Friday, May 21, 2010

American Baby

I made a cream cheese pound cake last week. I'm calling it my American Baby Pound Cake, not because it's a little pound cake but because it's adapted from several different cultural ideals of "pound cake," and that's what America's all about, right? The melting pot, people, not cake; although, if America was about cake, it would probably make me very happy and provide dentists with very busy schedules. Pound cake can be traced back to eighteenth century England, which, according to all my literature studies in college, is when the culture was rockin' and rollin' there. I can't say that I disagree: Samuel Johnson wrote the first dictionary, Jane Austen was alive (need I say more?), Josiah Wedgwood made fine earthenware and changed how dinner was served in the common household, and cooks all around were making pound cake (actually, I don't know about this, but one can only hope). Anyways, traditional pound cake was an easy recipe to remember because a lot of people were illiterate; the recipe was one pound each of butter, sugar, eggs and flour. Easy right? My recipe is definitely an adaptation of this original recipe, and one that draws from the French way of baking: proportion, proportion, proportion. I did not use a pound of each of these things, and there are a couple of other things added, aside from the traditional ingredients. The recipe that I adapted was from my Mom's; this is no slight against her recipe, it's just that, well, I simply must experiment with recipes. I can't help it. I love creating things and little innovations provide me with bountiful amounts of joy. Unfortunately, I've been forgetting to take photos of things. I usually carry my camera with me in Jill, but I've been neglecting to tote it around. Anyways, here is my American Baby Pound Cake:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened 3 sticks butter, softened 3 cups sugar 5 eggs 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon salt (I used pink Himalayan sea salt) 3 shakes from the pepper shaker (I used black, pure ground) 3 cups flour 1 heaping dallop of Daisy (sour cream)
Preheat oven to 325 F degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan. Cream the cheese and butter until fluffy. Add sugar gradually. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla, salt & pepper (pepper brings out the sweetness of the cake). Add flour one cup at a time, then add sour cream. Mix together until everything is combined. Pour batter in pan and bake for 1 hour, 20 minutes. Try the toothpick test after about an hour, as every oven has a mind of its own; you don't want dried out cake!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Last Thursday, H. and I loaded up coolers full of food and picked up my dear friend Magpie and headed to Nags Head, NC for a long weekend at the beach with friends. It was a much needed little vaycay; Friday was the perfect beach day, hot, breezy and wonderful.
We played bocce ball all day long on Friday. Loooove this game!
Here's Magpie and I enjoying the late afternoon.
One of Magpie's friends brought a "dear friend" of hers to soak up some sun at the OBX. We left in the nick of time on Sunday...look at those clouds moving in!

Monday, May 10, 2010


This weekend, I celebrated the obvious, Mother's Day, but also my cousin Jug graduated from college! Whoohoo! I hit up Radford on Saturday and met up with Mom and Granny, went to Jug's departmental graduation and met up with some other famdamily members afterward for a cookout at Jug and Mel's place. All in all, it was a great day!
Here I am with the mothers in my life! Thanks Mom and Granny for being so awesome.
Here's Jug getting ready to take the walk of greatness to take hold of the piece of paper worth thousands upon thousands of dolla dolla bills:
Jug is the one to the left of the dude pointing up at the crowd.
Here's a portion of the gang that came up to celebrate with Jug on his big day (that's him and his wifey Mel sitting in his graduation present in the New River).
And lastly, another little shout out to my M. who totally rocks. I made her this little bag (except with different fabrics, of course) and forgot to take a picture of it. I could just kick myself.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


