Navigation
Wednesday
Jul282010

works in progress

I just realized I have SO MANY quilts in progress, and I've barely shown you any of them on this blog. Here's one I'm in the middle of. I started it a year ago for a friend of mine, and I still want to finish it so I can get it to her. I've got it into fairly large blocks and I just have to arrange them and put it together. I have half a dozen quilts at this stage of progress, unforch.

quilt in progress
Tuesday
Jul272010

I do not want to go to your Pampered Chef party.

(alternate title: "It's not you, it's me")

Hi there. I like you. I think you're cool, and I think it's fun to go to barbecues with you, or maybe camping. You might think I'm cool, too, because you invite me to barbecues. You also know I cook, and that is cool too. Now here's where I'm going to start to sound like an uncool bitch, but I really have to get this off my chest. If you feel this is directed solely at you, you're wrong, because it would take more than just fingers to count how many people this applies to, and I like them all.

However, just because I cook, it doesn't mean I want to go to your Pampered Chef party. In fact, it makes me less likely to want to go. I feel bad telling you this, because I know your intentions are good, and I don't want to hurt your feelings, but I have to say no. I've outlined my reasons below:

1) As you've noticed, I cook a lot. The thing is, the more you cook, the more often you find that certain tools are completely unnecessary. I have a friend who works for a kitchen products company and we've discussed how most of the tools out there can be replaced with a knife and a cutting board. Personally I'd add tongs, a rolling pin, and a pastry blender, but even that last one can be accomplished with a fork, or even your fingers (assuming your hands aren't crazy hot like mine). After a while in the kitchen, you get used to favorite tools and realize the beauty in minimalism. I don't need a three-in-one spoonula, or fancy serrated steak knives that are impossible to sharpen. I personally own exactly five knives, and even then only because I have doubles of two of them: two 8" chef's knives (a Wusthof and a Shun), a very inexpensive serrated bread knife from Fred Meyer (can't sharpen it, so why invest?), and two very inexpensive paring knives, also from Fred Meyer. I invested in the chef's knives because they are what I use 90% of the time, and I bought the second one ten years after I bought the first one - and I know they will both last me for my entire life. I'd rather have ten quality objects than drawers full of plastic produced in China.

2) I already have drawers full of cheap plastic produced in China. I'm weeding out the crap I don't use and paring down to the essential tools. I need that space for all the bakeware I'm accumulating because people keep wanting crazy shapes of stuff for their weddings.

3) No matter how much you say "There's no pressure to buy anything!" or "I just want to have a girls' night!", there IS pressure to buy things, even if it's unspoken. There is no reason to host a buying party unless you hope that people will actually buy stuff. I'm not saying that this is bad, or wrong, I'm just saying that there's an expectation, and I can't meet it. I can't even afford to pay all my bills right now, so overpriced specialty cookware is not a realistic expenditure.

4) I also hate girls' nights. haaaaate.

Lest you think this applies only to Pampered Chef, I extend this blanket No-I-do-not-want-to-attend-your-party to PartyLite, "passion parties", jewelry, and Tupperware. I'm just not into any of it, and I'm sorry we have to disagree on this.

I hope we can still be friends.
Sunday
Jul252010

blogging my look

Some of my best girlfriends and I, spread all along the West Coast, email each other periodic fashion updates. I'm lucky to be part of this little circle of extremely attractive, intelligent, and well dressed ladies, and it's good inspiration to see how my ladies outfit themselves for work or play. None of us is totally crazy with fashion but I'd like to say we're all pretty good at tweaking classic, classy looks to jive with what's current. Having no acceptable place at home to snap a head-to-toe in the morning, I often have to resort to the wildly unflattering office restroom's full length mirror and the equally disappointing iphone photo. Despite all this, it does the job. This outfit is from Friday (work, then drinks) and I was encouraged by the ladies to blog it. This could become part of a series... so watch out for some classic figure-flattering looks.

