Monday, January 26, 2009

hummingbird cupcakes

I told my mom that I made some cupcakes yesterday, and she didn't believe me.

she said that she saw no such evidence on the blog. (reasonable of her to assert, given my grave propensity to extravagant cupcake baking lies).

so here's the visual evidence.

hummingbird cupcake with pineapple cream cheese frosting

they were hummingbird cupcakes - a cake from the South that includes pineapple, banana, cinnamon, and pecans (though I left the pecans out in these). for frosting, I made a pineapple cream cheese frosting. I'm not sure if I like them - they have a spongy dense texture and a pleasant taste. without the pecans, they might need a bit more pep - maybe some orange zest or orange extract?

Friday, January 23, 2009

baby quilt addition

I made a baby quilt for the son of some coworkers. it started as a log cabin variant, but I abandoned that plan two blocks in. I then decided to make a plus-sign tessellation pattern. (I don't know the proper name, as I've also seen it referred to as a cross quilt, safety quilt, and red cross quilt. So I will go with the mathematical naming.) Anyway, I nearly abandoned this idea as well, because I didn't like how the first few blocks were coming together. Ultimately, I continued with it, and I am happy with how it turned out.

The picture is not great, as the tropical splendor that has visited Colorado all week and enabled six straight days of sandal wearing appears over, and the sun has decided to hide behind clouds all morning.

plus sign baby quilt

The color scheme is loosely inspired by the backing fabric. I picked this up at a thrift store for a buck. I personally like the octopus with sailor hat a lot.

back of plus sign quilt

I decided to quilt it in a pattern that would go with the backing fabric - some waves. Blue thread on top, white thread underneath. I just freehanded the design in chalk and sewed over the lines. It was easy to quilt as well. You can see the quilting a bit better here:

detail of wave quilting on plus sign quilt

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

cupcake day

I made some white cupcakes with lemon and topped them with some buttercream. pretty average, honestly. maybe I should have fully committed to the lemon with lemon frosting.

lemon cupcake with buttercream

Monday, January 19, 2009

Baby's First Security Checkpoint

the customer reviews on this Playmobil toy are pretty entertaining.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

the magic of the half batch and quarter batch

while I love to bake, I don't like cooking much and rarely plan meals. as a result, I have been known to just wander around the grocery store trying to figure out what to make for dinner, and leaving with bizarre non-meal results. Earlier in the week, I left with blueberries, sour cream, and lettuce and ending up scavenging some old lasagna out of the freezer for dinner. but on Friday, my ill-fated shopping paid off when I decided I wanted to bake.

I ended up making muffins using this recipe that involved both blueberries and sour cream, adding a streusel on top. one of the recipe's main virtues is that it was easily quartered, with a reasonable yield of nine muffins. I like the texture of baked goods made from mixes and most of my cupcakes are built on a box mix. but these muffins highlighted a key virtue of baking from scratch: the fraction of a batch. nine muffins is so the perfect number of muffins. and they were pretty tasty as well.

blueberry muffin

tonight I decided to bake some more, using a recipe with a 12 cupcake yield. I was going to make the recipe from 500 Cupcakes, but didn't have enough eggs, so I settled on this one. I don't generally like Martha Stewart recipes, and indeed these were not as good as the other banana cupcakes I have made. but the honey cinnamon buttercream is quite tasty.

banana cupcake with honey cinnamon buttercream

no sewing in a while. I keep spending my evenings on work, which sounds horrible but is something I have actually been enjoying more or less. for those interested in sewing, let me direct you to the Common Threads quilt bee, where my fellow quilt swappers have been making some totally awesome blocks for my month of the bee.

(and yes, I am totally into the handheld baking photo styling lately.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


no crafting, but a bit of baking.

chocolate chocolate chip cookie

I made chocolate chocolate chip cookies, with a handful of peanut butter chips tossed in too. it's a variant of my usual pudding cookie base, the only way I've found to make a crazy soft cookie in a high altitude.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

walrus cupcakes

Avid blog readers will know that I love an excuse to make animal cupcakes.

