Posts Tagged ‘halloween’

DIY Cat Mask Halloween Costume – Fits All

DIY-Cat-Mask-Title Time to bust out your craft supplies because it’s HALLOWEEN! After much back and forth with J, she finally settled on a costume…a black cat. She was also very specific in her requirements for the costume: pink collar with crystals, black paws with white pads, white whiskers on a black mask and a white patch on her chest. While you may commend her for her specificity since she’s only 4 1/2, I can’t give her much credit. There is a picture collage of her first year of life hanging in her room. In it is her first Halloween costume. Guess what it is? Yup.

I decided to make the mask and a few other parts of her costume. I came up with this mask to avoid putting paint on her face. Of course, if your kid doesn’t like wearing masks, then you’ll need a new plan…or costume.

J also decided that I need to be a black cat too. BONUS: The pattern fit my face too, with a slight increase the size of the eye holes. Easy as long as you’re not scissor-phobic. A few extra snips and you should be able to see out of the mask.

Here is what you’ll need to make the mask:

  • Cat mask pattern (download and print the PDF)
  • Black felt (a felt square from the craft store is more than you need)
  • White pipe cleaners (minimum 4)
  • Black elastic
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins (optional, but really helpful)
  • Needle and thread (optional, but again, helpful)

DIY-Cat-Mask-Pattern-PinnedPrint out the cat mask pattern at 100%. I included a 1″ line in case you’re not sure if the pattern is the correct size when printed. The pattern is HALF of the mask. Cut it out of the paper and don’t forget to cut out the eye holes. Fold your felt piece in half and place the pattern on it, with the side where I wrote “fold” lined up over the fold.

The little circle on the pattern indicates where to attach your elastic. We’ll get to that in a minute.

Here’s where the pins come in very handy. Pin around the pattern so it won’t slip while you’re cutting it.

Cut around the outside of the mask. Then cut out the eye holes. This part is a little tricky, but you can handle it! If you mess up, you probably have enough black felt to try one more time.

DIY - Cut out black felt mask

After the felt is cut, hold it up to your child’s face (or your own) and make sure they can see and breath.

Time for the big guns, err, hot glue gun. Fold your pipe cleaners in half and place them on the mask approximately where you want them. I opted for symmetry but you may not be so type-A.

Glue the folded end of the pipe cleaner to the mask. Repeat for all of the whiskers. Once the glue is dry you need to adhere the whiskers to the outer edges of the mask, otherwise they will bop around, sag, and generally look bad. Glue them to the side of the mask or tack them with the needle and thread. Either way will work. I tacked J’s mask since it was the first one I made. I made mine afterwards and used glue because I was getting lazy.

Whiskers glued onto felt mask

This is my mask. Look closely on the left side and you’ll see that I glued the whiskers to the edge of the mask.

IMPORTANT!! Check the length of the whiskers. Cut them if need be. Then DON’T SKIP THIS STEP. Put a small bead of hot glue at the cut end of each whisker so that the wire isn’t so sharp and pokey. Once the glue has cooled slightly, use your finger to smoosh it into the wire. Whiskers are not weapons!

Close up of end of whisker with glue

Add glue to the cut end of each whisker to avoid injury!

Almost done! Grab your elastic and pin it to the mask. Use the circle on the pattern for a point of reference. Again, straight pins will come in handy but not absolutely necessary. Use a safety pin if you have one. Adjust the length of the elastic as needed to fit comfortably around your child’s head.

DIY Cat Mask

I sewed the elastic to the mask to make sure it wouldn’t come apart when we went to Brick-or-Treat at Legoland. If you’re in a hurry, you could use hot glue. By the way, I’m a hot mess when it comes to hot glue. I burned myself several times making the mask and cat gloves.

DIY Cat Mask Full Costume

Be still my heart! October 2011 vs October 2015.

Anyhoo, J absolutely loves her mask and the other pieces of her costume that I made and bought. In fact, she helped make her collar. She meticulously lined up all of the crystals and glued them individually. The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree!

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing & Spider Cookie Details

Once you’ve made your sugar cookies, it’s time to decorate! As I mentioned in my sugar cookie recipe post, you can make the cookies ahead of time and store them in an air-tight container for a week or so or freeze them. I’ve also frozen the dough and thawed overnight in the refrigerator.

If you’re not familiar with royal icing, it’s pretty neat! It dries hard so you can stack decorated cookies or package individually and not worry about the decoration getting smooshed. In terms of flavor, of course, a butter-based frosting would be tastier, but then I don’t think it would be considered icing…that’s why it’s called frosting. Anyway, I think the cookie and icing together tastes pretty good. Alone, the flavor of the icing just tastes like sugar.


