Tag Archives: toy

T-Shirt Giraffe

I was out on a thrift store safari, looking for nothing in particular, when a zazzy yellow t-shirt screamed at me from the rack, “MAKE ME A GIRAFFE!”

Challenge accepted.

Prepare to meet your maker.

Prepare to meet your maker.















Generally the construction is okay, but it needs tweaks so he stands like I want him to and the shape doesn’t register as “long necked horse.” I really need to mind the seam allowance, maybe pin things a bit better and mark them… all that fiddly stuff that gets tossed by the wayside when I’m sewing by the seat of my pants.


Some say the giraffe got its very long neck from eating too many magic herbs.

The back gusset worked out alright, though it needs to be longer, and I like the shape of the back leg at the hock. I had to do a lot of messy suturing to pull his legs under him. Refining the shape of the inside leg panel should fix that. I thought about beady eyes, but found buttons instead. My favorite thing is his scrap fabric mane and the tail cut from a seam. I could nitpick about it more, but the bottom line is, he’s still a pretty awesome giraffe.


Candy is dandy, but crickets are bugs.

Today, I did a brave and stupid thing. I stopped in our friendly neighbourhood candy store (which was sadly all out of TimTams) and decided to have a bit of a spree for the sake of a good blog. This place carries all kinds of interesting sweets from over the border and across the pond, and their selection varies slightly from time to time. You never know what you’ll come across.

I made a beeline for the American imports right away and picked up the following:

  • assortedcandyPopeye “Tasty Candy Sticks
  • Jelly Belly Sours
  • Hoffman’s CupoGold
  • London Mint chocolates
  • Zero Bars (Dark and Milk)
  • Pop Rocks Wild Berry
  • Green & Black’s Dark Chocolate 70%
  • Kinder Surprise Chocolate Egg
  • Walkers Crispy Duck & Hoisin crisps
  • Scorpion Sucker Banana Flavor
  • Crick-ettes Bacon & Cheese

Crick-ettesWhen I decided to purchase the box of Crick-ettes, it was all I could do to hold them in my hand. At one point I forgot what I was carrying, and when I looked down and saw their dead buggy faces staring back at me from behind the cellophane, I nearly threw them down and ran screaming out the door. But, I didn’t want to make a scene in the candy shop, so I composed myself. “Stay strong . . . they’re just for pictures. You don’t have to eat them.” Or so I told myself at the moment.

cricketsReally, what kind of foodie would I be if I didn’t at least have a wee nibble? Just to educate my taste buds . . . clearly I had  lost my mind. Ginger Man pretty much agreed, but I got him to try a hind leg with me. Perhaps if I had just popped one in whole and crunched it up like a brave girl, the experience might have been more informative, but no, it wasn’t worth it to me. I had a cricket in my hand and a steak in my freezer; the choice was clear. Still, a taste test was in order.

There was sufficient fake bacony cheese dust to impart a flavour of some kind, but the texture completely turned me off. It was like I had just bitten into food and my tongue found an inedible particle, a thing that didn’t belong, and was trying in vain to evict it from my palate. Ptooey sums it up best. I must say, however, the crows were very pleased with the Crick-ettes.

scorpsuckaI was quite happy to move on to the badass banana scorpion sucker. There was a whole lotta sugar between me and that critter, so I was game for a lick or two. Examining the little scorpion, delicately preserved in the center of a golden confectionary window made me feel like a paleontologist. At the same time, whatever morbid human curiosity the goodie satisfied, I couldn’t help thinking how many of those little animals had gotten their stingers ripped off and died in a suffocating yellow goo so that geeks like me could throw down some money for a laugh. Curiosity satisfied, that’s the last one I’ll ever buy.

chipsThe duck and hoisin chips weren’t half bad. The taste reminded me of brown gravy. The Walkers Crisps company in the UK recently held a contest with 6 new flavours including Crispy Duck & Hoisin, Fish & Chips, Chili & Chocolate, Onion Bhaji, Builder’s Breakfast, and the one I really wish I could have tried: Cajun Squirrel. I don’t usually like weird flavours on chips, but Canadian dill pickle flavoured chips are rather addictive. Salty, vinegary, herby. Ketchup chips aren’t as interesting, but they are kinda tasty. What I really miss are authentic Moore’s Cheesies, which are no longer produced. There is no substitute. I’ve searched everywhere and have yet to find any cheesy poof that comes close. I’m sure they were made out of crap and plastic, but darnit they were yummy! I occasionally miss those phantom childhood tastes. Those things that I haven’t had in forever and I remember them being incredibly delicious beyond imagination, like HoHos and Moon Pies and those six packs of sugary doughunts and YooHoo! Then when I actually get one, it’s inevitably disappointing.  Sometimes the nostalgia factor is enough to make it alright, even if it’s stale and plasticky tasting and nothing like what I remember.

kinder apeI handed over all the jelly belly sours—Ginger Man’s reward for trying the cricket, and because I love him. He wants me to eat the orange ones, but I like the red ones, and I’m cute, so I get my way. He got the pop rocks, but we split the Kinder egg (he gets the chocolatey outside; I get the toy inside). This time it was a real cutie: a fuzzy green ape! So much better than a dumb robot with weird chicken arms.

popeyecigsThe dreamy London Mints are for after dinner for the next couple days, and the “candy sticks” are for whenever I feel like putting my feet up and having a fake smoke, cuz we all know those are candy cigarettes. In order not to start smoking rebelliously the last time I was home for a visit, me and my sisters stopped at every convenience store in the county looking for candy cigs. I went through about a pack of Round Ups a day.

