Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: The Algonquin

The Algonquin

Sorry for the delay in posting.  I've allowed myself to get rather wrapped up in holiday events.

The week after we tried The Benchley, we decided we must try the drink it was based on, The Algonquin.  As with the Benchley, this drink was created to honor the Round Table group of creatives and intellectuals who met regularly at New York's Algonquin Hotel in the 1920s.

It seems a theme this winter, as the Algonquin Round Table was also featured on the historical food blog Lost Past Remembered, where the author posted an Algonquin specialty, Lobster Fra Diavolo.

The Algonquin

1.5 oz Rye Whiskey
0.75 oz Dry Vermouth
0.75 oz Pineapple Juice

Shake over ice and strain. No garnish.

The verdict: Although this was a perfectly suitable drink, it seemed a disappointment after The Benchley. The Algonquin has fewer layers of flavor than the Benchley, and although the latter has less fruit juice, it is somehow more fruity and pineapple-y than the former.  On the whole a decent drink, and fairly dry for having fruit juice, but not as good as the Benchley.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: The Benchley

The Benchley

This past Wednesday was Repeal Day - that is, the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition.We chose to try the libation invented by the folks at 12 Bottle Bar that they posted for the event, The Benchley. This drink is a twist on The Algonquin, a drink with a mush longer legacy that, ironically, we have yet to try. The Benchley was named after a founding member of a group of writer, actors, critics, and "wits" that met regularly at the Algonquin hotel in New York, Robert Benchley. Today, he is probably best known for his acting and writing in Oscar-winning short film "How to Sleep" (1933).

The Benchley

1.5 oz Rye Whiskey
0.75 oz Dry Vermouth
0.75 Pineapple-Sriracha Syrup

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe.

For Pineapple-Sriracha Syrup:

1 part Pineapple Juice
1 part Sugar
Sriracha Hot Sauce to taste

Dissolve sugar in pineapple juice over very low heat. Stir in Sriracha, until you have reached an even balance between sweet and hot.

The verdict: This was a very unusual drink with many layers of flavor, and we all enjoyed it.  There was the fruitiness and the heat, flavors that played against each other in many ways like a sweet and sour sauce.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: Dry Martini

Dry Martini

Tonight, I decided to revisit an old standard that we had probably not tasted since before we began this experiment, the Dry Martini.  For one, I wondered if our tastes had changed, and for another, I decided to try an older recipe.  This recipe comes via David Wondrich's Imbibe, from Charlie Mahoney's Hoffman House Bartender's Guide, 1906.  The Dry Martini first arose with the advent of dry gin in the late 1880's, as sweetened drink in general became outmoded.

Dry Martini

1.5 oz Dry Gin
1.5 oz French Dry Vermouth
1 ds Orange Bitters

Stir in a mixing glass full of shaved ice, strain into a cocktail glass and squeeze a lemon or orange peel on top.

The verdict: This Martini was considerably more lovely than other martinis I have had.  Perhaps it was the inclusion of the orange bitters that brought it all together. Perhaps it was the Noilly Prat vermouth, or the fact that the vermouth hasn't been sitting around neglected and gone bad.  (Yes, that's possible - common, even.)  Scott thought at first that it was mainly a very floral gin, and could not entirely pull out the vermouth. I take that as a good sign that the vermouth was not overwhelming, despite the equal portions.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cadence Socks - Finished!

Cadence Socks

It has been a long time since I've spoken about my knitting, and that is because I haven't really done much or finished anything to speak of.  I was still working on the Cadence Socks I was working on back in July.  I hated the way that the author had you shift the stitches, and I realized after the heel turn that I hadn't gotten the last shift correct.  Still, there was no way I was going to rip out and do the heel turn again, so I just futzed it and did something semi-logical on the foot, but the pattern is basically turned 90ยบ from ideal.  It irritated me because I don't like the look as much, plus I had to think really hard about the pattern, so I wasn't motivated to knit it.  This past week, I finally reached the point of grafting the toes, and wove the ends in on Thanksgiving to finish the pair.  And boy was I thankful to have them finished.

I still really like the look of the socks as designed, and I might be able to do it if I knit them individually as the designer anticipates, but I think I will have to chart them out entirely to be pleased with the result.