My dad and mom gave me a sewing machine for Christmas, and I am sad that I haven't mentioned it until now, but here it is. The Brother. See the below photo and read the label, it's the Project Runway edition! Speaking of Project Runway, I have a confession to make. When the show first came on and it seemed like everyone was crazed with PR adrenaline, I totally brushed it off and thought something like, These people are such weirdos, all they do is sit around and watch stupid reality shows. Well, friends, family, countrymen...I'm here to tell you that on a Saturday about a year ago, I was glued to 6 hours of a PR marathon on Lifetime (yep, you read that correctly). I watched the first episode, and I don't know if it was the burst of color in Mood Fabrics or the inflection of Tim's voice when he said, "My rules, your style," but I was hooked for the rest of the afternoon. And then I wanted to buy one of those $250.00 dress forms that would allow me to design and assemble an outfit from the creations in my head with a big smorgasbord of fabric and pins...I just knew a sweet outfit would appear like magic. Little did I know how difficult it would be for me to even sew a straight line on The Brother.
R. in the Real World presents The Brother.
My mom has sewn for years. I think she popped out of the womb and sewing was inherent in her. For years, I watched her sew dresses, curtains, professionally hem pants/skirts with her over-lock machine, etc. She can sew anything. And everything she makes is as close to perfect as it can get; seams are matched, textile designs are matched, no strings are hanging off of the edges. You can imagine my childhood shopping days spent at Gap comparing all the size small white crewneck tee shirts that they had in the store. Which one was longer? Were the seams matched up under the arms? Did the grain of the fabric match on the shirt's side seams? Anyways, I never really thought the sewing bug would hit me, but alas, after making jewelry for over 10 years of my life, I felt a little burned out with the beading and thought I would like to be able to make useful things besides luxury items. It must have been the bad economy that reminded me of the diminishing jewelry sales I was experiencing. At my favorite store on the Downtown Mall, O'Suzannah's, I bought an amazing book called Simple Sewing: Patterns and How-To for 24 Fresh and Easy Projects by Lotta Jansdotter. I have yet to find a sewing class in this town that doesn't conflict with my immediate schedule, but I do want to take a beginner sewing class, just to help me grasp some foundational concepts about sewing. I learn by doing, so when I look at a diagram, it's extremely difficult for me to magically see the whole concept that the instructions are trying to explain in a 2"x2" picture. Instead of taking a sewing class, I have been reading all the projects and their instructions in Simple Sewing and another book by Amy Butler called In Stitches. Most likely, I will continue in this method forevermore, even after attending a sewing class or two. The first thing I ever made on The Brother, besides the obvious trial of all 50 stitch designs it will do on scrap pieces of fabric, was a set of 4 napkins for my friend J.'s birthday , using instructions from Simple Sewing.
My first sewing project! This picture makes me laugh because every time I take a picture of something, this table cloth is in the photo, along with my red salt & pepper shakers...
I made these in February, and honestly, I thought they took forever to complete from start to finish. The seam lines were totally crooked. In a hilarious way. Personally, I thought they resembled a sewing project that a toddler may have done, but I guess this project just goes down in the books as the set of napkins with "character." Then again, it was my very first project...and my super awesome mom wasn't sitting across the kitchen table from me giving me pointers from all her bank of sewing experience.
When I learn new things, I am very ambitious. For instance, as my second sewing project ever, I wanted to make the below "all day tote" from Simple Sewing. Who wouldn't want to make that? It holds a newspaper and a water bottle! It wasn't difficult to make, but the only project I'd ever done with a sewing machine prior to this was hemming the edges of a piece of square-shaped fabric aka the set of 4 napkins.
I have no clue how long it took me to make this bag. I wanted black & white polka dots on the outside, but I loved that pink and green floral print for the liner. In an attempt to bring the warm pinks and greens together in a collaboration with the black & white polka dots and downplay the stark contrast, I satin-stitch-embroidered (by hand, people, no Brother involved on that endeavor) with embroidery floss on some random dots on the front panel pocket and on the back panel of the bag in 3 colors: a light spring green, light pink and a padparadscha/coral shade. Like I said, "character." When assembling the bag with pins prior to stitching it up, I found myself reading through each numerical instruction over and over and over again. Literally. I had already read the whole project about 2 or 3 times prior to even cutting the fabric for the bag, and I would read each step twice, get the pins positioned just right, and then before I surrendered the subject to the powers of The Brother, I would read the instruction one more time and then second guess myself. It was quite the time consuming venture, but now it's all done. All I know is that I can't keep track of how many times I read and reread instructions.
R. in the Real World presents: Jill, the black & white polka dot all-day tote. Even though it's an inanimate object, I couldn't live with myself if I didn't give her a name.
As you can see, my sewing life has overtaken the kitchen table and the ironing board. A lack of workspace causes one to become very creative in how to execute projects...I've noticed myself using the ironing board as counter space when preparing food, maybe if I threw a table cloth or tapestry over it, it'd be a cool buffet for when I have people over for dinner. By the way, I killed a humongo centipede this morning in my apartment. When I saw him, it made me gasp, and then I got really mad that he was even hanging out in my apartment in the first place. I smashed him with an Old Navy flip flop, a very handy and useful implement in my apartment.

Dreams of Our Fathers

Hey everybody! I feel like I haven't posted forever; it's because I've been having too much fun enjoying the warm weather, having awesome company, traveling some and trying my hand at a brand new medium of craftasticity for me, but I'll get to that for my next post. My cousin J. visited me a couple weekends ago, and I want to document that a little bit because the weekend marked something significant for me. Not only did I have an awesome time with J., but I went to Monticello, la casa de Thomas Jefferson, for the first time ever. I know, I've been in Charlottesvegas for almost 5 years, and I even went to UVa, but I had never been to the home of "The Father of the University" until 2 weeks ago!
First, we went to the Downtown Mall for some Saturday farmers market action, to show J. where I nine-to-five it and to eat the always delicious Christian's Pizza. When we got down there, the Dogwood Festival Parade was also going on! I didn't even know there was such a thing. Did you know that the dogwood is Virginia's state flower and state tree? Two birds with one stone; I like that kind of resourcefulness.
This is Miss Dogwood Queen.
J., H. and I went up to Monticello in the afternoon! I was standing in TJ's backyard when I took this one. J. and I in the Southeast Piazza, which was pretty much TJ's personal quarters' very own miniature greenhouse. This little peephole through the trees is how TJ looked down on his beloved University being built and watched his dream unfold into a reality. The Rotunda is the white blob in the bottom right of the tree cutout. I wonder how often they trim the branches on the trees to keep UVA in view... We also made the peposo I wrote about some time ago from the pork tenderloins from my brother's hog (seared with freshly ground black peppercorns), some Yukon gold potatoes, onion rings and about 6 garlic cloves, drenched in Cabernet Sauvignon and baked for 1.5 hours in the Dutch oven. Beautiful. And delicious!