Christmas cookies

On Saturday my boyfriend and I made cookies. He made the dough and did the baking, and I did most of the decorating. It was our first attempt at making icing using meringue powder, and it took several modifications (i.e. adding water) before we got it to the consistency that I could work with. It also took a lot more food coloring than we expected, so we settled for the pink and turquoise instead or red and green. (We later learned that there is concentrated icing color that is to be used to color icing.)

We only had three squeeze bottles, and four colors, so we tried putting the icing into a plastic bag and cutting off a corner. That works, but it didn’t give me as much control as I would have liked, which explains why the white icing appeared a bit clumpy.

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The marbling is done using a toothpick.

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These were some of my earlier attempts, before I had an idea of how to decorate them. (I prefer eating less icing too.)

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I was giving the stained glass window cookies a try, and since it worked, I plan to use them for another project.

Autumn Kusudama Centerpiece

Over the course of this year I have been making Kusudama balls, and I was left with paper in colors that I wouldn’t normally use: orange, brown, and yellow. Luckily, they go well together and are fall colors. I also added some red and golden-yellow, which (in hindsight) goes better with the other colors than the bright yellow. Instructions for making a kusudama flower can be found here.

With Lee Bay, of course!

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I was going for a dusky look, but it may have been too dark.

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With Lee Bay, of course!

After the rain

It rained last night. I got woken up at 3 AM from the sound of the rain hitting the roof, and I kept waking up every time the intensity of the pounding changed. Still, I am thankful for the rain because we really need it.

This morning I went out to run an errand. At first I wasn’t happy about walking outside while the ground was still wet and trees were dripping. The tree bark was saturated so it was darker and ominous looking. As I kept walking, I noticed water droplets on roses and that’s when I wished I had brought my camera with me.

After I returned home, I grabbed my camera and went out again. Since there were many dark clouds passing overhead, there would be periods of bright sunlight alternating with cloudiness. I wasn’t sure what I could capture due to limitations of my camera and lens, but here are a few photos that turned out okay.

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There seems to be something about roses, including the leaves, that cause water droplets to cling to them longer than they would on other plants.

There seems to be something about roses, including the leaves, that cause water droplets to cling to them longer than they would on other plants.

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My attempt at capturing the droplets hanging from the tips of leaves. Alas, my camera does not have the capability to focus on something so small and close.

Dahlia Garden

Two weeks ago I went to the Dahlia Garden at Golden Gate Park. The dahlias start to bloom in June, but reach their peak in August.

I didn’t take down the names of all the flowers I photographed, but for the ones that I did, the names are in the captions. If you happen to know the names of the ones that I didn’t label, feel free to let me know what they are.

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Fickle

Fickle

Skip to my Lou

Skip to my Lou

Vista Minnie

Vista Minnie

Bumble Rumble

Bumble Rumble

Verrone's Wilma

Verrone’s Wilma

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My second woven wire cuff

This week I started making another woven wire cuff. It is the same design as the one I made a couple weeks ago, but in different colors and a smaller size (to fit my 6-inch wrist).

The color of the weaving wire didn’t appear correctly in the photos. I tried adjusting it, but couldn’t get it to match exactly. (If you’re wondering, I used 26 gauge Artistic Wire® in Peacock Blue. I didn’t buy it from this site, but the color in their photo looks most like it.)

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Given what I had learned the first time around, I knew to do some things a bit differently, such as trying to leave more room between the top and bottom wires so I can have an easier time securing the coils in place. To minimize waste, I measured out a length of wire that I believed would fit me for the outermost wires, while leaving the middle wires long for the embellishments. I still ended up cutting off about 1 and a half inches from one of those wires, so if I were to do this project again, I would adjust the lengths of the three middle wires as well, even though it’s a bit clumsy to weave when the base wires are different lengths.

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Once again, the embellishments were the hardest part. I feel stressed out when I do them because I don’t want to accidentally knock off the colored coating from the weaving wires. It’s also difficult to decide how I want to position the coils.

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I think it looks quite nice at this stage, but it’s not practical to wear because the loose coils can get caught in things.

