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18 February 2013 @ 09:33 pm
So my nail polish goal is finally plugging along (only 84 more to go!), though I've found myself questioning my methods. For example, when I use a polish to stamp (like in the pic below), does that count as having been worn in 2013?


I'm inclined to say yes. But do all the colors in a gradient count? In the pic below, I'm technically wearing 5 different polishes (gold, three purples, and a glitter)! I'm not really sure...the gold and glitter yes, but at least one of the purples doesn't really show up.

I may be over-thinking this.

(P.S.  Please ignore my horrible manicure skills--they'll get better as I go along, but I'm still pretty messy.  Haven't mastered the clean-up yet!)
03 February 2013 @ 02:20 pm
As I mentioned in my previous post, one of my goals for this year is to wear each of my nail polishes at least once.  It is now February and I haven't worn a single one.  Oops.

On the plus side, I did finally finish re-inventorying them, and you guys...I have 95 nail polishes.  This does not include the two top coats and three base coats I also own. Here's the inventory in case anyone is curious: TOO MANY NAIL POLISHES.

Anyway, I'm considering documenting this in some fashion, but my time and motivation will tell.  Obviously, with 95 polishes I'm going to have to get creative and wear several at once, or combine them somehow.
16 January 2013 @ 02:45 pm
I've been remiss about posting my "goal list" for this year (as I no longer make resolutions).  In my defense, I had to think about it for awhile to come up with something as equally creative as 2011's goal to "eat more cheese."

1).  Wear each of my nail polishes at least once.
This may seem silly, but I have about 80 (I don't know the exact number because I haven't re-inventoried recently.  And yes, I inventory my nail polish and keep swatches of them so I know what they actually look like.  Yes, I am a geek.)  Since that's more than there are weeks in a year (and we're already three weeks into 2013), I'm going to have to get creative.

2).  Update Reel Bytes when I see a movie.
I was totally a slacker-pants most of last year.

3).  Decorate a fucking awesome cake.
I want to do something difficult and awesome.  I just don't know what yet.
30 June 2012 @ 09:38 am
Last Monday was my final class for Wilton Course 3: Fondant and Gum Paste.  I loved it!  I've really been enjoying the Wilton classes, despite the costs (its not terrible, but enough I can't do them months in a row!)  I haven't decided whether I'll be taking Course 2 or Course 4 yet, but I do want to take a course Michaels offers that talks about tall cakes/stacking, etc.  I'll have to sneak that in at some point.

Anyway, my final cake for the fondant class was quite a masterpiece, if I do say so myself.  First, I decided to do two different cakes and alternate the layers.  I made a lemon cake and a raspberry cake, both from scratch.


On top of the raspberry layers I used lemon curd as filling to give it a little zip; there was also one layer where I used raspberry preserves, just for fun.  I gave it a thin-ish layer of buttercream frosting and it was ready for class!

We learned to cover the cake with fondant in class itself--I had colored my "main" fondant a very pale lime green, and then colored three additional chunks darker shades of the same green to create a gradient effect.  I was inspired by a lot of cakes I'd seen online that had the gradient/ombre thing going on, and also cakes that had layers of ruffles (particularly this one)--I kept mine pretty simple, having only three ruffles at the base, and then decorated the top with tea green roses and coral mums.  I loved how it turned out!

course3_4.13 course3_4.9
It was a pretty big hit.  The family got first dibs and everyone except my brother loved the raspberry/lemon combo (my bro didn't like the lemon curd, he thought it was too tart).  Work got the leftovers and the cake was pretty much gone by lunchtime.

19 June 2012 @ 06:57 am
It will come as a surprise to no one that I get my geekiness from my father.  My childhood memories are punctuated by the Star Trek: The Next Generation theme song playing at bedtime, Star Wars on weekends, and Doctor Who.

This Father's Day, I went in with my mom to get my dad a shiny, new, flat screen TV, but felt like I should still give him something else.  Since I'm into this cake decorating thing at the moment, I thought: CUPCAKES!  Then I had a brilliant plan:  STAR TREK CUPCAKES!

I google'd for some inspiration, and liked these ones and these ones quite a bit.  To make them more my own, I decided to make the whole TNG-style badge (with the oval) out of fondant, and after talking to my mom, decided not to color the icing (like in the second link).  For fun, though I got some red, yellow and blue colored cupcake cups instead, to act as "uniforms".  Since I knew the badge-making was going to suck up most of my time, I decided to just go ahead and buy vanilla cake mix (my dad is a big fan of vanilla).

I found a reference image for the badge online (again, Google), and cut two of them out of card stock: one just of the oval, and one of the triangular shape.  This is where I wish I'd thought ahead a little more and gotten some stuff to make actual cutters--I cut out every single oval and every single triangular-deal (does that part have a proper Star Trek name?) BY HAND, tracing around the edges of my card stock cut-out with a small spatula.  It took forever (I made 25 total).

After that, I painted each oval gold and each triangular do-dad silver.  This is where I encountered another problem.  I had purchased the Wilton pearl dusts to accomplish this, and the back of the packaging says that if you want to paint with it, just to add a little bit of clear vanilla or vodka, etc.  No dice.  At first I thought I had just gotten my dust/vodka ratio wrong, but no matter what I did, I just couldn't get either the silver OR the gold to be paint-like/dense.  I did four layers of each color and gave up.  I thought they still looked pretty acceptable:

After the paint dried, I attached the two pieces together with gum glue.  Voila!

I baked the cupcakes (of course) following the package directions (thanks, Betty Crocker!).  I wanted the ultimate vanilla experience, so I had decided to use a recipe I had found online for some Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting. Nom nom nom.  The recipe says it tastes like melted vanilla ice cream, so I was excited.  However, it called for vanilla bean paste, which I had quite an adventure finding (I finally got it at Whole Foods, and it was not cheap--but I wanted my fancy Father's Day cupcakes to be perfect!)

