Sunday, September 25, 2016

Where have all the cowgirls gone?

Wondered what the context was for my Nudie Cohn reference?  Well, it's Halloween time and Molly is going to be a 40s Cowgirl, as imagined by Chasing Fireflies.  I clicked buy, and then bought some red cowgirl boots at Target b/c $60 for "costume" quality footwear on Chasing Fireflies seemed high.  A true win would have been these Stella McCartney Kids cowgirl boots.

Killing it.

I did a little research for hair and makeup purposes.  Now what makes a costume "40s cowgirl" as opposed to "50s cowgirl"?  Nothing.  Other than Halloween teaching our children that the 50s are about sock-hops and grease.   Children might be confused if we shove too much into one decade.

Dale Evans is probably queen of the vintage cowgirls.  Married to Roy Rogers, she had plenty of reasons to wear crazy western apparel that is absolutely impractical for actually being a cow hand.

One of her Nudie Cohn dresses :)

Need more vintage cowgirl to start your day?  No problem.

Yep, Veronica Lake in Western wear.  You're welcome.


OK, this is a "Texas Circus", but it seemed visually similar

This stuff is still floating around vintage shops, just waiting to be restyled by hipsters.

And where did all the cowgirls go?  Pills & booze.  Skin cancer.  Plane crashes, car crashes and horse crashes.  It was a hard life.

Unless otherwise marked, images from Google Image Search for "flowers and fringe on vintage western wear" and this Pinterest board.  

Monday, September 19, 2016

Life in Plastic

via Charlotte Olympia's Instagram Feed

So I don't know about your social media feeds, but Charlotte Olympia's #letsgobananas fashion show was lighting up mine.  As well it should--girls in sequin bathing suits, dancing with bananas. That's my kind of show.  But did you know, just weeks ago, the Charlotte Olympia Barbie dropped?  Along with her Barbie inspired foot wear.  Vogue coverage here.

I want this Barbie.  So.  Bad.  I'd be one of those weirdos who leave them in their box and just stare at it.  I priced it, thinking maybe Charlotte would want it and justify my purchase.  $125 from her site.  A little rich for Christmas.  Le sigh.

I mean, she has a tiny ceramic leopard!  It reminds me of the ceramic leopard I had to pass up while antiquing on vacation....I have a lot of non-purchase regrets.  I remember all of them.  But let's talk about the shoes.  While I consider most of her shoes too impractical for me, they remind me of my old shoe-buying self.

And in other news of my morning instagram wormhole, did you know there was a HUGE Barbie exhibit at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris?  It closed Sunday.  

There was a Barbie exhibit here in Indy at the Children's Museum a few years ago.  I wasn't expecting much, but it turned out marvelous--full of Jonathan Adler furniture and ghost chairs.  Plus, there were some pretty cool Barbies...which no one would stare at with me because of all the activities there were.  But if I thought the curation was good here....from what you can catch online this was mind blowing.

Malibu Ken and Malibu Barbie!  via

I really love the vignettes.

Where can I buy tiny gold chivari chairs for the girls Barbies?  Where?

Here is an excerpt from the Musee write up on the show:

Directly inspired by the German advertising doll Lili, Barbie was launched with her own mythology : born in Wisconsin, Barbara Millicent Roberts has a family and clearly identified friends, but her age has deliberately never been specified so that she can embody either an adolescent or a young woman. She successively has been a high school pupil, university student, nurse and airhostess before exercising more than 150 professions, from the most traditional to the most avant-garde. Barbie has been a vet several times, a palaeontologist, computer scientist, racing driver, schoolteacher, doctor, ballerina, policewoman, and even a presidential candidate four times and an astronaut before Neil Armstrong in 1965. Her ever-present boyfriend, Ken has become just as famous. Barbie is more than just a doll, she is a life.

P.S.:  if you missed it, we are about to embark on a new era of normal Barbies--they come "curvy", "petite", and "tall".  I assume they mean 2 types of fat and short legged.  But yay!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Better Living through Pinterest: Unicorn Bark

I'd seen the Unicorn Bark here and there.  And bark, as a candy, seems like a good place to start--no intimidating molds.  Fueled by the chards of interesting chocolate needed to make a freak cake, I figured we should try it out....practice for some party down the road.  So we rounded up some supplies....

 (not pictured, pop rocks....they do add a little something)

Wilton Melts are fine and good, but let's be real:  they taste like shit.  Coating a cake ball or Oreo is fine, but on their own (e.g., bark) I figured it would be gross.  I've been itching to try coloring chocolate, and this seemed like a good excuse.  I had used the new Ghiradelli melts at the Circus Party (chocolate covered Oreos) and they were super easy (no tempering) and seemed to taste pretty good so we bought a ton of the white chocolate melts.  To color chocolate, you can't use water based food coloring (i.e., normal food coloring).  You'll need oil based food coloring, also known as candy coloring.  I haven't explored the science of this yet, but it seems that people use oil based coloring in hard candy as well (artisanal lollipops are on the docket).

