Sunday, September 30, 2007

Violet Birthday Cake

I love birthdays! Birthdays are my new motivation to practice cake decorating and make lots and lots of flowers. Flowers are nice. I've been wanting to make the violet cake in my Wilton book which uses cute little violets in two tones. This is my first detailed cake entry so I am going to share all the boring details: My two 9" round chocolate cake layers came out with enormous humps - if a cake is baked properly, it supposedly comes out nice and flat, no humps - so I sawed them flat with my fancy new cake leveler and filled the middle with pink buttercream frosting (I had to use pink because I had planned rather poorly and made too much pink frosting for another project, and not enough white frosting for the outside. oops).

Filling the cake was no big deal at all. I am getting pretty good at slathering a large mound of icing nice and flat. Applying the crumb coat however, proved to be much more of a challenge, which I attempted at midnight last night after Oktoberfest and football madness. I had a sudden burst of crafty energy and found myself whipping up a batch of frosting as D snoozed in the living room. So. Crumb coating is a clever technique where a thin layer of frosting is applied over the entire cake to cement those annoying little crumbs in, which creates a smooth base to apply the pretty layer of frosting that your guests will see. My crumb coat was pale green, also due to bad judgment in frosting quantity. Here's the crumb coat and pretty coat.

The violets are piped with a turn of the wrist using a deep-closed flower tip. The pale purple was done with stiff consistency icing, which made funny pokey bits. The darker violets are piped with thinned-down icing which turned out much better, with less pokiness (but took longer to dry). Gatsby participated in the cake festivities.

I think the birthday girl will like it, pink and green insides and all.

One more photo I had to share...D and I went out for brunch yesterday and I ordered a fancy Stuffed French Toast. It was delicious, but have you ever seen so much butter?! Good grief. There's even a third square of butter you can't see behind the front two pieces. Next time I'll have to ask them to put butter on the side.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Khaki Jacket

My first knitting-related post! At some point I'm planning to get around to putting up a finished projects gallery, but taking relatively good pictures takes time (and practice as I'm learning). I tried taking some sock photos but it was way too hot today and I gave up after a while.

Right now I'm working on this cute sweater jacket (or so I hope, once it's completed). I'm not a big fan of sweaters knit in pieces because of all the seaming required, but I've screwed up many projects trying to take shortcuts that this time I'm actually following the pattern to avoid later headache (adjusting the pattern to knit in the round or fewer pieces isn't that difficult, but given my impatience it's probably not a good idea).

The pattern is Drops Design No. 103-1 by Garnstudio and I'm knitting it with some Misti Pima Cotton & Silk in khaki-olive that I bought in Columbus when I visited last year. The yarn is super soft and feels great against the skin.

The back piece is done and I'm working on the left front panel. The pattern offered instructions in two gauges, and I'm doing the smaller gauge version. Hopefully it looks as good as the grey model version. More knitting updates to come!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Downtown Columbus

Downtown Columbus is slowly growing on me. The Arena District is just around the corner, as are the Shorth North shops and restaurants. Driving as a main means of transportation is taking some getting used to, and I miss the subway a LOT.

However, there has been plenty to see and do around here on weekends and the weather is still warm and sunny. I've been trying to remember to take pictures to post for family and friends, but have only managed to collect a few.

Last weekend we stopped by the Goodale Arts Festival in the park, and picked up a few things at the North Market farmer's market. It's hard to resist the goodies at Omega bakery (leek and cheddar buns!) and jeni's ice cream- I'd heard about this place from several people and it definitely lives up to its name. Yum.

D and I have been at this coffee shop a few times and I think it's starting to count as one of our regular spots now. It's half restaurant/lounge, half coffee house, with free wireless so you can sip your coffee and catch up on facebook gossip.

Today I ventured out to explore the downtown area south of our apartment. I walked by the Statehouse and Macy's at City Center Mall (sad and empty, closing in November) and then wandered over to the Columbus Metropolitan Library to sign up for my new library card. The library itself is a beautiful old building contructed in 1904. It was absolutely massive and filled with hours of entertainment - I was inside for about 3 hours and walked away with an huge armful of dvds, cds, sheet music*, cake and knit books and some fiction. Hoorah for free entertainment!

*I bought a second hand keyboard last night, that's what the sheet music is for. The Columbus Library has supplied me with '20 Piano's Greatest Hits' for practice. Given that I haven't played in over 10 years, D will probably not be hearing beautiful music any time soon - for now it will be rusty practicing most likely accompanied by occasional tantrums about the loss of finger dexterity.

New crafts, new city

Welcome to my blog! I recently moved to Columbus, Ohio from Toronto and find myself with quite a lot of free time on my hands as I wait for my work papers to come through. To keep boredom at bay, I'm putting together this blog to share my crafty projects with other crafters out there, and to expose my obsessive craftiness to friends back home who may be curious to know how I am spending my time these days.

This move has given me time for a bunch of things I've been wanting to try: cake decorating, upholstery, and piano lessons. Starting with cakes, I went and bought myself a ton of decorating supplies last week in a fit of excitement. Since one cannot eat endless cakes and buttercream on their own, I found a volunteer gig baking birthday cakes for hospice patients. Yesterday I made my first cake, a banana layer cake with vanilla buttercream frosting, and dropped it off for the birthday girl - hopefully she enjoyed it.

It was originally a two-layer 9" round cake, but I bought the wrong size cake board and box and had to trim it down to an 8" square. The hardest (and most time consuming) part was covering the cake - I have a newfound respect for real bakers who can decorate cakes super speedily. I kept seeing crumbs unearthing in the buttercream and had to slather it with more buttercrema to patch it up. The roses weren't too difficult to make (with practice) but because my icing had a slightly grainy consistency, all my piping looked a tad raggedy - see on the borders and rose petals? Next time I'll whip it longer and add a little more liquid to see if it helps. I'm happy with this cake, even though it looks a little cheesy. But it's definitely tasty and getting a cake on your birthday is always nice!