Last year, Bridget from Bake at 350 said my spider cookie was “adorable”. SQUEEE!!!!!

I learned everything I ever wanted to know about royal icing from Bake at 350. Bridget’s tutorial is here. I love her cookie designs and last year I even sent her a picture of the spider cookies I made (inspired by her design). She wrote me back and said my cookies were adorable. I’m officially **star struck**. :D

The recipe for royal icing is pretty simple. Again, I use organic ingredients whenever possible so in this case the powdered sugar and corn syrup that I use are organic. I won’t go into the instructions for making the icing because Bridget does such a great job. Here’s her royal icing tutorial link again.

The icing also freezes well, so if you have leftovers, don’t pitch it. It keeps for a couple months and is great to have on hand when your preschooler demands “fancy cookies.”

Halloween Spider Cookies 2014This year’s spider cookies were decorated in two evenings. The first night I covered each cookie with white royal icing and then orange flat dots. I let them dry overnight.

The second night is when I added the web and spider. I used a number 2 round tip on a tube of store-bought black icing for the web and legs. Yes, I could make my own black icing but it takes a disgusting amount of food coloring and in this case ignorance is bliss. I don’t want to think about what goes into making it black so I just unscrew the cap and I’m none the wiser.

While a number 1 round tip would make a more delicate web, I must admit that my hand cramps up way too much when using this tip. I made spider man cookies earlier this year with the small tip and thank god I only made a dozen or so. My hand felt like it had been squashed under a steam roller when I was done decorating.

To make the spider’s body I use a number 6 round tip and squeeze a blob of icing onto the cookie. Dip your finger in water (it should be damp, not drippy) and gently pat the black blob until it looks like a circle. You can do the same with the spider’s legs if the end of the icing pokes up.

Finally, I take two white sprinkles and with (clean) tweezers, I carefully place them into the spider’s body. Creepy and cute at the same time!

DIY Sugar Cookies – Better Than Store-Bought!

Cookie_CollageI’ve been making sugar cookies for a few years now, but only for special occasions. This means I don’t make them all the time and I get a little rusty, but it’s kind of like riding a bike…once you do it you don’t forget how…or at least you remember most of what needs to be done.

I don’t take credit for any of my designs. I’m good at copying so when the need for fancy cookies arises, I search the internet for inspiration and then I copy as best I can. This means that you, yes – YOU – can make these cookies too! I’m a self-taught baker and cook so I really believe anyone can do this with a little practice and determination.

First off, the sugar cookie recipe. This is the only recipe I use, and I swear by it (and so does everyone that eats my cookies)! It’s from Sweetapolita and includes instructions for making cookie pops. I started out by making pops, but then got lazy and realized people were as equally impressed by a decorated cookie as there were by a decorated cookie on a stick. Click here for the original recipe or keep scrolling to see my version at the bottom of this page. It includes my shortcuts and changes as well as some other tips. Most importantly, I cut the recipe in half because my stand mixer almost jumped off my counter the first time I made the recipe. The dough climbed up my mixer attachment and it was a mess!

The recipe and tips for decorating with royal icing are in my next post.

I don’t deviate from the ingredients in the recipe! And, I always freeze for 10 minutes before baking. If you don’t, well…ever see this picture on the interwebz? That really will be your cookies if you don’t freeze your cut dough shapes before baking!

Sugar Cookie Fail

The other change that I make is rolling the dough to 5/8″ thick instead of 1/4″. You will need (clean) dowels for this. I love the taste of the cookie and I guess I like a slightly larger cookie to icing ratio. Of course, by rolling thicker cookies you won’t yield quite as many per batch as Sweetapolita does. The other thing I do is use a postal scale to precisely measure the weights (in grams) of all of my ingredients. This seems pretty anal, but perfection does require a little extra effort. ;) If you don’t have a postal scale (really, who does?) then a reliable kitchen scale will work. You can get one here.

If you get hooked into cookie making, I suggest buying a bunch of cookie cutters. You will invariably need to buy more, but something like Wilton’s 101-Piece Cookie Cutter Set will get you off to a great start.

As I say with all of my recipes, I prefer to use organic ingredients whenever possible. Of course, substitute for conventional ingredients so you can get your daily dose of GMOs (wink wink).

