How to Make a Papier-Mâché Pig Piñata

In honor of my niece having turned the big 1-0, I threw her a mini-luau at the beach.  Since we couldn’t exactly bury a pig in the sand, we decided to make a papier-mâché pig piñata.  Traditionally, piñatas are stuffed with treats and then kids club them to death until their guts fall out.  Way to reward violence! :)  That was the original plan but then this little piggy got anthropomorphized and the kid got attached.  Winston is his name.  He was ultimately modified so that his pudgy little body could be spared.

The making of Winston was pretty simple with a few supplies we had around the house.  We were inspired by this Pin and we’re sharing the process as part of the Pinterest Challenge.  Woo hoo!

Glue (we made three total batches of glue – one for each layer):

  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 cup boiling water

To make the glue, bring 1 cup of water to a boil.  Then mix all the dry ingredients together.  Add the cold water to the dry ingredients to make a runny paste.  Whisk the runny paste into the boiling water and stir constantly until you get the first bubbles of boiling.  Immediately remove from the heat and set aside to cool – about 15 minutes.

Assembly:

  • balloon
  • masking tape
  • 7 bathroom tissue tubes (4 for legs, 1 for snout and 2 for ears)
  • newspaper, torn into 1.5″ strips
  • pink construction paper, torn into strips
  • butcher’s twine
  • paint brush
  • black marker

For the legs, I cut off about 1.5″ off of each tube so Winston’s legs weren’t too long.  I cut open another tube and cut that in half to create a larger, shorter tube for the snout.  The tail was strips of paper* twisted together then wrapped around a pencil for the coil.  All of Winston’s extremities were then attached with masking tape.

*In the process of covering Winston, we realized that his newspaper tail would be impossible to cover in pink so we had to perform emergency surgery and his tail was replaced with a pink construction paper one.

I started with reinforcing the legs by brushing glue on Winston’s legs and belly.  The strips were then applied all the way around each leg so that it was touching both the leg and the body (kind of like a starburst effect) so that it’d be secure when it was all dry.  The same was done to his ears and nose.  Section by section, the then-soon-to-be-10-year-old and her sister painted Winston in glue and applied the strips until his entire body was covered.

We found that the brush then strip method kept things really neat and tidy without having to submerge each strip in glue then trying to messily apply it to his body.

We covered Winston with three layers – allowing for a complete dry and hardening between layers (time will depend on your atmospheric conditions) – two newspaper and one pink construction paper.

Butcher’s twine (for hanging Winston) was tied around his entire body and behind his ears after the first layer was dry so that it was extra secure.

The initial pudgy body modification idea was to make a less-violent string piñata.  A string piñata usually involves a trap door from which several strings are tied but only one of which actually opens the door.  I thought I could make udders from which the strings would be attached.  Then I remembered Winston was a boy.  :/

I also didn’t like the idea of one kid getting all the guts and glory.

Husfriend came up with the brilliant idea that Winston could crap candy leis!  It was a perfect solution (that I had to execute by myself).  :/

The candy leis were simple yet very time-consuming to make:

  • candy (I used three packages of individually-wrapped hard candy which yielded about 20 yards of lei)
  • 1 roll of cellophane
  • curling ribbon, cut into 6″ pieces

The cellophane was cut into 3″ wide strips spanning the length of the roll.  The candy was then laid in a long row in the middle of each long strip of cellophane.  The OCD in me also had to have the candy Roy G Bivved.  The cellophane was then wrapped around the row of candy and ribbon was tied at each joint.  When I got to the end of each strip, more cellophane was added and overlapped to keep it continuous.  Then after every single joint was tied, I went back and curled all the ribbon.

I was too deliriously tired to take any decent pictures.  This was the only salvageable one:

The single super long strand of candy was then painlessly stuffed into Winston via a newly-minted butt hole.  :)

In the end, it was all worth it.  Projects like this always remind me of my father.  He was my Martha before I knew of the Martha.  

Winston was a major hit and the kid was happy.  Her friends got a major kick out of pulling candy crap out Winston’s butt and wearing it around their necks.

Winston had fun.

But his butt was tired!

Some Cheese with My Whine, Please

Lately, life’s been a little rough – some patches larger than others.

In no particular order…

My father passed away.

While zooming downhill at CicLAvia, I was thrown off my bike by Oblivious Oliver perpendicularly turning into me and now, both knees are scarred, left elbow is nice and gnarly and my left hand is always feelin’ a little hinky.  The funbags were the only thing that kept my chin from making friends with the asphalt.  Being that we were only 40% of the way through the 20+mile ride, I had to hastily brush the gravel out of my wounds, trek on and rely on adrenaline to numb the pain.