I tripled the recipe to account for the massive amount of cupcakes I had (29!)  It was simple enough, and when it was done I took a little taste...and was so disappointed :(  It just tasted like powdered sugar!  I couldn't detect the vanilla at all!  I decided to add in a little more vanilla bean paste and a little vanilla extract, and it got a little better, but still wasn't as yummy as I wanted.  I ended up adding even more vanilla extract, the tiniest bit (seriously, a drop) of butter flavoring, and then ALL THE CINNAMON.  Seriously--TONS.  I finally got it to my flavor expectations and it was DELICIOUS!   Despite the recipe's vanilla failings, its consistency is fantastic--light and fluffy and not TOO sweet.

Nom nom nom.  Seriously, ALL the cinnamon.  I can't even begin to guess the amounts....

Then, just before I went over my parents house to celebrate, I topped each cupcake with its badge.

My dad saw this picture and said, "Look at them all lined up like little soldiers!"  Ha!

The only other problem I've had is that while the fondant had originally dried and was hard, it got kinda soft from sitting on the icing--I'd probably do a 50/50 fondant-gum paste mixture the next time.  I also need to figure out some other kind of edible "paint" so that things are a little more vibrant next time.  All in all, though, I'm pretty proud ;)
12 June 2012 @ 06:17 pm

I've been neglectful about blogging about my Wilton courses.  I started taking another one this month, and we had our second class yesterday.  So. Much. Fun.  I might love fondant.  One of the other ladies in my class described it perfectly as, "play-dough for adults!" 

First class, we made fondant gift bows and a bunch of flower bases to prepare for the next few classes:

I didn't bring any colored fondant with me (or my gel colors), so my bow was boring 'ole white.

Yesterday, though, we made gum paste flowers!

Carnations, calla lilies and roses.  I love how my rose turned out--I plan on making more because I already have grand plans for my final cake.  I made them sort of a green tea-color, which is unusual but does occur in nature (google: green tea rose and see what I mean).  Loves!
31 May 2012 @ 06:42 am
I hate cooking.  I really do.  I didn't really realize why or even the extent of my hatred until last night, but oh.  I hate it.

I was trying a new recipe in order to incorporate a little more fiber into my life, in the way of lentils (which I like).  This recipe was for "veggie balls" which seemed to me to be a vegetarian version of meatballs.  All kinds of other things I typically enjoy were also in the recipe: carrots, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, parmesan cheese, garlic, thyme and parsley.  So, I thought, this should be fairly decent.  The reviews were favorable.

Ugh.  That's all I can say.  Two hours of chopping, sautéing, waiting, roasting...and ugh.  Granted, I haven't tried one with pasta sauce yet, but I do not have high hopes.  Additionally, all the sautéing and roasting in olive oil has caused a funk of sorts to settle throughout my apartment and seep into everything.  BOO HISS.

Here's the thing.  I love to bake.  I think because, generally unless there's complete chaos, whatever comes out of the oven will still taste/smell good.  Even when I had total cake failure that fell apart everywhere when I tried to stack it, that cake!fail tasted AWESOME (I brought it to work in Tupperware and people ate it out of cups!).  But when there's a cooking failure?  Grossness. Waste.  Stench.

Fuck you, cooking.  I'm ordering out. 
11 May 2012 @ 04:55 pm
Being Switzerland is not all it was made out to be.  This shit is tough, yo.
01 May 2012 @ 07:43 pm

My final cake for Wilton Course 1!  I’m proud of it, but also wish I’d had more time to really do what I wanted.  My original plan was to have the entire top covered with roses, but I ran out of time (which is why it doesn’t look symmetrical).  Ah, well.

At any rate, I liked this so much that I’m going to take Course 3 (the fondant class) in June.

So my review of the classes:  I liked them a lot, obviously.  They're very pro-Wilton (even the little class booklet they give you has "advertisements" for various Wilton accessories you can buy).  That being said, any of the accessories or supplies I needed were reasonably priced, and both Michaels (where I attended this class) and Joann's often offer 40% off coupons, so that can help quite a bit.  All told, I spent about $170 on various tools for this class (including the cost of the class itself, and the kit, which I got for 50% off because I had a coupon).  That doesn't include the cost of the sugar, cake, shortening, etc. etc. I needed to MAKE the cakes, so its pretty pricey.  At the time I signed up, Michaels was offering the class for $22.50, and the kit cost $34.99.  Like I said, though, I had a 50% off coupon and used it for the kit, so that worked out well.  I also had to buy several round cake pans, as I didn't own any, so if you have that kind of thing already it will be slightly less expensive for you.

Some of the accessories I purchased probably aren't required (I bought a cake carrier, a turntable, etc.) but they sure made my life easier, and I'll use them down the line when I take more classes.  My only major complaint is that they don't really let you know beforehand how many more things you're going to have to buy--a proper supplies list, if you will.  But I learned a lot and had a ton of fun, so I'll definitely take more of the classes.  I'll just have to save up a bit first, especially because there are still some "optional" accessories I want >:)

24 April 2012 @ 12:14 pm
Cake decorating, take 3!

This week we had to bring in cupcakes, which we filled with a filling of our choice, worked on a new cake border (shells), learned how to do leaves, rosettes, star and swirl drop flowers, shaggy mums, and used a flower nail to make pom-pom flowers (that was my favorite!).

(The shaggy mums are on the far right, pom-pom flowers in the center and top left, and some blue rosettes on the bottom left).

The thing I had the hardest time with was actually the shell border--I'll have to practice that one more at home before class next week (when we do our finale cake).  Really looking forward to making roses, I have to say :D