Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Holidays Were Here... So I Kept Knitting

I already showed the colorful scarf for my gift exchange here, together with the beginning of my neutral scarf for a coworker.  But here's the finished product!

Well, almost finished... I still needed to weave in the ends in that photo.  But it came out great and he loved it.  I boxed it up all nice with a bow and wrapping, and made it pretty... and then the next Monday found out that he couldn't wear it.  I was mortified, thinking he might be allergic to wool, but no.  He couldn't wear it because his wife liked it so much, she stole it!  Now that's a compliment!

Meanwhile, as soon as I got done with the scarf, I started in (with the same wool) on a cowl for a friend of ours.  Every year, we go to this couple's holiday party, and every year we exchange gifts.  This year, for the wife at least, I decided to go handmade.  The husband got bourbon.

This was a new one for me, and it used ribbing, cables, seed stitch, and a honeycomb pattern.  I didn't realize it before I started, but it was listed as an intermediate pattern, so I was pretty proud of myself for nailing it, even if it was really time consuming.

I had to try it on for good measure.

Yup, cozy warm!

Oh, and I went handmade with Eric too, but not something I made.  Something from an Israeli artist at the Handmade Artists Shop.

Honeybee cufflinks!  He loves 'em.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Not as Simple as Apple Pie

With the holidays happening, and parties to attend, I was compelled to try something I'd been wanting to attempt for a while... Bouchon Bakery's Palet D'Or, the invention of Thomas Keller and his pastry chef, Sebastien Rouxel.  I've got that cookbook, after all, thanks to Eric, and I've sort of been working my way through it, though I've made pitstops to go back to awesome recipes I've already done.  (I've done the better nutters twice, the chocolate, praline, and cocoa nib tart four times, and the caramel nut tart and chocolate chunk and chip cookies more times than I can remember).

To be honest, they're all awesome.  Every single one has been a hit.  The only miss was really last summer when I redid the apricot flan tart as a peach flan tart and it wasn't absolutely stellar (with apricots, it was amazing as usual).  I think the peaches were too wet compared to apricots, and it made the flan a little weird.  In order for Eric to try it, though, I had to alter it - he's allergic to apricots, poor guy.

Anyway, back to the Palet D'Or.  Literally:  gold disc.

In real life?  A rich two-layer devil's food cake with thin layers of melted (and re-hardened) semisweet chocolate, rich chocolate cream and rich chocolate ganache glaze.  Lots of chocolate.  Lots of heavy cream.  Lots of egg.  A little sugar.

And gold leaf.

Holy crow.

I actually ordered gold leaf from a supplier in Syracuse, and I'm glad I did.  While it's obviously not necessary for anything but presentation, it just really completes the look and makes it a showpiece.

So, this is what is pictured in the cookbook.

And I think I did a damned fine job, especially for my first try.

I only had a round platter in white, which I wanted for contrast, so to avoid the whole thing looking like a weird eyeball, Eric suggested the plating idea.  It was such a hit at the party!  More of a hit, though?

How it tasted.  Look at this.

Not the prettiest picture with all the remnants strewn about, but gorgeous to anyone who tasted it.  It was amazing.  No other word for it.  So amazing that Eric, who's generally not a fan of chocolate cake nearly lost his eyes when they bugged out of his head while trying it.  So amazing that our friends, the party hosts, removed the piece that was left to keep fro themselves and give me back the platter when I was leaving.

Nothing like people appreciating your food when you bake.  Nothing at all like it.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Personalized Disney... by Me!

Back when I was planning my wedding in 2007/2008, I became friends with an online community of women all planning their weddings for the same month and year.  They're all over the US, and one's even in Canada.  A sizable group of us are still friends, and some of us have met and become friends in person as well.

And for the holidays, we do a secret Santa gift exchange.

My recipient this year happens to be a former Disney employee, who still loves all that is Disney.  Loves.

So for her gift, I got her Disney fabric, Disney ribbon, Disney stickers, Disney buttons, and even some non-Disney stuff!

Also, she likes unicorns.

In my travels, and while shopping for her gifts, I found that apparently Minnie Mouse has dressed as many princesses... but never a unicorn!  Not one I could find anyway.  Well, of course I had to remedy that.

Behold... the one and only Minniecorn!

I used this drawing I found online as a basis for Minnie's shape and stance and angles, but I did draw it freehand, as you'll notice if you take a look for inconsistencies.  It was so fun to create!  And I love that my friend will own a piece of Disney fan-art that will never exist anywhere else.

Besides, you know me & handmade.
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