Monday, February 28, 2011

Cupcake Cookies

For anyone who was wondering how my cookies-masquerading-as-cupcakes
turned out (my mom was!), here they are!

cute cupcake cookies

And with the pearlie pink treatment:

cute cupcake cookies

I think they turned out pretty enough to eat!

Update: I bought the cookie cutters from Crate & Barrel. They came in a set of 2 - a larger cupcake and a smaller cupcake. I probably bought them a year or so ago, but I just checked and they are still available online, so they are probably still in stores too!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sometimes it's the simple things

The last few days I have been in a bit of a funk. I have so many things I want to work on, but don't really feel like doing any of them. Last night I decided that the best solution would be to make cupcake-shaped cutout cookies while listening to the soundtrack from the Ken Burns documentary Mark Twain (don't judge!).

Soothing, old-timey music, paired with a deliciously repetitive task handed down by women through the ages seemed to do the trick.

Rolling out cookie dough makes me smile, because my rolling pin is so beautiful. My dad made it for me on his lathe as a wedding gift. He made the cutting board in the photo, too and that gets a lot of use, along with some wooden cooling racks. My favorite is the rolling pin, though. . . so smooth and perfect, made from glowing red cherry (my favorite kind of wood). I cried when I unwrapped the box, it was so beautiful. It occupies a place of honor in my kitchen.

When Etsy spotlights artists on the front page, they always ask what the artist's favorite handmade item is. Mine is probably my rolling pin. So simple. But everytime I use it, I think of the love that went into it. And that love makes my cookies turn out just perfect.

beautiful handmade wooden rolling pin


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hubby's nicknames for our poor cats...

Mr. B is Stinky
[Bubby = Mr. B, derived from the beast, sometimes known as Stinky]

Big H
[Scooter = Big H, derived from Harry, as in hairy]

my adorable cats

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Signs of Spring

Hellebores in Texas

I got a lovely surprise when I stepped outside this weekend. Looks like spring is on its way!

Hellebores in Texas

I looked these flowers up online and they are called Hellebores... which I didn't even know we had! I'm excited to see what other surprises pop up in our yard... it is our first spring here!

I know there are lots of nice flowers down here to look forward to (read: Crepe Myrtles!), but I am wondering if my favorite spring flowers exist in Texas: Lily of the Valley & Lilacs??

Texans and/or other Southerners... please do comment!

Hellebores in Texas

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In the footsteps of Bonnie and Clyde

So yesterday my husband and I had no plans . . . We mulled over what to do and I suggested that we go find the gravesites of notorious outlaws Bonnie & Clyde. It didn't take long for me to convince Hubby that this was an awesome idea [cuz I'm awesome like that], so we set out on a mission, guided by the coordinates on our GPS.

I didn't realize until this summer [during a History channel special, no less!] that Bonnie & Clyde were from Dallas. It seems that the city would want to make more of this, but unfortunately this history is kind of hushed.

Bonnie and Clyde

We decided to find Bonnie first. We had no trouble finding Crown Hill Cemetery out behind Love Field. Someone had kindly given a description of the location of the grave online, so we walked right up to her gravesite. It seems that people still visit, as there were flowers and coins left on her gravestone. I checked my purse, but sadly didn't have any coins to leave.

Her gravestone reads:
"As the flowers are all made sweeter
by the sunshine and the dew,
so this old world is made brighter
by the lives of folks like you"

Bonnie Parker gravestone Dallas

Next, we left to find Clyde's grave. Bonnie and Clyde are not buried together, as you may expect, so we traversed quite a distance before we came to the Western Heights Cemetery in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas. This is what we saw:

Western Heights Cemetery Clyde Barrow Dallas

The cemetery was completely gated and locked! "No trespassing" signs surrounded the inner perimeter of the fence.

Western Heights Cemetery Clyde Barrow Dallas

Sure, they won't let us in, but then they have to tease us with this historical marker about all the people who are buried here. Who does that? I was so mad.

Western Heights Cemetery Historical Marker Dallas

Well, I might have slipped under the gate to get this photo, but don't tell! Clyde and Marvin "Buck" Barrow are buried next to each other. Looks like plenty of people have visited, despite the locked gate! I didn't stay long, because the cemetery was off a very busy road, but it was a neat cemetery, I would have loved to stay and look around!

Clyde Barrow Gravestone Dallas

Turns out that the reason the cemetery was all locked up was because there have been lots of problems over the years with people vandalizing the stone. It has even been stolen several times. I guess that makes sense, but it would be crappy to have relatives buried there and never be able to get in to visit.

