Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Play Time!

Well, hello! There's a new title at the top of this page. Don't worry, you're in the right place.

But didn't this blog used to be called "Augustine and Claire?"
Yes it did.

And now it's "One Lonely Bee?"

Because it's better this way.
I had originally named this blog "Augustine and Claire" because this blog is dedicated to those Saints, just like the Augustine Program at Claire hall where I first learned to cook for a general audience.
This blog is still dedicated to those Saints, still stands in memory of my old learning environment, and still has the old URL of www.augustineandclaire.blogspot... (you know the rest).
But I had to make a change. "Augustine and Claire" sounds like the title of a blog that would belong to a married couple named Augustine and Claire. I am not Augustine and I am not Claire. I am not even in a couple. So, the old name had to go.
And now I'm One Lonely Bee.

But wait! I'm not a bee, either, am I? Why that name?
Because I like it and I think it's cute and it's my blog and I can call it whatever I like and I can even use run on sentences to make my point in a petulant manner. So there.

So, welcome!
Welcome to The Lonely Bee!

Didn't this blog used to be pink, too?
Yes. Now it's yellow. In addition to that, I'm working on some drawings so that I can (with my sister's computerly help) update the design with yellow, bee-themed graphics. Look forward to that.

Does that mean there are going to be even MORE disorienting changes in the future?
Yes. And you will like them.

To celebrate the continuing redesign of this here blog, let's play!
Grab a can of shaving cream, food coloring, and paper.
You'll also need a plastic or metal tray, like a cookie sheet, and various tools such as a ruler, chopsticks, a comb, and some marbles.

We're gonna marbleize paper!
Pretty, right?

I wish I had more pictures to show you the step by step process, but it's best learned by doing it anyway and that's best done with guess work and mess.

First, spray your tray with shaving cream and spread it out. Use your hands, the ruler, or the back of your comb. It doesn't matter. You're going to get it all over yourself eventually.
Then, choose your colors and drop them on the smoothed shaving cream.
Sprinkle a couple colors, drip one, pour all of them on... what ever.

Now, choose your tool. Take your comb and rake it across the surface, dragging the droplets of color in neatly spaced rows. Or swirl your chopstick, pricking each individual drop or pulling each drop through another until they're all connected in a big web of color. Or drop your marbles in the cream and tilt the tray, rolling them around until the colors are mixed in a design to your fancy.

Now, gently lay your paper onto the shaving cream. Run your finger or a clean ruler (or the back side of the clean comb) along the surface of your paper, pressing it into the food dye and shaving cream.
Lighter weight papers tend to curl once they're taken out of the shaving cream, but that might be more of an endearing feature rather than a problem. It's up to you.
Peel it up, whip the shaving cream from the paper with a few deft swipes of a paper towel, and squeal with delight.
Turn the paper over so that the blank side is on the shaving cream, and repeat.

This one was done with marbles rolled back and forth in blue dye.

To be perfectly honest, the blue sheet was done a few years back. I'm just showing it to you now as an example of the effect marbles can have in your art.

This one was done by piling already dyed shaving cream in a mound (it was left over from previous papers that same night, so had all sorts of colors in a crazy, uncontrollable pattern), and then pressing the paper onto the mound until it was completely squished and all the shaving cream oozed out from under it.

At one point during this craft, my hands were black. Then they turned khaki. Then they somehow became a lovely wine color that I was still sporting around my nails and in blotches up my arm for the rest of the week. That actually became a little awkward when I was roped into testing a cleanser at a cart in the Galleria. The young man working there began to demonstrate on my wrist the wares he was vending and found himself a little surprised. There's nothing quite like having a handsome stranger hold your hand, roll up your sleeve, and finding that you're a daring shade of magenta.
That aside, this is the most fun you can have with shaving cream (on a PG rating, at least. I don't even want know what else you might be thinking). Plus you get to make pretty colors. And it smells good.

Enjoy your messy paper-craft, my friends. I look forward to this little blog's future as "One Lonely Bee," and I hope you'll join me for the ride.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Climate is what you expect, but the weather is what you get.

It's a beautiful day! The sky is brilliant blue with a few sparse wisps of white cloud. My window is open to let a chill breeze swirl in my room and the gauzy curtains dance on every zephyr while the giant house cat sits beneath them. My little house plant has finally grown another bud on its stalk. I have two large lemons from a neighbor's overabundant harvest sitting on my window sill. They're nearly as hard as rocks but their cheery yellow roundness and faint scent brighten my room. The birds are out en masse, chirping and whistling. I saw a young wood pecker with a red cap on my morning walk.
Blue, green, yellow: Spring is definitely approaching.
Yes, I know it's still January. Try telling that to Houston. Houston doesn't care. Houston does what Houston wants.

Or, so I said yesterday.
Today is touched with a gothic beauty. The sky is silver grey and the chill air is stirred by a low, constant breath. The oak trees reach to the sky with limbs like great pythons searching for the sun, but are thwarted and frozen in place. The birds are still here, but they are cawing and sighing over the injustice of winter on their hollow bones, not singing in the sun.

Houston doesn't care. Houston does what Houston wants.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

New Year and Cake!

Happy New Year!

I usually do make resolutions for the New Year. They last until Spring starts to kick in. By then the resolutions have become habits, or the year is no longer 'new' thereby rendering the resolutions non-binding. They become more like guidelines, really. That is, if I remember them at all.
I don't foresee myself doing anything different this year. I'll make my resolutions, work some of them in as habit, and then forget I ever even made the others.
I'm resolving to write more. Each week will be rounded out by either a blog post, a full chapter for one of my writing projects, or a full page of research results.
I will read more. Each month will see a new book in my hands and that book will be tucked away in my head, cover to cover, before the next month. I will alternate fiction and non-fiction.
I will be charitable and more gentle in my dealings and in my thoughts, with others and myself.
I will learn to look forward to my future with enthusiasm and grasp it with gumption under my own steam.
I will make cake.


I made this white coconut cake for a baptism back in September. I made a triple batch so that I could make multiple layers and bake some batter in tin cans.
The tin can baking worked out great. The instructions I used recommended wrapping the can in foil before baking. For the cans I was using, that proved completely unnessecary and made for a longer, slightly less even, baking time. Use your discretion and leave about 2 inches of empty space if you should ever bake in a can.
It was moist and very delicate with a rich coconut flavor. I made a coconut butter cream (from a different recipe) and used apricot preserves for filling and topping. Altogether, it was rather a bit too sweet, so next time I bake this I will find some way to cut back on the sugar. Still, the cake itself is probably my favorite of all the coconut cakes I've ever had.

So. Here is my resolution. I will make this cake again, only with a more studied approach. I will take into account the overly saccharine taste of my previous decorating attempts and cut the sugar to its lowest point. I'm thinking that maybe a bitter-sweet chocolate filling would be ticket.

Sweet coconut, bitter chocolate...Simple, decadent...This is going to be a good year.