Monday, February 9, 2015

Cake a Week: The mission and the progress

One of the resolutions I made for this year is to bake a cake a week. There are multiple reasons for this, only one of which is the joy of being surrounded by baked goods at all times. I figured I have to live up to the title of cakemaker (only a title through my family, but still), eliminate some of my mental hurdles to baking, try new recipes, and to basically stop procrastinating. Simply put, it is probably a good time to be friends with me if you like cake. Here's the summary of January.

Week 1
Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake, as found in my Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking cookbook. Nothing to report there and no pictures (short-lived cake, ya know), but a durn fine coffee cake. Since we were short butter and yogurt (which itself was a replacement for sour cream), I subbed in olive oil and coconut milk, respectively. Super-recommended.

Week 2
Double cupcakes for CJ! Coconut and citrus yellow from the aforementioned Williams-Sonoma cookbook and Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, respectively.  The major lesson here is to take caution in baking 24 cupcakes at a time, because oven hotspots will become evident. However, I forgot to write down where our oven's hotspots are located so I will lose roughly 15% of my next cupcake harvest. Oven wins. Again.
Week 3
Your basic Hershey's chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting, as prepared for Parks's taco birthday. This version of the decorative tacos (idea/inspiration here) was modified according to what we actually had handy--shells made of coconut caramels rolled flat, chopped raisins and dates for the "meat", coconut dyed green for the lettuce, and orange "cheese" frosting. I also had some fun with the Wilton's decorative frosting tips for this cake, super fun! (almost all decorations accomplished with tip 12.)
Lesson of the week? Move the pizza stones to a different oven rack BEFORE you put the cake in the oven; this simple move saves so much cursing.

Week 4
Another Williams-Sonoma cake, the Lemon Chiffon. Somehow I MURDERED this cake and, out of necessity, renamed it the Lemon Leather cake. Chiffon is supposed to be delicate and moist, but you needed a dinosaur jaw to hack through this disaster. I was cruising so high--woke up chipper and launched into making my weekly cake. I was separating the eggs to beat the whites then fold them into the cake to make it feather-y light whenChris came in and I started chatting with him. Next thing you know, I'd dumped the lemon juice and the lemon zest in with the whites instead of the yolk mixture; I panicked and tried to siphon off whichever was the top layer, but that...well, let's just say it was like resisting the Borg.
Midway through disaster, when I still thought I may be able to pull it off. Nope.
My next idea was that I would whip the foiled whites mixture as best as I could to make the cake light? Yeah? No. It ended up that whipping the egg whites and the lemon juice meant that the egg whites frothed and rose to the top while the lemon juice sank to the bottom, which sounds like what I wanted, except that I had already beat the living will out of the whites (they were only supposed to be medium peaks, not shellacked), so the damage was even further done. Oh, and it was supposed to be in a tube pan. No amount of glaze could save this mess.
Shortly before I admitted defeat.
 Well, maybe a little more glaze might have made it tolerable.

Week 5
Chocolate-Walnut  Cake with Caramel Sauce (Williams-Sonoma Entertaining cookbook)
This cake was tremendous and delicious and lovely. I should make it daily; especially because it calls for buttermilk and I love having the buttermilk cheat of adding lemon to regular milk--a very easy way to feel like you're pulling one over on the world.
The batter was so delicious the cake almost didn't make it to the oven.

The recipe called for store-bought caramel sauce (what?), so I stepped it up for my birthday and picked up Ginger Elizabeth fleur de sel caramel sauce. Totally worth the $8! At least, for a birthday it surely is.
Hi, reflection of Parks!
And that was January! Busy month, and my favorites are tied between the first one (coffee cake) and the last one (chocolate-walnut). Most humbling cake was easily the chiffon, that piece of garbage...never trust a cake invented by an insurance agent!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Updates

I last posted here…a year ago. I may have lost the blogger temperament, since it no longer serves as a motivation to have somewhere to post projects; it started seeming like another burden on the list of to-dos. And I have a harder time sewing these days because I have a harder time on all fronts.

Three months ago today, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. In spite of our world being filled with wonderful and amazing things (like how I could grow such a perfect little person), Chris and I were also confronted with a terrible reality. James was born still.

James is our first child. To say he was taken away from me and that I miss him does not skim the surface of life now; to say that there are days you don’t want to get out of bed does not accurately describe the constant ache and confusion that is being a parent without your child. Nothing can touch that kind of misery and, mad though I was that I felt we weren’t warned about the possibility of stillbirth, nothing can prepare you for it.

Happy three-month birthday, James. Your parents love you.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

2013 KDVS Fundraiser

Ah, KDVS fundraiser! We have our annual fundraiser to...raise funds (ahem) for operating costs (spare parts for turntables, CD players, light bulbs, and so on). It is one week long and the source of 2/3 of the annual budget; our goal is $60,000 and we need every penny of it. Lot of stress riding on this one!

