The “Baker” Strikes Again!

pouringcupcakes Wendy, baker extraordinaire strikes again! This time, with her intrepid sous chef, Mr. Tall.
batter

Ignoring Lemon’s sage advice to stick to knitting, I ventured back into the kitchen to make this year’s easter Extravaganza, Spring Flower Cupcakes. After my creativity has taken hold, and I work my icing magic, I will put Williams Sonoma cupcake flowers to shame! My flowers will look so real, you will want to smell them rather than eat them.

 

 

 

 

cupcakes Fresh daisies, no problem! Pink roses, check! A veritable garden of cupcakes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

flowerpicture Hmmmm . . . . my garden could have used a little pruning . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, at least my Easter baskets were a success!

easterbaskets

Hope everyone had lovely holidays!

Adventure-less-land

adventureland

So, on Monday, Joe and I saw Adventureland.  I was really looking forward to Adventureland — or at least I thought I was.  The truth is, I was really looking forward to the Adventureland soundtrack circa 1987, and therein lies the error of my ways – rather than sitting through a rather bland coming-of-age tale of would be grad students discovering that their undergraduate degrees have left them with no skills, and no training, qualified only to be carny barkers at a park that looks like a low rent Hershey Park, I should have simply popped my Pretty in Pink cassette tape into my dusty tape player.    The movie had problems with pacing, like a broken merry-go-round, it began in fits and starts.  But, the primary problem is sadly with the hero, director Greg Mottolo’s alter ego, James.  While James is likeable enough, he’s got it all wrong – “coming of age” isn’t when you lose your virginity, it’s that “I’m not a kid anymore” moment – true, different for all people – but ultimately, it’s when you discover your parents aren’t perfect, they’re only human, and from here on out, I really have an obligation of self-responsibilty — parental financial support is a generosity, not a right, and getting a summer job, or any job for that matter, should not be viewed with bitterness and spite, but with a “that’s life” attitude – we all have to work, bozo, and no parent has an obligation to send their kid on a summer jaunt through Europe, or to foot the bill to an Ivy League grad school.  James has an unalterable attitude of entitlement, and that he has been somehow woefully wronged.  Even in the end, when James wrecks the family car, he looks to his father to take the blame because it was his father who left the bottle of alcohol in the car, that James was somehow forced to imbibe, and crash the car.  Dude, it’s on you, don’t look at him.  Your parents have done nothing to you, get over it. 

 

So James, to come of age, must lose his virginity, and because James is the last sensitive man standing, James must be in Love, and therefore, to lose his virginity to the girl of his roller coaster dreams, to the ever pouty Em, he must be in love with her – and frankly, this love is unbelievable, and another reason why the movie doesn’t work.   The only thing James and Em have in common is their disappointment in their “pathetic” parents, who have let them down in every way.  And, since they’ll never get over that — Em will never see what a tragic figure her father really is, or that his actions were not to spite her, but to spite himself — and actually come of age, maybe they are perfect for each other.   

 

Adventureland purports to capture the essence of 1987 – and sure, the music is there – as Rock Me Amadeus blares in the background, as are the leggings, the bad hair and Reagan on the t.v. – but these self-absorbed, spoiled kids who are really too smart and too clever for their own good – could easily find themselves in a Juno ripoff Comcast ad.  There’s nothing that roots them in time and place in 1987 – and for me, that was a disappointment.

 

My last disappointment was the seriously and tragically underused talents of Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig.  Hader and Wiig provide the only levity in an otherwise self-absorbed “why me?'” movie  – and they really provide the answer – as James whines over and over “woe is me, why me? how did I get stuck here,” the answer is simple – why not you, eh?

Oh-So-Far From Being Finished Object Monday

 

Look!  My first quilt block, complete!  Only 72 bows, and 8 blocks left to go! 

Like I said in the previous post, the pattern is more of a recipe than an actual pattern.  There are no clues as to color choices, no hints as to how to join the bows together once you’ve got two units joined.  As you can see in the picture, the bows are joined with a slip stitch pattern.  This joining strip is created by picking up 31 stitches on a concave side of a bow, and joining it to 31 stitches picked up on the convex side of the adjacent bow. Clear, yes?  Well, how you join those units to the other units without creating holes and puckering is a learning process.  I think with each successive “square,” I’ll have less intensive blocking to do.  This piece, obviously, is going to undergo some miraculous magic with water and pins.

