Monday, April 28, 2008

Culinary School, here I come! (Mid-Life Crisis Part Deux)

Check out my Flickr page to see the details of this pictoral ode to pastry

Yes, my mid-life crisis and quest to find the real Merry Moon continues. We'll call this act: The Tarlette Finds the Sweet Life. While I love the Brookfield Craft Center , my role there as operations director was completely administrative, and I left the corporate world because, while freakishly good at it, I HIGHLY DISLIKE administrative duties and upper management. I want a creative life where I DO creative things, work with my hands, make things and enjoy my days. I'm a hard worker, so don't get me wrong I love a daily challenge. But I'm completely over the thrill of the multi-page spreadsheets and IT manager challenges. I want to create and bring forth beautiful products into the world.

I have three things that I really love in life (besides my dear husband!): eating food, baking, and art. I spent months pondering what types of jobs I could try my hand at incorporating the things I truly enjoy. Oh, and I have found the love of Dr. Martins, so any job I take must allow me to wear my favorite clunky shoes (seriously, how did hundreds of thousands of punk rockers keep it a secret for decades how comfortable these shoes are?). After endless soul searching and career counseling from close friends, I had the A-ha moment of my life. I should go to culinary school and become a pastry chef!

And so I applied, got accepted and have finalized the details and quit my day job! Two more weeks and I'm a full-time student again. I'm starting school on May 19th at the Connecticut Culinary Institute and specializing in Professional Baking and Pastry Arts. I absolutely plan to continue Merry Moon Sweets & Treats. I want to blend both my felt treats and real sweet treats into one food lovin' life. We'll not literally blend them, that would be disgusting and not so sanitary. So, for all five of you who read my little blog, my plan is to keep you posted on my culinary schools adventures, sweet creations, as well as my felted sweet treats.
Wish me luck!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Enchanted Swap

Yesterday I received the MOST magical package from my Enchanted Swap partner, Kelly, of Sweet Addie Vintage Designs. This Enchanted Princess swap was hosted by the Fairest Princess Sarah from Gypsy Mermaid Life. You can see from the photo above that she has sweetly bestowed the fabulously exciting title of "Cupcake Princess" upon me. I'm so honored!

Look at all of these delicious goodies! I can't believe all of the fabulously fun treasures she sent me. I don't know which I adore more, the sweet felted cupcake wand, or the sparkly Cupcake Princess tiara. They are both so wonderful. The pink bubble gum sucker is from Hammond Candies in Denver, where I'm originally from. And the Cupcake kit includes a cool book on cupcakes, cupcake recipe cards and printed cupcake papers with little pink cupcakes on them. I'm in cupcake heaven!

Kelly also made me this gorgeous necklace!

Eloise was so jealous that she wanted to wear my goodies and play princess too. I can't blame her. I think I'll wear them now.

Thank you for EVERYTHING Kelly!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fruit Bowl for BowlFest

I finally finished a new felted piece to show you! This one isn't for sale, but was specifically created as a donation for the Brookfield Craft Center's annual fundraiser, BowlFest. BowlFest is a day-long celebration of food, music and fine hand crafts. This year it will be on June 1st, at the Brookfield Craft Center in Brookfield, CT. Everyone who comes gets a free handcrafted bowl to take home!

Many talented artists donated work for the BowlFest silent auction. The items up for auction will be on display at the Craft Center May 18-June 1, and people will be able to view the auction items online soon.

I was asked to do a felted bowl, but I just couldn't leave my bowl empty so I filled it with felted fruit. For once I remembered to document the progress of this project....

Naked fruit without their clothes! Their insides are entirely wool, no filler. I guess you could say they are full of fiber!

Now the fruit get their skins!

I think the peach and the banana are my favorite. I had to "peel" the banana because no matter what I did to the closed banana it looked way too phallic. And this is family friendly event! I think it's even cuter now.

All of the fruit is life sized. You know, I really like my lemon too.

