Category: What to Make

My Kitty Ishtar and Red Wine Velvet Cake

My Kitty Ishtar and Red Wine Velvet Cake

As I get older, the ties to home fade and today I learned that my kitty Ishtar has passed away. I’m so, so, so sad. She was a skittish cat, but she loved me and felt safe with me. I was the only one who could pick her up. When I arrived home she would show up outside my window and meow to be let in. From that moment until I left to go back, she would stay in my room, purring on my bed, sleeping right in the crook of my arm. My mom would say, ‘As soon as she hears your voice, she comes running to the door.’

It’s hard for me to do much today and it’s hard to write or read, so I made a cake for Ishtar. The most beautiful and spectacular cake I could make to celebrate her life.

And red wine and baking in a warm kitchen on a cold winter day is such a perfect combination that I decided to make a:

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The recipe comes from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perlman. The cookbook calls for a three-layer filled cake and since I don’t have the pans or 20 friends, I divided the measurements by three to make a small cake. But YOU don’t have to do it because the online version on the blog does it for you here. I love Deb Perlman’s recipes and this is such a good blog, full of recipes and stories.

The Smitten Kitchen's Red Wine Chocolate Cake
The Smitten Kitchen’s Red Wine Chocolate Cake

 

I had most of the ingredients, but I needed the wine and had run out of baking soda. (Baking soda is great for cleaning the caulk in the bathroom.) So I went to the Persian bodega around the corner from my place and I found this on the shelf next to a large selection of table salt:

Whaaa?

 

I asked the guy if it was sodium bicarbonate and he looked at the box for a long time and finally said, “It’s food soda.”

“I’ll take it,” I said.

The cake was easy to make and I listened to a dramatic reading of the Illiad on Radio 4 and while it was cooling, I got busy making the decorations for the cake.

I only started making cakes a couple of years ago when I met Davide and I’ve never decorated a cake. The great thing about beautiful cakes is that they can’t be precious. It’s funny how you can spend so much time making a cake beautiful when the whole point of the cake is that you eat it. A cake only lasts for a specific amount of time and making one feels like the perfect and most appropriate way to celebrate my loved one, Ishtar.

So this is what I did:

I printed out some pictures of Ishtar and drew some letters on coloured card stock, cut them all out and taped them to toothpicks.

I also got some gorgeous edible gold pearls from the Persians.

 

And finally, voila!

 

So when Davide comes home tonight, he’ll have Red Wine Ishtar Cake waiting for him and we’ll eat it and celebrate Ishtar and remember her.

ishtar

New Year’s Resolutions 2015

New Year’s Resolutions 2015

Goals. Resolutions. Plans. Projects. I can hear different voices in my head, that this idea of productivity is a capitalist endeavour, that unless we are doing we are seen as lazy. We must be productive, we must produce, we must be active, we must work. And I am a lover of idleness. Of keeping still, of thinking, of watching, external passiveness with a storm of internal thought. I suppose that’s why I can work from home and not be crippled by the solitude.

But still. That idle simmer of languid thought builds up and it needs somewhere to go, and that’s where the doing comes in, the action and it feels so good when it comes out.

I like resolutions for the New Year because you have a whole year to do it, a whole year for your desires to cook and pop. You make them in the midst of that colour switch from the gold, silver and coloured lights of the holiday season to the sunny white, pale blue and coming green of the new year. Everything seems clean ahead of you. And with that pen and piece of paper, all ready to write down your goals for the year, you have the power to create, to make things happen. It’s just between you and the paper, a conversation with yourself and your secret desires.

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This is the second year that I’ve decided to put my resolutions in a book instead of keeping them as a list in my notebook. In book form, it exists as something separate from the rest of my outpourings of emotions, memories and to-do lists that fill my notebook. I kept the 2014 book on the mantle to collect dust, but every now and then I’d flip through the pages. Surprisingly, even without being completely conscious of it, I managed to do them all. I put in some easy ones like ‘get married’ (the date was already set) but there were other ones that I did like take up jogging (I managed to run a 5k race) and start a blog (hello) which makes me feel like I accomplished something, or least took myself for my word. Even if I didn’t do them all well (after the 5k race I stopped running and starting eating cake when I began working in a bakery), I still did them and that’s a good feeling.

So this year, I wanted to do it again in a book and I used the little notebooks that we made for our wedding. (I told you how to do it here.) I like the way the small book fits in my hand and I like turning the pages.

