3-D Husky tailgating cake

I kept a lot of you in the loop via Facebook and Instagram but for those of you who only follow me here, I wanted to show off this year’s tailgating feat: My husky cake!

Woof! Here's my University of Washington Huskies cake

Woof! Here’s my University of Washington Huskies cake

It didn’t turn out quite as well as I had hoped, but I was pretty pleased with the final product. (This cake was for the University of Washington football game against UCLA. Unfortunately the rare November Seattle sun turned the purple cake Bruin blue. Totally not cool. 100 percent Wilton food coloring fail!)

And now it's a Bruin cake!

And now it’s a Bruin cake!

This was the goal cake and I followed the instructions very closely. Unfortunately I didn’t have a large enough plate, so I had to freehand the shape, hence the squatty pup.

The original inspiration

The original inspiration

Here are some photos of the progress of the cake. Please excuse the poor lighting:

Baked cakes!

Baked cakes!

Frosting, I mean glue, I mean frosting!

Frosting, I mean glue, I mean frosting!

Cake progress!

Cake progress!

Huskies cake: assembled but not frosted!

Huskies cake: assembled but not frosted!  It’s 3-D!

Might I suggest you try making this cake for the Cactus Bowl on January 2? Gooooo Huskies!

Woof! Here's my University of Washington Huskies cake

Woof! Here’s my University of Washington Huskies cake

PAC 12 party pinatas

As you know, I love parties: attending and hosting. When I’m attending, I enjoy every little detail and special touches the host puts on the party to make it their own. When I’m hosting, I really like to do it right and I try to make sure every little detail is perfect. For my birthday last year, we hosted a tailgate for the University of Washington/Oregon football game.

This wasn’t just any tailgate. It was a tailgate with a PINATA! The pinata was definitely the star of the show and although the Huskies didn’t beat the Ducks the way we beat the pinata, I still felt pretty positive. I’m just bummed the videos and photo footage didn’t go viral. Maybe next time…

Oregon Duck Pinata

Back to the duck pinata. I did an exhaustive internet search (both Bing and Google images AND Pinterest) and I only found one (ONE!) Oregon Duck mascot-looking pinata, via Twitter. I reached out to the person who tweeted it and got the phone number of the seller. After my message was un-returned, I decided I could make it myself. (It’s kind of my mantra…)

It’s been about 10 years since I had even thought about paper mache, so I sought out a teacher. Lucky for me, one of my work friends fit the bill. Thank you, Patrick for all of your guidance!

First: Collect your materials. Patrick recommended Sta Flo starch, available at most grocery stores. I bought mine for ~$4 at QFC. I ended up using about a third of the bottle. (Meaning there was more left for that Cougar pinata…) I also used about three free small-sized newspapers. Make sure you find one that isn’t glossy. Look for your run-of-the-mill, classic newsprint paper. You’ll also need two normal-sized balloons (not yet blown up) and some painters tape. I used the 1/2″ thick blue version. I also used a cardboard ring that I found in the cat toy area and another cardboard box. You’ll create quite a mess, so have a large garbage bag and paper towels ready for clean up.

Paper mache supplies

Paper mache supplies

Next: Set up your station. Spread out your garbage bag and cut some of your newspaper into 1-1.5″ strips, about 7″ long. Blow up your balloons to the appropriate size: one is the abdomen (slightly larger, more oblong) and one is the head (smaller and more round).

Now let’s get messy:

1. Dip a handful of paper strips in the starch. Let them soak for 30 seconds to a few minutes.

2. Drape the wet strips over the balloon. This will be one of the messiest, most awkward steps. The balloons will get static-y and will roll around on their own and starch will get everywhere. That’s where your boxes/cardboard rings come into play. Plop those wet, paper covered balloons in the boxes and let them dry. (Likely overnight.)

Doesn't look like much yet... but it will!

Doesn’t look like much yet… but it will!

3. Repeat! You’ll need 3 layers or so, depending on your amount of starch and thickness of paper. Make sure each layer dries fully.

4. Once your last layer is dry and more-or-less hard, pop those balloons! Don’t worry if your  balloons sort of implode. Mine did and I was able to pop them back into the right shape. This is what they could (will most likely) look like:

Don't worry: it's supposed to look like this!

Don’t worry: it’s supposed to look like this!

5. Once the balloon is removed (it might stick a bit) trim up the openings a bit. Connect the two open edges and cut it so the head fits over the abdomen. Make sure there is some overlap, but as little of a gap as possible. Since this gap will be sealed up eventually, you’ll need to cut another opening. I prefer back or top of the head for my openings.

6. Once the base is complete, it’s time to determine your PAC 12 mascot and add the extremities and other features. I was having some issue visualizing the finished product on my first pinata, so I sketched the eyes, which helped me figure out the design for the beak. Use some cardboard (I used something similar to the back of a notepad) and a pen or pencil to curl the edges out a bit. Like this:

It looks a lot like a duck!

It looks a lot like a duck!

For the cougar I waded up more newspaper and created a nose and snout:

Cougar head

Cougar head

Side view of the Cougar snout

Side view of the Cougar snout

7. It’s a similar story for the limbs: design them off of the “body” and then attach them using painter’s tape. Don’t skimp on the tape. The more, the merrier. I crumpled and bent large sections of paper for the legs and then used a spiral tape pattern to make sure they kept their shape. I then taped on the hands and feet or paws, depending on your PAC 12 mascot. Cut holes where the limbs will go in the body and tape them in place. BEFORE YOU CUT: Make sure the hole is a little bit smaller than you think it needs to be. You can always scrunch the crumbled paper.

