You’re doing WHAT?

One of the reasons I started my blog is that I have this fantasy about being an author.  I love to read so why not write?  Well, writing is not for everyone, but I read that blogging is a good way to hone one’s writing skills so here I am.

I’m not the most devoted writer.  I get distracted by work, family, Netflix, shopping, severe bouts of depression, and life in general.  All of those things are probably happening right now as you read this.  I’m an unstoppable whirlwind of sad, lazy American-with-no-PTO.

I’ve been stocking up ideas for years and I started worldbuilding this fall.  I bought some nonfiction, visited some museums, and raked through old CDs and sketchbooks.  One image I have for my main character is one I started drawing when I was about eleven.

Here is the problem of why I might be a very good author but I might be a terrible one:  I have a dialogue inside by head for EVERYTHING.  And I’ve always been that way.  Sometimes it lies to me and tells me I’m unsuccessful and not living up to my potential and then I get depressed.  But SOMETIMES it is like reading a book and loose stories and characters unfold as I do other things like drawing or driving or baking cookies.  I constantly have ideas.  It’s hard to organize, but it is sort of like an old card catalog at the library – if you are interested in STARS you should check out the cards on HOLLYWOOD and ASTRONOMY.  It just goes on and on and on, one topic melting into another until I need to focus on something for real.

This is me getting real.  I entered NaNoWriMo and have a goal of having a rough draft by December.  A whole rough draft.  I just switched to a job with a lighter schedule because I really doubt I’ll ever get somewhere without more education and I start school again in January.  So with a little time on my hands this is a perfect opportunity to really do something different.  Like I need another hobby.  Ugh.

I admit to not having an outline for my novel (though I do have an outline for my prologue that I wrote several years ago) and I don’t even remotely know how my main character is getting to the end of her story.  I do, however, have some research and some inspiration.

I love fantasy and maps but get very tired of European-inspired maps and cultures in every. single. book. I. read. So sometimes I break off and read dystopian fiction, which is barely a scootch away from my preferred genre, epic high fantasy.  I’m not sure if it’s white guilt or  boredom or something else, but no matter how much I love these books and settings I can’t be the only one thinking “this is the same damn thing.”

Don’t get me wrong – the monomyth is fantastic and continuity is what makes it work.  We know that Frodo, Jesus, and Luke Skywalker are going to win and we still watch or read to the end.  Knowing the ending and getting there are two different things.  Plus there is something very peaceful in the hero winning and the bad guy getting what he deserves.  It’s psychologically soothing (if a little delusional) to see the little guy get the gold or the girl or wheatever.  But the MAPS….  Let me show you what I mean.

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This is Gwynnedd, home of Saint Camber, created by author Katherine Kurtz.

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This is a man’s stuttering fantasy about polyamory.

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This is Middle Earth, thank you Tolkien.

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This is the Seven Kingdoms, where everyone is dead, damn you George R. R. Martin.

Yes, I wrote on the pictures of the books.  I own the books.  I took the pictures.  And before you start suing me, Estate of Robert Jordan, know that it took me seven damn books for me to realize I really hate your protagonist and you wasted my time by reiterating the whole story thus far in each book. Also know that I learned a word in my Honors Art class from my crazy art teacher.  It’s something called APPROPRIATION and it’s when you plagiarize something and remake it into your own art. Since it’s art it’s not illegal. That’s all I’m doing.  AND SO ARE YOU.

Each map is Europe.  I’m so tired of it.  The protagonist is always English.  Maybe Ned Stark is from Manchester.  I don’t know.  I still love it but I’m never surprised anymore.

So I collected a group of books that inspired me to think outside the box (or circular journey) of the monomyth:

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Now look at this map!  It’s actually technically science fiction but it has monomyth qualities as well.  It’s a whole planet.  Without England.

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This is the planet Pern, where there are dragons and weird burny mold spores that fall from the sky.

In fact Nickelodeon’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender” also has a map like this.  A whole planet, no England.  That’s a TV show and I don’t have a map but if you never watched it, It’s on Netflix.

