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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Isis and Osiris Ball I Was a Major Success!

Now that the Mystic Society of Isis and Osiris has completed their first ball, Miss Ginger can share the festivities with you and show you some of the magic that was produced!

First, look at the room when we first walked into it: 
Plenty of space, but not exactly an elegant environment for a black tie affair!  No worries, however, as the professionals from Townsley Designs of Austin arrived with 4 truckloads of glitz and glam, and in no time flat had transformed the room into this swanky environment:



Now THAT'S a room for a Mardi Gras celebration like no one's ever seen in Houston, TX! 

Once the space was set, the costumes were loaded in, and the Ball was ready to roll! And roll it did, with a never-stopping soundtrack provided by DJ Dylan Barnes that kept guests dancing and mingling! 

The first costumes out were Ball Captain I, followed by Isis I and Osiris I, dressed to the theme as "Venetian Red." 



After a couple more costumes, some dancing, and lots of beads flying, Miss Ginger appeared as "Murano Glass Chandelier:"






The chandelier's arms were made of 1 1/2" clear tubing, reinforced with a length of metal shelf strapping to provide stiffness without extra weight.  The globes of the chandelier were made from gallon-sized plastic water bottles, melted into shape with a heat gun.  Of course, a chandelier has to light up, so the power was provided by 7 led puck lights.  It was a very fun costume, easy to make and wear, and the audience seemed to love it! 

Next on Miss Ginger's Mardi Gras social calendar is Houston's "Mystery and Fantasy Mardi Gras Party," another black tie/fancy dress event, which this year falls on Miss Ginger's birthday, February 22nd.  The theme is 'The Mystery and Fantasy of Sci Fi," so Miss G is thinking she may get a little more use out of that gold morph suit!  Miss G is not much of a Sci-Fi buff, so she's looking forward to some great suggestions from all of her 'snaps!  leave your ideas in the comments…. who knows, she may just bring it to life! 



Sunday, January 5, 2014

Mardi Gras is Coming!

Yes, folks, there WILL be Mardi Gras at Chez Ginger this year!  Since leaving her former Mardi Gras group, there hasn't been a lot of revelry and costuming around here. But that wrong is being righted!!! 

Behold:



Miss Ginger has been a member of this group since it's inception, as it is made up of people she loves and wants to be around. She has not been the most active member, since time and personal distractions have kept her from many of the activities, but wild horses could not drag her away from the inaugural ball:


Unlike her previous Mardi Gras group, which kept their event private, The Mystic Society's ball is open to the public… in fact, tickets are available through PayPal! 
It's a formal affair, but masking is encouraged, and Captain I has promised that instead of a long, drawn out presentation, this ball is going to be a non-stop party, with dancing, drinking, and the requisite debauchery!  All you folks along the Gulf Coast need to follow that link and snap up a ticket to this shin-dig, and if you're farther away… plan a road trip! It will be worth it!!  Hope to see you all there! 



Saturday, January 4, 2014

SPATCHCOCK!

There! She finally did it!  Miss Ginger has been dying to say SPATCHCOCK on her blog since she learned the word… and still wanted to do it even after she learned what it meant!!

Not nearly as dirty as it sounds, "spatchcock" is actually a verb: to "spatchcock" means "to prepare a bird for roasting by removing it's backbone and flattening the carcass."  I know, "carcass" doesn't sound very appetizing, unless you are a vulture, but I promise you the results are delish! Oh, and by the way… if you are squeamish about raw meat, you will find the following pics repulsive.  But for those of you who are still with me, let's sally forth, shall we? 


Miss Ginger spatchcocked the turkey she cooked for Christmas dinner, and actually remembered to photograph most of the process! So, here is Henrietta, cowering before her surgery….








Using poultry shears, Miss Ginger cut along both sides of the backbone to remove it completely. It's not a total waste, however;  it goes into the pot with the neck and the giblets to make stock for the gravy and other dishes! 







Here's our spineless girl lying supine, with her voluptuous breasts to world. She's not completely spatchcocked yet, though! To finish the surgery, Miss G used the heel of her hand to thrust downward (really hard!) to break the breastbone and flatten the bird completely.





Finally, we tuck the bird's wing tips behind the thighs. 

It's just a jump to the left…
and then a step to the right….
with your wings on your thighs….
you pull your knees in tight! 

But it's the pelvic thrust
that really drives you in-say-ay-ay-ay-ay-ayne! 


Let's do the SPATCHCOCK again!!!   Sorry, got carried away there! 

This might be a good time to answer the question: why spatchcock at all, aside from the fun of saying it?  Miss Ginger can come up with 3 good reasons:

1: Spatchcocking allows you to brine a turkey in a much smaller vessel than would be required for an intact turkey. Not sure about you, but there is not enough room in Miss G's fridge for a 5 gallon bucket.
2: Spatchcocked birds cook much faster than  intact birds.  You can roast a large turkey in less than 2 hours, freeing up your oven for other dishes,
3: Spatchcocking sort of spreads the skin more evenly, providing a larger expanse of that crispy, golden-brown turkey skin that everyone like to pick at! 


