Crafts for Charity: Japan

March 31, 2011 § 2 Comments

Well, my craft for Suzy is now on its way to Australia, but before I move on to my next craft victim I want to share my new project with you!

For the last week I’ve been making piles of felt and paper roses and wielding a hot glue gun like a maniac. Why?

This headband has been claimed by Melody

Because of Japan.

As I’m sure you all know, on March 11 Japan was hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami.  I don’t need to tell you how extensive the damage is, or how staggering the number of people left homeless, jobless, left with nothing.

Rewind a few years.  A decade or so, in fact.  I’m fourteen, and outside of the United States for the first time, living on a US air base in Fussa, Japan.  We were there for three years, and it was easily one of the richest, most incredible moments in my life.  Sometimes I’m still struck with pangs of ‘homesickness’ for the life that I knew there.

Even a decade later, my heart is still full of Japan.  The news coverage of the disaster, the image of the wave that played over and over, was too painful for me too watch, and I had to get my news from the radio instead.  I’m profoundly grateful that our friends and church family in Japan are all safe and well, but the need for aid is still great, so I’ve set up an Etsy shop and all proceeds will go to aid disaster relief in Japan.

Click this banner to go to my Etsy shop!

 

What will you find there?

 

Grey Roses Headband, $15

A is for Adorable Dictionary Headband, $20

I have a lot more items to add over the next few days, so keep checking back! Tell your friends!

 

Craft Challenge: March is for Suzy

March 25, 2011 § 2 Comments

Hey, remember that craft challenge I’m doing? Yeah, I totally remember it to.

It’s March! For another week! So before we run out of time, there’s someone you need to meet….

What is your name? Suzannah.

Do you have a blog or website? Oh, yes, please. I write about my favourite books at In Which I Read Vintage Novels (inwhichireadvintagenovels.blogspot.com).

What is your quest? TO SEEK THE HOLY GRAIL. To reintroduce the world to the underappreciated novels of John Buchan. To make the world a more beautiful place. To get the most out of life. To build the Kingdom of God.

What is your favorite color?I’d answer like last month’s lady–Colour is my favourite colour, and I’d wave an arm in the direction of Kaffe Fassett–but she already did that. My favourite colour is blue. If bright, I love it next to an equally bright red; if muted, I have a passion for silky watercoloury blue/brown streaks.

What is your life like at the moment? What do you do in a day? I’m unemployed at the moment, so I live quietly at home improving myself like the busy bee. I’ll get up in the morning, go for a walk, do some housework, teach my littlest sister Latin, do a little sewing (I’m teaching myself pattern drafting), and then in the afternoon either: work on sewing; work on my book “Australian Civil Government and Constitutional Law for Newbies”; continue teaching my littlest sister; work on the last subject of my law degree; work on my fledgling proofreading/English tutoring home business; or do anything else that needs doing. Then after dinner we usually listen to history lectures, and I’ll knit. There’s usually time to read a chapter or two of a book before I go to bed.

Unemployed doesn’t mean unoccupied!

What is your creative outlet? Oh, I’m a Jack of all trades. My passion is writing sensational novels, but I also knit furiously, cook, sew, play the French Horn, dance (swing), and I’ve been known to paint a portrait. Oh, and I have humble ambitions to make movies.

What have you been reading and/or watching lately? What is your current favorite thing to read or watch? Right now I’ve taken a break from “The Tyrannicide Brief” about the trial of Charles I to dip into Buchan’s “Salute to Adventurers”, a book which brings unspeakable joy to my soul.
My favourite new book might be “The Rosemary Tree” by Elizabeth Goudge . It’s a gentle, deeply profound novel of memory and pain, set in real life but written like a fantasy.
I haven’t been watching many things, but right now my favourite movie might be “The Quiet Man” with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. I’ve also been enjoying “The Thin Man” and, so far, one of its sequels.

What inspires you at the moment? Artistically, I’m as usual trying to create a medieval/Georgian/vintage-influenced wardrobe. Those three periods–think Narnia, Marie-Antoinette, and Myrna Loy–are my favourites as far as fashion go.
My favourite artist is Kaffe Fassett He’s a textile artist who designs for the English company Rowan; and his use of colour simply has to be seen to be believed. He turns a quilt, or a tapestry, or a jumper into a huge canvas of colours ranging from the subtle to the retina-searing.

Suzy’s craft is ACTUALLY ALREADY DONE! Woohoo!  …now it just needs to go into a box, and I need to make it to the post office, and the craft will begin its long journey to Australia….

Chocolate Tiramisu Cupcakes

March 16, 2011 § 1 Comment

Chocolate Tiramisu Cupcakes

Filling:
3 egg yolks
6 Tablespoons of sugar
1/3 cup of milk
8 oz of Mascarpone cheese

Coffee Chocolate Cupcake (Cupcake 24 from Ming Makes Cupcakes):
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup buttermilk*
3 heaping Tablespoons cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 cup coffee
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla

Whipped Cream:
1/2 pint whipping cream
3 Tablespoon sugar
3 teaspoon vanilla

*Buttermilk Substitute: combine 1/4 cup of milk with 3/4 tsp of vinegar and let them sit for about five minutes.

