Thursday, September 29, 2011

Barbie'll Cut Ya, man

EDITED TO ADD: After much hemming and hawing I did finally make one armored Barbie, Commander Shepard

It's happened again, a wild idea has lead me down that photoshopping products that don't actually exist path.

More specifically I got to wondering just what would get someone who's fairly wishy washy on that whole pantomiming human relationships with a gigantic head/tiny wasted pink maniac in plastic instead of say my preferred choice of old star trek figures or on occasion cars or random bits of foam.

If Barbie came with a sword, of course.

Allow me to introduce the RPG line of Barbie dolls, you can be whatever you want provided it's awesome at kicking butt and rolling dice:
Warrior Barbie comes equipped with a set of chain mail, a helmet that will mess up her hair but keep her brain from spattering across the field and non-high heeled leather boots. She is also equipped with a long sword, a short sword and a shield.

 Rogue Barbie is here to poison and trap your enemies, comes complete with a bow & quiver full of arrows or a set of dagger should she feel the need to get up close and personal with her victims.

The always glamorous Mage Barbie will look her best in an ivory bodice and leggings complete with matching floor length cape. Not that any of that matters as she roasts the flesh of those who would dare oppose her with deadly spells and the occasional errant match. Comes with her own mage's staff, a spell book and a bottle for "I don't think you really want to know" what.

Just added is Necromancer Barbie! With her army of raised dead she'll be unstoppable against her enemies. Comes with a dagger, a vial of blood, and her first skeleton minion to aid in the ritual sacrifices necessary to conquer the grave itself.
Paladin Barbie shall crush the unbelievers beneath her heavy booted foot. Her armor is plate with an ivy motif and her helmet will protect her from head shots as well as provide a nice disguise at any dull Skipper parties. Comes with a gold shield and sword as well as a scroll that none can read but her.

Ranger Barbie will have none of that loud clanking metal, she moves with quickness and silence sniping from the canopy of her home in the trees. A bit like a monkey with a deadly weapon. She comes with a hunting knife, her own woodland friend (whom she can also hunt and kill if one is so inclined) and a small bottle of calamine lotion. Poison Ivy is a harsh mistress to all.

He doesn't really wear any clothes, not that he has any. In fact it's hard to get much out of Barbarian Ken aside from the occasional grunt and fart. He's certainly not the perfect boyfriend but he might be good for a roll or two if you can get him to take a bath. Comes with giant sword that is in no way overcompensating for something, a tankard, and the severed head of Blaine.

This last Barbie is simply because whenever I undertake a challenge I must do one that's MST3K related:

There we go, dolls for the discerning nerd or someone who just wants lots of tiny swords.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My own Familiar

This weekend the football game was away which meant for one of the rare weekends in the Fall the stadium didn't become the third largest city in Nebraska and we could take a trip down South.

South is my mecca of painting supplies and okay generally that's it. There's actually a whole outside mall with shops and things that people exchange money for goods. At one point in time I even dared to spend time and coin inside of it but that seems like a lifetime ago, when we were all a little younger and not fighting off packs of feral rabid hamsters for the last crumbs of food.

But this time we had a few minutes to kill and wandered into the hidden depths of a Hallmark to catch a glimpse of this years ornaments. I guessed the Sphinx's riddles right and killed the minotaur but only got the Gordion knot even more stuck so we didn't get much of a glimpse.

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted this hanging conspicuously for her profession.

I was smitten, perhaps it was the mask that carefully constructed to hide her identity from any would be wanted posters or merry men that wander aimlessly through forests looking for someone to follow.

Or perhaps it was the little outfit, not quite forest ready but maybe it was laundry day for the rogue.

Oh who are we kidding, it was the sword. Gets me every time.
 Actually the sword was originally just a plastic round stick but I remedied that with my trusty exacto blade and a cautious hand lest I lose a thumb.
I don't much use key chains, and was never much a doll person (more dolls needed to come with weaponry. Who wouldn't love a bad ass barbie covered head to toe in swords?) but it's good to know in case it should ever come up I have an easy Horcrux.