We also drove by the old Barrow family gas station. The building is still there and seems to be empty. We saw several old buildings in the area, but at the time were not 100% sure which one it was. We definitely saw it, but unfortunately I didn't get a photo. There is another gas station in another part of town that we plan to visit sometime soon.

When we were finished, we had lunch at Hunky's Hamburgers in the Bishop Arts District and decided what to do next. We decided that since we were on a roll, we might as well drive to Fort Wort to see the grave of Lee Harvey Oswald, accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy. We had a little GPS trouble, but finally got there. His grave is very plain and simple, with only the name "Oswald". There were not flowers or tributes, but people definitely visit... as evidenced by the trampled ground in front of his stone. I think the cemetery probably pulls anything left at the grave so that people can't idolize him...

Lee Harvey Oswald gravesite Fort Worth

Hope you enjoyed our little tour of "Famous Dallas Criminals"!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Inspiration Page

Some of you may have already noticed, but I have recently added a tab at the top of my blog titled "Inspiration."

blog inspiration page

If you click on the tab, you will go to a new page with a collage of images. These images are projects, recipes, photographs and ideas I have found around the web . . . things that I want to try, things that inspire me, things that make me happy.

If you click on a photo that looks interesting, it will take you to my Tumblr blog (Tumblr is so cool, if you haven't heard about it!), where you can click on a link to go to the original website for each project or recipe.

I like to think of it as a personal filing system for all those items I stumble across online that I want to keep track of. Now I have a spot to keep them where I can find them anytime! I thought it was so great that you might like to use some of the ideas as well, so I've added it to my blog. I'll be updating this page continuously, so check back often . . . and be inspired!

blog inspiration page

blog inspiration page

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I Heart my Hubby!

This one's for you, hubby!

We met in college. Sophomore year. I wasn't much of a "dater" and I wasn't looking for anyone, keeping pretty busy overall with my studies. He played tuba in the college wind ensemble. I played clarinet. I guess you could say we met through mutual friends . . . after sitting at the same table in the Caf for dinner several weeks in a row, we started walking back to our dorms together at night. Eventually, I invited him up to see our "illegal" pet hamster . . . and we played the first of many games of LIFE on the computer. I always won - and that bugged him a lot!

Our relationship grew during our years in college . . . our time together consisted of many hours of study (and talk!) in the library, evening walks around town, a trip to Europe (with our Wind Ensemble), and lots of emails and instant messaging.

We spent much of our time long distance, as he was from Texas and I from Iowa. When he went home over summer and other breaks, we spent hours each night on the phone together and wrote letters (both emails and snail mail) like mad. Eventually he proposed during our senior year of college, on a bridge over the river during one of our evening walks. We got married a little over a year later, and it was one of the most wonderful days of my life.

Fast forward 3.5 years and he is still my best friend. And the only one I want to go through life with. I'm so lucky to have a such a smart, caring, fun, loving husband who puts up with my craziness and introduces me to new interests and ideas. Though it's not always easy, I wouldn't want it any other way. I am so thankful that I get to spend the rest of my life with him, and I can't wait to see where our life leads!

 Happy Valentine's Day, my love!

{Sparrow Images}

Friday, February 11, 2011

More Lovely Old Valentines

I shared some of my grandmother's old valentines last week and so many people enjoyed them that I've decided to share another batch. I scanned less than half of what she saved, but tried to pick some of the cutest cards. Others were very three-dimensional and didn't work for scanning, so I saved those for another time. Please enjoy these sweet designs from the mid to late 1920s.

It makes me a little bit sad to compare these beautiful valentines with the junky paper cards distributed by kids now (and when I was little). I guess it's the sentiment that matters, and for the most part that hasn't changed (though I think the sayings on these are lots more clever!) These older cards just seem so much more special.

Do you have a favorite? My favorite is probably the circus card at the bottom . . . or the airplane . . . well, I really like the fence one, too. I guess I can't decide. Which one do you think is the best?

antique valentine grandma's vintage old sweet pretty children

antique vintage old valentine grandma's girl trees flowers

antique vintage old valentine grandma's children sweet

antique vintage old valentine grandma's boy straw hat heart sweet

antique vintage old valentine grandma's children fence sweet

antique vintage old valentine grandma's girl paint ladder heart sweet

antique vintage old valentine grandma's airplane plane boy heart sweet

antique vintage old valentine grandma's girl fortune teller gypsy globe earth heart fan sweet

antique vintage old valentine grandma's girl speaker phonograph music heart sweet

antique vintage old valentine grandma's circus girl children clown sweet

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentine's Swap - Part 2

Remember how I talked about the Valentine's Craft Swap a few weeks back? Well, I received my gift in the mail yesterday and couldn't wait to share it! My swap partner sent me a beautiful felt dahlia (or chrysanthemum) pin. I have seen the pattern for this online [here], but have never worked up the courage to make one. I think it's lovely and am so excited to pin it onto my jacket. Thanks, Patty!

