Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Bit of Christmas Cheer

I dragged most of what I owned with me to Hawaii. The Christmas decorations were no exception. Bought some incredible realistic pine garland for 75% off at the end of the season, and now I am Hawaiianizing it. This is just the start as I was conservative in my purchase of faux flora to make it a contemporary island trimming.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Design Your FLOR" Finalists -- I am one of them!

Well, my rug design was chosen as one of the 10 finalists. Go to and click on the VOTE NOW link to review all the entries. They all are, I must admit, quite interesting!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The "Design Your FLOR" Design Contest

As you already know, I dabble in a lot of different stuff. Today I am trying my hand at designing a floor covering using FLOR tiles.

I called it DEM BONZ and is made of 49 FLOR tiles and measures approximately 11' x 11'.

The judging panel will choose ten (10) finalists and post those designs at for public voting on or about December 10, 2009. The top three (3) winners identified, based on the results of the public polling, will be announced December 17, 2009.

Let's see if I'll be a contender!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Pastillage Poinsettia 102

The bidding started at $20.00 and went up in $5.00 increments... The cake was sold for a final bid of $50.00! Not bad for a first attempt in my new situation!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pastillage Poinsettia 101

Pastillage, or more generically gum paste, is a mixture of powdered sugar, cornstarch, glucose, glycerine, water and gelatin. It is combined to form a "paste" resembling modeling clay and used to create edible flowers and foliage for adorning cakes.

The pastillage is white and can be tinted any color imaginable. Small quantities are mixed with food coloring, and then rolled out and cut by hand with a flower petal shaped template or specifically designed metal or plastic cutters.

Here, I have 3 steps to the modeling of flower petals for a poinsettia. (L to R) the tinted paste is rolled out, cut into the petal shape (at this point a small wire is attached to each individual petal or leaf and as I used "seconds" for the photos, these do not show the wires). The cut shape is rolled out again until it is almost paper thin. Next, I have spattered food coloring onto the petals, and lastly detailed color is applied in the form of dusting powders and powdered food color.

Here are 3 leaves in the final step of preparation.

To form a flower, the wires attached to the leaves are covered with florist's tape, and then one-by-one gathered together, from the center out - smallest to largest petals -- to form the flowers.

After the cake has been decorated, the flower is placed atop the cake. I sprinkled white gelatin flakes to add a frosted, ice-crystal appearance to the finished dessert.

In the box ready to go!

My neighbor, Gwen, who hosted last week's artist's cake decorating party, baked the cake, iced it with fondant, and painted the leaf motif on the frosting. I made the poinsettia. As I write this it is being delivered to her son Mile's school for their Holiday Festival Craft and Bake Fair. The cake is a collaborative donation from the two of us, and it will be auctioned off. Come back later and I'll let you know just how much this beauty sold for!

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Blank Canvas

I attended a very unique gathering this past Sunday at my neighbor Gwen's house. She had an idea to have artist friends of hers paint on cakes. She covered sheet cakes with white fondant to create a smooth surface, and then provided the space and tools for the cake decorators' studio. I did not participate in painting a cake as I'll be doing pastillage flowers for a cake to be donated to her son Mile's school, but I was on hand to photo document the event.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pattycake, Pattycake... Baker's Man

Baked his cakes as fast as he can (bad English, I know... but I wanted to keep the rhyme.)

Orange and grapefruit peel and sections were candied in the same method as the lemon and lime, and then I was out hunting for the remaining ingredients for the fruit cakes.

When I had everything I needed and was ready to bake, I had to wait yet another day because the banana wasn't ripe enough.

But alas, today I am done.

The assortment of nuts. The natural and rustic color of the nuts is so warm and mellow.

The candied mango, papaya, and pineapple. The sun kissed citrusy colors of the fruits can be found in the flowers in bloom all around.

The complete mixture of nuts and candied fruits, a kaleidoscope of color and texture.

The rich batter that will be mixed with the fruit and nuts. Butter, sugar, eggs, spices -- how can this be any better?

