Friday, December 20, 2019

Rare Siberian Long Necked Yeti


Welcome to Creepmas Day 12 5/8, because no I'm not done yet.  Let me introduce you to my little friend.

Although sightings are rare, the Siberian Long Necked Yeti is most notable of course, for it's long neck.  It is also easily distinguished from other species of Yeti by the silky tresses that cover it's large round feet. Another interesting trait of this Yeti is the absence of arms, but that is generally considered an advantage for these cave dwelling creatures.

As I've said before it's too hard to do tutorials about needle felting.  For one I don't generally know where I'm going until after I've done it and for another the urge to repeatedly stab is too strong to stop and take pictures. I love this cross stitch pattern, the sentiment is the same for needle felting.


I did however happen to take two pictures during the felting process so I could consult experts to ensure I was being anatomically correct.  The first being whether or not my proportions were accurate for the average Siberian Long Neck Yeti and the second on whether or not I was making the feet excessively hairy or the correct amount. Apparently all that fur is necessary to protect their rather tender, delicate feet.

The first picture was taken at the Crucible.  Have I mentioned how awesome it is that we have a local bar that hosts Dark Arts & Crafts every Sunday afternoon?


This video by Sarafina Fiber Art on how to needle felt a gnome gives some excellent advice on using curly locks starting at the 24:00 minute mark.  It also gives some excellent advice on making a gnome.

For my Yeti's very hairy ahem, feet, I cut my locks in half.  And then I folded those in half before felting them onto his feet.  I used the coarser locks underneath and saved what she calls the pretty locks for the top rows.



Because of climate change and loss of habitat over the last decade there has been an influx in sightings, especially in urban settings.  




The inspiration was this Yeti I found on pinterest.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Creepmas Millipede Ornament



I feel like this project should rate me some sort of title. It's not quite up to par to earn say, Queen of Crafty Recycling, but maybe Lady of Reused Refuse or Dame of Gluing Things Together That Anyone In Their Right Minds Would Toss.

I feel the back could be so much better, but I had no idea where I 
was going with this at the time and it is the back, so nobody look at it. 

Today is Creepmas Day 12 1/2, because I say it is.  And I got a little distracted with this project yesterday, so Yeti cookies are still not made, therefore Creepmas is still not over.  But when the old gods provide a perfectly shaped dead bug, you must act accordingly.

The following are a couple of pictures before I added a couple of nice glossy topcoats, because it's easier to photograph when it's not all shiny.  Layers from bottom to top:

The base is cut from a Yogi tea box.  The inside of the boxes have henna inspired designs.  I colored the design with a Sharpie and covered the other side with eggshells and paint.  See more about using eggshells here.  I got a little sloppy painting the eggshell side and had to get creative with the henna side to cover the areas I smudged paint.

Next layer is a clothing tag wrapped in fake spider webbing and painted.  See more about using spider webbing for texture here.

In the main the letters are painted alphabet pasta.  The large "C" is a dead millipede I found in my basement.  I liked the coloring, so left it au naturel.  

The little grommets, I bought on clearance years ago and they have come in handy quite often.  The black stars and ribbon that will magically appear in later pictures were also bought on clearance.





The grommets were originally inspired because of the hole in the clothing tag.  I then chose to make a corresponding hole on the other side.  I shouldn't have put them through both layers because they looked out of place on the back.  The grommets with the ribbon through them made sense, but the two middle ones I decided to cover up and that's where the star gems come in.


Friday, December 13, 2019

Santa Sydrome


I refuse to acknowledge this as the last day of Creepmas.  Among other things I haven't made my Yeti cookies, or finished my needle felted Yeti.  So I'm going to call this Creepmas Day 12 1/4.

This past year I read the book The Woman Who Swallowed Her Cat: And Other Gruesome Medical Tales by Rob Myers.

Overall I didn't care for the book. The stories are supposedly based on cases from medical journals but they are written in a way that makes them sound like a Goosebumps short. There was something smug about the way the author wrote about these tragedies that rubbed me the wrong way and I have a pretty dark sense of humor.

But one story peaked my Creepmas interest. In The Santa Syndrome a robbery goes wrong and this guy gets stuck in the chimney.