The irises in our window box that Husfriend’s friend from Montana was so kind to send has been hosting some gnats that have long overstayed their welcome.

Our hanging fruit basket has become suicidal and comes crashing down as it pleases, full or not.

The water damage to our ceiling and walls caused by our neglectful upstairs neighbor was finally “fixed” by one of the resident handymen whom Husfriend has dubbed “Glue Sniffer.”  Of course, a little spackle and paint would fix soaked 100-year-old lath and plaster walls.  So now, the moisture and stains have seeped through to the surface and it looks worse than before.

The kid that lives up there is overweight, uncoordinated and likes to run around to boot.

Nothing new but the dog always hogs the bed.  She’s cute so I pretty much let her do whatever she wants.  Bad, I know.  She’s also tiny so I’m always mindful of snuffing her in her sleep so I never really get to sleep.  :/

And today, she’s not speaking to me.  She’s upset that I sprinkled 0.35ml of water (aka flea meds) on the back of her neck.

I did get a break though.

I broke my tooth.  A quadrant of my molar is just kicking it in the back of my mouth, hanging on by whatever is not its root.

So, I went to the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC.  For those that aren’t in the know, the school offers dental work for less than half of what it’d normally cost in exchange for your soul.  Kidding.  Sort of.

Basically, you eventually become assigned to a doctoral student who meticulously works on your mouth as their assignment.

I say “eventually” because my first 3-hour visit consisted of waiting in line in hopes of becoming a patient as they only accept 14 new patients per twice-daily session. more waiting, an oral cancer screening and x-rays.

Within 4 four weeks, I will be notified of the date and time of my second visit with my assigned student dentist for another 3-ish hour session where they’ll study my mouth and hash out a game plan.

Then, 4 weeks after that, my fractured tooth will finally be fixed.

I just hope I don’t swallow it before then…

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Yesterday, Pepsi exchanged our change for some handy household items.

We opted for $59.50 in Amazon credit instead of paying the nearly 10% fee.  These Coin Stars are very smart.  It’s either take 10% of my money up front or entice me to eventually spend 100% of it.  Not bad.

With our shiny new Amazon credit, we got some cedar balls, a set of washer hoses, a hose mender to attach said hoses to an adapter that’ll convert our full-size washer/dryer to a portable unit that’ll attach to the kitchen sink, some cloth strainer bags to make homemade almond milk and a wireless switch outlet.  I would say that’s a pretty good haul for “free” money.

I’m very much looking forward to receiving our new stuff.  It’ll mean some minor and major fixes to the abode to make life a little bit easier.

I’m excited to make some homemade almond milk.  Husfriend wants to try walnut milk too.  Looks pretty easy and I’m sure it’ll be tasty so we’ll see…

The wireless switch outlet is basically a remote control for anything that you plug into it.

I like that it looks like a traditional switch that’s missing its wall.  :)

I had one for the living room lamp but it finally crapped out.  I tried replacing the battery, which was dated 2007, but it still didn’t work.  I’ve had it for over 10 years.  I’d say that’s a pretty good run for a <$20 device.

Speaking of changes, Walter the Washer had his name changed to Stan.  My friend Sara suggested it and I think it’s very fitting considering he’s moved in with Dorothy.  Hehe.  :)

When the hoses and the mender arrive, we’ll finally be able to use our washer/dryer.  We’ve been through so many incarnations as to how to connect it to a water source.  My sister‘s man, Nathan, is a general contractor and he explored some water line options for us.  The original idea was to have the washer/dryer in the dressing room opposite the bathroom where it’d share a permanent water connection with the bathroom sink.  However, it turns out that the plumping is so old that he wouldn’t have been able to connect a new water line to the current plumping without it basically crumbling to pieces.

So, the washer/dryer has now been moved into the front hallway closet.  It was a surprisingly painless move considering the doorway is 27″ wide and the washer/dryer is 27″ wide.  I removed the entire door, set it aside and summoned the Husfriend to help slide the washer/dryer into place.  The magical furniture sliders from Home Depot really helped with sliding that puppy across the carpet with ease.

At one point in time, before our time, our kitchen had a window between the refrigerator and counter.  Apparently, seismic retrofitting meant having to sacrifice the window.  To allow more light into the kitchen, they cut a hole in the opposite wall for what we now call the service window.

When you walk in the front door, the “laundry room” closet is to your right and the service window into the kitchen is to your left.  This will be the conduit for which water will travel to and fro the kitchen sink.

