wk46: when life gives you lemons, make a gin and tonic

Not that life is giving me lemons, mind.

I was invited to a casual BBQ on Sunday by some college friends, and decided it was the perfect occasion to make this Gin and Tonic cake I stumbled upon on How Sweet it is (probably via pinterest). I’ve had some lemons on hand that I was at a loss as to how to use. And as you may know, lemons, not limes, are the traditional star of gin and tonics.

I had a lot of lemons on hand, so used them agressively (I used a whole lemon, when the recipe only calls for one lime, which is the size of half a lemon).

Thus, it ended up being a delicious, summery lemon cake I took to the BBQ, that did not taste or even smell like booze at all. What I should have done was only used gin for the glaze (I didn’t have enough powdered sugar to make icing, and only just now remembered I could have made some in the food processor).

It’s a lovely cake though, light yet moist, and the lemon really was good for the BBQ.

let them drink cake?

wk45: i know i need unique new york

I spent the wkend and this half of the week in New York City, playing hard during the wkend and working hard in the NYC office during the week.

It was a lovely time, with nice summer weather, good conversation and satisfying work.

My dear and dearer friend PRoS put me up on her pullout couch over the wkend.

As a hostess gift I took her the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake from Baked Explorations (yes, me in DC making/taking my friend in Manhattan a baked good inspired by the shop in Brooklyn… there’s something to that, and yes, the recipe is included in the preview: MAKE IT). Since I was transporting it, I omitted the frosting. It didn’t really need it. You can always spread cream cheese (or cinnamon butter, or both) on it directly if you’re having it for breakfast.

I’ve baked a few other of the simpler recipes from the book, and have loved them all, and they aren’t too sweet.

Of course since it was the first time making the recipe, I had to taste first it to make sure it was okay. Lovely, lovely chewy texture, but with still a nice cakey crumb, so it’s not too quickbready. Perfect bc oatmeal cookies are tied for my favorite cookies (vying with m&m cookies), so it’s like having a super chewy cookie/cake for breakfast. Much less fussy than coffee cake. Next time I’ll make it with raisins added to enhance the oatmeal-cookie feel.

Also perfect bc it’s a 9×13 recipe, and I wanted to take a lot so she could share with her roommates, since technically all of them let me stay on their living room.

While in NY I tasted from the famed Magnolia Bakery (underwhelmed, then again I don’t really love cupcakes anyway), and the Momofuku Milk Bar. I asked for, and received, the shop’s cookbook, mainly drawn to the name/photos/crack pie recipe that I stumbled upon in the LA Times a few years ago (which I haven’t even made yet).

Despite myself, the book is a little intimidating, altho Tosi is a great writer, grew up in NoVa, and I want to be friends with her. In some fortuitous twist of fate, the WaPo also recently ran an article/recipe about building up the courage to take on the recipes in the book. So, I resolved that I needed to eat something from the actual store to get a benchmark idea of what “milk crumb” is supposed to taste like. And try some cookies while I was at it.

Needless to say after the taste test, that I will be baking thru the entire book in the near future.

I’m in love with milk crumb. And LOVED the cornflake-choco chip-marshmallow cookie. The cornflake bits are like coconut, in that chewy but crunchy kinda way, but not. It’s v weird. And delicious.

wk44: pinned to my heart

Happy July 4th!

I spent my Wednesday off catching up on sewing projects. Like the red pants I skinnified a few months ago, I hacked a black pair of trousers thinner today (hoping to get the “Audrey pant” look, but…. was not quite that successful). I finally got around to fixing a few minor things, like trimming tanktop sleeves or narrowing the arm-holes of some similarly sleeve-less things.

The major hack of the day however was pintucking a shirt that’s gotten slightly big on me. Maybe it was always big and didn’t bother me as much as it does now.

Adding pintucks seemed like a cute way to make it smaller around, compared to augmenting the tucks in the back or just sewing up the sides.

Luckily said shirt is striped.

I few weeks ago I shortened a skirt with polkadots and thought I wouldn’t need to actually mark the line I wanted to cut along, because I could connect the dots. It didn’t work that way… so, yay straight lines!

I’d read a how-to pintuck a year or so ago somewhere and didn’t bother to brush up before I started the project. It’s pretty straight forward. Just decide where you want the tuck, fold the shirt along that line, pin it (even with straight lines, one gets cross-eyed), and then sew.  (I bet you’re really supposed to iron the crease straight, except I would be liable to iron a giant wrinkle, so I did not bother) I placed the needle as close to the edge as possible. It took a few lines to internalize how slowly I had to sew to actually sew a straight line.