Sage and Brown Butter Marshmallows

Sage and Brown Butter Marshmallows

A couple of Thanksgivings ago, I read about Brave Tart's sweet potato casserole made with homemade brown butter and sage marshmallows, and I was excited to try making them. This year seemed like the perfect opportunity, with a lot of unpicked sage in the flower box, and no responsibility of hosting Thanksgiving, but not traveling across the country either.

Sage and Brown Butter Marshmallows

Making marshmallows from scratch is kind of a crazy thing, and it had never occurred to me to do it before I saw it on Smitten Kitchen, I believe it was. What really intrigued me and made me want to try making marshmallows was the idea of making flavored ones, such as these savory ones for sweet potato casserole, or peppermint ones for hot coco.

Brown Butter Sage Marshmallows

1.5 oz gelatin
8 oz cold water

3/4 oz fresh sage, finely chopped
11 oz light corn syrup
8 oz water
28 oz sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

6 oz unsalted butter

Ample powdered sugar for dusting

Lightly grease a 9”x13” pan.

Combine the gelatin and 8 oz cold water in the bottom of a stand mixer bowl. Set aside.

Heat the sage, corn syrup, water, sugar and salt over medium heat until the mixture reaches 240°. Shut off the heat and let it stand until it cools to 210°.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, brown the butter.

Pour the cooled syrup into the mixing bowl with the awaiting gelatin. Whisk on medium speed until the mixture has more than doubled.

Slowly drizzle in the browned butter and continue whisking until well incorporated.

Scrape the marshmallow goo into the pan and tap to dislodge large air bubbles. Dust the top of the giant marshmallow with powdered sugar, cover in plastic and refrigerate overnight.

To cut the marshmallows, dust a cutting board generously with powdered sugar. Pull the chilled marshmallow out of the pan by literally reach your fingers between the it and the pan. Dust the exposed bottom of the marsh mallow with powdered sugar. Cut the marshmallow into strips and roll them in powdered sugar to prevent them from sticking. Next, cut each strip into individual marshmallows. Toss these cut pieces in more powdered sugar to prevent them from sticking.

For more detailed instructions, see Brave Tart's original recipe.

As for the sweet potato casserole, Brave Tart didn't really give a recipe for hers, so I used one from Epicurious for the sweet potato mixture.

Sage and Brown Butter Marshmallows

I popped it under the broiler for a few minutes before heading out the door, and this is where things went wrong. My glorious marshmallows were either in there too long, or I set the broiler on too high, and they melted, bubbled, and charred. Now, I had a layer of goo with burnt bits floating on top, rather than a lovely mosaic of browned marshmallow. And when it was served for Thanksgiving it was, shockingly, even worse. I suspect that the host heated it too much/when it shouldn't have been, and the marshmallow just oozed over the whole thing like a lake, so you couldn't even tell if you were getting sweet potatoes, or what was in the pan, or anything.  Ahh, well.  At least I can say I have now made marshmallows from scratch.  And three people saw them to verify that -- including myself - and now you've seen the photographic evidence.

Cocktail Wednesdays: Saratoga Cocktail

Saratoga Cocktail

While I finished up making pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, our guest selected the Saratoga Cocktail, which is ironically similar to the previous week's cocktail.  This one was originally published in Jerry Thomas's Bar-Tender's Guide, 1887, and was named for Saratoga Springs, a resort of the time in northern New York, with gambling, horse racing, cocktails and cigars.

Saratoga Cocktail

1 oz Brandy
1 oz Rye Whiskey
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 ds Angostura Bitters
Lemon wedge to garnish

Stir over ice, strain into a claret glass, and serve with 1/4 slice of lemon.

The verdict: This one is a twist on the Manhattan, substituting cognac in for some of the whiskey.  I liked it, as did our guest, but Scott felt that the flavor of the vermouth was too strong.

Cocktail Wednesdays: Morning Cocktail

Morning Cocktail

Two weeks ago, Scott chose the Morning Cocktail from David Wondrich's Imbibe.  I'm not sure what the name is from, since it certainly seems to be a fierce tipple for the A.M.

Morning Cocktail

1 oz Brandy
1 oz Rye Whiskey
1 oz Absinthe
2 ds Angostura Bitters
Lemon wedge as garnish

Stir over ice, strain into a claret glass and serve with a 1/4 slice of lemon.

