Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Thanks: Goodies for Do-Gooders

Happy Thanksgiving!

I've always had a soft spot in my heart (and stomach) for Thanksgiving. Stuck in between two majorly merchandised holidays, Thanksgiving is often overlooked and has become something of an underdog in the holiday season. Nonetheless, Thanksgiving is quite possibly my favorite holiday to celebrate. 

For me, it has always meant good times with family, sharing delicious homemade creations and catching up while hanging out in the aftermath of football and food comas. This year, my family had the opportunity to make our Thanksgiving something completely different, so we decided it was time to start some new traditions. 

'Tis the season for baking

What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than by giving thanks? And what says gratitude better than home-baked goodies?

To celebrate Thanksgiving 2014, we decided to make plates of baked goods and deliver them to various servicemen and women who, by the nature of their job, have to work on the holiday. With gratitude for the firefighters, police officers, doctors and nurses of our area, we got to baking.

The best cranberry bread ever.

My all time favorite holiday recipe and the first thing we made for the plates of goodies is my mom's amazing cranberry bread. The original recipe was my grandpa's sister Jean's, and it's since been published in two family cookbooks and Typesetting Tables on the Unix System (co-written by my aunt Mary). Clearly, we're a talented family on both sides of the tree.

The book sells for $337-$555, but you can have this page for free.

Between my mom, my brother and myself, we created quite the mountain of treats including apple cinnamon muffins, almond crescents, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin scones, cranberry scones, pecan date bars and, of course, cranberry bread. 

All your leftovers are belong to us.

Once all the baking was complete, it was time to set up the plates and write some thank you notes. Call me old-fashioned, but I think hand-written thank you notes are a wonderful, tangible way to show appreciation for a kind deed, gift or thought. Since Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks, it seemed like the perfect addition to the plates.

En route to tour the local fire/police departments!

With our plates wrapped, stacked and ready to go, we were on our way. Equipped with a map and my phone, we made our way to seven fire departments, one police department and a hospital in four surrounding cities. 

Is it silly that I get starstruck around firefighters?

In the course of our adventure, we got to meet more than a dozen kind and awesome firefighters, a dispatcher and quite a few nurses. As a special treat, one fire department invited us to take pictures with the fire engine... 

Such hospitable heroes!

...and another department invited us in to meet the crew and their families! For the record, their Thanksgiving feast smelled delicious.

At one of the Fair Oaks fire stations, there were chickens on top of the sign. Chickens. If you're at all familiar with the area, you know that is so awesomely Fair Oaks.

Chickens on a marquis = Fair Oaks in a nutshell.

This Thanksgiving, I have a lot to be grateful for. Between memories of Thanksgivings past and excitement for continuing our new tradition, I'm filled with happiness, gratitude and a whole lot of leftovers. 

A big thank you to all the civil servants and caregivers who work all year long and on holidays like these to keep our communities going. And of course, Happy thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving thanks!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Trick or Treat! Halloween Costume Art

Happy Halloween 2014!

One of my favorite October pastimes (besides busting out my coziest sweaters and fluffy socks) is drawing fun costumes from the annual Halloween catalogs. Each year, I have friends pick out their favorite costumes and then I assign them to my crew of fictional characters. The picture above is fresh off the sketchbook for Halloween 2014, and this year, the costumes were chosen by my brother, my mom, and my boyfriend (who was also kind enough to lend me some of his Prismacolor markers). Can you find the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 cameo...?

Ghosts, pirates, and fairies of Halloweens past abound in my binders of old drawings, and I dug out some of the more entertaining pictures to share. While most aren't quite as polished in the quality department, they do a great job of showing the progression of my art skills, and of costume catalogs. 

Crazy as it may seem, this picture was from 10 YEARS AGO... Spooky!

I had so many costume requests, I had to enlist a staircase!

Chibi Costumes (The wet bale of hay was a special request)

All the pirate costumes in the catalog (>10 years ago!)

Pirate Redux (originally for Talk Like a Pirate Day)

The headless butler would be a trick to pull off!

The creepy used car salesman and loaf of bread were both actual costumes, I kid you not!

Special guest appearances from Kingdom Hearts: Roxas, Cloud, Squall & Axel!