"In the intensive care unit, Spencer lay on a stretcher. The main muscle groups of his body were now gangrenous and infected. His limbs were swollen to three times their normal size causing further pressure within his damaged tissues, a condition known as compartment syndrome.

Five days later, the doctors had no choice but to amputate Spencer’s arms and legs. Overwhelmed and poisoned by the myoglobin released from his dead muscles, his kidneys failed. Just one week after he was saved, Spencer suffered a cardiac arrest and died.

Spencer fell victim to the little known Santa Claus Syndrome where a person becomes accidentally trapped in a chimney, air duct or heating vent, and suffers, as a result, positional asphyxia, compartment syndrome, and often, burn injuries. Within eight hours of being trapped, muscle death begins. Almost all cases involve ill-fated attempts at burglary."

Aside from Rob Myers and the person that wrote this article about two women, I couldn't find any usage of the term Santa Syndrome in reference to people getting stuck in chimneys. A lot of Santa jabs at people who get stuck in chimneys yes, but actual syndrome references no.

But it still got me thinking. There's no shortage of stories about people getting stuck in chimneys, but they generally gloss over the details. When I hear of someone getting trapped anywhere, I immediately think of claustrophobia, dehydration and starvation. What I don't think of is muscle tissue slowly dying as blood flow is restricted by the physical pressure of being stuck. I think of suffocating in a confined space in terms of depleting the amount of oxygen available in the air, not the physical inability to draw sufficient amounts into the body. At least not in a space large enough for you to crawl into. It's not like a building collapsing or an automobile crushing you.

And now that I have thought about it, it makes completely, horrifying, logical sense. While I didn't find anything exactly like Spencer's incident, I did find enough information to make the already terrifying notion of being trapped in a chimney even more nightmarish.

I'd like to take a moment to be thankful that back when I volunteered to go caving with a bunch of middle schoolers, none of this information was in my head.

This death by compression asphyxia didn't occur in a chimney, but I imagine the confined space involved was similar.

This is the webmd list of all the different ways you can die from asphyxia.

More information on compartment syndrome and gangrene.

WARNING GRAPHIC PICTURES: Here is a case of gangrene caused by compartment syndrome.

This is a long, but very informative read about children chimney sweeps and the awful conditions they faced.  Worse than any Creepmas horror story, the holidays only served to exacerbate the already gruesome conditions these kids were forced to live in.

In my merry search for Santa Syndrome, I found the term is mostly used by conservative Christians. I didn't even know there was a Conservapedia which has branded itself "The Trustworthy Encyclopedia". It's interesting to say the least, and this what they have to say about Santa Syndrome.

I personally think it's funny that what they've diagnosed as a psychological syndrome, I would consider the development of critical thinking.

I also found one reference to Sick Santa Syndrome which doesn't have anything to do with dirty old men who like enticing children to sit on the their laps. It refers to job related conditions that might effect seasonal Santas. I think it brings up a valid point, but I don't think that's an actually recognized syndrome either.

I mean we're all familiar with the running joke about mall Santas getting peed on, but when you think about it there are lots of occupational hazards. Bell ringers being exposed to the elements, frostbite and all that standing on cold concrete, is bad on the joints. Not that mall Santas have it cushy, sitting for long periods isn't any good either and having those kids clamber up and down, with their sharp knees and elbows. Sitting on you with those bony little butts. If you've ever had a toddler climb on your lap then you know they are squirmy little meat sacks full of sharp edges. And to make it worse they are coated in cooties. Just covered from head to toe in cooties.

Makes you wonder why anyone would want to be Santa, even if you don't find yourself dying a slow hideous death stuck in a chimney.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Grinch Hatchling Cookies

Usually I muck with recipes, but the only thing I did with this recipe was rebrand it for Creepmas.  The recipe is for Matcha Amaretti Cookies by Love and Olive Oil.

I love the look of these with the green cracks like little budding grinches trying to break free.  The green color comes from the matcha green tea powder.  I used Carringtonfarms matcha powder because it was bright green on the package, and other brands at the store looked tan.  The actual powder is not the bright green on the package, but it is a deep alfalfa green.

I also used Bobs Red Mill super fine blanched almond flour.  The blanched part is important, they also have unblanched but that would affect the color.

