Monday, December 30, 2013

Holiday roundup

The key to Martha Stewart's popularity has got to be her voice.  No celebrity has a more soothing voice than Martha Stewart. (Witness her video on how to split a layer cake, included in the directions for her six layer salted caramel chocolate cake.)  It is the voice of someone who is always serene, who never bursts into tears because she thinks no one will love her because she doesn't have time to make the homemade rolls for Christmas dinner.

Here is Martha's six-layer salted caramel chocolate cake.

Here is my version of the same cake.

I forgot to sprinkle the cake with salt

Despite its ugly duckling appearance, it was a spectacular Christmas dessert, with a low effort to taste ratio. I also made this pumpkin mousse tart with gingerbread crust, which had an agreeably tangy flavor from the goat cheese.

The kids were happy with their presents, and I've learned that having a child move into a real grown-up apartment provide a whole new scope for gift giving.  Pro tip:  If you're going for the "brown paper packages tied up with string" look, use painter's paper rather than kraft paper.  It is much easier to work with, as it has a thinner, wrapping paper-like quality.  It's also cheaper.  I bought a roll for something like $8 and there is still enough left over to wrap all of next year's gifts. 

I trust everyone had a pleasant holiday?  Or, if not, that enough time has passed that you can pretend that you did.  Now that Christmas is past, I am feeling very brisk and efficient and mistress of my domain; a major deadline has been met.  I am now going to clean all the things; something, I can only manage to do every two years. 

So far, I've managed to clean mine and Jon's room.  I'm fairly minimalist when it comes to stuff, but among other things, we have a drawer that contains nothing but back issues of Creative Needle and Australian Smocking & Embroidery.  Underneath the bed, I found not one, but two vials of adenosine, that must have come home accidentally in Jon's scrubs. .

This has inspired an offshoot project: wear all the shoes.  I own twenty-four pairs of shoes, including snow boots and running shoes, and I usually wear just six or seven of them.  So I am giving each pair a one-day test run, and if the shoes aren't working for me, they're getting donated.  Today, I'm wearing a pair of square-toed loafers with clunky heels.  They're not fashionable, but, they were once my go-to shoe for office/funeral can't tolerate stilettos today occasions.  Surveyed in the bathroom mirror at work, they're not too awful, although I should have dusted them before wearing them to work.  I think they are keepers, for now.

I got this image from ebay, but they are an accurate representation.


  1. You sound like me--not with the elaborate baking projects, but with the housecleaning after holidays.
    Quite a shoe project--will you post as you did with the martinis?
    I forgot to tell you: I went to martini bar last weekend and totally thought of you. I drank a citrontini and it was mediocre. The bartender was not good.
    Duly noted on the painters' paper.

  2. I think I found a roll of both painters & kraft paper as I was organizing the wrapping paper stash after the Great Christmas Eve gift wrap station fail (part of the greater Christmas Eve Trainwreck that included dropping the cake among it's highlights).
    We've had quite the purging session over here this week too. The basement, closets, Pat's home office.....I've also found time to not just sit & read, but to sit & knit. Glorious.
    Those desserts sound lovely. Martha really can convince you you can make anything with that voice of hers.

  3. I'm doing a big purge after we get home next week. Some of it was started before we left, but there's still plenty to do. (There's always something to do, if I'm being honest.)

  4. I would never think your cake is an ugly duckling. I bet it was amazing!

    Kudos on the cleaning. I'm waiting for the new-year organization bug to bite ... still not feeling it.