Friday, October 23, 2015

5 Fandom Friday: Characters I Have Dressed/Will Dress Up as for Halloween

With Halloween around the corner, this week's 5 Fandom Friday prompt, "Characters I Want to Dress Up as for Halloween", is no surprise.  However, I'm taking it in a slightly different direction--here are my five favorite Halloween (slash Dragon Con) costumes I've already checked off my list:

1. Musketeer

I was seven when Disney's The Three Musketeers came out, and I was obsessed with Musketeers after seeing it.

The Three Four Musketeers.

I even got the Gene Kelly version for Christmas that year, though the Disney version remained my constant favorite.  I never did read the book, but Musketeers have nonetheless always held a special place in my heart ever since.  So I was ecstatic to stumble upon a ridiculously good deal on a [kids] Musketeer tabard on Ebay right when I started scrambling for a Halloween costume because I was four months pregnant, had a party to go to, and nothing fit.

Me as a [pregnant] Musketeer.

Fortunately, I already had a rapier hanging on my wall (as all the cool people do), so it was an easy costume to throw together with the yoga pants I was wearing exclusively in those days.  I just had to make the shirt for it--which has conveniently gotten a good bit of use with my next costume as well...

2. Pirate

I read Treasure Island for the first time when I was around seven years old, and I fell in love with it (this was a few months before the Musketeer phase).  I essentially trace all my geekiness back to that book--it started my obsession with pirates, and swords, and adventure, which took me on all the rabbit trails of history and fantasy and sci-fi that have come to hold my continued enthusiastic fascination.  At some point in early adulthood, I acquired a beautiful cutlass, and I've been collecting bits and pieces for an ongoing pirate costume ever since.

Other than a handful of times dressing up as a pirate during my college years, this costume made its debut for Kaylie's second Halloween--she was only eighteen months old, too young to really have much interest in choosing her own costume, so I decided we would both go trick-or-treating as pirates:

Pirates 2012.

We made it to one house--our kind, familiar neighbors across the street--and Kaylie fell apart halfway up their driveway, sobbing and screaming.  Hahaha!  So we walked right back home and handed out candy all night instead.

The next year, I'd just had Wil four months earlier and we'd moved into a new house just days before Halloween, so it was convenient that she very adamantly insisted that she wanted to wear last year's pirate costume:

Pirate 2013.

However, amidst all the craziness, I didn't end up dressing up with her.  But we made up for it next year, with family costumes:

Pirates 2014.

Wil was our pet monkey. :-)  Kaylie had finally outgrown her first pirate costume, but she shot down my every costume suggestion and demanded to be a pirate again, only this time she wanted to be a "boy pirate" so she could wear pants (I explained that girl pirates can wear pants, too, but she still called the costume a "boy pirate").

Pirates 2014.

While we're not planning to continue the tradition this year (she wants to be Anna from Frozen), we did get to break out the costumes again the other day to score some free doughnuts at Krispy Kreme for Sept. 19's "International Talk Like a Pirate Day"--though I left the cutlass at home this time.

Pirates 2015.

Most recently, I found a pirate medallion necklace, a miniature version of the Aztec gold pieces from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, on our vacation to Disney World last week.  Ever evolving!

3. Zoe Washburne

With both my kids named after "Firefly" characters (Wil's middle name is Malcolm), it's no surprise I've dressed up as someone from the show, right?

Zoe Alleyne Washburne.

It was the perfect excuse for me to wear these totally awesome Star Wars-esque boots (most similar to Qui-Gon's) I'd recently found:

Me as Zoe Washburne.

But, really, the costume started with my very favorite baby shower gift ever, these adorable Kaylee coveralls a friend made for our Kaylie:

Kaylie as Kaylee.

It was perfect for her first Halloween!  So, naturally, I threw together Zoe and Wash costumes for my husband and I to match for our first Halloween as a family:

All we need now is a Firefly!

(I even went all-out that year and did a "Firefly" pumpkin carve--I posted the stencil I drew up for it here.)

4. Rose Tyler

This year, I'll be accompanying my little Princess Anna while dressed as Rose Tyler.

Ninth Doctor & Rose Tyler.

I have the costume all together already, since my hubby and I cosplayed as Nine and Rose at Dragon Con this year (I'm so behind on life, I haven't even posted about DC yet!).

Hubby and me as Nine and Rose.

I figure it's a nice, subtle costume--that other Whovians will appreciate, but other parents won't give me funny looks for. :-P  Not that I mind the funny looks.

Me as Rose Tyler.