Okay to wrap this all together, I will tell you that I am working on a novel.  I want to have a rough draft done by the end of December.  I can’t wait for the next Song of Fire and Ice book to come out, but I also think that since I’ve never been to England I probably shouldn’t pretend I know much about it or write about it.  I love maps and geography and I’m appropriating “New World” geography into my story.  I really drew a picture of my protagonist when I was a kid.  I have collected books and visited museums and made photocopies and I watched the Voyage of the Mimi 2 and I dreamed and ruminated and it is time to spit it out.  There is so much more I can say but it will just have to wait for another post.

There is a quote attributed to John Steinbeck that goes

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”

Damn.  I’m doomed.

Productivity is Relative: This Weekend’s Netflixing Activities  

Netflix is the best and worst thing that ever happened to me.

This Saturday, with no plans and no obligations, I watched 16 episodes of a new TV show.  I finished the show on Sunday.

The Blacklist is only one season complete so it will be another year until I watch any more of it, but I already can’t wait.  First of all, it stars James Spader as Raymond “Red” Reddington, the show’s loveable antihero.  I’ve been in love with James Spader since Stargate and in lust with him since Secretary.  So that was the first selling feature for me!  Second, it’s a thrilling FBI cop drama with spies, mysteries, and drama.  If you don’t like this genre, GET OUT.  Don’t you love Bones and the X-Files?  Yes, okay, you should try The Blacklist.

The show begins as Red enters and FBI building, presenting his passport and requesting a meeting with an assistant director.  As the skeptical guard inputs his information, Red calmly kneels and places his hands on his head, ready to be arrested.  Sure enough, he is on the FBI’s most wanted list, a high-rolling international criminal, and he is pitched into a holding cell.

A treasonous naval academy grad who was being groomed for Admiral, Raymond Reddington mysteriously abandoned his wife and child, promising career, and country to become a criminal involved in high-end arms dealing, money laundering, and espionage one fateful Christmas twenty years ago.  Now he has a list of other criminals he wants to FBI to track down, mostly his competition.  His demands include immunity and to only speak with an unknown rookie FBI profiler, Elizabeth Keen.

Elizabeth Keen’s first day on the job in DC is the day Red turns himself in.  She is married to a fourth grade teacher, Tom, who has little family and seems a bit buff for a guy who teaches long division. Liz wants to adopt a baby because of her own experience as an adopted child. Her only memory before age four, when she was adopted by a single man, Sam, who was a criminal of an undisclosed nature, is of a fire.  Liz bears a scar on her wrist and has a stuffed rabbit exhibiting scorches, souvenirs of her early childhood.

What is the connection between Red and Liz?  Foreshadowing and hints litter each episode.  Why did Red abandon everything so many years ago?  Why did Red turn himself in?  Is Liz’s husband really a fourth grade teacher?  As Liz and the viewer connect the dots and find answers, new questions continually pop up.

Here is a link to the trailer:

The first season is available on Netflix and can be watched in a weekend, if you delegate you time right.  The second season starts soon on NBC.

Here is a link to 21 GIFs of Raymond Reddington being sassy.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/h2/osmo/theblacklist/red-reddington-gifs#2s384qy

Don’t forget to eat and shower!

Things I Did With a Three Year Old

1. Went to Broad Street Market.  Aunt Tanya has a stand called Apple Dumplings Etc.  It was too hot for a dumpling but Lexi had a cookie and Emmi and I had smoothies.  I bought the Wildberry because Lexi declared that she wanted to have a “purple” smoothie but then she ended up only drinking Emmi’s which was peach.  This market is a great place to grab lunch and pick up some produce, meat, and baked goods.  It was my first trip but will not be my last!

