Beginner’s Guide to Cake Decorating

I’m good at baking, but bad at decorating, so it’s been pointed out to me before (by Steven) that my cupcakes and cakes tend to look like they were made by a child. WELL THIS CHILD JUST TOOK A CLASS IN CAKE DECORATING FOOL. Online, but still.

To test out my new skills, I decided to try out all my different piping tips on a batch of cupcakes:
20171017_162616

I also made a Halloween cake for my book club (this maaay have been back in October, whatever).

Much neater and flatter than I usually manage.

Much neater and flatter than I usually manage.

Inside it's Halloween funfetti

Inside it’s Halloween funfetti

Previously: Pole Dancing
Next: Soap Making

2017 Goals: Almost There!

Now that we’re 75% done with 2017, it’s time to see if I’m 75% done with my goals for the year.

1. Write a Beginners’ Guide Once A Month: 75%
Right on schedule:

July: Candy Making
August: Free Motion Quilting
September: Pole Dancing

I’m not sure when (if ever) I’ll do any of these again. All three were way hard and require a lot of practice to get competent at. But I’m glad I tried all of them!

2. Sew Something Once a Month: 67%

In July I made this quilted journal cover in my quilting class:

New skills!

New skills!

In August I made this Halloween wall hanging:

Still have not found a proper wall for this masterpiece

Still have not found a proper wall for this masterpiece

In September I made this ugly quilt for an ugly quilt contest:

I'm not saying I'm going to win, but I am saying I'm the only one who used faux fur

I’m not saying I’m going to win, but I am saying I’m the only one who used faux fur

3. Write in my journal once a week: 75%

I’ve been writing every day since I got into bullet journaling!

4. Make one new recipe every week: 63%

I am doing way better at this goal than I thought I would be, even though I have missed out some weeks.

3 seed bread

3 seed bread

Sugar cookies with a tea glaze

Sugar cookies with a tea glaze

Pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

5. Keep my nails painted for 30 days: 100%

You already know about this.

6. Finish a coloring book: 100%

Ah yes, my life’s greatest accomplishment

7. Be active every day: 42%
In September I started going back to my aerobics class, so that should give me a little bump in this statistic. Also I only counted that pole dancing class as one day, even though it felt like a week.

Total: 74.5%

I CAN DO IT

igotthis

Previously: 2017 Halfway

Beginner’s Guide to Pole Dancing

YES! FINALLY! I have been wanting to try a pole dancing class since I moved to Cary and found out my closest gym was a pole dancing one. One of my penpals does it and described it as “like swinging around the jungle gym as a kid except in high heels”. I had pretty much no faith in my strength or coordination but I knew I could count on a serious workout and having fun swinging around like an idiot! I accomplished both things.

To get pumped, I watched some “beginner” videos on youtube. There’s a reason I write the word in quotes because damn. Still, pole dancing is beautiful and hardcore as shit so I enjoyed watching the videos even if I knew I would never be able to do some of those moves. Esp after just an hour lesson!

My friend Alex agreed to go with me. She actually has ballet experience so she was much more poised and less floppy than my flailing self, but I like to think I made up the difference in sheer ENTHUSIASM.

GO TEAM

GO TEAM

We learned about five moves in all, and there was only one of them I could accomplish semi-gracefully: the pirouette. Surprise, it’s the only one that doesn’t require you to be able to support your body weight with just your arms.

Naturally my arms were HELLA sore for like three days after, but my legs were a little too because, surprise, pole dancing happens all on the balls of your feet and since I never wear heels, those muscles are not used to doing so much work. For this class we were barefoot, but when you move up the ~pole dancing ranks~ you do wear heels while doing it.

I decided I’m probably not going to invest the time and effort to get good at this, but it was fun to try. And it inspired me to go up a level in my usual weight-lifting because my arms are even less competent than I thought.

Previously: Free motion quilting
Next: ??? Email me your ideas

Banned Books Week 2017: Eleanor and Park

eleanorandpark
Title: Eleanor and Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Challenged in: Yamhill-Carlton school district, Oregon; Chesterfield County, Virginia
Because of: “pornographic” content and “vile, vile, nasty language”

This book deals with some hard topics: bullying, poverty, and child abuse. I can see why some people might find it hard to read. Most of the story is about two “outsider” teens bonding over music and comics, trying to get away from these problems, or at least not think about them for a while. Rainbow Rowell is a fantastic author, and I love how her characters always feel very authentic, even the bad ones, unfortunately. I hate that anyone has to go through a childhood like Eleanor’s, but I know that some do, which is why I think books like this are so important. Both for victims to find hope and for their peers to maybe gain some understanding of what others might face and gain some perspective and empathy.

Plus, when reading up on the Oregon challenge, I found that apparently some of the challengers were reading and objecting to fanfic of the book instead of the text from the book itself. Perfect.