The recipe recommends layering two cookie sheets together for baking.  I just used one and baked the cookies for 20 minutes.  The recipe doesn't say you can freeze them, but I did.  There's a lot going on, so I am very slowly getting my Creepmas baking done, everything goes in the freezer until it's all done.  So I'll report back how well they froze when I finally get around to dishing them out.

Not surprising given the matcha, almond flour and almond extract, these cookies taste like a sweetened almond flavored green tea.  I drink green tea, but I've never eaten it, so it was a different taste sensation for me.  I think I'll have to try a couple more before I decide how I feel about them.  I'll be interested to see what my Creepmas victims think.  My daughter thought they were "Meh."

I love the color, and will definitely be trying a few more recipes.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

GingerDead Village Massacre



I may not be decorating any gingerdead this year, but I might have unintentionally influenced this piece.  With permission from the artist, I offer you these pictures.  As it was told to me, the large green creature, lying atop the house in shambles, is responsible for attacking the village and killing all the villagers.

The following picture has been altered in case anyone is trigger by possibly inappropriately shaped village terrorizing green monsters.  The smaller one had nothing to do with the destruction and for all you know could just be a small, slightly odd shaped tree.

I really do love the gingerbread man staked to the top of the house.  And I will unapologetically steal that idea the next time I do decide to decorate gingerdead.


Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Ornament Creepmas Makeover


I gave a few ornaments a makeover.  I really should spend some time learning how to properly photograph, but I haven't, so you'll just have to take my word that they look better in person.

Here is how they started out:

Each ornament contained the same image on both sides, the front side having more decorative elements.  The ornament on the left shows the back side and the ornament on the right is the front.

This is how the back of the right one ended up:


The surface of the frame on this side was completely flat.  I mixed paint with black pepper to add texture to the inner oval and the black areas between the "C" shaped elements.  The only reason I used black pepper is because I'm lazy and I was close to the pantry. But pepper does have a nice chunkiness to it, that I think I'll probably use again in the future.  


For this one I added herbs and then a little pepper to get the texture I wanted for the inner oval on the backside.






















This one was almost perfect before I touched it.  I doubt if the original artist meant to make a tentacle bow, but that's what I see.



This one I actually prefer the less blingy side.  I think the pearl-like ring compliments the tentacles better.  On the blingy side I didn't like the gaps between the bling and filled them in with textured paint.  In hindsight I should've done a better job, but it is what it is.  



At least I've rid them all of whatever bright cheeriness they might've held.  Now they can feel perfectly at home on the Creepmas tree.  

Monday, December 9, 2019

Creepmas Stories

If you're looking for a good book to curl up with this Creepmas, here are a few I've read over the last year that are fitting for the season.

I'm still a big fan of printed books, but I am growing to appreciate having access to thousands of books in the palm of my hand. Some of these books I own in the physical realm, but all the books I have listed are available for free with a valid library card through the Wisconsin Public Library online. If you haven't already, check out your own local services, you might be pleasantly surprised at all the goodies available.

And don't underestimate the joys of listening to sinister audio books while doing your Creepmas baking.





Not the first time I've read this and it won't be the last, Agatha Christie's Three Blind Mice, is one of my favorites.  I believe this was the first of her stories that I read as a wee lass and I still love reading it.  The idea of being isolated in a snowstorm with a murderer is chilling to say the least.




If you like Christie, then you'll probably also enjoy another English mystery maven, P.D. James.  The Mistletoe Murder And Other Stories, is a mostly holiday collection of four short stories.






The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley is a relatively new book (2010) but it reads like an old Gothic novel.  There's a castle, a mysterious guardian, secrets and ghosts in a cold isolated landscape.  If you're looking for an old fashioned wintry ghost story, this would be an excellent choice.

Undead & Unfed, a two book series by Kirsty McKay, starts out on a school field trip in snowy Scotland that quickly turns to mayhem when people start turning into zombies.  These were fun books, with lots of festive dashing through the snow, albetit in the course of avoiding the undead.  Yes it's zombies and death, dire situations and bleak circumstances, but there's a lot of humor and it's not forced or unnatural, it just rolls right through.  The characters on the surface are the teenage clich├ęs we're all familiar with, but they each show they run a little bit deeper than that while still staying true to their nature.  My only dig is the books felt like they were leading up to a trilogy that never materialized.  