mmm cookie

mmm cookie

Um that is Aunt Emmi's peach smoothie

Um that is Aunt Emmi’s peach smoothie

2. Went shoe shopping.  This kid loves to try on shoes, and I was in a work shoe deficit.  Now that it is past Labor Day I am supposed to wear stockings and everyonw but the people who wrote the dress code at my wok knows that open-toes shoes look ridiculous with nylons.  The trouble with women’s shoes is that one shoe does not match all. Some outfits call for flats, some for heels.  My ankle books are worn out, too.  Sheesh, that’s a lot of shoes.  I ended up with a pair of flats, kitten heels, high heels, and ankle books in black as well as a sweet pair of blue flats because they were only $8.  The best deal was either these Ivanka Trumps for $10 or these ridiculous heeled clogs for the three year old that were only $7.  Hey, the kid needs to learn how to walk in heels sometime, right?  Quotes from the shopping trip include when she left Emmi’s aisle and somehow didn’t see me in mine.  I heard her ask a stranger, “You know where Icky is?”  She can’t say “Alyssa” or “Sissy” so her pet name for me is Icky.  I’m sure the lady was baffled.  The clogs were connected with a string but that didn’t stop her from hobbling around the store in them.  After a few shuffles she pointed to her feet and asked, “Icky, you cut da tring?”  Yes, but we need to BUY the shoes first!

These boots were too tight....

These boots were too tight….

Necessary

Necessary

Competition:  Whose shoes were a better deal?

Competition: Whose shoes were a better deal?

3. Watched a movie.  Current obsessions are “Monty Ink” (Monsters Inc.) and  “Meemo” (Finding Nemo).  We were at Emmi’s house but couldn’t watch a new movie; it had to be Nemo.  Whatever.  There is nothing like snuggling under the blankets with your loved ones to watch a favorite move and eat popcorn, watermelon, and candy.  Her favorite scene seems to be the “Shark Bait Hoo Ha Haa” part.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPAi7h_sP9w

4. Went “out ta eat.”  Kid loves to eat out.  Well, me too, so that works.  Sunday morning we tackled a Minnie Mouse pancake from my favorite diner and colored with crayons from a Minnie Mouse cup.  When I asked what we should draw, the answer was “You draw your mommy and I draw my daddy.”  Fair enough.

My mommy is actually Lexi's Grammy, so this is a portrait of a well loved lady right here!

My mommy is actually Lexi’s Grammy, so this is a portrait of a well loved lady right here!

This is mostly her daddy, but also she asked me to draw some feet.

This is mostly her daddy, but also she asked me to draw some feet.

bla bla bla

5. Baked a cake.  Well, cupcakes.  I babysat the other evening and I always give Lexi a lot of opportunities to make her own choices for activities.  Often with me her request is either “Icky you paint-a my nail?” or “Icky, we bake a cake?”  Sometimes she cannot be satisfied with baking a pretend cake in her play kitchen so we have to bake a real one.  What kind of cake should we bake? “Pink!”  Well, that’s not really a flavor of cake, child, but okay.  We decided on a pink (vanilla) cake with brown (chocolate) frosting.  Here is how to bake pink cupcakes with a toddler:

 