Note the old fashioned icebox that we believe used to drain directly into the sink.  I think it’s pretty nifty.  We now use it to house our pots and pans.

Although our kitchen is small, I think it’s laid out very well with neatly-packed-to-the-gills cabinets that extend all the way to the ceiling and numerous drawers.

I did a little of my own retrofitting and turned an old built-in ironing board cabinet in the kitchen into a spice cabinet.

I imagine it was from the days of yore when the women folk were required to live in the kitchen with one hand cooking, the other ironing and one hip supporting a tot.  :/

Time to Party Semi-Heartily!

I am never one to turn down an opportunity to party.  My cousin is getting married and all the pomp and circumstance must be marked along the way.  Being that this was an afternoon shindig for the announcement of said engagement, some semi-heartily partying did happen.  :)

For many years, I ran and planned events for a non-profit organization for millionaire entrepreneurs.  Kinda paradoxical, I know.   The events centered around networking and education to further enrich the rich.  It was fun, challenging, and rewarding.

I parlayed that into wedding planning which is an entirely different beast.  Weddings have the potential to bring out the worst and best in people.  The Husfriend and I witnessed the latter at our own wedding a few months ago.  We were humbled by the graciousness, generosity and kindness of  those who came to wish us well in our future life together.  Happy sniff, sniff.  :)

I hope that my cousin finds this to be true for her own wedding and Sunday marked the first occasion of the wedding party planning journey.  Woo hoo!

She attempted to keep it small to start for the engagement party – a mere 100 guests which happened to be 33 more than the fire marshall allows.  :/  Size matters.  And is relative.  Our wedding had 200 guests, which was small compared to my eldest sister’s 400 and my brother’s 1,000.  Yes, that last number required a comma.

There was lots of food, fun, friends, and family.

The Husfriend, Pepsi, and I were on hand to lend a hand and tiny paw with whatever we could.

Our contribution to the menu was chicken satay crostini.  I initially tried baking miniature loaves of brioche that, although tasty, didn’t look so purdy so that was scrapped.

My sister sent me a recipe many moons ago that I have successfully repeatedly repeated for the chicken satay:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of palm or dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of whole cumin seeds
  • 2 inches of peeled fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • cilantro sprigs for ganish
Basting Oil:
  • 1/3 cup of coconut cream
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon of palm or dark brown sugar
Satay is most often cooked and served on skewer sticks.  It would have been too labor intensive to do so in this case so we opted for the crostini route which was basic white bread triangles toasted on a baking sheet until golden brown for about 5 minutes at 400°.

However, if you are doing the stick method, most recipes recommend soaking the sticks for 30 minutes beforehand to prevent the sticks from catching fire.  Because chicken breast cooks so quickly, I’ve always skipped this step and have not had to call on Fire Marshall Bill yet.

The next step is to toast the coriander and cumin seeds.  This step makes quite the difference in bringing out their flavor and adding a subtle smoky/nutty quality.  I’ve been lazy before and used the pre-ground stuff and it’s not the same.

After they’ve cooled a bit, grind the seeds either in a spices-dedicated coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle.

Then add everything else, sans chicken and fresh coriander, and brutalize into a paste.

Grilling chicken breast doesn’t necessarily have to mean chicken jerky.  My mother, who is one of the best cooks I know, taught me that if you cut the breast against the grain, on the bias, in long strips, the juiciness can be preserved.

Next, smush the sliced chicken pieces together with the paste, making sure to not leave any pieces unmolested.  Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or preferably, overnight.

Next, combine the basting ingredients.

Satay can be grilled on an actual grill or griddle at medium high heat.  Grill the strips in a single layer for two minutes on each side.  Be sure to baste with a few dabs of the basting oil before and after flip.

Satay is often served with peanut sauce.  I tweaked this recipe and it turned out great:

  • 1 cup of crunchy all-natural peanut butter
  • 2/3 cups of water
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dark soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, to taste
  • 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon of tamarind paste
  • 1 teaspoon of green curry paste
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
Smear peanut sauce on toasted crostini, top with satay and garnish with dainty coriander sprig.

Yums.

Burial at Box

I finally had to give up any hope of resuscitating our beloved kaffir lime leaf tree.  She will be missed…

In anticipation of Spring, new life has sprung throughout our home.

My sister picked up two fiddle leaf fig trees for us which I’ve replanted in the old stomping grounds of our kaffir lime leaf and bird’s eye chili trees.  The fig trees were a whopping $10 for both from Sprouts Farmers Market.

Aren’t they purdy?