And trust me, it's going to come up.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Halloween Town 2011

On top of the large cemetery that guards our front yard and keeps growing each year (while the neighbors keep disappearing, very strange) we also have a smaller version crashing in the living room.

I was actually debating for a while if I'd even put it up. There's still so much to do and actual halloween prop making stuff scattered all across the house. And then there was the dog's nest. At some point between last January when the tree came down and now my dog claimed that corner as her own complete with a few pillows and a blanket.

But I cleaned up the corner, fought through the glares of murder from the fuzzy head and set her up anyway.

This is the originally Christmas town vineyard that I Halloweened up. The first year we had Es she tore through the house in young puppy fashion ripping out the light bulb and shattering it. But finally I got a replacement and now the Vampire's Vineyard glows like a thousand Thomas Kinkade paintings piled up in the corner and set alight.

The heart of it is the graveyard. Which due to a new piece this year is getting more and more compact.  I hope we don't have to move the bodies and then try to put in a swimming pool.

My favorite piece is this crumbling gothic church. It's got everything: bones, ravens, undead unblinking eyes staring out menacingly from within the ruins. And best of all no one talks, ever. It can just sit there looking spooky.
Dr. F's lab was actually the first moving big piece we ever got. He cackles, he raises his little monster, he cries what evil is this and then repeats. Apparently he doesn't learn much.

This is the new piece for the year, the pit & the pendulum. I did a bit of painting and some fixing but none of that matters when the lights are on as the pendulum swings.
After the break I'll put lots of other graveyard pictures, don't want to clutter the page up too much.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Scars, Bruises, and Cuts Oh My!

About a month or so ago I showed off my first attempts at putting a bullet hole in my husband's head with the generous use of pigments and some latex. It worked okay, luckily we have some better latex this time to help blend more.

But the whole reason that post started was because earlier that day I went to the first makeup tutorial of my life and learned how to make people look not very nice at all.

Once again I used primarily the injury stack you can find at any good Halloween store (generally your exclusive Halloween or party stores)
It's all these pretty colors. Oooh, burn red and infected yellow. If you're there you may want to pick up a stipple sponge and some fake blood oh and could you get me a new set of brushes? Thanks.

Now to dispense some makeup hurt.

For bruises I like to start with purple and dab dab dab with my finger, then some yellow, then some red and keep going back and forth until I like it.

The gash up top I relied mostly upon red and then used the stipple to craft a bit of road rash within the wound with the fake blood.
Now for the latex, you just build up a nice layer using hopefully thick flesh latex again you can find with the injury stack. But don't get the $2 cheap shit because it will work and look exactly like that.
After you have a nice layer of latex just peel out whatever part you want to be the scar, dab in some black paint with a q-tip, cover the latex just like before with the other injury stack colors, drizzle in a dash of blood for presentation and tada a cheap cut.

Really this is quite easy. This was the first time I'd ever played around with any of this stuff:
Which is my nice way of saying, come on anyone can do this. So get out there and make people look like they went through hell and back again.

I really like doing this stuff and hope I get to do more. Anyone know a low budget horror movie that needs a makeup scarer?

Friday, September 23, 2011

All Hallows Read

What do you love most about Halloween?

Well yes, aside from the candy.

And the chance to dress up outside of your normal character.

Or to surround yourself in trapping reminiscent of the eternal dance against forces that threaten to shatter one from this mortal coil and remind us how very fragile that spark of life can be.

Okay so it's probably just the candy.

But I want to talk about ghost stories, or vampires, goblins, werewolves, creepy carnival barkers or clowns. Whatever tickles along your neck and puffs up the goosebumps until you're screaming at the sound of two amorous squirrels on the roof.

The Nerd Deity Neil Gaiman (all shall sacrifice a genie fish in his honor) started a tradition a few years ago where in the spirit of Halloween (that isn't gourd shaped) you share your favorite spooky stories with those small wide eyed scamps that say bypass the candy to touch your grave busters head or shout "That's so cool" at the undead demon with a sword stuck through its chest.

