Getting There

I’m at the stage is pre-con costume creation where it feels like I’ve been working on these pieces forever, but they don’t seem to be getting any more complete. Part of the problem is that I’m onto the “finicky details” stage, which doesn’t have the big, visible milestones but is still incredibly necessary. Take Thing 1’s bodysuit, for example: it had lots of drawn-on detail to be done, which had me hunching over my desk for hours.

My biggest worry at this point is that I won’t complete my costume for Friday, which I have the materials for but haven’t started sewing. Wish me luck!

Work in Progress

Still working on costumes! (This will remain a constant for the next week and a bit.) Hence, not a lot of cooking going on around here. But I do have some progress to report:

Thing 2’s costume is mostly done. I need to make two more pouches (why does this character have so many pouches?) and a bit more detail work. Oh, and a mask. But it feels almost complete, anyway. If you know the game, by now you’ll be able to recognize what it’s supposed to be, anyway.

In thrifting news, I was looking for costume parts the other day when I stumbled upon a food mill for $7.99. It’s pristine, in great working order, and has a total of three different sized disks. I’d been considering buying one of these new for ages, mostly for applesauce and apple butter, but I’d put it off because I really couldn’t justify the expense. But for that price, I wasn’t going to wait! Hopefully it will speed up the process come autumn.

Feeling the Pressure

All right, I’ll confess. I ordered pizza for the family for dinner last night. It wasn’t even particularly nice pizza, just cheap, chain fast food. After working on costumes all day, and working out, and dealing with the kids, I just didn’t have any inclination to cook. I know, I know, that’s not like me most of the time, but we all have our off days.

And it’s all because currently my cutting table looks like this:

Although Mom has been doing most of the cutting. We are doing a couple of cosplays together this year for Ottawa ComicCon (it’s a multi-generational thing in our house), so we’re working on our costumes together as well.

My basement couch looks like this:

Completely covered in what I hope are all of the materials for five (I must be insane) costumes that I have to have completed by this time next month. I mean, it’s no ridiculously large dragon, but it’s still a lot of work. And, as my husband is quick to point out, I do this to myself every. Single. Year.

I’ve been spending most of my time sitting here at the sewing table. At least one vest is almost done… But after pricking myself pretty nastily with a very sharp pin, I deemed that it was time to give it up for the night and start again with fresh eyes in the morning.

Best wishes to everyone who’s in con crunch mode right now!

Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day

I’m still working away on that last-minute costume. I got so caught up in the process that I stayed up until almost 2:00am without even realizing it! I had absolutely no intention of staying up too late. When I get into problem-solving mode, I hate to stop when I’m on a roll. If I’d been super-frustrated, I would probably have stopped earlier (although there was a large seam that I “sewed” without realizing that the bobbin had run out).

I couldn’t find my meter stick, so I did end up using a wooden prop sword in order to trace a long, straight line on my fabric. My father pointed out afterward that I could have just called and borrowed his, but the sword was only a few feet away from where I was sewing, and it worked out fine!

November 15th is Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day, so I made a dinner entirely out of what I had around the house. This had nothing to do with the fact that I’ve been so engrossed in costume construction that I haven’t gone out to do groceries, I swear. I went with one of the simplest clean-out-the-fridge dishes: stir fry. I cooked up the veggies I had on hand (celery, zucchini, and frozen peas), scrambled in some egg, threw in some cooked rice and shrimp, and gave it all a good drizzle of sesame oil and soy sauce while I cooked it all together for a few minutes. My husband asked for seconds, which I figure means it wasn’t half bad.

After the kids went to bed, I wanted to treat myself to some banana bread, which is pretty much my favourite quick bread. I even had some bananas I’d frozen before they went bad that I needed to use up, so the timing was perfect. I’d seen a Tasty video for 6 Desserts To Make In Your Microwave, so I thought I’d give their individual microwave banana bread a shot. Sadly, as with the microwave oatmeal bread I made a while back, I was disappointed. The more I try it, the less I think that microwaves can be used for half-decent baking.

First of all, there was a recipe in the YouTube transcription of the recipe. If you watch the video, the ingredients include 3 Tbsp brown sugar and 1/2 tsp baking powder, but the recipe under the video calls for 3 Tbsp brown sugar and then another 1/2 tsp brown sugar, with no baking powder. Luckily I noticed that there was no rising agent before I started cooking, but by then I’d already added the extra 1/2 tsp brown sugar, too.

Once the banana bread was cooked, I found it to be largely tasteless. I found that interesting, because it contains basically the same ingredients as the more traditional banana bread in the Joy of Cooking; what really differentiates the two, other than size, is the cooking method. I think that because the Tasty version is made so quickly in the microwave, instead of cooking for an hour or more in the oven, it doesn’t have a chance to develop its flavour, which probably mostly comes from the crust. Microwave cooking, in general, doesn’t create proper crusts. Also, I found the consistency of the microwave banana bread to be less like a quick bread and more like a sponge or a pudding. I cooked it for an extra 30 seconds over the recommended time and tested it with a cake tester for doneness, so I know it was definitely cooked all the way through. Even so, the consistency was more like microwave scrambled eggs than like bread.

