Wednesday, February 22, 2012

At Peace with my Kindle...Mostly.

So for Valentines Day Dan gave me a Kindle.  I was surprised because I've always said I didn't need one of those.  I like to hold a real book in my hands.  There's just something more genuine about that, and these days I seem to always have a battle in my heart to try to keep some real-ness around me in a world full of plastics and composites and personality-less chain stores (which I must admit I shop at).  And of course in my mind a book is associated with being in a book store or library where you can smell the books and feel the pages or curling up in a chair with a cup of cocoa and a sense of blissful calm.  I finally decided to keep it and I must admit I like it.  The kids love the games. I love flicking to the next page of a Neil Gaiman book that I only paid $4 for  with a slight brush of my pinky finger.  I love that I can browse Pinterest or maybe even catch up on Downton Abbey from my bathtub.  However, there are still a lot of books I'd rather buy used than pay $12 for, regardless of the instant gratification.  Often I can buy them on Amazon and have an actual book for less.  I have been buying a lot of used books lately though, and they do take up a lot of space.  Maybe it won't hurt to keep some of my library in a more compact location.  I do hope that soon someone cares enough to make a good web browsing content blocker, I did some research and they all look crappy.  Anyway, on to my super glue craft.  To make peace with myself  I made a Kindle holder out of an old book.  I tried to dig a hole in the book but it was too small and the edges kept ripping.  So I just removed a chunk of the pages and super glued some fabric on there.  One of the chapters was titled, "In which Andrew Reale improves an aquaintance and eats one magic dinner than is supposed to be healthy for a young man."  When I saw that I felt bad for destroying a book with such delightful chapter titles.  The Kindle does slide down in there even though it doesn't look like it in the photos.  I'd like to make a little velcro strap to hold it in safely, but we didn't have any, so this will have to do for now.  I did favorite a bunch of fabric cases on Etsy, and I will probably buy one eventually.  They are very cute and will bring me joy.
I also want to attach a picture of the faux fireplace Dan made me!  Please disregard the above segment in which I expressed my loathing for all that is not genuine.  BUT that is an antique piece there in the middle which I purchased off Etsy.  Can you imagine it in an old home somewhere very far east of Idaho many years ago?  That makes it okay, right?   I'm so proud of Dan, and so happy to have this up! Love it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Sweets

I made a goal recently.  Not the one where I eat green smoothies and loose weight, but a different one, where I learn to make beautiful cupcakes.  It's a plus if they taste good as well.  So I'm here to report that I think I did it! That was a much easier, and more enjoyable goal to attain than some of those others.  The keys were buying some equipment and learning to make buttercream frosting. I always wondered what makes buttercream different from the frosting I usually make.  Turns out, the answer is a lot more butter!
For equipment I first tried a $10 cupcake kit from Target.  It was pretty nice.  It had an easy handle you squeeze and came with a few tips.  Everything was made of plastic, though.  The second time I used it one of the connecting pieces snapped.  I had put something on in the wrong order, but I don't think it should have broken so easily.  So I took that back and bought one at Michaels.  It was $34 but I printed out a half off coupon.  Most of it is metal, except for the connectors, but those are thicker at least.  You push with your thumb on this one.  The only down side is I think your thumb could get pretty tired if the frosting or filling is thick or you have to do a lot of cupcakes!  There are less pieces to put together.  Overall it's a thumbs up!
So it seems the key to buttercream is you have to put your room temperature butter and shortening if you choose (some swear by it, other shun it), and cream cheese if you want it, in the blender and let it whip up for five minutes or so.  Then add your powdered sugar gradually, then vanilla, and whatever else you want.  I think the recipe I first tried was a cup of butter, cup shortening, 5 cups pwd. sugar, 2 tsp vanilla, 1/2 cup or so cocoa powder (opt.) I'm excited to try some more variations.
SoI have to share what I made for Katia's Valentine's party at school.  I used a stick of butter, cup of shortening, didn't measure the powdered sugar but used extra and added a few tablespoons of milk to make it go farther, vanilla, and part of a packet of tropical punch Kool-Aid.  I thought it was super yummy, and fun for kids!