Monthly Archives: September 2012

An ASTRONOMICAL Sale!

Tomorrow, at 8:49am MDT (14:49UT), is the Autumnal Equinox. There’s a whole scientific description of this biannual astronomical event, but to the layman: equal lengths of night and day. 12 hours of light, 12 hours of dark. Half and half.

Warm up your keyboards, folks, as I’ve had the crazy idea to observe this phenomenon (♪ do doo de doo doo ♫) with a 12 hour/half off sale at Tiddleywink Vintage! From 9am to 9pm (MDT) tomorrow, September 22, 2012, you’ll save 50% on EVERY SINGLE ITEM. Even clearance listings! No code necessary! In fact, I’ll be turning off all other coupon codes for the duration of the sale. Don’t be greedy. (Shipping is still full price, sorry. Remember that all listed shipping fees are estimates, and any charge in excess of $2 over my actual cost will be refunded to you with-the-quickness.)

I’ve never before offered such a deep discount on the entire shop, and who knows when I’ll do it again. If you’ve had your eye on something, jump on it during this sale! There are only 187 days left until Viva Las Vegas, you know. Time is ticking!

_________________

Postscript: I was scheduled to write yesterday about transforming some unfortunate TV trays. The project is at a (hopefully brief) standstill while I try to remember whole out running errands to buy new ink for my printer, which is an integral part of this project. Stay tuned.

Post-postscript: You’ll notice that today’s blog post is not—as originally scheduled—centered on a vintage recipe. I made a Pinterest-via-Bon Appètit recipe for dinner the other night, and I’m still eating leftovers. No point in making more food just yet.

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Filed under advertising, fashion, holidays, life-threatening clutter, shopping, Thank you, vintage

Tirammmmisù

Do as I say, not as I do.

Tiramisù!

First, if you’re opposed to the consumption of raw eggs, stop right here. Come back tomorrow, when I share with you all how I manage to turn some unattractive TV trays into (hopefully) pillars of retro beauty.

Superfluous photo of Yolky, my goofy egg separator (which fits perfectly on a Fire King soup bowl) by JO!E.

Today, I’m going to give you the recipe for Tiramisù exactly as it is written on this (Italian) package of (Italian) ladyfingers (imported from Italy).

Are you catching that? I want to make this clear: this is an authentic, traditional, Italian recipe. As promoted by Vicenzi, the “No. 1 in Italy” brand of savoiardi (ladyfingers). This tiramisù may not be what you’ll find in your local supermarket bakery, and it may not be what you’re accustomed to. It is, however, delicious. And incredibly easy. When made according to these instructions.

Tiramisù
Ingredients for 6–8 servings
400 g Vicenzovo ladyfingers
400 g mascarpone
4 eggs, separated
100 g sugar
2 cups espresso
30 g cocoa powder

Beat the egg yolks with sugar until thick and foamy. Whisk in mascarpone. In separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Fold the mascarpone mixture into the egg whites. Line a rectangular dish with halve of the Vicenzovo ladyfingers dipped into coffee and cover with half of the mascarpone cream mixture. Top with a second layer of dipped Vicenzovo ladyfingers and mascarpone cream. Sift cocoa powder over the whole surface. Refrigerate until serving time.

The very first time I made this, it was exquisite. The only change I made was to use, instead of the Vicenzovo “hard” ladyfingers, an equivalent amount of Trader Joe’s Soft Lady Fingers, which had fallen into the back of my pantry and gotten stale anyway. They fit perfectly into my large Pyrex baking dish, and with the addition of the eggy mascarpone cream and a dusting of cocoa powder, the result was heavenly.

But I still have 400 grams of these Italian ladyfingers in the pantry. And an invitation to dinner with friends. “I’ll bring dessert,” I say. But this time…this time, things will be a leeeetle bit different.

Egg yolks, sugar, faux-mascarpone.

Have you shopped for mascarpone lately? My local supermarket carries two brands, at $5 and $6 per container. This recipe requires two containers. Now don’t get me wrong, I like my friends and all, but that’s a steep price for someone as cheap frugal as I am. Enter: the Internet. And an assortment of recipes for making a mascarpone substitute. I can’t imagine that any of them will taste like proper mascarpone, but I pick a substitute formula that I think will come closest: a mixture of neufchâtel, sour cream, and heavy cream. The ratios required will make too much “mascarpone” for this particular recipe, but I figure hey, did anyone in history ever once complain that their tiramisù was too creamy? Probably not. So I mix up a batch, thus cutting calories while doubling the prep time and dirtying an extra mixer bowl.

Lay, lady, lay.