Also, it’s much easier to sew on along the edge of a colored stripe than a white one [with white thread] because I kept losing track of where I was sewing, until I waved into a colored stripe, of course.

I placed the tucks starting at where the chest-tuck ends to the bottom of the shirt. I put the shirt on after every line to see how the shirt was shrinking. It is not a drastic change.

I had a system of counting lines after the tuck to place the next line. I did three lines on the right-side of the shirt, then decided that I should see how narrow the shirt would be with three lines on the left before adding more.

So I sewed three lines down the left, with my trusty line-counting system.

Of course I did something wrong. The lines on the left came out much closer together than the ones on the right. OF COURSE.

(I think I hadn’t accounted that, for the right side [as in the photo] I was sewing new tucks with the old ones visible. To start at the top of the line on the left side, I was sewing with the old tucks on the underside, and should have counted more lines between tucks, the way I was folding them down. If that makes sense.)

Faced with the dilemma of “equal number of tucks but unequal width of pintucked shirt space” v “unequal number of tucks but equal width of pintucked shirt space,” after brief deliberation I chose the latter. The shirt looked really lopsided with the well-spaced tucks on one side and the bunched-together tucks on the other. And there was no way I was going to rip out all of those lines to redo them.

Since the shirt is so stripy, the tucks actually are more subtle than they would be on a non-striped shirt. Soooo can’t really tell that there are 5 lines down one side and just 3 down the other.

Right?

Well, if you can tell, I’ll just say it’s “designer.”

wk43: sunning, flowering, presto pesto

My brain cannot wrap itself around all this space it suddenly has since it’s not taken up by Weddingmania anymore. Bridezilla has been vanquished at last! Freedom!

srsly.

I made pesto.

From scratch.

It felt like a very grown-up, classy urbanite foodie thing to do, like many things involving fresh herbs and a large kitchen appliance. (Although I’m sure the feeling would be more pure were I pestoing by hand).

Really it wasn’t. It was me, my out-of-control organic basil plant that I picked up on sale at the grocery store that is thriving too much for its own good at this point, a wedding gift Good Stuff Cookbook (a la my favorite burger shop in DC), and my food processor, in the kitchen that hasn’t properly absorbed its status as a newly-wed kitchen (even when one of the newly weds isn’t even living there yet).

Spike’s pesto is a basic cheeseless pesto. I didn’t have pine nuts on hand so I used sunflower seeds instead. Pulse pulse pulse.

First taste: meh? Well, at least I’ve used the basil finally. I do like the added texture the sunflower seeds gave over traditional pine nut texture, and I recommend it if you’re also a fan of crumble/crunch. They’re a lot cheaper than pine nuts too, and not made in China.

alien brainz?

Luckily the pesto was much improved overnight, when the garlic came to bloom, and the sea salt dissolved, and everything mellowed into each other.

Was a delightful addition to a chicken salad sandwich.

Wondering if I should add a dash of lemon juice to prevent discoloration next time, and give it another kick?

wk42: WE’RE MARRIED

aaaaaaand the HUSBAND is back in New Mexico.

So, it doesn’t feel very different in some ways than before. Except the world has this wonderfully newly-wed-rose tint to it.

It’s very pleasant.

The wedding was a very DIY/fixer-upper/do-it-our-way affair. Prep was stressful, but we made it work.

And as soon as I had finally had my dress and makeup and veil and shoes on (in that order), I started having fun. And the evening was a blast. Represenative of our history together, the ceremony did not go off without a hitch, but we laughed through it, and it was great. The reception is a blur to me. I spent it waving my arms around and romping about the yard in my dress, waiting for people to give me hugs.

My mother did the flowers:

Pinterest made me think I’d want peonies. But really, Gerberas are my favorite, and they’ve always been my favorite (next to hydrangeas, which aren’t auspicious for weddings, and dogwoods, which aren’t in season anymore). Pink and yellow vaguely prevailed:

I did the flower-pins:

My father, being the tallest of the bunch, put up the thousand paper cranes (50 strands of 20) all about, and my brother-in-law put up the garlands (it turns out I’d made a lot of bunting):

My brother made a gorgeous fabric wall which became our photobooth backdrop, as well as the immaculate aisle:

The best part of the wedding was of course the pie (we had blueberry, key lime, pecan, apple, cherry, strawberry rhubarb, lemon chess; my favorites were the bberry, cherry, and sberry/rhubarb, the crowd favorites wre pecan, key lime, and lemon. they were all AMAZING), graced by our flying pigs:

Music provided by my dear friend Patrick, which I’ve been re-listening to non-stop.

