Friday, January 29, 2010

Cookie of the Month - Iced lemon

January almost ended before I got my cookies of the month baked for the Nelsons.  Yep, it's a new year and new cookie of the month recipients.  New yet old.  The Nelsons were the high bidders in 2008, too.  So that means now I want to keep things interesting by coming up with a new recipe now and then.  This month I tried Iced Lemon Cookies using a hybrid of several lemon cookie recipes.

Here are the ingredients:
Makes 4 dozen

4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. grated coriander
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups butter
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp. lemon extract
1 tsp. vanilla

3 cups confectioner's sugar
3 tablespoons lemon zest
juice of two lemons
milk to obtain desired viscosity

Mix dry ingredients together:  flour, baking soda, salt, and coriander.
Add the finely grated lemon zest.
Whisk together.
In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar...

until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, lemon extract, and vanilla.
Mix until well combined.
Slowly beat in the flour mixture.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoons or make slightly rounded balls and place two inches apart on cookie sheet.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes.
While cookies are baking, whisk together confectioner's sugar, lemon zest, and the juice from the lemons you used for your zest.
You may need to add a little milk
to get your icing thin like a glaze.
When the cookies have cooled, spread a teaspoon of icing on each cookie.  Have you ever been to a Krispy Kreme store and seen the doughnuts passing underneath the waterfall sheets of glaze?  This is the contraption I envision would be helpful for coating these cookies.
Either way, the results are nummy.  The glaze dries and these are luscious little nuggets of lemony goodness.  Although mine are plain, you could also sprinkle them with yellow sugar or nonpareils  before the glaze dries. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pink, Turquoise, Atomic? It's Mid-Century!

Keaton had a day off school on Monday and was persistent with his suggestion that we go "thrift bombing" all day.  He loves to look for old game systems or noise making electronic toys that he can dismantle or sample sounds from -- all this to make chip music.  Anyway, we didn't spend all day, but we did hit a couple of places that I hadn't been to in 15-20 years where I found this very mid-century, very vintage lamp.  How about those sputnik style atomic beads on the metal stems?  It even looks like it's sitting on a rocket ship base.  I think this lamp would go perfectly with the vintage radio from my November 7th post.

Check out those amoebic, spacey, pink shapes with the gold painted stars in the middle.   They look like asteroids or galaxies.   The American people were fascinated with the space race in the late 50s  and early 60s and our furniture reflected it.  The gold paint used in so much of the decor from that era was usually at least 22 karat gold.

Add a turquoise fiberglass lampshade and you have the quintessential late 50s living room lamp.  George, Jane, Judy, Elroy and Astro would love it.  Maybe they shop on Etsy...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Grinding - And I Don't Mean Coffee

As the school board president, I was a member of the new dance committee at the high school.  It seems that the contemporary style of dancing among high schoolers has taken a turn for the salacious and without going into the gory details, boys now dance behind their partner holding her waist or hips... and things can get much more explicit from there.  The kids call it grinding.  Our police officers call it bordering on sexual assault.  The parents who have seen it, call it outrageous.  This is not your typical "dirty dancing" of the late 80s... no indeed.  This kind of dancing would make Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey blush.

Over the years, I have spoken to my own teenagers and to other students about this current style of dancing.  They all admit it can be uncomfortable and go too far.  Many students have been offended and disgusted and refuse to attend the school dances while others insist this is just the way kids dance these days and it doesn't hurt anyone.  It is a divisive issue.  I think it may contribute to the increase we are seeing in accusations of sexual harassment by our high school girls.  It's certainly not the only reason, but if guys are allowed to touch girls in this way on the dance floor... well, I think it might just be adding to the confusion.

The dance committee is trying to find a happy medium between the kids who are so disgusted they won't attend the dances and the kids who hike up their dresses, take off their shirts and simulate sex all night.  (Sorry, I know this is my happy creative blog...)  The committee is not out to ban dancing or even grinding.  Just the extremes.  Grinding's been around forever.  Don't tell me couples through the ages haven't been doing their share of "pressing body  parts together" even in the old traditional styles of dancing.  It's just that it seems more blatant with the guy standing behind the girl who sometimes actually bends completely forward and places her hands on the floor.  WHAT?!  Yep.  Let me tell you, don't ever serve on a school board if you can't handle talking explicitly about things that most people wouldn't bring up in polite society.  And believe me, I'm trying to tone this down.

