Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Off the rails

I know I had quiche on the menu for tonight, but I just wasn't in the mood for it. The weather didn't feel quiche-like to me and I was feeling kind of spunky, if not a touch punchy, about ruffling things up a little for dinner. After all, I had a bunch of organic broccoli that was one day away from heading to the compost bin, some sweet pork sausage left over from Thanksgiving, and a sad half onion - surely I could make this work. What could I do with these ingredients that would make my kids happy about dinner and would only take about 30 minutes to make?

Naturally I started to think of the usual vegetable/meat/pasta triple combination threat that I lean on at least once a week. But I wanted something more. Something heartier... something that I haven't tried to give to my oldest child in over a year because he nixed it so vehemently and something that my 2 year old has never tried. What is this? A suicide mission dinner?

It was certainly sounding like it.

When I announced what I was going to make for dinner when we got home, my husband did a double take and said, "Well it sounds good to me, but will they eat it?" I answered confidently (if not snappily) back, "Sure! Why not? I've always got cottage cheese* as my backup."

So I kicked off my work shoes and got to work. But as I chopped up the onion, I recalled my son's reaction 15 months ago when he ate this very same meal. He looked at me with a dead serious face and said, "Can you promise that we never have to have this dinner again?" Those words hang like a cloud over my head whenever I try to make a new meal for the family. But tonight I felt empowered and I was prepared to duke it out. I rehearsed my "I Am Mother Hear Me Roar" speech for when the inevitable whines and complaints would start. I planned to stomp my feet and scream, "I am SO sick of pasta! I am SO sick of doing the usual thing. We are branching out, people!" Lest you think I only let my 2 year old throw tantrums, I was all set to throw one of my own.

I was ready to rumble.

The risotto came together in a snap. I cooked the sausage (and bits were eaten on the sly by the kids), and the broccoli was tossed into the risotto for the last five minutes of cooking. After I added the Parmesan cheese, I put the dish on the table with a slightly defensive flourish and steeled myself for the barrage of complaints. But everyone just sat there with their bowls, looking pretty happy about seeing a new meal in front of them. Carefully I served the kids first and they tucked right in. I watched my son out of the corner of my eye, he being the harshest critic, and he was fairly quiet while he ate. I tentatively asked if he liked the risotto and he said without hesitation, "Yeah, it's really good, Mom. Like... really, really good" and he continued to wolf it down. After I picked my jaw up off the table, I noticed that the 2 year old picked out the broccoli and some sausage to eat before excusing herself. My husband and I ate ours with sauteed mushrooms on top and I had to put my speech aside and take my tantrum shoes off under the table.

There would be no rumble tonight.

Risotto, of all things, was like a breath of fresh air injected into our dinner. I went off the rails and our dinner survived. I did not have to give a speech or throw a tantrum, I did not have to resort to cottage cheese and everyone was well fed, happy and satisfied. I am a little stunned, a little sheepish about my defensive attitude about this meal going in. But I am so delighted that I can now add risotto to our dinner repertoire.

* Cottage cheese is our fall back food if dinner is not acceptable to the kids, if they cannot stand what I made, there is always cottage cheese in the fridge. It is the only food that I credit for getting us out of the "I will only eat pasta" phase we suffered from from ages 3 - 4 years old. I'd make a dinner and throw the container of cottage cheese on the table and he could have what we were eating or the cottage cheese. He lasted two weeks before caving in and trying something outrageous like chicken. Frustrating doesn't even begin to describe that time in our lives.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dinner Delivery (Newborns not required!)

I was going through some old documents on my computer and I stumbled across an excel document that I created to help organize meals to be delivered to a friend who just had a baby. And it occured to me: How nice would it be to just give a meal to a friend for that night and in return they do the same for you.

Those first few months with a newborn were a blur, but the welcome ring of the doorbell and the greeting of a friend with a meal in hand for my family was the highlight of those hazy newborn days where just getting yourself a drink of water was a feat in itself. The friends would bring these amazingly creative dinners and then often throw in a bottle of wine, a salad, sides and dessert too. I wish I could organize this sort of thing for my friends now that we have toddlers and big kids. Why should we only have a newborn to get a homemade meal? Who said that folks who have older children have their act together enough to get dinner on the table every night? I certainly don't.

I think I am going over this in my head because there are days like today where I really don't want to cook the meal I had planned. I will do it and I know that we will eat and enjoy the dinner, but I just wish I could have a dinner delivered to my doorstep again (and not by a delivery guy!) and then do the same for a friend in return.

