Hope you all had a VERY PLEASANT Thanksgiving!
“Many men complain that women have an appalling tendency to relax after marriage…they leave their gadgets out in the open…” Arlene Dahl, Always Ask a Man.
Lately I’ve been doing a TON of craft projects–cross-stitch, art cards, all of my letters (so many letters!) wrist cuffs, pajamas! But nobody likes a mess, Ian especially. He hates clutter, and he’s taught me to hate it too. I’ve gotten to the point where I actually make my bed. I know, like a real grown-up, right?
But let’s face it–craft projects are clutter just waiting to happen! There’s thread and fabric scraps and Mod Podge stacked all over, not to mention the books (I bought The DIY Bride the morning after my engagement, as a little present to myself). I wanted to keep things neat and tidy, so I decided that the best way was to, you guessed it, craft!
I am glam geek girl, so I took a page from my favorite video game, Chrono Trigger, and made a Lucca-esq box for all my needles and thread. I stained a basic wooden box with cherry stain and then hot-glued on metal corners from Idea-ology, then added decorative steampunk-esq gears. I cut felt flags like you might find at the Millennial Fair and also added a decorative clock face, of course.
Inside, I covered two pieces of cork board with green fabric and hot-glued them to the top and bottom. The top holds all my skeins with pushpins, and the bottom holds all my tools: tiny scissors, an “antique” felt needlebook and a pincushion in the shape of a Nu, complete with googly eyes. It keeps everything neat and contained, plus it looks AWESOME.
“To bake a cake . . . bake the cake like the mix on the package said to do” Margie Blake, Fun to Cook Book (1955)
My Gay-Gay tells this great story about her roommates at Lindenwood coming back to the sorority house from their Home Economics class with a bewildered sort of look. “We tried this new thing called ‘cake mix’,” they said. “You just add an egg and some butter, stir it up and put it in the oven to make a cake.”
So I guess I wasn’t too surprised when the Carnation Fun to Cook Book my friend Kelly got me “To counteract (my) progressive childhood” taught our young Margie Blake (Daughter of Carnation Cooking Goddess Mary Blake) how to make a cake by simply following the directions on the box. Any box will do, I guess. I was going to use her peppermint frosting recipe, so I got plain old Duncan Hines vanilla cake.
Look, I’ve tried to bake cakes from scratch, I really have. And occasionally they turn out not-terrible, like the Moxie cake I made Matthew for his birthday, but for the most part, they turn out so mediocre that it’s not worth the effort.
A cup of oil, three eggs and a little water later, I had cake mix, only some of which was on my knees. And 30 minutes after that, I had a cake, most of which will be going directly into my gaping maw. In a way, I suppose, this was progressive–not having to bake from scratch left a woman more time to attend social functions like bridge club or the Association of University Women, allowing her to get out of the kitchen and expand her horizons.
Next, of course, came the frosting. I used the “Candy Cane Frosting” recipe, because it has Carnation Evaporated Milk, natch.
And it did not end well.
The cookbook is geared towards seven year olds whose mom still has to use the can opener for them (recipe for soup: 1 can soup, add Carnation Evaporated Milk, heat, serve) and yet I, with my MFA hanging on the wall above where I write this, ruined the recipe.
I don’t know whether it’s the humidity or that I’m a kitchen idiot, but the frosting turned out very watery and I now have a cake that looks like the Most Disgusting Sandwich in the World. It tastes okay, sure, but it’s not pretty.
“It is important to be fresh and attractive in the morning as it is at bedtime–even if it means you have to get up 10 minutes earlier to wash your face, put on a little makeup, brush your hair and slip into a gay housecoat.” Arlene Dahl, Always Ask a Man.
Up at 8a.m. from a dream that Ian bought us a really nice little house. I don’t think he wanted me to go, but today’s the first day of my new, glam life!
Not sure what a “gay housecoat” is and too afraid to google it. I hope my red kimono will suffice and not send Ian into the arms of his secretary. If he had a secretary, I’m sure he would run to her now. With my blue fleece “cozy” pajama pants, my tie-dyed fleece socks and my red wool “JOIKE” sweater (from MST3K Santa Claus) I look like a hungover clown. Time for makeup!
Does having makeup on from the night before count? The hot pink eye shadow I wore to cover the New Year’s Gala refuses to budge. Two face-washings later, I can finally smudge on some eyeshadow. I try out a few new ways of combing my hair, but within moments, it has fallen like Fort Sumter in the same slightly-right part. At least it’s combed.
I’m already wearing lots of red, so I try to find a lipstick that’s a little more neutral. In my train case I find a copper lipstick I wore when I was going through my weird, androgynous Brooklyn phase, where my style icons were Tom Waits and Benicio del Toro in Sin City–lots of ugly button-down shirts, suit jackets and off-putting cosmetics. Arlene would not approve.
The lipstick backfires the neutral test. Two tissues later it’s left a faint, pretty trace. I slap some gloss on it and declare victory.
Ian is still asleep, so I decide to tidy up so he wakes up to a pleasant household (except for my housecoat). By 8:36 I have lit the furnace, finished the dishes, swept the kitchen and dining room, folded the clothes he left on the chair the night before and put away some stray things. I feel a surprising sense of accomplishment.
When Ian does wake up, he doesn’t really seem to notice except to snicker at my kimono.