The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror (v2.0) by Christopher Moore
This is the third book in the Pine Cove series.  It isn't necessary to read the previous ones to enjoy this, unless you want to learn more about the weird happenings and strange residents of Pine Cove.

There's murder, an angel and zombies. The zombies are like Creepmas sprinkles on a book of fruit cake.  That's the best way to describe this book, like fruit cake. It has an odd flavor, with a weird texture and kind of a funny aftertaste.  But if you have a warped sense of humor, it's a fun story.
Last year after discovering one of the neighboring towns has a restaurant named Wendigo, there's even a cannibal burger on the menu, I happened to read a reference to Algernon Blackwood's The Wendigo. It seemed like the elder gods were trying to tell me something so I decided to give it a go. Written in 1910, it has some cringeworthy racism and stereotypes. It reads like a campfire story, which takes place around a campfire. For me it was more interesting to see what passed for supernatural writing in the early 1900's. Some of it was eerie and suspenseful, some a bit corny and yes there was the old timey racism that I'm sure didn't even raise an eyebrow at the time.  I'm glad I read it, but I'm sure there are better Wendigo stories to be had.

Back to this restaurant, I still have not ventured to eat there, so I can't comment on the dining experience, although it looks like they have some decent vegetarian options. But I am intrigued by the name. I'm trying to imagine applying for a loan to start a restaurant named after a cannibalistic monster. I can't help thinking this would be the perfect setting for a midwest Sweeny Todd, except of course here the twist is the owners are being completely transparent about the cannibalism but everyone assumes that means it's a joke. That's a Wendigo story I'd love to hear.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Creepmas Plushies

I'm a big softy when it comes to cute cuddly things.  
Especially if they have sharp teeth or lots of legs.

These cute little buggers are made by a local artist J. Daven. They are listed as Floof Sprites, but clearly the one on the right is a budding Krampus.  I'm sure it just needs to be fed after midnight to reach it's full potential.



  They have so many Creepmas dolls from Krampus to creepy snowmen.  



There are so many adorable Krampusse to choose from.



Lots of other Creepmas stuff at her shop.   
There are the cutest little Mothman ornaments, white with 
big red eyes that would look fantastic on any Creepmas tree.  



This guys is so sweet and he has a lot of unique friends, there's even a Wendigo.  



Alright so the new softy version of Lucas the Spider isn't Creepmassy, 
but how cute would he be with a Santa hat?



For the do-it-yourselfers there is an elf tutorial at Pillar Box Blue.  
These guys are so creepy, they're cute.  They would definitely giggle with murderous intent if they came to life while you were sleeping.  

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Krampus Cookies


A few days ago I showed you some lovely cookies, today you get to see my Krampus cookies of awesomeness (just a twinge of sarcasm as I type that). I tried two new recipes, only making half of each since I wasn't sure which would suit my needs. I'll start with the second recipe I tried since it worked a lot better.  If you recall I wanted see what I could come up on using the cookie cutters I had on hand.  I decided after the first recipe that I like the upside down gingerbread man cookie cutter the best for making Krampus.  The star is my second favorite.

These cookies use the Chocolate Sugar Cookie recipe from JoyofBaking.com.  This is not the first time I've used a recipe from there, it's my go-to for baked goods.  The recipes are always solid and if you are a novice, her videos can be really helpful.

I was a little intimidated by this recipe because the dough is rolled out between parchment paper, then refrigerated, then you make the cutouts.  I needn't have worried, it was really easy to work with.  I chilled mine overnight and after cutting out, the cookies were still really cold and solid.  I thought they were perfect after 10 minutes in the oven.

The scraps I rolled and re-rolled, by the time I squeaked out every cookie I could, they were pretty soft.  I popped those back in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before baking.  They still weren't as cold as that first batch, but they only spread just a teensy bit more during baking.

My favorite way to decorate cookies is to just paste stuff on like a preschooler.  I used ganache for paste.  This is the same ganache recipe I use for everything from Peppermint Bark Brains to Rat and not surprisingly I originally got it from JoyOfBaking.com.

