Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Triple Pake Party

Not being one to shy away from odd baking experiments and having had the stacked pie concept brought up in multiple circles of conversation, I decided to host a gathering devoted to making a triple pake.

What exactly is a stacked pie?  or a pake?  Well the first mention of the stacked pie had come from my good culinary artist friend, Sarah.  She had discovered and New York Times article recalling the tradition of bringing pies to a church picnic and stacking them together layered with things like chocolate sauce or caramel in between.  We had attempted this once at Sarah's home but found it to be more of an engineering feat than a baking one.  But the first attempt certainly sparked the thought that we could make it work better.  At first you don't succeed, bake, bake again!

The pake came up months later, another culinary artist friend, Tran had discovered something called a triple pake.  The word pake is a shword (AB's term for a shortened word, where you scrunch two words into one).  A pake is a pie baked inside a cake (where you scrunch a pie into a cake) and then for the guilding of the lilly portion, you make three pakes, and layer them with icing!  SO, thinking this might help build off the structural problems that the stacked pie had shown, the triple pake seemed like a good solution.

I invited my buddies from my days working at Gail Ambrosias' Chocolatier over to assist in this experimental baking.  Marcel was present as he is an appreciator of frosting.  He takes after AB.
Everyone strapped on an apron and the mini mixing began!
Sam shows off her crochet apron and Katharine has already set to work on measuring!

Marcel wears his appropriate kitchen apparel.
The mini pies were made and placed into the oven.  What we have from left to right is a pecan pie, pumpkin and apple pie. Once baked and allowed to cool for a bit, they will be flipped into slightly 
larger cake pans and then cake batter poured over them. 

Now, we did try to place a little batter in the bottom of the cake pans first, lightly baked the small thin layer and then placed in the pie and poured the batter in around.  BUT, we think this may have caused some temperature troubles, so being less thoughtful might actually help.

Always vigilant in the kitchen, Marcel checks on the progress and the proximity to the edge of the pies.
Once the cakes had cooked thoroughly and were cooled, the process of layering them between icing could begin.  

The bottom pake is a chocolate cake with the pecan pie inside.  The second layer is a pumpkin spice cake with the pumpkin pie inside and if I remember correctly the top is an apple spice cake with the apple pie inside.  
Abby uses her skills to apply generous amounts of frosting to the exterior of the triple pake.  We took about two photos of the finished piece and then it was time to cut into our masterpiece.

This was one of the most decadent things I have eaten.  I really feel like it got even better after being refrigerated overnight.  Totally delicious, a lot of hard work and worth enjoying with friends.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Terri's Pillow Challenge

I was recently contacted by my aunt asking me to take on a project for her.  She was inspired by a found pillow form and some pins.  She asked if I would re-cover a pillow using a fabric similar to burlap and attach a crocheted flower.

Easy enough, right?

Ok, so I learned to crochet a long time ago.  My first item of business was to make sure I still remembered enough to get going.  I stumbled upon a delightful blogger with a fantastic name and used the pattern for the flower attached to the "easiest headwrap EVER!!!".  Thank you +Frayed Knot for posting this little tutorial.  A couple of stabs with the ol' hook and I had myself a flower.

Next came the foraging of my stash.  I have a lot of fabric.  It is a collection really, so I needed to spend some time checking the collection for something that had the open weave of burlap, a bit of the neutral tone but less of the itch and the dust.  I will forever recall working at Hancock Fabrics and having someone come in to decorate a whole baby room in burlap.  I think we all persuaded the parents in a different direction.  Maybe they make different burlap today, something that doesn't leave a fine dust on each table it touches... maybe they don't.  SO anyway, back to the stash.  A little digging revealed a linen like fabric that I had made a jacket from and enough left to do the trick. 

So, I began my pinning, cutting, placing and making.

Terri sent me this lovely pillow to work with.  I found the fabric in my stash and I unraveled a sweater to get the yarn for my crochet flower (WHA?  I will blog on this topic more at a later time.) 

I decided that the form would more easily fit in the new pillowcase if the piping was removed from the edge.  I proceeded to cut very close to the edge of the piping in order to fully remove it.  Then, I sewed three sides of the ivory fabric together, re-stuffed and then hand sewed the last side closed.

This is a fake shot, I am not a left handed seamstress.  I had to take the photo with the right hand.  :(

Next steps involved sizing up the pieces for the cover.  I decided to have the back be a flap so that the pillow form could be removed in case the case needs cleaning.  The pinning in this image is for one of the back flaps.

