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How I made Lightning McQueen November 8, 2012

Filed under: Celebrations,Crafts,Halloween — MKCoehoorn @ 3:19 am
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Honestly, this isn’t a tutorial.  It’s more of a generic idea that I did.  I did take a few photos as I was working on it, but not enough for you to follow the directions.

In addition to my daughter’s Rapunzel challenge, my son wanted to be Lightning McQueen for Halloween.  Not a race car driver, but McQueen.  Which meant that somehow a box car that could be worn by a four year old yet still looks like McQueen had to be fashioned.  There were actually two made.  The little one that my husband crafted, and the big one that I made.

Little McQueen

This one was made from technically 2 boxes and poster board.  Body itself is one medium size box with three of the four top flaps cut off.  On the bottom, two flaps were cut off and the other two were trimmed to make room for his legs then taped into place.  To round out the front, a strip of poster board was cut and taped in place, then tapered along the top so the hood (also made of poster board) would be angled.  Then a hole was cut into the front of the box and a smaller box was inserted to act as a candy catcher and keep the front end in place.  The rear flap from this inner box was taped to the windshield to hold it up.  Along the sides are poster board windows and in the back is a cardboard tail fin.  We learned when painting over plastic packing tape, you want to make sure you get a good base coat of primer on all the surfaces or else the paint will not adhere.  The eyes were colored on with crayon and the mouth and headlights were printed on computer paper then stuck on with school glue.  On the sides a big yellow lightning bolt was painted with a computer paper 95 glued over it.  The wheels are just cardboard rounds that were painted red and black then adhered with shoe glue.  To make the car wearable, red gross-grain ribbon was threaded through the bottom of the car and the box forming the engine compartment.  This car is small enough the little boy was able to reach over the windshield and lift the hood to receive his candy.

This costume was used for trick or treating in confined spaces, i.e. the residence halls of the college across the street.

Now here’s the Big McQueen.

Big McQueen

He is actually constructed from three large boxes I got from the pharmacy where I work and one small box.  The wheels are made from eight paper plates that have been painted and glued together, then attached with shoe glue.  If I had been on top of things I would have attached them with brads so they would spin.  The Rust-eze logos (on the hood and tail fin), eyes, 95 decals and the license plate (on the back) are all printed on computer paper and glued on with school glue.  The lightning bolts on the sides were painted.  You can’t see it, but there is a “lucky sticker” on the far side of the hood that was made from glitter glue.

For the construction, I started with one box in the middle.  The bottom flaps were all removed to make room for the little boy.  The top flaps were all left as part of the vehicle.  The front and back flaps were left intact but angled to form the front and rear windshields.  The side flaps were trimmed and then taped to the front back flaps to form the side windows and then also to hold the windshields at the correct angles.  The center of these flaps was cut out to form the windows for the little boy to put his hands out and to also remove some of the weight.  The front and back ends are actually from one box that was cut at about a 70/30 ratio.  The larger portion was taped to the front and the smaller to the back with the open ends facing the center box.  The front portion was then tapered at a steep angle to continue the windshield for a couple inches, then at a shallow angle to form the engine compartment.  Poster board was used to round out the front end.  A third box as well as the remnants of the first two boxes were used to form the hood, bottom edge of the windshield and the tail fin.  Slits were made near the top of the front and rear windshield for the ribbon to go through to make the car wearable.  A smaller box was cut in half then glued to the bottom of the body between the wheels to give it some support when not worn.  Because this car is so much bigger, some “invisible” thread was run from a scrap of ribbon inside the car, through the windshield and down to the front edge of the hood, then back, to act as a pulley.  One run of the thread was not strong enough, so I ended up running it three times before tying it off.

Open hood

Tail Fin Logo


My First Pattern August 17, 2012

Filed under: Crafts,Knitting — MKCoehoorn @ 5:14 pm
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Just last night I finished a baby blanket for my niece, June, and for the first time ever, I created the pattern that I used.  I’ve made a lot of baby blankets over the years.  Some quilted, some flannel, some knit and some crochet (at least 18 that I can remember, probably more).  Until now, not a single one was completely my own creation.  Oh, yes, I’ve made subtle changes to patterns over the years so that something I saw would work better for what I was doing.  But it was still someone else’s pattern.  But not this time.

It took many hours in Excel to chart it out to know what I was doing.  And I still haven’t gotten the directions written to my satisfaction (darn seed stitch).  Here is the final result.

