Tuesday, April 1

Glass Flowers

A few weeks ago I got to try my hand at glass sculpting. I bought a coupon for a class at Tulsa Glassblowing Studio making glass flowers. After some minor delays in getting our class scheduled, my friend Amanda and I went and learned the basics of working with glass.

My flower, loved the colors.
Working with the liquid glass was interesting, you dip some out of a large kiln with a long metal rod. For the glass (which has the consistency of honey) to keep its shape you keep turning it and reheating it often since the glass tries to solidify as it cools.

With flowers you start out rolling the glass into a fat stem-like shape, although it looks more like a fat sausage at that point. The colored glass is a bunch of small shards in separate bins. You roll the glass in the color for the stem, add more glass from the kiln, then smash the new glass straight down into the color for the petals. After that you use a jack (like giant tweezers) to pull the glass out in the petal shapes. Our instructor finished the flowers by letting the stem stretch and twist before breaking the flower off the pole.

Amanda's flower, thought it would be perfect for her office.
The process was very cool, but I could tell it would take a lot of practice to be able to control how the piece turns out. Amanda and I chose different colors, but even the shapes turned out completely different. And looking at the flowers on display in the studio I didn't see any that were alike.

The studio does demonstrations during the monthly First Friday Art Crawl in the Tulsa Brady Arts District (where they are located), which is fascinating. When we went for our class Amanda and I convinced our instructor to show off a bit to give us an idea of how to use the tools we didn't need for glass flowers. He made a clear glass vase which was pretty cool. But during the First Friday demonstration I saw they were working on a couple of pieces that were a lot more complex, requiring multiple people to create. 

My flower on display.
In addition to glass flowers the studio offers other beginner classes where you can make anything from a paperweight to a Christmas ornament or flowers like we made. They also sell vases, bowls, jewelry and other items made in the studio.

I'd love to go back and make ornaments around Christmas time. I'm thinking about suggesting it as a group event to my book club, but I need to research the cost for a class without the coupon and see if there is a limit to how many people can come. My guess is that there is since the studio isn't large and they have to provide and instructor.

I managed to get a few pictures of us making our flowers. Check them out below!

Me watching the instructor stretch my flower's stem.

Heating the glass after adding color.

Rolling the stem in color.

We had to make a cut in the glass
for where the stem would break off the rod.

Using the jack to pull out petals.

Stretching the stem on Amanda's flower.
There's a very short window to do this before the glass hardens.

Our instructor making a vase.

Amanda checking out the shop items.

Saturday, March 1

Wasted Storage Space

I may have mentioned how my kitchen cabinets are so full that I didn't have any extra space for new items. For instance, the Oster standing mixer and food processor from the 60s that I got from Gramma Getchell's house takes up a whole cabinet all on its own. Very frustrating for someone with limited space.

Until I realized I've got a whole area of storage space I'd been wasting.

I was in my laundry room a few days ago when it finally clicked that the cabinets above my washer and dryer don't go all the way to the ceiling like the ones in the kitchen do. There's almost a foot of space up there!

So I moved some of my rarely used items, such as my wok, a serving platter and my cake carrier up there. That opened up almost an entire cabinet!

It isn't necessarily pretty, but it is definitely nice to have. Gramma Getchell's house actually had storage cabinets built in above her kitchen cabinets. You needed a ladder to reach them, but it was nice to have some of the things you only use a couple times a year out of the way. I'll have to remember to have above the cabinet storage installed if I ever build a house.

I also bought a newer fancy gizmo to replace the Oster. Don't get me wrong, the Oster works great and there is definitely something to be said for products that keep working for decades after you buy them (I used the Oster last February to make a King Cake for Mardi Gras), but I really wanted a standing mixer that was small enough to keep on the kitchen counter.

So I bought this:
KitchenAid Standing Mixer

Isn't is beautiful? Lydia and I used it to make gingerbread dough during our baking marathon. I also used it to make cake batter for the New Year's Eve party I went to. I'm looking forward to getting a few of the attachments too, like a food processor.

Fun Fact: My great-grandma has a refrigerator that she and my papaw bought right after World War 2. And it is still running, despite the warranty that ran out in the 50s.

I'll probably try to sell or give away the mixer I got from my gramma's house. While I fully support reusing or re-purposing vintage items, I just don't have the space right now to accommodate a large vintage mixer.

