Monthly Archives: October 2008

Making Sugar Skulls

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A couple of years ago, I found some skull garlands and skull necklaces at Star Wholesale (RIP, Star).  I bought them all in a post Halloween sale, I think, and I didn’t know what I was going to do with them.  I actually came out with two sizes of skulls: some were about 2 1/2 inches “square” – and they were made from plastic, I think.  Then, there were lots and lots of skull beads that came on the necklaces.  Those were less than an inch in all 3 dimensions.

I have used most of the larger skulls I bought, making faux sugar skulls with paint, sequins, white glitter, and glitter glue.  The next year, I made the skulls for my students, I think.  of course, they weren’t appreciated as much as if they had made them themselves. I just didn’t have patience that year.  Last year, of course, I taught French, and that is not skull-friendly.  I have sold a few of them, but they are difficult to ship, since the sequins fall off easily.

This year and maybe last year, I picked up skulls whenever I found them and whenever they were not too expensive.  Last month, I found some 4″ by 2 1/2″ skulls at Garden Ridge, I think, or Michaels – or maybe Party City.  I don’t remember what I paid for them, but I did find some that were slightly larger at WalMart for $1.00 each.  There were also some 8 inch skulls for $3.99.  I bought 3 of those.  And, some day, I will use the gigantic 18 inch (or more) skull I bought years ago when I made that first purchase.

I don’t think that I have ever published a tutorial on how to do this.  It is fairly easy, but it is also nice to have instructions.  I plan on letting my students (those who are well-behaved and who deserve it, that is) make them this year.  Yesterday and over the weekend, I used a hot glue gun to fill in the eye sockets – the sequin eyes will be glued on top of the skull, so there needs to be a firm foundation.  Today, I had my students paint the skulls. I used some leftover white and ecru paint that I mixed together.  With four classes working, we got two coats of paint on the skulls.

Tomorrow, I will have them use the brushes to put glue on the skulls and pour glitter over them.  That will probably take all four classes as well, since the glitter and glue have to dry on one side or on the top before they do the bottom.  On Thursday I will have sequins and glitter glue available for them to decorate their own skulls. By Friday, they should be dry, and the kids can take them home.

That’s the plan, and it may have to be altered if I am called in another day for jury duty.  I am preparing lesson plans just in case.  I am making my “demo” skulls in all four stages of developement, and will publish the tutorial when I have pictures of them all.  Stay tuned!

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Day Off

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This morning, my husband had an endoscopy, so I missed school to take him in.  It was early. We got back in at around 9:30.  He’s going to be okay.  I came home, made rice for him to eat, and a little Jello.  Then I took a nap.  Since the weather was so nice, I took the dog for a walk at my latest favorite place – The River District development in Berkeley Lake.  It’s only partially developed right now, and it’s on the Chattahoochee.  I just wish I had a horse to ride.

After I returned, I finally put together the three utility shelves I bought during the summer to add to my garage storage.  I think I can fit two more in there…  I know, this is fascinating.  Oh, I made baked tilapia with brown rice using my fabulous new artichoke tapenade I bought at Costco…

Cupcakes for Conference Night

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This week, in addition to being ITBS testing week, is also conference week.  This year, I begged off of doing translation for other teachers – I’ve done it the last two years for spring and fall.  Usually there is one night where the school and teachers stay open late for evening conferences.  This year, it’s Thursday night.  Usually, one of the assistant principals and his buddies rent a giant barbecue pit and barbecue hamburgers for an early dinner – all the better to keep us here until the evening.

This time, I volunteered to make cupcakes for all of the teachers for dessert.  I spent all last weekend making 3 kinds of cupcakes: carrot cake, Oreo cookie, and Magnolia Bakery vanilla.  I refrigerated them and waited to frost them last night.  I made a cream cheese frosting for the carrot cake cupcakes, but by adding the last of the cream cheese, I was able to make enough to frost the Oreo Cookie cupcakes.  Cream cheese is not usually my choice for those, but: waste not, want not.  I just added butter and powdered sugar to augment the rest of the icing – by then it was mostly buttercream.  I added pink food coloring to it and put gumdrops on top of the vanilla cupcakes.

All in all, I think I came to school this morning with 30 carrot cake cupcakes, 52 Oreo cookie cupcakes (complete with half a cookie on top), and 24 vanilla cupcakes.  We have about 120 to 150 in our staff, and although they would probably not all be staying, I wanted to make sure we had enough dessert.  So I bought a giant box of Ghirardelli brownie mixes at Costco.  I made 6 pans of brownies: 2 plain with M & Ms, 2 with pecans, and 2 of “Mexican” brownies (I added cinnamon, ancho chili powder and cayenne to them).  Don’t worry, I will label them.

To transport them, I did use my Cupcake Courrier, but I also scavenged some short rectangular boxes from Costco.  The best were the strawberry crates – they fit one on top of the other with space for the Oreo cookie topping.  Now, not that I expect lots of praise, but I did send an e-mail to my principal to let her know who brought the dessert.

NANOWRIMO is coming up!

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That’s National Novel Writing Month – I think that it is more well known by now, but if you are not familiar… The goal is to write a novel in one month.  That would be the month of November.  There is a great website that helps you keep track of your word count and to network with other aspiring authors.  Go to http://www.nanowrimo.org/ and check it out!  I did it once before, but that one was culled mostly from my journals and letters from France when I lived there the first time.

This time, I am thinking about writing about Mexico.  I once read a profile in the Robert Vavra book called All Those Girls in Love with Horses about a Mexican girl who took part in the fast-paced drill team call escaramuza charra.  I thought it would be fun to do a book about the world of charreria – the Mexican rodeo, with emphasis on an escaramuza drill team.  First, I came up with chapter title ideas – then I spent some time yesterday researching the sport on the internet.  There are all sorts of blurry videos of performances on YouTube, and some great photos online.  I have also found a few articles on teams, and found out that the National Finals in Mexico are at the end of October.

I thought about doing a story inspired by National Velvet – the girls could do escaramuza instead of gymkhanas.  But, if I really wanted to parallel the story, there has to be something to replace running in the Grand National.  First, I thought about her cross-dressing as a charro, but charreria is really not about the horse, and employs too much brute strength.  Then, I thought about her becoming a rejoneador and fighting bulls from horseback.  But she would have to have four horses for that, and I don’t think that engaging in blood sport equates being a girl jockey…

Ever since I saw that sad excuse for a movie adaptation starring Elizabeth Taylor, I have wanted someone to do a remake.  I’m sorry, but Velvet was a homely girl – a bony, blonde girl with a dental plate.  I think that they didn’t even give her all of her sisters.  Don’t get me started.  I pictured it as a multi-part Masterpiece Theater – I wanted to write it myself.  Water under the bridge.

Anyhoo… I am waiting for my copy of Book in a Month.  I saw it last weekend at Barnes and Noble and ordered it on Amazon.com.  So, we’ll see…

OR, I could just focus on writing in my blog every day that month… 😉