Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fun braid tutorial!

OK, girlfriends!

Ha.  Trying to imagine myself saying, "OK, girlfriends!"

Regardless, it is time for another hair tutorial!  I recognize that it has been a long time, but a lot of work goes into these things!  Luckily for y'all, I stubbed my toe going into my son's school, completely hacking off the side of it on the concrete.  Needless to say, I am not doing plyo this morning, so I am able to figure out this series of photos (which at times seem as clear as mud).

If a girl has spent any time looking at pictures of celebs or at any kind of fashion magazine at all, she has without a doubt seen a plethora of braids.  Inspired by the trend, I was playing around in my chair last week, and came up with this...

It might seem slightly complicated, but it is basically a sideways French braid with a knotty ponytail.  It literally takes me about a minute and a half to do, but I believe it has a very romantic impact.  AND I am going to attempt to teach you how to do it!

Let me encourage you to read through the tutorial a bit and get acquainted with the motions.  Once you get the first few sections moving, you can figure out the rest without reading.  It is a repetitive motion exercise.  What might seem complicated at first is really not at all.

Deep breath...

I know.  Way to start with the weirdest-looking picture of me.  Notice I have some curl in my hair, but curl is not necessary.

Go ahead and brush all of your hair back.  Keep your side part, but loosely brush from the crown back.  Note:  I am super right-handed, and it is much easier for me to braid from right to left.  Keep that in mind if you are having trouble.

All brushed back.  I took the clip out of my fringe area as well.

As you might know, braids have three working sections.  Here, I have started on the side, grabbing a piece at the top, and a piece above my ears.  Imagine the space in between as my third piece.

Place both sections (top and bottom) into your right hand, separating them with fingers.  Take the thumb of your left hand and slide it about an inch behind the top of your original top section.  Drag your thumb down, gently separating the hair as you go, until you are beside the bottom of that middle section.  Still with your left hand (right hand simply holding those other little sections), grab that middle section of hair, as well as the hair you have separated over with your thumb.  Above I am holding these three sections.

See?  Here I have them separated so you can see better.  Not as hard as it sounds, I promise!

With a flick of the wrist, draw the palm of your right hand up and over to your stationary left hand.  Using the index finger of your left hand like a hook, grab the bottom section of hair from the right hand.  You should now have two sections of hair in your left hand, and you can drop your right arm completely as above.

Starting at your neck just behind your ear, use your right thumb to scoop up and separate hair, grabbing that original loose third piece as you go.  You should have two pieces of hair in your left hand, and one in your right.  Make sure that if you are holding two pieces in one hand, they are separated by fingers.

Your two hands should almost be knuckle to knuckle.  Reach out with the thumb of your right hand and hold down the section of hair that is closest to it out of your left hand (originally the section that was just above your ear).  Still with the thumb and index finger of your right hand, grab the remaining section of hair out of your left hand.  You should now have two sections of hair in your right hand, and your left should be free.  See?

You just French braided!  Maybe!  Now, we repeat the process.

Slide your thumb about an inch to the side of your top section, about halfway down your head, grabbing that loose piece as you go.

Again, turning the wrist of the right hand up, with the thumb and index finger of your left hand, grab that    bottom section of hair from your right hand, dropping the middle section and leaving the right hand temporarily free.

As above, slide your thumb up from the neck behind the ear, grabbing that loose section of hair as you go.  There are two sections of hair in the left, and one in the right.

Again, using the thumb of the right hand to hold down that middle section of hair from the left hand, pinch and grab the far section with the thumb and index finger of your right hand, bringing it over to the right hand, and separate by fingers.

Slide your thumb down from the crown of your head to meet up with that loose section, and grab it- all with your left hand.

See?  One in the left, two in the right.  Turn your right hand over, drawing the bottom section up and over the middle section, and with your left index and thumb grab that piece, leaving your right hand free.

Always from the far-side over.

How pretty!  Look at me go!

Gather hair from the bottom and grab that loose piece, just as you have done before.  Hold the middle section of hair down with your right thumb, and grab the far side with the same thumb and index finger.  Hold those two sections in your right hand, and drop your left hand.

