hot hot hot

You know when it's so hot that the thought of eating anything makes you feel a bit nauseous? That's what it's been like here the past few days. In the 90s with not a hint of movement in the air. It's going to be like this for the rest of the week but with high humidity, too. Great (said with sarcasm).

Our house does not have air-conditioning and that's usually OK. It didn't used to get this hot in the summer except maybe for a week or so in August. And the house is perfectly designed for air circulation—every window has it's opposite in a direct line across the house—front to back and side to side. If we open the windows at night the cool air flows through the house; then we close them up after the sun fully rises to keep the cool air inside. That works pretty well, although not enough so I can work in my studio which is an attic-like space directly under the roof. I can be pretty portable so I'll move to another room for a few days.

Here's a picture from the brunch I served on Sunday. Banana bread, cranberry-orange scones, and a big bowl of fruit salad. We have leftover fruit and I think I can manage to eat some of that today.


Will post pictures of my vintage finds from my Saturday trip to the flea market over the next few days. I hope to get some photographing done later today.


whole lotta bakin' going on

I guess everyone's July 4th weekend is busy (at least those of you in the States, that is)—mine is no exception. Tomorrow is the flea market trip and we've been invited to our neighbor's barbecue/fireworks extravaganza later in the evening. On Sunday my friend Jenny is coming to visit with her little boy and I'm serving brunch.

So, today I'm taking a break from sewing to clean my house and do some baking (black bottom cupcakes to bring to the barbecue and our picnic tomorrow), and banana bread for breakfast on Sunday. I need to run to the grocery and pick up some things for our lunch and fruit for Sunday's fruit salad. Lots to do. So, if I don't get the chance to post again before Monday, have a great weekend!

Here's the yummy cupcake recipe—

Black Bottom Cupcakes

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1 large egg
1⁄3 cup sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line muffin tins with fluted paper cups.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla and beat together until well blended.

To make the filling, combine the cream cheese, egg, sugar and salt in a separate mixing bowl and beat well to blend. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Fill each muffin cup one-half full with chocolate batter and top with 1 teaspoon of the cream cheese filling (use 1⁄2 teaspoon for miniature cupcakes). Sprinkle the batter with sugar.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes for miniature cupcakes and 25 to 30 minutes for regular cupcakes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 2 dozen regular cupcakes, or 3-4 dozen miniature cupcakes.


desperately seeking perfection

The other day someone asked me how I can part with my creations, that they're too pretty to sell. It happens a lot when you first start out making things. You fall in love with your own work and have trouble when it's time to send it on its way. You get over that pretty quickly, simply because you run out of space to keep it all. And the materials used to make them. Ask any quilter or sewer about their fabric stash and you'll see what I mean :)

And, no matter how perfect you think your first efforts are, you're going to get better. There isn't a single thing I make that hasn't evolved over time. I'm constantly seeking perfection (perhaps not desperately, but that did make a good headline). Not just in the finished product but in the process of making it. There will always be ways to work more smoothly and faster, and new and cheaper ways to source the materials used. You may not think about those things at first but you will.

I've been thinking a lot lately about college and some of the influences, inspiration, and life lessons I learned from my professors. On the first day of a ceramics course the professor was showing us how to use the potters wheel, and threw a perfect pot. And we all gasped when he smashed it flat after completing it. I can't remember the exact words he used but it was something to the effect that "If you can make something once, you can do it again, and even better the second time". He was also teaching us to not be afraid of the materials and the process, which seemed daunting at the time. It was a dramatic lesson and one I haven't forgotten.

But back to sending your babies out into the world. I feel that if you've found my website and are spending your hard-earned money to buy something I've made, then we have some kind of connection already. And I feel better sending my creations to their new home because I know you'll love and take good care of them. They're going to friends after all!