Sunday, August 28, 2011

Earring Post. Get it?

What I thought was the perfect solution wasn't. My plastic earring holder from The Container Store was messy looking and it had a broken hinge. It was getting full and I needed to find a more attactive way to house my growing earring collection.

So I sketched out my dream earring holder. How about rotating disks with a light?
Maybe I could adapt the rotating racks I saw at Marshall's. But they were ugly, broken, and the wrong color. I happened upon these candlesticks wrapped in rattan.

Maybe I could tuck my earrings into the lattice?

Here are some of the earrings that needed a new home after the failed craft show (I only sold ONE pair in 8 hours). Sick. 
Can you believe no one bought these?
I'm actually glad no one did. So here are the towers are all loaded up. Reds/oranges on one, and blue/greens on the other. I've staggered them and worked my way around, kind of like Charlie Brown's shirt.
To finish my dressertop tableau, all I need are these low touch lights I saw at Home Depot yesterday.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In deep-fried trouble!

Each year our department designs shirts to sell at the Star Tribune booth at the Minnesota State Fair. "I'm Fried" was one of the selected concepts. You can see some of last year's shirts here. Seems simple. But maybe not. First you need to find the perfect corndog off-season. These were not bad for frozen. They look like a work of art:
After consulting with Rick Nelson, Star Tribune's food critic, we discovered that you could find fresh ones in town. Martha found these bacon wrapped dogs at a bar downtown. Hefty price @ $8 a piece, but the bacon made them lumpy and the sticks were too short. Not ideal for a photo, but they sure tasted good!
Next problem to solve: the mustard writing. Will we need to thicken with cornstarch? Will the Plochman's bottle write like a pen? And what about frosting in a can from my favorite company? Will that make a better pen?
The mustard barrel bottle was the winner! Perfect consistancy and color and easy to write with. Well, it got easier with practice. And the fonts got more personality with time.
You can see the frosting was more yellow and was not the right thing to use. How unfortunate that I did not need it. Wonder what happened to it?
Fellow staffer Tom W. shot the photos. We cleaned up the mess. When I got back to my desk I realized I forgot to draw smiley faces. A letter "D" and some periods saved the day.  After a little work in Photoshop, it all came together:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Messy Message for a Messenger

Happy Birthday Jane!
 I tried. 
This is what I envisioned:
And this is what you get:
Reminds me of the recent ban on Photoshopped make-up ads in England. I think even the most skilled baker would have trouble achieving the perfection you see on the box.
I've been intrigued with the Message In a Cookie Cookie Cutters from Williams-Sonoma all year. "IN" a cookie?... more like "ON" a cookie. These aren't fortune cookies.
 Check out the helpful video (see link above). Yeah right. I'd like to see the real footage.
I bought this on my mom's birthday, intending to give it to her as a gift (she has more patience than I do and I'm sure she would have no trouble with this). Instead, I decided to just make her the cookies. About 1/2 way through the painful process, I decided this would be a really bad gift, for many reasons.
First you need to flatten dough into a disk and refrigerate. And why the disk? Dough rounds ALWAYS crack when you roll it out. And this dough needs to be REALLY cold. So here's what I learned. Press between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to 1/4" thickness. Roll with rolling pin to smooth. Then put in fridge.

Next you will need to FORCE the letters into the molds. Here's a tip. Spray with PAM. The letters slide in only slightly easier. And if you didn't get it centered the first time? Find a muscle man to move it over.
And the tricky part? Holding the spring down while you insert the letters with your PAM covered slippery fingers. Watch the lady in the video. She stumbled a bit here too but elegantly recovered with careful editing.
You have to lay the message out SDRAWKCAB.
And forget writing Happy 29th Jane! It's doesn't come with numbers. Or punctuation.

Before you force the letters into the channels you need to clean out the dried lime green tinted dough from last time that has now become concrete. A toothpick does the trick.

Like I said before, the dough needs to be really COLD or you get this mess. 
Smash it back togther and back it goes into the fridge. Cookbooks say reworking your dough will make it tough. I have never heard ANYone ever complain about tough cookies in my life.  So play and have fun and use up every scrap. I ended up liking the marbled dough look the best.
You learn as you go. Plop cold layer of flat dough onto parchment. Cut out shape. Peel away dough from the negative space. Or so I thought. Dough stayed in the cutter and you need to pry out a corner with a toothpick. Maybe flouring the cutter before you cut would help. Guess I should have watched the video first.
Smashing the message with the spring is always a mystery. How far in do you push it? Funny that we did much better in July when I first tried this. We didn't even use the channels because we couldn't insert the messages--which in the end was good because we got a better mix of messages.

You can't tell very well from the photo, but I used the lime green dye. Not very appetizing. One more thing, the thinner you roll it the more cookies you get.

And Jane, you are probably wondering...where are my cookies? We are eating the bad ones and I froze the rest for Wednesday's meeting.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What the Palahniuk, Chuck!

On Friday I was working on a new layout for Star Tribune's Talking Volumes ad. That was happening on my regular computer in front of me. I have an extra computer monitor, and on that I keep e-mail, internet and junk. I glance to the right and the brown paper catches my eye (pinterest). I read the quote and realize that name is familiar...because it's from the guy whose ad I'm working on. Small world.