  • Ask her to get the recipe box.  It’s stored where she can reach.  When she brings you just a recipe for sugar free cream cheese icing, ask her to bring you the whole box because this isn’t the pink cake recipe.
  • Use Paula Dean’s 1-2-3-4 cake recipe.  It’s easy and it can be converted to non-dairy.
  • Beat the butter but do not let the toddler stick her finger in the butter. Ask her to get her bench while you unwrap two sticks and begin to beat it.
  • Have her measure two cups of sugar.  When she decides to measure with a teaspoon instead of a cup, fill the cup yourself but immediately surrender it when she sees you evening off the top and shouts “No, me!” because she wants to measure everything.  Quickly dump into the fluffy butter and continue to beat for about 8 minutes, or until the other ingredients are measured. Because that will take at least 8 minutes.
  • Let her measure baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour to make about three cups of self-rising flour.  Just use the recipe in the back of the red plaid cookbook (Better Homes and Gardens).  Let her whisk the flour together.  Ask her to go wash her hands because she just stuck her finger in some spilled sugar and licked it.
  • Ask her to count four eggs with you.  Crack the eggs into their own bowl and while she is running to the play kitchen to retrieve her tiny whisk because ALL EGGS MUST BE WHISKED AND SHE HAS A WHISK get out the milk and a liquid measuring cup.  The eggs actually get added one at a time to the butter/sugar mix and by now the butter and sugar are crazy fluffy to just let her break the yolks and add the eggs slowly to the mixer.
  • Ask her to watch as you pour milk into the liquid measuring cup.  We need one cup of milk so just ask her to tell you to stop when we get to “this line” and pour slowly, asking “is that enough” every 2 seconds so she stays focused.
  • Add the flour and milk a little at a time, beginning and ending with flour.  Tide the kid over because she is not allowed to add anything to the mixer when it is on by teasing her about the color of the cake.  “We’re making a blue cake, right?”  “Are you sure you don’t want a yellow cake?”  Just laugh when she gets panicked and tearful “NO. PINK!!!” (stomp stomp, pouty lip) Ask the kid to wash her hands because she just stuck her finger in the butter wrapper and licked it.  You can turn on the oven now – it will be several more minutes before we are ready to bake this cake.  Trust me.
  • Add pink food coloring.  Use the gel because it is better but do not let her touch the bottle or the toothpick.  “No touchy.”  Yeah, it stains.  Badly.
  • Remind her that we do not lick the batter yet, her tongue is not pink because there is not enough food coloring in the batter to turn it pink, nobody wants to see her tongue right now, and can she please go was her hands AGAIN because she just stuck her finger into batter and licked it and you promised your friends at work they could have some of these cupcakes.
  • Let her put the cupcake liners in the tins.  They are pink and she will do a great job because sorting and matching are developmentally appropriate tasks and she needs the fine motor skills practice.
  • Fix the cupcake liners that are doubled and scoop the batter into the liners.  Bake for 25 minutes at 350º.
  • Get everything into the dishwasher immediately because you hate doing dishes and you will need the mixer bowl for the icing once the cupcakes have cooled.  Clean the kitchen by yourself because suddenly your tiny helper would rather lick the scooper and put on pretend makeup and costume jewelry than wipe counters.
  • Wipe the flour dust from the sides of the cabinets and ask loudly whose fingerprints are all over the cabinets.  Agree when she declares the prints and smudges are the work of Murphy, who is a small gray cat without fingers.
  • Make dinner and eat dinner. Pull the cupcakes from the oven to cool. Play a little and then realize you better get the icing started because it is close to bedtime.
  • Take the mixer bowl out of the dishwasher.  It’s in the drying cycle so it’s hot but clean.  Curse your bad timing and slow dishwasher.  Follow this simple chocolate frosting recipe but use ¼ cup of black cocoa powder to make the frosting very dark.  The recipe is pinned on your SWEET NOMS board so you won’t ever forget it!
  • Unwrap the butter while she is washing her hands.
  • Let her measure and even out the cocoa and sugar. It’s her thing and she is REALLY good at measuring.
  • Pick out sprinkles from your epic sprinkle collection.  Having this many sprinkles doesn’t hurt anyone.  Pick purple of course.  Set up the sprinkles for her.  Ask her to wash her hands because she just swiped a handful of sprinkles and is licking her fingers.  Again.
  • Frost the cupcakes and let her decorate.  Since it takes her about a thousand years to decorate each cupcake, decorate the prettiest cupcakes for you to take to work so your colleagues have less toddler spit in their treats.
  • Agree that it is okay for “my take dis cupcake por my daddy.”  Pack a cupcake in a container so she can take it to her daddy.
  • Eat cupcakes for a bedtime snack.
  • Swiftly send the kid to do teeth, jammies, and stories because you are god awful exhausted and there is coco powder on your clean kitchen cabinets.  Bed is early tonight. Feet hurt..  Thank goodness you have cupcakes!
MMMM Cupcakes!

MMMM Cupcakes!

More Pottery… Labor Day Weekend

Labor day weekend always marks the start of college football. Time to start entertaining myself!

The PYOP studio where we held my sister’s bridal shower closed. It’s a tough business with inventory that can sit for ages. Fortunately, a new place just opened in Elizabethtown!

Artspress is more than just a pottery studio. They have an oxygen bar, laughter yoga, espresso and tea, art lessons, writing lessons, Reiki massage and more. The owner, Jeneva, is a kindred spirit who loves art as much as I do!