Previously: Make Something Up
Next: WHATEVER 2018 BRINGS

Banned Books Week 2017: Make Something Up

makesomethingup
Title: Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread
Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Challenged In: A SECRET
Because of: profanity, sexual explicitness, being “disgusting and all around offensive”

Confession: I checked this book out but couldn’t finish it. Not because of how ~scandalous~ it was, but because I find Chuck Palahniuk’s writing to be really tiresome. I’ve tried to read another of his books and had the same reaction. His whole deal is for you to find him SHOCKING and it’s pretty clear to me that he puts more effort into that than character development or plot. So yeah, all those allegations in the challenge are true, and that’s what Chuck Palahniuk wants. Obviously a lot of people want it too, since he’s a best-selling author, and since none of his books are shelved in the children’s section, I don’t see what people are complaining about. If you don’t like his books, don’t read them. Which I guess I could say about every book that gets challenged.

Previously: Big Hard Sex Criminals
Next: Eleanor and Park

Banned Books Week 2017: Big Hard Sex Criminals

This cover pretty much says it all

This cover pretty much says it all


Title: Big Hard Sex Criminals
Author: Matt Fraction
Challenged In: It’s a secret, apparently
Because of: Sexually explicit

Sex is a plot point in this comic, so obvs it’s going to involve sex. The two main characters have the rare ability to stop time after an orgasm. They end up trying to use their powers to rob a bank and are apprehended by the TIME STOP COPS lol. It’s kind of ridiculous and silly, and I think if it were a normal book instead of a graphic novel, it wouldn’t be on this list. It’s shelved in the adult section (see the back cover above), but graphic novels always get more grief than regular ones because ~the children could just open it up and see a penis~. So maybe watch your children in the library instead of trying to tell the rest of us what to do.

Previously: George
Next: Make Something Up

Banned Books Week 2017: George

George by Alex Gino

George by Alex Gino


Title: George
Author: Alex Gino
Challenged in:
Because: transgender child, “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels”

I read this book when it first came out in 2015. It’s short and sweet and reminded me a lot of I Am Jazz, but for chapter book readers. George really wants to be called Melissa (being deadnamed by the title of your own book is probably my major beef here) and dreams of playing Charlotte in her school play. Her supportive best friend helps her practice lines, borrow clothes she feels more comfortable in, and decide on a game plan for how to deal with their teacher and classmates. So another book challenged because some people can’t get over the fact that trans people exist. I feel sorry for their children.

Previously: This One Summer
Next: Big Hard Sex Criminals

Banned Books Week 2017: This One Summer

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki

Title: This One Summer
Author: Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki
Challenged in: Henning, Minnesota; Seminole County, Florida
Because: includes LGBT characters, sexually explicit with mature themes, drug use, profanity

I really liked this graphic novel the first time I read it in 2015, when I gave it five stars. Here’s what I wrote about it in my 2015: The Good post:

This was a graphic novel about a girl teetering between child and adult and her summer at her parents’ beach cabin, where they go every year. It’s really telling how her interactions with their normal family traditions and friends are changing as she grows up. Plus the art style was pretty.

Since then, it’s won a Printz award and a Caldecott Honor. I think the Caldecott is where it’s gotten into trouble, because those things are usually dished out to picture books since it’s an award primarily based on illustrations. But, surprise! This book is made of illustrations, so it is completely eligible and totally deserving of any award. But inattentive parents and librarians have really gotten used to Caldecott=great for my 6-year-old, and this book is not for that age group. The main character is 13, and the story so perfectly captures how it feels to be 13. Things she used to enjoy as a kid seem stupid, but adult conversations are boring and/or frightening. Sometimes you just want to dance around your living room eating marshmallows. Other times you want to prove your maturity by watching the scariest movie possible. And, of course, older teens hold an inherent fascination. The main character and her best friend spend a lot of the summer spying on them, which is where a lot of the “inappropriate content” comes in. One of the older girls is dealing with an unwanted pregnancy.

Graphic novels seem to get challenged at a higher rate because it’s one thing to read about something and picture it in your imagination; it’s another to see a picture of it when you’re just glancing through. But, with this book, nothing graphic at all is ever shown, only discussed. This book’s detractors seem to think that 13-year-olds don’t know what sex is or are too young to know about pregnancy and suicide, as if keeping these issues secret will make them go away. But they’re not secret, and the more they’re talked about the less likely they are to happen. As to the other charges:

LGBT character: one of the girls has a lesbian aunt omfg call the police
Drug use: some sketchy teens smoke behind the convenience store; mom and dad drink wine, call the 18th amendment
Profanity: your 13-year-old knows the word Fuck. Come the fuck on.

Previously: Drama
Next: George

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