Love You With Cake

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For Valentine's Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius Day this year, I decided to make E and I a fancypants cake. I haven't made a fancypants cake in a long time and I had been itching to bake a few weeks. I found this recipe for a vanilla cake with strawberry cream frosting from Perry's Plate that looked perfect.

The cake is your typical cream the sugar and butter then add in the dry bits recipe. It does have some sour cream at the end for Extra Moist Action. I was actually surprised that they came out of the oven completely flat and I didn't have to even off the tops at all. I was quite worried about cutting the layers but they came out pretty even for the second time I've ever cut layers.

Cake Cut Into Layers

The filling is a layer of strawberry jam, the cream frosting, and fresh strawberries. If you feel the need to sample the berries and frosting while you are assembling the cake you should totally indulge those impulses.

Inside Fruity Layer

The nekkid cake all layered up. The strawberries made the layers a bit uneven, so I just stuffed more in the sides to give a bit more support. You know, just like the cathedral builders of yore used to do if an arch wasn't quite even. [NOTE: I may have been watching a little too much Nova lately.]

Nekkid layers

Oh yeah, put that crumb coat on, it's cold out baby. Especially in the fridge where you're headed next...

Crumb Coated Cake

I really miss having a stacked fridge. It was like playing a freakin' game of Tetris to get it all in there.

Stuffing into the fridge

For the final decorating, I took inspiration from Grace's Sweet Life and her post about a Pink Ombre Cake she made. I was tempted to color the frosting from a deep pink to the light, but the fact that I only have one pastry bag and it seemed like a lot of hassle dissuaded me. I had lots of left over strawberries, so I decided to use them on top, especially since the slices look like little hearts. I should have made the final ring of frosting on the top plain beads, rather than the star tip, but oh well.

Finished Cake

And the best part? It was delicious! E was surprised and loved it! Especially since he had come home from work the day before, took one sniff and asked if I had made a cake. All innocent I asked if he was smelling the vanilla candle burning in living room. He never noticed the bowl of frosting in the back of the fridge or the cake layers cooling on the washing machine in the garage. Heh.

Sliced Strawberry Cake

Reorganized Stash

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I just spent a hour going through my crafting stash. I realized, now that I'm done, that I should have taken photos along the way. The before, the after, the mess during. But oh well. This will be a boring text post instead. The lighting in the office is crappy and my camera takes too much effort to process the photos anyway.

So... crafting stash. Wow. I have A LOT of stuff. There are three main areas: quilting/sewing, yarn, and needlepoint/cross stitch/embroidery. The yarn and knitting stuff is pretty much under control, as that is what I have been messing with the most these days. Though, honestly, "these days" really means a "last touched a few months ago." Sad. I really need to get back to making stuff.

So, the yarn! It's basically contained in four areas. I have a nifty knitting basket that has all my works in progress, stitch holders, needles, and assorted fiddly bits. I have a mess of large plastic bins that I got at Bed, Bath and Beyond. The kind that are pull-out drawers. One of those is full of wool and another is full of non-wool yarns. I keep them separate so if I make something for a friend allergic to wool they won't have any lanolin that has rubbed off onto their yarn. Not sure if that is an actual issue or not, but it's an easy thing to do and I'd rather be safe than them itchy. There's also a three-ring binder of patterns.

There are eight more of the large pull-out bins, and six small pull-outs. Plus a little tower of three drawers. One of the large bins is now all needlepoint kits, canvases, Aida cloth, special embroidery yarn (that isn't in the floss packs), that kind of stuff. I found the unicorn needlepoint that I've been "working on" since I was in middle school. I swear to cod I will finish that thing before I die!

All the other bins are full of fabric. Yes, that's a lot of fabric. But if you had ever been to my mother's house, you would understand where I get this from and know that I'm Really Not That Bad. Two bins are for large pieces of left over fabric from costume making and other sewing projects, and some bits and pieces that I think would be great stash pieces/recycling.

There's one official stash drawer, that has all the fat quarters, and the smaller pieces from past projects that can be used for future projects that need random little bits. There's also a small drawer of medium-sized (e.g., half-yard or so) fabric pieces. I have three small bins of quilts in process, which contain all the cut out pieces and in various stages of sewn parts of four quilts. Then there is the bin of unfinished projects. These are quilt tops that need to be basted and quilted, and another quilt in process (yes, that makes five). There is a small bin of finished items. A small bin for mending. Two small bins for random tools and miscellaneous bits.