The verdict: This one is definitely an absinthe cocktail, which overwhelms the other flavors.  They do give a warmth to the cocktail, but are not balanced in flavor the way that the equal parts might imply.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: Bijou Cocktail

Bijou Cocktail

We haven't done a cocktail for the last couple of weeks because wee were frantically finishing the basement bar instead.  We had to finish in time for a party we hosted last friday.  Well, at least, we had to finish enough for it to be acceptable for our friends who knew wh had been under construction to come over.  I meant to update you on the progress but obviously I haven't done that yet.

My mom sent us the cocktail book Imbibe, by David Wondrich as a "bar warming" present.  The Bijou Cocktail on page 256 was my selection from this book for tonight's choice.  The original source for this one is Harry Johnson's Bartender's Manual from 1900.

Bijou Cocktail

1 oz Green Chartreuse
1 oz Italian Vermouth
1 oz Gin
1 ds Orange Bitters
Maraschino cherry, as garnish

Stir over ice, strain into a cocktail glass, add a cherry, squeeze a piece of lemon peel on top and serve.

The verdict: Another of our favorites, I find this one both warm thanks to the sweet vermouth and bright thanks to the chartreuse. I like the combination quite a lot and was surprised at how well it blends.  Scott says that it has a lot of similarities in feel to a Manhattan, but he likes it better.  I feel that the gin blends into the chartreuse and the orange bitters and possibly the maraschino cherry add enough sweetness to make Scott wonder if there was rum in it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: Saketini


This week, we had started to plan trying a baseball or tiger themed drink, as we sat down with our friends to watch the ALCS game between the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees. Unfortunately, the game was canceled thanks to the threat of rain, and we ended up settling on trying to pick something that would go well with our meal instead. I had some wonderful vietnamese chicken sausage made by Corridor Sausage Co. that I had picked up at Eastern Market on Tuesday, and I made a sort of variation on teriyaki stir-fry with it. Basically, I used a little canola oil and a little sesame oil, cooked the sausage enough to cut it up, then sauteed it with some red onion, baby bok choy, bell peppers, and a hot pepper from my garden. Then, I added leftover teriyaki sauce I had made recently when I did a ginger teriyaki, and some fish sauce to give it more of a vietnamese flavor. At the last minute, I added green onion, and I should have added the leafy part of the bok choy, but I forgot it, so I guess I'll be using it soon in something else. At any rate, based on what we had on our shelves, we chose to try a sake-based drink to go along with it in order to stay more in the asian realm of flavors.

The Saketini replaces the dry vermouth in a standard martini with sake. For those of us who are not vermouth fans, this is an intriguing possibility, since there is a certain similarity in flavor between a dry vermouth and sake. That is to say that while they are obviously not the same, it makes much more sense to sub it for the vermouth than for the gin.


2 1/2 oz gin
1 1/2 Tbsp sake rice wine
1 cocktail olive

Stir gin and sake over ice, garnish with an olive.

The verdict: Scott and I both enjoyed this mare than we like a regular martini, and I would say I liked it better than a normal glass of sake, though I didn't ask Scott that question. I feel that the gin made it brighter than sake normally is. On the other hand, one of our friends couldn't drink it.

Cocktail Wednesdays: The Derby Cocktail

Derby Cocktail

Last week, I settled on the Derby cocktail, trying to make something of the last mint in the garden, which in retrospect was rather shabby, as you can see from the photo.


1 oz Bourbon
1⁄2 oz Sweet vermouth
1⁄2 oz Orange Liqueur
3⁄4 oz Lime juice
1 lf Mint (as garnish)
1 wdg Lime (as garnish)

Shake over ice, strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with mint and lime wedge.

The verdict: I thought that it was a fairly straight forward, nice twist on a sour, with the orange note, and with a bit of extra spice from the higher rye content in the Woodford Reserve bourbon we chose. Scott liked it, but our guest did not. Then again, our guest also noted that he is not much of a fan of bourbon. Personally, I suspect it is the rye-heavy aspect he doesn't particularly like, since he has enjoyed other bourbon drinks in the past, made with other brands of bourbon.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: Wild Flower

Wild Flower Cocktail

It has turned colder here, and on Wednesday, I broke out the Woodford bourbon for a more spicy and warm cocktail.  Flowers were a bit of a theme for the night, since I also fried up some cheese-stuffed squash blossoms for dinner, so I ended up selecting Wild Flower for the night's cocktail.

Wild Flower:

1 oz     Gin
1⁄2 oz  Elderflower liqueur, St. Germain
1⁄2 oz  Bourbon
1 ds     Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a large snifter.