Lea is the detail-oriented plotter when painting pottery. She pencils in tiny details and researches quotes and symbols on my smartphone every time we paint. Once she took two days to complete one piece. I literally brought her back to the studio the next day to finish. Usually her pieces pay homage to a favorite fandom or genre and this weekend’s choice was no different. Artspress had a pie-shaped plate. The opportunities are endless! A Pi plate, a pizza plate… these ideas were passed over for the obvious choice – a Supernatural pie plate.

unfired

unfired

Supernatural Pie Plate

Finished product

Finished product

If you don’t get the reference, Supernatural is a TV show that you can watch on Netflix Streaming. In a nutshell, two brothers cross the country in an Impala, staying in tacky motel rooms and slaying demons, ghosts, and other, well, supernatural beings. One character likes pie a lot. It’s an endearing show and if you are mildly interested in the genre of fantasy TV shows you should check it out.

Speaking of fantasy/sci-fi TV show fandoms, yes, she is wearing a Firefly tee shirt.

Emmi made a set of measuring spoons and cups. Because she likes to bake and because the set is ADORABLE.

Measuring teacups

bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla

I needed something to look pretty enough for my desk at work to hold paper clips and binder clips. All I have are ugly plastic dip cups and they are stuck in a drawer behind me. After scouring the inventory I settled on a divided baby plate.

So zebra prints have been my thing since before animal prints were hip. I’ve always collected zebra stuff. At my last job I was never given a tape dispenser or stapler or scissors so I eventually tired of borrowing these tools from my coworkers and bought a set at Marshalls – zebra of course. Once I was established in an office again I brought my own tools along. It makes for a cute conversation started with customers.

I think the zebra print is easy to paint. This was my first attempt. But that may be because I stare at this pattern all the time.

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divided plate

bla bla bla bla bla bla

We ended our painting session and Jeneva gave us a quick laughter yoga session.

I’m a big believer in smiling to feel happy. I perfected the genuine fake smile as a waitress in college and I’ve utilized it ever since; the weird thing is that after a while, the fakeness fades and you really start to smile because you are cheerful. There was a recent study linking this phenomenon to Botox. It’s a chicken/egg debate in the psychological community whether smiling induces happiness or happiness induces smiling but I for one never considered injecting poison into my forehead until reading this article. They suggest that because you cannot frown after receiving the injections you actually develop a better overall mood. Of course it is possible you feel better because your forehead isn’t wrinkly and old looking. If you can’t afford Botox, Laughter Yoga is a good alternative.

Laugh Captain Jeneva lucked out because we three sisters are already at ease with one another and tend to laugh a lot. What can I say; funny is genetic. The interesting thing is that the laughter begins as an exercise without a joke. You just laugh. But it becomes a real giggle quickly as you make eye contact and practice and eventually your muscles and voice just take over. Having the session in a beautiful old house like the one where Artspress operates only helps.

Lea, Emmi, me, and Jeneva after laughter yoga

Good use of my time on the first football weekend of the season, eh?

 

 

 

 

 

Conversion Complete – I now read books made without paper

I feel like a traitor.

Books have been my longest and most stable friendship.  I remember reading stories before bed and then staying up late, paging through picture books.  When I was still very young, Mom read novels and chapter books out loud to us.  My early childhood is marked with weekly visits to story time at the library. One year, during my homeschooled middle school time when we kept track of such things, I read over 100 books.   In one year.  I can still read in the car without getting sick.  The year we unpacked my parents’ collection of sci-fi and fantasy paperbacks was the year I stopped hoping to have been adopted or switched at birth – clearly these people are related to me if they can invest in bookshelves of Anne McCaffrey novels.

My early sense of self was appropriated from Ramona Quimby and Laura Ingalls.  I yearned for a visit to Narnia and the Wump World and to have a special place like Terabithia.  But the most important memory I have of books is muscle memory – the coordination needed to hold a book in one hand, turning the dry, cheap pages of a paperback without tearing them.

Which is why I loved to hate on e-readers and tablets.

That was in the past.

What happened?

I got a smart phone.

It was time to update my phone.  My plan still did not include text messaging and my phone was an ancient model without a Qwerty keyboard.  I took the plunge and downloaded the appropriate apps and adjusted for a few months.

Then my husband foolishly bought me a Roku, and the next step was taken.

See, I already have a Netflix account, but my Roku came with a free trial of Amazon Prime.   I realized I was a perfect candidate for a cloud movie collection since I hate wires and don’t have a DVD player hooked up.  I no longer even have to connect my laptop to the TV to play a movie.  Another step was taken.