I've never used ganache to frost cookies before so I'm pleased to say it actually worked.  Usually with regular sugar cookies I'll bake and freeze them ahead of time. When I'm ready to decorate, I pipe on frosting immediately out of the freezer and refreeze them until I need them.  That won't work with the ganache, both the ganache and the cookies have to be at room temperature to frost.  Of course you could use chocolate frosting, but ganache is like silky ribbons of heaven gently caressing your tongue, so why would you?

But before you make the ganache you need to make the horns and tongues. For the nose I used skull candies and the eyes are plain old candy eyes.

I used Kraft caramels mixed with a little Tootsie Roll for color.  Brands matter here, some caramels spread (more on that here).  If you don't like Tootsie Rolls you don't have to use them but you really can't taste it with the caramel.  I used a slightly different method from last year's Krampus horns. These are smaller, two sets of horns per caramel as opposed to one and these are slightly quicker to make, at least it feels like they are.

Microwave the caramel for a few seconds if they are firm.  Just the caramel, the tootsie roll is much softer.  10 seconds was perfect in my microwave.  Roll the two together on a non-stick surface.  I really chose a bad example to photograph I didn't mix the tootsie roll in very well, so it's mostly hidden in the middle.  I utilized the cute little grid on my parchment paper and rolled it out to one inch and then cut it in half.  Then rolled the half to one inch and cut that in half.




Then I rolled that piece into a one inch cone shape.  
Then I twisted and bent it into a horn shape.  
Rinse and repeat until you have all the horns you want.  



For the tongues I used Brach's Holiday Spicettes.  This is important because the red ones are cinnamon flavored and isn't Krampus a little spicy?  You will also need some red decorating sugar.

Roll the gum drop flat dusting with the red sugar as needed to keep it from getting sticky and you should end up with something that looks like this. 


Cut triangles out, round the top of the triangle if you wish and coat the cut ends with more red sugar.


Ganache 
4 oz. chocolate (broken or cut into small pieces, I use Lindt 70% dark)
¼ cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ teaspoon vanilla

Mix chocolate, cream and butter in a small glass bowl. Microwave for 1 minute at 50% power and let stand for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. It will look really grainy at first and then it starts to smooth out. Once it’s smooth stir in the vanilla. 

Let it cool for a few minutes.  It shouldn't be warm, but you don't want it to set, so maybe 5 minutes.  Spoon the ganache on the cookie and spread it around.  It doesn't set quickly, so you have time to work.  I covered the thirteen cookies I made before placing the decorations.

Add the horns, eyes, tongues and then sprinkle with brown or black jimmies.  I thought it might look cool to mix the two colors and it doesn't.

If you aren't going to be eating them soon, freeze them in a single layer.  Once frozen they can be stacked between layers of parchment paper or plastic wrap and sealed in plastic containers or ziplock bags.



One note of caution and actually I think it's a feature.  Ganache has a lot of moisture, you can see below after thawing the moisture wicked up into the eyes causing the black to bleed.  I personally think they look better that way.  It also made the black jimmies and skull nose turn grey.

The ganache does set nicely and remains firm even after thawing.


















For the first batch I used this Mocha Shortbread recipe.  Last year I made shortbread GingerDead Skulls, so I thought this would work.  Surprise, not all shortbread recipes are the same.  I even chilled the dough for an extra long time after cutting out the cookies, but they spread all over the place while baking and edges were very crumbly.  The cookies taste good, exactly what you would think a mocha shortbread would taste like.  I'm sure they work fine as bar cookies, the way the recipe intended them to be made.


If you really want mocha cookies I would suggest adding espresso powder to the chocolate sugar cookie recipe.

I don't have a lot of cookie cutters, but I tried out the few that I thought might work for Krampus.

As I said, the gingerbread man and star were my favorites.   The little eyeball monsters were a mini tulip cutter, which upside down looks like a Pac Man ghost.  In this case they turned out as little blobs.


Below top left is a bat cutter, bottom right is a bunny head and the other two are upside down trees.  The bunny still looks too much like the bunny, maybe the bat would've been ok if the dough hadn't spread so much, but I think the tree is pretty good.

 

Next time I'll have to try my hand at Yeti's.