Or maybe I am just having a lazy mom day.

Dinners for November 27 - December 3, 2011

Sunday: Turkey Noodle Soup

Monday: Quiche with turkey, broccoli and cheddar cheese (this is the last of the turkey. So glad we are done with this bird!)

Tuesday: Egg and black bean burritos

Wednesday: Bacon and Shrimp pasta (Everyday Food, April 2009)

Thursday: TBD

Friday: TBD

Saturday: Family night out

Saturday, November 26, 2011


This is my first guest blog entry and I am so excited to share it with everyone. Emma created an incredible childrens book database and writes reviews about the books that she comes across on her many trips to the library and around the city. She is also a close friend that I have mentioned here and there on this blog. So you can imagine my delight when she took the time to write about something that I think is perfect for this time of year and one that we certainly hold near and dear to our hearts in this family. Traditions.

For the record, it was Emma who inspired us to make cracked Dungeness crab a December tradition. Now if I can just convince my husband and son to get out there and catch a few crabs at 4 in the morning on the pier in Pacifica, we'd be set for the entire month. Take it away, Emma!

Tradition. It’s one of the things we strive to both maintain and create as we make our way through our stressful, scary lives. The stakes rise after you have kids. You so desperately want to be the kind of person who writes into parenting magazines saying, “Every December, we have a sleepover in the living room the first night we put up the Christmas tree,” or, “My kids and I have made this same cookie every December since the year they were born.” I remember sitting in a baby group when my son was one month old and the moderator asked, “What traditions would you like to create as your children grow?” I was panic-stricken as we moved around the room. I think I mumbled something lame like, “Uh, I plan to make them a great birthday cake every year.” Because that’s the thing about traditions: you can’t predict them. They have to evolve organically, grow by themselves from the messy bit parts that make up your day-to-day life.

With nothing, of course, is tradition more entwined than with food. Again, here I have major tradition envy. I remember my dear friend Amanda, she of this very blog, telling me that their family makes gingerbread waffles every Christmas morning. I think our Christmas morning breakfast is a last-minute pulling-things-out-of-fridge as we drag ourselves from our beds after having been up till midnight stuffing stockings. When she told me, I had a momentary thought of stealing her tradition, but I knew it wouldn’t stick. Again, you can’t force tradition.

I tend to think of myself as more spontaneous (read: disorganized) than tradition-bound, by nature. But of course, when I stop and look closely at my life, I see that we have traditions, too. Because I’m close to them, they may not be as clean and pretty as the two-liners I read about in magazines and on blogs. In all their real-life disarray, here are some of the food traditions that bring joy to my own life:
  • The Bûche de Noël yule log cake that I make every Christmas alongside my mom. Part of the tradition is, every darn year, forgetting which of the gazillion recipes out there we usually use, and frantically paging through cookbooks and trawling the Internet to find the right one. 
  • My husband roasting chestnuts. I love this tradition because he does all the work.
  • The scones my mom learned to make living in Scotland when I was a baby. The scones are more biscuit-like than the bakery ones we’re used to here, and I love how they’re baked in a round and cut into wedges.
  • Cracked Dungeness crab at the holidays, usually just twice because it’s so expensive.
  • My aunt’s homemade yeast rolls. The recipe comes from her grandmother, my great-grandmother, and we have never had a holiday dinner without them. Hot from the oven and smothered with butter, they are, hands-down, the best thing on the table. (Recipe below!)
  • My parents’ food-crazed yellow Labrador Retriever stealing at least one precious food item a year. When my son turned three and my mom baked him a cake in the form of the first letter of his name, guess who wolfed the whole thing behind our backs? Rosie. One Easter eve the dog gulped down ten hard-boiled eggs, shells and all. And one Christmas we bought an expensive Panettone for my aunt who was just back from Italy. Rosie ate it. But it’s okay—the story will last longer than the memory of the Panettone would have.
  • Abalone, mussels, and halibut, all courtesy of my fisherman brothers. Never am I so proud to live on the northern coast of California as when I am with my family table feasting on local seafood, plucked fresh from the brine just hours before.
  • Eggnog, the day after Thanksgiving. Irish coffees on Christmas morning with my in-laws. Wine at any hour with my friends. My brother’s homemade beer. Charles Shaw red (hey, we served it at our wedding!). Rosé with my husband in the summer. A glass of sparkling wine in the lobby of the Hyatt every Christmas season, as my kids go nuts around me. These are some of the little things that give my life a twinkle.
  • And lastly, lest you think me a snob, a bag of potato chips, a diet soda, and a beef jerky on road trips to see Grandma up north. There’s a time and a place for everything.
 What are your food traditions?