Is this about old people who don't understand "kids these days" just the way people were outraged over Elvis working his pelvis in the 60s?  Maybe - but is there a line that shouldn't be crossed?  This is a high school dance - not a club.  What is considered indecent?  And it's not just adults who object - however kids who are offended are usually peer pressured out of speaking up.  Everyone wants to be cool in high school.

Keeping a sense of humor helps and I want to thank my oldest son, Lars for sharing this video with me.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Wedding Decorator Strikes Again!

There was a wedding in the family yesterday.

My sweetheart niece, Lauren, married
her boyfriend, now husband, Ricardo.

They were married in the Unitarian Church in Mequon that used to be an octagon barn.  It is a warm and rustic building with a high ceiling in the chapel.

I was enlisted to help with the decorating.  Their colors were black, white, and sangria (a burgundy rose).  These door decorations looked like angels to my husband.

I thought it was time to recycle.  I had these perfectly lovely bunches of flowers from Lars (my son) and Spring's wedding.

Pull off the heads of the purple roses and replace with the heads of pink orchids -- add a deep rose colored bow, touch up the ribbons with an iron and voila! 

New arrangements!

Perfect for the tops of these "standards" that Larry made for me using some big cans, dowels and a bit of concrete.

The standards guided the guests into the chapel.

The octagon chapel was a beautiful space with it's high, vaulted ceiling and wood paneling everywhere.  It didn't need much decorating, but I thought a few touches might be in order.

Since I spotted a pulley system hanging from the ceiling above the alter, I started to get ideas.  I wanted something simple and elegant and remembered I had three new Chinese paper lanterns in my inventory.

I decided to hang tulle netting from each lantern and tie the tails in a knot with some orchids.  This seemed Asian to me. 

I remember a photo from Larry's mission days in Japan showing some kites with tails similar to this.  It just seemed the right design for the occasion, the room, and the family.  This grouping of lanterns was hung from a wooden triangle and strung up via the pulley.  The trio was anchored with two swags tied back to the wall.

I did a "standard issue" curtain
to frame up the cake table.

But what did I do with this - a fat book of black and white print scrapbooking papers...?

There were two big windows looking into the kitchen and since there was a lot of chaos in there, I decided to cover the window panes with paper.  Each one had a "doily" with a picture of something representing love and marriage from love birds to a vintage cake topper.  One of the readings from the wedding ceremony spoke of love and used the word "always" many times.

I wish I could take credit for these little window pane decorations, but I got my inspiration from banners made by Mika, Cherry Hill Cottage blogger Tina Smith's daughter.  See an example of her creative banners here.

The wedding was beautiful and the reception immediately after was a fun party, but this blogger was a dead tired aunt.  As usual, I'd put in a late night on preparations.   I went home and fell asleep around 6:30 p.m. only to wake up at 9:30 and give in to requests from my son and husband to watch Aliens on DVR with them... just your typical day, I guess.

Best wishes to Lauren and Ricardo for a long and happy marriage.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Saying Goodbye to the Girls

They've been in the family for a long time.  They've brought us many warm memories.  We're going to miss them, but it's time to let go.  They have to find their own way in the world.  At least they'll have each other.

Yikes, I'm gonna start getting sentimental for real if I don't knock it off.  The "girls" are these two chiffon dresses made up as pattern models at my first place of employment, Mary Lester Fabrics at Capitol Court - yes, Capitol Court.  I don't know which Mary Lester employee made them, but they ended up at our house and have been floating around ever since the 70s. Except, even in the 70s they already seemed out of style - and let me tell you, I was stylin' in the 70s.  Not really.

Actually, they look more 60s to me, but either way they're full fledged vintage and I'm putting them up for sale in my Etsy shop... as a set.  I have to... they're best friends.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I'll Take my Breakfast in the Yard

One good thing about Banner Craft going out of business here in town... the 75% off deals.  That's when I got this 16 X 20" frame for a watercolor print that I've been meaning to frame for a long, long time.  I love this print of vintage kitchenware painted by my sister's neighbor in Horicon, Karen Marley.  She's got many creative talents - painting is just one of them.