If you're in the mood to join the tradition of costume catalog art, or are simply looking for a Halloween themed coloring page, feel free to use the following line art as inspiration. Please remember to comment below and link back to/credit LydMc if you post your masterpiece online - I'd love to see it!

The original line art for this year's Halloween selection.

For more festive autumnal time blogs, check out the Foxy Jack-o-Lantern & Sweet Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, the recipe for Pumpkindoodles, and the Peanuts themed Harvest Festival Cut-Out Board!

Thanks for visiting, and Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sushiwoks are Infotastic!

Yum Yes!

Fancy that, the Sushiwoks are on an infographic featuring Sushi Around the World!

Visit the CheapFlights link below for full resolution!

They thought I/the Sushiwoks were Canadian at first (perhaps I'm just that nice, eh?), but it all worked out in the end. 


Thanks to for including Sushiwoks in the tour of international delicacies!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Shark Week Feeding Frenzy: Shark Bark!

Shark Bark Attack!

It's that time again... Shark Week is upon us and that means feeding frenzies! If you need a clever, simple, delicious treat for your Shark Week viewing party (or if you've got as many sweet teeth as a shark), check out the latest in specialty themed party food: SHARK BARK! 

Just like the typical peppermint bark, each of the four flavors of Shark Bark seen here is super simple and delicious. Since they all have essentially the same foundation, let's start with the basics.

White Chocolate Chips, Ahoy!

First thing's first: melted chocolate. The traditional way (some might say "right" way) of melting chocolate is to use chopped up blocks of chocolate in a double boiler. If you don't have a double boiler or the patience to use one, there is another, simpler method that yields the same results.

We're going to need a bigger bowl...

Simply add one cup of chocolate chips (semisweet, white, etc.) to a microwave safe bowl, and nuke at half power for 60 seconds. Take the bowl out, stir what should be semi-melted chips and return to the microwave. After one or two more half power, 30-second increments of nuking, your chips should be a beautiful, silky smooth consistency. At this point, you would add any canola oil and/or flavoring called for in the recipe. 

Time to Pan Out

Once your melted mixture is homogeneous, spread it onto a cookie sheet covered in wax paper. Be careful not to spread the chocolate too thin, lest the hardened bark melt almost instantaneously to the touch. After the melted chocolate base is down, add your topping of choice, pat down if necessary, and chill for 30 minutes to an hour before breaking into (shark) bite-size chunks.

A Shiver of Shark Barks

Ready to see some of the exciting ways to customize your very own Shark Bark? Check out the dangerously, delicious Shark Week themed varieties below!

Shark Bark #1: Great White Shark Bark

Shark Bark with Bite!

Great White Shark Bark
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 tsp canola oil
12 cinnamon imperials (red hots)
4 cinnamon hard candies

Great White Shark Bark has some major bite, especially if someone makes the mistake of thinking they're eating peppermint bark! The crushed cinnamon candy bits add just enough spice to be interesting, but the white chocolate evens out the heat to make it a pleasant treat for any palette.

Cinnamon Candy Crush

In the interest of science, we got several different kinds of cinnamon candy and crushed them individually to see which would look the best atop the Great White Shark Bark. Ultimately, we decided both kinds looked great and mixed them together for the topping.

Shark Bark #2: Mocha Mako Shark Bark

As if a shark needs caffeine!

Mocha Mako Shark Bark
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 tsp canola oil
1/4 tsp coffee liqueur (optional)
1 tbsp ground coffee

Mocha Mako Shark Bark recipe is perhaps the simplest rendition of the recipe, but also one of the most delicious. Once the semisweet chocolate is melted, add a bit of canola oil and, if desired, coffee liqueur. Even without the additional flavoring, this mocha bark tastes just like chocolate covered espresso beans, and at a fraction of the price - yum!
Melted Chocolaty Goodness!

For both the semisweet and white variety, I am a big fan of the Guittard brand chocolate chips. I have sampled many different brands throughout all my forays into baking/candy creation, and Guittard is by far my favorite. They're even good for straight up munching!

Shark Bark #3: Blue Raspberry Shark Bark

Watch out, Titanic!