If you choose to brine your bird, use a large, rectangular polycarbonate refrigerator container, available from Sam's Club or your local restaurant supply store.  Don't use a random plastic container not designated as food-safe, because, well, it's not safe for food. Duh. And don't use metal, because it will react with the brine.  Sorry to be so stringent here, but I don't wanna get sued, so follow the rules!  Start with a layer of sliced onions in the bottom of the container….



…and then place your bird in her spatchock pose.  

Add more sliced onion on top, and a handful or two of peppercorn melange.










Here's Miss Ginger's special Cajun twist… instead of salt, she made her brining liquid with Zatarain's Complete Crab Boil.  

2 cups Complete Crab Boil
1 bottle cheap sweet white wine
1 cup cider vinegar
enough water to cover… about 6 cups



Let the bird brine in the fridge for at least 24 hours… no more than about 72 hours. Then take her out, dry her off, and lay her on a baking sheet for the best suntan of her life!  Add a sprinkle of poultry seasoning and pop her into the oven until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F. Don't count on the pop-up timer that comes with the bird- they are not reliable and generally cause overcooking.  











Miss Ginger actually roasted her Christmas turkey on the grill, since the oven was full, and used  a dual-temp thermometer to monitor the oven heat as well as the meat temp to deliver a moist, juicy bird to her FABULOUS holidays guests!  Unfortunately, they gobbled it up so quickly she didn't get a photo of the finished product, but she promises, it was delish!  So, when are YOU going to spatchcock?! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Happy Holidays from Miss Ginger and the Kitties!

This might just be the cutest Holiday commercial ever recorded! Sorta makes Miss Ginger wish the stuff at Chico's would fit her largesse frame! 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Craftroom QuickTip®: Glitter and Be Gay!

Who doesn't love glitter?! It adds sparkle and shine to just about anything you can imagine, and come to think of it, a few things you can't imagine. Contained, as it is here in the glass shakers from the restaurant supply store, it's a sight to behold. When it runs amok, however, it can quickly tarnish our moods! 

Why can't someone invent a way to keep glitter in place, so it doesn't flake off of our projects and stick in every crack in our homes?  What if Miss Ginger told you there IS such a product, and you may even have some in your broom closet right now! 


Pledge Floor Care Multi-Surface Finish. Back in the 70's, this stuff was called "Future Acrylic Floor Finish" and came in a futuristic clear bottle. Since then, the folks at Johnson Wax have rolled it into the "Pledge" nameplate, and have changed the package since Miss G last bought it! It no longer says "Future" anywhere on the bottle, nor does it say "acrylic." But it does use the word "finish," which is what you want to look for. If it says "cleaner" it's not the right product! It will come in a clear bottle, and the liquid is crystal clear. Get the one for multi-surfaces, not the one for wood floors.

This stuff will seal glitter onto your project with a death grip, and unlike that hodgepodge stuff that the craft store sells, it won't dull the sparkle of your glitter- if anything, it enhances it. And once you seal it with this stuff, it's not going anywhere! 





After the glue under your glitter has dried completely, just brush it on and let it dry. It's that easy! It goes on so crystal clear that it's hard to tell where you've brushed it, so brush it on methodically so you cover every square inch. It's really runny, like water, so it goes a long way! Just flow it on generously with a brush, and when it dries, that glitter won't go anywhere! 




What about the glitter that got loose before you sealed it down? You've swept, you;ve vacuumed, you've mopped… and still, it has a death grip on your floor! How do you get it up?  This guy:


The same lint roller that you use to get cat hair off your suit will get those last stubborn flakes of glitter up from just about any surface!  

Try these tips next time you need to make something sparkle, and let us know how they work for you!!! 

Lighted Star Tree Topper

Whether you deck your halls with a Christmas Tree, a Chanukah Bush, a Kwanzaa Shrub or a Festivus Pole, you're going to need something to finish off the top and make it look festive! Problem is, so many of the tree toppers you see in stores are flimsy plastic things covered in tacky tinsel- certainly not in fitting with Miss Ginger's fabulous themes! So, our girl set out to make her own tree topper, and though it was a bumpy road, she is pretty pleased with the results! 
It started off easily enough, with a vinyl stencil to cut the star shape out of corrugated board. 
She used a stacked star design to give dimension and stability, and held the layers in place with spray adhesive.
Next, she used brown kraft tape and water in a process she calls "taper mache."  For this, you will need old-fashioned brown paper tape with water activated adhesive. It used to be the industry standard in shipping departments, but now it's kind of hard to find, but worth the hunt. You need the kind without any reinforcement fibers or other modern additives to make it stronger… you want the kind that is just brown paper with slick, dry adhesive on one side that becomes slimy-wet in water.
Using small pieces of tape dipped in water, Miss Ginger began covering the skeletons with tape. Because the tape is already in strips, the process is so much easier than regular paper mache, and much less messy since you don't need wallpaper paste!
Another advantage to using tape vs. wallpaper past and newsprint is that the tape will not attract bugs over the years, whereas some wallpaper pastes contain wheat, which bugs like to eat! It just takes a few minutes for Miss Ginger to cover both stars. 
You can let them dry overnight, or put them in a warm oven (about 180 degrees) for about 30 minutes to dry them completely. 

