Saturday, September 29, 2012

Well, Let them eat....

Halley & I on her wedding day!
One of the motivational forces behind my desire to blog more has been my best friend, Halley, over at Out of Oz.  Hal joined forces with her TinMan this summer and has moved to the Emerald Isle.  Now, Miss Halley has always been and will always be my DIY Partner in Crime.  The two of us are more comfortable with power tools and wrenches in our hands than we have ever been with mascara wands and hair pins.

This summer that was only amplified by her wedding plans and her desire to have a DIY Wedding.  As I was her "Meg of Honor" I was overjoyed to join in the assist.  If you remember this meant not only learning to sew a bridesmaid dress, but also taking on the challenge of baking a wedding cake for the very first time!
Ok, so here I'll just come out and say it.  I am good when it comes to cooking and baking.   I have a somewhat innately domestic side of me that really only shows itself when I get into the kitchen.   Seriously though, this cake was my crowning baking glory!  I began researching cake recipes, sizes, shapes, colors, structures, yada yada yada around January to February.  I finally settled on a recipe that I found off of Pinterest that originally was published in Real Simple magazine.  Citrus Cake with Lemon Curd Filling and a Lemon Orange Frosting. an understatement!!  I must admit that I gleaned the idea for the Candied Orange and Lemon peels from a local Italian Restaurant, Lydia's.  We had visited Lydia's for my Sister Out-Law's birthday in May and they had the delectable desserts on her birthday cookie plate.  As soon as I tasted them I knew I had to learn how to make them.

Ready? Set! GO!!

They kinda look like worms...
yet, they taste like happiness!
I decided to start the task by inviting my baking buddy, Dave, over with the assist on the frosting.  This was the scary part for me.  I've never made frosting before and let me just say we have some "Golden Oldie" Tall Tales in my family regarding my G-Ma's frosting and the rock solid strength of it.  Dave showed up on Tuesday night (timeline...the wedding is Friday) with his trusted Kitchenaid Mixer "Marth Vader." We set to work mixing the pounds and pounds of sugar, butter, and citrus zest.  Wow, did it turn out great.  My next task that night was to start the dried orange/lemon peels.  Really, this  is sooo simple!  You boil sugar and water together in a pot and then simmer the peels in that simple syrup for about an hour.  I found that the thicker I sliced my peels the more I enjoyed them.  Keep the white part on even!  Once the hour had passed, I drained the peels and put them on a parchment lined cookie sheet that I'd sprinkled 1/2 C sugar on.  Spread them evenly and dust them on the top with another 1/2 C of sugar.  They are tasty now, but let them dry out for 2-3 days (if you can keep fingers out of the pan!!!

My next endeavor was to start the day long task of baking the wedding cake layers.  I originally doubled the recipe.  During the course of making the cake I discovered that this would NOT be enough batter to make the layers needed.  So, I added another batch of batter and then another half batch on top of that!!!  Whoo!!!  I decided late on Wednesday night to go ahead and frost the crumb layers and let them refrigerate overnight to be ready to frost on Thursday.

Oh! The Beautiful Toes!!
Thursday.  Day before the big event.  Plans were a bit up in the air.  The bride had family from all over coming in for the big day.  She'd been forced to do two things she just dislikes soooo much: be the center of attention and spend money.  Yet, it was all paying off and we had planned specifically for today to relax her.  Well....we went and got mani/pedis of course!!!  Afterwards, all the ladies were hungry and we had Toto (Hal's new step-daughter) with us just aching to have a Gen Dare.  What is a Gen Dare you ask?  Well, if you live in Kansas City, a Gen Dare is a glorious burger from Fritz's.  It boasts one or two steakburgers, mustard, ketchup, grilled onion, and HASHBROWNS!!! YEAH!!!  So, we toodled over to Fritz's for some lunch.  Afterwards, the gang went their separate ways to get their many tasks accomplished.  I must say, practicality forced me to miss some of the fun.  Instead of lingerie shopping and slumber partying I decided to stay home and work on the lemon curd filling and to start.  Oh, this was a tedious task.  You have to stir this potion constantly so that the eggs don't scramble/curdle.  If you ever set out to take this on, I applaud you.  Welcome to the club of custard/curd makers!  It is sooooo worth the effort!  This stuff is as tasty as heaven!  I could eat it every day.  It was the flavor I've dreamed of my entire life!!!  Unfortunately, no pictures, I just couldn't grow an extra hand to get it done.  :-(

The completed cake table
Anyway, at this point ALL that was left was to construct the layers (Thursday night).  Frost the layers (Friday morning), transport the cake(w/assist by my Mama), construct the cake at the hall, and finish up the decoration.  Here it is, by the power of television finished!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Project Wicker Furniture

I have some old wicker furniture. I decided to paint it. Here's phase I: too bad I ran out of paint!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Summer of DIY

So, I've decided to take an active step in learning how to use this blog.  Here's to hoping that I have something interesting to say!