Blue Raspberry Shark Bark
1 cup white chocolate chips 
1 small box blue raspberry gelatin
5 blue raspberry hard candies, crushed

The Blue Raspberry Shark Bark recipe was by far the most novel variety I attempted, and it took a few tries to perfect. I first tried dissolving the blue raspberry gelatin in a small amount of boiling water and then combining that with the white chocolate, but it made for a playdough-esque consistency which none of the test kitchen (a.k.a. my brother and I) deemed appetizing. 

Instead, simply mix the gelatin powder straight into the melted white chocolate. Since the powder crystals don't dissolve, the structural integrity of the bark remains intact, and you get tiny bursts of blue raspberry flavor throughout! 

Hard Candy vs. Hammerhead

Once the blue raspberry white chocolate base is down, add some crushed blue hard candy to the top, and you are ready to go. One of the easiest ways to crush candy is to put the unwrapped candy inside a zipped plastic bag and use a rolling pin until the pieces are the size you want. Another valid method, as my brother pointed out, is to smash the candy directly with a hammer. To each their own!

Shark Bark #4: Marbled Tiger Shark Bark

Don't Lose your Marbles!

Marbled Tiger Shark Bark
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup cinnamon chips
1/4 tsp canola oil

For the Marbled Tiger Shark Bark, I used a marbled mix of both melted semisweet chocolate and cinnamon chips. 

Liquefied Cinnamon Rolls Incarnate

To get the fancy marbled look, all you have to do is pour several parallel lines of melted cinnamon chips onto a solid layer of melted chocolate. Then drag a butter knife through the lines perpendicularly. This will yield a neat, marbled pattern that in this case, also almost looks like an army of manta rays.

Defensive formation!

Shark Week Bonus: Gummy Feeding Frenzy!!

Fish are friends... or chum!

Since no gathering is complete without plenty of finger food, I could not resist getting a few gummy sharks and chopped up Swedish Fish to complete the Shark Week theme. The silver rocks are Jordan Almonds, and while pretty, they are nearly impossible to eat. The Swedish Fish should be so lucky...

Nom nom nom

Happy Shark Week, everybody! 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The School of Anything Goes Cosplay: Ranma 1/2!

Just add water!

In honor of Comic Con 2014 and Throwback Thursday, I think it's about time to showcase another one of my cosplay adventures! While I've already posted some of my comic con adventures in A Link to the Blog: The Legend of Zelda Cosplay, this costume is the title character from Ranma 1/2, an anime/manga popular back in the 90s. 

If you're not familiar with the show/comic, it's pretty simple: While training in martial arts with his father, the main character, Ranma, fell into a cursed spring which turned him into a girl. Each one of the many pools carries a different transformation curse, activated by cold water and fixed by hot. What with a dozen different love triangles, blood feuds, and unexpected dousings, antics ensue.

Ranma, Shampoo, Mousse, and Ryoga in a rare moment of peace!

The character I cosplayed as was female Ranma, a.k.a. girl type Ranma, a.k.a. pig tailed girl. My cohorts cosplayed as other cursed characters: Shampoo (who turns into a purple cat), Mousse (who turns into a duck with glasses), and Ryoga (who turns into an adorable black pig). 

Ryoga wouldn't ask for directions...

All of us made our own costumes, a true testament to our creativity, resourcefulness, and sewing skills. To make things simpler, I found a great pair of run-of-the-mill gym pants and black flats, and only had to sew the collared shirt and belt. The wig was my first and only adventure into the faux hair experience.

Two halves make a whole!

While at the comic convention (AnimeLA), we even met a few other fine folk who still remembered the comic of old, including my male counterpart, the original Ranma!

The Anything Goes Pancake Eating Contest!

And of course no cosplaying adventure would be complete without going out to eat and getting strange looks from random people with lunch.

Out for a fence-top stroll.

We recreated a few iconic shots from the manga and anime before calling it a day. Perhaps next year I may be able to bust out a new costume for Comic Con 2015...!

Ranma 1/2 doppelgangers!

Until next time!

Monday, June 2, 2014

LydMc Blog One Year Anniversary: Return of the Ewoks... Again!

The Sushiwoks are back and puffier than ever!

