Monday, December 15, 2008

Whaddaya know? The weather outside IS frightful!

We had a really lovely weekend, temperature-wise. In the sixties and seventies, with a lively, brisk wind blowing. Last I checked the wunderground, they were predicting more of the same, if slightly cooler, all week. Imagine my feelings when I stepped outside this morning in capris and a short-sleeved shirt to discover it was below freezing, with a wind chill at something like 12 degrees. 12 degrees Fahrenheit, I might add.

And I'm afraid I didn't even enjoy the weekend weather like I should have. I got caught up in a round of indoor activities. I've been stripping the paint out of the corners of some of our antique doors (we finally got an estimate from carpenter Javier for resizing and installing all 6 doors--ouchie! Will have to save up for that project). You may recall that we had all 6 dipped and stripped at the local antique refinishers in downtown Elgin. However, the three skinnier doors had very persistent coats of paint, and extra hand stripping is required to clean out the trim. This takes much, much longer than you would have ever thought, and apparently requires 2 coats. Bother, bother, bother. So far, I've worked on one side of one door. I'm using a paste that turns blue and dry when it's ready to be scraped off, which at least minimizes the mess somewhat.

I also worked on a special craft project for Christmas (in addition to proper store-bought presents--I'm not Laura Ingalls Wilder--I don't expect my recipients to be satisified with the equivalent of an orange and a rug made out of rags.) I can't go into details, but I found myself in the scrapbooking supply section of Hobby Lobby for the first time. My, there were lots of flower-shaped decals! However, I flatter myself that my offerings are sufficiently Horrid as to subvert any overweening cuteness from the scrapbook aisle. Horrid, but fabulous.

And I worked on Christmas cookies. I made macarons for the first time (first time eating them, too. Not sure what possessed me. A sort of gastronomic keeping up with the Joneses, I think. Macarons are apparently all the rage this season.) Fidgetty little blighters. One batch turned out picture perfect. The second batch, baked on parchment instead of silplat, and having sat for about 15 minutes before baking, were wrong in apparently all the ways a macaron can go wrong. No "feet," cracked surface, too lumpy and rounded, and chewy inside. Then, per the recipe, I made a disasterous filling called Italian buttercream , which is prone to separating and melting and is also too sweet. So out of the whole fiasco, I got about 8 cookies that are gift-worthy: 4 for my boss and 4 for my cleaning lady. Fortunately, the pralines I made with pecans given us by Mr. Marek turned out just dandy.



Finished product. Only the ones with the chocolate ganache filling are giftable. Chocolate never lets me down.

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