Sunday, January 17, 2010

holiday handiwork

I went on a Linzer tarts kick over the holidays. They're one of my favorite cookies (and my inner adolescent giggles every time I say, "Ooo, I love eating tarts"). Here are a few of the piles of tarts we made over Christmas and New Years:

I found this great Linzer tart recipe on The cookies are basically shortbread (read: butter, egg, brown sugar and just enough flour to hold it all together) but this recipe replaced some of the flour with ground roasted hazelnuts. And there's no way that won't make everything in your life better. Sandwiched between the not-too-sweet cookies I spooned some Trappist jam:

Trappist Preserves are god-damned awesome. The are really made by monks at St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. Trappist Monks also make incredible beer, I understand. (If the Catholic church wants some PR spin away from the pedophiles, just shine a big ol' spotlight on the Jam & Ale Brothers.) I bought mine at mega-wonderful Specs in downtown Houston. I tried raspberry, apricot and blackberry preserves. The raspberry, to my tastes, was the best. Blackberry a close second. The apricot jam was phenomenal but a little too mild for the cookies. The finishing touch is a fine sprinkling of powdered sugar on top.

While I was trawling for cookie recipes, I stumbled upon these handtool-shaped cookie cutters:

Sold by The Cookie Cutter Shop, I ordered them so fast my mouse got dizzy.

Which led to additional batches and these cunning "tool tarts" which I took to my dear design guys and friends at work:
The pliers (see cookie cutter image above) shape turned out to be too breakable-none of them made it to this stage intact (maybe better with a less shortbread-type recipe) and as you see, the screwdriver needed to be handled carefully. All that aside, these were mighty tasty and fun to present.

Out of the kitchen and into, living room. Many years ago friends (real lesbians with horses) gave me a bunch of leftover washable wool they'd used to make horse blankets (see?). In addition to fashioning a Wuthering-Heights-worthy hooded cape from it for my daughter years ago, I created this tree skirt:

For those of you who don't know my love of all things associated with tools, I made the pattern to match a circular saw blade (Is this a fucking big blade, or what?):

It took me forever to get around to making this simple skirt. Now that it's done, I've decided that every year I want to add some small embellishment. Two years ago, I blanket-stitched the edges for contrast and to help keep the skirt from getting distorted over time.

I used black felt that I had for backing and that was not a great choice as it tends to shed. I figure if I continue to embroider the skirt, it will help contain the backing as well as decorate the top.

This year, I added metal eyelets to each point and satin-stitch-covered them in different colors:

I have always been terrible about documenting my projects–I'm just not comfortable with photography. However, I've been inspired by my friend Kim, who is crazy-creative and a damn good photographer and her husband (my coworker) Gary, who explained that the little flower symbol on my digital camera was as close to a macro lens as I was going to get (thank you, hombre!). So, here. Proof Examples of what I did on my Christmas vacation, with very little Photoshop cleanup needed.


Kristen Flores said...

Monks make coffee, too!

Kim said...

Can you really say that something that monks make is "god-damned" anything? The good friars at St. Paul's Elementary did a real number on me, and, even as a confirmed agnostic, I can't mutter that phrase without awaiting a good smiting.

The blanket stitch... wool's best friend. Love the saw-skirt. So fitting to have it around a tree.

And thanks for the compliments. The camera had a near-death experience today, but I'm hoping that the residual wonkiness it's experiencing has more to do with a smudgy lens than some kind of terminal camera condition. Then again, a new camera would be awfully fun to play with.

Epiphenita said...

Kristen, is there anything those monks can't do? (I mean, aside from fornication. Oh, and masturbation.)

Kim, yes, the position of the saw blade at the base of the tree was just another one of those design puns I so enjoy.

At some point in my life, the whole celestial smiting thing stopped having an affect on me. So referring to holy men with blasphemous swearing is just, I don't know, a cleansing therapy to balance out my pious youth.

linafuh said...

The Buddhist monks I know love Starbucks.

Epiphenita said...

Lina, even this Atheist loves the Buddhist monks...but can they make jam? Beer? Less meditation, more food & drink production, I say.