And I lucked out with a SUPER photographer, Tom Daly. He’s personable, unobtrusive when he needs to be, has a great eye for the meaningful details, and takes super sharp photos! (And I wanted sharp photos that did not look like at all like homevideo-type shots, and took out the DIY-look of the event.) Tom took exactly the kind of pics I wanted.

It all just, came together, beyond belief. Like us. It was a lot of fun. I’m so glad for all who came, and all who pitched in, and for our wonderful friends who were gracious enough to welcome into their home to host the event.

wk41 THE COUNT DOWN

The fiancé is back in town. We are going down to the location on Friday morning, where we will meet the location-owners and my family to prep the place, and get food/booze/the works.

We are getting everything together.

All of the pie-stands have been bought. My last-min purchases of an aisle runner and a cake banner arrived in time. I think we have enough favors. We decided to get a hardback copy of Ulysses as our guestbook, in honor of our Bloomsday date. We’re shopping for his clothes now, and will make it work. We got our marriage license going this morning!

Over the weekend, I made my veil. Attempts at a bird-cage did not get far off the ground (although I did find a few useful tutorials, I just wasn’t going at it right). Very thankful my hair has grown out a little. I had two sets of friends come over and give their opinions. My desire for a wide lace headband was banned as simultaniously too hippy- and religions-to-which-I-don’t-belong-looking. The cheap faux flowers looked, of course, cheap. My whichgoose-inspired desire for a bridal cap was also vetoed by my friends, who seem to have a better grasp of my head-shape than I do. Also that of some sort of tiara.

In the end, simple was best, with a splash of color.

I used a drug-store headband (luckily found one pre-pearly), white kanzashi-type flowers made out of a faux-woven silk (three being an auspicious number), tulle, and pink glitter tulle. All a bit asymetrical, so it’s framing my head a bit, but not in my face. On the right side of my head so it would be visible to the guests when I’m facing my husband during the vows, OF COURSE. I sewed on a semi-circle of the silk to the headband first as a base.

So, could I sell these on etsy?

wk40 it’s been so long since

Moar paper-sewing projects!!

Garlands/bunting seems to be trend possibly on the wane, but still prevalant and well, ubiquitous in the etsy-type stylish crafting crowd. I was super on the fence. I caved.

I purchased a 2″ heart punch and a 2″ scalloped round punch, as I wrote a few weeks ago. I separated my pink and yellow construction paper from the multipack, and found the LOVE-printed giftwrap scraps from my 1000 paper cranes. I went down into the laundry room and luckily found a used/free/homeless copy of Howard’s End (which I had read on my e-reader. My choices were that or Pride and Prejudice. I know that P&P is the quintessential marriage plot, and I really enjoyed it, but… I’m more of a Forster person). I got my spray adhesive. And tore the book apart.

Big paper on one side, spray glue, Howard’s End. Repeat with the next sheet, looking every now and then to see if there is a side of the page that’s more appropriate than the other (any mentios of the wedding/love/food, including “fish pie”), until the book is gone. Allow glue to dry.

Turn on TV. Get out the punches. Figure out how to squeeze in the most punches out of one sheet in a combo of hearts and rounds, scanning over the page to highlight mentions of “fish pie” when possible. Repeat until all the pages are gone.

Turn on TV/music really loud. Get out the sewing machine. If you’re up for it, use contrasting top- and bottom-thread colors. Feed the punches through, with a tiny bit of space in between, preferably either really random intervals, or more or less the same. Repeat until all the punches are gone, or you have to change bobbins.

Wrap the garlands on a canister/bottle/something. Carefully. (I fear though that this isn’t going to work as well as I hope to keep the strings untangled. We’ll see.)

I kept the rounds and hearts separate, as well as the solids and prints. Since I’m not a good eye-baller of measurements, I wasn’t sure how much yardage I would get out of the punches (although I’m sure I could figure it out with some sort of math, approximating the length of the paper, etc etc), so I was trepadatious to layer the punches together, although this gives the bunting a fuller look. But this is festive enough.

Apropos festive, this weekend was my 5 year college graduation reunion. It’s that weird only/already paradox. I had a blast though, although I had lots of things scheduled on top of each other.

Including the opening for the Alumni Show at the Hillyer Art Space! Lots of lovely works in a wonderful local space. I didn’t stay v long bc 1) I wanted to go to my reunion events 2) it was pouring scarily and 3) I am scared of these art openings, so… baby steps.