If you’re either bit quirky, like me, chances are you also love and have a small collection of Fred products. When I stumbled upon this Fred item (while visiting Toronto for the Gluten-Free Expo and to see one of my BFFs, Jenny), I thought that it would be the perfect present for my friend, Ryan, who is born on Halloween and who throws one kick-ass Halloween party every year for his birthday…. and not only was I right, I now want one for myself ;-)
Speaking of that Gluten-Free Expo … you may recall the recent blog post that I did about it. One of the delicious products that I sampled, purchased and brought back with me was 1-2-3 Gluten Free’s Chewy Chipless Scrumdelicious Cookie Mix. I’ve been holding off on using the mix for just the right time, and with Ryan’s birthday just around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to not only give him the awesome cookie cutter-stamper for his birthday, but to also use it to make delicious (gluten-free) cookies to bring to his party (so that I’d know that there would be at least one thing at the party that would be safe for me to eat)!
I thought it was only appropriate to use the mix to make the Gingerbread Cookies recipe that was listed on the inside of the box (and available on the 1-2-3 Gluten Free website) …. although there are 6 different recipes available on the inside of the box (which includes one egg-free version).
It doesn’t hurt if he’s already dead, right? …
I found that it was best to roll the dough thick, cut the men out first, transfer to your baking sheet and then stamp …. otherwise, you’d end up with the poor soul in the above photo. The recipe suggested that you use a rolling pin on top of the plastic wrap but I found that my rolling pin would move the wrap around and leave indentations so I just smoothed out the dough by running my hand on top of the plastic wrap.
I also failed to heed the suggestion of spacing the cookies at least 2″ apart … As a result, the men sandwiched together and cracked when they didn’t have anymore room to expand. They didn’t look as good as I had hoped, but at least this way i didn’t have to be as particular when filling in their bones with royal icing …. which was a big time saver considering that I still had to finish off my Halloween costume for Ryan’s party (which was taking place the following evening).
I sampled one cookie that evening and it was delicious! I couldn’t wait until the next evening to have another. I think the cookies went over well with the “regular people” at the party and I bet that they had no idea that they were gluten-free. Ryan texted me the day after the party and said that they were amazing even a day later :)
And now on to the costumes (i.e. the Fraggle Rock Shenanigans)!
Ryan was a good friend from university and although we still live nearby, we don’t see/hang-out as much as we use to. With that said, we do tend to make a huge effort to make up for this at Halloween (i.e. his birthday) and we all put a LOT of effort into our costumes. A few of us who are more craftily inclined tend to partner up to work on group costumes. One year my friend Susanne and I went as Mickey & Minnie Mouse, another year as The Blue Man Group (in company with my Guy), not to mention Papa Smurf & Smurfette. Last year Susanne’s boyfriend Jon joined us when she went as Darkwing Duck, I went as Darkwing’s girlfriend Morgana McCawber and he went as LaunchPad McQuack. This year Susanne decided that she was going to be Red from Fraggle Rock and she suggested that I should be Mokey because she felt that I fit the part :)
Susanne is beyond resourceful every year when she plans out her costume. This year she found a template for a Muppet puppet and had the template enlarged so that it would fit our heads. Once the template was sorted, it was just a matter of finding all of the right materials.
This was the inspiration photo that I used when gathering items for the costume. The pink material in the second photo above was material that I actually picked up while in Toronto for the Gluten-Free Expo. The top right photo is of the template for one half of the Muppet head and I also included a close-up of the 4″ foam … as I beg to differ on the “Easily cut” statement ;-)
I’m fairly certain that my dog, Jax, was convinced that the material that I had picked up was a mat. On three separate occasions when I had my back turned, upon turning around I found him perched on the material. Perhaps I’ll use the leftovers to make him a dog bed :-P
I was surprised to find that the material was incredible heavy. So heavy … that when I cut the small hole in it for my head, I discovered that it had stretched and was hanging too far out on my shoulders. I had to sew in a drawstring in the back to pull it together to close it up somewhat. And once I cut off the “sleeves” it was like I had a ton weight lifted from my shoulders. It was so incredibly heavy. I found the perfect sweater at Sears (that was actually on sale) and it even had two pockets in the front in a similar fashion to Mokey’s sweater.