handmade felt dahlia pin

There's even a cute little Valentine tucked into the pocket on the back!

handmade felt dahlia pin

Modeling my new beautiful pin (looks great on my hooded sweatshirt, haha).

handmade felt dahlia pin

I bet at this point you're wondering what I sent her. Well, I sewed this cute heart potholder from a pattern at on the Martha Stewart website. I used vintage fabrics that my grandmother had saved. I think it turned out cute, don't you? It even has pockets for your hands to make it easier to take hot pans out of the oven. I also tucked in a wire wrapped vintage glass heart button ring. I hope she likes her gifts as much as I like mine!

heart potholder

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Custom Work!

Hi all!

Just wanted to share a custom project I made for an Etsy customer.  It's a vintage block photo holder and I'm so happy with how it turned out. When she requested the name "Garrett" I was worried about how all those "r"s and "t"s would look in blocks, but I think it turned out perfect!

If you're interested in purchasing a block photo holder for yourself or a friend (these make great baby gifts, hint, hint!), please check out my Etsy shop here!

custom name wooden vintage block photo holder

custom name wooden vintage block photo holder

custom name wooden vintage block photo holder

Monday, February 7, 2011

22. Make Creme Brulee

Well, if you remember when I made my 30 before 30 list, I'm sure you think I'm quite the slacker! Nothing completed after a whole month! But, you'd be wrong, you see. Because I completed one of the activites last month. I'm only just now getting around to posting about it.

While I was in Iowa visiting my parents, I made crème brûlée! My mom recently received a butane torch as a gift, so I thought I'd take advantage of that and make some dessert. We made the custard part in the evening and then added the caramelized topping the next day. So. Delicious.

I definitely want to make this again. Guess I'll have to buy a torch. [It probably won't be too hard to talk my hubby into this one... I'd be lying if I said he didn't like playing with the flame!]

Luckily, I had my photographer sister, Sarah, on hand to take beautiful pictures of the entire process.
Sarah has a blog: on the road to find out
Give her some love! These pics are great!

I've included the recipe at the end of the post, just in case you'd like to try it out yourself! It wasn't nearly as hard as I expected, it just required a bit of advance preparation in terms of ingredients and tools. Not bad at all, though!

Making Creme Brulee

Making Creme Brulee

Making Creme Brulee

Making Creme Brulee

Making Creme Brulee

Making Creme Brulee

Making Creme Brulee

Making Creme Brulee

Making Creme Brulee

Making Creme Brulee

Making Creme Brulee

Making Creme Brulee

Classic Crème Brûlée
from Crème Brûlée, the Bonjour Way by Randolph W. Mann
Serves 4

1 cup whipping cream
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6-8 teaspoons special brûlée sugar (*see below*) or regular granulated sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Put cream in saucepan and stir over medium heat, just to the point of boiling. Set aside.
  3. In small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla until blended.
  4. Into this, add the hot cream a little bit at a time, whisking as you go until all is incorporated.
  5. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve.
  6. Place four (4 oz.) ramekins in a hot water bath, and fill them evenly.
  7. Bake for about 35 minutes. Custards should be mostly set, but the centers should still jiggle slightly.
  8. Remove hot water bath from oven and cool until ramekins are comfortable enough to handle.
  9. Cover with clear wrap and refrigerate at least 1 1/2 hours or as long as two days.
  10. Just before serving, evenly sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons of special brulee sugar on the surface of each custard and torch until caramelized. 
*Making Special Brulee Sugar*
It is possible to use only granulated sugar to caramelize the top of a creme brulee, but some cooks believe that a deeper caramel color and flavor is achieved by making a special 50/50 mixture of white brown sugar and granulated sugar. With the special brulee sugar it is possible to caramelize a thinner layer and still end up with a deeper flavor than if only white sugar were used. However, for the sugar to caramelize properly, it must be very dry.

To make the mixture, you will need:
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup granulated sugar

Spread the light brown sugar on baking parchment on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Place in a low oven (about 200 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least 35 minutes or until it becomes very crisp and crumbly. Remove from oven and cool completely to room temperature. Rub chunks of the dried sugar through a coarse strainer until as much of it as possible is finely sieved. Mix the dried brown sugar with the granulated sugar and store in airtight container. As it will not spoil, it will be ready for several batches of creme brulee whenever you should happen to want to use it.