Darcy Lewis Design

Adventures in "Good Enough" Design

Archive for the month “December, 2015”

Happy New Year!

This year, like the last 3, has flown by at the speed of light.  We’ve rushed from major life change to major life event, and that seems to have swallowed up all the time in the middle – funny how that works.

As we slowly settle in to our very own first home together, we finally had the chance to start navigating some of the bumps of multicultural, multi-ethnic, marriage.  We are finding ways to keep the traditions and rituals that are meaningful to each of us, discard the pieces we don’t like, and incorporate them into a new whole which is more authentically US.  This is both a wonderful and painful process.

I am constantly reminded of an old joke my family told of how another family always celebrated a particular holiday with a special roast they would carefully cut in half before cooking.  Finally, a great grand-daughter of the family dared to ask the matriarch what the meaning and symbolism was behind the halving of the roast.  The matriarch blinked in puzzlement and replied, “There is no meaning to it!  My first oven was too small for the whole roast, so I cut it in half.  I guess my kids saw me do it and thought it was a thing.”  I always felt that if I changed anything, my ancestors would roll over in their graves!  But that pretends that culture and traditions, even deeply religious ones, have remained unchanged from generation to generation, and even more unlikely, that our ancestors never thought about anything, questioned anything, and never navigated their own map through faith and culture.  But we know that none of those things are true!!  Our ancestors struggled with belief and a changing social and political climate affected faith and how globalization changed observance.  Religion, faith, culture, and traditions themselves have changed significantly, sometimes in very short periods of time.  So it’s a little silly to think our ancestors would disturb their sleep over something as petty as living life.

As part of this remapping of culture, I’ve been more open and on the lookout than ever for scholarly works on why we celebrate in particular ways, and I’ve been honestly shocked (because I thought I knew almost everything about the subject already) to find how much of our ‘sacred traditions’ have been the equivalent of grandma’s tiny oven.  It made sense to do it then, so people started doing it, but not because there was an intrinsic significance to it.

This has also forced us into some also-painful-but-important conversations on what we want for our family, the kinds of values, culture(s), and traditions we want to pass on – knowing that this is just the latest in a series of these conversations that we will have for many many more years.  And you know, taking the time to sit down and analyze why we do certain things and what they mean to us and what message are we really sending and is that the message we WANT to be sending, is a really important part of living a conscious life.

So I’ve jettisoned (or am working on that) some things that I did not enjoy, that espoused messages and values I don’t espouse, and am adopting and tweaking new rituals that are a more accurate indicator of our family and our beliefs and values.  I’m really starting to enjoy the holidays in a way I never did before.

My new year’s wish for all of you is that you live a conscious life, jettison those things that hurt or don’t reflect you and your value, freely adopt and own those things that do matter to you.  And have a wonderful year!!

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Baking!

Gosh, I know I’ve been so bad at keeping this updated!  It seems like I wake up, do the bare minimum to keep my business and life running, and suddenly it’s 1am and bedtime!  Every day feels like nothing got done, but I know that isn’t true and vast amounts of unpacking, settling in, organizing, and LIVING are happening.

So, some highlights of the past month (as proof 😉  ):

ONE OF MY JACKETS WAS FEATURED ON TELEVISION!

On a local morning talk show, to be precise!  That was tremendously exciting, and I only found out about it the night before!  They’d seen my work in one of the galleries I show in here, and decided to grab it!

Also, have been asked to teach several workshops, some open to the public, some not.  So if you are local, or visiting the Greater Detroit area and you’re a member of ASG, I will be doing 3D Quilting in March and Velvet Embossing in May for 2 different local chapters.  You are welcome to come join.

Tried my hand at decorating for winter for the first time this year.  Hopefully, will improve with experience 😉

Strung one of our smallest trees with ornaments (no lights ;(  )…

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Hung up 2 large lanterns filled with twinkle lights and ornaments… 1 at the end of the drive, 1 on the front porch by the door.P1000229

I decorated the wreath myself!  (Very proud of my first attempt 😉  ) – this is hung by the garage door we use most.P1000230

Put a little reindeer by the porch… he needed a nose, but not red (I hate the story of Rudolph.  Moral: People will come to like you when they realize they need you?!), gold seemed to match…P1000248

My husband decided this wasn’t enough, so he wrapped ME in lights and planted me on the porch.  We are not amused….P1000234

 

AND, I’ve spent the past month baking up a storm!!!  Husband waited (3 times!) until the last minute to ask me to make something for the company bake sale fundraiser for Toys for Tots, then there was the company potluck, then he wanted something to bring as a present for colleagues, then he ambushes me with a demand for more (he miscounted), PLUS could I make a special batch for one person who is gluten-free (well, his diet is).  Ok, that was actually more like 5 times, wasn’t it?

So I bought a ton of the mini-loaf pans (Bed, Bath, and Beyond has a set of 4 for $10, don’t forget your coupon!) and an average cake recipe divides neatly into 4 minis!  Yay math!

I made lots of cranberry cakes, many different versions! (Note, I skipped the nuts in all these recipes because they were for gifts and I didn’t know who had allergies.)

Our favorite ended up being this delicious coffee-cake version from Cookie Monster Cooking – though I skipped the almond extract.  (Confession: The first time I made it, I didn’t have a spring-form pan handy, so I poured the batter into a bundt cake pan, carefully putting the streusel topping on the bottom of the pan first. This worked out shockingly well!!!  It was QUITE good!)

Topped with the frosted cranberries from Life, Love, and Sugar (which were awesomely good!).  We don’t like white chocolate, so I skipped that part of the LLS recipe, and found that without it the cake was ok – very dense and heavy, but we preferred the lighter, more open crumb of the CMC recipe.

For the gluten-free recipe, I found this recipe from Martha Stewart which really did come out quite well!!  I used the gluten-free flour blend from Krusteaz that was available at my Kroger grocery.

I found a super handy trick for using mini-loaf pans, that surely will work just as well with almost any pan… Use a strip of parchment paper (does not have to full cover the bottom of the pan, can be less than half the pan in width) to line the pan first, pour your batter on top of this, and then gently pull the tabs of paper up to release the baked cake!  I’ve seen recipes that call for lining the pans, but never suggesting just a little strip.  It makes all the difference in the world!  Those little cakes popped right out, neat as could be.  Any batter that had stuck to the paper and burnt on could just be brushed off gently and did not adhere to the cake, and all the little cakes (I made about 50 mini and full size cakes this month, and have a request for another 2 dozen!) came out beautifully!

Here is what it looks like before, waiting to receive the batter… (forgot to take the other pictures (during and after), so just try to imagine how they’d look…)

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Happy holidays, everyone!!!  Wishing you all a year full of joy, health, happiness, friendship, peace, and love!

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