The filling needs to chill in the refrigerator for an hour, so start it first:
Filling
3 egg yolks
6 Tablespoons of sugar
1/3 cup of milk
8 oz of Mascarpone cheese

Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a small saucepan (discard the whites, or save them for an egg white omelet).  Whisk the sugar into the yolks until combined, then whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture boils (this took about five minutes for me).  Let it boil gently for one minute, then remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.  Cover tightly and put in the refrigerator for one hour (I transfer the mixture into a different bowl, rather than wait for the saucepan to cool, and cover the surface with plastic wrap).  Leave the Mascarpone cheese out while the egg mixture chills so that it will soften.

Separating the egg yolks in a small saucepan

Add the sugar to the egg yolks...

Obligatory cat portrait

Whisk the egg yolks. They deserve it.

Add the milk, and whisk again.

Cook the egg yolk and sugar mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture bubbles (about five minutes). Let boil for one minute, then remove from the heat.

Transfer the egg mixture to another container, cover tightly, and chill in the refrigerator for an hour.

In the meantime, bake your cupcakes–I used Cupcake 24 from Ming Makes Cupcakes:
Coffee Chocolate Cupcake
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup buttermilk
3 heaping Tablespoons cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 cup coffee
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla

Dissolve baking soda in room-temperature buttermilk (or milk/vinegar buttermilk substitute).  In a saucepan melt butter and cocoa together at a low temperature. When smooth, add coffee. In a separate bowl sift together sugar, flour, and salt, then add cocoa mixture and egg and mix at low speed.  Add buttermilk mixture and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Bake at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

CUPCAKES!

Let your cupcakes cool completely while you finish the filling: Remove the egg mixture from the refrigerator and combine it with the Mascarpone cheese, whisking them together until thoroughly mixed.  You can make this mixture in advance, if you like–sitting overnight in the refrigerator only improves the flavor.

Add the softened Mascarpone cheese to the chilled egg mixture.

Stir until thoroughly combined.

When your cupcakes are cool, use a sharp knife to cut a cone shape out of the center of each cupcake and discard the center (by “discard” I mean “eat”–you are the cook, so this is allowed. I mean, you have to make sure they’re good, right?).  If the hole looks too shallow just use a fork or spoon to dig a little deeper.  Spoon or pipe filling into the centers of cupcakes.

Cut a cone shape out of the center of each cupcake using a serrated knife held at an angle.

Discard centers. Nom nom nom.

For the best whipped cream, wait to make it until thirty or so minutes before you intend to serve the cupcakes:
Whipped Cream:
1/2 pint whipping cream
4 Tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoon vanilla

Combine ingredients in a bowl and beat, steadily increasing speed until you’re beating on the highest speed.  Beat until thick and fluffy–a soft peak should form when you lift the beater out (be careful not to over-beat).

Cream and sugar

...and vanilla

Soft and fluffy!

Spoon whipped cream on top of cupcake, top with chocolate shavings and garnish with half of a hazelnut pirouette rolled cookie.

Chocolate! I shaved mine with a potato peeler. The curls were...not exactly satisfactory.

Ta-da!

Tiny!Cakes

March 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

I made Chocolate Tiramisu Cupcakes for my sister and brother-in-laws birthdays a little while ago, and ended up with a bit of extra batter.  Well, waste not, so I put it into a cake pan and baked it, and ended up with a thin little cake layer.

Hm, I thought.

I happened to have some cream cheese icing in the refrigerator, so it was the work of a moment to make tiny layer cakes:

I used a large biscuit cutter to cut circles out of the thin cake–I got four out of the 9in round easily–piped icing on them and stacked them up.  Easy as pie. Or cake. Whatever.

I gave them a drizzle of chocolate topping (which I also happened to have), and gave them a little extra dollop of icing on top.

For a little finishing touch I melted a handful of candy coating chocolates in a bag and piped out their initials–I tried to make them fairly thick, so that they’d be easier to pick up without breaking, and I did several of each letter, to make sure that I got a good one!

Tiny!cakes.

I love them.

Craft Challenge: February–This is for Jo!

March 1, 2011 § 2 Comments

Happy February, Jo!

I spent most of February making Jo a Skeleton Key beret–it took all month because I may have started over more than once.  Ahem.  First I repeated a section of the chart and had to rip out an entire inch, then I realized that Something Was Wrong with a section of cables and it just didn’t look right, so I tinked back each cabled section (that’s six sections, by the way), re-did the cables, then carried my stitches back up.

Which sounds like an adult in a Charlie Brown cartoon to everyone who isn’t familiar with this fancy knitting slang, so allow me to sum up: I have wicked awesome skills. Fear me.

I picked this hat for Jo because of the beautiful cables, which are evocative of (wait for it) skeleton keys of the ancient and ornate variety:

However, despite the fact that the hat took me ages, it sort of felt insufficient for Jo’s Craft–in case you didn’t know this with me, my philosophy seems to be ‘if it’s worth doing, it’s worth over-doing’.  I decided that there was not enough awesome.

There can never be too much awesome.

The only problem was that February was almost over, and I didn’t have much time left to make additional things.  All of my ideas were much too complicated, until I hit upon the perfect thing–I would make a tentacle lady! inspired by this!

Except I decided that I wanted my lady to have something better than a slit up her skirt. I wanted it to actually swivel open on little brads! And her arm should move as well!  …was I supposed to be keeping things simple because of time constraints?  No, surely not. That is way out of character for me.

I based my lady on a vintage illustration, which I traced and colored, altering it as I needed to allow the movement I planned.

And speaking of movement:

Happy February, Jo!

When the Old Ones return, you will probably be spared.

 

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