 

And, what you can’t see is the 12,000 ends I sewed in.  Uch!  But, thanks to Lisa (thank you thank you thank you) who popped in the shop on Saturday, I now know the secret art of knitting in the ends as you go.  I’ve started on the bows for the second “square, ” and let me tell you, while the knitting is a bit slower because I don’t totally have the hang of a quick, swift motion to tack the tails down in the back of the work,  just the thought of not having any ends to weave in is one big sigh of relief.

 

And, totally off topic – riddle me this, my friends – Reason No. 352 why I hate Northeast Philly – every Sunday, Joe has to travel to the dark region known as the Northeast (Frankford to be exact) to pick up Joey.   Every Sunday, there is always a group of about four people who have set up shop in the middle of Harbison Avenue.   They bring their lawn chairs, and their merchandise.  What are the selling?  This is Philadelphia – Phillies t-shirts?  No, that’s three blocks down.  Pretzels?  Uh uh, not on Sunday.  Flowers for mom, perhaps?  Nope. 

 

Vaccuum cleaners.  Every Sunday, in the middle of Haribson Avenue, you can buy a vaccuum cleaner. 

 

WTF?  Where do these vaccuum cleaners come from?  Most people clean out their garages, and find one vaccuum cleaner, not ten.  Are they used vaccuums?  Did they fall off a truck at Kensington and Allegheny?  How did it come about that this group of neighbors got together and said, “hey, let’s sell vaccums in the middle of  an eight lane highway, great idea?”  And, who stops, in the middle of this busy Avenue, that rivals the Boulevard in traffic, to buy a vaccuum cleaner from Joe Shmo in his lounge chair?

 

Can anyone explain this to me?

Finished Object Friday and a New Adventure

Yeah! Paper Dolls is Finished!!! After a few reknits (a little pattern tinkering by the designer, but no biggie – all is well!) of the yoke, and a bit of nervous nilliness that I might run out of yarn (definitely unnecessary worry – I had at least half a skein of yarn leftover), I can say I’m very pleased with the end result.

 

I don’t know why I’m attracted to the paper dolls.  I had paper dolls as a child, but they were Shirley Temple dolls, with miscellaneous costumes from her movies — the sailor outfit from The Good Ship Lollipop, the overalls from Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, the rags from The Little Princess.  In fact, I never much liked dolls at all as a child – all I wanted to do with my Barbie’s was make them ride this plastic horse I had — needless to say, my Barbies suffered many a broken hip, and all of them had nails in their sides where my dad had performed surgery.  And, I never spent my time carefully cutting teeny tiny cracks and crevices to form interlinking arms, bobbing heads, and triangle skirts.  Maybe its the appearance of dancing, and lightheartedness that I’m attracted to – but for whatever reason, this was a must knit, and I’m sure will turn into a favorite wear.

 

The yarn is O-Wool’s fingering weight merino.  The only thing I can say about this yarn is that it’s truly lovely.  The fabric is soft, it has a nice drape to it, and like it’s bulky cousin that I knit my Owls sweater in, it’s just a treat to wear.

 

The contrasting colors are Fibre Company’s Canopy (the light pinky purple) and Koigu KPPPM (the plum).  I was a little nervous about how the Koigu would blend with the O-Wool, but in the end it all worked out – and the odd man out was kind of the Canopy — which is also a decadent yarn, but it’s a blend of fibers, so it was not quite a perfect fit with the O-wool and the Koigu, two merinos, but it all worked out.  If I had to do it over again, I probably would go for another sturdier merino as the lighter contrasting color, only because I think the i-cord cast-on would have been a bit firmer, not so loose. 

 

So, what’s next??? 

 

I think that darn lion got to me – because I’m going on Safari.

 

Too Africa.

 

On the African Adventure Afghan!dolliewollieadventure 

Thanks Dolliewollie for letting me post a picture of your fantastic Afghan!

 

The African Adventure is a patchwork knit quilt designed by Horst Shultz.  This quilt, not found in either of his books, grew out of workshop he gave in 2000, and the pattern was not available until someone on Ravelry managed to track down the elusive, computerless Mr. Shultz, and obtain permission to publish the pattern on Ravelry.  If you’re interested, you can go to the Horst Shultz fan club group on Ravelry, and under the group pages is a link the pdf “pattern” and notes on knitting and construction.  The Ravelry Group is moderated by RickeScott, who details his adventure/obsession with this pattern here

 

I’ve always wanted to quilt – but the problem is, I don’t know how to sew.  Quite a problem!  So, to quilt, not only would I have to learn how to work my sewing machine, I ‘d have to learn to sew proficiently.  That means I would have to sew other things in order to get to the quilting, and I don’t really have any interest in sewing other things – so, this pattern seems like a good idea to dive right into quilting, and color.