The first movie I bought came with a free sample of the novel on which it was based.

Then I realized that I suddenly and desperately needed to read Divergent.

And I didn’t want to drive to the bookstore or wait for the book to be shipped.

And I’m cheap and the Kindle version was heavily discounted.

And now I have a Kindle app on my phone and I have read more in the past 3 months than in the last year.

Now when I look at “real” books I feel guilty.  I hate to love my e-books.

My guilt was made worse the other night when I took my niece on her first trip to the library.  I told her all about the library in advance, describing the mountains of books that they have.  She reads a lot at home but for some reason she just has not made it to Mecca in the past two and a half years that she has been on this earth.

There are toys in the children’s section at LPL so she was understandably distracted by those, but once we focused on the board books she delved right in.  While she browsed and picked I made certain to pick out a few “big kid” books too.  Older picture books can have sturdier paper; safer for her rough movements.

I have not tried to buy any kids e-books for my niece to read, but I have downloaded a few freebies.  Her favorite is a simplistic story with cartoon illustrations and a hide-and-seek theme.  This underlines the problem with the e-reader.  Cheap, free “books” are overflowing the marketplace making selection of quality material challenging and time consuming.  This book is great for what I use it for – an easy distraction and a vehicle to prompt verbal skills and the concept of prediction.  It’s not the best example of predictive text.  It does no more to promote the use of prepositions than There’s a Wocket in my Pocket and it’s not has fun as the real life games and songs that we know can do the same thing.  The illustrations are uninspiring.  The kid just likes shat she can swipe the page with her finger.  Since I’m pretty sure she won’t be attending a Waldorf school, I’m not really worried about her ability to use technology.  I don’t think a digital book is an essential part of her personal library.

Am I missing something when I read books on my phone instead of buying the paper version?  Since I’m mostly reading dystopian YA trilogies, probably not.  It’s brain candy.  I don’t count it as “screen time” for myself because hey, I’m READING, and I know that people who read are smarter.  I like the convenience of always having my book and never having to hunt down a bookmark or (gasp) damage a book’s spine because no bookmarks are handy.  I can read at lunch and I can turn pages with one hand.  As an avid bibliophile and speed-reader, I don’t need to drink in the paper or cover; there are no illustrations in the books I read and I probably imagine them better than some underpaid artist who didn’t really read the book could come up with anyhow.  The thing I am missing is my desire to beat everyone I know over the head with my latest favorite book lend graciously with threat of death if unreturned  a cute “this book belongs to” sticker on the inside.  I wish I could lend my e-books to my friends and family they way I do with my “real” books.

I guess that’s not really my loss, is it?

Custom Pottery Bridal Shower

One of my issues with weddings is that they are expensive for everyone involved.  The last time I was a bridesmaid it cost me well over a thousand dollars.  Once you do the bridal shower, a gift for said shower, the bachelorette party, dress, shoes, hair and makeup, gift for the wedding, and possibly take a day off of work thanks to trendy wedding dates, you probably don’t want to look at the statistics on the success rate of marriages in the US.  You have a 50% chance that this was just a wasted effort and cost.  And you’re lucky to get a thank you note and possibly a crappy piece of jewelry to commemorate the whole fiasco.

Knowing I am in the “elope now or never get a sympathetic ear from me ever ever EVER about what stupid flowers/colors/shoes/food your future mother in law wants you to get” camp when it comes to weddings makes most people tread lightly around me when mentioning nuptials.  Look, you can invite me to your wedding but I won’t be happy about it, okay?

Still, it seems to fall on me to take care of things for my middle little sister as she prepares for her small wedding next month.  So I threw her a shower.

2014 Emmi's Wedding Baked goods1

I guess because I have to be different, or because it is such a small wedding that there aren’t even any attendants, or maybe because Emmi dislikes being the center of attention, we didn’t do the traditional shower with gifts.

Have you ever been to one of these paint-your-own pottery places?  The greenware (pottery that is already fired once) is layered on shelves and you pick a plate or figurine or whatever and paint it with special ceramics paint. (A quick lesson in ceramics: the paint is not paint but a glaze – liquid containing tiny bits of colorant and minerals that will actually melt into a smooth glass coating once the item is toasted in a kiln for several hours. ) There is more technique than skill involved in painting, but it is a fun and creative way to spend an afternoon.  I may or may not have a slight addiction to painting pottery.

