Bundt Pans as Art

Come on now, how cute is this?

Interested in Indie Biz?

I’m writing a little blog about indie business topics.

Care to see?

www.themakery.posterous.com

I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.  If you’re interested, email me at cottageinds at gmail dot com and suggest a topic!

Modern Patchwork

I’ve been itching to start work on another quilt.
Can I show you my latest favorites?

This one’s been hanging around in my flickr favorites for the longest time.  I’m amazed just looking at it!  I’m trying to figure out how the quilter accomplished this loveliness…  A commenter clued me in to the fact that the quilt was probably constructed in 4 light sections, and 4 dark sections.  It must have required a lot of patience, a lot of planning, and a lot of passion.

This one, too, is equally fabulous.  I really like the geometric quality of it — and how the quilter made use of solid fabrics.  It’s funny, because as much as I am attracted to quilts with solid colors, I only seem to have printed fabric in my stash.  There’s a little disconnect there.  I think I need to remedy the situation with a trip to the fabric store to get some solids.  Any excuse to buy more fabric, right?

This beauty must have taken for.ev.er. to make.  And it was worth it, because it is one of the most stunning quilts I have every seen.  It looks like traditional flying geese — but I love the way that some triangles are squished, and some triangles are stretched to look like little pine trees.  And, I love how the groupings of colors make subtly defined shapes against the background fabric.

I’ll let you know when I decide which direction to pursue.  What’s your favorite?

inspired by passion

A hearty welcome to all of you visiting from the Blog-it-Forward project. Thanks for reading.

I’m glad that I’ve had all this time to think about my inspirations.  I needed to spend a few days reflecting, distilling.  And what it boils down to is this: I am inspired by passion.

I am inspired by your passion for your craft, your cause, your calling, your creativity.  Passion makes my heart leap, my knees wobble, my smile broaden, my eyes crinkle in delight.

“Passion, it lies in all of us, sleeping… waiting… and though unwanted… unbidden… it will stir… open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us… guides us… passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion maybe we’d know some kind of peace… but we would be hollow… Empty rooms shuttered and dank. Without passion we’d be truly dead.” — Joss Whedon

Without passion, we’d just be going through the motions.  Living each day the same.  But passion compels action.  Passion keeps us motivated to keep achieving, to keep loving, to make each day better than the last.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to always feel such boundless enthusiasm for life?

Passion helps me to be more creative.  Passion for what I do can give me the strength to tough out the hard days.  I need passion to drive me to work harder, to keep learning.


“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”
— Julia Child

Thanks to all of you for sharing your passions and your inspirations with me.  Thank you for doing what you love — and sharing your love for what you do.  Thank you for telling that story.

That’s it for me, then.  Thanks to sfgirlbybay for dreaming up this grand idea, coquette and dove for posting before me, and covet chicago for continuing the story tomorrow.
If you’d like, please visit the other bloggers who are also sharing their inspiration today.  They are: bits of beauty, on montague, rhymes with chaos, feminine modern, style bust, just travelin’ through, the sweatshop of love, miel and company, wonderings and wanderings.

A cake for Fat Tuesday

Just in time for our Mardi Gras party.

If you haven’t heard of King’ Cake (and I’m sorry for you if you haven’t) it consists of a a brioche-style dough, baked and topped with icing and colored sugar. The cakes usually have a small trinket (often a small plastic baby) baked inside.  The lucky person who finds the trinket has the privilege (or obligation) of hosting the next Mardi Gras party.


My poor King’s Cake suffered a slight mishap, in that it looks more like horseshoe instead of the traditional ring shape.  (I must not have attached the two ends well enough before baking — so learn from my mistake and be sure to join the ends extra well.)
In any case, it tastes delicious — and maybe the horseshoe shape will impart a little extra good luck.  And who doesn’t need that?


Ingredients:
Dough:
1 1/2 envelopes instant yeast
5 cups sifted flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1/2 cup warm water
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled

Filling:
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Icing:
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice, strained
3 to 5 tablespoons water
Colored sugar (purple, green, and gold)

Directions:
Dough:
In the bowl of your electric mixer, combine yeast, flour, sugar, nutmeg, lemon zest, and salt.  In another bowl, stir together the water, milk, egg yolks, and butter.   Incorporate the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients on low speed.  Using a dough hook, knead the dough until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes), adding a little more flour if necessary.  
Place dough in greased bowl, cover, and let rise about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume.
After the dough has risen, gently punch down to redistribute air bubbles.  Knead for just a minute.  
On a floured surface, roll dough into a large rectangle.  
To make the filling, combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup melted butter.  Mix until crumbly.
Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up tightly like a jelly roll.  Bring the ends of each roll together to form a ring.
Place on a prepared baking sheet, and set aside again to rise for another 45 to 60 minutes.
Bake in the middle of oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Slide cake onto wire rack to cool.

Icing:
Stir together the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of water in a bowl until the icing is smooth.  Spread the icing over the cake, and sprinkle with the colored sugars.

pictures from the weekend

We were in such a celebratory mood this weekend after accepting the position at U of Louisville.  Which was just perfect, with all the holidays.

We kicked back and watched the Olympics, while I worked on a few custom commissions.  Isn’t this handkerchief cute? (Hint: When you whisper “elephant shoes”, it looks like you are saying “I love you.”)

I worked on Zach’s gift extra quickly to finish in time for Valentine’s Day.

I recieved this beautiful bunch of flowers, and spent the rest of the day admiring them.

These tulips are magical.  I can’t wait to see them unfold.

Weekend Reading — Craft and Business

The subject of crafty bid’ness has been on my mind this weekend.  Here are some links to check out:

1. Etsy and the Culture of Cheap
http://craftmba.com/2010/01/19/etsy-and-the-culture-of-cheap/
This blog post over on CraftMBA.com has sparked an incredibly valuable discussion — every Etsy seller should take a look, and take time to read the insightful comments.

2. A Podcast About Free
http://www.craftypod.com/2010/01/31/craftypod-108-a-podcast-about-free-with-paul-overton/
I spent Friday afternoon listening to the wealth of podcasts at Craftypod.com.  This particular interview with Paul Overton of DudeCraft fame discusses how the abundance of free information available on the internet affects our creativity as artists and generativity as bloggers.  How can we use to concept of “free” to enhance our community and build our businesses?

3. Handmade Socks, Realistic Price
http://www.coriandr.com/item/5877/handmade-socks-realistic-price
I encourage you to read this post, if only to learn about the value of handmade. Do you think you’d still make sales if you priced your handmade goods this honestly?

4. How to Distinguish Yourself from the Mass Market
http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/a-different-thing-entirely-how-to-distinguish-yourself-from–6934/
This is the perfect article to round out the discussion.  This post lists practical steps that we as makers can implement to communicate the value of our handmade object to buyers who might not necessarily understand the care and effort that goes into making objects outside the system of mass production.

5. Our New Store
http://www.cottageinds.com
Just in case you missed it, we launched our new website this week.  We’re really excited about it — and we can’t wait for you to check out all the new items!

Have you read any interesting crafty bid’ness articles lately?  Post a link in the comments!