January 30, 2011

A Passing Afternoon

It seems I couldn't stay away until Monday- my writing bug seems to be acting up today. It doesn't matter what I'm putting to paper (or webpage, as the case may be), as long as I'm writing something. There will be a few miles of walking later this afternoon, I just need to wait for my Zune to charge before I embark on my ramblings- I never wander without my favorite poetry being crooned in my ears, courtesy of the Classic Poetry Aloud podcast.

In the meantime, I find myself wandering back to a year ago- how long ago that seems!- and what has transpired since then. It's amazing how different the journey seems when you look back on it and compare it to how it felt during the process. I try never to regret things, and there have been some invaluable lessons learned, but if I could do it all over again there are a great many things that I would change. I wouldn't trade most of it for all the gold and books in the world, but these things are so small compared to the great mistakes I've made. This leads me to wondering how different I would be today had my path changed or been different. Would I be for the better, or for the worse? Sometimes I hardly think I could get any worse, but there is always room for improvement. And mere improvement is the one thing that we will never be satisfied with.

These musings are brought to you by Iron & Wine ( Passing Afternoon being what is currently floating through my speakers to melt my ears)...

...who, although he is great of both talent and beard, will never match the great William Fitzsimmons. Well, not in the category of facial hair, at least.

It would appear that my Zune (Zhena) is now well-fed enough to attempt some gypsying adventures in the cold outdoors. I don't have any matters of pressing importance to do for the rest of the day, so I very well might stay out of doors until nine this evening, when the new episode of Downton Abbey (one of the only things I watch on the telly- British and a Masterpiece Theater production, of course!) airs. I also have today's sermon to muse upon as well, and a great many other things swimming through that head of mine, doomed never to escape (and you'd better pray that they don't: the world would be a much stranger place). Until next time!

January 29, 2011

Cupcake Update

May I present (drumroll, please,) the finished project- the final cupcake result after a morning of baking and twirling.
Ta da!
Pumpkin chocolate and regular pumpkin cupcakes, both with cinnamon chai buttercream icing (I just love saying that!).

And they are so delicious too!

See you all on Monday!

A Truly Sweet Saturday or The Perfect Weekend

Hello dear readers! I am back, as promised, to present you a bit of my lovely weekend in.
I'm sitting at home. On my laptop.
Not at work.
What a strange, strange feeling indeed, for a Saturday.
I do love the tea room, my coworkers, and customers, and that is the absolute truth. However, the odd Saturday spent sleeping and relaxing, not waking early to walk and then run around all day, is such a wonderful treat. So I decided to fill today with all of my favorite things.
First and foremost are cupcakes.
I adore cupcakes.
No, "adore" is too weak a word for how much I love cupcakes. I love how they look, how they taste, how you can display them, what you can put into them, in short: everything about them.
This is me. (No, seriously, it is. That's me in my favorite shirt. I took the picture this morning before I got flour and buttercream all over it.)

Here are some lovely cupcake pictures I came across- none of them, sadly, are mine, but I'll put some in later. I love the decorative papers on some of them- I need to either create or buy some for myself, but I'm not taking my cupcakes anywhere to display them where the papers would be appreciated, and they'd just be a waste if used at home for the siblings.

                 What a clever way to keep your cupcakes cool! I would make ice cream cupcakes and display them like this.

Here is what I've been up to this morning- they are pumpkin chocolate and regular pumpkin cupcakes. I'm using tomorrow's church potluck as an excuse to create them, when in reality I'm just excited to be able to feed my friend Brianne her first home made cupcake. I'm quite honored to be the first benefactor, too.

Lots and lots of cupcakes. Big and baby sized! I'll be frosting them later, but for now they're just sitting around, completely naked.


Here are some of my favorite past endeavors.