Here they are:

  1. Write. This is always number 1 every year. But this year I’d like to publish more and get paid for it. Finish more stories. Join a writing group.
  2. Poems. Make a list of books read in 2015. This is a fun one! (And I can use one of the little notebooks for it.)
  3. Keep blogging and let it evolve if it wants to go in a different direction.
  4. Make a writer’s website.
  5. Learn Indesign.
  6. Do Pilates/Yoga.
  7. Make a quilt. An easy one with big pieces of fabric.Do more readings. Perform new material.

Having them written into something that I can hold makes me think that each goal is an object, something I can hold, a little baby to grown. You should do it, too. I think it will make you feel good.

YAY It’s Time to Make an Advent Calendar

YAY It’s Time to Make an Advent Calendar

Let’s count down the days to the end of the year with an advent calendar! Let’s get ready for Christmas and winter with a bang! Thinking about it is raising up my adrenaline and I’m gagging with excitement!

Advent calendars made me so happy when I was little. I loved those 2D dollhouses that you opened up the windows and got to see what was going on inside. Everyday was special when you had a window to open.

The fun thing about making your own advent calendar is that you can put anything you want behind the windows. What are you thinking about, what do you want to have happen, what do you want to see?  I wanted to make mine a home and contain all of the best memories of this year, all of me and D’s secret desires and dreams for the futre.

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Let me show you how I made it.

10 Ways to Have a Beautiful, Crazy, and Colourful Christmas

10 Ways to Have a Beautiful, Crazy, and Colourful Christmas

This will be our second Christmas away from family, so I want to make home feel like something exciting and important is about to happen. The end of the year is going to be about dreams, colour, light and scented hallucinogenic wonder.

So here I am wearing flannel, listening to Pink Martini’s holiday album and thinking about the ways I’m going to make this happen.

Here are TEN projects so far:

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1. This literal and sensorial orange garland

Orange Garland
From Free People

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. These advent calendar ideas on Oh Happy Day. I especially like this one:

From Straße Adventskalender

3. Look at these Christmas trees made out of pasta!

Handmade vintage inspired craft tutorial by ismoyo: pasta Christmas trees
From Ismoyo

 

4. Love these colourful candles and psychedelic reindeer.

From Nicety

5. You can make an easy peace wreath and help combat gloval upheaval with benevolent brain waves from the doorway.

peace wreath on a red door
From The Iowa Gardener

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Send out cards like these! Watch Out Card Set

 

 

6. All you need is some melted white chocolate and green sprinkes for this one. Is this what Christmas in Italy looks like?

Christmas Strawberries!

 

7. You can make these kickass paper roses and go crazy decorating your Christmas presents.

Eco Friendly Holiday Ornament Upcycled Book Pages

8. If you hoard empty jars like I do, these Christmas snowglobes would be a cinch to make using trinkets from the charity shops.

From Dandy von Nutzen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Lovers of exotic animals might want to try this project on for size.

From Curbly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Old fashioned bird ornaments with tinsel and cupcake liners from the lovely Aunt Peaches.

From Aunt Peaches

 

DIY: One Egg for Easter

Colouring eggs for Easter never got me excited and I was happy to let go of that tradition once I turned into a pre-pubescent obsessed with the Beatles.

But my cousin Angelisa in Oregon dyed some eggs with her kids using natural dye and I thought they looked neat. So for this post, I’m getting into a mental time machine and retreating to my childhood. Vroom.

I’m going to dye one egg with one colour.

FYI: The Kitchn has a great post on naturally dying eggs with a list of different dyes you can make using yellow onions, red onions, beets, and others. Check it out here.

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This is what I did:

1. I went to the farmer’s market just below my flat and I got a red cabbage.

2. I chopped up about a cup’s worth (half a pint) and put it in a saucepan filled halfway with water and turned up the heat. Once it started to boil, I covered it and brought it down to a simmer and left it on the stove for about 30 minutes. I wanted a really nice deep purplish red colour for the dye.

I only needed enough dye for one egg, so I didn’t fill up the entire pan.

3. I removed it from the stove then brought it to the living room in front of the open window to let it cool down to room temperature. I looked outside the window for a little while.

4. Once cool, I strained the liquid into a bowl and added a tablespoon of vinegar.

Look at that purple! I was careful and didn’t splash any on myself.

 

5. I put a hardboiled egg in a jar (which I boiled while waiting for the cabbage to cool) and covered it up with the dye and vinegar mixture. I stuck it in the fridge and then tried to think of something else. I let it stay there overnight.

6. Easter morning I jumped out of bed to go to the fridge to look at my egg.

IMG_1359

And I made a pretty egg! It got a bit scratched from taking it out with the spoon, but I love its banged up body.