There are three things that I am concerned about when doing the embellishments. The first is how the wrapped wire looks. Unfortunately, this time I had forgotten to do the weave for three wires that I had done last time. I didn’t feel like taking apart my work again, so I kept it that way. Since I did not have any instruction on what to do with the ends of the wires, they are challenging for me. I need to make sure the sharp ends of the wires are tucked away so that the bracelet is comfortable and the wearer doesn’t get scraped. Also important is securing the ends so that they don’t come apart.

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I had a hard time deciding what to do with my coils. Although I think they’d look more interesting sticking out more from the cuff, it’s usually better to have them stay as close to the cuff as possible to prevent them from accidentally snagging on anything. Since I didn’t want to copy the example design exactly, I left one coil sticking out completely. After I finished securing that wire in place, I thought it would be better if the coil were lying against the cuff, but it’s too late to change it because I don’t want to undo and then redo that part. I figured that I’ll be careful when I wear it. If I were making it for someone else, I wouldn’t do it that way.

I do think the end result is pretty, though I’m not entirely happy with how it turned out. I don’t plan on making another one of these any time soon, given how my fingers are sore again and my thumb nail chipped again during the process, but after they’ve recovered, I might want to try a different style of a woven cuff.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

On February 8th and 9th of 2013, Winter Storm Nemo hit the northeastern United States and dropped record levels of snow in many areas. I was living in Boston at the time, and given how I hadn’t seen snow until just a few months before that, a blizzard was quite exciting to me. I was fortunate enough to be living in a sturdy brick building with underground power lines, and there were grounds people working throughout the day and night to shovel snow. I was eager to document the storm with my camera from my room, which I did, and posted on Xanga. Now I will repost the photos and post from February 9th, since they were the most beautiful. (If someone wants me to repost the ones from the previous day showing all snow piling up, I can do that too.)

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At 1PM, someone from the second floor wanted to go out for a walk. I decided to go with her and another person from my floor. I probably wouldn’t have thought of going far from the building, but she wanted to go to the Boston Common. Of course, I wanted to go out to take tons of photos, but when I’m with other people I can’t take as many as I would like, since I would fall behind or they would wait for me and I didn’t want to hold them back.

We were walking in the streets because many sidewalks still hadn’t been cleared of snow. There were very few vehicles out on the roads. It was strange seeing the streets so quiet and empty. I had read news reports describing downtown Boston as a ghost town, because all the businesses were closed and no one was out. It was hard to believe, even when I saw it with my own eyes.

It was bitterly cold, something like 18 °F, but it didn’t feel as bad as it did earlier during the day, since we weren’t getting pelted by snow. If I removed my glove just for a moment, my hand would hurt from the cold. I wrapped my face in a scarf, but even then, my cheeks still stung. One person I was with decided to go indoors to an open business. Not many places were open, but the ones that were were crowded. It was funny how one had ten or more signs in their window saying they were open.

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I took this through the bars of a fence, so the trees aren’t as centered as I would like them to be.

I thought the contrast of the red and white looked quite beautiful. Plus, you can see the icicles.

Trees at the Boston Common. The trunks look shorter thanks to the two feet of snow.

Statue at the Boston Public Garden. I thought the snow looked like a shawl.

Bridge in the Boston Public Garden. The lake was covered with a layer of snow, but the water underneath had not frozen.

Bigger icicles!

Seeing all that snow was so surreal. That’s why I had to take pictures of it. Even my floormates who had lived in Massachusetts for years, said they had never seen a storm leave that much snow at once. I knew that I had to make the most of this experience because it’s not often that these opportunities come around. That meant, sitting in snow even when it meant I’d sink into it, and snow would get into my pockets. I got a scare when the snow in my pocket got on my camera, but it seemed okay. (The next day I made sure to put my camera in a plastic bag before heading out.)

I took this picture in a hurry as we were leaving, and the sun was setting, so it’s not that great, but I’m including it here because it gives a sense of the quantity of snow that day.

This picture was taken the following afternoon, after the sun came out, but I thought it was pretty enough to include here, even though the snow had already been plowed and walked on.
I took it just to show how thick the layer of snow was.

I hope you enjoyed these!