The CupOGold, that’s for a special afternoon with a big ol’ cuppa coffee. Marshmallow and chocolate. Save the best for last.

A tisket, a tasket, what’s in your Easter basket?


Easter Sunday (April 12, 2009) is this weekend. It’s a time for remembrance, repentance, resurrection, communion, and CANDY! Secularizing holy days into Holidays is the best thing American capitalists ever did for the chocolate industry.

Respect to religion, but lets talk about the basket. Mommy Dearest would set up Easter baskets well ahead of time, tantalizing us for weeks while our Peeps went stale (not that it mattered) and those cheap-ass jelly beans turned rock hard. To make it worse, the baskets were wrapped in multiple layers of clear Saran Wrap so we could see everything, touch nothing, and be sufficiently tempted.

Important Easter Tip: When breaking into an Easter basket, cover your tracks. Do not leave a hole that shows, and above all do not leave chocolate fingerprints.

Easter Bunny

Easter Bunny

After weeks of temptation and attempted basket burglary, we’d put on our Sunday Go-To-Meetin’ clothes (including the itchy white lace ankle socks and a pair of too-tight black patent Mary Janes) and do our hair up in ribbons and sit in our regular church pew trying to tune out the hellfire and brimstone rendition of our Lord & Saviour’s crucifiction and resurrection until the wine and wafers came around. Then, after a little nosh, it was time to shake the preacher’s hand and hightail it home to the egg hunt (providing no one was getting baptized).

eggbasketWe’d color eggs and make a big mess, then Daddy would go hide the eggs in the yard and my dog Patches followed him around, eating them. Then the kids would rush outside screeching and laughing with baskets in hand, frantically scouring one grass patch and underbush after another. Kids take egg hunting very seriously. I’ve seen deadly hair-pulling and UFC-quality kindergarten takedowns all because somebody saw the glitter egg first. I played it safe and followed the dog, collecting all the half-eaten eggs . . . they still count!

jbeansOnce the fights were over and the eggs had been tallied, we’d retire to a quiet corner and rip into those tantalizing treasure baskets, pink ribbons and easter grass flying. Oh, thou hollow chocolate bunny with the big long ears, I shall save you for last. You and your sweet candy eyes. First, we have to get rid of those black jelly beans (it was not  unusual for me to sneak in and remove all the black beans I could find, replacing them with cherry and lemon beans I stole from other baskets . . . it’s okay, I gave them all my black ones, so we’re even).

For the second course: Peeps, heads first. If no one dropped into a sugar coma at this point, it was probably time for Easter supper. Mommy Dearest would usually cook a ham, glazing with honey mustard and decorating with pineapple rings and cloves. I know, it sounds good, but after 24 hours in the oven, it gets a wee bit dessicated. Thank God for Easter hot dogs on the grill.

Once I left home, there were no more Easter hams or Easter baskets for me—until I started making my own (baskets, not ham). It just doesn’t seem right to have Easter without a basket. This year, I have a very tiny basket, so the candy has accumulated all around it, and I haven’t touched a thing. Come Sunday afternoon, that’s gonna change.

Easter Basket 2009Easter Basket Essentials

  • Basket: any size, any kind
  • Grass: raffia, plastic, or real
  • Ribbons: for decorating the bunnies and basket
  • Jelly Beans: to lose in the grass and find next year
  • Peeps: Yellow Chicks and Pink Bunnies
  • Chocolate Bunny: Any kind, must have long cute ears
  • Assorted Candy: Any kind, lots of chocolate
  • Toy Bunny: fuzzy and cute
  • A Prize: This year, it’s a book by Robert Rankin called The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse and a DVD of Wallace & Gromit’s Curse of the Were-Rabbit


Leaving a comment? I’m curious: What’s in your Easter basket?

Crafty Sushi-Fish for April Fool’s Day

sushifishdinnerI saw this tutorial yesterday on Cut-Out-And-Keep, and I just had to try it. The original instructions produce an adoreable sushi-fish transformer, but I don’t like it when seams show . . . so I made a few modifications in technique. The detailed pattern for the dorsal fin is also difficult to cut. I ended up cutting out just the basic shape and detailing it freehand.

What You Need:

  • Fish and Sushi Pattern
    Download the pattern from Cut-Out-And-Keep or draw your own on paper.


