20 April 2008

I have a confession to make.

I'm a cupcake addict. I make them quite often, usually instead of running to the store for something premade, but I knew my obsession had reached great heights when I made three batches in five days (some were for birthdays, so they don't count...right?).

The other day I came across Coconut & Lime's recipe for absinthe cupcakes, which sound absolutely divine, and I started thinking about the bigger world of cupcake flavors. Until then, I had just been using Cook's Illustrated yellow cupcake recipe (which is easy and amazing), but it's just vanilla flavored, with a little tang of sour cream. If I frosted them, it was chocolate frosting (or some failed chocolate ganache). Classic and tasty? Yes. Adventuresome? Not so much.

Inspired, the next batch I made I flavored with a little orange zest and some juice in place of about half the vanilla. These cupcakes weren't very blatant, only slightly perfumed with orange. I think the flavor might have been bigger if I had used a rasp grater on the zest instead of the bigger grater that resides in my kitchen (one of the side effects of being a poor college student is not having the kitchen of my dreams), but they're on the right track. I keep imagining them with a bubbly champagne-inspired frosting (no idea if that would actually work, but I'll experiment).

Of course, thinking about semi-adventuresome orange-flavored cupcakes made me wonder what would happen if I made duck flavored cupcakes with orange icing. Yes? Maybe not.

31 March 2008

Oh dear!

I've been so very silly...I started this blog to talk mainly about fashion, and I haven't written a lick about it yet. Not the best way to start out, methinks.

Thanks, Fashionista.

This weekend, my mother helped me make a beautiful grey pleated skirt à la Catherine Holstein's FW08 collection, with the big cheerleader-type pleats. The pattern had the hem at knee length, but I'm chopping it off to a couple inches above, because the long hem made me feel like an old lady. Hopefully I'm keeping it long enough to wear at my new job(!), although I suppose opaque tights will make a difference. I'm looking forward to wering it with my grey knee-high socks and patent t-strap shoes. And the best part is it's supercheap; we got all the supplies for around $10. WIN!

Speaking of the new job, I now have a full time job in an office for the summer, doing graphics for a small bank-type operation. I'll be working in a typical "office environment," so it'll be interesting how my style adjusts to leaving the house at 7.30am and to the dress code. I'll definitely have to move away from the current jeans/hoodie/military jacket thing I've been doing every day.

27 March 2008


I just spent an hour scraping prehistoric amber off my countertops.

Wait, let me rewind.

For a while now I've been wanting to try a hair removal technique known as sugaring, because I am lazy, hate shaving, and am too cheap to go to a salon for waxing. I heard about sugaring at the Crafster Forums, and since most of the people on it had a good experience, I thought I'd give it a go too.

I got myself set up. Sugar, check. Lemon, check. Water, check. Put everything into a little pot on the stove, boil the boogers out of it, stir down the bubbles, check.

Then things started to go wrong. The directions said something about boiling 'til "dark brown." So I boiled until dark brown, which on retrospect, I should've boiled until medium-to-light amber. Oops.

Since I'm at my parent's house, I tried to dig up a plastic container they wouldn't miss when I left, so I found a flimsy plastic take-out container, which was mistake number two. Hot sugar and flimsy plastic? They do not mix. I found that out as I was pouring the hot sugar out of the pan, then watching the plastic sides slowly melt away as a giant wave of hot sugar poured across the counter.

So I tried scraping most of the sugar into another container, which worked fairly well. Went upstairs with my cloth strips and a spreading knife, but when I tried to spread out the sugar, I discovered the meaning of the "hard ball" stage of candy. The sugar wouldn't stick. At all. To anything, least of all leg hair.

If there had been a bug around, I might have capitalized on my newfound amber and pawned my "discovery" off on some unsuspecting ebay-ing anthropologist. But alas, it snowed this morning, so insects are nowhere to be found.

I stick my knife back in the tub of amber sugar and headed downstairs to hopefully rescue some of my mess. The pools of sugar had by then hardened into little warm puddles, so I grabbed a flat screwdriver and scraped them off the counter, spraying little shards of sugar all over the kitchen. It took a while, needless to say. And fortunately, sugar is water soluble, so I soaked off anything I couldn't scrape off.