Sugar Cookies - Better Than Store-Bought!
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: snack, dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 18 - 20 cookies
  • 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose organic flour, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon (4 g) salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted organic butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 g) organic sugar
  • 1 large organic egg, cold
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract - organic
  • ⅛ teaspoon pure lemon extract - organic
  1. In large bowl, sift together flour and salt. Set aside.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes. Beat in egg.
  3. Add vanilla and lemon extract and mix until incorporated.
  4. Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. *Do not overmix! Once the dough comes away from the side of the bowl, turn off the mixer.
  5. Remove ½ of dough from bowl, make a ball, and place on a large piece of plastic wrap on counter. Make a disc about 2" thick and cover with the plastic wrap. Repeat with 2nd half of dough. Chill both discs of dough for about 45 minutes in the refrigerator.
  6. Remove discs and let sit on the counter for 10 minutes. This softens the dough enough to make it easy to roll, but still keeping it cold. If you are super strong (not me), go ahead and roll it right out of the refrigerator. I cannot seem to do this successfully!
  7. Place disc on top of a large piece of parchment paper. I put the parchment on a large cutting board on top of our kitchen table. We have tall counters and I get better rolling leverage when placed on the table which is shorter than our counters. Place two ⅝" wooden dowels on either side of your dough, then another sheet of parchment paper.
  8. Roll dough so it's even with the dowels. You should not see any speed bumps in the dough. If you do, keep rolling until it's entirely smooth and an even thickness.
  9. Cut your shapes and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet that will fit in your freezer. Re-roll excess dough. Waste not want not! Place the cut shapes in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  10. Preheat your oven to 350° F. I find that by the time my oven is hot, my cookies are semi-frozen.
  11. Remove cookies from freezer and place on another parchment (or silpat) lined cookie sheet. Place cookies at least 1" (one inch) away from each other and away from the edge of the cookie sheet.
  12. Bake 14 - 16 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Sometimes the edges of my cookies do not brown, but the bottoms do. It may take a little trial and error to find the right baking time.
  13. Cool sheets on wire racks for 10 minutes, then gently remove cookies and place on wire racks to finish cooling.
  14. Cookies can be made ahead of time (without decorating) as long as they are stored at room temperature in an airtight container. They will last 2 weeks. You can also freeze them.


Looking for the royal icing recipe? Click the link.

Halloween Tricks and Treats – Jake and the Neverland Pirates Costumes

Halloween Jake Neverland Pirates CostumesIt’s Izzy, the Pirate Princess and Jake…sort of…well at least my attempt at the three characters from Disney’s Jake and the Neverland Pirates cartoon.

So, of course, J decided to be the Pirate Princess for Halloween and there are no ready-made costumes of this character from the show. I finally sucked it up and figured out how to use the sewing machine that I borrowed from Curt’s aunt almost a year ago. That was after I hand stitched  her vest and realized it would be Christmas time before I would finish the rest of her ensemble plus my husband’s vest.

I made the Pirate Princess costume without a pattern. I made her vest, hat and skirt. I didn’t make J’s shirt or mine (we match!). I had a good friend make them. She has an adorable Etsy shop and custom made them for me.

For the Pirate Princess hat, I used these instructions. The directions say to use construction paper but I used felt. I hand stitched everything and it took me a few hours.

Pirate Princess Tricorn Hat Inside

Click for a larger image.

Pirate Princess Tricorn Hat Outside

Click for a larger image.

I made the vest without a pattern, but it was pretty simple. I measured J’s chest and then cut out two rectangles. I hemmed the edges (by hand) and attached the gold ribbon on the front. My intention was to cut the pieces so I could attach velcro on the back to secure it. Well, when I held the vest up to her after the two pieces were attached, it was clear that there wasn’t enough fabric in the back to overlap for the velcro. Oops! Luckily the pieces just fit together at the edges so I used hook and eye closures to make it work. After ensuring that it fit correctly, I sewed the rick rack around the purple vest.

Pirate Princess Vest

I made the skirt without a pattern too, although if I really tried, I probably could have found one. But, I didn’t. I measured the waistband of J’s pants and cut a “U” shape out of purple fabric. The top of the “U” was pretty wide, I angled the sides so they weren’t straight up and down. I hemmed the top of the skirt and then realized I had to make a ruffle around the skirt. I found an easy way to do this with the sewing machine (remember, I just figured out how to use the thing…the first few times I forgot to lower the foot and that was a disaster). I sewed the ruffle around the U shape and with some trial and error was able to add velcro and another hook closure to keep it on her.

Pirate Princess SkirtPirate Princess Skirt

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Pirate PrincessI also made a black belt out of felt with a velcro closure at the back. The gold buckle is faked out with yellow felt.

Luck would have it that I bought J a pair of purple boots last winter. With black leggings under the skirt and my custom made pink shirt her costume is complete!

Whew, and now all we need is my husband’s and my costume. Eek!