I start lining my Pyrex dish, and these ladyfingers are not the same size as their Trader Joe counterparts. I have to break them to fit, and even then, each layer of ladyfingers is coming in well shy of the prescribed 200 grams. Oh heck, it’ll be fine, right? Right? I spread the layers of floofy (technical term, that), creamy cheese mixture, I dust with cocoa, it looks lovely. See photo at top of this post. Delightful, right? Because of all of the extra cream mixture, the dish is precariously full. I set it into another, larger dish for travel, and head to see my friends.

We dine on delicious black bean and corn tacos, we chat, we laugh, and now it’s time for dessert. I grab a spatula and some plates, and start serving…tiramisoup. The scant amount of ladyfingers can’t soak up all of the extra cream mixture. Well, that’s okay, it will still taste like…cream cheese. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I mean, look at cheesecake, right? But this does not taste, or feel, like tiramisù. It has a vague tanginess that cream cheese has, and which mascarpone does not. And it’s soupy. So, follow the recipe as instructed. Use a big enough pan. Learn from my mistakes. And enjoy!

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Filed under food, friends, kitchen, packaging, reviews

Facebook Fiasco: An Update

As many of you know, a buncha weeks ago I’d been involuntarily logged out of my Facebook account, and no longer had any access to my personal profile or my shop’s fan page. The page was still public and visible, I simply couldn’t administer it.

The other day while helping a friend work on her own business page, I asked her to surf over to mine to see a particular app I wanted to show her. Curiously, she was redirected back to her page. I tried viewing it from my own device, and was redirected to the default Facebook login page.

Today I tried from my desktop, and was again redirected to the login page. I figured I had nothing to lose, and tried to log in. I was greeted with this:

DISABLED. And in red, so you know they’re serious.

I certainly do have questions or concerns, so I clicked on the hyperlink. That brought me to:

Impersonation? Nope. Misrepresentation? Nope. Spamming? Nope. Hmmm.

When I click on the “contact us” hyperlink shown above, I’m instructed to upload a JPG of a government-issued ID such as my passport or drivers liscense [sic]. Which there is no way I’m doing. Jeepers, they can’t even spell “license” and I’m supposed to trust them to safely store or delete a scan of my passport? PLEASE. But there’s this little caveat lower down on the page anyway:

No warning? SEVERE VIOLATION. No soup for you.

So I guess Facebook doesn’t want me, or my shop’s fan page, on their site. At all. Access to my government-issued IDs notwithstanding. So, to all of the human admins behind the many pages with which I enjoyed interacting: It’s not you, it’s me. Well, really, it’s Facebook. But the point is, it’s not you.

You can visit tiddleywink.com for easy links to some of the social media sites that haven’t kicked me off.

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Improve Your Photos In One Easy Step

Facebook. Flickr. Instagram. Picasa. Twitpic. Photobucket. Snapfish. Smugmug. Everybody you know is posting their photos online, somewhere, somehow. And the most common, numero uno “flaw” I see whenever a person is the subject of a photo is this:

Centered Head Syndrome

The subject’s head is squarely in the center of the photo. Her body is cut off at an awkward point, and there is an enormous amount of empty, boring sky overhead. Now, this is a completely natural thing to do. As a typical human being, your focus is on your friend’s face. And your camera’s focus, quite literally, is in the same spot. But you need to embrace technology, break some boundaries, and MOVE YOUR CAMERA. Move the viewfinder down a bit. Maybe even turn it sideways. Take two steps closer. Now:

Make your friend the center…of attention.

The simplest thing to do, and if your photos fall prey to Centered Head Syndrome it will improve them by 1000%, is to think to yourself, “head to toe.” While looking through the viewfinder, can you see your friend’s head and toes? Good. Start there.

“But the landscape is so pretty, I don’t want to leave it out!” Great, work with it.

There are plenty of instances where you’ll want to get creative and start cropping your friend’s body for artistic purposes, and there are diagrams online which tidily map out where to crop, or not crop, for the best image. You can delve into the “Rule of Thirds” to think about better composition overall, no matter what the subject of your photo. But before you go there, I want you to have 10 photos under your belt where you can see your friend, or friends, from head to toe. Master this one thing, and then expand on what you’ve learned. Your friends will thank you for it.

__________________

With many thanks to the U.S. Gov’t/Peace Corps for providing a copyright restriction-free photo of a beach in Togo. It’s so restriction-free that I don’t need to credit anyone or anything, but I will, because I can.

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Filed under design, family, friends, Thank you

Monday Rounderp

Whoa. Number of things I’m getting done today: Zilcheroonie.