And one drawer has not been put away yet. It's still sitting in the middle of the office floor. This is the bin with all the old T-shirts. Having pack rat tendencies myself, and marrying a pack rat, we have this thing where we are semi-mentally attached to old T-shirts. There's a vague plan of cutting them up and making a quilt out of them. So far that hasn't happened, but no quilting has happened of any kind in almost two years, so it's nothing personal to that project. I think we need to do a culling of the T-shirts though, because that is going to be quilt big enough to cover the whole living room if we use all of them. Which is why they are sitting on the floor, so E can go through them with me.

The other piece of the crafting stash is all the patterns and smaller kits. These are also in plastic bins. But when I moved all my patterns to these bins I did a pretty good job of organizing them, so I didn't feel the need to go through them again.

I was surprised that I didn't have very much feline supervision. Ripley did wander though and sit in some of the boxes. But mostly they all just slept. They got into the garage today and I think that pretty much exhausted all of them. All three of them were covered in cobwebs when I finally wrangled them back upstairs.

Now I just have to go through the boxes of papers and do the filing. There are still 6 moving boxes that I need to go through, plus surface piles of filing. That part is harder since a lot of it is E's stuff and he has to go through it too. But the room is getting there. It's certainly better than it was.

Pardon Our Dust

Hey, it has been awhile, hasn't it. It's not that I haven't been thinking of you, I swear. Lots has been going on.

Since the last post, I moved, again. I now share my craft room with E's office. And it still isn't fully unpacked. Which means I haven't really been able to sew at all. Which sucks. Luckily the piles have been shrinking lately, so I hope to have a work space soon.

I have finished a few projects the past few months. Stay tuned for photos and updates of that.

Sorry about the design of the site. Slackers.net, where this blog is hosted, was hacked a bit ago and we had to rebuild everything from scratch. Well, E had to rebuild it. I just provided snacks and emotional support. We finally upgraded to the latest version of Moveable Type (YAY!) but it's taken awhile to get all the bugs worked out. Hopefully I'll get the colors back to being right soon. But at least it has some kind of style applied.

And I lost almost 2 hours this morning to deleting comment spam and closing comments on past posts. I'm thinking that I may need to add Captcha or some such to help rein in the spammers. They make me angry. And angry means less crafting, which is sad.

Hopefully this bit of spring cleaning will make it a nicer place to blog again. Ahhh. Clean.

I Am Cupcake!

The felted cupcake is a hit! It's making the rounds of the office. When someone does something good (no matter how big or small) the current cupcake holder passes the cupcake on to the good-doer.

I Am Cupcake

I love Leslie's line drawing of the cupcake. It looks better than my felted one!

Good Enough to Eat

Last week at work, Leslie held a brown bag about game design. At the end of the session, we had to come up with a game for the office. Some folks came up with this game about passing a cupcake. We all agreed that implementing the game would be great. But acquiring a constant supply of fresh cupcakes might prove a bit problematic. Enter the crafter.

Strawberry Cupcake

I stopped at Michael's this weekend and picked up a bunch of different colored felt. I found a couple of patterns for felted cupcakes online, so I had a sense of what to do. No offense to all the great crafters out there, but I just couldn't bring myself to pay $8.00 for a cupcake pattern. So I winged it.

Strawberry Cupcake

I originally thought that I'd have pink icing with colored beads as sprinkles. But when it put it all together, it looked really dorky. So I took off the sprinkles and made a little strawberry (with the help of Lit'l Brown Bird's strawberry pattern).

Strawberry Cupcake

I love the French knots as seeds! So clever. I'm about 65% happy with how it turned out. But folks at work are loving it. Which is what is most important.

Project: Strawberry Cupcake
Started: May 31, 2010
Finished: May 31, 2010

Berkeley Humane Society Needs Your Help

Please re-post to boost the signal.

They had a fire this morning that destroyed most of their facility and killed several animals. They need donations, volunteers to help with clean-up, and people to temporarily foster pets.

http://www.berkeleyhumane.org/

http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_15125303?nclick_check=1

Susie Hoodie, In Progress

I am having the greatest fun working on this sweater. I started it right after the wedding and I just started the sleeves this weekend.

