Baby Blanket Time!

When you hit the your late twenties/early thirties, you may notice this phenomenon of all your friends having babies.  Sometimes, it really feels like all of them.  I’m a crocheter, and I like to make gifts for my friends, I feel like it’s more personal. I can’t commit to making a blanket for every baby, blankets take a long time (I have a friend who knits a blanket for each baby born in her group of friends – she cray cray).  Usually, I make a baby hat.  Hats are quick (especially baby hats!) and easy and super cute.  But for a few special friends and/or relatives, I do go all out and crochet a blanket.

This year, I took my first few steps into designing my own patterns. I created this graph for a Legend of Zelda baby blanket.  The graph shows one half of the design.  The other half is a mirror image of what is in the graph.  I did originally start out with a full-image graph, but found it too difficult to remember where I was, and which direction I was going!  Since both sides are the same, I found it much easier to repeat the graph backwards.

Triforce with Carter

I worked this blanket it single crochet, but half double crochet would also work!  When changing colors, I left both yarns attached, and ran the other yarn through the middle of the stitches.  The back side isn’t quite as nice as the front side, but I wanted to make sure there were no loose strings for baby’s fingers to catch on.

I also allowed for a border around the graph, but that’s up to you!

For just the graph: Start with a chain 71.

R1 – single crochet in second stitch from loop, 1 sc in each stitch across, changing colors where indicated in the graph.

R2-44, 1 sc in each stitch across, changing colors where indicated in the graph.

Triforce Graph

I also made some blankets using graphs I found of Ravelry!

Thanks to Ahooka Migurumi for sharing this Star Wars blanket pattern.

Star Wars blanket

 

Thanks also to kejsarinna Astrid for sharing this TARDIS blanket graph.  Note that this links to a website in Swedish, but the graphs are easily viewable and downloadable!

(pics to come)

Happy Birthday Harry, 2016

Another year, another party!  We repeated a couple of our crafts this year, since we had some leftover supplies, but we had some great new ones too!

We have a new addition (or maybe edition… since we’re a library… book jokes, I know, terrible) to our library family this year: Norbert the Norwegi-no! the Bearded Dragon. Norbert (named of course for the dragon that Hagrid hatches in Philosopher’s Stone) hadn’t been sorted yet, so we thought we’d let him try on some house colors and see where he felt most at home.

harry-norbert

He liked Slytherin.  He’s a reptile, I guess it was to be expected.

Moving Pictures

One of the most striking parts of the Harry Potter world is, no doubt, the moving pictures. This year, we created a “Have Seen This Wizard?” sign using a a big piece of thick bristol board, along with a variety of hand-held props.  We used the “boomerang” app to make quick little loops, and voilà!  Wanted posters.  (Note: in Instagram, we were able to trim the videos around the poster, so you couldn’t see our legs, but wordpress won’t embed Instagram videos – can’t win ’em all!!)

video-1470339797
video-1470339851
video-1470339866

 

Flying Key Chains

image1Think back to Philosopher’s Stone, when Harry, Ron and Hermione must find the right flying key to get through to the next challenge (this would be after the Devil’s Snare but before the Wizard’s Chess match).  I was able to find the cutest little key charms on Amazon, and bought a whole whack of empty key rings.  We used some needle-nose pliers to attach the charms to the rings.  Surprisingly, this was the hardest part of our prep. Once we had them attached, we provided a variety of things: pipe cleaners and craft wire, craft petals and feathers, to create the img_1782wings and let the kids get imaginative.  Some of the kids preferred to make a flying key necklace, which was great, since it removed the step of attaching the key ring!

 

 

Whomping Willows

Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that make just THE BEST crafts.  For these guys, all you need is a paper bag and a pair of scissors!  Well… and a few other bits to jazz them up – but that part is optional.

Paper bag Whomping Willow

Quidditch

Always fun.  This is a picture from my “Quidditch for Teens” program.  I always like to do separate programs for kids and teens, so that the teens can get a bit more aggressive.  This year we had a small group, and played four on four. I was never athletic. I hated team sports with such a passion. I was so afraid of being the worst person there that I refused to try anything.  There is no worst in Quidditch.  The added bonus of a broom between your legs means that no one will look coordinated, no one will not look silly. It’s amazing how quickly we can move from absolute anxiety over “sports” to absolute hilarity over running around with a broom between your legs trying to throw a half-deflated red ball.

 

Triwizard Maze

img_1343Handy, we are not.  This year, for added fun, we built a maze!  It was… not so successful.  We built the structure out of 1x2s and 2x2s – we tried to seat them right into the ground, but the ground was dry and parched and did not want to give at all.  We made the walls out of plastic table cloths from the dollar store – in house colors of course!  The bit we really, really didn’t anticipate: the wind.  It wasn’t particularly windy, but even a slight breeze img_1303threatened to pick the whole maze up and blow it away.  In any case, with a lot (and I mean a LOT) of duct tape, staples, sweat and tearsimg_1309 we made a small maze.  The kids loved it!  Even the older kids, who ran through it in 2 seconds, loved to run back through, and find all the monsters hidden within!  I guess it just goes to show: kids and adults have very different eyes.

