February 03, 2007

Puff Mama

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Cream puffs are pure Heaven.  They are an even higher level of Heaven when they come from the best place in the world, ‘Beard Papa’, but I’ll have to say when they come from the International House of Clover they aren’t so bad either. Q came home the night before last with a craving for something sweet.  This idea sounded first-rate to me also, so we searched for something to indulge in.  Q wanted cream puffs, which I had never made, so I tried to find something else, but it always returned to cream puffs.  With my laptop in tow, I went into the kitchen to whip up cream puffs with the greatest of ease (can you hear my hysterical laughing?).  Pate a choux isn’t difficult to make, but it is very different than what I am used to.  You heat it up on top of the stove, and then transfer it to the mixing bowl.  From there you bake the dough at a high temperature for a few minutes, and then set it to a lower temperature for about an hour, for the dough balls to dry out and become hollow inside, very interesting! I made two batches of cream, one vanilla and one matcha (green tea powder).  The vanilla whipped up really well, became thick and fluffy, while the matcha just became, well, creamy.  No complaints here, well, maybe over the 5 pounds I gained!

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February 01, 2007

Am I A Crazy Tea Lady?

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I always seem to carry tea with me.  I don’t necessarily do this do purpose, it just happens.  While cleaning out my handbag so I could switch to a new one, I found tons of tea bags in the bottom of the bag.  Curiosity struck, and I looked into a couple other bags I use, and sure enough, more tea bags.  Am I some crazy tea lady that needs her fix or all will be doomed?  Do I have some neurological problem that causes me to horde tea bags? I can’t say.  All I can say is that my purses are full of them.  To remedy the clutter this causes (though, as a plus, it does give my purses scents like pomegranate and jasmine), I crafted up a small felt tea bag holder, which holds up to four teabags. They are extremely easy to make, and I think I will draft up a quick and easy pattern for them.  In one I lined it with parchment paper for my non plastic wrapped teas, to protect them from fuzz (Though I should of thought of that before throwing them into my endless bags…)

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January 31, 2007

Kissing Alpacas

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I snapped this picture last year, and thought it was just tooo cute to keep to myself!  They are two baby Alpacas stealing a kiss!  I love Alpacas, they are one of my favorite animals!!

Welcome visitors of CuteOverload.com !! Thank you for choosing my picture to be CUTE!! ^_^

January 28, 2007

Winged Cupcake Apron

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“Winged Cupcake” is my new design, soon to be seen on almost anything and everything I make, I’m sure.  I was doodling around with some apron ideas the other day, planning my "Tie One On"for February, when I came up with this little idea.  I am going to try to take some better pictures soon, when we finally have a warmer day.  You can’t see the other side, but there is a long pocket with a printed material.

I also tried ‘hand appliqué’ for the first time with this. Wow, what a pain. I have to call my quilt friend to see if she can show me a couple hand sewing techniques, I really need some practice on this!

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Pain Au Lait

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The world of French sweet breads is a delicate one.  How is it that such little sugar glazed breads cause so much frustration?  The frustration of “Should I eat this? No… too fatty”.  The frustration of “Oh no I could never bake one, they are too much work…” and the frustration of “Why isn’t this dough coming out right!?!?!” Yesterday I was the innocent victim of all three frustrations.  It all started with a trip to the local pastry shop, where we came out with a small bag full of sweets.  After enjoying my chestnut castella, I got to thinking that I’ve never thought to try and make any sort of sweet bread pastry before.  A search later, I found a recipe that fit me well, “Pain Au Lait” topped with cream cheese and strawberry jam.  The dough seemed reasonably straightforward: yeast, water, eggs, and milk.  This is where substitutions should not be made.  The recipe called for powdered milk, I used real.  It called for instant yeast, I used active dry.  This caused a larger amount of liquid in the dough, and the result was a sticky mess.  It sat in the refrigerator overnight, and in the morning it was ready to be made into tasty little treats. I almost threw the dough away; it was so sticky I couldn’t even work with it.  Fortunately Q came to the rescue and kneaded some flour into it, so we could roll it flat and cut it!  While they were rising I was so hungry I could’ve eaten them right there!! The wait was worth it, though they looked a little messy, they tasted fantastic!!!!!