Grandma Katherine's Rolls
I'll make the rolls for a dinner with our families sometime. They're so soft and yeasty--basically fresh-baked white bread in muffin form.
4-5 cups flour
1Tablespoon salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 package dry yeast
1 3/4 to 2 cups warm water
vegetable oil
Sift four cups of the flour, the salt and the sugar into a large bowl. Mix shortening into flour mixture with fingers. Make a hole in the middle, put yeast in, add about half of the water, and mix until dissolved. Add remaining water and mix thoroughly. If dough is too sticky, add a little of the remaining one cup flour. Dough should be quite soft. Put some vegetable oil on top, cover, and let rise in warm place for about two hours. Form into rolls with oiled hands, set into muffin tins, and let rise another 1-2 hours. Bake at 450 for about ten minutes, until tops are lightly browned. Eat instantly with butter!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dinners for November 20 - 26, 2011

Sunday: Braised chicken with white wine, tomatoes and peas

Monday: Chicken fried rice with bok choy (my favorite all time "two-fer" recipe, details to come later this week)

Tuesday: Salmon in parchment with veggies

Wednesday: Noodles with peanut sauce and leftovers

Thursday: Thanksgiving

Friday: Homemade pizza with our favorite no-knead dough

Saturday: Swedish meatballs with pasta from the Time for Dinner cookbook

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mirepoix to geaux

I am patting myself on the back for recreating what Trader Joe's sells already, at least mine is a wee bit fresher. Just because I have limited time to chop the holy trinity for our soup during the week I just did the work the night before and threw it in a jar for tomorrow's use. Mirepoix to geaux.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rainbows and Waffles

Dinner wasn't going to be much to write about because when my husband is out of town on business I lose steam and lust for dinner after the second night. I really try and not give in to a frozen pizza or take out whenever possible, but there are those days when I am fried from work and commuting. But not this dinner... 

Now, this dinner wasn't as inspired as I wanted it to be but there were enough touches that took this dinner from "Meh" to "Zowie!" with my kids. The housekeeper had just cleaned the house from top to bottom and I did not want to do any more damage to the place than the kids can do to it in the two hours before bedtime. I remembered this great idea for using a waffle iron for your grilled cheese sandwiches and let me tell you, you have never seen two kids run to the table so quickly for dinner.

The six year old couldn't believe his luck and the two year old kept yelling "Pah-cake! Pah-cake for me!" They were giddy with joy. It reminded me of how excited I used to get about using my beloved Snackmaster, this little contraption that would toast and envelope whatever filling you put between two slices of bread. To a gangly ninth grade latchkey kid coming home from a harrowing day of high school drama, this was my transport to a happier place. I'd make myself a toasted sandwich after school and sit and watch re-runs of The Monkees till I was able to cope with the homework and the onslaught of phone calls from friends about who said what while running the 10-minute-mile in P.E.
My favorite concoction was to take two slices of Home Pride white bread and scoop some canned cherry pie filling in there and make a mini toasted cherry pie. Both the white bread and the canned cherry pie filling were no no's in our house, so I often bought those items with my babysitting money.

Back to present day, what took those waffle grilled cheese sandwiches to the next level was the Rainbow Salad. For some inexplicable reason my son requests this salad on a regular basis. I get a little tired of it, but I had all the ingredients for it and decided to quickly throw this together. What I love about this salad is all the subsititutions you can make - for red we use cherry tomatoes, yellow is corn, orange is grated carrots, green is either cucumbers, avocado or edamame and purple is purple cabbage. Throw that all in a bowl with some dressing and dinner was totally done. I had a ton of leftovers with the salad, so I ate it for lunch the next day with some diced rotisserie chicken. So many ways in which this was a winning dinner: 1) Minimal cleanup 2) Veggies were consumed without any fuss and 3) The kids think they got away with murder by having a waffle-ized grilled cheese sandwich. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dinners for November 13 - 19, 2011

Sunday: Leftovers with pasta thrown in to appease my two pasta monsters

Monday: Spicy Shrimp with yogurt and naan

Tuesday: Chicken corn chowder with bread and salad (no jalapeno for the kids, but us adults love it with hot sauce)

Wednesday: Fish tacos (my go to dinner that never fails to impress the kids, they love choosing their own toppings)

Thursday: Grandma and Grandpa are having the kids over for dinner. Yeehaw!

