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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Land of Misfit Projects

Every crafter or nester has a “limbo” collection...recipes we can’t bear to part with but always seem to complicated to commit to, half-formed project ideas, craft items we bought but haven’t figured out how to use yet, etc. I call this limbo the Land of Misfit Projects.
My most recent goal is to clear out my nesting limbo pile before the New Year. Here are the projects at the top of my “to do” list: 
1. Finally bake the peppermint meringue layer cake with chocolate buttercream frosting featured on the cover of Bon App├ętit magazine’s December 2009 issue. 


2. Figure out a creative way to use all the flag patches I’ve collected from the countries I’ve traveled to. Something unique...something fabulous...something that does not involve sewing them on a backpack. 

3. Find a way to preserve/use/display the petals from a rose I was given at a historic genocide trial in Guatemala. Something meaningful...something original...something my cat can’t access (she loves to eat potpourri and other dried botanics). 

4. Experiment with making quail. I love quail, but never think to use it in my cooking.



5. Make a holiday wreath a la Martha Stewart using materials found in my natural environment. I love to forage. It’s one of my favorite past times. In fact, last Thanksgiving I create a lovely tablescape using beautiful fall leaves, acorns and pine cones I had collected. I also love Martha’s homemade wreaths. This is the year they come together! 


6. Put my crafting skills and abundant supplies to use this holiday season and make gifts for friends. What good is being a  nester (or having a great nesting supply closet) is you don’t share it with other people? 
7. Make a baby gift for my friends’ second child. I made their first daughter a book and want to do something special for baby numero dos as well. Just can’t figure out what yet.
I want to greet 2012 with a clean project slate.  Time to tackle the complicated recipes and figure out all the projects that have been stumping me. Time to dust off the old pink milk crate and do some post-spring cleaning. Perhaps this will inspire you to do the same!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Rainbow Connection


The sound of wedding bells is in the air. I’ve gotten to the age when most of my friends are either married, engaged or about to be engaged. I have been to a lot of weddings in the past two years and there is no end in sight. I have several bridesmaid dresses hanging in my closet (hint: if you REALLY want us to be able to “wear it again,” maybe satin...the fabric of prom and weddings...isn’t the way to go). 
I find that weddings are generally not all they are cracked up to be, especially for those getting married young. Bad food, cheap booze, a so-so DJ, and a hotel or country club reception room “spruced up” with some white tulle pretty much sum up the majority of weddings I have been too lately. Snoozeville.
Perhaps even worse is the burgeoning trend of over the top weddings, where brides are expected to act like overprivileged brats and guests are supposed to be “entertained” with fire-eaters and contortionists and booty shaking dances performed by the bridal party. I feel like there will eventually be a reality tv continuum for girls: toddlers and tiaras as a child, My Super Sweet 16 as a teen, and Bridezillas as an adult (for the 1st wedding, then on to The Bachelorette as they hunt for groom #2).
What has happened to the wedding industry? How do you combine the class and sophistication of Will and Kate’s royal wedding with our desire to personalize EVERYTHING to the extreme (hence the need for David Tutera)?
The lovely Ms. Gomez recently brought to my attention and interesting situation in which a girl she knows wants to wear rainbow sequined shoes with her wedding dress, as part of an overall rainbow theme, and this is causing fits with her family.
From the get-go, I am on the side of the bride because a.) she is the bride and, provided the groom has no serious objections, it’s her day and b.) I like sequins. I happen to own a pair of pink and red sequined heels myself. 
HOWEVER, let’s add some fine print. 
1.) No tacky platforms or ridiculously high heel for said sequined shoe. These can carry it from fun to trashy in about a millisecond.
2.) The shoes should be incorporated into the bride’s ensemble in a tasteful manner. So, if the bride is wearing a sophisticated white dress, there should be no problem. If it’s a fluffy hot pink, rhinestone encrusted affair, the rainbow shoes are a no-go.
3.) The rainbow theme needs subtlety. No dressing the bridesmaids in different colored dresses to make them look like the rainbow. No crazy electric colored table linens. No multi-colored cummerbunds on the groomsmen. No rainbow painted stretch limo. No crazy rainbow eyeshadow. Etc.
Call me old fashioned, but I think weddings should be both fun AND classy. Weddings should invoke Lady Diana, not Lady Gaga. Rainbow sequined shoes have a place in this schema, but only to a certain point. For those visual learners, let’s illustrate the “do”s and “don’t”s of rainbow weddings:

NO crazy wedding party looks:

  

YES a little subtlety that still supports the theme:


NO overall rainbow pattern:



YES small details for a clutch or belt: 


NO oompa-loompa cakes:


YES fun yet sophisticated food:


NO clown-like decor:


YES decor suitable for adults:

And that concludes our tutorial. Obviously, the same basic principles can be applied to any theme and for any event in which the primary objective is a serious one (weddings, funerals, baptisms, bar and bat mitzvahs, etc.) For these meaningful occasions, let's keep some propriety people.