Monday, May 21, 2012

Chocolate Meringue Cookies

My friend Stephanie came over tonight to share dinner and catch up on episodes of Mad Men which I record, watch and save for her to watch.  She brought over the best Thai food from a place called Thai Sky on Pacific Ave. in Long Beach of red curry with chicken, pad-see-ew with beef and brown rice...oh so yummy.  And after almost two bottles of white wine, I decided to bake while she's still catching up on the shows.  I got this recipe from my mom years ago and these are just the best cookies ever.  I doctored them up with crystalized ginger and a 1/3 of a premium chocolate bar from Trader Joe's.  I almost added fresh rosemary but it wasn't so fresh any more.  

Here's the basic recipe but doctor it up as you please.

Chocolate Meringue Cookies
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 level tsp corn or potato starch
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup pecans toasted and chopped (I used walnuts)
1/2 chocolate chips (I used 1/3 of a premium chocolate bar)
1/8 tsp salt

Line a large baking sheet with parchment or foil.  Sift 3/4 cup of the powdered sugar, cocoa, starch, salt.  With electric mixer beat the egg whites until foamy, add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and flavoring.  Beat until soft peaks form.  Add cocoa mixture until blended.  Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.  Let stand 30 minutes (I refrigerated it for 15 minutes).  With tablespoon, drop mixture on to prepared cookie sheet.  Bake 325 degrees for minutes.  Remove from rack and cool 10 minutes.


 Chocolate Meringue Cookies with a glass of almond milk.

Yummy Chocolate Meringue Cookies

 Stephanie enjoying a fresh baked cookie.

Wine, milk and cookies.  What's wrong with this combo....absolutely nothing! 

Enjoying Don Draper.

Making an Upcycled Nuno Felted Shawl

I feel like I'm helping to do my part for our planet when I can use recycled materials and take something old and repurpose it.  In the case of this nuno felted shawl, I started with a gauzy, oversized blouse that my girlfriend was throwing away.  Oh no you don't girl...that blouse has way too many possibilities!  And even though it had a few snags and small holes from being tenderly worn over the years, it's nothing that a little wool roving can't hide.  So I cut the blouse to form a large piece of fabric for the main portion of the shawl.  From my stash, I pulled out several types of white silk along with some old tee-shirts that I had received when signing up for the 5K races that Joe and I used to do.  My running days are over but the tee shirts abound.  Actually I was never much into running anyway and always preferred a clipped walk to a run.  I can walk for miles and miles but felt like I'd croak if I had to take one more stride after I crossed that finish line.  But I HERE to see how to cut the tee shrts into stretchy circular strips.  The wool roving I use is white superfine merino which felts like a dream.  

After I got all my materials together, that being the blouse, the various silks, the tee-shirts and the roving, I dyed them using acid dyes and although acid dyes are supposed to be used for dying protein fibers like wool and silk, I also used it to dye the cotton tee-shirts.  So even though the cotton didn't come out with the vibrancy of the silk and wool, I felt the muted colors would be a nice compliment to the other dyed fabrics.  Click HERE to see my dying instructions. 

I laid down towels and bubble wrap on my big table and spread out the blouse fabric as my base fabric.  I was ready to get started now that my roving and fabric had dried naturally for a day or two.  I create organically and add fabric and wool as the design dictates; I have a rough idea of what I want it to be but I literally let the piece take on a life of it's own. It's so exciting to see how it will evolve and what it wants me to add or not - color, texture, shape, size and negative space all play an importance in the design. Once the design is complete,  I go through the felting process to bind the wool to the fabric and finish it off by slamming it to shrink the wool (I love that part of the process!).  I am always surprised and mezmerized by the magic that happens when the wool and the silk marry and create their own beautiful texture.

And wearing these nuno felted garments is so fun.  Again their organic nature comes to life whether you wear it upside down, right side up, inside out, sideways, tied, untied - whatever suits you, your mood or the outfit you're enhancing.  The drape is unparalleled and the silk and wool is a great warm weather combo.  Plus what an inspiring statement you make when you wear art, i.e wearable art!

If you are interested in learning more about nuno felting or purchasing a shawl from me, click HERE.  If you're interested in taking a class from me in Los Angeles, click HERE.  Thanks for your interest and hope to see you.
Finished upcycled nuno felted shawl

My acid dyed fabrics and wool roving

Design layout in progress

During the felting process

Below are just some of the ways to wear the shawl.  Right side out (which ever side you consider the right side), inside out, closure in the front, closure on the side, upside get the picture!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Happy Birthday Class of 1970

Saying hi and happy birthday to my high school friends from the class of '70 who, along with moi, turn the big six O this year.  Since we're all celebrating on different days throughout the year I thought, since next week is June 1st and almost the half way point of the year, that this was a good time to wish all of us a good ol' fashioned happy birthday.  Plus on June 1st, I'll turn 59 1/2 which is the magic age when your financial status changes.  It's odd that it's 59 1/2 and not 59 or 60 but none the less, it is an important milestone when it comes to finances.  When you reach 59 1/2 there is no longer a 10% penalty when you withdraw money from a tax deferred plan.  Not that I'm ready to make any withdrawals but nice to know that we've reached the age that we're penalty free!

Happy Birthday Friends.

I processed this in Photoshop with several adjustment layers, filters and textures.  Using the magic wand, I selected the background on the image layer and then added it as a layer mask on one of the texture layers.  I then added a pattern and colorized it.  The text is a free font called The King and Queen.

This is the image Straight out of the camera (SOOC).

Digital Frames

I came across a site where you can download these darling frames for free.  Lots of fun and so many possibilities especially if you are into digital scrap booking.  Click HERE to get these free frames and more.  I opened the frames in Photoshop and then added my own pics each on their own layer.  I made the dog foot prints by using the custom shape tool which is one of the tools listed with the rectangle tools.  I then added patterns and colors to the the foot prints. 

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