Thursday, February 26, 2009

Red Velvet Chocolate Covered Kisses

Here are the promised pictures for the Red Velvet Chocolate-Covered Kisses. Sadly I got no pictures of the final product. :-( But you can go to the blog I found the idea for those. I did remember to take pictures in progress though which might prove helpful, because I came up with this idea all on my own.

The directions said to pour melted chocolate over my kissed shaped, red velvet cake and icing mixture. Great, but how do you get it to not blob? This way:
Precariously balance your kiss on two knives. The chocolate which runs off can be poured back into the double boiler to be used again (which was really really handy--I got three more pours from doing that).

Action shot: However, I would question how effective pouring really is. It doesn't make a smooth coating over the kiss. I wasn't sure how to dip them though either. I ended up referring to them more as chocolate mountains. Whatever they resembled, the unanimous reaction was enthusiastic. Everyone loved them. :-)

It was fun, but a long process. Probably three hours with the caking baking, the hand shaping, and the drizzling. Plus there are like three cooling off periods you've got to put in there. I was very tired by the end. Oh but it was so worth the reactions. I'd totally make them again.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In Six Weeks...

Today marks the beginning of Lent. Lots of Christians give up something for the six weeks of Lent--chocolate, caffeine, tv, meat. I've done that to some avail in previous years. Others add some spiritual component to their daily routine--scripture reading, prayer, meditation. This year, I haven't really committed to give up anything and I'm not really adding anything either. (At least nothing with a Lenten purpose.)

Today I buried bulbs--Narcissus Paperwhite bulbs to be specific. There's something ironic about burying narcissism; probably something more ironic with the idea that it will bloom on or around Easter. (Metaphor: FAIL!!!) They'll be my Lenten reminder for the next six weeks and a nice little countdown to Spring.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Weekend Update Feb 20-22

The Weekend that Was: Friday--Hostessing to the mostessing: we had a couple from church over for lemon-baked chicken with a mascarpone cheese sauce/dressing and Red Velvet cake kisses (pictures to follow). That ended with enough time to show up fashionably late (but bearing the rest of the delicious kisses) at Allison and Joe's Game Night. Bagels with Kristina Saturday morning followed by lunch with Kristen (and more of the red velvet kisses). And an afternoon/evening spent reading, etching and watching Rome and Center Stage (so alike are the plots). Sunday was church, a budgeting session with Mike (yuck), and a light dinner with delicious desserts to plan out the last bit of the Consecrated Stewards program (I mostly was just there for the food).

Where I Am at the Moment: At Sue's house doing laundry.

On My To-Do List: Spending birthday money, make Mike's stole (yeah that was on last week's To-Do list), plant my lenten plant (Narcissus Paperwhites), plan a deployment party.

Procrastinating About: The deployment party--theoretically it should be a big gathering and I've never planned one of those before (okay the wedding). But I've let it go kind of free-form and now I'm not sure that was the best idea for my inner control freak.

Books I'm Reading: Little Women and War and Peace, but I'm getting a little tired of being so erudite so Queen of Babble Meets the Big City is next on the list.

Music I Can't Shake: Nothing too particular. I've been letting my ipod shuffle at will.

Next Place I'm Going: To work I guess. I should plan a Seymour trip.

How I'm Feeling about the Week: Not as stressed as last week, but I think it's because I'm ignoring things that would make me stressed.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Blog Funny

Ha! I sometimes feel my life is this way.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Slow Reader Ahead

I've always been a fast reader. The faster, the better. In Adolescent Literature class, we learned that adolescents judge whether to read a book based on font size, page numbers and white space. And that was certainly a consideration. Though I did get a thrill when I could read small print very fast. Even now I kind of get excited when a picture or chapter ending increases my pages/minute. (Yes I do keep track... and I race myself.)