Well, that there’s the “beauty” of the way my disorganized mind works. It’s not that I got nothing done, just nothing on my list. I was going to work on finishing Friday’s “To Do” list, which got preempted by spending an afternoon with a friend whom I don’t get to see enough (which describes most of my friends, really, but I digress WHAT A SURPRISE) and so Friday’s list was to become Monday’s list and then I woke up this morning with an idea for reorganizing some bakeware in my overburdened kitchen cabinets and I figured I’d better act on it before the brilliance wore off and that led to my completely rearranging my living room furniture. Which kind of cut into my morning plans. By the time I took a lunch break, I’d pretty much written off getting anything done today (outside of a little freelance and packing weekend orders). But I have an obligation to you guys, and I shall not shirk my responsibilities! So here is this week’s Rounderp:

Nifty frosted glass Kansas tumbler from 1961 picked up at a thrift store.

Whoop whoop, after a day of errands and a brief thrift store adventure, I picked up my newly tuned-up and re-tired bike from the fine folks at The Bicycle Shack on Saturday! Buuuuut I didn’t have so much as a minute to test ride it, as we were leaving promptly to go to Colorado National Speedway, where I had my first experience with watching figure-8 races. I had no idea that these existed in real life, I thought they were just the domain of slot car tracks! We had a good time, and the Speedway is close enough that we were home before midnight. Yup, I’m apparently an old lady now.

New Schwalbe “Delta Cruisers” on my 1972 Raleigh Sports.

Sunday morning started with a first come, first served come-and-get-it offer on Facebook, and I didn’t think Woody should pass it up. It wasn’t until after the (surprise, you’ll find out later) was loaded into the back of his pickup truck that we looked at each other and asked, what are we going to do with this? But we’re smart cookies, and between the two of us, we’ll think of something. After all of the fetching and depositing was complete, I finally got a chance to test the newly-tune Raleigh! The brakes, even with brand new pads, are still a disappointment (if not outright dangerous) but I doubt I’ll be zooming around at high speeds. The next project is to find myself a helmet that looks appropriate with an old English 3-speed, which may take some doing. So far, friend Erica’s idea to don an English equestrian helmet is sounding like a not-entirely-wrong option!

Now, how to fill the rest of the week?

Tuesday: A couple of simple tips for taking better photos of your friends.

Wednesday: Mmmmm, tiramisu!

Thursday: I’ll show you how to “upcycle” ugly old TV trays into customized decorator trays with spray paint and water-slide decal paper. Or how not to. Depends on how it goes. :)

Friday: Vintage Victuals. What are your suggestions for this week, dear readers?

 

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Filed under cars, collections, day job, kitchen, life-threatening clutter, sports

Happiness Is…

If this photo had been staged, I’d have refilled the mug and cleared the background clutter.

  • Warm, milky coffee in my ancient I ♥ NY mug.
  • The end of a season of oppressively hot weather.
  • Related: Pendleton going back to the original ’49er cut.
  • Finding out that a previous client called me a “fabulous graphic designer,” and not even to me.
  • Mentioning the above on Twitter, and a current client replying by saying that I’m “seriously amazing” and then following with this.
  • Getting stuff checked off my To Do list.
  • Cleaning my stove before 9am, and it wasn’t even on my To Do list. (Although it needed to Be Done)
  • My boyfriend finally managing to fix his truck (specific problem still unknown, but the replacement of many parts seems to have done the trick) which means that he’ll once again have some evenings free for socializing. Not that we usually get together during the week, but now we can.
  • Finally deleting the 276 photos that were “stuck” on my iPhone. Ah, that feels better.
  • The Many Adventures of Rebop the Robot. I might let you in on this at a later date. Maybe.
  • Discovering (granted, two weeks after the fact) that Adobe released a CS6 update and I can now package files out of Illustrator!!!
  • Starting again to list fresh items at Tiddleywink Vintage and Winkorama. (It’s still an overwhelming burden, but it’s my overwhelming burden)
  • Making some progress on reorganizing the storage situation in my bedroom.
  • Being confident that my new bike is in good hands at small, independently-owned The Bicycle Shack, where my mention of “English, internally geared” was immediately responded to with “Sturmey-Archer hub.” They pass the quiz.

And Kitchen Pr0n!

I realize that the last Kitchen Pr0n post wasn’t that long ago, but I overlooked an item that time and added a few more things. And if anyone wants to help me reorganize my kitchen cabinets, yes please thank you! Anyway, here are the newest additions:

You know what a double-boiler looks like. The logo is the most attractive part of this Wards Signature Prestige model.