                                                                                     Cherry Cheesecake Cupcakes

                                                                   Lime Meringue with Key Lime Filling Cupcakes

                         Chocolate Chai Cupcakes with a Rooibos Chai Buttercream Frosting (which was, by the way, divine)

And, of course, I wouldn't be a queen if I didn't have a crown!

My plans for the rest of the day are just as self indulgent as the cupcakes currently cooling upon the counter. I'm going to make some stationary, write and send some letters- purely for the sake of good old fashioned correspondence! It makes me feel elegant.- read some Charles Dickens, dance, knit, and then a Bunco party with my mother and some friends tonight. There will also be a silent auction and lots of laughs, so I look forward to this greatly. I may even curl my hair (it is a girl's night out, after all!) In the mean time, I need to go frost some cupcakes.

I hope you all have a splendid day, and that you are able to do the things that make you happy, and honor God as well. Toodle pip!

January 28, 2011

Fancy Friday : Bryce Dallas Howard

Good Friday morning, lovely people, and welcome to this week's edition of Fancy Friday (complete with fresh, home made lemon cookies- yum!) I have been thoroughly remiss in my blogging duties this week, much to my chagrin, but I'm particularly excited about today's leading lady.

Meet Bryce Dallas Howard.

Known for such roles as Ivy Walker in M. Night Shyamalan's suspense masterpiece The Village, a small part in the third Spiderman film, the sultry redhead Victoria in the Twilight Saga (don't waste your time on this series, kids- there are better things to do with your time and more entertaining ways to waste it as well), and- my favorite- the clever and witty Rosalind in As You Like It, she has made a small yet well-earned name for herself. Her latest claim to fame, however, is as the new Kate Spade spokesperson and model. With her brilliant red hair, stunning looks, and overall sunny personality, she absolutely shines in their 2011 Spring/Summer look, and proves that redheads really can wear pink.

But for what it's worth, fame really does run in the family. Bryce is daughter to director/producer Ron Howard, who has produced and directed many movies such as A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, Frost/Nixon, The Da Vinci Code, Apollo 13, and the upcoming J. Edgar. However, I hardly think it's fair to say she's coasted on her father's fame. On the contrary- I think she's done very well for herself using her talent alone, and I can't wait to see where this fancy lady goes next.

If ever I were to buy a dress from Kate Spade, this would be the one. I'm completely in love with the colors, the classic cut and look, and that adorable bow.

Well, beloved fancy readers, I have a full day's work ahead of me- classes not included- and a wonderful day off tomorrow. I never have Saturdays off of work, so I'm delighted about all that tomorrow holds.

"What does it hold?" you may ask?

Why, only the best of things.

                                                   Above picture borrowed from Celine at Bounjour 

                Isn't that butterfly bookmark just the cutest? I got it from Brianne and now it's my favorite bookmark!

This tea is wonderful, by the way. When you add a little honey and a splash of milk, it tastes exactly like the perfect aromatic slice of red velvet cake.
Well, my lovelies, I hope you all have a fabulous day, and read lots of good books, listen to lots of lovely music, and see lots of beautiful things this weekend. Have a fantastic Fancy Friday! Cheerio!

January 21, 2011

Fancy Friday

First of all, an update on my brother (the one I mentioned in my last blog post that nearly scared the wits out of many of the acquaintances who read my last entry- I got many worried phone calls and texts.): he was released from the hospital that night, after the neuro surgeon decided that the internal bleeding was equivalent to having a bruise, he was able to answer questions cognitively, and was starving. (Apparently, if you have a concussion but are able to think about your stomach, it's considered a good sign. Quite honestly, I don't think my fifteen year old brother ever stops thinking about his stomach, but it's good to have him back to normal none-the-less). Despite large gaps in his memory, we seem to have Sir William back in one piece.

Now, on to the real topic of the day: Fancy Friday. (I'm giving in to my alliterative urges to day, and probably hopping onto some huge bandwagon that I don't know about- I'd like to think that the "Fancy" part was my idea though, so don't spoil it!)

