Friday, October 19, 2012

Countdown to Halloween - Black Cat Theme

Today's theme for the 13-day Countdown to Halloween is Black Cat. We have a few components with today's theme: a food treat, painting, and service project.

Food Treats

I found this recipe for Black Cat Chocolate Cookies from Land O'Lakes through this pin. The recipe makes 3 dozen cookies. They are very good, moist cookies that have a delicious butter-vanilla-chocolate flavor. We definitely will make them again.

Some of Olivia's black cat chocolate cookies.


2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Candy corn
Red cinnamon candies (Note: We didn't have these so we used sliced almonds that we cut into triangles and chocolate chips)


Combine sugar and butter in large bowl; beat at medium speed until well mixed. Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla; beat until well mixed.

Combine all remaining ingredients except candies in medium bowl. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture to butter mixture. Beat until well mixed.

The girls slowly adding the dry ingredients 
to the wet ingredients.

Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a ball; flatten to 1/2 inch. Wrap each half in plastic food wrap. Refrigerate until firm (at least 2 hours). (Note: we ended up freezing the dough because even after 2 hours it was still soft.)

Heat oven to 350°F. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface, one-half at a time (keeping remaining dough refrigerated), to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with 3-inch round cookie cutters. Place onto ungreased cookie sheets. (Note: We lined cookie sheets with parchment paper for easier clean up.)

Using fingers, pinch up ears at top of each circle. Place 2 pieces candy corn onto cookies for eyes and 1 red cinnamon candy for nose. Press tines of fork on each side of cookie below eyes to form whiskers. (Since we didn't have the cinnamon candy, we waited until until the cookies came out of the oven and then added the almond sliver or chocolate chip.)

Olivia putting the candy-corn eyes onto a cookie.

Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are set. Let cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire cooling rack.


I read a bit about an artist named Shen Quan who was born in China in 1682. He specialized in scenes of animals and flowers, and painted in a very detailed, lifelike way.

In the book The Usborne Art Treasury by Rosie Dickins, a picture of his painting "Cat" which was done in 1747 is shown. The book says, "Like most Chinese paintings, this scene was created using a soft, animal-hair brush and watery ink, and it was painted fast, with rapid sweeps and strokes. Chinese artists spend years practicing the precise movements used to create particular shapes and effects."

With that in mind, Olivia got her brush and ink set from China; and Sophia used some watercolor paint and Chinese brushes to create a cat.

The girls both felt the watered-down ink was much more challenging to use than other paint they use (e.g., acrylic, glaze for ceramics).

Olivia painted a cat sitting under a tree. She painted some grass under the cat and a few flowers.

Olivia painting with a Chinese brush and ink.
Her painting is on the right side.

Sophia painted a cat climbing up a tree that had fallen. The sun is shining, there are some clouds in the sky, and there are five flowers in the grass.

On the left, Sophia is sketching with the watercolor ink and brush 
before she does her final picture (on the right side).

Service Project 

Sophia brought some of the black cat cookies we made over to neighbors who are in their seventies. They have been such good neighbors throughout the years; and they are the ones who we purchase hay from for the horses.

Sophia brought some cookies that the girls made
over to the next door neighbors.

We also will be making our monthly visit to the humane society next Monday. Each month, we have supported their work by adding to their can collector, making a cash donation, and/or donating a bag of Kitten Chow.

Shadow by the Pumpkins
Shadow was out enjoying a fall day 
in the pumpkin patch a few years ago. 
Today, he's an indoor cat who relaxed for most of the day;
and sat with us while we homeschooled.
(Taken on October 29, 2007.)


Anonymous said...

MMMM Those cookies look yummy!

What Remains Now said...

Yum...the cookies are adorable and sound delicious. Are the girls enjoying this? It looks like such a fun activity, having a different theme each day. Please tell them that I love both their paintings. Their styles are distinctly different.

Hilary said...

Those look delicious!

Were Parents said...

Her drawing is awesome! Great job :)