Missing from the last post is this vintage Wards Signature Prestige stainless steel double boiler. It’s not the double boiler of my dreams (you know you like to cook when you have a double boiler on your wish list), but it will certainly do the trick with fewer hands than a cobbled bowl-and-saucepan bain-marie requires. Now, if it were up to me, I’d have a Pyrex Flameware double boiler like my mom used to have. Model #6283, not the older #6762 version (which has a light blue tint to the glass, and is often logically referred to as Blue Tint, but once sellers realized that the Blue Tint model garnered more money, they started describing the newer, clear model as Blue Tint as well. And asking outrageous prices. Caveat emptor). When I asked her to be on the lookout for one for me, she told me to just buy a new one. At which point I had to inform her that Pyrex hasn’t manufactured a double boiler for decades, and she was dumbfounded. Because why doesn’t Pyrex still make double-boilers? Good question, Mom. Good question.

Not shown: the metal rod that does the work.

Next in line is this clever device manufactured for the sole purpose of mixing your natural nut butters. Now, I’m not generally a fan of single-purpose gadgets. But after years of mixing separated peanut and almond butter with a spoon or butter knife, and the mess it involves, I finally broke down and ordered this sucker. The test was a jar of almond butter that friends found in the back of their pantry, which had separated to a solid mass topped with an inch of almond oil. They were going to toss it, but I took it home to see if it could be saved. It took some doing, but with this tool I eventually got it back into “butter” consistency. Over time, and as long as I remember to buy this size jar (every different lid/jar combo requires its own mixer set), this tool will hold up for years to come.

Kitten With a Whip

While we’re discussing single-use gadgets, let’s get to this joy. A few weeks ago, I broke my Bodum “Aerius” milk frother device. I was inconvenienced, but the fact of the matter is that it was difficult to store in an already-cluttered kitchen, and not easy to wash the frothing screen. Around the same time, I was house-sitting for friends who have an Aerolatte wand, and I was impressed with its small size and frothing ability. However, when I went to buy one for myself, I found them to be expensive. It’s a pair of AA batteries and a spinning stick! I bought one of these motors from Radio Shack for a school project years ago, this thing shouldn’t be $20 (or more, depending on the model). So I held off, used un-frothed milk in my coffee (oh, the horror), and jumped on this red model—to match the Shoes And Pie Test Kitchen—I spotted at Cost Plus World Market for a mere $2.99. You can get your own multicolored 3-pack of them from their web site.

The Crown Jewels of gelatin molds.

Now for something completely different: I had no idea that the Test Kitchen “needed” this copper-toned aluminum gelatin mold until I found it in a thrift store. It’s enormous. 3 quarts, with room to spare! I cannot imagine a time whereupon I’ll be called to make this quantity of molded anything. But it’s fantastic, in its triumphant gothic-arch style. And while you may think it’s a single-purpose device, it can also be used as a chic Devo-In-Metropolis hat! (Which makes me think of “You’ll never guess what loud applause this cunning hat receives.” Watch the whole thing, but if for some reason you can’t, skip ahead to 1:55)

CAN I get you anything? Get it? CAN? Oh, I’m hilarious.

Finally, the newest addition to the Test Kitchen is this graniteware canner, complete with jar rack. These have looked exactly the same for decades, so I’ve no idea how to tell if it’s 5 or 50 years old. The canning kettle I’ve been using is really a soup pot, too small to can anything in quantity, and the jars tend to rattle around and clink into each other dangerously. I’ve been wanting to buy myself a brandy-dandy real set, but keep putting it off. I mean, it’s not as though canning is a pressing need for me, and finances being what they are, well, there you go. For two years, it’s been “next season.” And then ta-da! This slightly banged up set shows up at the thrift store! And it fits on my stovetop! My overhead microwave limits the usable space, but this pot nestles in perfectly.

That’s all, dear readers! Have yourself a wonderful weekend. Shoes And Pie will be back on Monday with more adventures and rambling.

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Filed under collections, day job, design, family, food, kitchen, life-threatening clutter, nostalgia, vintage

Christmas (if you’re crafty)

Christmas is in the air! Too soon? Too soon. But, if you’re the crafty type, you’re gathering ideas and materials for making gifts and decorations with a personal touch. Coming tomorrow to the Winkorama storefront will be these (and more) vintage crafting magazines, dating from 1962 to 1978. There’s noooo Christmas like oooold Christmas like noooo Christmas I knooooow… ::jazz hands::

I’m trying out the Gallery feature for this post, so you’ll have to click each image to see the complete (and large!) view. Please let me know in the comments below if you like, hate, or are indifferent about seeing the photos this way. Thanks!

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Filed under collections, holidays, jewelry, life-threatening clutter, nostalgia, sewing, vintage