I knitted it on the diagonal using a combination of knit, purl, and seed stitches.  Eventually I hope to have some easy to follow instructions written up for someone else to try making it.


Baking with Bacon

Filed under: Anniversary,Celebrations,Desserts,Recipes — MKCoehoorn @ 3:56 am
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With 2 birthdays, a dessert competition, a commission and a back to school event, August quickly becomes a very busy baking month. This year, 3 of those events fell on the same weekend with the other two occurring  about a week later. Fortunately my husband gave me a freebie on his birthday and asked for Butterfinger Torte (I’ll go into that with another post) instead of a cake. But that still left me with three events to bake in one weekend.

Cake #1

Cake #1 was a commission. Every so often a friend of mine pays me to make a cake for him. He’s actually asked for two this month with the first being an anniversary cake. I started making flowers for this cake a few weeks ago with gum paste.  I deliberately made extras on the flowers to account for breakages.  So before I started assembling and decorating the cake, I had 9 lavender roses, 9 orange roses and about 36 hydrangeas in three different shades of blue, though I only used 6 roses (3 of each color) and half of the hydrangeas.

Cake #2

Cake #2 was an entry in our dessert competition at church.  It got the flowers leftover from making the commissioned anniversary cake as well as some other flowers I made to use up colored gum paste that was getting old.  It was a great excuse to practice my flower skills.  It ended up with the remaining 18 hydrangeas and 36 roses in blue, lavender, orange, gold, yellow, and pink.

Cake #3

Cake #3 was technically a batch of mini-cupcakes and was also be entered in the dessert competition.  Over the last year I have realized that most of the judges for our church competitions (we also have pumpkin and chili cookoffs) are males.  And a large number of them like bacon.  So when I found a recipe for Maple Bacon Breakfast Cupcakes on the Cupcake Wars website, I knew I had to try out the recipe on them.

Cake #4 was my son’s birthday cake.  Since he is a big fan of all vehicles (show me a 4 year old who doesn’t love cars and trains) we are doing something of a train theme this year.  He is getting a train set for his birthday and I made a train inspired by Thomas and Friends.  Even though he was quite happy with the result, I was not and so I refrained from taking a picture of it.  But for the record, it consisted of two cakes baked in loaf pans.  One was cut into two pieces, one of which was stacked at one end of the intact loaf cake for the engine, and the other half was made into the coal car.  For the smoke stack I used 1 regular sized cupcake and then the wheels on the train and coal car were mini-cupcakes.

This sounds like a lot of work, but it really was not too bad.  The biggest issue  was that we’ve been having triple digit temperatures for the last few weeks and I have to fire up the oven for the better part of the day.  But I do have a few ways of saving on time.  Of the four projects above, only 1 was be truly from scratch – the bacon cupcakes.  For the other three I starting with Betty Crocker chocolate fudge cake mixes as my dry ingredients.  Instead of using the box instructions, I add 1 1/4 cups of milk, 1 stick of melted butter, and 3 eggs to each box of mix.  I divide the batter into the pans and bake as directed.  For 9 inch round cakes it’s about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  For the cupcakes – bake at the same temperature but about 15 – 20 minutes for the minis and 20 – 25 minutes for the regular size.  Or just bake until a bamboo skewer comes out clean.

Side note, instead of toothpicks, I test my cakes with bamboo skewers, the ones you would use for shish-kebobs.  The longer stick means that you don’t have to remove the cake from the heat to avoid burning yourself when you test for done-ness.  Also, to avoid having to hunt for them, as I always have to do with toothpicks, I keep all my skewers in a mason jar (a la flower vase) next to my stove.  They are contained, out of the way, and still convenient when I need them.

But on to the bacon:

I found this recipe on the Cupcake Wars website and for the most part I remained true to the recipe, with only two exceptions.  As you read through the ingredients on that recipe, you will see that it calls for maple sugar.  Maple sugar may be common in grocery stores in metropolitan areas, but in Small Town, Nebraska, where I live, the only way you can find such exotic ingredients is online.  And I don’t like to pay shipping – so I skipped that one ingredient.  At my husband’s suggestion (he was my taste-tester) I increased the strawberries in the frosting to 1/2 cup.

Since I did remain so close to the original, I’m not reposting the recipe here.  But you can follow the link straight to the recipe on the Cupcake Wars site.

Unfortunately my bacon cupcakes were too avant-garde for my small town compatriots and while my flowers were impressive, neither entry won the dessert competition.  But I’m not too upset.  Instead, I’m already looking to our pumpkin competition this fall and considering other desserts for next summer.