My baby little sister Lea and I made invitations with a cute poem and invited the 20-odd guests to just come and make something for Emmi instead of bringing a gift along.  This solved my ethical hangup with showers: I’m already getting something for this greedy bride for the wedding so I have to get her a second gift for the shower, too?

We went to our favorite outfit, a great independent store called Star Glazers.  Hey had tables ready for us, balloons, and extra staff.  You can always bring your own food and drink.

So there is always a risk that people are terrible at following directions/using a paintbrush.  I made a Pinterest board to collect ideas and bounce them off of the bride.  CLICKY!

Was I successful in orchestrating a pottery class/party in which 20 women made coordinating ceramic dishes for a mutual friend?

You be the judge!

 

 

Pink Lemonade Cake Balls

I dislike weddings on principle.  They are expensive and selfish and wasteful.  When people say they are getting married, I think it’s good.  Monogamy has social, economic, and emotional benefits.  I’m married; I like it.  But when people say they are having a wedding, I’m like “why would you DO that?”

Okay, so my middle little sister Emmi is getting married.  Yay!  And she is having a wedding.  Blech!  But I love my sister so I said I’d help.  Plus she is sort of the anti-bridezilla because a. she loves that show and b. she hates being the center of attention.  I think she’s mostly doing the wedding thing because eloping is too exciting for her.  She’s not boring or anything; she’s just very low-key and anti-drama so anything that might step on people’s toes or whatever.  I’m not sure I know what that feeling is like, but I respect and admire her for it.

So Emmi declared that we were making all of the deserts for the wedding.  This was not surprising because anyone who is used to homemade desserts is likely to be picky about them.  My freezer has started to fill with delicious desserts.  I think I’ll share those with you!

The first delicious thing that is sitting in my freezer until the big day is PINK LEMONADE CAKE BALLS.

2014 Emmi's Wedding Baked goods

 

This cake is sweet and heavy.  I always mess with recipes like this one because I hate using processed food in my baking.  The original recipe calls for frozen lemonade concentrate, but I have real lemons and sugar on hand, so why would I go out of my way to thaw a tube of lemon juice and high fructose corn syrup?  I just estimated the amount of sugar and juice.

Me making this cake was like if Rachel Ray was using one of Sandra Lee’s recipes.  If you don’t know who Rachel Ray is, she’s controversial sometimes but mostly she cooks awesome food.  Not much of baker but she is a natural in the kitchen, instinctively substituting ingredients and mixing up flavors and finding inspiration everywhere.  If you don’t know who Sandra Lee is, good.  You are better off not knowing.

For the purpose of context: Sandra Lee is to Martha Stewart as Celine Dion is to Barbara Streisand.  A Canadian trollope who is too skinny to actually have eaten any of her own baking or cooking, Sandra Lee creates culinary abortions in her adorably coordinated kitchen.  Touting the phrase “semi-homemade” like that is even a thing, she cuts corners and creates sad semblances of food out of prepackaged mixes and processed foodstuffs.  Hey, I get it! You work forty hours a week, you have kids, you have Netflix, and you don’t want/have time to make it from scratch.  Just don’t expect me to be impressed.  Or to eat your Kwanzaa cake covered in corn nuts.  Ew.

Okay so I made a delicious cake using logical substitutions from this recipe.  I crumbled it up and added buttercream icing, lemon zest, lemon juice, and pink food coloring.  The resulting mixture is then rolled into balls and coated in yellow coating candy.

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Because this is for a wedding/I am a nut about food I make looking aesthetically pleasing, I added adorable straws!   I cut up the straws into thirds and dipped each one into the candy, then I stabbed the cake and used the straw as a handle for dipping. The trick with this candy coating is to add some Crisco to the chocolate, thinning it out to a smooth enrobing solution.

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Because the chocolate is thin, the bottom of the cake will peek through, so I settle each bon bon on an unmelted candy wafer.

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Some pink sanding sugar finishes each ball.

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It’s a small wedding and you are probably not invited.  Ha ha.