2013: The Busiest Year Ever

Hello my little dumplings!

Every time I visit I feel I must apologise for my long absence. Therefore, please accept my sincerest apologies.

2013 shall forever be known to me as “the year everything happened at once”. I’m preparing for Aethercon Steampunk Convention, a burlesque show, a family wedding, and doing Sunday markets all at the same time! Do people realise the year will continue after June? Spread things out a little!

Anyway, rant over. Here’s what I’ve been making lately, they’ll make their debut at Aethercon.

Reversible obi style belts: comfort, versatility and badass style all in one sweet package. Ranging from $55 – $65 these flattering belts define your waist in all kinds of good ways. They’re all handmade by me, and there lot’s more styles yet to come!

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Just a quick snapshot of a work-in-progress. I’m beading these straps up for a custom request from a bride who is adding them to an existing gown.

The beadwork incorporates patterns from the existing beading on her gown.

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Super Tangy Lemon Yoghurt Cake

There is no flavour that compares to a ripe lemon. Tangy and tart with a hidden sweetness, lemons are one of my favourite flavours to bake with!

This cake is my current obsession. It’s moist and summery, with a delectable balance of sour and sweet. It’s also one of the easiest cakes I’ve ever made.

I made three of these in two weeks, and ate one almost all by myself ( yes I’m ashamed. So very, very ashamed).


The recipe is from Alison Holst, but I change a few things. I’ve marked these below :)

Lemon Yoghurt Cake

a 21cm ring cake:

1 1/2 cups sugar
Rind of 2 lemons (I always use three for extra lemony-ness)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola or other light vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup yoghurt
2-3 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour

oven on to 190 degrees Celsius, or 180C if using a fan oven.

The original instructions were for people with fancy schmancy food processors. I’m old school, so I used the directions below.

Grate all the coloured peel from the lemons into a large bowl.
Add the sugar, eggs and oil, then whisk together.
Add the salt, yoghurt and lemon juice and mix again.
Sift in the flour, then mix gently until just combined.

Pour into your lightly greased ring tin. bake for 30 minutes (mine always takes 40 minutes, so check it to see if a skewer comes out clean before deciding if it’s cooked!).

With this cake it’s really important to let it cool before removing it from the tin. If you’re impatient – like me – some of it will choose to remain in the tin. If this happens, don’t panic! Just keep calm and decorate! It’s amazing what icing sugar, icing, or a few daisies can disguise…

For an extra moist and lemony cake, I gently pour lemon juice over the warm cake before sprinkling it with white sugar. This creates a delicate, crunchy sweet crust!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Burly-Q Newbie Needs a Name!


As you many have guessed ( because you’re oh-so-very clever … or you read the title of the post ), I’ve just started burlesque classes!

Aside from generally feeling a bit silly and uncoordinated, the first class brought before me a great hurdle – the creation of a name. Not that big a deal at first. Not a big deal at all.

Until you realise that your name will be the first thing people hear when you walk on stage.

The first thing they judge you by.

The thing that will show them that you’re clever, witty, cute or sultry. Or completely unimaginative.

So all in all, actually quite a big deal.

I need a name that suits me. That says I’m witty, cute, and (hopefully) sexy in a steampunky, librarian kinda way. I need your help.

Below is a poll with my current burlesque name options. Vote away! If you think they’re all rubbish, suggest one of your own! Save me from being a nameless nobody, a titleless tease!

While you decide on a proper name for this steamtrain sweetheart, I’ll be donning some heels and practicing my strut. Or eating cookies. Probably eating cookies.

The Raven Mistress; Couture Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe

So often my designs are inspired by words. A paragraph, a single sentence, the shortest heartfelt lyric. Left to stew in my mind these can blossom into a concept or character, just waiting to be tweaked and evolved by pencil on paper.

My favourite creation was one such idea, inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s masterpiece ‘The Raven‘ . Verses seven and eight in particluar…

“Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,’ I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’”

The description of the raven as stately and beguiling lead me on a path. Were the ravens intentions good or ill? Was it simply the puppet of someone behind the scenes, hoping to drive Poe to madness?