The front face of the pillow got one sewn embellishment prior to being sewn into the case.  I added one strip of ivory satin ribbon.  

This should give a quick sense of how the little sandwich was set up.  The front side then the two flaps facing with right sides together slightly overlapping so the form can be slipped in.  I added a label to the outer most flap!

Before sewing all my edges together, I decided to place my pillow on top in order to eyeball for measurements.  I am terrible in that I don't measure, I typically can get closer and better results with the eye.  So much for being a pattern maker...

And then after all that sewing, did it fit right?  Moment of truth for the non measurer... it was snug as a bug...

In a rug... So there you have it.  Only I didn't put the crochet flower on yet.

And the back... but I didn't really take the final photo, the cardinal sin of a how to.

That is because the real final photo will need to come from aunt Terri once the pillow gets to its new home.  Plus I can't bust my own surprise to her by posting this blog.

So complete for now... new photo to come in a few.
Terri sent in this final pillow photo.  Neutral worked well to incorporate into her current decor!

Friday, October 31, 2014


I <3 Halloween!

It has been a favorite holiday for a while and certainly since I learned to truly dress myself.  It is the one day a year that you are allowed to dress any ol' way you want.  I already view most days fair game so it is just another good excuse to dig out some odd and end accessories.

This year Marcel dressed as a very dapper and super smart looking Sherlock Holmes.  Or something close, he needs a pipe!
My costume was a thrifted but handmade dinosaur costume, that really makes quite the lovely vest.  It is cold here, snow on the ground to start the day, so this dino is bundled, pending any ice ages.  I also got to pull out my fancy handknit booties and don a sweet updo to mirror my spikes.

Hope those little trick 'r treaters are ready for us!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Ok, so what are we doing?

Woolen Wood as this blog is aptly named also applies to our brand.  We are a husband and wife team creating handmade items from soft and hard fibers.  AB spends time in the basement turning and I spend time in the basement hooking ;)  AB's wood turning skills have developed over his lifetime, but he first learned the skills from his father.  I have lots of art skills and I like to use them all but I have been honing my knitting machine savvy since a fateful workshop in grad school.

We have slowly been building this brand for a while, even while I was still living in St. Louis I was daydreaming of our collaborations and came up with the Woolen Wood name.  It really hasn't been until I got more comfortably settled in Madison that we have collaborated on items (certainly we have the house project always on the list) but it has been a recent thing to pool our talents towards handmade wearables and other functional home wares.  I originally went to AB looking for a good solution to fasten my scarves.  AND he came up with a great solution!  Check below for his wood pins.

Together over the past months, we have been making items to get onto Etsy.  Thus building a bit of a collection.  Recently the opportunity to join in a craft show featuring cozy items presented itself and we were selected to participate.  So on October 25 we will pack up and head to Poynette, WI to be a part of Apple-Palooza at Lapacek's Orchard.  We spent this last week prepping the booth display and trying out our borrowed tent to make sure we could figure it out.

We will use rentals from A la Crate in order to display things in and around, and we think these amazing vintage items will really help our pieces shine!

Here are some preview images from the setup:
Shawl Collars with various dye and felt techniques.  These are perfect for the cooler days coming, you can add distinction to any plain shirt by simply wearing one of these all day long.  (I firmly believe I survived last winter due to my wearing of these styles.)

AB's bowls will be proudly featured on little mini wood pedestals!  We used bowl blanks, elm bases, doilies and white enamel table from A la Crate!

On the left side of the table, we have a small but certainly important container holding the turned wood pins that AB has made.  These pins are the very key to keeping a shawl collar on and allow you to wear it in multiple ways.
There are some felt bags that coordinate with some of the shawl collars and a few quirky and warm head pieces as well.  

Here we have one of our ladies displaying the shawl/pin system.

Overall booth layout should provide good room for browsing, trying on and getting to know us.  We are going to get our logo onto the chalkboard on the right, and use that as a way to get people into the tent.  The chalkboard is the Raggedy Ann chalkboard from A la Crate.

A second table for bowl display and another mannequin named Penny, showing off a different collar style.  The mint green metal folding table and orange folding step ladder are from A la Crate.  

Close ups of these marvelous pins! 

