Iä! Iä! Cthulhu Fhtagn!

Inspired by the Magical Pink Unicorn Hat, I have continued making very silly mythical creature hats.  This week’s feature:  CTHULU!

Though, as happens when I crochet Cthulu-themed things, it’s more of a Cute-thulu.

 

Anyway, it’s an adorable hat with the beady, soul-sucking eyes and itty-bitty tentacles, but I’m wildly pleased with the base design, and intend to make some saner hats based on the same pattern.

If nothing else, it’s a lot less complicated than the damned unicorn…

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Magical Pink Unicorn… HAT!

So the climax of the nasty winter weather in my part of the universe hit Thursday night, and in the course of just a few hours, my Friday plans went from awesome!!!! to… uhh… nothing.  Nothing at all, because an inch of very wet snow fell overnight and then it stayed below freezing all day, so nothing thawed, and central Texans do not know how to deal with frozen precipitation that actually sticks around past sunrise.

So what did I do with my new found spare time?  Well obviously, I slept in.  Then I spent the entire day in my pajamas and under a blanket-burrow on Boy’s couch, watching most of a season of Farscape and… creating.

What did I make?

I made… well… I made this:

It’s a hat, you see.

Where did I come up with such a monstrous idea?

The idea is lovingly ganked from one D. Corsetto, creator of Girls With Slingshots.  Back in December, one of her main characters was gifted with an over-sized pink unicorn hat

…and upon reading this comic I instantly knew that I would have to make one of my very own.  This is not so much about the fashion statement as the challenge.

It came out looking kind of piggy, and my decision not to stuff the horn has resulted in some vaguely obscene shapes when it bends.  However, this is one of those rare projects where the dumber it looks, the better, so I’ve just been enjoying the freedom to be ridiculous.

Mechanically, I just tried to keep everything as simple as possible.  I wasted a few hours trying to do something fancy with the main body of the hat and the ear flaps.  Then I realized that that was stupid and went back to a very simple design.  After that, everything else was treated as an independent unit, created and shaped separately and stitched on at the end.  Looking at the final product, I am mightily proud of my monstrous creation.

The next obvious question is what to do with the thing now that it’s done.

Frankly, I have no idea.

Birthday Cupcakes!

Fellow bakers, I have a delicious bit of advise for you.  If you don’t already, find a special person in your life with similar tastes in sweets and a birthday very close to yours.  Then you have the perfect excuse to make the kind of birthday cake you like best, without feeling like a loser for baking your own birthday cake!

No really.

Stop looking at me like that.  It’s perfectly sound logic.

So Boy’s birthday is four days before mine, and he is just as big a chocolate fiend as I am.  Being the loving (and otherwise gift-less) girlfriend that I am, I naturally had to bake not one but two types of chocolate cupcakes for – ahem – his birthday.

I started with the known hit.  Last year I baked a devil’s food recipe I found somewhere on www.foodnetwork.com.  Naturally, I have long since lost track of which one – I just wrote down the critical things and “Food Network” in my recipe notebook and then cried a little when I searched the site for devil’s food again and came up with a few dozen results.

I topped said devil’s food cake with the chocolate frosting recipe off the back of the Hershey’s cocoa powder container.  I did something wrong with the frosting such that it came out super-fudgy, very tasty, and not at all easy to spread.  I wound up stuffing part of the cake with the fudge then thinning the rest until I had nearly double the intended quantity.  This year I knew to start with half the ingredients and then be sparing with the sugar and generous with the milk.

Just to add a little more variety – and to finally satiate my curiosity – I took advantage of the opportunity to test drive another recipe I’d been wanting to try for well over a year.

I’d heard some of the buzz around Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious when it first came out a few years ago.  For those not already familiar, this is a cookbook aimed directly at moms who can’t get their little ones to eat healthy things.  All the recipes are for pretty standard comfort and snack foods, but with secret ingredients like sweet potato, cauliflower, or spinach.

Being a relatively health-conscious non-mother, I was intrigued by the concept, but not quite enough to run out and buy the book.  Then a friend with the world’s pickiest two-year-old showed up with a copy and started raving about the chocolate cupcakes made with avocado puree.  Madness, I thought, but as I continued my search for the perfect chocolate cake recipe, I vowed I would try it one day.

As it happened, the stars aligned and that day was… three days ago.  Roommie’s mother happened to have the cookbook and loaned it to me a few months back, and I decided the birthday baking bash would be the ideal time to try these mysterious cupcakes.