But I started Absalom, Absalom and it was S-L-O-O-O-W. And now I'm reading War and Peace, and I'm not making my 250 pages a day to finish it by the end of the week. I'm doing better than the 50 pages a day my husband thought was the max a person could read. But still, it took me 2 hours to read 70 pages. That's no where near my page a minute average reading speed.

I think my system is corrupt. It really shouldn't be about speed. I know that. And I'm starting to develop a theory: Good literature takes time. I'm not totally willing to say that Absalom, Absalom is the best book ever because it's taking me FOREVER to read it, but I am willing to say that War and Peace makes me think. I have to take time to read carefully so I understand where the battles are going and understand the significance of little actions. I can read Twilight in an afternoon because it's light and fluffy and every single word doesn't add to the quality of the book. (Though New Moon with the 5 pages of blank in the middle is GREAT for reading speeds.) Even last semester, when I was reading with a time in mind (a must to get everything read for class), I wanted to let my mind wander and muse over these concepts. So that's my new mantra: Good literature takes time. It probably won't cure my speed demon ways, but it might keep me from freaking out when it takes an hour to read 15 pages.

Picture credit: Godverbs

Monday, February 16, 2009

Weekend Update Feb 13-Feb 15

The Weekend that Was: Birthday weekend! Friday--Pizza and Confessions of a Shopaholic with Mike and Kristina at Newport on the Levee. And a trip to Barnes and Noble to get The Tales of Beedle the Bard and the Special 10th Anniversary edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. (I'm trying to get all my HP books in hardcover.) So that was a pretty awesome weekend in and of itself. But then... THEN... we went to church and Applebees for Valentine's Day and bought new sneakers so I don't have to feel like a total jerk wearing street shoes at the Gym. And then... THEN... we went to church again and I led bible study which was okay but then we had lunch at church for a Seminarian our church supports (the Fort not StL) and the nice church ladies made me a cake. :-) They're really sweet. And then we (I) just hung out for a relaxing birthday whatever. Oh and I talked to my friend Stef for the first time since I got married. That's pretty amazing.

Where I Am at the Moment: Upper twenties.

On My To-Do List: Laundry, stole, baby gifts, fabric shopping for stole and maybe baby gifts (I'm still deciding on my stash). Hosting a small 4-6 people dinner party on Friday.

Procrastinating About: The stole. Is Lent really 10 days away? That's sad. Planning the menu for said dinner party (I'm really not an extrovert, but I keep pretending like I am).

Book I'm Reading: This week I read Beedle the Bard (of course), The Little Prince, It's All Greek to Me and What I Did for Love (which was a totally worth-it romance novel). I just started War and Peace and I was going to try to get it done this week, but I don't think that's going to happen. It doesn't make me quite as sleepy as Absalom, Absalom, but still I need Diet Coke to read it. A/A btw is sit spine up splayed on my coffee table. It looks like I'm just about to pick it up again, but I'm not. It's not on the BBC top 100. Though I do plan to read at least one more book this week with War and Peace. I think it might be University of Google. We'll see how that goes. :-)

Music I Can't Shake: Better than Ezra. I realized that I've liked EVERY SINGLE Better Than Ezra song that's been on the radio so Mike got their complete discography for me. It's great. :-)

Next Place I'm Going: Sue's home for laundry day. And I'll get there with my new GPS. Oh which now has both a convertible and a broomstick to symbolize my car. It's awesome.

How I'm Feeling about the Week: You know, I really expected February to slow down. And it has, but then again not so much. I think I found too much to fill my time, and yet I know that's not really true. I'd really like to feel like I was in control of this because if I don't have control of this I don't know how I'm going to handle it when things get busy again.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day and Zombies Attack

It makes me a little sad that newscasters have to be serious about something the Onion can totally make fun of, but I guess that's life as a grown up. Happy Valentine's Day all! If you can't spend it with loved ones, track down those zombies, ok?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Life Lessons from Flood-it!

I'm kind of addicted to this game Flood-it! I found it through the google homepage game search. The idea is that you systematically try to flood a board with random boxes in six colors to all one color in a certain number of rounds. Try it out!