January 22, 2007

Chicken Apron Love

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We are far from being snowed in, less than 2 inches on the ground, but it was fun to stay inside bundled up with a fine book (‘The Namesake’), warm tea (Mango black), and a bread baking book (La Brea).  The morning was spent flipping page after page of the closing chapter of a book I have been meaning to read for some time, and before I knew it I was finished at it was noon.  My dough starter had sit out overnight, the smell of yeast overflowing in the kitchen.  Recipe in hand I got to work on a rustic boule, working in intervals of kneading and rising. It was also a nice chance to wear my new apron, which I call ‘the chicken apron’.  I love the pattern on the fabric, the folk art chickens in black and white on the whimsical yellow background.  I instantly knew it was going to be an apron, and standing in the fabric store I also knew it had to have a scallop hem.  It was the first fabric in a long time that I actually knew what is was going to be before I had it cut! In hindsight it could also use a pocket of some sort, next time!

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January 21, 2007

Finally!!!

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I can't believe it! SNOW! Finally we have snow!!

January 18, 2007

Patisserie Birdhouse

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I have a nasty habit of buying random things when I go to craft stores. This is a recurrent problem, and I always say to myself “Oh, I could use this, I have to get it!”, and in the cart it goes. To some people, this could be seen as a good thing (and in ways it is), as a way to acquire interesting craft supplies for a rainy day. The only thing is, some of the things I pick up are so off the chart I know deep down they will go unused for ages, only to be discovered one month during a cleaning raid of the craft room.  I wonder if other crafters have this same habit, or am I in a boat of my own? Eventually the items will get used; I’ll try a new project, get an inspiration (in which I am happy for my spur of the moment purchase), or just have an urge to do something different.  That is where my “Patisserie Birdhouse” came from.  While browsing my neighborhood craft store, I noticed a sale on plain, unfinished birdhouses.  I picked up a few and sat them on my kitchen table so I could always notice them, forcing me to paint them.  This is for my Mom, I’m going to give it to her as a present, and I hope she likes it!  This was a really fun and speedy project, It was my first time using decoupage!  I created the little signs and window on an image editing program, printed them out and just decoupaged them on! I filled a tiny basket full of clay made breads, and made a topiary from some Christmas berries from a floral arrangement! There are about 10 coats of paint on it though, I kept mixing colors to try and get one that I liked!

January 16, 2007

Oh My Darling Clementine

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Wintry air blows throughout Washington D.C. today, and what a shock it is!  Yesterday we were outside in short sleeve shirts and linen pants, today parkas and furry hats.  I made every excuse today to not go outside, and it almost worked, until I noticed some essential goods missing from the fridge (butter and croissants).  Q and I picked up a box of Clementine’s yesterday and they have haunting me all day long.  The house needed some heat so the oven got prepared for some cupcakes.  I wanted to try something new so I found my new little zester, grabbed some Clementine’s and went to work!  The smell was amazing!! The house started to warm up, sweet aroma whiffing throughout, and charming cupcakes stood nearby ready for almond vanilla frosting and the best part, tasting!!

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Clementine Cupcakes

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Zest of two Clementine’s

Juice of two Clementine’s

1 1/2  cups flour

1 1/2  teaspoons baking powder 

1/2  teaspoon salt 

1 stick butter

2  eggs 

1/2  cup milk 

1  teaspoon vanilla extract 

3/4  cup sugar

    

Preheat the oven to 350.  Gently hand mix together flour, baking powder, zest and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together milk, juice, vanilla and mix.  

Cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, and add the eggs one at a time. Add part of the dry mixture, let blend, and then add the milk mixture and then the remaining dry mixture until just blended.

Fill a muffin tin (with cupcake liners in place) with the batter. 

Bake   for 22-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes clean.  Let cool for a few minutes.  Apply your favorite icing after they are completely cooled!