After perusing Youtube and the internet, it was hard to find a definitive recommendation on the candy coloring.  So we tried oil based powder, and four kinds of liquid/gel oil based coloring:

I liked ChefMaster the best, followed by Wilton.  The intensity of both were good, but the Chef Master squeeze bottles are more convenient than pots.  The Lorann Oils were pretty good, but the liquid initially freaked me out looking separated (worked find) and the powder I found really difficult to fully incorporate in the melted chocolate (supposedly its great with fondant).  Note that Americolor gets rave reviews, but it was not Prime-able, so we have yet to grab some.

I reviewed these instructions (Studio DIY,  Hello Wonderful), this Youtube video, and the Martha Chocolate Bark instructions.  I agree with Martha--you'll want to do about a pound of chocolate per pan.  That gives you a nice thick bark.  For cake decorating (or freak shakes), it could/should be thinner.  And that is it.  Lots of clean-up, but a relatively easy and forgiving edible project.

Start with your parchment sheet over something firm (used a jelly roll pan/sheet pay with sides)

Batch #1 after marbelizing, before sprinkles.

Batch 1 results.

Last batch, with sprinkles and disco dust.

Last batch results.

A few tips:
  • I melted the white chocolate in separate bowls, ready for the different colors.  Watch over-heating the chocolate--they break easily (it will be almost melted, and then you pull it out again and it looks dry and crumbly in the middle).  For bark, I found that whipping really hard can bring back a partially broken batch to usability for bark (maybe not for a coating....).  
  • We went with a formula of white or pale base, with three medium or bright colors to swirl.  The same number of sprinkles (just so they didn't use ALL the sprinkles....).
  • This was a kid project, and sometimes kids are slower than the chocolate allows--if you put your oven on low (I used 200 degrees), you can put the pan of un-swirled chocolate in there to keep it soft....for those times someone wanted one more color to add or had not figured out their sprinkle game yet.
  • Online, people claimed they swirled it around with a spatula.  They must have mad spatula skills, as that looked terrible for me.  It blends the colors quite a bit, which is a slippery slope.  We used skewers to swirl and marbleize the chocolate.
  • Disco dust makes everything better

Even with Ghiradelli, I am not a huge fan of plain white chocolate on its own.  From a taste perspective, our middle batch was my favorite:  we put a layer of dark chocolate down, stuck it in the freezer, and then poured our Unicorn Bark on top.  You do have to watch pulling the dark chocolate up with your swirling.

Also note that we forgot about the purple and started marbleizing; because the dark chocolate had started to pull up already, Molly opted to splatter/drizzle it over the top.

Warning, it is super addictive...which is why we made three batches.  I think it would be fun for a party or party favor, or a class Valentine.

A word on sprinkles:  they add up quickly.  Making the perfect mix of sprinkles is key for unicorn bark, and the current trend for cupcakes and cakes, but it not easy if you don't have access to a professional pastry store.  But blogger Sweetapolita has recognized this problem, and sells an enormous number of "Medleys" on her store.  They seem expensive, but trust me when I say you'll spend more making the mix yourself (esp. if all you need is one party's worth of cupcakes or bark).


Hey Freak--

So, Freak Shakes started in Australia and went to New York, London, Dubai..... They seem to have fizzled as people contemplated whether they wanted all their favorite treats stacked on a cup of melting shake (or the US is too puritanical for such excess--entirely possible).  

I've been researching the ganache over buttercream drizzle technique, when I stumbled onto an Instagram wormhole that led me through modern Australian pastry arts.  And I'm in love.  

The Sweet Escape Sydney's #fridgesituation from OhItsPerfect

Freak Cakes also seem to be born in Australia, and they are available in all the Queen's territories.   I assume they are hitting major US cities?  A sampling for your viewing pleasure.

Thanks to the shakes, these cakes are often referred to as freak cakes.  However, they were also referred to as Katherine Sabbath cakes.  She started the obsession with ganache drizzle with her melted ice cream cake.  

 The Freak Cake is a particularly good medium for annoying kid themes.  The emoji cake above from The Party Parade is pretty awesome, and Lottie and Belle's portfolio of character cakes is pretty sweet:


Disney Princesses

My Little Pony

And since we are on the topic of kids parties, how about this croque  en bouche of Hello Kitty cookies and macaroons.

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