Fancy Friday will be, from here on out, a weekly post dedicated to something beautiful and truly fancy. There's been a contest in my mind as to who today's fancy topic should be, and I've finally settled on Kirsten Dunst.

Or, more specifically, Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette, and the court of Versailles in general. Let's face it- there's no getting much fancier than this.

(This, by the way, is exactly what I feel like today- or at least what I wish I was doing)

Is she not the very epitome of style and pastry-like perfection? From the beautiful dresses, the gaudy accessories, and the towering wigs, these pictures make me want to jump back in time and join the Queen's court. If only.
I may not be the girliest of people, but anyone who knows me knows I love shoes. And I love shoes.
The picture at the bottom is a small detail Sophia Coppola snuck into one of the Marie Antoinette scenes- it's all the flair of a Versailles gown fitting event, with the cool look of Converse All-Stars lurking in the background.

So what will you do for Fancy Friday?
Whatever it is, be sure it's stylish, otherwise it doesn't quite qualify.
I'm off to work, once I finish a batch of French Macaroons (those little sandwich-type cookies in the first shoe picture), and since The Boss is at market in California, I will take this opportunity to wear my highest pair of heels- she gets nervous when I wear heels at work (is afraid I'll fall and break my neck) so I'm simply going to seize the opportunity to have my entire wardrobe available to choose from today. Cheerio, my lovely readers, and have a fabulous Fancy Friday.

January 19, 2011

Why Do Bad Things Happen Only On The Days I Drink Coffee?

This is the question I asked myself this evening, when I (finally) got a chance to sit still and reflect, Nat King Cole smoothly crooning Blue And Sentimental in the background and a cup of hot tea in hand.
I've begun to notice a pattern: my worst days- the ones full of frustration, stress, and grief? Yes, those days- all seem, coincidentally, to be the days that I've either chosen to replace my standard tea-quaffing habits with a mug o' Joe, or added some (Well, more than "some") coffee to the list of beverages I've consumed for the day. Ironic? Probably. But somehow I can't help but think that the two are linked, are a perfect example of cause and effect. It's also a good example of a vicious cycle, because when I drink the coffee and things begin to get hectic, I drink more coffee to be able to keep up with it, which escalates the state of craziness. Of course, it all ends when I eventually (and inevitably) crash in a chair, but even then I'm cranky and short tempered.

But what would coffee have to do with how ridiculous my day is? It's not as if drinking the highly caffeinated cup of energy fixes the fate for the day, changes how things are going to be. Maybe it's because it changes how I react to things. Either way, after a day like today, I think I'm going to stick to my favorite teas- Chai, how I love thee!- in exchange for coffee and the quick rush of adrenalized energy associated with it. I will admit that two of the greatest joys in my life are a perfect cappuccino- the foam swirled elegantly on top cleverly disguising the bite that lies beneath- and a creamy cafĂ© au lait, rich and delicate with all the pleasant tones of coffee and milk exquisitely blended. I can have a cup of either without tripping up the rest of my day, but I'm afraid to think of what would happen were I to have two...

"Why so troubled?" You ask. "What's brought all this about?"

Let's just say it's been a long hard day.

One that involves one of my younger brothers- 15 years old- being in the hospital. It would appear that if one goes skiing and lands on their head, they will probably have a concussion, be admitted to the emergency room, and (after some tests and scans) discover some internal bleeding of the brain. That's all we know, at the moment, but prayers are greatly appreciated.

I never understand why God has things like this happen to us, but if there's one thing I've learned after years of many cups of coffee followed by hazardous mistakes, occurrences, and regrets, it's that you've got to trust him- absolutely and without question- no matter how horrible things seem to be getting. 

I really shouldn't have had that double latte this morning.

January 18, 2011

A Very Merry How Tues-Day To You

Good morning, blog-o-sphere! I hope that you are all in tip-top form today, (as I was surprised to discover myself after my third cup of highly caffeinated chai tea) and ready to do some bloggy crafting (and crafty blogging?). Today I am going to show you how to make my latest little project: a photo banner.

