677470/belfry-web-dictionary-locket-necklace

Dictionary Locket - Raven

http://www.etsy.com/listing/78627029/raven-dictionary-illustration-vintage

Dictionary Locket - Spider Web

http://www.etsy.com/listing/78674995/spider-web-dictionary-locket-necklace

Dictionary Locket - Vampire Bat

 http://www.etsy.com/listing/78622315/vampire-bat-dictionary-illustration

 

I still have another belfry and bat on hand (although the images are different) but the subject matter for these is typically one of a kind.

One of the best parts about these (in my opinion) is the size of the locket! They’re vintage “new old” stock, which means they were manufactured over 20 years ago and not previously used for anything else before I obtained them. Sometimes manufacturers over-produce, or go out of business. Their leftover materials/merchandise ends up sitting around in boxes in a warehouse somewhere until they are discovered and brought to life! The signs of wear/aging are an affect from the environment they were previously stored in. I do polish the lockets a little bit to remove some of the grime, but like to leave some of the tarnish.

The downside? There’s a limited supply of vintage lockets in this size, and once they’re gone.. well, they’re gone!