January 12, 2011

Excitement

Hello blogland! I have been remiss, I know.  I had posts stacked up waiting for all of you.  Then for a while I had a D in Macroeconomics, so everything else kinda slipped away…  Regardless, I’m back for a new semester in a new place to boot!

This picture is deceptive. It was taken on Day 3 of the snowpocalypse. Earlier the streets were sheets of ice.

Since the first levantense from Señor I was enthralled; not only by the dashing teacher that stood before me, but by a whole new language.  A new world that was mysterious, fast-pasted, and (if I may) sexy.  It was then I decided I would speak another language, fluently. I want to be travel journalist (and a little bit I want to work for a fashion magazine or really any magazine that will hire me!) What better way to get an edge on my competition than to say, “Yes I can coordinate with the fashion houses in France because I speak fluent French” or “Don’t worry, I can cover South America without a translator”  The best way to travel is to seek out the locals and act like them.  It’s a lot easier to do when you can speak to them instead of stalking them! So I decided to major in Romance Languages and Journalism. I chose French and Spanish. The French part isn’t working out so well as of yet, but I have faith! The thing is I really want it. I really, really want to be fluent, and from what I’ve found, that will take me farther than proficiency. I can alphabetized really well, but does that mean I want to be a secretary for the rest of my life. No. I have this desire and if I keep plugging away, it’s bound to happen some day. For me, fluency takes immersion.  What better place than Spain and what better time than now?  I will be living in Valencia, Spain for the next four months, and when I come back I will be fluent.  For the next four months, this will be a travel blog. I can’t promise daily updates, but there should be more posts compared to the last semester. You can come along with me as I trek through Spain and the rest of Europe. Well, you can come along with me as soon as I actually go…


Our plane was supposed to take off January 10 at 6:55pm but because of this whole weather system (49 out of 50 states has snow. I’m lookin’ at you Florida!)  We moved our flight to today, January 12.  Just for the record I hate snow, I’m a summer girl through and through. The sun thrills my soul. The rays make my heart pitter patter. Warm weather makes me happy. The snow does not, and now I have another complaint: It’s keeping me from the 60 degree weather that awaits me in Valencia. That and actual Valencia. So I’m off, and you’ll see me in another continent soon!

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October 25, 2010

210, Home (sort of)

It’s so weird to contemplate what home means to me.  I do live at 210, but I live at my parents house too (and I lived there for eighteen years).  I call a hotel room home when on vacation because that’s where I sleep at night.  Where is home for me?  As a college student, I am in the throes of changes that sweep me to this thing called adulthood.  I am, for the first time, truly deciding where I live and how I do it.

I live with people I have chosen (I made some pretty great choices I must say). I live in a community of people who are in the same phase of life, and we’re all trying to figure it out.  We eat, sleep, laugh, cry, scream, sing, and dance together.  Not only my apartment, but others in my neighborhood. I have formed a community of people who really care about my struggles and my triumphs.

So what’s next? I won’t always live here. In fact in January I’ll be living in Spain.  So do does my dorm in Valencia become my home?  When I graduate and move (hopefully!) to New York City (more like Queens, Brooklyn, or Jersey. But a girl can dream of an apartment in Manhattan) that will be home, for good, God willing.  So basically what I’m saying is I get to construct a home where ever I happen to be living.  I can surround myself with a community and a family, and I can do that because my true family and my one real home gave me such a great example. Yes the world is lonely and scary, and at this point in my life I am passing through some of the most profound changes. But, I have a family and a home where ever I go.  I can choose to connect with people and open myself up to life and plant roots, however temporary.  Because really, that’s where the best part of life resides.  Those moments don’t happen when I’m by myself.  They definitely don’t happen when I close myself off. The best parts of life occurs when I’m with people in my (real or constructed) home with my (real or chosen) family.

Now away from the philosophical stuff. I know you want to see pictures of my super cute room!


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September 29, 2010

First Meal

I have been living at 210 for almost two months now, and it’s finally starting to feel like home. (probably because it’s a little messy.  I kept it pristine for three weeks, and it felt like a hotel room.  Now I have tests and the cleanliness of my bedroom takes a backseat.)  It was crazy the first couple of days living in a completely new place and unpacking everything, trying to make this new apartment feel like home.

This is not my pot, but I'm lazy and my camera's not near me. It is exactly what my pot looks like though.

What makes any place feel like home? Cooking of course!  I made pasta like my mommy makes.  It made it feel homey and made the house smell good. I also used by bright yellow Le Creuset pot, with makes me feel happy and tad bit French.  I would give you the recipe, but it’s just pasta sauce from a jar with some ground turkey added to it. I also had some yogurt with peaches and Kashi cereal sprinkled on top.  All in all, sitting at the coffee table, starting at the place where the tv should have been with my five roommates proved to be a great way to christen the new apartment.