 

The pattern is a crazy concoction of bows,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That link together like puzzle pieces, and eventually get joined together with a snake like slip stitch border.

And, to add to the madness, I’m using a ridiculously expensive yarn (not ridiculously expensive if you’re knitting something normal size – just ridiculous for a project THIS size), Fibre Company’s Organik.

 

 

So, wish me luck on my Safari – there may be no lions and tigers and bears oh my – but there will be miles and miles of yarn, oh no!

 

And, in p1000399other news – Lemon survived her spaying surgery yesterday, that’s our girl!  She was a trooper.  When she didn’t spring into puppy action after about five hours, I called my famous dog whisperer Knitty D who assured me that Lemon would be just fine.  And, this morning, although a little slow, she was her perfect puppy self.

Officially a Fuddy Duddy

fredginger

 

Thank you, thank you, thank you!  It was a double night of happiness on Dancing with the Stars, as both the porn star (uh, I mean model/reality star) and the woeful Wozniak were sent packing.  Thank you to everyone who voted to save my two nights of sacred t.v. knitting time – and I’m sure Fred and Ginger thank you too.

 

 

 

So, now that I can stop dreading the idea of Steve Wozniak dancing the Brat in lederhosen, you’d think I’d be content with the world, the picture of bliss and happiness.  Wrong.  I have a new pet peave.  It’s been eating at me for days. 

 

Joey’s t-shirts.

 

Ok, I know all 11 year old boys are obnoxious.  But, really – does it have to be in your face, walking around your house, hanging on a hanger, in the laundry basket?  Here is a smattering of what’s in his closet – “I’m right, you’re wrong, get over it.”  “It’s funny how you think I’m listening to you.” and my favorite “Teamwork – When I tell everyone what to do.”  Did I wear t-shirt’s like this as a child?  Of course, as a child I was always right, but did my parents let me advertise it?  I think not – I think I had a drawer full of t-shirts with Minnie Mouse, Garfield, and one t-shirt that said, “my grandparent’s went on vacation, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”  I guess the idea is that the parents know that the true joke is actually on the obnoxious child — you’re never right, you must listen or pay, and you know very well who tells who what to do.  But, if this is what he’s wearing at 11, what’s he going to be wearing at sixteen?  A t-shirt with a big, thrusting middle finger on it? 

 

I never thought of myself as an old fuddy duddy, but I guess I am.  I guess I need to lighten up.  When he says he can’t take the garbage out because he doesn’t know how to get the bag out of the can, and he’s wearing the “I’m right” t-shirt, I should just chuckle.  And when he has to be asked a question three times, before he says, “huh, what?” and he’s wearing the “its so funny you think I’m listening t-shirt,” I should let out a big belly laugh. 

 

Maybe I should just visualize the t-shirts on Lemon.  These same t-shirts on Lemon would be hysterical.  Lemon’s never wrong?  Ha ha ha! You think I’m listening to you, don’t you – where’s my bone?  And, the idea of this little doggie bossing us around – ridiculous. 

 

Um, or not . . .

 

Maybe I should just get him a Garfield t-shirt.

Julia Eat Your Heart Out!

I am no longer just knitter extraordinaire.

 

I am now Baking Goddess.

 

Julia Child, step aside.

 

dalecar 

For Joe’s Grandpop’s birthday, we were assigned the task of recreating in sugary confection form, Dale Earnhart Jr’s car. 

 

 

No problem, I am Picasso with frosting.

 

First, we began with the pan – for $50, you too can create a perfect Dale car, complete with edible decals. Joe’s folks, however, go this pan at a garage sale, no decals. We were on our own.

 

cakepan The recipe on the side of the pan suggested that one box of cake mix (ssshhh!!! don’t tell Julia!) should suffice. One cake box later, we had one cake in the trash can. Here, is the result of two cake mixes, 6 eggs, and one entire cup of oil.

Yum.

Next – the magic!!!

 
I set up my palette! Ah, the colors! I am Cezanne! I am Degas! I am an artiste!!

icing
 

 

pinkmixingarea

Yes, you do need to adjust your monitor – truly, that’s not pink, it’s really red (cough, cough).

 

 

 

 

 

greenblack Mint green? Nonsense! That’s forest green. Really, no Jedi mind tricks (psych!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, voila! A masterpiece worthy of Le Bec Fin!

 

 

car2

car3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hmmmm, Lemon thinks I should stick to knitting. paperdolls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

paperdolls2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, I guess I’d have to agree.