I have spent many hours (hours, really?) trying to figure out the strategy of this game. Is it best to try to advance as far as possible with each round or do I try to get as deep into the board as fast as I can? I guess the answer is a mixture of both, but I've found that when I focus and barrel through the board as quickly as possible, I usually win. Even if it means sacrificing advances in other directions, hitting either the bottom or the right side usually exposes enough blocks that I can flood the board with the given number of rounds. And as I ponder this fact and test its reliability in the game, I wonder if this is true for life. There's certainly an amount of "get as much exposure everywhere" in high school and college, but pretty quickly people want you to focus and pursue an interest (aim for a side if you will) and get there as quickly as you can. As you pursue that area, the other parts of your life will also open up as a convenient by-product. But there are times that doesn't work. There are times when you need to expand in a different direction before you get stuck. So really the life lessons would be: Keep an eye on the whole board, but don't get too distracted from any chosen path. Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. Huh. I could have just played poker for my life lesson.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Embroidery of the Napkin Persuasion

I finally broke out the embroidery hoop again. (Crud! Lent is 2 weeks away and Mike needs another stole. Stupid church year.) This is from Grandma Hanel's fabric stash--the linen tablecloth and napkins set. It's for tea. I need to buy a tea pot! She managed to have most of the embroidery thread already purchased so I just needed to find the henna/red/pink color.

I decided to start with the napkins to get used to the design guide and the stitches before I busted out the tablecloth. I kind of like the backstitch/loop stitch/cross stitch mixure, which is odd, because I did so much cross-stitch in grade/high school that I just kind of associate it with awkward adolescence. I think for the other 3 napkins I'm going to switch out the backstitch for an outline/rope stitch instead. I like how that curves more. And dispite being okay with the cross-stitched leaves I may always wonder what it would look like with a satin stitch instead. The weave is pretty big though so that might be the reason for cross- and back-stitching.

Okay so I do kind of need some help though. I haven't done any internet research yet, but it's really bugging me that I can't get this linen wrinkle-free. Maybe I've worked with too many poly-blend fabrics but geez! So anyone know how to iron linen? And the second question I have is even more obscure (knowing my audience). Are there any tips for making sure that back looks as neat as possible? I've never done any work where the back is going to be so exposed. It feels odd. Looks kinda cool, but odd nonetheless. Anyway I'll show off more as I get into the nitty-gritty of the tablecloth work.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Memories: aka Sappy Post

I was cleaning last week in our coat closet. (It was Entrance/Dining Room week on Flylady.) And I found some wedding presents that I had put away thinking they didn't fit our style. But I opened up this porcelain frame (which featured a cheesy generic bible verse) and thought one of our wedding pictures would look really great in this. We only have a couple pictures displayed, and I loved our wedding so we should have more. So I found a nice b/w proof of our wedding party and set it up by our wedding cake topper (that came the Monday after the wedding... sigh) with tea lights from IKEA. The whole thing still strikes me as mushy, but wedding days are supposed to be mushy.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I shall called thee, Suzie

I don't usually do the whole "naming inanimate objects" thing, though I do have an ipod named Ichabod (but I rarely refer to it by name). But this little beauty was calling for a cute name to match. Early b-day present from my friend, Sue. (Oooh, I didn't really associate the names before... interesting.) She's a miniature gerbera daisy.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Weekend Update Feb 6-Feb 8

The Weekend that Was: Nothing too huge. It was a catch up weekend. I went into stores I've been meaning to check out. I caught up with my friend Kristina and with Mike's fam. I caught up on cleaning--yay for clean coat closets and weddings presents I finally found useful!

Where I Am at the Moment: Philosophically I'm in limbo. And I've never been too convinced that limbo is a great place to be. I'm pretty sure I'm stressed out, but the only real evidence of it is my skin which will not stop breaking out.