At this point, things are going about as Miss Ginger expected, and she still has great hope for the project! 
After spraying each star with gold paint and letting that dry, she marked, and then drilled, 30 holes in each star, to accommodate the 60 LED light string she bought for the project.  She used LED lights to ensure there would be no problems with the heat of incandescent lights against the paper stars.
Now is when the concerns started popping up! Miss G was thinking that the holes would be snug enough to hold the bulbs in place as she popped them in from the backside, but with the stiffness of the electrical wires working against her, she realized she was going to need something to hold them in place.  Hot glue to the rescue! 
From the front, things were starting to look like a hot mess! She realized she should have measured the spacing of the holes better, and was concerned because the bulbs did not all stay as perpendicular to the surface as she would have liked, but there was no going back at this point! 
The wires turned out to be much more problematic than expected, so Miss G glued them down as much as she could to try and keep them out of her way.  With the wire mess rearing its ugly head, Miss Ginger was beginning to think this whole project was going to be an epic failure! She originally planned to hold the 2 sides together with more paper tape, but she quickly realized that there was no way that paper tape was going to corral all of this mess and hold the 2 sides together! 
As Miss G steeled herself for the challenge with a glass of vino, the answer became apparent!  She needed something lightweight and solid to connect the 2 sides, and wine corks turned out to be the perfect answer! After hunting down 5 that were the same size, she screwed one into each "armpit" of the first star, adding a blob of hot glue between the cork and the star for extra stability. 
With confidence bolstered, Miss G eased the other star into place and connected it to the corks in the same manner. The star was turning out way thicker than she originally visualized, because there was no way to smush the wires down any more than they were.  Miss Ginger found that this turned out to be a happy accident as she soldiered on. 
As luck would have it, the corks were as tall as her tape was wide, so it was easy to seal the sides up using more tape! She needed a more structural adhesive than what was on the tape, so instead of wetting it, she used hot glue to attach it all around the edge. 
At the bottom, she drilled a small hole in the cork crosspiece to hold a stiff wire that will hold the star in place, and routed the cord here, as well. 
So, here is her big, fat, star, looking sad and ugly. But she had gone this far, so Miss Ginger sallied forth and began her favorite process: glittering! 
After glittering the edges in gold, Miss G glittered the front and back with a few different shades of gold, to give a radiating effect.  Because the star rests in the bulbs, she was able to flip it over and do the other side immediately. 
So there it shines in all it's glory, looking festive, shiny, and not too bad, if Miss Ginger does say so herself! 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Wintertime QuickCraft®: Fire Starters!

It looks like those GingerSnaps lucky enough to have a wood-burning fireplace will get a lot of use from it this year, if the beginning of winter is any indication of its intensity! Miss Ginger's indoor fireplace is push-button gas, which is convenient and cozy, but it doesn't really satisfy her pyromania like a real wood-burner, so she keeps an outdoor chimenea stoked on the patio for the times she can't resist the firebug! 

Whether your fireplace is indoors or out, and whether you are at home or out camping around an open fire, here is a little craft idea that will make starting a fire (on purpose!) a cinch! Just follow her steps carefully, so you don't start a fire before you want one! If you don't have a fireplace, you could still make these as a thoughtful gift for someone who does! It's a total up cycle, so the cost is virtually nil! 

You'll need some coarse sawdust, a paper egg carton (foam won't work) and some wax. Miss Ginger saves the ends and crumbs of candles throughout the year, and adds them to any "strangely scented" candles she may have acquired. If you don't have enough "candle leavings" you can buy a box of wax in the canning section at your grocery store, but that kind of defeats the purpose of an up cycle, no? 



Melt your wax in a double boiler, or an old, clean can floating in a pot of boiling water.  An old metal coffee pot from a garage sale is a great pot for melting wax because it has a handle and spout to facilitate pouring! 







While your wax is melting, begin packing the sawdust into the individual cells of the egg carton.  Miss G tears the top off and use it as a little tray under the bottom to help catch the overflow, but you want to make sure you protect your work surface with several layers of paper to catch spills and soak-through.




Once the wax is melted, carefully pour it over the sawdust, filling each cell with wax.  It will take a lot, because the paper carton will also soak up a lot of wax! 









When the wax is completely cooled and hardened, break apart the cells to create individual starters.  You can make simple gifts by tying them up in a cello bag with some festive ribbon, or fancy ones by nestling them into a bed of sawdust in a small crate or box.





These cute little fire starters  light quickly and reliably with a match or lighter, and because they are coated in wax, they will work rain or shine! 



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