    Is not tasty sushi?

  • Felt
    Green and White for sushi
    Yellow for fish
    Pink for fins
  • Two Small Buttons for Eyes
    Or, you can use google eyes, felt scraps, beads, etc.
  • Embroidery Thread
    White for sewing sushi
    Yellow for sewing fish
  • Scissors
  • Sewing Needle
    Use a needle with a wide eye for easier threading.
  • Pen or Fabric Pencil
    Note: Pen marks will show. Cut pattern pieces just inside the line.

sushidiveHow-To Make a Sushi-Fish

This is a fun project for clubs and youth groups, and a great way to learn simple sewing techniques. I hand-sew pretty well, but this is a moderately complex pattern. If you’re new to sewing projects, you could end up frustrated, but I’ve provided pictures and links that may help. Give it a shot!

Prepare the Pattern

  • Print the pattern from Cut-Out-And-Keep (or draw your own on paper).
  • Glue paper pattern on a piece of thin cardboard.
    I use cereal boxes for this. It makes pattern pieces last a whole lot longer.
  • When the glue is dry, cut out the shapes.
  • Store pattern pieces in an envelope.

Cut Out the Fish Pattern


  • Trace fish body on Yellow felt. Flip it over and trace again. (2 Fish Body)
  • Do the same for the fins and tail on the Pink felt. (2 each tail, dorsal, side fins)
  • Cut out all the Fish pieces.

Cut Out the Sushi Pattern

  • Cut out one Seaweed Rectangle from Green felt.
  • Cut out one Large Circle and one Doughnut from white felt.


    To make the Doughnut, trace a large circle then trace one small circle in the center of it. Cut out and discard the small circle (or save it for another project).

Prepare the Thread

  • sushithreads

    Separate the Yellow embroidery thread into two strands (one with 2 threads, one with 4 threads). Use a Yellow 2-thread strand to sew the Fish Body. Use the 4-thread strand to attach the Side Fins.

  • Separate the White embroidery thread into two strands (one with 2 threads, one with 4 threads). Use the 2-thread strand to sew the sushi pieces. Use the 4-thread strand to sew on the button eyes.

Sew the Fish Body

  • sushifishbodyPlace the two sides of the Fish Body together, wrong sides out (that’s the part you drew on), and start sewing (backstitch) from the top of the mouth.
  • Place the two Dorsal Fins together and sandwich them between the fish body. The fins should be inside the body. Adjust the felt pieces as you sew to keep the edges even.  When you turn it right side out, you’ll have a nice neat seam.
  • Sew toward the tail end, then place the two Tail Fins together and sandwich them between the fish body (tail inside). Stitch edges securely.
  • Sew all the way back to the mouth. Do not sew the mouth shut.

sushiattachtopAttach Sushi Top to Fish Body

  • Turn the Fish Body right side out carefully.
  • Hold the White felt Doughnut around the fish’s mouth so the inside edge of the doughnut and the edges of the fish’s mouth line up.
  • Stitch the inside of the Doughnut to the Fish Body.

Attach Side Fins and Eyes

  • sushieyesCheck for even placement of parts and correct direction of fins before sewing.
  • Sew the Side Fins to the Fish Body with Yellow thread.
  • Attach button eyes securely with White thread.

sushisushiSew the Sushi Bottom

  • Hold the White felt Large Circle against the edge of the Green Seaweed Rectangle.
  • Sew the Large Circle to the Seaweed Rectangle. As you sew, the two pieces will form a little cup.
  • Sew up the side of your Sushi Bottom and cut away excess Seaweed.

Attach Sushi Bottom to Fish Body

  • sushiattachbottomTurn the Sushi Bottom right side out (so the seams don’t show).
  • Turn the Fish Body sewn to Sushi Top wrong side out (just enough to make sewing manageable).
  • Line up the edge of the Sushi Top with the edge of the Seaweed as shown. The seam edge will be hidden on the inside of the Sushi later.
  • Sew the Sushi Top almost all the way around the Sushi Bottom. Be sure to leave an opening!
  • Carefully pull the Fish Body right side out through the opening.
  • Stitch the hole closed. I used a ladder stitch.

sushifishHave fun transforming your Sushi-Fish!

Tips for Hand Sewing:

  • If you don’t know how to sew by hand, learn a few stitches online.backstitch
  • I used a backstitch to sew everything. It’s quite strong and simple to do.
  • Keep stitches small and even for best results.
  • Messed up? Remove the needle, then carefully pull out the stitches and re-sew.
  • Could you use a glue gun or sewing machine? Probably. Good luck.

Add Your Own Flair:

  • Green and white felt will look the most like sushi, but fish colors are entirely up to you.
  • You can use fabric other than felt. Try clean old socks or T-shirts!
  • Glamourize your fishy with decorations! Beads, sequins, paint, embroidery, etc. Just keep in mind decorations must be flat (you still need to be able to transform the fish into sushi).