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September 10, 2010

675 Yard Sale!

So doing this whole school thing and having an internship at an awesome local fashion and culture magazine takes up more time than I thought.  I have not disappeared. I just took a little bit of a break.  Now I can tell you all about the splendid fun that is the 675 yard sale!

We woke up early, and I applied copious amounts of sunscreen (or so I thought.  My burn lines told a different story).  Then we were off to Noccalula Falls, Alabama for the beginning of the yard sale.  This was particularly exciting because A) it was my birthday and everyone knows that on one’s birthday only good, exciting, wonderful things happen B) This was my first time I got to go with my mommy.  My aunt, my grandfather, and my mom always went the first week of school every year and I marveled at all of the amazing trinkets, china, paintings, and furniture they brought back.  We always unpacked all the treasures and listened to their stories. AND C) I am obsessed with yard sales.  I love looking through piles of crazy stuff to find the one set of earing that will blow the socks of anyone else’s or the perfect painting by an unknown artist for the wall above my dresser.  I enjoy looking at old things and the hunt.  Some people hunt animals; I hunt for bargains.

There were plenty of old things to see!  FABULOUS vintage jewelry, old chairs, cookbooks from 1956, the first models of portable radios, old cars, the required table of salt shakers, cast iron pans, old comics, vintage fashion magazines, a tub of lard (we are in the South after all), comic books, lots of stop lights, a go-go dancer drink shaker, imitation Snuggies, and even and old stage-coach.

The best part is each of these items hand an owner before, and they loved it or hated it or forgot about it. But this item lived life with them.  It saw the daily life of someone far away.  It brought them joy .  It brought them hope.  At least that’s what I’d like to think.  I’d like to think that the old Pryex bowls made cakes that showed the love of a grandmother to her grandchildren or the old studebaker showed a teenager freedom and the feeling of being invincible in the night air.  They may be plastic, wood, metal, or resin, but they hold the lives of people who go before us, and we pour our lives into them as well whether we realize it or not.  They continue to live on after we stop.

That’s what’s so magical about a yard sale and why you see people out at 7 AM to sift through piles of discarded junk.  It’s exciting to create new memories in a dress or serve new conversation over a platter.  Maybe I give too much weight to non-living things, but they connect us to living people with hopes and dreams and love.  I want to find out the stories behind the things people love because that shows their lives more than anything they could say.

I highly recommend going out to the next yard sale.  Not only will there be fun bargains and crazy/funny things to take pictures of, there will be carnival food.  What is better than a hotdog, kettlecorn, fresh squeezed lemonade, and homemade ice cream? The answer is nothing.  It’s always the first weekend in August.  Check it out here for more info!

August 18, 2010

Birthday Cake

So I’ll finally post a week (almost two) late! I know I said I would have lots of fun stuff for you, but I am slacking.  I could use the excuse of FINALLY moving in (you’ll see cute pictures soon!) but I will just say I’m sorry and I will not allow it to happen again!


So I thought to myself, “I will make the most beautiful birthday cake.  It will be a vision and people will ooh and aah about its glory.  It can’t be too hard. Can it?”


Well folks, Duff and his people make it look really easy! I learned I cannot carve a cake without taking off a good 2 or 3 inches.  I also learned that I’m not that great of a cake decorator and I either need to stick to easier desserts or take a class or some sort.


I dreamed of an elaborate cake, so I couldn’t just use the white box cake mix I has in my cabinet.  I wanted to add a blackberries, but unfortunately our blackberry bush is all shriveled from the sad little bit of rain we have received.  The blueberries at the farmer’s market looked fabulous though!  They make this really great purpley color that makes me so happy! I don’t think you can taste much difference in the cake batter.  I think it would have to be a more potent blueberry flavor for it to really come through once it’s baked.


The cream between the layers and the icing is really deluxe!  I used a recipe for the blueberry cream from Epicurious and the dark chocolate icing is also from there.  I think the slight bitterness of the dark chocolate balances the sweetness of the cream and the cake.  I just used a whole to-go packet of instant coffee because I couldn’t find instant espresso, and I really liked the extra coffee flavor. If you don’t like coffee at all you could leave it out and be just fine!


Actually icing the cake became quite an ordeal! I can’t cut cakes level for one, and the top layer ended up being about the same size as the middle layers.  It ended up looking a little like the Mad Hatter’s hat from Alice in Wonderland.  Cake decorating takes serious skill!  I tried, but it did not form into a work of art.  It did however taste REALLY good, and it lasted for about a week.  I basically ate cake for breakfast and sometimes lunch until I moved to back to school.  Well here’s how I did it!