Per usual, I sewed some things that will be given away as premiums to people that pledge during my show from 8-9PM on Monday. All of these things will be available at 8PM on Monday and not a moment sooner! :) That also means the links below will show up as "not in stock" before my show starts, but will be in stock after 8PM. Ah heck, just look at the crafts!

The 1st KDVS Record Bag
I'm quite partial to this color combo, it makes me think of water nymphs and stuff. You might notice that it is the straps and bottom are the same fabric as my playsuit from a couple of years back. 

A damask I've had lolling around for a bit, I made Cate some fancy pillow cases from most of it and have been working through the rest ever since. The yellow? Oh, you know...another playsuit.

The third (and final) KDVS Record Bag
It may look familiar from a purse some time ago...and a skirt.

A cassette holder, you can get at least 22 tapes in there. (bam!)
The salmon brocade is a remnant from Lucille's stash that was passed on to me a couple of months back. I love using fabric scraps! The fabric lettering is from a very foolish point in my life where I thought it made sense to buy fat quarters. (still living that down)

Since the bloomers take five yards of fabric, I couldn't very well use scraps (bummer) because I don't have five yards of anything laying around. Available is a variety of sizes! Size XSSize SSize MSize L, and Size XL.
DJ Sister will add the stitching later...
Yeah, so please call in to the show! It will feed my DJ ego. :)
Monday, April 22nd
8-9PM (Pacific)
530-754-5387
fundraiser.kdvs.org

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Making time for sewing...Office Hours!

2012 was marked by an abysmal lack of sewing. We could blame it on a lack of pressing or interesting projects, or say that higher priority tasks and world travel edged out my sewing time, but it wouldn't be true. I simply didn't make sewing a priority. After the banner year of 2011 where I more-or-less completed a project each month, 2012 reeks of failure and smirks at me most unattractively. Stop it.

In spite of constantly proclaiming each January that I'm not a resolution-type person, I want to fill 2013 with the racket of my sewing machine and decided a resolution was the way to do it. My 2013 sewing resolution is to dedicate two hours* a week to sewing--I'm calling it my sewing office hours. Hopefully by giving the resolution/time commitment a pseudo-responsible title, I will not blow off my two hours a week or postpone indefinitely, or end up doubling up or tripling up my time commitment and invariably return to my infrequent sewing binge schedule. 

My first set of office hours was tonight since I had the flu last week (I actually did sew two hours worth last week, but that's another story). What can you accomplish in two hours of sewing? Well, not a whole heck of a lot. 

  1. Seam rip, cover, and reattach two straps for my lamb bag (they were starting to fray, stuff was getting real)
  2. Cut, embellish, and stitch two rice bags
  3. Sketch, do the maths, and start cutting fabric for my forthcoming fabric cover for my new planner
There it is. I suspect that in future weeks I will make it through some larger projects, or at least through parts of some larger projects. But here is to a good start!
*Two hours a week is a minimum target, not a weekly prescribed exact amount.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

VICTORIA SMASH!

Apparently I hulked out at work last week.
You're making me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.
Dang, I've had that shirt since high school! I wore it in my senior class photo. And though the tear is right along the seam, the fabric is in no condition to be made into a new, narrower seam. I think it is simply time to say goodbye to this shirt.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Late summer cherry Sorbetto

Boy, is that title misleading! It has been long time since I last posted, long enough that I appreciate the fact that you forgot this pattern is called the Sorbetto. The cherry part comes in because...well, the fabric is red. Did I really have to explain that part? Probably not.
Disneyland in Frontierland--our home away from home.

Michelle bought this fabric for me last summer to make her a summer top LAST summer. As in, 2011. Oops. Anyhow, I finally pulled it together to make her the top in August. 2012 has been a less-than-productive sewing year, as this top was the first thing I have made since all of my KDVS fundraiser crafts in April. It had been such a long time that I forgot many of my previous lessons-learned from other versions of the Sorbetto. Blinking determinedly and mouth grimacing through a bouquet of straight pins, I tried my darnedest to affix the sleeves (unwittingly cut sans seam allowance) onto the bodice. I don't care which algebra book you operate from, it wasn't gonna happen. Luckily there was more fabric to cut new sleeves as I muttered to myself about...well, let's just say it was a semi-violent muttering session.
Disneyland on the Mark Twain Riverboat--great for parties!
Aside from the sleeve complications/mental lapse, the shirt was straightforward and simple to construct. I'm still using bits of bias tape that people have given me instead of buying any new tape for projects, which is good and bad. While it is awesome to have all of that stock on hand (and for free), I'm quickly running out of desirable colors. Next up, shirts edged in puce!

I think this proves that there is still a place for Sorbetto in October! Or at least that's what I'm telling myself as I scrape through the watermelon lavender sorbet I made last weekend. It is OCTOBER, how are we still getting watermelon in our CSA box?! I hope to have an update next week on this adorable black and white dress I also made in August. Spoiler alert: history repeats itself.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Update coming soon!

You're right, I left you hanging.

I won't do it again. A serious update is in the works, see you before the end of next week!