Today is a very special day for the LydMc blog: it is officially the One Year Anniversary of the first blog post! Huzzah!! One whole year of delightful, nerdy, and often delicious forays into creativity! In honor of this momentous occasion, I would like to celebrate with a craft inspired by the blog that started it all: The Sushiwoks!

Yub nub!

Not only were these Star Wars themed appetizers the first post on the LydMc blog, they were also the ones that put it on the map. Thanks to the awesome sharing of fellow nerds, cooks, and craftspeople (thanks, all!), the sushiwoks started making the internet rounds and page views climbed to the hundreds. 

And then, one fine day when I just so happened to get my wisdom teeth out, I sit down on the couch to recover and see the views have jumped to the thousands! As it turned out, ThinkGeek posted the sushiwoks (sushi ewoks) on Facebook making the blog go viral, and the day I got my wisdom teeth out one of my favorite memories. How many other people can say that? ;)

So without further ado, I bring you the less edible, albeit less perishable cousins of the Sushiwoks: the Puff Ewoks (a.k.a. Puffywoks)!

Puffywoks in their natural habitat.

Just as the sushiwoks are essentially rice balls (onigiri) formed into Star Wars' most adorable creation, puffywoks are basically tiny stuffed animal ewoks made out of yarn. My initial inspiration for such a craft was trying to find a way to use up scrap yarn left over from other projects. The results? Cute and huggable Puff Bunnies.

Puff Bunnies!

The puff bunnies seen above were made with extra yarn remnants that I had after arm knitting an infinity scarf and arm knitting a blanket (blog to come). It was just a matter of time before I discovered I could make ewoks this way, too.

Puffs are looming

If you've never seen these little looms before, you're missing out. The larger ones can be used to make hats (also a blog in the making), scarves, and all sorts of other delightful yarn creations. These tiny ones are intended for making flowers, and are also a great platform to make miniature stuffed bunnies, ewoks, and whatever else you have in mind.

Ewok in progress...

A few inches of looming later, and you already have the brunt of your ewok created. You can see the outside has the typical knit texture, but if you turn it inside out...

Deja Vu...!

...the purling nubs look just like sushi rice!

Puff Appendages... sort of

To make the ears and tails, simply crochet a few chain stitches leaving enough room on either end to tie onto the ewok. For ewok ears, I crocheted 3 stitches each, and for the tail, which I wanted to be more pronounced, I crocheted 5 stitches. 

For Puff Bunnies: Crochet 5-7 chain stitches, then double back with a single crochet for each ear, and make a pom pom for the puffy tail.

After the ears and tail are complete, tie them to the Puffywok body to attach. For the eyes, just weave a piece of colorful yarn in and out a few times in the appropriate location and tie it off on the inside, as well.

The Puffywok Wardrobe

As for that cape, if you're at all proficient with a crochet hook (or even if you're not!), you can just free form a leaf-like shape, leaving small holes for each ear and a big one for the ewok face. As you can see, I experimented with a different pattern for each one, so basically, have fun with it!

The Arctic Tribe (Rare Sightings on Hoth)

For the blue cape, I crocheted a chain for the bottom and swung back up for the rest.

The Moss Tribe (Common on Endor)

For the green cape (a.k.a. the babushka cape), I crocheted more linearly and tied the front ends together afterward.

The Ninja Tribe (or possibly Hipster)

And for this one.... I'm not really sure what I did there. Like I said, free form is fun - ewoks aren't picky!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Ewoks!

At the end of this project, I wound up with four Puffywoks complete with interchangeable capes and aptly themed crochet hook staffs. Although I made a few of the capes with a specific ewok in mind, it's fun to mix it up and see what different combinations you can get. 

Caped Crusaders!

Phew... 1 year, 30 blogs, and more than 20,000 views... It's truly been a wild and fantastic ride so far, and it's not over yet! Keep an eye out for a new and improved LydMc website, complete with more and different content (comics anyone?), and all sorts of delightful surprises. 

To help make the LydMc blog the best it can be, please take a moment to comment below, message me, or take the poll on the right to share what your favorite parts of the blog are and what you would like to see more of in the future.

Coatee-cha puff puff!

Thank you all so much for visiting, sharing, and commenting on the LydMc Blog! This first year has been a great and wonderful time and I look forward to sharing many more to come. 
In the wise words of Wicket... Allayloo!