King Cake

1 (16 oz.) container sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. salt
2 (1/4 oz.) envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 to 6 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsps. ground cinnamon
Purple, Green and Gold sugar sprinkles
Small figurine or image of Child Jesus OR a large coin

  1. Cook first four ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts. Set aside the mixture to cool slightly.
  2. Stir together the yeast, 1/2 cup warm water and 1 Tbsp. sugar in a 1-cup glass measuring cup and let stand for five minutes or until frothy.
  3. Combine the sour cream mixture and the yeast mixture and add the eggs and two cups of flour. Beat at medium speed with a heavy-duty mixture until smooth.
    • The dough quickly becomes thick and heavy like bread dough. My hand mixer couldn't handle it so I used the bread hook on the Oster standing mixer.
  4. Reduce speed to low and gradually add enough of the remaining flour (4 to 4 1/2 cups) to create a soft dough.
  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place in a well-greased bowl, turning the dough to grease the top. 
  6. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm (about 85 degrees) place--free from drafts--for one hour or until dough is doubled in size.
  7. Punch down dough and divide in half. Roll out each portion into a 22x12 rectangle.
  8. Spread 1/3 cup softened butter evenly on each rectangle, leaving a one inch border.
  9. Combine the 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over the buttered dough on each rectangle. Then place the Jesus figure or coin on the surface of the dough. 
  10. Roll up each rectangle of dough, jelly-roll fashion, starting on the long side. Place one dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bring the ends of the roll together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Repeat with second dough roll.
    • I put the two pieces together into one large circle rather than making two smaller cakes.
  11. Cover and let rise in a warm place--free from drafts--for 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
  12. Bake at 375 degrees for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and cool slightly on pans or wire racks. Drizzle creamy glaze evenly over warm cake.
  13. Decorate the cake with colored sprinkles alternating colors around the cake.
    • I actually used food coloring to color the glaze and then lightly sprinkled the cake with white sugar. A lot of king cakes are overly sugared (in my opinion) and I didn't want to hunt down purple, green and gold sugar sprinkles.
3 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsps. butter, melted
2 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2 to 4 Tbsp. milk
  1. Stir together first four ingredients. 
  2. Stir in 2 Tbsps. milk, adding additional milk 1 tsp. at a time until glaze reaches spreading consistency.
There is also an optional cream cheese filling that can be used as a substitute to the cinnamon/sugar filling. See directions below:

Cream Cheese Filling:
  1. Prepare each 22x12 dough rectangle as directed. Omit the 1/3 cup softened butter and 1 1/2 tsps. cinnamon.
  2. Increase 1/2 cup sugar to 3/4 cup sugar. Combine with two 8 oz. packages of softened cream cheese. Add one egg and 2 tsps. vanilla extract. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. 
  3. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on each dough rectangle, leaving a one inch border. 
  4. Proceed with recipe as directed.

Saturday, February 8

Influenster: Dove Voxbox

My free sample of Dove advanced care deodorant!
I received my third voxbox this month and it included one of my favorites!

I've used Dove deodorant for a while, although not this specific product. The Dove advanced care is supposed to moisturize your underarms as well as helping with odor and perspiration. As you can see on the box the company states that 36% of what you remove by shaving is skin, increasing the need to moisturize the area.

For me that isn't as much of an issue. I chose to start laser hair removal on my underarms last spring. I was wary of the claims about laser hair removal since I attempted it in high school with no lasting results. However, a friend of mine works for Ideal Image and explained that a lot of places that do laser hair removal use the wrong type of laser. The lasers designed for things other than laser hair removal often leave a small part of the hair root which allows the hair to grow back over time. That's likely what happened with my first experience with laser hair removal.

So far my experience with Ideal Image has been great. I only have a few more appointments for my underarms (you have to go back several times every other month or so) and despite the expense so far I've noticed a huge difference which makes it worth it.

All that to say, I haven't had to shave under my arms as often and soon I won't need to at all. So I'm not too worried about the amount of skin removed by shaving. It's still important to moisturize your underarms though, just like you would any other area of your skin. That's what actually got me started using Dove deodorant several years ago.

About five years ago I remember reading an article about how you should moisturize your underarms and it mentioned the skin seeming dry and flaky. Which made me notice the skin around my underarms did seem dry. Dove was one of the products the article mentioned so I decided to give it a try, within a few days I noticed my skin seemed healthier.

For the past few months I've been using Dove cleartone deodorant, which is supposed to help moisturize and even skin tone. I picked up this option because I've always had problems with the skin under my arms being darker. I'm not sure how much of the change was the deodorant and how much is the laser hair removal (my friend mentioned lightened skin tone as a possible side effect), but my underarms seem lighter.

Between the cleartone and the advanced care it did feel like the advanced care sample went on smoother, but I'm not sure I can tell a difference in the protection or how moisturizing the products are. I recommend giving Dove's deodorants a try, I'm so excited I got free sample!
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