The verdict: This drink was an interesting progression of flavors.  Rather than appearing all at once, we felt that taste began with the gin, them moved to the bourbon, and finished with an elderflower aftertaste.  One of our guests was particularly fond, and I liked it, but Scott was not much of a fan.  He said he preferred the other elderflower drinks we had tried.

B. Nektar Cherry Chipotle Mead w/ Chocolate Cake

Our friends brought over something else for us to try - a special limited edition mead from their excursion to the B. Nektar Meadery.  The brand is made in Ferndale, MI, just outside of Detroit, and we had a great time at their anniversary festival last year. This particular mead - Cherry Chipotle - is quite unusual, as they added cherry juice to the honey before fermentation, and steeped it in chipotle peppers after fermentation.  As the bottle recommended, we paired it with a chocolate cake, and it was a lovely, smokey, spicy combination.  I felt that it tasted more like a spicy cherry wine than a mead.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: The Incredible Hulk and Black Hawk Cocktail

The Incredible Hulk Cocktail

Yesterday, The Avengers movie was released on DVD, and several friends came over to watch it at our house. One requested an Avengers themed drink, so we tried The Incredible Hulk, though we halved the recipe, since we didn't have much Mountain Dew on hand.

The Incredible Hulk

2 oz Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum
1 Tbsp Sugar
Mountain Dew to top

Add the Captain Morgan to a glass with sugar, then add Mountain Dew until the mix turns green.

The drink wasn't going to be able to turn green with the amount of Mountain Dew we had, so Scott added a drop of green food coloring.

The verdict: Mountain Dew is already pretty sweet, so adding sugar made it even sweeter. Still, Scott and our friend liked it. Scott said, "it was weak and delicious." It was very sweet and had a totally different taste from its components. He couldn't really taste the Mountain Dew, though he could identify the flavor of the rum, weakly.

Black Hawk Cocktail

Personally, I am allergic to caffeine, so I didn't try that one. Instead, I had another cocktail, the Black Hawk Cocktail.

Black Hawk Cocktail

1 1⁄4 oz Bourbon
1 1⁄4 oz Sloe gin
1⁄2 oz Lemon juice

Shake over ice, strain into a coupe.

The verdict: The dominant flavors were the sloe gin and the citrus. I actually used half lemon and half lime, but it was still too acidic for Scott. The drink is very tart. Our friend felt it was too sour for him. I would definitely say that it is primarily sour with a back note of the plum-like sloe berry and some of the astringency of the gin. I do get some of the bourbon flavor, but it is fleeting. I think it's more identifiable in the aroma. Personally, I think this drink would be better with less lemon juice, less sloe gin, and more bourbon.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: (English) Blackthorn

English Blackthorn

When we were in Atlanta at Green's buying alcohol for Dragon*Con, we picked up a bottle of sloe gin to try, since it's an old variety that we've heard about, but neither of us have tried. In England, blackthorn bushes are a common componant of hedgerows, bushes that are trained and used as living fences around fields. The berry that grows on this spiny bush is called a sloe berry. Traditionally, these berries are macerated and steeped in gin, creating a garnet colored liqueur with a flavor of its own.

The sloe gin itself is astringent and has strong flavors of plum, a relative of the blackthorn, and a general rich concentrated fruitiness that reminds me of port. It reminded some people of certain medicine flavorings, but I found that the more I drank it, the less astringent it seemed, and the more it felt like a plum port. I would love to try it with some blue cheese -- or perhaps Stilton.

The drink I chose for today is the Blackthorn. Since there are several drinks with this name. I did not choose the drink from the Savoy Cocktail Book, which is also known as the Irish Blackthorn. I believe this one is known as the English Blackthorn. I have definitely seen the same drink with different proportions called Blackthorn English.  I believe this is because the Savoy recipe uses irish whiskey, while this recipe uses gin, wich is widely known for its popularity in England (at least at a certain era).

(English) Blackthorn:

2 oz Sloe Gin
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
1 Dash Orange Bitters

Stir over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

The verdict: I like this one , but I do like the sloe gin anyway. I find the vermouth tones it down a bit and makes it less astringent. In general, I find this has a flavor of rich red fruits. All of the ingredients blend nicely together. Scott found it difficult to identify the components, but he did only take a small sip of the sloe gin before.