March Goes Out Like A Lion

melanie Not since Gone With The Wind, when Melanie spies her husband, Ashley Wilkes, a tiny, limping figure emerging on a path, returning world-weary from the war, and makes a tearful, mad dash, arms open wide, running across the open fields of Tara to welcome him home, has there been such an emotional, heart-wrenching reunion until the reunion of Christian the Lion, and his surrogate parents, Australians John Rendall and Anthony Bourke, who purchased Christian at Harrod’s as a cub in 1969. Nearly a year later, Christian, having outgrown his rectory playground, was flown to Kenya, and reintegrated into the wild. The following year, his human family went to visit him in his new home in Africa. In December of last year, a video of their reunion surfaced on Youtube, flooded the internet, and left millions crying to the tune of Whitney Huston’s warbling of I Will Always Love You.

 

Of course, like all things hip and cool, I missed it. And, when I brought it up at knitting circle on Wednesday nights, enough other people had missed it that posting this lovely bit of schmaltz – a veritable animated Hallmark card – on the last Friday in March, my least favorite month, seemed appropriate.

 

So Happy Almost End of March! Enjoy!

Just Say No! Steve’s Gotta Go!

I’ve been walking around slightly irritated for two days now.

 

Is it the 19% proposed increase in my property taxes?  No.

 

That I bought 10 random Powerball tickets yesterday, and three of them had 29 as the Powerball?   Slight annoyance, but eh, whatever.

 

Constipation?  No, all is fine down there, thanks.

 

No, I’ve been stewing.

 

WTF is Steve Wozniak still doing on Dancing with the Stars?????

 

If there’s one thing I hate more than clowns and midgets, its Steve Wozniak on Dancing with the Stars.

 

Not only is this guy the worst dancer EVER, if he keeps going, I reallywozniakdancing think his ring around the rosies style of dancing (all fall down!) is going to do serious damage to his partner.  I don’t care he’s a nice guy, I don’t care he’s a nerd and it would be nice for a nerd to do well with the cool kids – he can’t dance, and he should be banished.  And, after his accusations that Dancing with the Stars is rigged, he’s a bad sport.

 

I’m not saying I’m disappointed that that lunatic, plastic faced Denise Richards got the boot (did anyone notice Maks constantly whispering in her ear?  I think he was saying thinks like, “you are crazy in the head, woman, you know that?” and “it’s not complicated – you’re a cooky looky,” and “you’re gone tonight, looney tooney and I can’t wait to run so far, so fast away from you”)  Nor would I have been sad to see that lazy playboy bunny hit the road (did you see that look on her face when she didn’t get kicked off – sheer disappointment that she couldn’t go back to sleeping until  4 p.m) but come on – this guy is worse than Chloris Leachman, and let me tell ya, I hated Chloris.

 

You’d think from my serious case of irritation, I’d be a ballroom purist – but I don’t know a bogo pogo from a twinkle step.  If I attempted a quick step, it would be a quick fall.  And, am I offended like Carrieann when someone oopsy’s and takes their foot off the ground?  Nah, big deal, put a sock in it already Carrieann.  But, I am the girl who has an autographed picture of Gene Kelly in my library, and grew up with a serious fascination with the American Movie Musical.  A vote for Steve Wozniak is like saying f- you to Fred Astaire – and who would ever say f- you to Fred?   Would anyone have paid their nickel to see Steve trod on Ginger’s toes?  Of course not! 

 

On Monday and Tuesday night, I just want to sit in front of my t.v., knit, and see something graceful and beautiful (or hot and steamy like the naked guy from Sex and the City) – even Steve-O is at least trying, and you’d never know that the Queen Bee turned the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia into Jailhouse Rock with all of her new found posh.  I do not want to watch the Pillsbury Doughboy in lederhosen (’cause you know some crazy Bavarian Bratwurst dance is coming – I can just see the producers thinking how great it would look for his belly to be hanging out between suspenders.  And, instead of the worm, he could do some crazy thing called the sausage!) . 

 

So, if you want to save me much grief and consternation, please vote for someone other than Steve on Monday.  I really don’t want to have to boycott my favorite show.

Goodbye, Farewell, Amen to Wolf, Block

My road to legal fame and fortune began when I was fifteen years old (although some may say it began in the womb, as I  emerged stubborn and argumentative).  My mom worked at a now defunct personal injury law firm as a legal secretary.  In my mom’s day, being a legal secretary meant, “I could be the lawyer, but I don’t have the piece of paper.”  She opened the files, generated the complaints, wrote the settlement letters, filed the pleadings, everything — and all in some cockamamy thing called shorthand. 

