Ghostfaceknitter Etsy Shop COMING SOON!

I have been quite the crafting fool lately. I have had several custom orders from people through Instagram and now with that momentum I have decided to open an Etsy store as Ghostfaceknitter!

Huzzah! I’m guesstimating in the next two/three weeks I will go live with that store – and you all will be in the know when I do – have the confirmed timeline. Let’s take a look at some of the items I’ve been stock piling, custom making for you lovely lovely GFK supporters.

red velvet cake
“Mind you drink the cat is an asshole”
geisha cat toy.
geisha baby plush.

orange dreamsicle cake
toddler pocket Star Wars bib.

What do you think? I’m think about cowls, sunglasses cases, different skirts/shirts/dresses, and of course more cakes! ūüôā

toodles
xxx
GFK

12 Days of Xmas – The Short List.

Five Christmas presents you want to receive.

1. Options Interchangeable Harmony Wood Circular Knitting Needle Set
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2. MOAR TATTOOS!


3. All the Holiday Nog – from Califia

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4. COLD HARD CASH.

5. NUT BREAD.

That’s pretty much the short list. Not too hard. I’m excited I get to go home to Denver and celebrate with family and close friends. I also get my arm worked on by Miss Alisha Rice. I also plan on drinking 3 jugs of the almond nog. SAY SOMETHING.

Favorite Recipe

My favorite recipe isn’t just a one trick pony – it’s an infinity trickery pony wizard recipe. Martha Stewart’s basic pie crust recipe is the end all of amazing pie crust recipes. I can tell you I have made dozens of pies with this (big/small/open/closed) and have always had everyone say it was the best crust ever. Plus if you work the dough a little more it’ll make it flakier. mmmmmm flakey pie crust……..

Here are some terrible photos of mini-pies I made with this recipe. I don’t know where all my other glorious pie photos have gone. Bummer. Photo fail.

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Martha’s Favorite Pie Crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling dough
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons ice water, plus 2 more, if needed

Step 1
In a food processor, pulse flour, salt, and sugar several times to combine. Add butter. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with just a few pea-size pieces remaining.

Step 2
Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed with fingers (if needed, add up to 2 tablespoons more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Do not overprocess.

Step 3
Turn dough out onto a work surface; form dough into a 3/4-inch-thick disk. Wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

Step 4
Before baking, unwrap dough; place on a large piece of floured waxed paper. Roll dough to a 14-inch round. Using paper, lift and wrap dough around rolling pin (discarding paper); carefully unroll over a 9-inch pie plate. Gently fit into bottom and up sides of plate.

Step 5
Trim overhang to 1 inch; fold overhang under itself. Pinch between thumb and forefinger to make a uniform edge around the rim. Crimp edge; refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

I’ll just say that I love Martha. She is the god I worship most often. This crust is perfect for just about any pie/tart whether sweet or savory. The food processor does awesome, but if you don’t have one, a pie crust ‘masher’ will do the job.

Just look at this wizard. She’s amazing.

xxxx
GFK

FRIDAY FUNTIME

It’s Friday! Yay! That means crafting and fun events are upon us! Here’s a look at my Friday in pictures and music videos.

Confirmation of my Thai Bamboo Stick Tattoo in November in Bangkok
Confirmation of my Thai Bamboo Stick Tattoo in November in Bangkok

The Chicago River/Buildings on my weekly walk to Bloomingdales.
The Chicago River/Buildings on my weekly walk to Bloomingdales.

Bloomingdale's Bathroom Selfie. You know you love it.
Bloomingdale’s Bathroom Selfie. You know you love it.

Shoes at Nordstrom that I DID NOT buy. :( Tears.
Shoes at Nordstrom that I DID NOT buy. ūüė¶ Tears.

Boris learned how to get on the fridge - there is no sacred space in my home now.
Boris learned how to get on the fridge – there is no sacred space in my home now.

Bought tickets for Pentagram a few days ago, but I’m really stoked.

I also got a ticket to see Orange Goblin… They are awesome live. My hearing has probably recovered since the last show I went to in 2011.


*it’s a long video but, skip around – they are great.

HAPPY FRIDAY! May your weekend be blessed with crafts/puppies/kittens/metal/love!

Blog Challenge Comrades.

This Blog Challenge has been a great experience so far – a HUGE SHOUT OUT to Mary at Secret Obsession for organizing it and getting such a fun group of bloggers together to talk about some not-so-stale prompts. Today the challenge is to ‘randomly’ feature 3 other participants. I went through them all not randomly and ta-da the creme de la creme for you all!