After tons of research and development, these questions lead to “The Raven Mistress”. This gown is a dark, dramatic representation of Poe’s Raven, and its ability to hide its true nature and intentions behind a beguiling facade. I explored themes including the power and decadence of high social status and manipulation through beauty.

One of the mood boards I created during the design process.

I sketched pages and pages of concepts before the final design was developed.

The Raven Mistress is a gown of raw black silk, overlayed with fine net. I sewed much of the gown by hand, using couture construction techniques. Even the huge hemline was handsewn (and what an undertaking that was!).

The velvet bodice is embellished with hand woven beaded feathers. I crafted each of these to a specific size and combination of white, silver and black Japanese glass beads to create the gradient of colour through the bodice, before individually sewing them in place. Hundreds  of hours went into this process, leaving me almost as mad as Poe by the end!

More net flows elegantly from the shoulders, blending with the overlay of the gown to create layers of shifting black over the shine and texture of the silk. Long strands of faceted glass beads loop to the wrists and down the gowns train, creating a stylised Raven wings and tail.

 

 

 


 


Words can lead to things we never imagined, so go forth my friends, and read! ( I’m not suggesting you become obsessed and dedicate a few months of your life to one dress, but a smaller project could be just as enjoyable, and somewhat better for your health.)

If you’d like to explore more of Poe’s work this website is very helpful, even providing a list of Edgar’s more uncommon vocabulary with definitions.

 

 

 

 

That’s Pinteresting!

Just a quite note to let you all know I’m now on Pinterest!
You can visit my boards here to see some of my colour and style inspirations, as well as items I covet and places I’d love to visit.

Leave a comment with a link to your Pinterest boards, so I can stop by and visit you!

On a Cold Winters Night

The cold certainly has settled in today! A white frost greeted us when we stepped outside this morning, and I sat dangerously close to the gas heater to dry my hair tonight.

While the moon is large and haloed outside, I’m cuddled up at my computer (obviously) listening to Lady Antebellum crooning. I’m thinking of revamping the banner on the Cog & Compass Etsy store. What do you think?

I’m also thinking that online paper dolls are highly addictive. My Mum was very anti-TV when I was a kid, and I remember spending winter evenings making paper dolls by our pot-belly fireplace. Decked out in extravagant gowns and hats, I reckon my paper dolls were been the best dressed cut outs around! Thinking back, they would have looked quite at home on the cover of a historic romance novel haha.

I just made this cute pin-up version of myself (oh that my hair were that tidy!) over at the pin up doll maker. Not a bad way to waste ten minutes… not bad at all…

High Tea at the Parnell Rose Gardens

Last week I was lucky enough to enjoy a cozy escape from the wintery chill, high tea at the Parnell Rose Gardens!

Food is always more enchanting when it’s smaller, and the fare served up was delightful. Tiny mocha towers, miniature lemon meringues, various savouries (and of course scones) were presented, accompanied by a wonderful choice of teas. I have to say, when it comes to afternoon tea, the Victorians did it right.

My choice of beverage from the extensive list was the Otago Summer Fruits tea, an all fruit blend of apricots, peaches, strawberries, carrots flakes and rose buds from the Otage region of this fair country (New Zealand). I must say I was curious about the inclusion of carrots flakes, but I didn’t notice the flavour at all.

If I take high tea here again I believe I’ll try the Strawberries and Cream Black Tea, it sounds deliciously naughty!

While the roses were largely absent due to inclement weather there were still one or two blooms loitering in the harsh winter sunshine.

Last time we ate high tea it was at The Stamford, you can see their gorgeous food in my post about it.
Where is your favourite place to enjoy a little high tea treat?

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Na Na Na Na Na Na Batcake!

Our dear friend James is officially a grumpy old dinosaur. To remind him of his impending decrepitude a surprise party was held in his honour.

I made a cake. A Batcake. it’s like a Bat Signal for hungry metallers.

Mmmm chocolatey goodness….

Holy underpants Batman, it’s a cake!