Cocktail Wednesdays: French Manhattan

French Manhattan

We picked us some recipe cards at the Woodford Reserve gift shop, and decided to try one today, the French Manhattan.

French Manhattan:

2 oz Bourbon, Woodford Reserve
1 oz Raspberry Liqueur, Chambourd
1 Dash Bitters

Shake over ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

The verdict: We all thought it was tasty. A fruitier twist on the Manhattan, with the Chambourd serving as the replacement sweetener in lieu of sweet vermouth.

Bourbon Distillery Tour: Woodford Reserve

Woodford Reserve
A friend took advantage of the custom engraving in the gift shop.

Every year for the last three years, we've gone on a tour of a bourbon distillery in Kentucky every year for the last three years.  This year, our trip took up to the Woodford Reserve Distillery.

Woodford Reserve
Outside the distillery building

 At Woodford, they use the original limestone buildings erected by Scotch-Irish immigrants who originally owned the farm.  Inside this building is the distillery.

Woodford Reserve
Barrel run with newly filled barrels

Barrels are transported between buildings on a barrel run, which is a sloped set of iron rails that runs between buildings, allowing them to roll easily along the track.  These barrels have just been filled at the distillery and are being stacked up, ready to go into the storage warehouses when enough have been filled.

Woodford Reserve
Grain sample on display

During the tour, they told us about the exact proportions in the grain mix they use, which is high in corn and unusually high in rye, with only a small amount of malted barley.  The grain arrives as whole kernels, and they hammer mill it to the course grind shown in the smaller sample.  A hammer mill provides a result more similar to stone grinding than a roller mill used in most modern bread production, because it preserves the germ and therefor the majority of the nutrients and a lot of the flavor in the grain.

Woodford Reserve
Mash-tun interior

They use cypress tanks (made from Georgia cypress!) with chilled water cooling coils for their mash-tuns.  You can see the exterior of this mash-tun in the background of the photo above this one.  Cypress is used because of its resistance to water and its dimensional stability when wet.  They should get decades of use out of these tanks.

Woodford Reserve
Bubbling mash/wort/distiller's beer

Woodford uses a sour mash, which means that, like a sourdough, they reserve some of the previous mash to help start the next batch.  This helps consistency between batches, and I imagine that it is similar to sourdough, where good bacteria produce stronger flavors if you let them munch away for longer. If I remember correctly, they also pitch yeast into the mash in addition to the starter.

Woodford Reserve
Mash cooker
In the mash cooker, the grains are combined with hot water .

Woodford Reserve
Copper Pot Stills
The bourbon is tripple distilled in three copper pot stills. The three stages are called beer, low wine, and high wine.  Most bourbon distilleries use column stills because they are easier to use for high-quantity production, but pot stills are known for the high quality of the liquor they produce.

Woodford Reserve
Original copper pot still from the property
Even so, today's huge pot stills are a lot more efficient for production than this tiny old one used by the farm settlers.

Woodford Reserve
Spirit safe used to test the alcohol content of the distillate.
The master distiller will open this spirit safe to check the proof of the product at the different stages of production.  You can see the distillate pouring from the pipes as you stand next to the safe.  During prohibition, the distiller would have had a key and the government officer would have had the other, and they would have both needed to be there in order to open this safe.

Woodford Reserve
Modern copper pot still in use as the beer still
This still provides the first level of distillation.

Woodford Reserve
Tank used to dilute the spirit to the proper strength for barreling.
The proof of the spirit going into the barrel is regulated by law, and this tank is used to adjust the spirit coming out to the final distillation to the proper strength.

Woodford Reserve
Barrels with various levels of use and char

Here you can see how the oak barrels are transformed for and by the bourbon aging process. From left to right, we have new oak, toasted oak, charred oak, used barrel.  Bourbon barrels must, by law, be made from white oak, and never have been used before.

Woodford Reserve
Extra barrels ready to be filled.

Woodford Reserve
Barrels are filled individually
The horizontal cask is set up for filling, resting on a scale attached to the barrel run.  The distiller mans the spout as spirit pours into the barrel, until it reaches the proper weight.  Then he plugs the hole with a bung made of poplar, because this soft wood will not contract as fast as oak, ensuring a good seal. Then he rolls it down the barrel run toward the warehouse for aging.

Woodford Reserve
Old scale and office.

Old scales like this one were originally used to gauge the value of a barrel of whiskey.  Older barrels actually weigh less, because water is lost during the aging process.