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Cattails + Cardigans

Cattails + Cardigans – I love this blog – I’m so happy I stumbled upon it during this challenge. Sabrina has a very inspiring story to accompany an amazing blog. The positivity, creativity, and ‘sweet-tea-ness’ of Sabrina’s blog is for me addictive to read. I think I’ve creepily read all her posts. BUT it’s a good thing. Please do yourself a major favor and go look around on Cattails + Cardigans. Plus Omerica Organic from Denver is one of her affiliates – small world!

deliciously active

Deliciously Active

Deliciously Active is written by Bri – gee why did I choose this blog to feature?! But her writing and sense of humor had me in stitches immediately. The fun adventures she shares with her kids and husband are great. Plus, I cracked up at her husband’s topless selfies while she made delicious cinnamon pull apart bread. Her recipes are drool worthy and the giggle you get just might be enough to burn off the extra calories!

Effie Girl

I’m so happy I got to find this blog. Wendy is awesome! She eats a raw diet which I think is very bitching. I’d like to incorporate more of this into my meals and she has definitely inspired me! Plus she is funny and a DIYQUEEN – she has jewelry for sale on her site and even has a license to make skin care products. (You know I love some DIY and Beauty talk so it’s natural I LUB her!)

Some More Cupcakes

Over the weekend we had a good friend celebrating a birthday!¬† We did several ‘birthday-themed’ things from dinners and drive-ins to drinks and cupcakes.
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I’ve had a gift card to William-Sonoma’s for years now so there was FINALLY parking in the Lincoln Park location to shop at that store.¬† My better-half is a kitchen gadget/knife junkie so he was in heaven.¬† I love baking and realized that in my moves I misplaced/lost my standard 9X13 cake pan.¬† I picked up one for $20 – which I thought was a great deal since the quality is much better than a cheaper glass version.

I was planning on making a cake, but then I spotted some special cupcake/cake mixes that WS makes.¬† They literally had $25 cake mixes….. I couldn’t even think about spending that much money on a cake mix so I saw their cupcake mixes were 20% off for $10.¬† The Dude suggested Red Velvet so we went for it.¬†¬†

I loved the recipe – I think I’m going to incorporate the vinegar, buttermilk, and oil into my Boxed-Cupcake Cheat recipe.¬† It really made a difference in moisture and density.¬†¬†

The Cake:
Box Mix
2/3 C Buttermilk
2 Eggs
3/4 C Vegetable Oil
1 tsp White Vinegar
 
Frosting:
8 oz. Cream Cheese
8 Tbs Butter 
1 3/4 C Confectioner Sugar
1 Tbs Vanilla Extract
 

The frosting was TO DIE FOR.¬† I did sub the butter for Earth Balance.¬† I’ve been trying to incorporate more vegan/vegetarian choices into my diet so not buying butter was a good place to start.¬† The Dude was concerned about the amount of frosting on each cupcake and usually I agree with this less-is-more frosting ratio, but with this batch I was not going to doubt the people at WS who proportioned the recipes.¬† People loved the cupcakes (even strangers at The Silver Palm)!¬† The frosting to cake ratio was just on the edge of being too much so maybe next time I would scale back just a small amount.¬† In the end the Dude abided and enjoyed a cupcake.
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Plus check out the awesome ‘eyeball’ satanic theme decorating job!

Nickel and Diming me… Come on!

It’s been so long since my last blog. ¬†I’ll do a quick re-cap of the past 7 (eep!) months. ¬†Graduate school (boo), Thanksgiving (yay!), move to Chicago (super woohoo!), unemployment (meh), job search (whaaat???), new job (yay!), and finished thesis (super yay!). ¬†

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Now that I’ve filled you in we can get down to business. Recently, I decided to get in control – well perhaps control is too strong a word…. I suppose I’ll use the word “informed” about my personal finances. ¬†Obviously, being unemployed on a strict budget was difficult and required really understanding where each penny went. ¬†It’s easy to remember the big stuff – like the energy bill or the new mattress I had to buy when I moved. ¬†It’s not always so easy to see the $2 soda I “had to have” from Walgreens, or the Amazon Instant episode of Downton Abbey Season 3 I “need to see or I’d die” and I’ve found those little purchases are the ones that eat away at my savings, my budget, and my ‘control.’ ¬†

