No. 18 – Take a Calligraphy Class

Before moving, I’d been trying to figure out a way to get myself to D.C. to take a calligraphy class with Michelle Hatty Fritz from Meant to Be Calligraphy. I even toyed with the idea of scheduling a private class in Brooklyn if I could get enough people to make it worth Michelle’s time. As lovely as that would have been, I’m glad I didn’t cross this goal off before moving.
Instead, I was able to take Calligraphy in the 21st Century with Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls at Makeshift Society.

Calligraphy Class

The class started out with each student getting their very own pen and ink holder (made by Maybelle’s husband) with our name beautifully written by Maybelle. Don’t you want to keep that on your desk and write letters all the time? Next, Maybelle walked us through using the pen, which has a split nib, and how to form each of the letters. Then it was time to get started.

Calligraphy Class

Looks just like handwriting paper from grade school but with a slant, doesn’t it?  We kept a clean practice sheet and wrote on vellum on top of the lined paper.

Calligraphy Class

Here’s my first page of practicing capital letters. It looks better from a distance, believe me! It was much harder than I expected to get the variation on thick and thin strokes on each letter. Plus, you’ll occasionally run out of ink while in the middle of a character. There’s no saving the letter when that happens.

Calligraphy Class

I ended up being pretty happy with my Es and Gs. The tragedy of the night was that I couldn’t write a good K to save my life. Thankfully, there was a second session.

Calligraphy Class

Once I practiced the second half of the alphabet during session two, I went back and started from the beginning writing a line of each letter in both upper and lowercase. I still need some work on those Ks, but at least I’ve gotten the basics down. I just won’t be addressing wedding envelopes as a side gig anytime soon.

If you ever get the chance to take one of Maybelle’s classes, I highly recommend doing so. Rumor has it that she’ll be making the occasional appearance at Makeshift Society Brooklyn when it opens next year. Get on that mailing list now!

No. 17 – Sailboat Tour Around Manhattan

New York Sailboat Tour

At the beginning of the summer I moved across the country. For that reason I’ve been slow in both crossing items of my list and in blogging about the ones I’ve completed. It also threw a wrench in a few of the goals on my list that are contingent upon me living in New York. I’ve still got several months to make complete my list, but I might have to make some updates to the more New York-centric ones.

New York Sailboat Tour

Luckily, things worked out so that I was able to cross off this goal this fall. I knew after I moved that I was going to need to go back to New York before the end of the year. It’s hard to leave a place that feels like home without the knowledge that you’ll be going back, so I planned an October trip to see friends fairly early on. (October in New York is the best, it’s my favorite month.)  Once I knew the dates, I had the brainstorm to see if we could book the sailboat tour. I wanted something that was more personal than corporate, so I booked through SideTour. We went on this tour with Walter Masterson, and I cannot recommend it enough.

New York Sailboat Tour

I’m lucky enough that I have five amazing friends who indulged me and came along for the ride. Thank you Alicia, Allison Amber, Amy, and Kate—it wouldn’t have been the same without you. I think we all got a whole new view of the city, and fell in love with it even more.

(photos by the lovely Amy Feezor of M-Dashing)

No. 7 – Make French Macarons

On Saturday, I had a baking date with my favorite yellow-obsessed friend, Emily. We’ve been talking about making Meyer lemon macarons since we found this recipe via Pinterest ages ago. So over the weekend we finally did it! It went…okay.

French Macarons

While this was neither my most or least successful baking project—I make a mean brownie and I totally messed up a bundt cake recently, I did learn a lot from this experience. And when Emily and I try again next month, we’ll hopefully have better success.

Here are a few things I learned and will try next time:
1. Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar together. I have a gorgeous sifter—time to use it.
2. Double check that you have all the ingredients AND supplies before starting. We had some downtime post making the batter while Emily’s boyfriend was kind enough to go pick up parchment paper for us. I think that affected the batter.
3. Dyeing sugar with gel food coloring is a bit ridiculous, but it does make for pretty macarons. (See the photo below.)
4. Swiss meringue buttercream is delicious and easy to make. I should make it more often than I do.
5. I need to watch some youtube videos on piping techniques before we try this again. I was TERRIBLE. Anyone have suggestions?

French Macarons

We might have only gotten seven edible cookies and four somewhat photogenic cookies out of this batch, but they were tasty, we learned a lot, and we both were in character with our yellow shoes.

French Macarons

No. 10 – Make Homemade Klondike Bars

Homemade Klondike Bars

I’m a bit late on adding this post. (About a month late to be exact.) But the good news is that I can add tempering chocolate and making absolutely delicious homemade ice cream bars (akin to Klondike bars) to my list of culinary skills.
For this goal I had two partners in crime: Emily and James. Emily is one of the women in my book club, and James is in the Gentleman’s Auxiliary (what we call the husbands and boyfriends of our book club members).

As with pasta making, it was incredibly helpful to have multiple sets of hands for this first round of ice cream bars. I had pre-made the ice cream and frozen it into loaf pans, then cut into bars and put them back in the freezer. Here’s how they looked:

Homemade Klondike Bars

When Emily and James came over, we tempered the chocolate in a makeshift double boiler. Then it was time to dip. Needless to say it was a messy process, and our bars weren’t perfectly shaped or smooth, but they had character!

021913-messyklondikes

Yes, they are a bit time intensive (it takes a while for everything to freeze properly), but overall chocolate covered ice cream bars are a cinch to make. I’m going to be experimenting with lots of variations because I’m determined to make 2013 the summer of gourmet homemade klondike bars. Who’s with me?!
If you want to make your own, I recommend these recipes from Chow.

No. 14 – Create & Frame a Piece of Cross-Stitched Art

Talking Heads Cross Stitch

Until starting this project I hadn’t cross stitched since I was about 8 years old. Back then the only project I remember completing was an alphabet sampler bookmark with a teddy bear on it. (Pre-packaged cross stitch patterns clearly leave little to be desired.)

For this project I decided to mimic a poster my sister and I had loved from an Apartment Therapy house tour. The line comes from this Talking Heads song. We aren’t necessarily Talking Heads fans, but there was just something about the poster that we both loved. This version is one of my sister’s Christmas presents this year, and I’ll be making a duplicate one (just with a different color for the EVER) for myself.