Of course, opinions may vary, and you may like banana bread made this way. I think that I will stick to baking in the oven from now on, except perhaps for the occasional experiment.

Last of the Leftovers

I forgot to post about this year’s Halloween costumes, probably because I didn’t make anything new. Thing 1, Thing 2, and I stuck with our Pokémon Go costumes from ComicCon, because I’ll be darned if I put in all that work for us only to wear the costumes once. That’s the deal that I made with my girls when I started making them Con costumes: their costumes have to be based on something that they like well enough to want to wear again almost half a year later. So given that the majority of Halloween activities happen after dark, the best photos of their costumes were taken back in May.


Photo by Richard Dufault Photography.

For Heroes & Villains, which is an annual geeky Halloween party around here, I reused my Femme Joker costume. I added a hat (which is really more purple than blue), a cane, and I took the makeup from almost-jolly Cesar-Romero-like paint, to something a little more sinister, not quite Heath-Ledger-like but closer.

I think I am almost done the Halloween party leftovers, too, except for the cookies. Last night I made grilled cheese for the family dinner, using Light Rye and Caraway Bread (page 75 of Bread Machine: How to Prepare and Bake the Perfect Loaf by Jennie Shapter (2002)) and old Balderson cheddar, with a side of sliced avocado.

For me, since I can’t have the cheese, I made toast out of the bread, and served it alongside Montreal smoked meat and a salad with iceberg lettuce, avocado, and Woolwich Dairy Soft Unripened Goat Cheese Crumbles. It’s a little bit healthier than what we’ve been eating all week, I think! Now if only I can get the temptation of the mini chocolate bars out of the house, things will soon get back to normal.

Ottawa ComicCon Day 1: My Photos

I brought my camera along to Ottawa ComicCon on the days where my costume would allow it, and I took plenty of photos. Of course, I didn’t notice that my ISO was bumped up ridiculously high until well after the fact — something about wrangling children and costumes in a crowd makes photography somewhat challenging. So most of my photos are really grainy. Even so, I here are some of the most fun costumes that we saw; of course, the ones my kids wanted to have their pictures with are ones that they’re familiar with, so Friday’s photos concentrate on kid-friendly productions.


Thing 1 and Thing 2 with Stitch (from Lilo & Stitch).


We found three Pikachus (Pokémon) in the same area, so we rounded them up to take photos with my little Eeveelutions. I don’t think any of them know each other.


Thing 1 and Thing 2 in the T.A.R.D.I.S. in the Doctor Who booth.


Thing 2 with a Dalek, which was her favourite because it was orange, her favourite colour. In the Doctor Who booth.


Thing 1 with a blue-and-silver Dalek in the Doctor Who booth, also chosen because it contains her favourite colour.


Thing 2 and Thing 1 beside their favourite parts of the Star Wars universe: the droids! (R2D2 and BB8 from the 501st’s booth.)


Given that they went as characters from Zootopia last year, Thing 1 and Thing 2 were thrilled to meet Judy Hopps.


Thing 1 and Thing 2 were very happy to meet Jack Skellington and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas — especially Thing 2, as it is her favourite movie. Don’t let her expression here fool you.


My mother took the kiddos for a few minutes, so I had a chance to snap a pic of this fantastic Storm (X-Men).


RWBY character Ruby, with a Grimm.


Thing 2 with Pokémon Cubone. This poor guy couldn’t see through his head piece at all! Looked great though.


Thing 2 and Thing 1 with Hipster Sally (The Nightmare Before Christmas), as executed by the fabulous Lilithia Dark. She even let Thing 1 hold her stuffed Zero! The girls were super excited — once again, especially Thing 2, who adores this movie. “Mommy, she was so awesome!” I agree.

If you recognize yourself or anyone you know in my photos and want me to link to your cosplay page/Facebook/blog, just let me know!

One Week Until ComicCon

Only one week until ComicCon, and I have been working my tail off to (hopefully) get things done in time. Sorry for the low quality cell phone pictures, but I haven’t had the time to take anything nicer.

I completed the blue bodysuit for Thing 1’s costume.

I hand-stitched Thing 2’s fun fur tail; this kind of fur tends to clog up the machine, so I worked the old-fashioned way. I also remembered why I hate working with fun fur. It sheds everywhere! You’d think I owned a golden retriever.

I made and painted a backpack, which was the last piece I needed for my day 1 costume. Hopefully it will be both practical and costume-friendly.

I built the framework for my Day 2 costume, found a foam head for it, paper-machéd the head, and painted it.

And I also wired up the skeleton head so that the eyes glow.

I really, really hope I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew, and that I’ll have all the costumes done in time!