My obsession with over-spending while unemployed really began when I read this book:

The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map to True Riches: A Practical (and Fun) Guide to Enjoying Life More by Spending Less

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I’ve tried budgeting ‘old school’ with a generic list of expenses and a calculator, I’ve used excel personal budget spreadsheets, apps, finance journals, etc. and nothing seems to be ‘up-to-date’ or a true reflection of my finances. ¬†I decided to have a lassiez-faire approach to my calculated budget and instead follow some of the author’s advice. ¬†I really connected with ¬†Jeff Yeager’s message – live comfortably within your means. ¬†Find a point of comfort and settle in there. ¬†Don’t grow with your income so that everything coming in is going right back out. ¬†This might sound like ‘common sense’ to most, but one look at the amount of people who are in debt and struggling or are ‘house-poor’ and I know it’s advice that is not really getting through to folks. ¬†This book also suggests dollar store visits – I had no idea how much I loved the dollar store. ¬†Literally anything like emory boards, scissors, kitchen utensils, greeting cards, wrapping paper etc. is there for $1 compared to up to ten-times the price at WalMart or even Target for the same quality. ¬†It offers advice about pantry budgeting and free services like the public library, parks, and (gasp) walking around your neighborhood! ¬†I’d recommend it – I don’t agree with everything and I’m sure you won’t either, but it has some great ‘tune-up’ tips and advice to shave some spending dollars off your budget.

But after another month or two, I still need to get in front of the penny to penny spending. ¬†I realized the more I have to manually enter, the less I’m going to remember and then finally a short while later I will abandon the finance task all together. ¬†Then I stumbled upon Mint.com. ¬†(BACKSTORY: I was incredibly late doing my taxes this year and unfortunately was left with only one option on April 15th – TurboTax (I know right there contradicts my whole rant on finance control). ¬†After I finished and submitted my taxes it recommended I budget how to spend my refund with Mint.com. ¬†(Well jokes on your TurboTax because I didn’t have a refund after I paid your “free” filing fees! Oh wait… never mind.))

I thought ‘what the hell’ I’ll give this a gander and synced my multiple banking accounts with Mint.com (don’t worry I checked it wasn’t a scam or fraudulent site!). ¬†I instantly was very happy to have everything synced on the main dashboard, yet at the same moment I was sick to see how my spending looked. ¬†Here I was thinking I was budgeting ‘pretty-well’ and sticking to a ‘conservative’ budget. ¬†Literally within seconds it had sifted through ALL my transactions for the past few months and told me exactly where all the money I saved had gone. ¬†Well I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, I remember each transaction (that’s good I guess), but seeing it all right there made me realize that I was not as ‘informed’ as I thought. ¬†

Now don’t misunderstand, have no credit card debt, I’m not past due on anything, I have a good credit score and finally I have a consistent income – so things aren’t bad – not even close to it. ¬†But it is the small differences that make huge results so I needed help.

First thing Mint.com taught me: ATMs are for suckers. ¬†Literally imagine it just sucking money out of your pockets each time you use one. ¬†The fees! Come on! If it’s not my institution’s ATM (in network) I pay the ATM $2-3 then my bank gets mad that I cheated on them because I needed money and they charge me $2-3 also! What?! (It’s a genius business model I’m just mad I fund the revenues for it.) ¬†Think about it – if you pretend ATMs do not exist you will not lose money. ¬†For one you and I will not pay fees and two, it takes away the impulse cash spending ATMs condone. ¬†If you or I have to get the cash from a teller then it makes it ‘real’ and accounted for. ¬†I will most certainly think twice about what I’m spending when I have to go through the middleman of a teller to fund it. ¬†That also sets a ‘cash-budget’ once that money is gone – it’s gone. ¬†Remember ATMs don’t exist so you and I can’t go back for more immediately.¬†

The second thing Mint.com taught me: ¬†make your money work for you. ¬†Find a CD or an IRA that is operating at higher returns – it might seem crazy to switch for small increases, but do the math – in 20, 30, 40 years those ‘minuscule’ increases are thousands and thousands of dollars in differences. ¬†

The third Mint.com wisdom: Honesty. ¬†It’s easy to pretend you’re ‘perfect’ that you’re doing all you can and that you don’t make mistakes financially, but that’s not true. ¬†Mint.com showed me the common and repetitive errors I was making that really do add up. ¬†It’s hard to admit I was being annihilated with ATM fees because I’m a smart girl and I ‘should know better,’ but I was.¬†

There are always little tune-ups or tips that can make a difference in a budget. ¬†The key is to be honest about your money. ¬†It’s hard, sometimes embarrassing, and always sad to see how we spend our money – but it gives a great sense of power to our egos to know that we are aware of it. ¬†I’d encourage you to take a tour of Mint.com maybe read a few ‘alternative’ books on money management (not Suze Orman!). ¬†Remember, even if you think you’re in total control there’s always some area no matter how large or small that you could re-tool.