Year-round, there is nothing I love better than a well-fitting dress. Not only do dresses skim over my less flattering features (overdeveloped midsection and lack of hips) and highlight my more flattering features (rack + gams), but they're also super feminine, and the best part: virtually no thought needs to go into getting dressed. With pants or a skirt, I have to find at least two or three pieces that match and flatter - top, bottom, cardi or sweater. With a dress, I can throw it on and go, saving time and knowing it's a look that will work.

In the last couple of years, pockets in dresses have made a comeback to the point where if I am trying on a dress and it DOESN'T have pockets, I get super disappointed. This dress (banana republic heritage collection, but I couldn't find it online) is perfect for summer 2010 - a two tone grey feather print that's just abstract enough, flirty ruffled cap sleeves, a drawstring waist that flatters but is still breezy, and the beloved pockets for my office elevator key card and lip gloss. I think this dress could go with any shoes at all - especially this season's strappy heeled sandals with hardware details to toughen up the girly floatiness of the dress, but I paired it with vampy red platform slingbacks, shoes that are guaranteed to make one feel like a total sexpot.
Saturday
Jul032010

WHOA.

Holy crap, you guys, I am exhausted. 2010 is nuts, am I right? It's been a rollercoaster, for me at least. I had a job, then I had no job, now I kind of have a job again; I had internet, then I had no internet, then I got internet again; had a website, let it lapse, realized that was a bad idea; my generally nonexistent love life had a little uptick and then a little crash&burn situation; my friends keep getting engaged/married/knocked up; and folks keep telling other folks how delicious my cakes are, and then those other folks keep asking me for cakes! OK, I can't really complain about that part, you know how I love making cakes. I'm just trying to keep up with job/life/money/responsibilities/balance. Trying to bake for joy and extra cash, trying to make my job fit my goals, trying to plan for the future, trying to squeeze in some quilting now and then, and trying to maintain my relationships with friends and family, because sometimes that's all you've got. And I'm exhausted. Like I said before.

Anyway, I didn't mean to leave y'all in the lurch for a while there, but life happens. I'm going to try and be better. I think we're just all doing the best we can though, no?

If this sounds like a debbie downer post, please take it with a grain of salt. I know life is great. I have the most wonderful friends and family who are there for me through thick and thin. I have a roof over my head, shoes on my feet, and food on the table. I have more now in my "lean" time than most of the world will have in their richest days, and mostly I'm just a big old american whiner with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement. But you know, sometimes you just have to air all your grievances and then get on with your life - so grievances aired; I'm moving on.

Thanks for being patient with me :)
Sunday
Jun272010

Tiramisu cake for Kori's birthday

My friend Kori's birthday was June 20, and she requested a tiramisu cake for her birthday party. I was happy to oblige! I used Smitten Kitchen's recipe almost to the letter, although I did add rum to my Kahlua mixture. I thought the syrup would soak through the cake layers a little more than it did but it was still super delicious. I don't know that I'd change a thing about this if I made it again. Which I probably will. The extra steps of brushing the layers with syrup and adding grated chocolate between the layers (thanks, Microplane!) were totally worth it.  A five star cake and a happy birthday girl = happy me!
Monday
Mar152010

Weekend Baking

 This weeekend I was commissioned to make two cakes for a garden/seed themed surprise birthday party. One was a carrot cake (decorated with carrots) and the other was a chocolate guinness cake, which I put chocolate cookie "dirt" on, grew carrots down the sides, and put gummy worms on top. I was pretty proud of these guys, since I don't usually decorate very much but I thought they were super cute.

I made another carrot cake for a party last night, and some cookies for a party Saturday night. Yay for baking!
Thursday
Mar112010

I've failed you again

Hey kids.

It's been a busy spring! I keep meaning to blog, but get sidetracked by life. I got laid off yesterday so now I'll have all kinds of time to blog! :)

I have been slowly getting back into quilting. This one I started a year or two ago. I made a pinwheel quilt about 8 years ago when I worked at the quilt shop and while I loved it, it wasn't quite as pastel as I wanted it to be. This, however, is in extremely soft prints and I just adore it. It ended up about 62" square so it's a big throw size.

Monica and I are planning on hauling all of our quilts to the Fremont Sunday Market on the 21st to try and bring the joy of handmade quilts to the masses! Our last quilt show was a bust but we have it on good authority that we might actually do well at this venue. Here's hoping!