Here's the whole bowl of fruit ready to fetch a lovely price for charity!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sugar & Meringue and Everything Nice

Wow, last week was crazy and stressful but I won't bore you all with any of that, I have too many fun things to show you! I love it when you have a crappy day and you come home to awesome packages in the mail.

A few days ago I received the sweetest little package from Emily at Sugar & Meringue . She had a contest on her blog, the prize was these super fun farm cupcake toppers. And I won!
Aren't they just the cutest? Emily is a busy girl. Not only does she have two fabulous blogs (her other blog is Flying Time ), she also has two Etsy stores: Flying Time Designs and Sugar & Meringue.

Emily's blogs constantly offer up the most delicious looking sweets and treats, vintage kitchen collectibles, and all things lovely and crafty. The photo above are her yummie cupcakes, but I can't wait to whip up my own batch for my new cupcake toppers.

Thanks Emily!!!

Here are a few of her other items available at her Etsy store:

I LOVE these recipe cards!! They are so cooly retro.

I also sent off my package for Gypsy Mermaid's Enchanted Swap. This is a fairy princess themed swap. My super cool swap partner was Sweet Addie, otherwise known as Princess Kelly! I was so nervous about sending off my swap goodies because Kelly has the most lovely Etsy store with positively delicious jewlery. I so hope that my enchanted offerings add princess sparkle to her treasure chest.

The princess box above held the sparkly necklace below. It was created with vintage buttons and tiny silver stars that you can't really see in the photo.

I wish you all an enchanted week!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I Spy a Cake Spy

Bride of FrankenCuppie?, originally uploaded by cakespy.

This is the newest edition to my Cake Spy gallery. Don't you just love it? I asked Jessie Oleson, the brilliant cakester/illustrator behind Cake Spy, to create this awesome little illustration for me. She's the Bride of FrankenCuppie. I just love the idea of a cupcake baking up her own mate. Love her hair! And see the bottle of love? I'm sure she added an extra spoonful of that for her new mate.

I'd also like to send a HUGE congratulations to Jessie who is officially now a full-time Cake Spy. Good Luck! She's a wonderfully talent artist and super sweet gal. Check out her Etsy store, blog and Flickr page to see more of her work.

Here's my Cake Spy gallery in my studio:

Monday, April 14, 2008

Mad for Mini Treats

I've been so busy this past week that I haven't had time to make anything new myself. That hasn't stopped me from sneaking a few minutes to find new treasures from other people and make a few super cute purchases. I've been obsessed with miniature food for as long as I can remember. When I lived in Colorado I used to go to the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys about twice a year, and I'd always go at Christmas when they usually have 10 so completely decorated doll houses in all different styles, sizes and themes. I loved seeing them each year, but my absolute favorite part has always been the mini food! Mini cakes, cookies, mini turkeys, mini ginerbread houses, they all just knocked me out! How do they make them that small? Why in the world would anyone take the time to create such tiny things? I still don't have the answers, I just know that I loved them.

But I've love them from afar. I admire doll houses, but they're just too fussy for me, so I just couldn't justify buying mini fake food for no purpose. But my life has now changed! I have found my beloved mini food being made into fabulous jewelry!! I can wear my coveted miniatures!

You have to take a look at my new friend April's Etsy store Pukashell Creative Designs . She makes fabulously cute jewelry out of miniature sweet treats! The plated treat above is a deliciously adorable ring, below is a layered cake pin, and a sweet treat necklace. Aren't they irresistible ?

April also makes super cute amigurumi knitted play food. Don't you just love these ice cream cones?

And this is the cutest set of bonbon magents!
I have my very own necklace by April on the way --a plate of French pastry on a lovely blue china plate. I can't wait!! Jewelry and miniatures, all rolled into one. A food obessed girl's dream come true!
Check out Pukashell's Flickr page for even more adorable eye candy.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Embrace the Muse

Wow, this has been an insanely long week & exhausting week, but it’s been exciting too. Last night I gave a presentation at the Craft Center for our new series The Craft Continuum. We envisioned a casual lecture/discussion series highlighting our staff, faculty and members sharing their art journeys. Well, I was the first guinea pig along with one of our glass lampworking instructors, David Licata.