I promise I won’t be so absent from this anymore – goodness!

Oh and I decided not to spend money on my url domain name this year so I’m back to being http://www.tattoosandtarts.worpress.com¬†

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Fun Weekend 2.0

Well my weekends have really been great these past two weeks.  Last week obviously I was in Durango Рwhich was a blast and this weekend I had a great time here in Denver. 

It all started off with making some amazing Pina Colada cupcakes – sadly I didn’t take a finished photo of mine for some weird reason I spaced out getting one. ¬†But I have the recipe from Your Cup of Cake – an amazing blog for fun unique cupcakes. ¬†

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This recipe needed a few special items, but none of them were expensive. ¬†I used jam for the ‘strawberry puree’ because I wasn’t going to do that step. ¬†I did however love the coconut milk brand I used.

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While I was shopping I saw this monstrosity though… Marketing/Materialism/Capital proof that the whole ‘baking thing’ has gone over-board. ¬†Shake and pour? :-/

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I also made great leeway on my thesis – I re-outlined the 30ish pages I have and now it’s going to flow so much better. ¬†Still a ways to go, but I have my deadlines in mind and am ready to rock it out!!! ¬†Here is what my workspace looks like daily.

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I managed to get to Target as well and saw these amazing buys…. I wish I was a little kid so the shirt would fit. ¬†I’m still debating if I should just start collecting the monster high girls… I probably should.¬†

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Then Saturday I attended the Evil Soul’s Car Club ‘Carnage’ Car show. ¬†It was great. ¬†There are always so many great vintage, collectible, and unique cars. ¬†There was a Scion with Lambo doors – I guess I’m really lacking with my stock-edition of my xB.¬†

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Me and my partner in crime for the day. ¬†I’m not sure why my top muffin-topped my arm but it was a cute vintage inspired outfit for the day.¬†

Then today I met up with a fabulous friend for some ‘suburbs-fun.’ ¬†Went shopping at quite a few places – I picked up a new denim dress, a HK bento box (photos later), and the BEST a geisha costume for Leopold. ¬†He posed for the picture perfectly!

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A great weekend to prepare me for an entire week of thesis work (with a short break for a tattoo on tuesday!!!). 

 

Easy Filled Bundt Cake

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Well it has been a MUCH calmer Tuesday here free of any deceased animal incidents. ¬†However Leopold was upset because we had to go to the vet because the little snafu yesterday reminded me he needed his kennel cough shot (thank god he had his 2 year rabies done last year!). ¬†Ever since I quit my job, he and I have been attached at the hip – he goes everywhere and I’m starting to think it might not be a bad idea to start leaving him at home from time to time. ¬†Sadly, he has a huge attitude when we’re out and about and his behavior at the vet today was beyond embarrassing. ¬†Thank goodness my vet and the wonderful vet tech are so nice. ¬†I do think his needy, aggressive, and bizarre social behavior stems from constantly being around me and not having time alone or with other dogs. ¬†Maybe I’ll take him to a dog park to socialize (even though those are SO gross – wait now I know where he gets it).

Moving on – I decided to adapt my Box Cupcake Cheat method to something that always makes me mad – bundt cakes. ¬†Only because they always stick or are dry or fall apart. ¬†Like always I followed the prep and I adjusted the bake time down about 8 minutes (the box said 38 I did 30). ¬†I also buttered that pan beyond words…. no nook or cranny was left unbuttered….. ¬†Also I decided to cut this bundt in half and do a layer of Ikea Lingon Berry preserve, basically because I found a great old NordicWare Bundt at my grandma’s and HAD to use it but wanted to do the filling still.

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I also decided to make my own frosting – a big deal since I usually just go with the canned version. ¬†I found this great ‘mix-and-match’ buttercream recipe chart and since my grandma loves lemon, I’m going with that.