 

From the minute I walked in the door as a summer file girl, she kept pushing me – ask to work the switchboard, they need a fill in — learn that.  Ask to type dictation – you can type, never mind you don’t know how to use the dictaphone, you’ll figure it out later.  Tell them you can comp the medical bills, I don’t care if you’re scared – just do it!  There was always another skill to pick up, another thing to make myself useful – and valuable.  And, if I ever was going to become a lawyer, because to her, I certainly wasn’t going to be the secretary, I would be ready, ready from the ground up.

 

And, if I was going to be a lawyer – there was no way I was going to be a shyster PI lawyer – oh, no – she said, you’ll work some place – some place like Wolf Block.

 

Wolf Block was it – if you were a Jewish lawyer, working at Wolf Block meant you had arrived, you had made it, you were really the real deal.  You could now call yourself a “Philadelphia lawyer.”  All of the lawyers who worked at our small personal injury firm said, “Wendy, you don’t want to be a lawyer.  Don’t become a lawyer.  But if you have to be a lawyer, be a lawyer at Wolf Block.”   These PI lawyers were overworked, they made no money, they sued over slip and falls, car accidents, botched minor medical procedures.  They walked with their heads tilted to the side, as if too heavy to hold up.  And, to these weary, miserable guys who hated their jobs, and hated being a lawyer, Wolf Block was like a mirage, a geyser in the desert. 

 

And, as I grew up, their hopes grew – she got into Penn State main campus – next stop Wolf Block.  Temple Law? Moot court? Law Review?  Wolf Block here she comes.

 

And, when I became a public defender?  Eh, they said, she’ll do that for a couple of years – and then Wolf Block.

 

Well, the road that took me to the public defenders office took me through a few large law firms, as a secretary, and from the behind the scenes, after hours view I had (I worked my way through law school as secretary on the night staff of a big firm), it wasn’t for me.  But, it’s still with sadness that I wish a fond farewell to Wolf Block Schorr and Solis Cohen, which voted yesterday to close their doors.

 

Wolf Block was founded in 1903 as Stern & Wolf.  In 1935, it’s founding partner, Horace Stern, became the first Jew elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and eventually became its Chief Justice.  Up until the mid 60’s, it was the only elite Philadelphia firm where  a Jewish lawyer could get a job.  In 1962, half of the largest firms in Philadelphia had no Jewish attorneys, and the rest had a token one or two.  It really wasn’t until after 1964, when the Union League finally voted to accept Jewish members that doors finally started to open for Jews in the larger law firms. 

 

To me, it’s hard to imagine a time when doors were closed to Jewish lawyers, but they were.   The legal community, you would think, would be the last place you would find anti-Semitism, but it was a truth nonetheless.  And while Wolf Block wasn’t always a harbor for liberal thinking — participating in the McCarthy witch hunt for Communists in the 1950’s and defending Jefferson University’s firing of several, alleged Communist doctors — it was still always a front runner for at least religious diversity. 

 

Wolf Block’s disintegration is no surprise – it’s been coming for a few years, as one failed merger attempt after another was reported in the Legal Intelligencer.  But, there’s still a difference between recognizing an economic reality, and accepting that an icon for Jewish success is no longer going to be part of the fabric of Philadelphia’s legal community.  And, while being a lawyer a Wolf Block is hardly a measure of “success” to me, I still know how proud my mother would have been (of course, she’s proud of me here), and the other guys at the PI firm, would have been, had a hung up my shingle behind the hallowed doors at Wolf Block, and what they stood for.

 

So, goodbye to Wolf Block, and good luck to the 300 or so attorneys who now find themselves jobless, as well as the equal number of staff members who now have to find a job in this dreadful economy.  Paths take you to strange places sometimes, and who would have ever thought Wolf Block’s path would come to a deadend..

School is Not in Yet

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been having grandiose visions of where this blog can go – this puppy is not on a leash!

Unfortunately, I’ve let my “visions” run away with me (no, not to the extent that I need some pyschotropic medication – when I start hearing voices, THEN I’ll worry), and I plunged ahead, and began filming for my video knitting school.

This was a mistake.

It looks so easy when Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney both squeal, “I know! We can put on a show!  Yeah, we can use my dad’s barn!  We can get costumes left over from the school pageant!”  They didn’t have a director, a writer, a production assistant. They struck up the band, there were words and music, and thousands cheered. So easy.

Wrong.

This video knitting school is going to take some planning.  What I filmed yesterday is all over the place. I might need an outline. I might need a script.  A syllabus perhaps?  I might have to stop adlibbing so much. I might want to know where it’s going.

So, it’s back to the drawing board. But, now I see what I have to do.  Storyboard, outline, script, I got it.  I think.

But, while I’m in the planning process, here’s a peek at what’s coming (sort of) –