5. Steampunk Leia

All right, so this one isn't a past or planned Halloween costume...

Princess Leia.

...but it was my first-ever con cosplay, which I wore to Dragon Con last month:

Steampunk Princess Leia (I didn't notice till later that my necklace was backwards...).

I had this idea for a steampunk version of Princess Leia a few years ago, and I'd actually been working on it ever since we found out four years ago we'd be moving to Atlanta (making Dragon Con a possibility for me to attend).  This summer, after officially being done having kids and finally shedding most of the baby weight, I decided it was time to pull the whole thing together in time for DC.  I'd bought the corset and boots, but I made the rest--I used a pattern for the shirt, heavily altered a pattern for the skirt, drew up my own pattern for the functional utility belt and detachable holster, added a Rebel symbol to a pocketwatch, made my own Rebel resin-poured necklace, and made the steampunk gun out of a water gun and a pirate pistol (tutorial for the gun here).

Me as Steampunk Leia.

I was extremely pleased with how the whole thing turned out.  Except maybe for the hair...besides accidentally dyeing it orange the month before (long story), I have super thin, fine hair, but I hated the idea of a wig.  My hair was actually twisted into two steampunk-ish messy buns, but they don't really show up in head-on shots....But the costume, I was enormously proud of.  I intend to continue working on it to wear again next year--and I'm debating wearing it to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens in theaters.  And maybe sometime it'll be see use as a Halloween costume, too. :-)

So those are the five "Halloween" costumes I've most enjoyed wearing.  Next on my list: Lord of the Rings' Eowyn!  What has been your favorite Halloween costume you've worn?  Who would you like to dress up as next?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

District 7: Garlic Herb Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread.

(Want to start with District 1?)

Home of amusingly belligerent victor-turned-ally Johanna Mason, District 7's primary industry is lumber.  Its bread is yet another left un-discussed by Suzanne Collins in the trilogy, so I chose this delicious pull-apart bread--because herbs are like leaves, which are like trees, right? ;-)

District 7: Garlic Herb Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread.

This bread is based on this recipe.

You'll need:
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried yeast granules
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups water, room temperature
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup herbs, chopped (I used basil)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, softened or room temperature
  • 8 oz. shredded cheese (I used an Italian blend)

In your mixing bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar:

Add half the water; mix.  Slowly add the rest of the water while mixing:

You should end up with a nice ball of dough:

Add the olive oil:

If you're kneading it by hand, you may want to move the dough to a floured surface before adding the olive oil.  Knead, or mix by stand mixer (if you're cheating like me), until the dough is smooth and elastic:

Leave the ball of dough in your bowl:

Cover, and let rise about an hour to an hour and a half (until the dough doubles in size):

Use that time while you're waiting to prep your mix-ins--chop those herbs and mince that garlic:

Shred that cheese, too, unless you went the easy route like I did and bought a bag pre-shredded.

So, a word on the herbs: the original recipe called for considerably more herbs than I ended up using.  Due to a variety of unfortunate circumstances that prevented me from buying anything but basil, and then kept me from having time to make the bread until bits of the basil had begun to look, erm, questionable...I ended up with less usable herbs than I would have liked.  I'd recommend using at least a quarter cup, up to a full cup, of the herbs of your choice.  My scant 1/8 cup of basil looks rather sad, and sparse on the finished product....

Good thing I like garlic and cheese better than I like herbs anyway. :-)

Once the dough has doubled in size:

...punch it down:

On a flat work surface, roll out the dough in a large rectangle, to about 1/4" thickness:

My rectangle ended up being about 14" x 17", to give you an idea of the size.  Since you'll be cutting the dough into squares, you want to try to keep the edges as straight as possible--I found that rolling the edges toward the corners helped to keep a regular shape.

Next, spread the butter evenly over the dough:

Sprinkle evenly with garlic:

...and herbs:

Then add an even layer of cheese, going right up to the edges:

Take a look at the loaf tins you'll be baking in, and slice the dough into squares that approximately match the height and width of your tin:

Grease your tins (bottom and sides), then, one at a time, turn it on its end and prop it up by your work surface.  Stack the squares in the tin:

Top with the cheese that inevitably fell off of your squares as you tried to stack them:

You'll fill two loaf tins:

Cover them and let them sit another 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven, and bake at 375*F for 40-50 minutes:

Since I had two loaves, I played with the time a bit--the original recipe called for a 55-minute bake time, but they looked done ("golden brown") long before then, so I took one out at the 42-minute mark and left the other in for the full time:

Left: 55 minutes.  Right: 42 minutes.

