Archive for the 'Food!' Category

The Psychology of Pysanky

Hi again all!

Easter is almost upon us again, and the time has come when that traditional Easter Egg shape (or “Spring Sphere” shape, depending which circles you run in) just seems to be calling out for a decorative touch.

Whatever you call them, these blank little ovoids seem to be the perfect canvases for a wide variety of paint and dye techniques. One of the more homespun methods of decoration also happens to be one of the most intricate and spectacular.

Pysanky is a form of egg decoration that uses various dyes and a wax resist, like batik. It may be one of your Ukranian grandmother’s favorite hobbies, but it also lends itself to an almost unending series of reinventions.

A little while back, I was lucky enough to find a class in the area that taught this spectacular technique. I have to admit, it’s sort of impossible to get the awe-inspiring results seen below from only a 3 hour session, but it was a decent introduction to the process.

http://spindlesend.net/images2/Misc/P0001432.JPG

Essentially, you draw on your basic geometric breakdown lightly with a pencil, heat a very simple small metal funnel called a kitska over a flame, and use it to paint beeswax resist over an ever-darkening series of dye layers on your egg.

What this meant to my design above was that I painted beeswax where I wanted the white of the design to be. Then, I dyed the egg yellow. I painted the beeswax over the part of the egg where I wanted the yellow to be, and then tinted a section of my egg green. And so on and so forth until you end with your black dye. Then you melt all of your beeswax off with a candle.

As a perfectionist, this particular craft pursuit could easily have driven me to the point of a nervous breakdown, especially due to the 3 hour time constraint. And, note to all of you who may want to try pysanky in future, do NOT try to down a mug full of coffee before trying this for the first time…

But, no offense to the sudoku aficionados out there, I think this is a way more fun method of training your brain to think backwards and plan ahead.

So everyone out there with a Ukranian grandmother, go tell her she’s awesome, just because. And if you’d like to learn more about the art of pysanky, please see this generously free tutorial site.

Happy Easter everyone :-)

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Pear and pear alike, or why I like Twinkies

I love food.

I know you have to eat to live, but I kind of live to eat. So, to get me through that long stretch between breakfast and midmorning snack, I can wear my food instead of just dreaming about it.

Enter: Twinkie Chan. She has published an awesome book that I am sad I didn’t publish first. It’s a whole book of awesome food-shaped scarves, hats, and tissue box covers that you can crochet yourself, and it’s called Twinkie Chan’s Crochet Goodies for Fashion Foodies: 20 Yummy Treats to Wear.

Now, you can buy some of Twinkie Chan’s awesome scarves ready-made for upwards of $60 (try Amazon.com for example), but Ms. Chan also generously offers some of her totally kitschy and awesome patterns right here in this book, which you can buy right from Amazon for under $10! So, for those of us hungry crafters with less disposable income, we can still rock some fabulous inedible treats, hand-fashioned by “ours” truly.

I know I’m fixin’ to make myself a cupcake hat next. ;)

And for those of you who really appreciate a finely honed sense of humor, check out Twinkie’s hilarious crochet-themed rap video below. I, for one, totally want to be one of her posse….

Enjoy all! And happy fooding/crafting!

There was really no hint she’d be a vegetarian…

God bless my parents. Really.

Without their encouragement of my interests from a young age, who knows where I’d be now. They really took an active role in helping me explore things like crafts and music, and all of those other things that kids get into. And I get so much joy out of those things even now.

In fact, I stumbled across these polymer clay vegetables the other day, which I made from a craft book when I was a kid. My parents have held onto them all of these years, and even put them in a place of honor in the house.

On this Father’s Day, I just wanted to say thank you to all of those encouraging parents out there, who help their children to explore and grow. I only hope you know how much that support means to the next generation.

Happy Father’s Day :-)

Cake, anyone?

I must admit I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic lately for my Wilton cake decorating classes.

After I graduated college,  I went through pretty much the entire run of Wilton courses at my local Michael’s craft store. I really enjoyed learning all of the techniques and recipes, and my teacher was wonderful. She has had her own cake decorating/wedding planning business for decades, and she was a fantastic teacher. I highly recommend seeking out Wilton classes in your area if you are interested in adding some pizzazz to your celebrations – and I promise that no one paid me to say that. I’ve made tons of special cakes for parties for family and friends since ending the courses, and I have a frighteningly large collection of specially-shaped cake pans now. If you need a 3D octopus or a rubber duck, I’m your girl….