Oh you were expecting a recommendation from me? I say "Something Wicked This Way Comes." But it might be my unexplainable hatred and fear of turn of the century carnivals and that I check under the bed every couple of days for a Dust Witch.

But what I really wanted to share are these Library posters I whipped up. I had a crazy idea of what if the classic Universal Monster movies got to star in their own "Get Kids to Read" poster.
Friend good, Book Better.

Listen to the words of the night, what music they make.

Sit Spot, Sit.

This plot is full of holes!

 May I suggest myself with a nice lemon and garlic dipping sauce?

Girls never go for the "nice guy" unless he has a giant organ.

Happy Halloween.

EDITED TO ADD: Anyone is free to click on the images, download them and print them off all for the large sum of nothing.

If you want 2012's poster selection click here.  

And here are 2013's poster options. 

2014's posters.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

French Onion Soup

Life is a series of trying the same sequence of buttons over and over until you get it right or run out of do-overs.

Oh there's some other stuff about free will but that's mostly a bug in the system that no one pays much attention to.

I have never in my life chopped, diced or gotten to close to an onion. When I was young I became a pro at sliding, working and scraping onions off of any food item ever purchased. I hated the smell, the flavor and the way the stench clung to your skin like a bad house guest rash.

About a year into dating my husband his genetic predisposition for an onion intolerance kicked in and he joined me on the "We Onion Haters Club" side of the world.

Flash forward a few years with the liberal use of the squiggly lines wipe and we both realize that I actually like the flavor of seriously dead and buried caramelized onions and they don't seem to bother his stomach much.

Yesterday, against all common sense, I decided to try hitting C once just to see what happened and attempted something with the dreaded Onion.
Uncertain of what in the hell these strange papery hard objects were I picked up a few at the grocery store, sniffed them, maybe lobbed one up in the air so it'd turn into a space ship. Sadly this did nothing to answer my rather pertinent question "How exactly does one cut into an onion?"

A few things I learned from my experience.

1. Peel off the paper first, it helps to gouge out the ends but is a bit harder to smash it like garlic.

2. I don't cry much from the onion enzymes, no my eyes BURN with the fury of 1,000 Star Wars fans that just watched the new editions to the Blu-Ray.

3. They may look innocuous rolling around almost comically but turn your back for even a minute and those onions will take you out man.

Okay so the onions are all sliced up, my bleeding's been contained, now what?

I tried the recipe I found here but I would change a few things next time.


  • 6 large red or yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced.
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups of beef stock, chicken stock, or a combination of the two (traditionally the soup is made with beef stock)
  • 1/2 cup of dry vermouth or dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dry thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 slices of toasted French bread
  • 1 1/2 cups of grated Swiss Gruyere with a little grated Parmesan cheese
I sauteed the onions in the olive oil for 40 minutes. About 10 minutes in when you're gagging for air from the horrific smell and flaming eyeballs add the sugar to speed along the caramelization. Or next time you could just get sweet onions, that would probably be smarter really.

They went in looking like this.
And about half way through looked like this and were actually starting to smell dare I say it, palatable.
Once the onion are a healthy shade of brown and translucent add in the garlic, the stock, the wine, the bay leaf and the thyme and let that all simmer together in ooey gooeyness for a half hour.

This is where I did and would do things differently. By the time the soup boiled down it was about 75% onion to 25% broth so I say double the broth unless you like to pretty much eat onions that are slightly damp. I also had no bay leaf even though I thought I did but they have a sneaky way of vanishing into the inner dimension contained within my cupboards so I only added the thyme.

Not that any of that mattered as the wine was really over powering, some of it could have been because the only white wine I had left was a white cranberry that certainly had a strong potency or the whole face that most of the beef broth went bye bye.
Again I didn't have French bread or fancy cheeses or any of that so I toasted a slice of wheat bread, cut it in half, added some mozzarella and parmesan to the top and melted/toasted it under the broiler for 10 minutes.

Here it is, my first attempt at doing anything with onions:
My husband said it was a lot fancier than he was expecting and gobbled all of his down and some of mine.