Friday: Date night for us, for the kids it will be homemade pizza or Annie's Mac N' Cheese with the babysitter

Saturday: Braised chicken with white wine, tomatoes and peas

Got Books?

My friend Emma was kind enough to ask me to guest blog at her new home on the internets, Emma's Kids Book Database, about one of my favorite books from my childhood, The Giant Jam Sandwich. I love a book that combines problem solving with baking and sewing.

Go over and check it out and while you are there poke around for some great book suggestions for your children. Emma's new database showcases her passion for children's books, which if you were to go to her house, you would see this first hand. She has more bookcases than a library!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

V. Bad!

V. Bad is the kiss of death for any recipe that my mother in law comes across. If you see "V. BAD!" scrawled across the top of a recipe in her enormous collection, then you have been warned, it's VERY BAD.  I wondered why she would save bad recipes and her reasoning was that if she came across it again her notes would warn her not to make it again. I wanted to argue that if it were thrown out of her immense recipe collection then it would be gone for good, but she insisted that the V. Bad description was the Scarlett Letter of the recipe world. Fair enough.

I just came across a V.Bad recipe that I can't help passing along, from my beloved Everyday Food magazine no less! The Busy Day Chocolate Cake is just horrible... rubbery, oily and suspiciously flat. Nothing like the picture which shows an airy cake with a crumbly texture. I could seriously mold this cake into a ball if I wanted to. I should have known something was up when I read the recipe twice looking for the egg that should be in this recipe but is most definitely not. If you read the reviews of the recipe you'll see that the negative comments outweigh the good. My first V. Bad and it feels so right.

Beef Stew for beginners

I really like to use my Crock Pot, but I often find that most recipes don't fit in with the amount of hours I am away from the home while at work. An eight hour crock pot pork verde sounds lovely in theory, but it almost always ends up being a rather disgusting looking gelatinous pork jelly by the time I get home from work that night. However, on the weekends in the winter I pull out my Crock Pot for dishes that only need about four to five hours on a weekly basis. 

What I love about this particular dish is that if you make it for guests (or your family), the clean up is done hours before they come over and you can use your free time elsewhere. I have to admit, I do feel rather smug when I go to the park with my kids at 4 pm in the afternoon with nary a worry about what I'm making for dinner that night because its been cooking away on my counter for the past two hours. What's even better is that I have been told by many that the smell of this dish is amazing... one friend went as far as to say she wouldn't mind having a beef stew-scented candle. Ew.  

Cooking beef stew in the oven is a good way to go for some, but I believe that this recipe was meant for the Crock Pot. I adapted this Everyday Food recipe over the years and it has been a hit with family and friends. Maybe there is a market for that beef stew-scented candle after all.

Beef Stew for beginners
Adapted from Everyday Food, October 2006
Serves 4-6 

2 lbs cubed beef (Side note: I always buy a couple of steaks and cube it up myself as my grandmother taught me to never trust what is in those "beef stew" packages of meat, just do it yourself)
1/3 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons flour
2 onions, diced
4 carrots, cut into 1/2 rounds
5 or 6 red potatoes, cut up into wedges
3 garlic cloves, smashed
3/4 teaspoon of dried thyme
2 bay leaves

Mix the beef with the tomato paste, vinegar and flour inside the crock pot so the beef is covered with the paste. Generously salt and pepper the mixture and then put the onions, carrot, potatoes, garlic, thyme and bay leaves on top. Cook on high for 5 hours. Spoon into bowls and serve with a hunk of bread and a nice side salad.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dinners for November 6-12, 2011

Contrary to the lack of meal plans on the blog, I do still plan our dinners every week. I just have been horrible about posting them!

Here is our plan for the week.

Sunday: Roasted acorn squash and with soy marinated chicken

Monday: Roasted salmon with roasted broccoli and brussel sprouts - Everyday Food

Tuesday: Spaghetti with carmelized onions, spinach and parmesan (Source: DALS) Quick update: Both (!!) of my kids inhaled the carmelized onions. Full moon, perhaps?