So I made these for a party...walrus cupcakes!

walrus cupcakes

the cake is Swiss chocolate with chocolate chips.

the frosting is chocolate cream cheese.

walrus cupcake

they are easy to make.
1. frost the cupcake.
2. use a pastry bag to pipe an oval for Walrus's mouth/muzzle/snout.
3. add a mini chocolate chip for a nose and two slivered almonds for tusks.
4. pipe on two eyes with a pastry bag and use two mini chocolate chips for pupils.

walrus cupcakes

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


So I think this is my 400th blog post. I would celebrate it with fanfare, but it's not really my style. Plus I probably actually technically passed 400 a while back. I deleted a swath of blog a few years ago while in an anti-blog mood and only recent reincorporated some (but not all) of that old content.

but I will take this minor milestone and the beginning of the new year to do a bit of reflection and prospection.

so 2008 was apparently the year of the baby quilt, since I made ten.
baby quilt mosaic of 2008

I think this year I will focus on more larger quilts, which probably is a big lie as I have a baby quilt in progress right now.

I also developed my vintage fabric stash...
vintage red fabricvintage fabricturtle fabricbright green vintage fabric with yellow flowers

I should probably dial back on that too for the following year, or maybe just sew more to justify the investment...

The growth of my fabric stash exceeded that of the stock market. Here's just what I bought in the last week...
new fabric
In my defense, two of the three were on sale for $4 a yard.

For more of my fabric thoughts, be sure to visit True Up. Kim was kind enough to ask me to share my perspective on the best fabrics released in 2008.

Here's something coming up soon...fabric for my month of the Common Threads quilt bee.
fabric story in progress

I'm not committed to all of these yet, but I need to decide soon. Some of those middle grays fight a bit, I think. The putty one is a lot more taupe than I hoped. It is so hard to tell precise colors from a computer monitor when ordering.

2009 is going to be a year of color for me, I have decided. I am going to try hard to rely less on traditional color schemes and be more creative in how I combine colors. I plan to use a lot more gray and mustard and maybe chartreuse. I do wish that fabric manufacturers offered a greater variety of colors. it is surprisingly hard to find gray fabrics and specific tones like that red coral one on the right. (That one was a great score - I found it at Fabric Fair. It's a discontinued Kona cotton, and since it was a smidge faded on the top edge, they sold it to me at half off. It's exactly the shade of muted light red I was looking for.)

Monday, January 05, 2009

disaster cakes

one of my aunts makes a delightful Oreo dessert for many family gatherings that is so notorious that it is often referred to as Aunt JoAnn Dessert.

my Aunt Kathryn has no such notorious dish, but in documenting dessert trends, she seems to favor dense cakes with nuts rather than chocolate cakes and such. so I am classifying my latest baking effort as an Aunt Kathryn Dessert, a deviation from my usual baking trends of triple chocolate cupcakes with chocolate filling.

I saw this almond bundt cake on this blog. it relies most centrally on a can of almond pie filling.

I decided to use it in my new mini tea cake baking pan.

alas, disaster.

I am already mentally composing my angry note to Nordicware, as I am suspecting that this pan is simply fatally flawed.

I greased the pan and floured it.

And I waited until the pan cooled to remove the cakes.

and I could get less than half out.
tea cake disaster

and the ones that did come out looked like shapeless blobs.
tea cake disaster

so this is what I ended up with, a container of mini cake nubbins.
tea cake disaster

the cake, however disastrous in mechanics and appearances, is really delicious. I feel cake is almost always enhanced by frosting or icing, but this cake is so good that I think it holds its own without. plus I like to delude myself that cake nubbins have significantly fewer calories than cake.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

a quilt block

I was going to wait to post this until I could get better light for a picture, but it's a gray day and I am just ridiculously bored. it's like time has slowed down around here.

anyway, I finished my block for Oiyi's month on the Common Threads quilt bee. She's making a heart-themed red and white quilt for her adorable daughter Melody. she requested that we all incorporate a heart into the block. I decided to go with 16 hearts.

heart quilt block

Thursday, January 01, 2009

some updates

So I am back from my holiday in Michigan.

a new friend for my apartment:
glass penguins of death
part of the burgeoning penguin posse. my parents gave me the one on the left, the one on the right is from my aunt. the one from my parents is so large and heavy that it has always seemed like the kind of weapon of convenience used by an assailant in a Law & Order episode. The new guy is Polish. I think they look great together.

check out my fab Viking utensils I got for Christmas:
viking spoons
My mom received a set when she got married, which my sister and I have always coveted. So she hunted the internet to find us our own sets.

my sister was canning for Christmas - pear butter and onion garlic jam. she designed those fab labels too.
pear butter and onion jam

tonight I made chocolate chip cookies. I love sweets.
chocolate chip cookie