Sweater Front

The color doesn't come out quite right on the iPhone. It's a deep mauvy-purplish-red. Just lovely.

Here's the back. The series of increases and decreases makes the point at the back automatically. I just love that little touch.

Sweater Back

The cables on the front and sleeves have given me only a bit of trouble. It's not that it's difficult, it's that you have to pay attention. And since I usually knit while watching TV or a movie, well, you know how it goes.

Sweater Cuff

But just look at that cable! I love the little pockets between the cables. It's the perfect size for fingers and feels so fun. Yes, I pet my yarn and knitting. Doesn't everyone?

Sweater Cuff, Detail

Susie Hoodie:
Started: August 13, 2009
Finished:

If I Knew You Were Coming I'd a Baked a Quilt

It turns out that the island in the middle of our kitchen is the perfect cutting station. My big cutting mat fits perfectly upon it. And it's the correct height so my back doesn't hurt too much after hours of cutting. Because I can't just craft in reasonable spurts. I do marathon crafting for hours on end. Cause I'm silly that way.

Kitchen as Cutting Room

I've started working on a quilt that I originally started about 8 years ago. I'm not kidding. It was the second quilt that I decided to make and I picked out a bunch of the fabric with my mom while on a trip to CT. This was in the days before they charged you an arm and a leg for overweight baggage.

Making Little Pieces from Big Pieces

Cutting the fabric is my least favorite part of quilt making. I think it's because I'm not very good at it. I'm just starting to get the hang of actually getting the pieces to be the correct size. But making sure that the grain of the fabric is going in the right direction? That's still way beyond me. I know it will reflect in the quality of my quilts, but oh well. Apparently I can only work on one cutting skill at a time.

I spent a lot of time squaring up pieces that I had cut 8 years ago. There are 2 setting triangles that I will have problems with since they are off about 1/4 of an inch. But all the rest seem good. And I have way more fabric left for the stash than I thought I would. Yay stash!

Odds and Ends

Since I was in the kitchen, I grabbed a mixing bowl to collect the odds and ends of fabric as I cut. What a great idea! So much nicer than getting bits of fabric caught up in what you are working with, which is what I usually do. I love the way the bowl looks all filled up with fabric. Like I'm baking a quilt.

I can't wait for my sewing machine to get back from the shop so I can start with the piecing!

Well Hello There

Egads it's been a long time since I posted here. I'm slowly, finally getting back into the swing of post-wedding life. Crafting has taken a backseat lately, as I'm trying to get used to being at work again.

There are a number of projects that are almost done. I have two more bridesmaids scarves to finish knitting and a baby sweater that is almost done (I gave IOUs to all three recipients).

Today I made a nectarine golden cake, which looked more like a tart than a cake, to take to our visit to E's Great Uncle Joe.

Nectarine golden cake

The nectarines were very ripe, so the cake was very sweet. It was quite good, though would have benefited from a dollop of whipped cream. We have a few more nectarines left and a number of peaches. I might try making a peach cobbler next.

Boxes, boxes, and more boxes

Much of my crafting time lately has gone towards wedding preparations. There's a lot of stuff that we have decided to do ourselves. Not because it's cheaper necessarily, but because we are overly ambitious and like making crap.

We decided fairly early on that we wanted to give favors, and we wanted them to be local to San Francisco, and ideally chocolate. Then came the ideas for what to put said chocolates in. Originally we were going to fold fabric into origami boxes, but that quickly was ruled out to the amount of work. We're still going with the origami box idea, but now we are doing them in paper.



Finding the right paper has turned out to be a lot more difficult than originally thought. We've spent a lot of time at Flax, going through their paper books. We tried all different sizes to figure out how much and how many.

We finally ended up going with a paper we found online at PaperMojo. One of the things we loved about them is that they will cut the paper for us. We still have to cut the 336 pieces for the little liner boxes, but that's better than having to do all the cutting. We also have to find a ribbon that we like to make the bow on the box.

Now the fun starts: the folding! I have a feeling we are going to become experts in peak folds.

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  • One woman's adventure with yarn, fabric and needles.

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