Both were fully cooked through and unburnt, but I liked the under-baked one better of the two.  I felt like the other one was a bit overcooked.

Let the loaves rest in the tins for another ten minutes, then remove to serve warm:

Left: 55 minutes.  Right: 42 minutes.

Some of the pieces "pull apart" more easily than others, but each bite has the same garlicky, cheesy, slightly-basil-ly (use more than I did!) goodness:

But don't just take my word for it:

This one was definitely Wil-approved. :-)

For your cut-and-paste convenience:

Garlic Herb Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried yeast granules
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups water, room temperature
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup herbs, chopped (I used basil)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, softened or room temperature
  • 8 oz. shredded cheese (I used an Italian blend)
  1. Mix flour, yeast, salt, and sugar.  Add half the water; mix, slowly adding rest of water.
  2. Add olive oil; mix until dough is smooth and elastic.
  3. Cover dough and let rise 1-1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.
  4. Punch down.  Roll out into large rectangle, to about 1/4" thickness.
  5. Spread with butter; sprinkle evenly with garlic and herbs; layer with cheese, all the way to edges.
  6. Cut into squares, to fit loaf tins.
  7. Grease tins.  One at a time, turn tin on its end; stack squares inside to fill tin.  Top with any loose cheese.  Cover, and let sit for 30 minutes.
  8. Bake at 375*F for 40-50 minutes.  Remove from oven and let rest ten minutes in tins before removing to serve warm.
Easter Eggs

Can you find this week's Easter eggs (references to other fandoms) in the main photo?

There are two this week!  Let me know in the comments if you've caught them. :-)

Ready for the reveal from last week?

If you're a Browncoat, the first one was easy--the "hovercraft" was actually Serenity from Joss Whedon's "Firefly" (in fact, the staging was specifically a reference to the second episode, "Train Job").  The second was a little harder to spot--the syringe at the bottom of the photo is labelled "Prozium", which was the name of the emotion-suppressing drug used in the film Equilibrium (underrated sci-fi film starring Christian Bale, which happens to have one of my two all-time favorite fight sequences--the other is River in the bar in Serenity).  I figured morphlings (District 6 is known for widespread morphling addiction) would be just as likely to reuse needles as drug addicts in our current world. :-/

Let me know in the comments if you catch the Easter eggs this week, or if you try this District 7 bread!  As always, may the odds be ever in your favor! :-)

(Ready for District 8?)

Friday, October 2, 2015

District 6: Lemon, Rosemary, & Thyme Focaccia.

(Want to start with District 1?)

Suzanne Collins only describes five of the twelve iconic district breads, and District 6 is another that she leaves to our imagination.  District 6's primary industry is transportation--trains and hovercrafts.  They're also known for widespread Morphling addiction, as exhibited by the district's victors in the Quarter Quell.  So...not much to go off of to hypothesize what their bread might be I went with this flavorful focaccia.

District 6: Lemon, Rosemary, & Thyme Focaccia.

I made some minor changes (in quantity and method) to this recipe.

You'll need:
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp (for dough) + 1 1/2 Tbsp (for drizzle) olive oil, plus a little extra as needed
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp (for dough) + 1/2 tsp (for drizzle) fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp (for dough) + 1 tsp (for drizzle) fresh thyme, chopped
  • lemon zest, from one small lemon
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • sea salt, to taste

If you're a geeky mom like me, you may also need some helpers:

My helpers, Kaylie & Wil.

Though keeping them from spilling the ingredients and falling off their chair-stools can be a bit of a distraction.  Plus, they're not really all that helpful....

But they're great at "re-ordering" your spices and rearranging fridge magnets (on top of said spices...).

Anyway.  Back to the bread.

Combine the milk and brown sugar and heat to 110-115*F:

The original recipe includes microwave instructions for this step, but I wasn't sure citizens of District 6 would have microwaves, so I went for the more authentic method of heating it on the stovetop.  But if you want to save yourself a few minutes, no Peacekeepers will come after you for cheating with a microwave.

Add the yeast:

Stir to dissolve.  Let sit about five minutes, until it's bubbly; add the tablespoon of olive oil.

While the yeast activates, prepare your herbs and lemon zest.  I use a cheese grater for the zest:

Confession: when it comes to fresh herbs, I approximate because I'm lazy.  Also, I have crappy non-sharp knives, so I don't really "chop" things that are already this small...