Next was the hard bit … the foam cutting! Actually, it wasn’t the hardest part. The hardest part was trying to slice the 4” foam down to 1” but I’ll get to that in just a sec. I pinned down the pattern to the foam and did the outline in permanent marker. Sus had said how difficult it was to trim down the foam using a bread knife so I thought to myself – “I have an electric knife that’s been in my cupboard for (most likely) about 10 years … perhaps I’ll try that to see how it works”. The ironic thing was that it was just a few weeks before that I had been looking through my cupboard and I thought, “I haven’t used that thing in years. I should donate it to good will.
I’m glad that I didn’t because the thing worked like a charm! And the funny thing was that it was the first time it was used, it was used to carve out 4” foam for a Halloween costume … I know this for certain because when I took it out of the box, it still had the plastic protector on the plug and a twist-tie still around the cord. Yep, hadn’t been used since it was purchased!
Ok. Next was the really hard part! Trimming four inches down to one. I decided that because the pattern was for half of the head, and I’d need to carve out a second shape for the other side, that I’d use the top and bottom of the piece that I cut out so that I would minimize the amount of foam needed and would have a smooth edge for each half of the head. I marked out the perimeter and connected the dots to make a solid line and then started cutting with the knife. It was surprisingly easier than expected, but I started to notice that little particles of foam were flying everywhere. Having a HUGE eye phobia (called Ommetaphobia – these 3 clips from Friends pretty much sum me up: 1 2 3), and being terrified of getting the foam particles in my eyes, I decided to put on my safety glasses …. Only to realize that they were at the office. Remembering that my Guy sometimes goes to the dockyards when they have chartered vessels come in, the following conversation occurred:
Me: “Rob, do you have any Safety Glasses here??”
Rob: “(short pause) … I have onion goggles ….”
Me: “(short pause) … That’ll do”
And with that, I put them on, and got cracking ….. errr, I mean slicing.
The next part was time consuming but it really helped define the shape – sewing the foam to form the head. Sus had used a glue gun to glue hers together but she said that you had to hold it for a long time to get the glue to bond well. I have been used to sewing most of my costumes in the past so I decided to sew my head together. I held it all in place with A LOT of safety pins. Then I sewed … and sewed and sewed … until finally it looked like the head that you see in the photo. I then cut out some pink fleece material that I had picked up from Fabricville and also sewed that to the head. I couldn’t wait to get the eyes on it because at this point it looked like I was making a pink Barney costume :S
I was really pleased with how the eyes turned out – they really made the costume come to life.
I had found 3 different shades of wool to use for the hair and it was a different type of yarn that is really stringy so it really gave it the look I was looking for. I randomly made multiple stands of the different colours and tied them in a knot at the middle to make a section, which I glued to the head with a glue gun. It didn’t take long to fill out the hair.
The next task was to cover the inside of the mouth with red. I made a flap with red felt on the bottom lip and attached a red sheer material to the top so that it was see-through for me, but difficult for people to see my face inside the head. I then used Velcro to secure the felt to the sheer material and this was used as an opening for when I wanted to eat or if I got too warm. …. Which I did. When the head was off, you could put your hand in the head and just feel the heat come off of it. But it was worth it :)
Susanne’s boyfriend, Jon, decided to join in on our costumes again this year and he went with us as Marjory the Trash Heap. Everyone got a kick out of us and the highlight of the night was when Ryan downloaded the Fraggle Rock Theme Song and the 3 of us danced our hearts out to it. I have no idea how we will top these costumes off next year! :)
Oh, and the easy-access hatch that I made came in handy …. especially for eating the gluten-free Gingerdead Men (I bet you didn’t notice Mokey stuffing her face in the right-hand photo above)!
Halloween truly is one of my most favourite times of the year! Happy Birthday Ryan!! :)