  

DecorHarry Potter stuff

 

I have a lot of Harry Potter stuff… some might say a ridiculous amount.  But hey, I make good use of it!

Harry Potter stuffimg_1284

img_1287

Oh yeah!  What do you do with all the balloons left over after a wedding shower?  Make Hedwigs of course!!
img_1296

Harry Potter Treats!

This summer at the library’s Harry Potter birthday party, we feasted on some Harry Potter themed snacks.  Offering food at a public program can be tricky.  There are a lot of allergies and other dietary requirements out there, so be very careful about what you’re putting in your goodies.  Obviously nuts are a big no-no, but some things you might not think of: gelatin for example. Gelatin is usually made from animal bi-products so vegetarians/vegans/kosher/halal/etc. cannot eat it.  (Be advised: Maynards candy (like Swedish Berries) does not use gelatin, so these are OK!).  It might seem obvious, but it wasn’t something I’d ever thought of until someone asked me “Is there gelatin in this?”  I try to be as careful as I can, and always keep a list of ingredients on-hand just in case.

I’m writing this up waaaaay late, so I don’t have any pictures.  I will add them later if I can 🙂

Anywho.  Thanks so much to this BuzzFeed list, for getting me started on my Harry Potter bake-a-thon.  I made:

Pumpkin Pasties

  • I had definitely never worked with pumpkin before.  NOT a fan of pumpkin pie.  Or pumpkin spice anything.  Booo-urns to all fall things that are pumpkin spice.  I used this recipe to make my pumpkin pasties.  I made the dough and filling by hand.  Pretty sure I ended up using a lid off of something to cut the dough, and a bottle of olive oil to roll it out.  My kitchen was under construction and some of my things were packed away – had to get a little bit creative.  MacGyver would be proud.  (Also, MacGyver is the name of my cat.)  Because I didn’t have a proper rolling pin or cutter, I did struggle to get the dough flat enough and the cut circles big enough – causing the filling to come bursting out a little bit, but what can you do.  I also had quite a bit of filling left over, which was great, because I used it for pumpkin juice!

Cauldron Cakes

  • Many of the recipes for Cauldron Cakes that I found out there are based on the cakes you can get at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (the happiest place on earth).  These are double chocolate, dipped in chocolate, coated in chocolate, with chocolate icing.  Sounds fabulous, but too much work for someone making 80 of them.  I made Duncan Hines chocolate cupcakes.  I can’t remember if I made two or three batches – but I made a lot.  Cupcakes are not my thing, I’ve never liked them, hence I can’t be bothered to make them from scratch.  Like I say, Duncan Hines chocolate cupcakes, and Duncan Hines vanilla icing.  I added green food colouring to the icing (or frosting, depending on where you live) and mixed it up real good.  I took a spoonful out of the top of each cupcake (after they were baked), to create a hole.  I filled the hole with green icing and used a small licorice strip to make a handle.  Alternatively, if you put a large marshmallow in the top of each cupcake before you bake them, the marshmallow will slowly melt, leaving a sugar-encrusted hole in the top of the cupcake.

Fever Fudge

  • I considered a few different Skiving Snackbox recipes, and decided this one looked the tastiest.   I’d say though, that this  was my least-successful treat.  The red side is supposed to give you a fever, so it’s flavored with cinnamon and cayenne pepper.  I didn’t make mine too spicy, since kids would be eating it, just enough to give it bite.  Then the blue side is meant to cool you down, so it’s flavoured with mint and vanilla.  This side was tooooo sweet!  Not surprising considering that otherwise this is made up of condensed milk and white chocolate.  Next time, I will make the red side spicier and the blue side mintier.

IMG_0925

Chocolate Frogs and Peppermint Toads

  • The best part about these (other than being candy), are the boxes.  Thanks a million to whoever put the printable templates online, they really made everyone’s day.  The first thing you need is a frog shaped chocolate mold.  I would have thought ot would be easy to find these, because of the popularity of Harry Potter, but not so much.  If I had been more organized, tehre are great ones to be found online, however, since I left it to the last minute, I found myself driving around cleaning out Bulk Barns all around town.
  • Peppermint Toads: I used this recipe (template for the box is also there!).  These were fun and easy.  I actually ended up making them in the little staff kitchen at work (much to my coworkers’ annoyance).  They are made of white chocolate and marshmallow fluff (and flavouring and food colouring).  Marshmallow fluff, before you spend hours wandering the aisles of the supermarket, is found with the ice cream sundae toppings.  Just a heads up.
  • Chocolate Frogs: after I’d made the Toads, I used the same chocolate molds to make my Chocolate frogs.  I just melted down some milk chocolate and poured it into the molds, then put them in the freezer to harden.  I printed the boxes for the Frogs from here.  We also started to print out Chocolate Frog Cards, but ran out of time and energy, so some of the boxes had Cards in them, some didn’t.  I’ll try to do better next time!
  • I kept both the Toads and the Frogs in the fridge up until party day, so that they wouldn’t melt – a big issue in July, not such a big issue if you’re having a HP party in, say, November.