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, the rosemary and thyme for the dough, and half the lemon zest:

Mix; then add the yeast/milk mixture and mix until it forms a soft dough; mix (or knead, if you're working by hand) an additional five minutes.

So, I didn't cheat with a microwave, but I totally cheat with my stand mixer, because I haaaaaaate kneading dough by hand.  I always manage to screw it up somehow.  But I love my while I aim to stick with reasonable recipes for these district breads, which can be made by methods likely available to those in each respective district, I'm going to keep using my mixer.  Don't send Peacekeepers.

Once the dough is thoroughly mixed/kneaded, shift it to the side of the bowl and pour a little bit of olive oil into the bottom of the bowl:

Turn the dough until it's lightly greased on every side:

Is it just me, or does this look a bit like a HP mandrake or the Oogie Boogie curled up in my bowl?

Cover; let rise about an hour, until the dough doubles in size:

Once it's doubled in size (I forgot to take a picture), punch the dough down:

Coat the bottom of a small baking dish (I used an 8" x 8") with about a tablespoon of olive oil:

Spread the dough to completely cover the bottom of the dish:

Cover again, and let rise until it doubles in size again (anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes):

While you wait, start preparing your drizzle.  Combine 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of chopped rosemary, 1 teaspoon of chopped thyme, the other half of the lemon zest, and the red pepper flakes:

Again, you can refer to the original recipe for microwave instructions, or you can heat the mixture on the stovetop until it just begins to sizzle:

Then set it aside:

Preheat your oven to 425*F.

Then, poke the dough!

This part's fun.  Use your finger to make indentations roughly an inch deep, about half an inch apart:

Then, use your fingers to smear the drizzle evenly:

Sprinkle it with sea salt to taste, and let it sit another 15 minutes.  Then bake it about 15-25 minutes, until it's golden brown:

Once it's properly golden brown, let it cool for about ten minutes:

You can transfer it to a wire rack until it's ready to serve:

And because I was busy setting up my model train, hovercraft, and Morphling syringe photo props, I totally forgot to take any close-ups of the sliced bread....

...but if you want to see pretty pictures of the finished product, check out the gorgeous photos from the original recipe post.

And for your cut-and-paste convenience:

Lemon, Rosemary, & Thyme Focaccia
  • Dough:
    • 1 cup whole milk
    • 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
    • 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra as needed
    • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
    • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
    • lemon zest, from half of one small lemon
  • Drizzle:
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
    • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
    • lemon zest, from half of one small lemon
    • pinch of red pepper flakes
    • sea salt, to taste
  1. In small saucepan (or microwaveable bowl), combine milk and brown sugar; heat to 110-115*F.  Add yeast; stir to dissolve; let sit five minutes until bubbly.  Add 1 Tbsp olive oil.
  2. In large bowl, combine flour, salt, and rosemary, thyme, and lemon zest for dough.  Mix by hand or by stand mixer (dough hook).  Add yeast/milk mixture; mix until soft dough forms.  Mix an additional five minutes.
  3. Shift dough to side of bowl; pour a little olive oil into bottom of bowl; turn dough to lightly grease on all sides.  Cover; let rise one hour (until it doubles in size).
  4. Punch risen dough down.  Coat bottom of 8" x 8" baking dish in olive oil.  Spread dough evenly to cover bottom of baking dish.  Cover; let rise until it doubles in size (20-60 minutes).
  5. Combine drizzle ingredients, minus sea salt.  Heat (on stovetop or in microwave), and set aside.
  6. Preheat oven to 425*F.
  7. Use fingers to make indentations, about 1" deep and 1/2" apart, all over surface of dough.  Spread drizzle evenly over dough, and sprinkle with sea salt.  Let sit 15 minutes.
  8. Bake 15-25 minutes, until golden brown.  Let cool 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack until ready to serve.
Easter Eggs

As usual, I've hidden a couple references to other fandoms in this week's main photo.  Can you spot them?

There are two this week.  Let me know in the comments if you catch them!

Ready for the reveal from last time?  (Sorry to keep you hanging for so long--it's been a while since I posted District 5!!)  Here it is!

ONE-POINT-TWENTY-ONE GIGAWATTS?!?  If you don't hear that in Doc Brown's voice, you really need to take a break from the internet and catch up on Back to the Future (especially with October 21, 2015--the day Doc and Marty travel to in the future--only a few weeks away!).  Great scott!

Let me know in the comments if you catch this week's Easter eggs, or if you try you hand at this District 6 focaccia!  As always, may the odds be ever in your favor! :-)

(Ready for District 7?)