You'll have to excuse the poor quality of the pictures- my camera battery just died, and of the few snapshots I was able to get, only two or three were marginally presentable, even after extensive Picniking. It's not as if this project is either extremely difficult or requires example pictures for you to complete, so I think this should go over well without them. First off, what will you need?

Acrylic Craft Paint
Wooden Clothes Pins
Shoelace, rope, or other sturdy piece of string-like material (not yarn)
Push Pins

Note: any acrylic craft paint will work. Because I'm an artist and a bit of a snob, I generally just use Americana, because I love the overall texture and consistency. However, for this I'm pretty sure that the cheapest stuff out there will more than suffice.
Also, do not use yarn to hang the pictures on- it's got too much give and slack, and won't hold them up. I had a couple of those flat woven shoelaces lying around, and they have been perfect (they're also this spiffy shade of blue!).

Step One:
Paint the clothes pins.
Not too hard, 'innit?
Just squeeze out some paint, wet the brush, and go creative-crazy.
Designs, symbols, distressed appearance, solid- whatever you want. Be as crafty and clever as you possibly can.

Once paint is completely dry (note: if you use while still wet, they will get paint all over your photos, and that's no fun, now is it?), clip pictures to the shoelace (string stuff) from the bottom. If you clip them from the top, then they are too heavy and will flip over backwards- then all you'll be able to see is the photo's butt. Not cool, Mr. Photo, not cool.
That being done, stand on a sturdy stool (not a swivel desk chair, or you'll fall and bruise your shin and hip on the edge of your wooden desk, knocking over half your book collection in the process. Not that I know from experience, or anything.), and use the push pins to secure the string stuff (shoelaces) to the ceiling in a formation and length of your liking.

Voila! Now you have a fun way to display your photos without having to buy frames. Don't hesitate to hang other things from the string either, or attach fun things like hair clips and bows to the string itself- it's all about being creative, not conventional (although I assume that if conventional is your thing, you probably wouldn't even be reading this).

I'll be back a little later today to post a review on my newest knitting book, as well as pictures of the fabulous muffins (which are, quite technically, nudist cupcakes) I plan on making. Cheerio until then!

January 17, 2011

A Brief Update (And A Gypsy's Look Book)

Good even to you all, dear readers! I have come to claim the last brief minutes that are Today (and maybe a few lingering seconds of Tomorrow) to unburden my soul and tell my deepest secrets.


I almost had you there.

No, for some unknown reason, I have spent the last half an hour hunting for photos and putting together my very first "Look book" designed after my latest, favorite outfit. Although most of the pieces here are merely good replicas or examples of the things I own, I will say that the dress is the same one in my closet- a steal I found at Old Navy. ("Ah ha!" you say "you bought something that is neither second hand or handmade! You have failed the challenge! We have caught you!" Please be aware that I bought the dress before I began my challenge- New Year's Eve, actually- and everything else contributing to the outfit are items I've had for at least six months to a year.)

It's only a rough idea of the outfit I actually wear, and my pieces of jewelry are far better than the ones in the example. The necklace I have is one of my favorite parts- it's a strand of pearls with brass and gold charms dangling from it, and an adjoining shorter brass chain with a rocking horse charm attached. It's oh-so-vintagey and lots of fun to wear.

On that note, I think I had better call it a night and tell you (beg you *cough*) to be here tomorrow for my first ever "How Tues-day" blog post, inspired by the weekly posts on the Etsy Storque. I'll be showing you all how to complete my latest crafty bit, and I'm pretty excited (So excited that I'm staying up until midnight to talk about it!), so be sure to pop in tomorrow on your coffee break (and bring some acrylic paint). Ta ta until tomorrow!

January 12, 2011

Victory Is Sweet