On My To-Do List: Haircut on Tuesday. Kristina says to go wild--we'll see. Otherwise, getting into a workout routine. Remembering to eat. More flylady routines. Oh oh oh! Have a good birthday (next Sunday--yay!).

Procrastinating About: I really really want to be intentionally creative. Like if this is the time where I'm waiting to find out if I get into Ph.D. programs or if I find out I should do something else, it's the time I really should take some chances, right?

Book I'm Reading: Oh well I started Absalom, Absalom... I also read Wicked Lovely (YA faeries) and Queen of Babble (chick lit) this week. I think my goal is to finish Absalom Absalom, finish Crime and Punishment (oh yeah that was a blog series long, long ago when the sun warmed the earth and pools were open--sigh I miss summer).

Music I Can't Shake: Anything that has a really great beat and doesn't stress me out. Will Smith is really high on the list--still gettin' jiggy wit it. Also I'm so glad Beyonce's Single Ladies is on repeat on every single top 40 radio station. And I've finally gotten the Grey's Anatomy theme song out of my head... okay now it's there again. Darn.

Next Place I'm Going: Work? Aveda Frederick's Institute for a haircut? I really, really want to go some place where I can wear a swimsuit and get sun. But no, no trips planned for over 30 minutes of driving.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Favorite Things: My List Book

I've gone through a lot of list-making tools. I used to use scraps of paper. And then I bought cute little $1 Target notebooks that had "Chocolate" written on the front (in French). I then used my palm pilot (which has not yet been sync'ed to my Mac bought Fall '07). Then I used the little notecard holder I made. But for the past two-three weeks I've been using this little list book:
It's from an Etsy How-To Tuesday video with yoursecretadmiral. And thus far it's been really good. It helps me plan out my next day (helpful since I've started using flylady again) and it allows me to float things over to the next day without having to locate that piece of paper I was using. I have discovered that I must print them off in color though. I don't use the black and white editions as much. This probably indicates that my little list book is a novelty and will soon fall into disuse, but hopefully by then I'll have my palm actually loaded on my computer. It's on my list anyway...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Tisket a Tasket; a Pink and White Basket



A cute little basket cover for an already cute little basket we got as a present with bread in it. I plan to use the basket to catch all my little threads and scraps when sewing so I thought a cover might keep such things from catching in the wicker. However, there are pleats which can trap little things so I might have foiled myself.

Anyway, it was a fun little project to make. I just measure the circumference of the top of the basket and the bottom (oddly enough it was 34" and 17" i.e. exactly half). And then I measure the diameter of the circle at the bottom because it's kind of raised up. So instead of just cutting out a circle (which would have been a waste of fabric anyway). I cut a bit more than two halves of the circle and did a gentle curve to match the diameter. It wasn't exact. I didn't worry about the basket being oval and having different side lengths either. I made a small channel for a tie. Currently I'm using twine, but I think a little satin ribbon would be cute. It was an easy peasy project. I think I spent two hours over two days, and most of that was figuring out how to space my pleats.

The overall effect is very sweet and girly. The fabric is from Grandma Hanel's stash. And can you tell my free time has dramatically increased? Blog posts every day for week!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Diet Coke

I think Meg Cabot stole my personality for her novels. Take this excerpt from Queen of Babble for example:
I notice a smaller bag behind the one containing the croissants and open it.
And my eyes nearly pop out of my head.
"Wha--" I gasp. I am, for only the second time in my life, speechless. "How--how did you know?"
"Chaz said something about it," Luke says.
I pull the six-pack--glistening with moisture--from the bag and stare at it.
"They're . . . they're still cold," I say wonderingly.
"Well," Luke says a little dryly, "yes. I know Sarlat looks old, but they do have refrigeration."
I know it's ridiculous. But my eyes have actually filled with tear. I do my best to blink them away. I don't want him to know that I'm crying for joy over the fact that he's given me a six-pack of diet Coke. Because I'm not. It's the gesture, not the beverage.
Except for me it would be all about the beverage.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

2nd Stole Finished!

