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11  Lina Inverse from Slayers in Halloween Costumes by Vallyncia on: November 02, 2010 09:53:52 AM
This is my first attempt at both sewing anything and making a complicated Halloween costume, so it's a little rough. However, overall I'm pretty proud of it Smiley
The character is from a Japanese anime, and here is a little write-up about her:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lina_Inverse
And...here's my costume!

I sewed everything, except the shoulder pads, obviously. Those were made with paper mache and Christmas ornaments. Oh, and I didn't make the gloves, boots, belt or the necklace. I did make the bauble on the belt and the headband, though. And everything else, though, from hot pink pants to terrible yellow undies, was all me!

Another shot from a different angle, sans boots.
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12  Legend Of Zelda (Link) costume for my stepson in Halloween Costumes by Vallyncia on: October 26, 2010 01:48:09 PM
I'm not totally sure where this post should go, but here is my stepson's Halloween costume for the year. He's Link, from the Legend of Zelda. It's a pretty basic costume and I didn't sew all of it (the long sleeved shirt is still a little beyond me) but as it's my first sewing project I'm pretty proud of it. Plus, he loves it, so seeing the big grin on his face as he wears it is pretty rewarding.

I made the tunic and pants without a pattern; I just used an old T-shirt and pair of sweat pants of his and traced them onto the material, then cut, sewed, and prayed it would work! Thankfully it did, although I'm hoping next year I will be able to make something a little fancier.
The hat was super easy, we just measured around his head and then sewed the cloth together to make a little point. Soooo cute!
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13  Chocolate Zucchini Brownies with Cream Cheese Icing in Dessert by Vallyncia on: September 22, 2010 04:52:15 PM

Okay, so this recipe is technically for chocolate-zucchini cake, but that is NOT what it tastes like.
This is the recipe (taken from http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2004/04/chocolate_zucchini_cake.php)

Chocolate & Zucchini Cake (BROWNIES!!)

- 240 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 60 grams (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 180 grams (1 scant cup) light brown sugar (I use unrefined cane sugar)
- 115 grams (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, or 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules or 2 tablespoons strong cooled coffee -- this is just to deepen the chocolate flavor, you won't taste it in the finished product
- 3 large eggs
- 350 grams (2 cups) unpeeled grated zucchini, from about 1 1/2 medium zucchini
- 160 grams (1 cup) good-quality bittersweet chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate
- Confectioner's sugar (optional)

Serves 12.

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Grease a 25-cm (10-inch) round springform pan or a 22-cm (8 1/2-inch) square pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a mixer (or by hand in a large mixing bowl), beat the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the vanilla, coffee, and eggs, mixing well between each addition.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the zucchini, chocolate chips, and about a third of the flour mixture, making sure the zucchini strands are well coated and not clumping too much.

Add the rest of the flour mixture into the egg batter. Mix until just combined; the batter will be thick.

Fold the zucchini mixture into the batter, and blend with a spatula without overmixing. Pour into the prepared cake pan, and level the surface.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer onto a rack to cool for 10 minutes, run a knife around the pan to loosen, and unclasp the sides of the pan. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar or a chocolate glaze if desired.

Now, I did not desire a glaze. I desired frosting, so I made cream cheese icing.
Very simple, just 1 pkg cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, 1 cup icing sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla. Mix with electric beater (if you have it) or get a great arm workout Smiley
Wait until cake cools, ice, and devour. You might find it pretty rich, so small pieces are a good idea...well, they can be, anyway.
Also, this cake doesn't make a lot, so you are probably better off using a smaller pan for a nicer look end result. Mine kind of ended up looking a bit weak.
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14  Fresh, Homemade Salsa! in Recipes and Cooking Tips by Vallyncia on: September 21, 2010 12:06:57 PM
I grew tomatoes and jalapenos this year, so of course I needed to try making my own homemade salsa.
It's super easy and super delicious! The only tricky part is getting the right ratios, but the nice thing about salsa is that you can always add more of whatever is missing without changing the quality of the product.

Ingrediants (makes about 2 cups of salsa):
Tomatoes (3 large, very ripe)
Onion (1/2 cup)
Garlic (2-3 cloves, depending on how much you love garlic)
Jalapenos (1-3, I'd say each jalapeno takes it up a notch!)
Cilantro (3 tablespoons after chopping; it's quite a bit of fresh cilantro)
Fresh squeezed lime juice (I use about half a lime)

Instructions:
Dice onion and garlic into fine pieces, then run a couple cups of boiling water over them (I put the garlic and onion on a cloth in a pasta strainer to do this). I then let them cool while I chop everything else.
Then, peel and seed the tomatoes. It's much easier to do this with very ripe tomatoes. Dice into small pieces.
Dice jalapenos, keeping the seeds if you like it hot!!!
Chop the cilantro - just the leaves, not the stems. This can take awhile, lol, but it's worth it.
Mix everything together, stir it up, and squeeze the lime juice.

I usually let it sit for a day for all the flavours to fully develop. It's a good idea to use an airtight container as this recipe is pretty potent smelling.

Then, add some yummy tortilla chips (that's my next project!) and enjoy!

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15  Child's Apron in Clothing for Kids: Completed Projects by Vallyncia on: August 25, 2010 04:10:59 PM
I just wanted to post a picture of the apron my friend and I made for my son last spring. She did most of the sewing (it was more like a live action tutorial for me!) but it did teach me a lot about sewing and instilled in me a desire to learn for myself. Also, she did an awesome job of turning a basic Spiderman pillowcase into a sweet apron for my little master baker (his words, not mine, lol)

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16  FONDUE! in Recipes and Cooking Tips by Vallyncia on: August 25, 2010 04:01:27 PM
We hosted our first fondue party the other night and it was AWESOME and much easier than I had expected.
Obviously the big thing was having a fondue pot. We are lucky and were given a really nice cast-iron pot by a friend of mine, so we had the option of doing either an oil or cheese fondue. Oil fondues are apparently only possible in heavy duty fondue pots, as the heat of the oil will cause the weaker ceramic ones to crack and pour hot oil everyone (which is something that I know I never want to happen at a dinner party!)

I prepped three dips ahead of time using plain yogurt, sour cream, and mayo as bases and spicing them up with horseradish, chili sauce, and making one just plain ol' tzaziki, which turned out to be the most awesome of them all. Instead of making it with just yogurt, cukes, garlic, and a bit of lemon, I added sour cream to thicken, chopped the cukes instead of shredding (this also cuts down on the liquid in the dip) and added green onions, onion powder, and a lots of fresh crushed garlic. MMMMMMMMMM! Allowing the dips to sit in the fridge for a couple hours really brought out the flavours.
http://www.bestfondue.com/
Check out that site for some great dip recipes!
Then we took chicken breast, sirloin steak, and pork loin, chopped it up into manageable cubes, and set it all out on the table. We added some sides (baked brie with onions and port, french bread, garden salad, and fried zucchini with parmesean) and then heated the oil on the stove until it was almost ready to bubble. Then my partner carried the oil very carefully to the table where we had a ceramic tile waiting, lit the heat source (we used gel fuel, apparently it's MUCH safer than liquid, but also much more expensive) and away we went! It was a little bubbly at first and the meat really sizzled, but after about five minutes the oil loses a fair bit of heat, so you really don't want to wait to long to start the fondue-ing!

It was an awesome time, though, and if you have the fondue pot it's actually a pretty cheap and easy way to throw a great dinner party.
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