Blueberry and Chocolate Birthday Cake

  1. The Cake
  • 2 boxes white cake mix (follow box directions for eggs and oil)
  • Blueberry puree (see blueberry cream recipe) – enough to replace the water the recipe calls for (more if you really like blueberries)
  • lots of cake pans

Mix the cake as directed, replacing the water with blueberry puree for one of the cake mixes. I was just able to use two 8in cake pans, a large tier, and another 7 in. cake pan, so it makes a lot of cake! Bake according to box directions

2.  The Blueberry Cream and Puree (adapted from Epicurious)

  • one container blueberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
  • splash of vanilla extract

Rinse blueberries and without drying them, put them in a food processor with the sugar. Blend to a puree.  The original recipe said to strain it, but I liked the bits so they stayed. Set aside the equivalent of the water in the cake mix.  Beat the cream until peaks form. (You cannot do this by hand! Well maybe if you’re awesome, but don’t waste your time. Break out the electric beaters!) Then fold in around 3/4 cup of the puree.  You now have delicious cream that can be used with lots of things!

3. The Icing (adapted from Epicurious)!

  • 1 pound bittersweet or dark chocolate (I use a combo of both because it’s what I had on hand)
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (or instant coffee)

Put chopped chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl, and set aside. Heat the cream and espresso powder.  Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, then pour it over the chocolate.  Whisk the mixture until all the chocolate is melted.  Let refrigerate for about 2 hours or you can flash cool it in the freezer in about 30 minutes. Just keep checking on it.

Then you put the whole thing together.  Level the cakes.  Put chocolate icing over the bottom layer, then add the second layer to it.   I cut all my layers in two and put the blueberry cream in between them.  Ice the cake and make it beautiful!  Then eat it!

August 5, 2010

Heart Aprons – Project HG continues

I sincerely apologize for my extended absence.  Getting ready to move into a new apartment at school has consumed much of my time.  No crafting or cooking, ergo no posting.  But be prepared for some amazing posts coming soon. I am making myself a tier (well sort of) birthday cake, and will take oodles of pictures. The most exciting part is that for my birthday this Saturday, I will going to the 675 mile yard sale. Not the whole thing mind you, but a full days worth. I am so beyond excited!  Anyway, on to today…

In my original plan for making this insane number of aprons, I designed eight different aprons with inspiration from different blogs, pictures or vintage aprons, and I relied heavily on the apron collection at Anthropologie. Everything that company makes is gorgeous! How could I not use it for inspiration (By the way, their new fall catalogue came to me yesterday and there are some incredible coats in there!) Any my second design I cam across this blog that had the cutest heart-shaped aprons.  The tutorial is great. I don’t think I followed it to a T, but I loved the way mine turned out.

10 down, 20 to go!  I think my short-term goal (deadline: August 10) is to finish 15, and then I can finish the other 15 when I get set up in the new apartment or when I get an invitation to the imaginary housewarming parties.

July 27, 2010

Mmmm Banana Bars

So I have been quite lazy sewing wise and have yet to make anymore aprons.  Oh my! So instead I will assuage my  guilt my baking!  I made Gooey Butter Cake for my sister to bribe people to like her (well sort of and because she’s nice), and I also made banana bars.  I will share these with you A) because I actually took half decent pictures of them B) because they are healthy AND delicious and C) because I felt really cool changing the recipe and it turned out well.

Cooking is great for improvising.  If you don’t like rosemary, you don’t have to add it to your rosemary chicken.  You can make it basil chicken.  A little bit of this and a little bit of that tossed over a flame can become a great meal without much thought or incredible talent.  On the other hand if mess up with the amount of baking powder you decide to use, the cookies, cake, or brownies you want could explode (okay maybe not, but I like to dramatize things.  And wouldn’t exploding brownies be a little bit funny?)  The point is, chemistry has its evil hand in baking much to my chagrin ( Sorry Mrs. Bradford-Hunt, but you an I both know chemistry is just not my thing!)  I don’t get to just throw stuff, take stuff out, or mess with the fat to flour ratio.

