Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In My Shoppe

Hopefully this is the start of something good. I have just listed my Washable, Reusable Facial Make Up Removal Pads in my Artfire Shop. Can I call it a shoppe? When I was a teenager, I wanted to run an old fashioned ice cream shoppe (with 2 'p's and an 'e') with stools and floats and stupid hats for the workers. It never materialised.

I personally use these facial pads myself. I'm the whole reason I came up with them in the first place. Believe me, I don't go about dreaming up what other people may want and make that. I solve my own problems. I didn't like the way that disposable cotton pads would disintegrate as I used them and I didn't like the way they'd fill up my bathroom trash can. I also didn't like shopping for them. The best price was always at Walmart or Superstore and I never go there, so it's a special trip just to get cotton facial pads. I'm a little bit of an environmentalist, but when you mix environmentalist with not having to go shopping (think big city + winter + 2 little kids), not having to empty my trash can as often (lazy) and having a better product to use, well, I'm sold. You know you want some.

 They come with a mesh laundry bag to wash them in, which keeps them together and protects them from your machines. I wash and dry mine in the bag right along with my regular laundry and it works wonderfully! They come in a set of 21, which I find is a nice amount to launder every couple weeks and never run out. I only use toner at night, so I use one or maybe 2 every day. If you remembered to wash every week (I'm so forgetful), you could use 3 per day and it would still be enough! They have a soft, fluffy side that's not too absorbent; it holds toner and eye make up remover without absorbing it, so you don't have to use as much. The other side is absorbent cotton flannel, a soft and gentle exfoliant and great for make up removal. Also, the soft cotton is perfect for cleaning fingerprints off DVDs and CDs.

Anyway, I'm really hoping this launches my motivation to fill that shop up with other interesting things I have dreamed up. Let me know what you think, if you have an opinion or suggestion (or encouragement!). Your comments are appreciated!

Little edit to add: I just added an Artfire widget up there in my side bar so you can shop from my Artfire Shoppe right from here. Another great thing about Artfire is that they don't make you sign up for an account if you just want to buy something. It's pretty sweet.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Foundational Cookbooks

I consider cooking a craft. I found this post from Casual Kitchen on Foundational Cookbooks, listing six foundational cookbooks to own that you'll actually use. Embarrassingly, I don't own any of these. I think my first purchase from this list would be the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and then the Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant.
 Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (Better Homes & Gardens Plaid)
My cookbooks are family cookbooks and my own compilation of collected recipes from the internet. What are your foundational cookbooks?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

More cakes

I made this cake for my friend's 35th birthday party. It was a surprise party and her husband did a fabulous job of pulling off a terrific surprise party for her with lots of friends and he even brought her parents in from Florida! How exciting! It all seemed to go off without a hitch: she seemed to suspect nothing and enjoy it all.

As you can see here, I've been having some trouble lately smoothing my buttercream icing. When I first learned cake decorating, it was something I was pretty good at. Perhaps I've become picky through my years of decorating and since learning to make and use fondant, now I want it nice and smooth like fondant. Well, before I totally switch over to fondant, I think I may try out this handy little trick. And probably try beating my icing a little less (which incorporates more air bubbles into the icing). I know another tip given to us was to let the icing rest a day before using it, but I can't remember if that's to let any icing sugar bumps incorporate into the icing better or if it was to get rid of air bubbles. Regardless, I made this icing the night before I used it and it was still bubbling up all over for me. Very frustrating when you want a nice smooth finish.

The cherry blossoms turned out alright. I don't tend to be too hard on myself with cake decorating, since 90% of the population isn't looking at the mistakes I see. Everyone was very impressed and pleased with the cake. And if I haven't said it before, the woman I "learned to mae fondant from" (or at least her writings on the internet) says, "You're working in a medium that is meant to be eaten." Don't take yourself too seriously. It's a great cure for perfectionism.

This is the cake I made for New Years Eve, even though we just had 2 people come over and we didn't dig in before the kids went to bed. It was way too much cake for 4 people. We ate the rest of it for probably the next week. I made a boxed cherry bits cake mix for this recipe because Z had a friend over and we were making it together. I didn't feel like dragging out all the ingredients for a chocolate cake to make a big mess with them. Turned out cream cheese chocolate icing was not that tasty with the cherry bits cake. I wonder how it would have been with chocolate cake... (seems like cupcakes are in order!)

The decorations are piped white chocolate. It was my first time trying that. I piped them onto parchment (good idea) on the counter (not so good idea). I ended up moving (carefully) the parchment over by the window and opening it a crack so they would set faster. It didn't take long, but it was taking a long time at room temp. I tried to make snowflakes, but my chocolate was too warm for that. These squiggles were the best design I tried. I made some stars, too; they're not bad. I'm keeping them refrigerated in a tupperware container with pieces of parchment between the layers.

I hope you'll forgive me for getting out of the blogging groove over Christmas and the new year. Happy New Year. I hope you all will be seeing a lot more of me soon.

Unrelated: I'm working on making some items for my Artfire shop. It's been unstocked for a while and I haven't been taking advantage of the selling capacity there. I'll post here when I have items available and give you a peek at what they are.
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