Leg hole!

Leg hole!

Duck limbs for days

Duck limbs for days

8. Once all of the pieces are ready, tape them together and your pinata will really start looking like an actual mascot.

Duck pinata: about half way done

Duck pinata: about half way done

Cougar pinata: About half way done

Cougar pinata: About half way done

9. Get out the starch and more strips of paper. Time for more layers! Put on another two layers of starched newspaper over everything, especially the seams. It’s boring and you have to be methodical, making sure that the whole area is covered. Just do it.

10. Once those layers are dry (each independently), bust out your solid white drawing paper. (Probably a normal printer paper would work too…) And it’s time to put another few layers on! The total number will depend on how thick paper is as well as how well it covers. I only needed one layer of the drawing paper.

One layer of white paper

One layer of white paper

A couple of layers of white

A couple of layers of white

11. Once all those layers dry, it should be time to fill the thing! For our Duck pinata we used some mini-sized Halloween candy, mini plastic tequila bottles (make sure they’re plastic!) and yellow and green feathers picked up from Michael’s. (The feathers were the best part of the pinata, so make sure you get those! I was thinking about including some cat hair leftovers in the Cougar pinata, but we’ll see. That could be really gross.)

I layered the fillings: feathers, candy, tequila. Repeat. But don’t fill too full. This thing has to be able to hang at its final location.

12. Hang it up! I made a hangman’s noose with yellow nylon rope with these instructions I found on Pinterest. (Yes, it was weird to “pin” noose instructions!)

Oregon Duck on a noose

Oregon Duck on a noose

Finished WSU Cougar pinata

Finished WSU Cougar pinata

Good luck on your pinata endeavor! Please leave any pinata-making feedback in the comments below. And, GO HUSKIES!!

My new AstroTurf “W” wreath

One of my most favorite crafts to date: An AstroTurf W!

One of my most favorite crafts to date: An AstroTurf W!

My dear old glue gun made it halfway through this very special project. I wanted to finish it so badly that after the literal glue gun explosion, we rushed to Lowe’s to pick up a new one.

I started with this “W” letter from JoAnn’s. It runs $2.99 and stands 9.5″ tall. Perfect. And, you can use this technique for just about any letter or number combination.

You’ll also need that giant roll of AstroTurf that I convinced you to buy a couple of months ago.

I flipped the AstroTurf over and traced my letter, leaving about an inch of overhang. From there, cut it out and get that glue gun ready.

Flip and glue. And glue and glue and glue

Flip and glue. And glue and glue and glue

What I didn’t do on my first go-around and will do in the future– and you SHOULD do your first time, add a wire or a tie of some sort toward the middle of your “wreath” before you glue on the facing layer of AstroTurf.

Start gluing. It’s important to go from one side to the other of the facing of the letter and to go with quick speed, since hot glue dries pretty quickly. Specifically, I glued in three main sections (left, right, middle), one section at a time. First, the fully covered “front” side, then I wrapped the overhang around the back, being very careful not to burn myself. On the backside, I pulled the turf tight and added cuts with the X-acto knife as needed.

Two sides done, just one to go

Two sides done, just one to go

I added some felt flowers to give the wreath that extra Husky feel, using leftover felt from a new coaster project I’ve got up my sleeve. (I tried a variety of designs for the flowers with this technique, for the most part.)

Felt flowers made out of extra AstroTurf coaster fabric

Felt flowers made out of extra AstroTurf coaster fabric

The project didn’t take too long and I think the finished product was well worth the time. I’m going to wager that this wreath and its presence at our game watching parties are the reason the Huskies are winning! (I hope I didn’t just jinx them!)

Anyway, happy Purple Friday and GO HUSKIES!

(YES! There is still time for you to grab the project pieces and make one of these to celebrate UW Homecoming on Oct. 25! You know I’m going to make a couple more!!)

 

What a weekend!

Did you enjoy this past weekend as much as we did?! Brandon finished finals, which meant the end to a long, long quarter. So what’d we do? Celebrate!

We checked out Crumble & Flake, a new-to-us bakery in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle.

Crumble and flake

Crumble & Flake has received rave reviews, so we thought we’d check it out.  I got the cheddar cheese and smoked paprika croissant and Brandon got the pistachio twice baked. My croissant was delicious and very interesting. In addition to being spread inside like a filling, the batter/dough was orange, as though the cheese and paprika were infused in it. There isn’t any seating at the bakery so we took our croissants to the University of Washington to eat them among the cherry blossoms.

Crumble and Flake at the UW Quad C#UWCherryBlossoms

Since we were so close, we opted for lunch in the University Village at Din Tai Fung. It’s a favorite of ours and we enjoyed our usuals: pork soup dumplings, garlic green beans and shrimp fried rice, along with something new: pork and vegetable steamed buns. Not unexpectedly, we loved them.

So full and ready for naps, we headed back to Megan’s Island where we powered through the sleepiness and got to work on spring cleaning the yard. We spent several hours pulling ivy, sweeping, leaf blowing, raking and packing many yard waste bags. Let me tell you… it looks good here. We’re absolutely ready for spring and for more sunshine.

I’ve got some great plans for both the yard and parties with the spring and summer. So looking forward to the longer days and warmer weather!

Now… onto this week. It’s going to be a doozy.

Me & B enjoying another year of cherry blossoms at UW

Me & B enjoying another year of cherry blossoms at UW