Curt’s Jake vest was a bit of a challenge to make. Do I even need to mention that they don’t make adult size Jake costumes? I did find one…it was a mascot and came complete with a giant head. That wouldn’t do! A lot of Google searching finally led me to a Jake vest pattern – size 4 toddler. Ack! Thank god felt was on sale at JoAnn’s for $3.00 a yard because I went through a lot of trial and error to get the proportions correct. I cut up a new t-shirt (yes, new t-shirt purchased cheaply at Target) and also bought blue sweat pants. I wasn’t counting on 80-ish degree weather on the day we had our Halloween  party so when it was time to put on the costume, Curt came out wearing shorts. At least he was Jake from the waist up! A long strip of red felt for the headband completed his outfit.

My costume was last on the list. Izzy’s costume was the easiest to make which was good because I was running out of time and energy to spend on making costumes. Initially J said I should be Izzy the pirate princess, but, uh no thanks…don’t need to sew another vest and skirt!

Izzy Pixie Dust PouchI made the pixie dust necklace from felt and brown leather cord (also used on Jake’s t-shirt). I cut a small circle out of cardboard and a larger circle out of the felt. I glued the cardboard to the center of the felt. When it was dry, I gathered the felt around the cardboard to make a pouch. I wrapped the leather cord around it several times and then tied the ends to make a necklace. It didn’t lay flat so I sewed the cord to the top of the pouch to fix it.

I attempted to hem the pink fabric that I tied around my head for the scarf, but as you can see from the picture below, that was a total fail. What pirate hems their scarf anyway?!Bad stitches

I already own blue leggings so the last piece of the puzzle was boots and the earrings. I went into my closet to get my brown boots and then I remembered, I don’t own any! So to stay true to my costume (and give myself an excuse to by new shoes), I hopped online and ordered these beautiful babies…

I also ordered clip on hoops since I don’t wear earrings.

And there you have the whole ensemble – err, all three of them!

Pumpkin Pie Minis Recipe…Because Everything Is Adorable When It’s Bite-Sized

This is Bakerella’s picture – not mine!! Beautiful pumpkin shaped mini-pies.

It’s fall (well, not quite here in Southern California, so let’s just pretend) and you know what that means…pumpkin time!! J was nagging at me a couple weeks ago to make her a pumpkin pie. She’s not yet four so cut her some slack. (Spend some time with a preschooler and you’ll understand Freud’s concept of “id”…they’re walking talking examples of this!) Not wanting to cook an entire pumpkin pie, I started searching for alternative recipes and found Bakerella’s Pumpkin Pie Bites recipe. My first attempt was ho-hum but my next attempt was a winner! I tweaked it slightly and the recipe is listed below. I incorporated it into my Halloween Party spread and I may even make them for Thanksgiving. Although, Curt says he prefers traditional pie, so we’ll see.

Of course, I didn’t take any pictures of my pies so you’ll just have to use your imagination and reference Bakerella’s page until I make them again.

In all of my cooking, I use organic ingredients whenever possible, but you can also swap for the conventional counterpart.

Pumpkin Pie Minis


Pie dough – enough for one covered pie (2 crusts). I made mine from scratch, but you can also use pre-made refrigerated dough.

8 oz organic cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup organic sugar
14 oz (1 can) organic canned pumpkin (*sooooo…I just noticed that Bakerella’s recipe doesn’t say 1 CAN, it says 1 CUP…well, mine are real pumpkin-y!)
3 organic eggs
1 teaspoon organic vanilla
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3″ round cookie cutter

Whipped Cream (I stabilize mine for displaying at parties)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
Use the cookie cutter to cut 24 discs (12 from each pie crust). If using refrigerated dough, you will need to roll the dough thinner than it comes out of the package.
Press dough into a 24 cup mini muffin tray. Make sure there is a little bit of dough overlapping outside of each pie. It makes it easier to get them out of the muffin tin.
Brush egg white from one egg to the top edges of each pie. (I didn’t do this and my pies didn’t get that nicely browned hue. They still tasted great!)
Mix cream cheese and sugar together until well-blended. If you don’t do this, you’ll have little white blobs of cream cheese throughout the filling.
Add canned pumpkin, remaining 2 eggs, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice together until thoroughly combined.
Spoon mixture into each pie crust.
Bake for 15 – 18 minutes.
Remove pies to cool.

Once cooled, it’s a little tricky to get them out of the muffin tin. I wiggled the edges of the crust and used a very small spatula to remove the pies. (It was the spatula that came with my mini-Cuisinart.)

Add whipped cream to each pie just before serving, or if you want to do ahead, use stabilized whipped cream. I put mine in a zip top bag and cut a small hole in the corner so I could pipe a circle on top of each pie.

Makes 24 pies. Keep refrigerated.


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