I decided today I would try, and we had REALLY ripe bananas that NOBODY was going to eat in their state.  So out comes the stained recipe for banana bars from my favorite cookie cookbook: Better Homes and Garden’s The Ultimate Cookie Book.  On page 404, I began my journey to the unknown (see, I love the drama. :) It’s the reason I love the Real Housewives series.  I know they’re crazy, but I can’t help myself) I digress.  I want something that didn’t make me feel so bad about eating it.  I would make swaps where I could and I hope that I made up for it with some other swaps so it wouldn’t taste like cardboard.  I say it was a success! I hope you make them and enjoy them.  Hey with the bananas you get a serving for fruit right? ;)

Banana Bars – adapted heavily from The Ultimate Cookie Book

  • 1/2 cup and a little bit butter, softened
  • 1 1/3-1/2 cup dark brown sugar (depending on your sweetness tolerance)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 and a little bit cup of mashed bananas
  • about a 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (if you don’t like whole wheat you can cut in all purpose flour)
  • Icing of your choice ( I chose powdered sugar mixed with milk)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease baking dish.  9×13 and the like work well.  Beat butter until creamy.  Add sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Beat until mixed well.  Beat in egg, banana, sour cream, and vanilla.  Stir in flour (I recommend this instead of beating because it doesn’t make a mess, but I beat it with the mixer near the end to make sure everything is well blended).  Bake about 30 minutes or until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean.  Add icing, cut, and savor!

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July 22, 2010

Tutorial

As promised here is the tutorial on the lattice bodice aprons (A little late I know…).

Steps 1: Cut out 28 1 in. by 14 in strips

Step 2: Arrange them vertically and horizontally as you see fit, and then weave them and pin the ends

Step 3: Cut a 30 degree angle on the top corners so the apron lies flat

Step 4: Sew up all of the sides and cut a lining to fit

Step 5: Sew the lining to the bodice leaving a half inch at the top

Step 6: Turn inside out, fold over the raw edge at the top, and press

Step 7: Cut four strips that are 2 1/2 inches wide by whatever length you need to tie around your neck and waist.  I normally cut shorter strips for the neck than the waist.  Fold them in half WS together, but a 45 degree on one end, and sew them together. Turn them inside out and press.

Step 8: Slip the shorter band for the neck ties into the top of the bodice and top stitch along the open egde to secure them. Your bodice is now finished!

On to the skirt…

Step 9: Cut a band for the waist band that is 4 inches wide by whatever length you need to fit a couple of inches less than halfway around your waist.  I normally cut it about 14 inches.  Fold it in half and fold over any raw edges and press.

Step 10: Cut a skirt.  I normally cut a rectangle that is 18 inches by 30 inches.  I either gather or pleat the skirt (depending on my mood) to fit the waistband.  Slip the skirt in the waistband along with the straps to tie around the waist, and topstich to secure them.

I forgot to take pictures of me making the skirt, so this will have to suffice for how I put the skirt together.

Step 11:  Center the bodice on the skirt’s waistband and topstitch along the top of the waistband. Now go cook something!

If you do decide to make it, I would love to see pictures of your creations! If  you have any questions, comment or email me!

July 20, 2010

Lattice Bodice Aprons

I finally finished the lattice aprons! (That’s what I’m calling them anyway :)).  Some have pleated bottoms, some have gathered bottoms, and one has a ruffle at the end because I got a little bored. I now have seven of my 30 aprons finished.  Yahoo! I look forward to trying another pattern tomorrow.  There is no rest for those who have committed themselves to making lots of aprons.

As promised I will post a tutorial, but that will happen tomorrow because I’m feeling a bit of tired of looking at and producing the same apron pattern day after day.  I hope you enjoy the pictures.  I finally finished when good light was still shining, so you get the view from my balcony.

Wow, I didn’t realize how much yellow I used in the aprons until just now. It’s a happy color though!

July 16, 2010

Instant Gratification

After spending all day Wednesday at my sewing machine, I needed a bit of a break. Luckily the free on demand movies have exponentially improved in quality and the first season of Dark Blue was available.  So of course I did not move from the couch all day yesterday.  I can’t just sit and watch tv.  It must be my need to constantly multitask.  So for this reason, whenever I watch tv, I also knit.  It makes me feel loads better about spending an entire day watching a season of a tv show if I have really cute booties to show for it!

I must say that it didn’t take me all day to finish them.  I knitted both of them and then had to frog it all because they looked like they could fit a five-year old not a three-month old baby.  Also, trying to embroider the bunny face at 2 AM caused the task to become much more difficult and take far more time than necessary.

Although, when I make baby booties, all of that doesn’t really matter.  Generally, they knit up SUPER fast, and they are destined to clothe little bitty feet with the softest skin and tiniest toe nails.  Basically it’s all around cuteness, and that’s why I love them! I hope all of the new baby girls that are popping up everywhere will enjoy them (or at least their mothers will ooh and ahh over them)

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