I love the red.  It looks perfect in my diner-ish kitchen.  Karen also painted a rendering of my sister's Bed and Breakfast, the Honeybee Inn.  Sometime I'll have to give you a blog tour of my sister's Inn - it's gorgeous.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Teacher Inservice Day

Today is our school district's annual mid-year inservice day.  Traditionally, I share a message with the teachers and I did that early this morning.  I usually stay up late the night before working on my message.  I speak to the teachers three times a year and always worry that the teachers won't "get" the spirit of my message.  Even though I get positive feedback, I worry about the most cynical teachers.  I worry that my message won't be inspirational.  I worry that I will sound preachy and annoying.  After all, I'm not a teacher and I really haven't got the blood and guts picture of what they face on a daily basis.  I know it's harder than I can imagine, miss-pie-in-the-sky-clueless-school-board-president.  Oh well.  I'd at least like an "A" for effort -- wait, that's right -- they don't give effort grades anymore.

We are officially half way through the school year and the school board has been working on some big issues.  Either I'm getting older and wimpier or the issues are getting tougher and more intense.  Probably both.  Education is changing and needs to change even more rapidly.  Our Director of Learning shared a short video this morning.  It illustrates how quickly the world is changing and how those who want to ride the wave need to stay on top of the information explosion.  Warning!  If you are of a "certain age" or if you have not had coffee this morning, you will want to prepare to read fast and keep one finger on the pause button because this video moves quickly - only reinforcing the point it makes: our kids are learning in a whole new world.

Content by XPLANE, The Economist, Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod and Laura Bestler. 
Music by DoKashiteru, "Home Tonight."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Let's Call This Meeting to Order - Ribbons

I'm accustomed to calling meetings to order for the school board... but something else in my life needs to be called to order -- well, lots of things, but today I'm talking about my ribbon pieces.  I think I have my spools of ribbon in reasonable organization, but those dang cut pieces are spilling out of the containers I have them in.  A couple of my favorite blogs, Little birdie Secrets and True Up have been talking about organizing ribbons and other fabric stashes and they are inspiring me to do something about my ribbon pieces.

In general, my ribbon spools are organized on this dowel frame - a built-in behind my sewing room door.  Some of the dowels are used for ribbon and some of my lace pieces are draped over the rest.

The dowels work very well and the ribbons were in color order -- at least until my husband moved them around.  Even with oak, the dowels were sagging too much and he suggested putting the old heavy cotton grosgrains nearer the ends.   It worked - duh.  However, if you are planning to organize a dowel situation for your ribbon spools, keep the weight in mind, don't cut the rods too long, and use oak dowels.  These are 33" in length.

I have ALL kinds of ribbon,
but some of my faves are the very vintage...
such as this purple frayed edge satin number.

The star here is the unassuming
peachy pink silk in the middle.
It's nothing gorgeous, but I like it
because it's so old (or sun damaged)
that it can be torn with ease.

Another senior citizen:
the brocade, picot edged ribbon in the middle.

Yep, the spools of ribbon are not my problem.  They stay in pretty good order and I can always convert more lace dowels into ribbon dowels if I need more space.

It's these bad boys I need to figure out.  Ribbon pieces.  Striped ribbon, velvet ribbon, polka dot ribbon, picot ribbon, satin and grosgrain - they are outgrowing the confines of the vintage plastic cases they are stored in.  Mind you, these are C-R-A-M-M-E-D in.  You are looking at pounds of tangled ribbon.  I saw one suggestion to wrap them around old clothespins - the ones without hinges.  I like that idea, but the clothespins themselves will take up too much space.  Maybe I should start with just rolling them up and pinning or paper clipping them.  There are people who organize much better than I do -- Any ideas for my ribbondanza?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sewing Room Closet Revisited

In honor of my husband's birthday, I am glorifying him by posting a picture of his handiwork.  You may remember my blog post about the renovation of my sewing room closet from November 5th.  Well, he finished it long before Christmas and I need to report back and show how beautifully it turned out!

Isn't it lovely?

And thank you to my organizationally gifted friend,
Karen for suggesting the layout.

I absolutely LOVE being able to go into my closet and find something I need in seconds!  It is heaven!  It's filling up fast, but some open spots remain -- not for long, though.  There are still many unsorted stashes of sewing/crafting supplies and projects in other parts of the house that need to be organized and when that happens, any extra space will vaporize!  In the meantime, I want to LIVE in my closet!

Didn't Larry do a fabulous job?
He is so good to me.
I'm lucky he's my husband for so many reasons.
Happy Birthday, Larry!
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