Wednesday: Cauliflower cheddar soup

Thursday: Spaghetti frittata "pie" with spinach and potatoes Quick update: This meal didn't happen thanks to lovely protesters from Occupy Oakland! Thanks guys! You may have proved your point about the other 99%, but you totally killed my family dinner plans. However, the two year old got what she asked for, "Hangerbers and fwench fwies." Bless you Tower Burger for being there when we needed you.

Friday: Dinner with friends... I'm thinking beef stew given our weather these days.

Saturday: Turkey burgers with sweet potato fries

Mission Impossible: Impossible Pie

The evening started out on a bad note, BART was delayed due to a protest at one of the stations and the kids and I ended up getting home later than planned. This is often the kiss of death for any meal that I have planned because if I get in that door late - even with a husband that will play with the kids and distract them from the kitchen - things go downhill fast. Not only was I on single parent duty that night, but I was late getting home! I soldiered on because there is nothing like a childhood craving to make me dig in my heels a little harder to get what I want.

I have no idea what made me suddenly want an Impossible Pie, but boy did I want one. The Impossible Pie was on heavy dinner rotation in my house growing up and I loved them all. I am sure my mother loved them because it was a throw together sort of dish - take your leftovers, add some cheese to it, put it in a greased pie dish, and pour Bisquick and eggs over the filling and dinner is done. I can even remember the white Pyrex pie plate coming out of the oven and wondering which delicious cheesy filling my mom had chosen for dinner that night.

A little history on how the Impossible Pie came to be. In 1981 the Bisquick company celebrated their 50th anniversary by publishing a cookbook of old and new recipes, including "a pie that did the impossible - formed its own crust as it baked." 
The Impossible Coconut Pie and Impossible Bacon Pie were the first recipes published in that book and homemakers across America quickly adapted the recipe to fit what their families would eat and sent in their recipes (with over 100 varieties!) to the Bisquick company for publication. And this was before the Internet, people! These industrious folks snail-mailed their own variations on the recipe to the company. Now we just blog about it. Crazy. The Bisquick company published these booklets for sale at grocery stores. My mom picked one up during a shopping trip and a regular rotation dish was born in our house.

So flash forward 30 years and there I was craving an Impossible Pie. I walked in the front door at 6:15 PM, flicked the oven on to 400 degrees and quickly got to work. Instead of using Bisquick, I subbed in Trader Joe's Multigrain Baking & Pancake Mix, the measurements from Bisquick to TJ's mix are exact. I mixed in a  combination of Gruyère and Monterey Jack cheeses, leftover chopped chicken and some left over steamed broccoli. I poured the TJ's mix over the filling and popped it in the oven for 30 minutes as promised. I served this alongside a small salad of avocado with cherry tomatoes. The kids loved it. And here I was thinking that they would just push it aside, but they both ate decent portions and I just sat there marveling how just one bite of that pie could transport me back to my childhood kitchen on Shawnee Lane, watching my mom bop around the kitchen while singing along to Alicia Bridges' "I Love the Nightlife" on the record player.

Thanks for the memories, Impossible Pie.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Anosmia and my nose

Congenital Anosmia is something I have lived with my whole life, I have never been able to smell one single thing. Many think that this would affect my cooking or my ability to taste. And they are right to a degree, I certainly am not comfortable with winging it when it comes to cooking (sewing is another matter). I tend to follow directions and ingredient lists to the letter. Parsley and cilantro taste exactly the same to me, cinnamon and cumin are like dust and lemon zest and orange zest are just pithy things that get caught in my teeth. But I can taste sweet, sour, salt, and bitter.

The reason I bring this up is that I just finished reading Molly Birnbaum's book, "A Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way" and it was like suddenly someone finally could put into words what I could not explain for so many years - the complete absence of smell and how tied it is to taste.

A dear friend of mine, Katie, used to be my "Smelling Nose Dog" where she would try and describe a smell to me and I loved hearing her descriptions. The most memorable one was that cut grass smelled like the way you feel when you walk into a forest on a clear crisp day for a hike and the amount of oxygen around you just smacks you over the head. I loved that description so much. But Molly's descriptions blew me away and also humbled me. I realized how much I am missing, but at the same time how much I can taste. I don't think things taste like cardboard - ever. I judge what I taste on texture and flavors that I can discern. A doctor once said I probably taste about 40 percent of what the average person tastes. I can live with that.

Being a congenital anosmic has its downsides, but I really can't complain about them because it doesn't feel fair. That same doctor also told me, "Of all the senses to not have since birth, smell is one that I can imagine one could live without and not feel like you are disabled in some way. Be thankful you have your sight, your touch, your hearing. But no smell? You'll be just fine." Of course I'll be fine. I am fine. But I would love to know why I can't smell, everyone else in my family can. My children can smell just fine. I am just a fluke.