Woodford Reserve
Aging warehouse

Like the distillery, the aging warehouse is made of limestone in the Scotch-Irish vernacular style.

Woodford Reserve
Aging warehouse

Woodford Reserve
Stored barrels aging

Woodford Reserve
Barrels of aged whiskey being emptied
As the whiskey is poured out into this trough, small lumps of charcoal from the interior of the bottle loosened during the aging process also pours into the trough and is caught by a sieve.  Whiskey is then diluted to the proper proof before heading to the bottling line across the room.

Woodford Reserve
Bottling line

On this small bottling line, some things are still done by hand.

Cocktail Wednesdays: Soulless Ginger and Tempest

Souless Ginger

I have two more recipes to share from my friend Bones's inventions at Dragon*Con.  This year, his new bottle to try was a ginger liqueur.  Therefor, he created two new gingery drinks.

Soulless Ginger:

4 oz Strawberry Parrot Bay Rum
2 oz Ginger Liqueur

Mix and enjoy.


3 oz Dark Spiced Rum
1 oz Ginger Liqueur
Juice of 1/4 Lime

Mix and enjoy.

Cocktail Wednesdays: The Gravy


Our friend Bones bought a bottle of Kracken rum a few years ago at Dragon*Con, and he used it to invent a mix drink with pineapple and orange juice.  It looked rather like gravy, so that's the name it has had ever since.  Now, he usually carries a flask of it all weekend long.  It has become a Dragon*Con staple for our group.  In the case of the image above, he put it in a bottle and claimed it was his "miracle elixer" in conjunction with his steampunk alchemist costume.

The Gravy

1 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Orange Juice
2 oz Spiced Rum, Kracken

Mix & enjoy.

The verdict: Bones always says this tastes like a creamsicle, which I don't think is true.  Still, it's surprisingly tasty given its appearance.  Sweet and orangey fruity rum drink with a spicy twist.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Piping in spandex

Installing Piping

For my Black Widow costume, where I was basically replicating Scarlett Johansson's costume from Iron Man II, I needed to add piping at all of the princess seam lines. At first, I tried to make the piping before inserting it into the suit, and I found that did not work very well. This is probably partly because I didn't own a piping foot at the time, but I also found much more success when I did it a little differently, following a tutorial on how to pipe stretch fabrics.

Installing Piping

First, I cut strips of the fabric I wanted for the piping. I sewed these strips to the main fabric, exposing a width of fabric equal to the circumference of the elastic cording was using as the center of the piping.

Installing Piping

I laid the cording inside this gap and folded the seam allowances of the main fabric together.

Installing Piping

Finally, I got a glorious piping foot and sewed along the seam line at the regular seam allowance width.

Installing Piping

All of this resulted in a beautiful piped seam.

Catching up post Dragon*Con

Sorry it has been so long since I have posted.  I have no real excuse, only pseudo-excuses like "I was out of town"  and "then I was sick", but I have some things I want to share with you from my trip, and I really wasn't that sick.

As with last year, we scrambled to finish our costumes before heading off to Dragon*Con.  This year was particularly bad, as we didn't finish up until 2 am, after pulling an all-nighter preceded by days of intense work, not to mention the previous time spent sculpting.

Sculpting the form for the mask

After much trial and error, Scott found that the best way to make a the kinds of forms he wanted for vacuum forming a plastic helmet was to carve them out of insulation foam, then coat them in a few layers of resin.

Agents of SHIELD

Meanwhile, I sewed a full suit out of spandex for my Black Widow costume, and I made the pants and added panels to the shirt of Scott's Irredeemable Ant-Man costume.

Installing a zippered fly

Above, you can see me sewing the fly into the pants - an undertaking which I personally always find confusing. Below is a photo of me sewing the thumb into a glove in the car on the drive down.

Stitching in the Car


After a coat of paint and a hair dye job in the hotel room, our costumes were done.

Nick Fury with Ant-Man and Wasp

We managed to get some really cool forced-perspective shots with Scott in the Ant-Man costume. A few other shrinking superheroes got in on the action as well.

Hercules Crushing Ant-Man and Wasps

They'd be a bit better with a little editing of the backgrounds, but they're pretty fun just the same.

We had a good time overall, wearing our costumes, going to panels, dancing at concerts, and hanging out with the six friends who came with us, and the friends and family we saw once we got there.