Let me first say that trying to puree straight avocado in a blender is ridiculously difficult, bordering on just plain stupid.  Let me follow that by saying that pureeing avocado with the 1 cup of milk called for in the recipe anyway is kinda fun.  (heheheh whoosh!)  There is something more than a little creepy about dumping bright green sludge into what otherwise looks like perfectly good chocolate cake batter, but sure enough, it blended in without a trace and produced cake batter so tasty it almost didn’t make it into the cupcake tins.  The recipe notes that the avocado taste is still detectable while the cupcakes are warm (and it is – barely), but then it disappears into the chocolate-y goodness of some of the densest and most delicious cupcakes I have ever encountered.

Suffice it to say that Boy has a new favorite cake.

Sadly, I was unable to procure cauliflower in appropriate quantities for the accompanying cream cheese frosting recipe, but my old standard unhealthy recipe served just fine…

…at least up to the point where Boy suggested that the obvious improvement was simply to cover that chocolate cake with more chocolate.

This is what trial and error is all about – next year we will have the perfect chocolate-covered-chocolate-avocado birthday cakes!

Behold!  The very tasty chocolate fruits of my labor!  The normal-looking cupcakes are the devil’s food recipe.  The lumpy ones are the avocado recipe.  Yeah, they look funny.  Yes, you can see the occasional green fleck of a not-quite pureed chunk of avocado.  Yes, they weigh at least three times as much as the other cupcakes, but that just means they’re extra dense and tasty!

A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he’s not afraid of anything.

I would say that I’ve created a monster, but I don’t think I can rightfully claim credit for the Knitting Monster that has grown up in the place where Dear Roommie used to reside.  For starters, she’s knitting and showing no signs of stopping to pick up a crochet hook for anything more sophisticated than tassels.

Then again, I started out knitting and terrified of crochet, too…

Oh dear, what I have done?

Anyway!  So I made the squid for this Secret Santa thing for her.  She has not yet made it to a post office to ship said squid to said Secret Santa person, so she decided that as penance for her postal tardiness, she should make a little something extra to go along with the late gift.  Naturally, she decided that the time had come in her knitting adventures to make… a Jayne hat.

For those of you uninitiated in the Ways of the Brown Coats, Jayne is a particularly ridiculous fictional mercenary type in a 2002 science fiction series called Firefly, created by Joss “I Like It When Fox Eats My Babies” “The Man Who Made Buffy” Whedon.  In one of the last episodes, he receives a care package from home that includes a hand-knit hat from his mother.  As you can see, the hat is so ugly it’s cute, and since the episode’s first airing, the head- and heart-warming monstrosity has inspired many a knitting nerd to create their own, because it is, indeed, the sweetest hat ever.

Now that I have the explanation out of the way, words cannot express the pride I feel today as I bring you the world debut of Knitting Monster’s very first Jayne Hat.

I mean, the craftsmanship alone puts the original to shame (which really is the point, I think), but then it’s hilariously over-sized, and she had a complete runaway with herself making the pom pom on top.

Secret Santa Dude, I hope you appreciate the love and nerdity that went into your scandalously late gifts.

Oh yeah? That’s what you think!

There was some vague mention of a Halloween costume contest at work last week, and I’ve been itching to do a little paper mache recently, so come Monday night, I decided to make a new mask.

But what to make?

I thought about it a while, then after brief consultations with my usual co-conspirators, inspiration finally struck:

And thus, late last night, it was finished:

Ladies and gents, I give you…

Sally Brown!

I was really pleased with face part of the mask. I was a little worried about how lumpy it started out, but then I realized that it would perfectly fit with Charles Schulz’s shaky line.

(I should say now, I am not by any stretch the world’s greatest Peanuts geek, but I pretty well idolize Schulz and remember hearing about his retirement and death the same way my parents remember when Kennedy was shot.  Peanuts was just a given in my day-to-day existence growing up, and was a major contributor to my early drive to cartooning.)

The hair piece would have benefited from an extra week of work time, so I could make it fit correctly.  The shirt is actually left over from a production of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown that I directed and acted in my senior year of high school.

Today I was one of the winners of the aforementioned costume contest (along with the Box of Tissues/Sick Person pairing), and was generally met with choruses of “You made that?  No way!” all day.

Sometimes I forget that everyone in the world doesn’t compulsively make things just because things are there to be made.