Butterbeer

  • I have tried many Butterbeer recipes.  Alcoholic and non-alcoholic.  Super complicated and super easy.  For this event, I went with super easy and non-alcoholic (obviously).  I added butter extract flavouring, rum extract flavouring and yellow food colouring to cream soda!  Easy peasy.  I couldn’t find clear cream soda, so my Butterbeer was still pink, but super yummy!  I also printed new labels for my soda bottles.  If anyone knows where I can get clear cream soda (in Ontario), please let me know – I hit 4 different grocery stores before I gave up and just made it pink.

Pumpkin Juice

  • Soooo not something I thought I would like, but surprisingly delicious and refreshing!  Really easy too.  Take one cup pumpkin pie filling (I used the leftovers from my pumpkin pasties!), one cup apple juice and half a cup of pineapple juice.  Blend.  Done.  Mmmmm.  Might take a little bit taste testing to get the consistency you want – that pumpkin pie filling is thick.  Recipe from these smart people.  I meant to top off my pumpkin juice with whipped cream, but ran out of time.  Sigh, maybe next year.

Acid Pops

  • These are ones I didn’t actually finish.  My intention was to get sour flavoured lolly pops, wet them, roll them in PopRocks, and package them up individually.  Couldn’t find PopRocks, couldn’t find sour lolly pops.  Like I said, I was rushing around at the last minute, so next year I will try a little harder.  I ended up just giving out regular lolly pops.  They are simple, cheap, and individually wrapped.  Bam.

Every Flavor Beans

  •  Now you can buy these, Jelly Belly makes them.  They are awesome.  They are expensive.  I got some regular jelly beans and put them in little individual treat bags.  No one really wants a vomit flavored jelly bean anyway.

Harry Potter Wands!

This past summer, one of my most successful library program was Make Your Own Harry Potter Wand.  I ran it in the afternoon and had over a hundred people come to make wands out of paper and glue!  So fun and so easy, although it can take a fair amount of prep time.  I’m sure I got my ideas from Pinterest, and there are LOTS of great Harry Potter craft ideas out there, but to add to them, here is what I did!

 

Materials:

  • Paper (I just use scrap paper (old lists, old flyers, etc), it’s all going to get painted anyway!)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Hot glue sticks (it takes a lot of glue)
  • Magical wand cores (phoenix feather, unicorn hair, or dragon heartstring)
  • Small marbles (optional, for decoration)
  • Paint (heavy on the browns, but I did see a lot of pink and purple and black wands too!)
  • Paint brushes

 wand materials

How to make them:

1.  Roll a sheet of paper up tightly, so that it tapers towards one end.  Depending on how your roll it, the wand can be longer/shorter/thinner/fatter.  I roll from one corner diagonally across.

Roll the paper

2.  Add a line of glue every so often, especially as you get to the end.

gluing

corner

3.  Fill the skinny end of the wand with a dab of hot glue.

glue end

4.  Pop your magical wand core inside.

wand core

5.  Depending on the fatness of your wand, it may need some stabilizing: I’ve used Popsicle sticks, chopsticks, tissue paper, or often a mixture of several.  Stuff the wand as best you can/want to keep it from being bendy or fragile.

 

stuff wand

6.  Top  it off by filling the wand with hot glue.  Hold it fat-side up and just let the glue pour – this is where it can take a lot of glue.

end

7.  Let the glue dry.  This does not take very long, trust me.

8.  Add detailing!  This is entirely up to you.  CAREFULLY use the hot glue to make swirly designs, lines, dots, sometimes I’ve made a handle.  Here also you can glue a marble on for decoration.  I usually glue the marble on the base of the wand (I like the way it looks), but many of my participants put marbles on the business end of the wand, to symbolize magic.

marble end details

9.  PAINT!

Need I explain?

painitng painting 2me with wand  wand

wand2

Ready, Set, Cook!

Hi all,

Liz here.  We’ve started this blog in an attempt to DO SOMETHING, other than watching copious amounts of Doctor Who and Community – although we’re still planning on doing that.

Today I checked the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, by Dinah Bucholz, out of the library where we all work.  Our mission: cook our way through the book, while keeping a running blog of our successes and failures, which recipes we like and which we don’t, and which come up to our Harry Potter standards.

While we don’t expect to be as successful as Julie Powell was with her similar venture (blog The Julie/Julia project, later book Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, later paperback Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, and fianlly film Julie and Julia), we do hope this blog will keep us busy through the upcoming summer.