Caffeinated and Craf-TAY

Hi hi hi. It’s been a while. As usual. My b. I’ve been putting my time to good use visiting Ann Arbor and wasting my time at home scouring Pinterest for ideas for the house I’ll be renting this August with some other newbie grad students like me.

The Pinterest thing has gotten so bad that, today, I decided I’m not allowed to pin any more crafts until I actually make some that are already pinned. Add iced coffee and wearing my pajamas until 4 in the afternoon and BAM! Craft time.

My friend Kathrine, who used to drink tea with me on a regular basis when we shared a flat in London, originally told me about this idea. Teacup candles are a fusion of two of my favorite things, so I started gathering stuff to make them a little while ago. This morning the caffeine decided the candles would be a good craft to knock off my list. A few weeks ago I thrifted a 3 white teacups, grabbed some broken crayons from the teacher I worked for this past year, and some old, mangy looking candles from home. I hot glued twine around each teacup to give ’em some more character, since they weren’t vintage-y cute with fancy gold leafing and intricate flowers, which turned out pretty well [the over all color scheme for my room will be pastels – blue, green, and teal – with more neutral tones like twine and burlap to balance it out].

The tutorial I kind-of followed called for wax flakes and special dye and candle scent. In no world would I spend money on things like that when I can get them fo’ free. I just chunked the old candles from home [one was scented already] and added a few bits of crayon for color.

please feel free to laugh at my makeshift, janky double-boiler. it worked, and that’s all that matters!

The crayon went a lot farther than I thought it’d go, so before committing to a color without testing what it looks like as a solid, I put a little white wax on the end of my paint stir and dipped and dried it repeatedly until I got an idea of the color I wanted.

I won’t insult you and tell you every step of the process, but here’s a comparison of the hot wax to finished product:

The skylight reflected in the hot wax. Accidentally awesome.

The finished product.

Me like. The idea of making the decorations for my bedroom appeals so much more to me than buying things that look nice but have no personal touch.

One craft down, at least 4 more to go.

P(yum)pkins, part 1.

Pumpkin. Bright. Sweet. Some kind of wonderful. With sweet stuff or in savory stuff. YUM. Even the guts are fun to play with. Anyway, I don’t know how different canned pumpkin from the store is from fresh pumpkin you puree yourself and pop in the freezer, but I like to think that it’s yummier when it’s DIY.

Roasting pumpkins is simple yet somewhat time consuming, but it’s downright fun if you like to be elbow deep in pumpkin guts and seeds. So if you’ve got a lazy Sunday, why not revisit the squeal-inducing childhood indulgence of squishing pumpkin guts in your hands? [No one else was home while I did this, and I couldn’t help but feel a little like a mad scientist and fill the house with bellowing laugh…muahahahahahaha!]…we’ll come back to the seeds another day.

Roasting pie pumpkins (the lil guys) is just like roasting any other kind of squash.

Slice that sucker in half. Takes some serious elbow grease, at least if you’re like me and have toothpicks for arms.

Scoop out all the seeds (save these little dudes in a bowl and soak in water for later) and guts with a spoon.

Pop those pumpkin halves face down in a big ol’ casserole dish and add about a 1/4 inch of water. I can’t help but think the halves together kinda look like a baby’s tush – adorbz. Anyway, I snap off the stems so the halves aren’t quite so tight a fit, but if the pan you’ve got is on the smaller side, you can cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces, just keep an eye on it because it won’t take as long to roast. When that’s all taken care of, it takes about 45 minutes to an hour at 350 F. Although if you’re roasting more than one pumpkin at a time, it might take longer.

While the pumpkins are baking, go ahead and separate the seeds from the stringy bits, rinse well, and spread ’em out on some tea towels to dry thoroughly for a day or two. If they’re not completely dry when it’s roasting time, they won’t get crispy like they’re supposed to. Avoid drying them on paper towels at all costs – they stick to the seeds when they’re dry, and no one wants to munch on roasted paper towels.

When the pumpkin’s done, it should be soft enough to pierce the skin with a fork. Unfortunately, sometimes the skin can be pretty stubborn – the smallest of the pumpkins I did this time had an almost brittle skin. When I took a fork to it after 45 minutes, it didn’t feel done at all. After an hour, I decided to try to use my toothpick arms again and take a running start to jab with a little more might. It turned out to be done on the inside, even though the skin was brittle and shell-like. What the what? No fair.

After the cooking part is finished and your pumpkins have cooled a bit, remove the skins and puree the flesh in a food processor or blender until smooth. Three pie pumpkins to yielded approx. 2 quarts. It all depends on the size of yo squash.

Divvy it up into whatever portions you’d like (I measure 1 and 2 cup amounts in tupperware containers) and toss it in the freezer. Fresh punkin puree allllll winter long. [Consider this foreshadowing for future kitchen (mis)adventures].

Verdict? Triumph. [a wonderfully messy one]