Another bowl closeup... there are some really lovely pieces in here.  AB's turning has amped up and in no time we will have enough wood curls to insulate our garden plants over the winter with!  Double bonus!!

Next weekend we will work on pricing and getting ourselves set up to do money exchange.  But for now, it is back to the knitting machine for me!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fall off the blog wagon

Whew! Sorry for disappearing for a bit there.  Things have been busy on the work/life front and have prevented my word-smithing for a little while.  I am back and hoping to get back on a two a week track here.

Since last post... it is Fall! We are putting away the shorts and digging out the sweaters.  We have had a cute new couple of arrivals at work and new moms are getting the hang of things.  New dads too! I have learned plenty of new baby rearing tricks by being in such close proximity.  Today I had a good lesson on swaddling.

AB and I are busily prepping for our first ever craft show!  We were able to get into Apple-Palooza with Woolen Wood items to be featured.  On Saturday, October 25th from 9am-6pm Woolen Wood will have a booth at the craft fair!  Come by in order to pick some apples, have some cider, try some pie and shop the shops.

So we've got about two full weeks of prep time left and things are shaping up well.  He's been at the lathe while I've been at the knitting machine down in the basement.  He's made several great bowls and is making a variety of types of pins to hold my felt collars together.  
This is an example of the small knit clutches I am pulling together.  The technique is a process that draws the stitches up from a lower portion of knitting and creates great ruffles.  Felting the wool then works to make the ruffles more pronounced.  I have vintage zippers that work to close the bag and become handles too.

Finished collars and shoulderlets hanging ready for display.  We will refine our booth display this weekend with luck.  We are going to use A La Crate for our display and I am excited to incorporate our items with some awesome vintage pieces.

Here some knit pieces off the machine await the finishing touches.  They will get cleaned up and felted.  Then they will be sewn into bags or prepped for shawl-dom. 

The final phase is to hand sew the labels into the piece.

Don't be fooled by the bag labels, these turned wood bowls are hand made.  But they do require proper seasoning and moisture monitoring.  The shop bags make for a helpful environment to keep the roughed out bowls the proper moisture level.

A couple of cherry bowls, a walnut bowl and a variety of shawl pins waiting to find their forever homes.  Fingers crossed that they pair with my collars and shawls at Apple-Palooza!

A couple newer bowls awaiting final finishing touches on the work table.  Currently not remembering which kind of wood these are...AB can help me out later and I will update!

And  the real star of the show... this wonderfully perfectly spherical walnut bowl! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Some of our favorite collaborations

AB and I have always worked well together, we do well to talk out our plans and can execute things together that I know I couldn't do myself.

Some of my favorite projects that we have created together include:

 * Our deck, we have posted about that project here.  It was lots of fun and just a tad more work than we anticipated.

 * Our upstairs vanity project, which I recently realized I missed a post on! You should find it just below this one or by clicking here.

* Most recently, I completed a machine knit bag and AB engineered a handle to work with the nifty texture of the bag.
Front with button closures.

Open with silk lining.

Handle detail.

Cherry wood handle.

Bag Back
We had a fun time on this one, and I enjoyed his take of the waves of the bag.  I hope this will be one of many to come. The bag is listed on Etsy, and if it doesn't sell there, better believe I will be carrying it!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Handmade from scratch: walnut sink vanity

Things began here, this was our large piece of walnut laminated plywood.  We tried our hardest to keep those sweet hearts incorporated into the main body of the exterior pieces of the vanity.  We also continually measured the sink purchased from the Restore to be sure that we would have enough material.

AB routed the edges with some special bits to accomplish really nice edges using walnut trim. 

Finished routed edge awaiting walnut trim piece.  There are several photos left out that don't show the work sanding, planing and finally finishing the vanity.  The finishing took by far the longest to complete, partially because it was rainy and partially because it just takes time.

Once finally in place, we worked carefully to get the vanity level.  This took a couple of shims to accomplish but worth the extra time for making everything even.  We ended up having to trim out a portion of the back to fit over our tile edging to accomplish true level.

If we ever sell the house and someone else rips out our vanity they will see our calling card.


After :  Let it be known that the drawers were also custom made in order to fit neatly around the plumbing.  The bottom drawer is the only full drawer.  The first and the second have compartments that help divide our items and that fit around the pipes.  We used medium duty drawer slides that help close with ease and we opted to use three different sizes of handles to create a cool visual effect.