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January 13, 2007

Cut square after square after square

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Above is a crop shot of my latest sewing project.  As you can most likely tell, it is a quilt!  I am very excited about this, and I have a great mentor to help me along the way!  A friend of mine is a great quilt maker, and after seeing her quilts at her house, I was inspired to try one for myself.  I know that this was going to be my first quilt project, but my scattered mind used some of the fabric for another project, and lost the pattern at the time I was ready to make it. So, a little improvising and it became a nine patch quilt! All of the squares are sewn, now I am just planning the pattern and siding (sashing?). Quilt making is a little more tedious than I imagined, but it has been a lot of fun going through all the up and downs with my (super amazing) quilt friend! 

January 12, 2007

*Cough Cough*

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Things here have been down lately.  I started a new project, and then WHAM! I got hit by a crazy nasty cold!! Thankfully it is starting to let up, and I am looking forward to working on my sewing project soon.  The length of stay of this cold might be my fault, this week is Restaurant Week, something that I have been looking forward to all year.  And each day this week I threw myself out of bed to keep my reservations, eat food I couldn't really enjoy, and annoy everyone with my nonstop bathroom tissue breaks. Not the smartest idea, and I paid for it big time the days following, but hey, it only happens once a year! (Ok, horrible excuse). 

Oh! the above picture is the first harvest of my tomatoes, from the hydroponic garden Q (= my love) bought me for my birthday!

January 06, 2007

Strollin' on a Saturday Night

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Tonight, after a day of antiquing and driving through the country, I discovered a very nice event that I never knew happened in a nearby area.  First Saturday Gallery Walk.  The first Saturday of each month, all of the galleries in this small town open their doors, people stroll through, drink hot cocoa and all in all a great time is had by everyone.

December 31, 2006

Resolutions

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“I should eat healthier” I say as I dig into my Molten Chocolate Cake. ^_^

December 30, 2006

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Happy New Years Eve Eve! Not so much crafting going on since a little before the Holidays.  Christmas came and went, and the Holiday laziness ensued.  Projects and fabric are scattered all throughout the house, patterns and drawings still in binders waiting to be created.  Hopefully the New Year will bring with it the normality of a regular schedule again.  This well needed rest was nice, but now I have to slip back into my daily pace.  One skill I am looking to work on in the upcoming year is bread making.  I love fresh bread, and in an era of ‘fast and convenient’, it is becoming harder and harder to find fresh, handmade bread.  More than anything, I want that smell. I love the smell of bread baking, enticing you to what waits for you in the oven. A while ago, my mother sent me a book on bread making, “Nancy Silverton's Breads from the La Brea Bakery: Recipes for the Connoisseur”.  After reading the opening chapter on ‘starters’ I was fixated on the thoughts of baking my own bread, raising my starter, and being my own little bread maker.  So, I cheated a little and bought my own starter.  I anxiously waited the arrival of the starter, and almost burst when it finally arrived.  After much feeding, discarding, and then feeding some more, my smelly starter (I actually love this smell, as well as the smell of rising dough) was ready for a recipe!  I tried a simple recipe to start, it looks kinda funky, but it tasted good!!

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December 25, 2006

Not made for Gingerbread

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Most people always give me that odd look when I go on and on about Moomins.  I love Moomins, a lot.  In New York I almost dropped over when I read that the Scandinavia House was having a Moomin special. I ravage every bookstore I can find trying to get all the Moomin books, and I’m constantly on the look out for Moomins.  This year for Christmas I wanted to make my own gingerbread house.  Actually I wanted to make three, all from scratch.  Now I know that I was obviously insane.  I don’t know how people do it; I think they must have some super gingerbread gene that I did not inherit.  I knew I wanted to make a Moomin House, it was a must! No knowing where to start I searched on the subject and found a great detailed pattern for just what I wanted!! I made three batches of dough, the first one was disastrous. The last two not so bad, and on went the house making.  The baking wasn’t so bad, but remember that they bake bigger than what you cut, so don’t put them too close together and trim them right when they come out of the oven. Two things that I didn’t do.  The biggest challenge was keeping the thing up and together.  That post could go for ages, with speech details that wouldn’t be fit for this site, hah.  3 full days of gingerness and I’m done.  When it was all put together though, I was ecstatic! 

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