Tuesday, September 29, 2009

That Winsome Girl on Facebook

Did you know that you can find That Winsome Girl on Facebook? Click on the link on the right of the blog to visit the That Winsome Girl fan page. I will be filling up the Etsy shop in the upcoming weeks, and once things are full I am planning on offering regular sales and specials, some of which will only be available through and to the Facebook fans. Facebook is a great way to hear about what I've been up to in the studio, view photos of new designs and find out about upcoming events. And since nearly everyone is on Facebook these days, it's an easy way to stay up to date on That Winsome Girl news!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Dark Romance Necklace

So, I've been working on this line of one-of-a-kind luxe necklaces featuring vintage brooches and gemstones. This is the newest addition to the collection. I call it the Dark Romance Necklace. I love the mix of feminine and edgy. I usually don't design anything remotely edgy, but I love how this turned out! I am huge on asymmetry and I just love how every component in this piece seems to sparkle.

The necklace features a vintage Trifari brooch with marcastie accents, a huge black spinel briolette, two smaller black spinel rondelles, bright sterling silver chain and three lengths of oxidized sterling silver chain.

There are so many components of visual interest in this necklace, but (I think) they all harmonize perfectly. I think this would be fabulous paired with a little black dress or a ruffled top and a fitted black pencil skirt. It's girly, dark and mysterious.

I love how fierce the design looks from every angle. This would be sure to bring tons of attention and compliments.

I am smitten. Totally.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Edwardian-inspired Collar

I just finished designing this Edwardian-inspired pearl collar for a dear friend's wedding. She approached me last summer with the idea and, with the wedding quickly approaching, it has finally been brought to life. The necklace features a large genuine amber cabochon focal set into a gold plated setting. Four strands of hand knotted golden freshwater pearls complete the look, with all remaining findings in 14k gold-fill.

This is by far the most elaborate design I have completed to date. From start to finish, the design took over 12 hours. This was my first time knotting pearls and I was a bit overwhelmed by the one-chance nature of it all. If each and every knot isn't perfectly tight, the entire strand must be sacrificed. You cannot simply redo a single knot as you could a link with a wire-wrapped design. I found this incredibly overwhelming and I made sure to take my time with each and every knot. Thankfully I had the aid of some teeny tiny tweezers intended for use with knotting.

I will also be designing a very simple pair of matching earrings to be worn by the bride along with the necklace on her upcoming wedding day. Being my first time with the new technique, I am quite pleased with the result. I hope the bride loves the necklace and cherishes it for years to come!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Midway Fall Festival

That Winsome Girl will be at the 35th Annual Midway Fall Festival this Saturday and Sunday! The Festival is from 10am until 6pm on Saturday and 11am until 5pm on Sunday. I will be introducing some new items at the festival, including a line of handmade 1950's inspired sweater clips--just in time to accent all your favorite fall cardigans! After the festival I will be working hard on filling up the Etsy shop and expanding to carry my designs in more local boutiques. I am working gleefully in the studio to offer lots of new designs in plenty of time for all your holiday shopping.

Just thought I'd share a new one-of-a-kind design that I am totally crazy about. It features a vintage solid sterling filigree bow brooch (pin back removed), a row of gorgeous amethyst cubes, a row of creamy white freshwater pearls and all sterling silver findings. Absolutely glamorous, feminine and playful.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Birthdays

My hubby turned 24 on the 5th of September, yesterday we celebrated with friends by having a Murder Mystery Party. We weren't sure before hand just how many folks would show up, so we were planning for a generous 25. I decided to make my first two tier cake for the event to ensure that we wouldn't run out of cake. We ended up only having 14 guests and one tier would have been plenty, but I must say, I was excited and thankful for an opportunity to try my first two tier cake!

The hubby requested I make a spice cake, so I made a Buttermilk Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. It was quite yummy! I tried a technique of wrapping wet dish towels around the can pans while they baked to help them bake more evenly. It worked like a charm! I didn't have to level the cakes at all. I always hate having to level cakes as the crumbs make getting a nice crumb coat more difficult and I always end up tossing out the extra cake (terrible, I know). Not only did using the wet dish towels keep the cake level, it helps the edges cook evenly and not get overdone as typically happens. The photo above is the cake setting up in the fridge after I crumb coated it.

And here you can see the final frosting on the cake. I made the entire cake from start to finish in about 3.5 hours which, with cooling time, isn't much. I was incredibly rushed and didn't get to spend as much care frosting the cake as I would have liked. It is certainly imperfect but I don't think it looks half bad. If you look to the right in the photo you can see my inspiration picture. I wanted to add pretty gum paste flowers to the cake, but the hubby wouldn't have it.

Instead I added some gnomes for decoration. Gnomes are about as manly as I get with my decorating. I think they are cute!

I wanted to add a little mushroom on top as well, but the hubby wouldn't let me. Mushrooms apparently are feminine.

I am smitten with this little guy sitting on the edge of the first tier. Isn't he adorable?

Buttermilk Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Buttermilk Spice Cake
Adapted from Pittsburg Needs Eated

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature


1. Preheat the oven to 350° and position a rack in the lower third. Butter and flour two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans. Sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt and cloves onto a sheet of wax paper. Combine the buttermilk and vanilla in a small pitcher.



2. In a standing electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Add the light brown and granulated sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, stopping once to scrape down the bowl. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the flour mixture at low speed in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, just until the batter is smooth; stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the bowl. 



3. Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Transfer the pans to the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes begin to shrink from the sides. Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes, then turn each out onto a rack, invert onto another rack and let cool completely before frosting.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
From Smitten Kitchen

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1. In a stand mixer beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy. Chill the frosting for 10 to 20 minutes, until it has set up enough to spread smoothly.

2. Frost cakes as desired and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, until frosting is set. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dress Shopping!

With two very good friends getting married in early October, I have had dress shopping on the brains recently. I have a very modest collection of dresses which are all perfect for spring or summer but are a bit much for a fall wedding. Yesterday I decided to venture to the mall and attempt to find an appropriate dress for the occasion. Being a plus size woman with a very particular sense of fashion makes for a difficult shopping experience. I was horrified to see stores filled with tacky animal print dresses and ungodly amounts of purple for fall. Nothing to satisfy this classic, 50's silhouette loving woman.

After much shopping I finally decided on purchasing an Adrianna Papell dress from Dillards and a skirt and cami from Lane Bryant. I think I have decided to go with the Adrianna Papell dress as I am crazy about its classic shape and the fact that I already own the perfect clutch and heels to pair with it.


The dress (you can click on the image to view the details better) has these gorgeous leaf/petal cut outs which are sewn to the overlay. I love its very classic, flattering shape and I just can't get over how playful the petal details are. Now I have the challenge of finding an appropriate cardigan, shrug or wrap to wear with the dress. Oh, and designing the perfect jewelry to wear with it!
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