My macaron craze

First of all, macarons are not the same as macaroons. Macarons are tiny cookies with delicate shells that nearly melt in your mouth. I’ve said they’re like French Oreos before, but that’s only because they’re sandwich cookies. Imagine a fluffy pink Oreo with raspberry jam in the middle. Voila!

My first macaron was last year in France. Our hotel left two in our room, and Phil and I popped them in our mouths without question. I think our eyes almost immediately rolled back in pleasure. Neither of us knew what they were, though.

I’ve now had macarons from two different Houston bakers. Here are my comparisons:

Maison Burdisso – available at several locations, I got them at the Midtown Farmer’s Market; overall, the shells are perfectly made and the flavors are delicate and very European, but very sweet.

  • Red Velvet – Wow! It was like a tiny bite of red velvet cake in macaron form. So delicious.
  • Vanilla Bean – Nice and delicate, light flavor.
  • Pear – Very peary, great green color
  • Raspberry – One of my favorite flavors!
  • Lemon – my least favorite, the egg white flavor came through and overpowered the lemon.
  • Pomegranate – sweet and tart

Green Eyed Susan – available for delivery or at French Country Wines many Saturdays; overall, Susan is more generous with her filling and her cookies aren’t as sickly sweet.

  • Lemon – Wow! The shell was perfectly delicate. The flavor was amazing. I couldn’t be happier.
  • Bittersweet Chocolate – This one was very brownie like. The outside of the shell reminded me exactly of the flaky crust you get on top of brownies. That being said, I wasn’t as pleased with the chewy texture. It was delicious, though.
  • Spiced Carrot (Spring specialty) – Yummy! Reminds me of spice cake; great macaron texture.
  • Raspberry – it has a zingy filling that I’m not overly fond of.
  • Green Eyed Susan Signature – Sooooo good! The flavor reminds me of really good vanilla ice cream. I think the filling is supposed to be white chocolate, but creamy vanilla was definitely what I tasted – and loved!

So for me, it’s kind of a wash. Maison Burdisso’s cookies were all pretty sugary, and the flavors were very refined, but that’s not always what you want; the texture was always spot on. Susan’s flavors were all delicious and somewhat more geared to American palates, but her shell texture was a tad spotty. I had favorites at both places. Maison Burdisso’s Red Velvet and Pomegranate were awesome; Susan’s Lemon, Spiced Carrot and Signature were amazing. Maison Burdisso offers more flavors overall and are a tad easier to procure because she sells in so many spots.

Updates

Blog technical difficulties, busy life, etc. Sorry it’s been so long, but welcome to the new Knit and Wit home! Here’s what’s been up in list format:

  • Well, most obviously, my blog address has changed. But you know that if you’re here.
  • Discovery has gone and returned on its last mission, leaving Robonaut at the space station. It was the first shuttle launch I’ve seen in person.
  • Nursery is pretty much finished. I have to finish sewing the curtains (which are mostly done) and do the valance, but otherwise we’re pretty much ready to rock and roll. Showers will be at the end of the month.
  • I saw the Blue Man Group today, and they were awesome!
  • Had fun with some visitors from Georgia a few weeks back. Got a good excuse to do some cool Houston things and found a great purveyor of macarons!
  • I begin lamaze/childcare classes tomorrow. Looking forward to starting the wrap-up on this pregnancy thing. 10 weeks to go!
  • Jury duty, two glucose tests, awesome St. Patty’s party. Things are always happening here!

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Project Nursery update

Twenty-five weeks pregnant, and major work on the nursery is complete!

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Hubby painted the wall pink and helped me rig up a projector. I’d found a picture I was trying to reproduce, so I selected the trunk, pasted it on a clear background, turned the trunk black and printed it on a transparency. Then I used our homemade projector (read: a box with a hole in it and a flashlight on a stand) to trace the trunk on the wall. I freehanded some of the detail. I also freehanded many of the leaves and all of the details on the leaves and birds. I made stencils using quilter’s plastic (freehanded the one leaf and edited an existing photo for the birds). All-in-all, it took less than 5 days, only two of those being all-day-long endeavors.

The only thing I have left furniture-wise is to buy a rocker/recliner (going shopping tonight). Then it’s just decorating. I’m still collecting ideas on what to do with 3-4 bridesmaid dresses.

It's the little things

I had a tiny package in my mailbox today. I’ve been watching for it since last week even though I knew that today was the earliest possible day it could be there. It left Canada last Monday, so it took a few days to get here.