I'm still not much on speaking terms with onions and am going mad keeping a fine layer of glade in the air to keep the dreaded cooking onion smells at bay but it was certainly very fallish and pretty damn snooty for such a cheap meal.

I may even try it again unless one of them comes for my other finger.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lamppost in Winter

It's shameful how long it took me to think of this.

I foresee a Christmas Card in the future. Not that I'd make one I just see a future filled with giant face eating christmas cards. Perhaps I shouldn't have gone off my meds.

Swooping is bad.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Dragon's Cave

Last year I swore up and down that I would not leave my poor dragon looking like someone buried him up to his neck in front of a spray painted 1980's comedy wall.
Thus began a mad endeavour by my husband to create a dismantable cave to house our dragon as his nostrils flame and smoke billows out of well a hole from behind him because I never bothered creating a hole in his face for the fog machine.

For the past 5 months or so each weekend slowly pieces of wood were sawed, metaled up and screwed into place to create a frame structure so I could go in with foam and paint pot to eh screw it, here are the pictures:
There are some thoughts to maybe make a few stalactites or is it stalagmites? Eh who cares. But that shall be for another year.

Here's a photoshop representation of my dragon's head frolicking and happy in her new home:
The sides are a bit more of a "please don't look too hard at it" but again that can always be fixed later if it's an issue:
One more step to Halloween.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I'm Back Baby

April was when it all changed.

One morning the world turned a bit colder, a bit foggier, dare I even say a bit morbid. Yet no one outside the selected few noticed or cared to deign much attention.

The normals went about their lives preparing for a Summer that would come to try and break every bit of heat resistance they had while the 10 or so of us began the plots and schemes to claim what we never knew we had.

All of my focus, my energy, my life force if you will could only be poured into this one endeavour lest we all fail.

I speak of the 30 or so tombstones we had to get carved, epitathed, painted and pushed out the door before the Halloween dance was upon us. This required certain sacrifices, not only of time or finger dexterity or clean unpainted clothes but creativity as well.

For all of summer the only time I picked up a paint brush was to fill in letters I etched into foam with an exacto blade with black. My room filled with boxes of costume bits and scraps of foam (as did the rest of the house) and there was nary a scrap of room to set down a small 6x8 much less any painting of substance.

Truly, it had been so long I was beginning to suspect that any interest I had in painting had run its course, had a bit of a laugh and phoned home to ask me to come and pick it up. Then one chilly night I sat down with brush pot in hand and out came this:

I'm back, baby!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Evil Cake Overlord

Back at the start of this summer that will never end (except when it did) I received the second cookbook from one Marie Porter: the Evil Cake Overlord.

I salivated over the recipes and knowledge contained within (on another note, I may have come down with a touch of zombieism. If I remember right you starve a vampire and feed a zombie so I should be okay.) but the raging boiling heat of summer kept me as far from my oven as one could get while still standing on top of the A/C.

But now that fall has so thoroughly round house kicked summer back to his boiling wasteland I can finally take a crack at an Autumn Apple Upside Down Cake.
Oh so moist and apple and warm and sorry I'm getting ahead of myself.

Printed with permission here is the recipe to make that delightful concoction above.
  • 1/3 cup Butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg 
  • 3 Tbsp Apple juice or cider.
  • 3-4 Apples sliced
  • 2 Cups Cake Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Sugar
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 3 1/2 oz instant vanilla pudding
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 Cup Apple juice of Cider
  • 3/4 cup melted Butter
  • 1 Apple grated
First preheat the oven to 325F. Liberally grease a 10" cake ban with shortening or do like I did and realize oh crap I only have a 9" well that'll do I'll just let my husband eat all the leftover batter.

Cut out a 10" round of parchment paper to fit inside the bottom of the pan and stick it to the shortening. (This is something I also didn't have and skipped figuring well if it doesn't turn out pretty who cares as long as it's tasty - don't hit me!)

In a small sauce pan combine melted butter, flour, brown sugar, spices and apple juice. Heat on low until it's well combined - I didn't go until saturated just gooey and tasty. Pour that into the cake pan so it has a happy new home then arrange your apple slices on top. I had quite a few leftover that made a new home in my stomach I LOVE APPLE SEASON!