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So I ended up adding a little bit more (4 Tablespoons) of butter to this mix because I hate the way powdered sugar tastes Рand of course I had to add food coloring.  I primarily did that just so no one would take a bite and be surprised it was lemon.  I cut the bundt in half with a knife and used a cookie pan (without sides) to slide under the top half so I could put the coating of Lingon berry preserve on there.

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I put the top back on by sliding it off the side-less cookie sheet and it was back together in one piece!  Then I iced a thin coat of the frosting on the budnt to fill the gap between top and bottom Рfrom there I put both the frosting and bundt in the fridge for 15 minutes to firm up a little bit (see this is why I hate homemade frosting).  I finished frosting/globbing and ta-dah!

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Box-Cupcake Cheat!

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Let’s face it, the obsession with cupcakes has really raised the bar for anyone considering making cupcakes for a party or event. ¬†Of course there are folks like me who think the over-frosted/over-sprinkled/over-developed cupcakes are seriously lacking. ¬†I remember cupcakes from childhood to present as something ‘home-made.’ ¬†This whole bakery/cupcake maker version really peeves me, especially since it seems the cake/frosting is just not that good. Plus don’t even get me started about the $4-$8 a cupcake price factor. ¬†Now I know there are some real gems out there in the cupcake industry, but unless I am craving that specific flavor or brand I am not going to try to recreate it home. ¬†That being said, ¬†I did feel a little self conscious bringing a dozen or so ‘box-cupcakes’ to a party simply because they weren’t those cupcakes on steroids that seem to be the ‘in’ thing. ¬†

Well after playing around with the box recipe and lots of frosting brands I’ve found the best cheat. ¬†Believe me NO ONE believes they are ‘box’ and it will almost hurt to admit they are because people start begging for the recipe. ¬†Plus they are less than $8 for between 16-20 of them.¬†

So here it goes:

Step One: ¬†Follow all the directions on the box as per ingredients – I’m sorry, but if you’re trying to add egg whites only or low-fat/cal oil – just stop – it won’t taste good no matter what. Add the full calorie/full content ingredients and just enjoy the damn thing.¬†

Step Two:  Get out your mixer/hand mixer and actually blend it like the box says.  For years I was just mixing with a spatula, but that is the worst mistake, you need to use the electric mixer to get the batter light and fluffy (almost mousse looking) and you need to mix for at minimum 2-3 minutes. This may seem like a no brainer, but this is why cupcakes turn out flat and dry instead of moist and with volume.  Again, if the batter is runny keep mixing! Look at that volume/rise below! Perfect!!

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MOST IMPORTANT – Step Three:¬†I fill the cupcake liners with a 1/4 C measurer and fill them approximately 3/4 of the way. ¬†You probably won’t get all the way to 24 since that amount of batter is more than the box suggests. ¬†Cook according to temperature BUT only cook the cakes for 15 MIN!!!! Of course since ovens do vary please check with a toothpick/cake tester to ensure it comes out clean. ¬†This will not only make the cakes moist from the start, but they will stay moist for days (if they last past the event).

So the cakes are done – I usually take them out of the muffin pan as soon as I won’t burn myself and wait for them to cool fully for the frosting.

That does lead us to the frosting process – Of course I LOVE frosting but those half-cup piles of frosting that are piled on-top of ‘professionally’ made cakes are obscene. ¬†Not only will it waste so much butter/sugar, but it will make everyone sugar-sick and not want to eat more of your cakes. No joke! ¬†(I have first-hand witnessed a 4 AND 38 year old take off the pile of frosting and just eat the cake.)¬†

I really enjoy Pillsbury Brand Frosting “Creamy Supreme.” ¬†Obviously not the healthiest, but come on if you’re going to argue about natural frosting at this point either make your own or sit down. I generally use Vanilla so I can customize colors and flavors (Nutella/cinnamon flavor etc). ¬†I’ve used professional food dyes before and those can make the frosting actually taste terrible. ¬†I happened upon Betty Crocker Food Gels and they are the best and brightest in my opinion. ¬†They carry standard primary colors and then neon which are a blast. ¬†Using a gel food coloring will also add that shine that is on my cupcakes.

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Of course these are not the gourmet cupcakes, but I am not a gourmet pastry chef. These are a great version of an old stand-by and whether this is the limit to your baking skills or just a substitute for last minute treats, I hope you’ll have fun and remember what baking cupcakes at home was always about – LOVE!¬†

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