It's kind of amazing how well this came out. It is still puckery. I think if I did this again, I'd use fusible interfacing cut to the actual size and then cut seam allowances around it. Actually that would also make the pieces much easier to align the pieces and sew them together. I couched gold metallic thread to do mimic rays of light, which was fun. This type of metallic thread does not turn corners well, so it's all straight lines and looks beautiful. The weird bright yellow fabric on the left is part of his ordination stole.

On the back I embroidered a light gold cross. It's a simple design. I should have made the angle steeper, but I wasn't sure how the long stitch would look. I used a split stitch to border the cross. I had no more dark gold thread (used it all on the couching) so I thought a color closest to the background of the pieced material would be appropriate. It's unique at least. ;-) I also evidently had centering issues. Generally, I have very good perception of equal distances and leveling.

So this is the result of the work. It is very nice. The white is dull satin. It's a very pretty fabric, but it frays like crazy! I'm still picking little white threads off everything. I might choose to use brighter colors. It kind of blends in from a distance. But as it is, I kind of like the whole effect. It seems like peaceful, calm winter which works quite well for Christmas and Epiphany seasons which cover the deep cold of winter. And well it has snowed on Easter before.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Truth in Advertising

I'm playing around with an etching kit from Hobby Lobby. It's very similar to the crayon etchings that I used to do in 5th grade which were FABULOUS. The directions and materials packet say that there is a scrap paper that one can practice on. It seemed very nice as illustrated on the back of the package.

So I opened up the package and was looking for my large and expansive practice sheet. And it seemed missing. Until I turned over the cardboard that protected the pattern and found this little black square. Yeah. That's my thumb. Not exactly what I was expecting.

It's a big deal. It's the pattern that's really important and fun to work on. What's this wonderful pattern? Well it's kitsch, total kitsch I know. But I'm hoping my husband will still hang it up at his desk in the Classics library. :-)

It's a shiny, happy etching of the Parthenon. That's not cruel, is it? I hope not. I think it's just as good as what the other graduate students hang up. And he currently has NOTHING hung up. So he needs something!

Random Funny

I was pulling out our marriage certificate to see if I could finally hyphenate my name on my savings account. It's only been a year and a half. I only had to call customer service to remember my account number. Whatever anyway, our wedding was witnessed by Nathan Perezey and Lindsey K. Teah (sorry Lindsey feels her narcissism should not be on the web). Nope. Not quite. But I'm pretty sure each of our witnesses have not have those particular manglings of their names.

I'm sure we noticed that way back, but I have a blog now so I had to share.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Weekend Update Jan 30-Feb 1

The Weekend That Was: It started off with some imposed boredom. We were supposed to make our debut on the pastoral family circuit, but iffy roads and lots of weekend plans led us to cancel. (BEST DECISION EVER!) I drank wine to celebrate the end of apply to various things. Saturday I finished Mike's stole (pictures to follow) and watched too much Grey's Anatomy. Sunday I did not plan my bible study for Monday until 11pm. Instead I did other things, including of course going to a Superbowl party.

Where I am at the moment: Mentally I'm wishing I was sleeping instead of typing, but too many thoughts of things are keeping me awake. Physically I'm where I always blog--on my couch.

On my To Do List: Get back into Flylady. Random shopping excursions I haven't been able to do because they technically counted as procrastination. Getting a haircut.

Procrastinating about: Sleeping? No real deadlines are approaching. It's heavenly.

Book I am in the midst of: Princess Diaries 9 *hangs head in shame* Seriously Princess Mia has to be so dumb. She should know JP is dating her and not just being really nice to her because he broke up with her best friend and she broke up with her best friend's brother. Also Absalom, Absalom but it does not produce as strong of feelings. (What's wrong with that statement?)

Attention Grabbing Music: Gettin' Jiggy wit it! Will Smith; I got his greatest hits. Yay!'

Next trip: Shopping trip?