I quite enjoyed this failstravaganza, so it won't deter me from trying in the future. Oh no, I'll be back.

My only regret is not having an insect around.

Photo credit to Catmadogma.

21 March 2008


The camera I've had for five years now just died. I love how I just started a new blog, all ready to take pictures and everything, and my camera chooses now to die.

It was a good camera, even though it was craptastic. Every picture had a 50-50 chance of turning out blurry or too far away (there was no zoom. none!), but I managed to squeeze some decent photos out of it, though. We had fond memories together.

Hopefully it's just mostly dead, so my dad will be able to resurrect it over spring break. If not...I'm up a creek.

20 March 2008

Juicy apple drunk. (Also, cake.)

There's something a little more satisfying about parties with people who can cook (as opposed to people who can't). Perhaps I'm being a bit harsh, but there's a definite difference between the kind of people who cook from recipes back-of-the-box recipes and people who love cooking, almost worship Alton Brown and will whip up biscuits at the drop of a hat. It's something about the quality of the food, I think, and the way that it's treated.

Anyway, last night my friend threw a barbecue in honor of his graduation and I went along with my roommates. He made a wonderful barbecued pork loin stuffed with garlic, someone brought along salmon (which was cooked with lemon, dill and mesquite smoke...yum), and there were salads. Someone brought cupcakes (which were more of an appetizer, really), a carrot cake with maple-yogurt glaze on the top (it smelled divine) and I brought a plain yellow sheet cake, which my friend helped me improve upon.

He taught me how to make ganache. This is magnificent, as the previous two times I attempted to make ganche it's turned out either super-watery or too bitter for my palate. In a double boiler, he melted about a half-inch of a stick of butter, then added a handful of chocolate chips (he used Costco brand; I wouldn't used Guittard, my newest favorite discovery in the market), a dash of cocoa powder and milk to just below the level of the chips. Once that was all melty, he added powdered sugar until the mixture thickened up and turned all glossy. We poured it over the cake and spread it around, where it soaked down through the top layer all night. On the top before the ganache set, he sprinkled more cocoa powder. And despite the fact that this was in a 9x13 pan, it looked pretty swank.

I love how ganche looks a little more sophisticated than plain frosting, when it's all glossy. It's a perfect foil for a sweet, delicate cake. By the way, that cake is even better today; the ganache trapped in moisture.

To top off the evening a friend made something called apple pie, everclear style. It was essentially apple cider with sticks of cinnamon and some nutmeg and cloves, and a fair amount of 180 proof everclear (two parts cider to one part alcohol). It's tasty--too tasty. And even better cold. I have never seen someone get drunk that quickly. One guy, a self-proclaimed heavyweight, was visibly drunk after half a glass. I could feel a buzz coming on after three sips.

The fun part was walking home, as snow fell on the eve of spring.


Here's to a new blog.

I love fashion blogs. It's true. They give me inspiration, introduce me to new trends, models, designers and thrifting finds. I've never seen so many gorgeous people or photographs.

The problem with merely reading blogs, though, is that I never get around to trying anything in real life. I go thrifting, and fail miserably. I think about putting together a new outfit or not wearing jeans every day (which'll have to change, since my current pair is growing holes rapidly), but I never actually wear something new. I plan on breaking out the sewing machine, but it never gets done.

This is not greatly surprising, as I'm a thinker. I live in my head. Always have, always will. The big problem is that knowing that Ray-Bans are coming back into style, or that heeled oxford booties are all the rage doesn't make any difference unless I translate it to the real world.

So I figured I'd resume blogging, this time in a winning way, instead of the fail that was my last blog. By thinking "out loud," maybe I can make myself translate some of my ideas into reality. Along the way, I can hone my eye for style and discover what I like myself, instead of just what looks good in abstract.

The name for this blog comes from George Washington's book on etiquette,"Play not the Peacock, looking every where about you, to See if you be well Deck't, if your Shoes fit well if your Stokings Sit neatly, and Cloths handsomely." Although seemingly outdated, this advice holds for today. I'll think about my appearance to no end, but once I'm out of the house, I don't want to have to keep preening.

It's going to be an interesting journey, and a fun one.