Monday, December 3, 2012

Crafty Cravings and Cratered Cheesecake

Advent calendar not made by me.
Crafting-wise, I am called on the carpet every year on the eve of the first day of Advent. November 30th is when I remember, "Oh. Yeah.
I was going to make an Advent calendar for my daughter and maybe even my niece and nephew across the country."

November 30, however, is a bit late to start working on something that is to be used early on December 1.

And then I remember that I had once planned to make an Advent calendar for my sister. Decades ago. She is now all grown up and the mom of that niece and nephew I mentioned.

It's still not too late to make all those crafts I intended to give as Christmas gifts, but give me time. I am ahead of schedule for being behind schedule on those.

Fortunately, it is much easier to go to craft fairs than it is to make crafts (or it is if you go to really good craft fairs, not the events that my friend F. dubs "crap fairs"). There's no shortage of excellent craft fairs in the Pacific Northwest, and two of them fall on the first weekend of December (when I have given up hope of ever making those Advent calendars, anyway).

The first one I enjoyed this past weekend was the Phinney Neighborhood Association's Winter Festival and Crafts Fair. Jewelry, clothing, pottery, toys, ornaments, journals, cards, hats, candles, prints--the variety of arts and crafts is mind-boggling and inspiring. And it's all displayed in a blue wooden building that dates back to 1904, as well as a 1918 brick building, both of which once served as schools. If you weary of crafts, you can park  yourself near the bake sale and take in entertainment that includes belly dancing, marimba music, Morris dancing, and the Ballard Sedentary Sousa Band.

I was tempted by oh, so many things and constantly forgetting that I wasn't supposed to be buying myself Christmas gifts. Luckily, I came across a beautiful display of letterpress prints by Ilee Papergoods in one of those moments of forgetfulness. And so it was that I came home with this cheerful picture of a rooster perched on a coffee cup shouting "Good morning." I figured with somebody that enthusiastic about getting up at the break of dawn waiting in the kitchen, any day would be off to a good start.

On Sunday, I went with my friend F. to the Urban Craft Uprising at Seattle Center, which I'd long  heard about but had never attended. There was a distinctly different vibe to some of the crafts here; lots of jewelry, cards, and other items had a sort of hipster or Goth or steampunk or other aura to them. I use these terms loosely because please note I am not remotely cool and hence am just borrowing adjectives here.

But there were plenty of the more whimsical and playful things I like, such as the adorable felted animals holding human (doll) heads in their jaws made by Moxie, and we stopped to snort and giggle at the weird juxtapositions of naivete and danger in the cards produced by the folks at the aptly named Unusual Cards.

One of those whimsical, playful things beckoned to me and implored me to take it home, and I wish I hadn't had to resist its high-pitched little voice out of a sense of Duty and Responsibility to the household budget and buying stuff for people other than myself. It was an absolutely precious pink chenille animal that I guessed (correctly) was a sheep with a very bunny sort of charm (which makes sense, as it was a creation of Hasenpfeffer Incorporated).

I went back to take a second look just as somebody else was scooping it up and purchasing it. Sigh. Well, at least I know where to find one of its cousins (that would be here).

Upon returning home, I felt inspired to do something more creative than loading the dishwasher. Hmm. Couldn't do needle felting because the last stupid needle broke last week and the new ones hadn't yet arrived.  Not inspired enough to draw. But baking? Oh, yes. In fact, that would be easy: the resident teen had made cheesecake for Thanksgiving, and there was virtually a bucket of cheesecake filling left because we'd made too much.

So it'd literally be a piece of cake to make one--just smash up some graham crackers (such a satisfying activity) and make a crust and bingo; easy as pie. The Thanksgiving cake had developed huge cracks as it baked--which didn't mar its taste at all--but this time I'd turn out a picture-perfect one.

Which I did--but the effect was pretty much destroyed when I set the cake on the counter to cool, opened a cabinet, and reflexively ducked as a heavy bowl dropped like a bomb from the top shelf and landed right on the cake. So instead of exhibiting cracking worthy of the San Andreas fault, the cheesecake boasted a large caldera. Which I totally intended, of course.