This is is the proclaimed SUMMER of DIY Projects!!!!  Yay, Yay!  Can you hear the crowds chanting in glee?  Well, maybe that is just the feeling I get when I find a new project to tackle.  Hmm, let me just go ahead and make a list of the tentative and not-so-tentative projects that I would be ecstatic to complete or even begin this summer.

  • Bridesmaid's Dress-  I have the honor of being one of the bridesmaids in my best Gal Pal's wedding this August.  The colors are pale yellow with hints of green and orange; or so they were last time I spoke with her.  Gal Pal decided to do a DIY wedding (one of the main reasons I love this lady so much- she is just as DIY-centric as myself!) She decided to have each of the three of us choose the pattern of dress we wanted to wear and simply use the same fabric.  We are all keeping our lengths to a similar hemline as well to bring unity to the dresses.  Somehow (as tends to happen when we are together) the idea was thrown out to sew our own dresses.  Great idea, right?  Whoops! Problem is that I don't know how to machine sew.  This is quite a daunting task to take on, but as I have not only Gal Pal's mentorship, I also have the assistance of Mama Swan (Gal Pal's Mama) and  GP's sister, who is as organic, DIY, as she can possibly be.  Still, I'm making my own dress.  WEEE!!!! 
  • Keeping my African Violet alive.  Step one towards healing a life-long struggle with bad plant maintenance and gardening. 
  • Wedding Cake-  Oh?  That same wedding?  I'm baking and decorating the wedding cake!  I may stinck at gardening, but I'm amazing in the kitchen.  This will be my maiden voyage into wedding cake making, but be prepared for some food voyeurism in this segment leading up to the big event!
  • New Throw Pillows and Placemats- Y'know to work my way towards that dress!  
  • Re-Finishing a set of Vintage Television Trays.
  • Re-purpasing a set of planters and terracotta pots.
There may indeed be some bumps along the road this summer, but hopefully I will be able to accomplish these tasks and perhaps a few other fun projects along the way.  

Take today!  Recently, Mamacita, my own ornery Mama, requested I clean out her garage for Mother's Day.  This resulted in me moving my final few boxes of childhood memorabilia out of her home and into my garage.  One of the items I did receive from Mamacita however, was a family antique that has unfortunately been neglected for too long.  It is an old Kellogg telephone from around 1907-1908 that used to hang on the wall of the old farmhouse my family owns in Southern Kansas.  

I took the first step into rediscovering this piece of our family's history simply by cleaning off the first layer of dust that had accumulated on it.    Pretty cool, if I do say so myself.  

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Notes on "Between the Folds" (documentary)

Oragami is a very interesting art-form.  In particular, I am interested in the idea of transformation.  Taking what is essentially a linear plane and modifying it into another plane of existence.  Theoretically, the artist must become one with the paper, view it, see it, feel it become something else.  The post-modernist view:  What can you do with one fold?  This could be a very moving area of study for not only sculpture, but sketch.  Whenever I think of oragami I think back to something one of my favorite art professors told me. 

"Anything you can make with paper you can make with metal"-Deanna Skedel 
This is something I'd like to explore once again.  

I was at one time enamored with working with paper.  I used it because it was nearby and I had to do something to keep my hands and mind occupied.  I would work with it almost as if I were in a trance.  Methodically, neurotically, impulsively.  

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Notes on Romaine

The Shadowed Self: Androgyny and the Art of Romaine Brooks. Sherman Reed Anderson. 1999.

Notes on chapter 2: Self-Representation: Dandyism and Androgyny
  • I think one of the primary points of interest that draw me to the work and life of Romaine is that as a young female in contemporary society I can identify with the search for a sense of self.  I am intrigued and inspired by her journey of self-actualization and her path to finding her place in a society in which she did not fit the status quo.  
  • "Romaine came to realize that gender was essentially a public performance and that clothing has the ability to mark and mask the individual." Pg 53.