Cheers,
Abby
Wednesday
Jan132010

the Hot Buns Bakery


You totally want to lick that drip of ganache off the screen, don't you?Hey guys.

So I've been baking a lot. You may not know it from this blog, but I have. I did briefly touch on how last summer/fall were nuts with the weddings and stuff, but there are birthdays and christmas and all sorts of stuff that needs baked goods. And when there are baked goods, I pass out my luscious little cards with tasty baked goods on them. And then you lovely people come to my website with almost no pictures of gorgeous cakes. I'm the worst marketing person ever.

I keep meaning to make a logo for the Hot Buns Bakery but get sidetracked, so here's a placeholder.
Tuesday
Jan052010

New Year's Resolutions

So I'm not really into New Year's Eve as a holiday. It's always a letdown, no matter how small your expectations are. At least, that's how it has been for me as a single lady. Maybe when I've got someone special to fall asleep on the couch with at 11 pm with two juice glasses full of Martinelli's, I'll feel ok about it. It's not the same when you're drinking Martinelli's with your cat, no matter how cute (very) or snuggly (she is fickle) the cat might be.

That being said, I do appreciate the date, the changing of calendars, all those ones - as a fresh start. I realize it's entirely in my head but it works. It's a chance to forgive yourself for the mistakes you've made over the past twelve months, and renew your commitment to yourself as a better, stronger person. Your ideal may be sexier, more toned, more well fed, well read, maybe even a better friend/parent/sibling/child.  The beauty of the new year, I think, is a chance to allow yourself that new beginning and give you that bit of motivation you might need. Even if it only lasts till January 10.

My resolutions for this year are simple and attainable. In addition to my daily wishes of being more toned and svelte, classy and chic, intelligent and witty, I have resolved for 2010 to be more realistic about time. If you are a friend of mine, I hereby sincerely apologise for all the times I've been late to anything involving you - and this blanket apology is necessary because I am nearly always late. I come from a family that has historically been, let's say, less than exactly *punctual* - but I believe I'm pretty much the slowest one. It stems, I think, from a strange sort of optimism that I will find the perfect shirt that camouflages my muffin top AND can style my bangs effortlessly in exactly ten seconds AND I have gas in the car AND there is no traffic on the freeway. Or, perhaps, teleportation is being approved by NASA right at the very moment I am making whatever plans these are, and it will be instantly available to everyone, everywhere, by the time I have tried on the fifteenth shirt and gone back to the first one, given up and bobby pinned the bangs back, and have five minutes to get across town, and I can just wish my way there.

I know, it's ridiculous. It's flaky, and it's rude, and it's just not classy. So I resolve to be realistic. And hopefully reduce to near zero the occurrences that anyone has to wait for me for more than six minutes.

My second resolution is recycled from a year or two ago - I want to buy a new book every paycheck. There are a lot of books I love - coffee table books about architecture and design and art, books about the histories of cities and churches and islands and etymology, and I am especially coveting the gorgeous fabric covered penguin classics just issued a few months ago. I have a lot of books, and I love having a lot of books (except when moving house), but strangely I don't make it a priority to get new ones unless I am in Portland at Powell's. I love them as tactile objects. I reread books endless times, and I love getting used ones - previously enjoyed ones - and especially look for ones that have notes on the front page (though never underlining or highlighting in the text). It's a bit of history in itself, reading where the book has been. I am bringing this love back to the forefront by adding to my collection. To kick things off, today I purchased Piano: Renzo Piano Building Workshop 1966 to today. It was published in 2008 so it's quite recent, and has gorgeous photos and sketches. I love it.

I hope you all had lovely holidays, and I wish you the best in 2010.

Cheers,

Abby
Sunday
Dec202009

Zack and Aliki's wedding

Just sneaking in a quick post while I've got Internet access... this was Zack and Aliki's wedding cake from November 21. The wedding was beautiful, and we're all just pleased as punch for them. Tiff and I collaborated on this cake - I baked the layers but she hand-stamped the designs in tinted cocoa butter on white chocolate sheets. Amazing. And delicious.