In a large mixing bowl combine the cake flour, sugar, spices, baking powder, salt and pudding mix. Add in the eggs and juice and beat until smooth then add the melted butter and mix until it's that golden batter you want to lick up with a spoon.

Fold the grated apple into the batter before pouring it into the pan. Bake for about 50-60 minutes or until it looks kinda like this:
Now comes the worst part of baking, letting it cool before you can pull out your fork and have a go at it. Wait 20 minutes, maybe pass the time by turning people into pirates or killing Darkspawn or whatever it is normal people do.

Level the top of the cake and then flip it over onto a plate crossing your fingers that the lack of parchment paper didn't screw it all up.
And how does it taste? The cake is super moist and like a trip to a fall orchard where you gorge on all manner of autumn spices and apples apples apples!
It's a bit like eating an apple pie but in cake form, which if you know me is high praise indeed. Hot apple pie is probably the top food on my list of what you'll take to a dessert island.

And it works beautifully the day after, just pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds and add some ice cream or whipped cream on top. Perfecto!

There are tons of upside down cakes in the cookbook as well as popular flavors (I need to try the chai and egg nog ones) and marble cakes. So if you love baking or know someone who loves baking this would make a great Christmas present.

Oh god, it's almost Christmas again? Why does that keep happening?

Excuse me while I flip through and decide what else I shall have on my desserted Island.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sweet Potato Soup

I turn a wary eye to soups and stews (chili being more like a spicy Italian dish without the pasta getting in the way gets a wide berth into my arteries however), with their watery like base, strange bits bobbing for salvation only to be pulled back under by the tide, and texture that on a good day can only be described as something perfect for babies and the elderly.

But on occasion I get a hankering for one. This is typically when I am one bright light away from shedding my mortal coil but with me banging my head mercilessly against this unending summer I was willing to try just about anything that involved a stove/oven/leftovers to get me back into that fall cooking.

Thus was born the Sweet Potato Soup swiped generously from Better Homes & Gardens which is rather surprising in that I almost never find recipes there.

  • 2 lb. sweet potatoes (I have no idea what makes a lb anymore so I went with three)
  • 3 green onions, coarsely chopped We don't believe in onions in this house so I skipped that.
  • 1 14-oz. can vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • tsp. curry powder (or 3 with some Vindaloo for a very curry kick)
  • Garlic powder 
  • Salt and ground black pepper
There's also something about a cheese crisp and baking it but I decided to make croutons instead.

 First step, take out a butter knife and stab away some of your frustrations upon your sweet potatoes. It's up to you if you need to reenact the shower scene from Psycho.

Put the potatoes in your microwave for 10 minutes or so. Oh and make sure to turn it on, don't just leave them in there to gossip about you behind your back.

When they're done they'll be super squishy and extremely hot. Donning your Solar Suit for traipsing across the surface of stars slice the potatoes in half and scoop the tasty tasty innards into a blender of doom (or food processor of ennui).
 The skins will look like some kind of horrific mutant that hides in a long abandoned building and sheds bits of itself all over the walls. Great way to scare children or the elderly.

To the potato add half of the stock and the cream.
Now pray to your deity of choice, Newton or that still red tomato stain on the ceiling that your blender will remain in one piece and puree up that stuff.

I can't watch. *whirr* *whirr* *whirr* Is it? Is it over? And there isn't potato goo in the living room?

Okay good, well then into a pot goes the mess CAREFULLY! lest the whole thing decide to give out.

Add in the curry, the garlic powder if you so choose and the salt to make it tasty and warm on the insides.

Just top off with some croutons (which you may not want to forget about and let burn to a nice golden Snooki) and maybe a crab cake on the side (it is a universal truth that sweet potatoes and crabs are BFF and love spending all their time together).
Easy soup that takes at most a half hour if you spend 10 minutes hiding inside the cabinets for fear of the blender exploding.

But the important thing to remember is to feed the sweet potato skinned monster or he'll start leaving even more droppings where you're certain to slip on them.