As a child and teenager I thought I was just stupid for not being able to smell. When people would ask, "Can you smell that?" I'd just play along and say yes, I didn't want anyone to know that I was different in some way and certainly with one that they couldn't see. I was worried they would confirm what I had been slowly saying about myself, "I'm not smart enough to smell things." Then one day while babysitting for some kids down the street, the Pop-Tart I had put into the toaster got stuck and started to burn. I didn't smell the smoke for some time and it had started a small fire in the kitchen. I only noticed the fire when the smoke came into the living room and I quickly (and foolishly) threw a jug of water onto the appliance and shorted out the entire electrical circuitry of the house. When the children's mother came home and asked why I hadn't smelled the smoke, I knew the jig was up. I told her I couldn't smell anything, so she walked me home and suggested to my mother that I get tested. A few years later I did get tested and the doctors that I had visited ranged from the one who accused me of lying to get attention, the one who said I probably had a bad cold at the time (I didn't) and then one who was so fascinated by my story that he went and got a medical book and we sat together, looking through it till he found the word "Anosmia." He did a battery of tests on me and confirmed what I had known all along, I couldn't smell a darn thing. Not oranges, not gasoline, not medicine, not flowers, nothing. However, we did learn that peppermint did cause a sensation akin to burning in my nose, so at least I can say I can smell peppermint.

I had heard of people losing their sense of smell from accidents and from surgery and I never understood this lamenting loss they all expressed, this depression they seemed to get into. I guess that is what comes when you lose something you once had. I never had it so it doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me. The only smell I wish I could have is the one of my children, I wish I knew what a baby smelled like - that powdery smell that is often described sounds like heaven to me. Other than that I am fine with what I don't have. I have gone from being embarrased about being different to embracing it and owning it. I can cook, my friends and family enjoys the dishes that I cook and I love to eat. I may not be able to tell the difference between some things, but I have the love for food.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Handmade Halloween - the squid edition

**Updated! My son's costume won a dubious (yet loving) award at SFGate's The Poop. Check it out!

Halloween is my holiday. I can do without the hard boiled eggs at Easter, the roasted turkey at Thanksgiving and the figgy pudding at Christmas... but give me orange and black and pumpkin decorations and I am a happy girl. From October 1 -31 I am in a mad dash to get it all in - the pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin patches, fall festivals, apple picking... the whole thing. It is like I am a manic fall freak for 31 days a year and then I calm down and go back to normal.

This year my son wanted to be a red squid. He decided on this after taking this picture of one at the California Academy of Sciences.

I loved the idea of making this costume and my head was spinning with ideas. I could have gone the whole "cut up a sweatshirt" route, but I knew I could do better than that. So I started searching around on flickr and came across this amazing costume.
                                                    (Photo courtesy of Lucy Lou via flickr)

My son took one look at this and said, "That's it!" Great! (Pause) Now how do I make it?

I searched around and found the original creator's blog and posted a comment about what an amazing costume it was and did she have any advice on how to recreate it? She never replied and maybe that was for the best because I was left to figure it out on my own. Sometimes the best results come from just winging it. By studying the photos on flickr, I could see the construction of the costume and went to work. I drew my pattern pieces on brown paper grocery bags and tinkered with the size of the squid head. I made a mock up with some leftover red felt that was passed on to me from a friend. After sewing it together, I kept thinking it looked sort of off, maybe a little strange. I took a few steps back from the table and it hit me, my squid head looked  phallic. Oh dear. So I ripped it all out and tried it again two more times and on the third try I hit pay dirt and stuffed that squid head with batting.

Knowing my son wouldn't wear it if it were made out of scratchy felt I ordered soft pink and red fleece online. I attached the head to the the rest of the body of the squid which was made by tracing one of his hoody sweatshirts onto the fleece fabric for the arms and body. I then then lined the inside of the tentacles and arms with pink fleece and sewed it together like a traditional shirt. And a Halloween costume would not be complete without the use of a glue gun so I attached the suction cups onto the tentacles and viola...a squid was born.

In honor of Lucy and Nora (the squid creator extraordinaire), my son happily posed just like Lucy did in her squid costume. Thank you to the both of you for such great inspiration. We will likely never meet in person, but you inspired us and we thank you for it.