Of course, for me, the most important part of the whole evening was having awesome snacks. Sure, I took time to put together a lovely power point presentation, but I spent more time baking cupcake shaped sugar cookies and lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream frosting. And they were a HUGE hit!

After the magic of the frosting and sprinkles wore off I did have to give my presentation, which I think went really well. I started off showing my early work from my undergraduate days. I have a BFA from the University of Northern Colorado in Fiber Arts. Yes, you can ask, as everyone does…What the hell is fiber arts? I literally have a degree in basket weaving. OK, it also includes paper making, weaving, surface design, beading, etc. And I also have a BA in Philosophy, so you can see that I left college completely unprepared for any actual career. I decided to spare you the not-so-exciting photos of my early work.

The bulk of my presentation was sharing work of other artists who inspire me. It’s taken me nearly 38 years to realize that a food obsessed girl just needs to embrace it, and realize that tasty treats are my muse. I've come to terms with the fact that while my main themes of my work are candy, cakes, cupcakes and other sweets, what I produce is art and I don't need anyone elses approval to make my work valid. As an artist I don't make political statements, or museum pieces. I make felt cupcakes, so there.

Here's a sample of pics from my presentation of other artists who have elevated seemingly mundane sweet treats to amazing pieces of art:

These first few painting are the work of the amazing Wayne Thiebaud. I just want to reach out lick the frosting off his paintings!

The piece above is called "Milk, Orange & Dark Bars" by Peter Anton. His mixed media pieces are so realistic yet whimsical in their ridiculously large scale. I think it's so cool how they actually look frosty.

Peter also did the chocolates below. This is piece is an extra large 48" x 48"

This is a shot from Peter's studio. Don't you want to go there? It looks like Willy Wonka's workshop!

These yummy looking chocolates are glass! They are "chocolate glass confections" by Hulet & Hulet Glass. They look like they could melt in your mouth.

I adore this teacup by Adrian Kohler. The craftsmanship of his wood sculptures is remarkable. Everything here is wood, including the cookies.

These "Petite Patisserie" are by Kima from Spain. I love how delicate they are. Her work is delicious and can be found in her Etsy store: Kup Kup Land.

One of my other favorite Etsy muses is Sugar Chic Baby
Every time I see her work I have frosting fantasies. Check out her store!

Embrace your muse, whatever it may be. I wish everyone sweet dreams and a lifetime of inspiration!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Dessert of the Day: Lemon Blueberry Cake

I finished a new felted sweet treat. This one is a lemon blueberry layer cake with buttercream frosting. I get questions about how needle felting works, so I thought I'd add some photos showing the process.

This one is the start of the lemon slice to top the cake. I use undyed wool roving to create the shapes.

Now I have the basic lemon slice shape and have added the lemony yellow roving on top.

You can see the felting needle poking the "blueberry" goodness into the cake. The whole technique really is just "poke, poke, poke" until you get the roving where you want it. You just have to keep your fingers out of the way because the felting needle is wicked sharp.

Here's a close-up of the lemon, blueberry & mint garnish. To attache the various elements it's still just "poke, poke, poke." Each poke makes the wool fibers bind together tighter & tighter until they are nice & firm & stuck together. It's woolly magic!

And here's the whole cake! I apologize for the bad lighting, I was being lazy & taking quick shots. My bad, please forgive!

Voila! A yummy calorie-free piece of cake! This slice actually really big--it's 3" high by 7" long. I like to call it a Heather size piece of pastry.

I'll get my act together and take some good photos (Ok, better photos) tomorrow and list this new sweet treat in my Etsy Store .

Have sweet dreams!