They are my new obsession and hopefully, one day, they’ll grow up big and strong and take over our apartment like they did in this place in Elle Decor:

Life has also sprung up in our window boxes in the form of chives, Thai basil and Italian parsley mingling with luscious Persian Buttercups from Lowes.

On the south side, we have rosemary, sweet basil and thyme, from Home Depot, flanked by generic “color plants” from the good ol’  99¢ Only Store.   I wonder what color they’ll actually be…

These window boxes have traveled with me far and wide throughout the last decade.  I have had them since my second apartment  in Downtown San Diego, which happened to be two doors down from my very first <200 sq. ft. apartment.   Yep, <200 sq. ft. comprised of one room with a coat closet and a bathroom.

The best times were had in that tiny apartment.  I managed to squeeze a queen bed, padded storage chest (which doubled as the guest bed), desk and buffet cabinet into the one room.

I even had a roommate.

This guy:

Who incessantly did this:

Kashmir is his name and yelling is his game-o.  :/

The 3.2 cu. ft. mini-fridge and the buffet cabinet, with rice cooker and hot plate on top and dinnerware, silverware and pantry inside, worked in tandem as the “kitchen.”  I hosted dinners and cooked real meals in my Barbie kitchen.  The folding coffee table doubled as the dining table.  Grossly, dishes had to be done in the bathroom sink.

The 17″ monitor worked triple shifts as the computer display, Nintendo Wii Sports display and television display from the computer’s analog tv tuner.  And when that wasn’t enough, the same Simpsons, Season 7 DVD set was projected on the walls.  Every day, the two windows above the bed and storage bench welcomed the unwelcome aroma of Asian Fusion from the restaurant below.  The view from the two windows would have made any mason proud.

My poor mother cried when she saw the apartment for the first time, asking what was so horrible at home that I would pay to live here?  The comforts of home were no match for that first priceless taste of independence.

The second apartment was two doors down in the front of the building and three times the size – a staggering 600 sq. ft.  Moving day was just me and Kashmir walking back and forth down the hallway with our stuff.

We’re moving on up, Mr. Jefferson!

Honey, I’m Home!

Although it was a very harrowing drive, the family had a great time on our adventure back.  We had a small window within which to escape the impending snowstorm and we made it!

Husfriend decided to bring his car back home, which we’ve had stored in the barn since we drove out to the Midwest last fall.  Pepsi’s grandparents are always so nice to us and this time, they gave us a car.  So, we had our little caravan with Husfriend in his car and me and Pepsi in our brand-new-to-us car.  We stayed close for the most part, stopping at rest stops for Pepsi potty breaks and meals along the way.  We traveled through Chicagoland, Illinois > Omaha, Nebraska > Littleton, Colorado > Grand Junction, Colorado > Las Vegas, Nevada > Los Angeles, California in 4 nights and 5 days.

Green River, Illinois:

While Husfriend got some work done in our hotel in Omaha, I went and picked up some takeout from Laos Thai Market.  I ordered from their Lao menu and got raw beef salad, tom yum soup and papaya salad.  It was really tasty and the flavors reminded me of home.

Following Husfriend in Alda, Nebraska:

Denver Deer at Lookout Mountain:

We then headed out to our next overnight stop in Littleton, Colorado.  Husfriend squeezed in some more work and Pepsi squeezed in some relaxation at Spa Hotel Sink.

The next morning, we stopped for really good Thai food in nearby Lakewood, Colorado from Thai Diamond Cafe.  We pretty much get the best Thai food there is outside of Thailand right here in Los Angeles, so encountering such good Thai food in Colorado was a nice surprise.  Husfriend had the Pad Kee Mao and I had the Khow Soy, which traditionally is noodles topped with curry sauce, mustard greens and sliced onions.   Here, they added fried wonton skins, which added a nice crunch.

The food at Thai Diamond Cafe was so good that we ordered some Khow Soy for dinner and sweet sticky rice with custard for dessert for our next overnight stop in Grand Junction, Colorado.

We got to Las Vegas the next evening and headed straight for Mr. Tofu.  He has the absolute best tofu stew I’ve ever had.  It’s warm, spicy, savory, and just perfect.  I haven’t even had such good stew here in Koreatown.

The next morning, we set out for some dim sum but encountered a problem we almost never have – we were too early.  So, we settled for some Vietnamese food at always-open Pho Kim Long instead.  We started with an avocado shake, followed by their grilled pork rice plate and beef stew.  All were tasty, especially the shake.

After a quick nap, home, sweet home was a short 4-hour drive from Las Vegas.

*It may seem like an overload of Asian food but we had just come from an Asian food drought in the Midwest.  :)