Two cakes cooling on the counter. I have 10 cakes like these and 6 cupcakes!

After the cakes are cool enough to handle, they will be removed from the pans and set out on wire racks to continue to cool to room temperature. Next they will be brushed with dark rum -- soaked is more like it -- and covered in cheesecloth, then plastic wrap, and placed in the refrigerator to mellow for 3-4 weeks, ready just in time for the holidays.

When the cakes are cut, the slices are like jeweled stained-glass mosaic windows. Of course I'll post pictures when I do. And if these yummy cakes weren't good enough just as they are, I like to dip them in chocolate as an added surprise!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

'Tis the Season...

I suppose, for me, the holidays start with Halloween. Halloween is my quintessential holiday. It evokes, well... that's another post.

Anyway, Halloween, or the end of October, signals the start of the slippery slope toward Thanksgiving, my birthday, Christmas and the New Year. For most of us, it also is the opening gate for the holiday festivities to begin.

And thusly begins the fruitcake season.

Fruitcake, you say. That is nothing more than a brick... a door stop or a waste of culinary prowess.

A dear reader, you are so misconceived!

I have my own recipe for tropical fruitcake, and if you are going to be a part of my blogging, then you shall watch this delectable, gastronomical delight come to fruition!

For me, and my original recipe, it is tradition to start with the most time consuming and natural of ingredients: I candy my own lemon, lime and grapefruit peel and segments. In addition, this year I decided to add to the mix starfruit.

I start by removing the peel from the lemons and limes (after they have been washed, of course.)

Then the fruit segments are removed from the inside.

Here sliced starfruit is simmering in a simple syrup.

The peels are added to a simple syrup and simmered until they become transparent.

As you can see, the peels have shrunk slightly as the natural liquid in the peel is exhanged for the simple syrup and the peels have begun to candy.

The lemon and lime segments in the simple syrup.

The starfruit, lemon and lime peel on a rack for drying.
Since I only have a few slices of the starfruit I am going to cover them with coarse sugar and use them as decoration on plates or in cocktails. The rest, will dry for several days and then be chopped up with the remaining fruits for the cake.

Bon Appetite!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dana's visit 10/30 - 11/10

Double Rainbow
The Road to Hana - the long way...


Hawaiian monk seal and newborn pup

Hamoa Beach

Upcountry Polo - Maui vs. Oahu

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Director's Chair - Original and Rerelease

The upstairs is what I call a great room. It has vaulted ceilings. The kitchen has walls on three sides, but they stop at 8' tall and are open to the room. There is a work and entertainment counter that runs the length of the kitchen and is separate from the kitchen itself. The side of this counter that faces the living room is used for countertop dining.

Of course the counter stools I have a mismatched. On purpose. One is wood and woven banana leaf, sturdy and very tropical looking. The second is acid green molded plastic and shiny chrome, and is very retro modern. The third is a wooden director's chair

The picture on top is the before, which came with a standard canvas seat and back, limited choice of colors -- I chose orange. The one below is the chair with the seat and back that I made from a fabric I purchased while I was back in NYC a few weeks ago.

More decorating to come...

Monday, October 26, 2009

DIY is Now Complete!


It is official! 3 months of off-and-on, start-and-stop, stop-and-go work is finished. Here is the chair with the bottom cushion sewn.

When I say completed, I mean, seams pressed, threads clipped, basting stitches removed, the whole kit-and-caboodle! And of course, as it always is with me, I am not quite sure how I feel about it. When I work on a project and own it for such a long time, the relief that follows the completion of the project is bliss, but somehow, I am always underwhelmed with my work. Maybe I am just spoiled because I can realize my own vision. Who's to say.

What do you think?

Isn't it great the way the pearlized metallic in the Rock Candy fabric just pops in the light of the camera flash?
And oh yes, mental note -- gotta get a cain of Scotch guard! Don't want this getting all stained and dirty. I have several months of company coming and much wear-and-tear ahead!