In terms of the cost of the classes, Michael’s craft store had a number of special offers that made the classes cheaper for me (sign up with a friend, get your class for free when you buy the course materials, half-price tuition for the month, etc etc).  I think JoAnn’s craft store has special offers similar to that as well. And even if you can just use a 40 or 50% off coupon to purchase your course materials, the classes and/or the course books are pretty affordable. You’ll learn a lot, and you’ll probably never be satisfied with a store-bought cake again…

And another plus is, the courses are usually once a week for a month or so, and it’s kind of a nice social event where you can meet other like-minded craft-enthusiasts without too much pressure around work or school. But be prepared for weeks of eating practice cakes. I know, it’s tough, but someone’s gotta do it. ;-)

Above is a picture of one of my practice cakes from Wilton course 3, the fondant course. (I tried to crop out most of the kitchen debris that found their way into the background.) If anyone is interested or has any questions about my experiences with the Wilton classes, please leave a comment on this post, and I’ll be happy to talk about it with you.

Happy Summer everyone!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I thought that I would make a pair of empanada earrings.

Now, I know that empanadas do not represent anything to do with the holiday really, and that Mexican heritage cannot be boiled down to a filled pastry, but hey….they look pretty cute right? So if you’d like to see how I made these, please click the “Continue reading” link below. But in the meantime…

I researched Cinco de Mayo today to find out what it was really about, because I was curious. I honestly didn’t know anything about the holiday, other than my personal speculation that it must be the happiest day of the year for the Corona beer company.

Turns out, the real story is way more interesting than margaritas and an excuse to wake up wearing a sombrero. Cinco de Mayo is not the observance of Mexican Independence day as one might think. It actually started as kind of a “Stick it to the Man” debt-free holiday.  And, honestly, can’t we relate to that concept pretty well these days?

It all started when Mexican president Benito Juárez decided that Mexico was going to stop paying interest on its debts to France. France, of course, was expectedly perturbed by this, so they threatened to occupy Mexico until the the debt was paid up. The French occupation suffered a pretty embarassing setback though when, on May 5th 1862, the Mexican militia was able to handily rout their opponent (translation: they OWNED the French army’s derrieres). The French army had not seen defeat in 50 years before that day, but, they sure got a good look at it in Puebla, México. Four-thousand Mexican troops defeated a better-equipped 8,000 french soldiers, and no foreign army has really invaded the Americas ever since.

So, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, and in honor of sticking it to your creditors “con estilo” (with style), I present to you, this empanada earring tutorial. And, if you read till the end you can see a cool Mexico-related video! Happy 5th all!

Continue reading ‘Happy Cinco de Mayo!’

Quick and Dirty – and Tasty – Easter project

Easter is now upon us, and I confess it kind of snuck up on me this year. I really wanted to put a crafty foot forward on this lovely spring occasion, but it’s already the big day, and there is still  SO much to do…

So while driving home from the grocery store yesterday (which was MOBBED thankyouverymuch), I had a thought. [cue the Windows 7 commercial version of me here]: A quick and dirty Easter project for us crafty last-minute-Annies! (and Alfreds if you’re reading this guys)

Chocolate egg nests!

I figure that these would make good cake or cupcake toppers, or a nice little item to put on each guest’s plate before Easter dinner. You could even put people’s names on little cards and stick them in the nests for assigned-seating occasions. For the tutorial, please continue after the jump. Happy Easter everyone!

Continue reading ‘Quick and Dirty – and Tasty – Easter project’

Japanese eraser jewelry

Can I just say it? I LOVE Japanese erasers.

For those of you who may not be so familiar with these awesome little doo-dads, they come in food shapes, animal shapes, sports-related shapes, you name it. They’re so dang cool, I don’t want to use them for their original purpose at all. But I don’t want them sitting forgotten in a drawer either. I have enough old receipts and movie ticket stubs (and unfinished projects) taking up that space anyway… So I came up with a solution. Make them into jewelry!

Continue reading ‘Japanese eraser jewelry’


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