Taken May 2009 by KH


Rinascimento is Italian for renaissance and literally means to be reborn. In a historical context it refers to the revival of art, music, culture and learning in Europe from the 14th through the 17th centuries.

Monday, January 31, 2011

January's Resolutions--revisited

For 2011 I decided to go about my resolutions in a different manner.  Instead of making year-long goals, I decided t make goals one month at a time. 
My January 2011 goals were:
1)  To drink enough water
2) To get in some exercise, despite the knees
3) To give praise, kudos, hugs, high 5s and other expressions of positive karma wherever I can.

In terms of water, I've done really well. I'm back to keeping a 16 ounce glass where I sit at the dining room table.  That way each time I sit down for a meal, or even just to do paperwork l I make it a  point to have a whole glass of water.  I also have a glass in two of the three bathrooms. Again, when I use the restroom I have a glass of water.  Those two little changes have made a significant difference in my water consumption.

I didn't do so well on the exercise piece of it. It's been a month of knee and back pain. I'm starting to wonder if I'm getting
arthritis in my knees. Figures, wouldn't it? LOL  So starting tomorrow, it's back to the drawing board with a new
fitness-based resolution.

For goal #3, I wanted to spread gratitude, praise, hugs and general good karma. It's been so heartwarming.  Making someone else feel good, making them smile, making them feel valued just flat out makes me feel good. I'm going to keep this resolution around permanently! 

So in a day or two I'll post my February resolutions. I also have a couple posts in the pipeline showcasing some recent cakes, a piece in praise of going nude (with shoes that is), and some adorable fingerprint jewelry.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Season's Eatings with a history lesson twist

As everyone knows, I'm big on tradition. When it comes to food and the holidays, it's doubly true. It helps  me feel connected to family and friends who've come before, and by talking to James about these traditions while we cook together, it's connecting me to the future as well--through him.

For Christmas morning brunch I make the same items that my Grandma Folk made every year when I was a little girl. Two of the recipes come from Martha Dixon's Copper Kettle Cook Book which was published in Grand Rapids, MI in 1963.The first is Butter-Ball Coffee Cake and the second is a Sour Cream Coffee Cake.  Both can be made a day or two ahead and are simple and delicious.

Additionally, near and dear to my heart is the Cheese Souffle recipe that came from my cousin Joyce Harding Wotring. Cousin Joyce passed away quite a number of years ago from breast cancer, if memory serves. I make this souffle each Christmas in her honour. Part of why I love it that you assemble it the day before, pop it in the refrigerator and bake it Christmas morning. The souffle, coffee cakes and a ham to round things out, make for a delicious (and easy!!!) Christmas brunch.

So what does this have to do with history?  You can learn about history by taking classes, reading books, watching documentaries, and going to an art museum. But, you can also learn about history by reading old cook books. Cook books are a window into the socio-economic climate of the times.  Currently, I'm reading  my way through the 1943 Edition of the Joy of Cooking. First published in the early 1930s, the Joy of Cooking is a a testament to the values of the times. The recipes are generally short, simple and frugal and clearly show their ties to the Great Depression.

Why don't you start some traditions of your own?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The whimisical tree

We started off the Christmas decorating by trying to decide on a tree. Did we use our 9' artificial tree? Did we get a smaller artificial? Did we cut a fresh one?  Last summer after James attended a eco-friendly camp he went on and one about which kind of tree is more ecologically responsible.  Gotta give the boy credit for paying attention.

After much discussion on the pros and cons, we did decide on a fresh cut tree. As a family, we traipsed off to Urquharts for a fresh tree.  John was determined that we not come home with some 10' behemoth and of course James wanted every Charlie Brown tree he saw.  At one point James picked out what looked like a 5' tall round shrub. I nearly let him talk us into that tree. But in the end, we chose a 6' Canaan Fir.

Now how to decorate it? I have enough ornaments to decorate a number of trees. They're all in plastic tubs and organized by color. You know I'm OCD right? LOL. I have blues, reds, white and the proverbially popular, silver and gold. I also have tons of pine cones, fruits, gingerbread ornaments, silver metal stars, silver Wilton Armetale ornaments, mittens and whatnot that have made it into my trees over the year.

I decided to eschew with my traditional Martha Stewart-esque tree and do something more natural. Maybe natural isn't the right word. Maybe outdoorsy. I used pine cones, glittered fruits, gingerbread ornaments and a variety of mittens--some knit and some wood.  It's light and whimsical and as a found out later--tasty for dogs!
On top of the tree I put my red-headed, porcelain angel. I've never found another angel with red hair. The angel belonged to my Grandma Berwald and came to me when she passed 20 years ago. I know she purchased it in Grand Haven, MI at Lakeside Floral. The price tag reads $29.95. When did she buy it? Who knows. Did she know how special it would be to me? Probably not.  In any event, I cherish my red-headed angel and look forward to passing her on to James.

The tree held up beautifully, despite Tilly catching her tail in the lights and then attacking and dismembering one of the gingerbread boys on the tree!  Who knows what kind of tree we'll have for 2011.

Age appropriate mermaids

A couple  months back I received a cake commission from my friend Julie. It was for a the fifth birthday of her daughter Nola.  Nola, mind you, had very specific requests when it came to her cake.  She wanted chocolate cake, something blue, the number 5 on it, and with a mermaid on it that she could eat.

I started to sketch out my design and knew I wanted to sculpt mermaids out of fondant. I wanted a sample image to work from and that's where I ran into a problem. 99% of the images available for mermaids were quite voluptuous, Siren-esque and downright provacative--definitely not appropriate for a party for a 5 year old!!! I thought about changing my design, stressed over the whole thing a few days and decided to keep looking at images online. It took ages, but finally found an image of a a mermaid, or rather a mergirl that was sweet and child-like. Yihah--I was in business! From that image the cake below developed. 

Not knowing Nola's favorite color I sculpted 4 little fondant mergirls in different colored costumes, but each as a brunette, like Miss Nola. A pearl necklace and a flower in the hair added a girly finishing touch. As for the "5" part, I made a piece of driftwood out of fondant that I marbled to look like wood. Each mergirl holds a rope attached to the piece of driftwood.

So who knew, when all this started how hard it would be to find an age appropriate picture of a mermaid?