What was inside? My “substitute” wedding rings!
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My fingers haven’t swollen so badly that my real wedding rings are unwearable, but I was starting to worry about how tight they were becoming. Rather than freak myself out, I went looking for costume jewelry. Coming up empty handed, I remembered that I saw this knitting ring featured on Etsy a few months back. I chose to add one simplicity ring to make it look more like a traditional wedding set.

The seller was so very kind. I had carefully measured my finger with string and used the sizing guide she recommended to figure out what size I needed. I came up with a 9, which seemed large, but I didn’t give it much thought. I knew that my wedding bands were a half size, so maybe that could make sense. The next night I happened to be playing with my husband’s ring while telling him about my purchase. I tried his ring on and saw how huge it it was. He thought his ring was an 8. Instant panic!

The sizing chart also offered an option of using a ring you own to figure out your size, so I went to grab my wedding band and I held it up to the chart. It looked like a 6!!! I ran to my laptop and convo’ed the Etsy vendor to see if it was too late to change my order to a 7. I wanted the rings to be a little big on me so my pregnant fingers can swell, but I didn’t want them to fall off or be uncomfortable. She messaged me back very quickly saying she was glad I caught her before she mailed them out. We wrote back and forth a bit, and when she did mail them a couple of days later, she told me to let her know if I really did need a 9 once I tried them on.

So sure enough, a 7 is perfect. They’re a little loose on me, but tight enough that my knuckle holds them on. I have plenty of room for swelling should it set in. And the rings are so pretty and shiny that I’ll have to buy a set that actually fits me once I recover!

The seller also makes a necklace and earrings with the knitting theme, as well as some crochet items. Her other jewelry is absolutely beautiful, too. I couldn’t recommend her more based on this experience. The finished item is beautiful and she was a delight to deal with!

Designing Woman

Nope, still not knitting, but I’ve been busy emptying out the room that will become the nursery. It’s like an archaeology dig. I keep running across relics from crafts I haven’t practiced in a while. If the strata was clearer, you could almost date my phases: sewing, cross-stitch, scrapbooking, stamping, card-making, etc. I’m hoping my yarn doesn’t see a similar fate.

I’ve finally put together a plan for the room. I’m going to paint one wall pink and free-hand a tree on it and stick pink birdies around the tree and around the room. I’ll keep you posted on progress.

I’ve found a really cute bed set, but I’m hesitant to buy it. Does a baby really need a cute comforter? She can’t really even use it until she’s older. It’s hard to talk myself down from some of these big purchases. I almost registered for a car booster seat the other day until I realized I’d need to store it for about 2 years before we’d need it.

I wish there were coordinators for babies like there are for weddings!

Nursery crafts

No, I haven’t started yet, but I’m just starting to think. My first idea was to ask my bridesmaids about using their dresses for fabric for decorations. I heard a great idea once upon a time that involved cutting a bridesmaid dress in half to make curtains. You cut the dress down the middle, sew the new seams, put loops or something on the top, then reverse the pieces so that what was the middle becomes the outside edge and the hourglass shape makes the inside of the curtain.

dresses

Here is a picture of the dresses. Do you have any other ideas for nursery crafts? My friends and I have come up with lampshade, upholstered letters, decorative pillows and ruffles for furniture. You can’t see the pink very well, but there’s a bit of salmon accent at the waist and at the bottom. Another friend recommended cutting out appliques.

Now to get sewing!

Funny people are funny

I don’t usually write about other people, because it makes me feel weird. I know a few close friends read my blog, and even if I have only flattering things to say, it seems weird talking about people behind their backs. But I have some great knitting friends. I don’t see this group nearly enough, but they always make me laugh and inspire me with wonderful ideas. They’re a group of smart and funny ladies (and a dude).

One of them has recently begun dyeing her own yarn, which is available for purchase online. She named some of her newest colors after our mutual friends, and one skein got named after yours truly. I had to buy Rocket Pop Heather not only to share with y’all, not only because the colors are awesome, but also because I’m vain. The base, Sockalicious, is a merino/cashmere/nylon blend that feels luxurious. I can’t wait to knit it up.

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My friend joked that she couldn’t think of anything but my husband’s job when she named my colorway. I granted her that “Rocket Pop Heather” sounded much better than “Library Worker Heather,” so she decided to make a “Library Worker Heather” in her Chubby base. Chubby is a DK weight superwash merino. I love how springy the yarn is.

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Finally, because we met up most recently at a spinning/weaving/fiber crafts store, I had to get a little something scrumptious for my spinning wheel. They recently began carrying Frabjous Fibers, and this Merino-Sparkle Blend is not only my colors, but it has just enough glitter in it to make it special without being garish. I am so in love I can’t wait to begin spinning it.

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