Sorry.  I should have turned here.

Gather your hair again, from the crown down and grab that loose section.

Turn your right hand over toward your left, and with your left thumb and index finger, grab the bottom section from your right hand, letting that middle one hang free.

Grab up the loose section with your right hand, using your thumb to scoop up hair as you move to grab it.

Use the thumb of your right hand to hold down the middle section of hair from your left hand.  Grab the far top section from your left had with your right index finger and thumb.  Let the remaining section hang free.

Run your loose thumb down from the crown of your head, and grab that loose section as you go.  I have actually gathered the whole front section of my hair to join with that loose section.  We are almost done!

Turn your right hand over, and pass that bottom section of hair to your left hand, letting the loose one go.

With your right hand, grab up all of the hair that is remaining.  With your right thumb, pin down the middle section of hair from your left hand, grabbing the far section with your right index finger and thumb.  Hold it tight!

Grab a rubber band (I had one on my wrist), and create a messy ponytail, bun, or if you have enough hair, keep braiding.  OR use some bobby pins and pin up the remaining hair for a dressier look.


From the side...

And from the front.  I wish I hadn't put the earrings in so you can see it better!  When I say this takes me around one minute to create, I mean it. It is such a better option than a simple ponytail, and if you are familiar with French braiding, it won't take you much longer!

Have fun playing and creating.  I hope you all have a great day!

Rachel Bee

Monday, July 25, 2011

"A" is for almond tarts.

"A" is for apple.  Ah-ah apple.  "B" is for ball.  Buh-buh ball.

And it goes on from there.  And it has been in my head for 3 solid weeks.  Not a day, hour, or minute off.  And to make matters worse, there are 15 other songs just like it, and Langston is obsessed.  

When Langston was younger, nothing made him happier than an afternoon of Nirvana or the Violent Femmes.  We really thought we were raising him for a life of musical superiority, but while watching some vintage Mickey on Youtube, a video suggestion with a crudely drawn chicken appeared.  Langston was curious, so we clicked.  Sure, he now can sing his "ABC's," but at what cost?  Now he has two parents on the brink of complete insanity.  

Green, green, what is green?  The grass is green, the grass is green.  

All of that aside, my vacation went really well.  Hilton Head is such an easy drive from Augusta: 15 miles on this road, 10 on that one... you'd never know you were travelling for 3.5 hours.  Langston had a blast on the beach, and despite the soaring temperatures, with my toes in the water it never felt like it was hotter than 85.  My mother is an incredibly generous woman, and we ate very well while we were there.  I also made a cake- Bourbon Pecan Cake with Dulce de Leche Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting, stuffed and topped with the most ripe and delicious peaches.  My mother's family is too generous with their compliments, but I will agree it was amazing.  

I am making another one for my brother's wedding in two weeks, so you will see it then.  And as always, I will share the recipe!

Before I left for the beach a week ago, I made Almond Tarts for the winner of that little contest I ran.  I know the contest was for a cake, but the winner actually works in a very successful local bakery.  She is simply caked-out, so at her request, I made these...

I purchased tartlette pans a few years ago, and I was so excited to actually use them.  

And I do believe there is nothing prettier than the result.

Check out those gorgeous peaches!

As for a recipe, the link is here.  I followed the recipe to the "t," but I must say- this is an intermediate recipe to create.  It wasn't difficult, as much as it was tedious.  The crust really needs to be completely cold in order to roll it out.  And I almost feel like it needed more flour (at least in my kitchen).  I believe the recipe suggests to let the dough "rest" in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.  In rolling this dough out, I felt the overwhelming need to throw things.  It was a sticky mess!

Regardless of the frustration, I believe they are beyond gorgeous, and I hope you enjoyed them, Melissa!

Have a great Monday, and here's to finding another song to occupy my brain.

Rachel Bee

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Before vacation and no afters...

Hi.  It's Tuesday.  A busy one, at that.  And I hope everyone is doing well.  Really well.

I am doing very well, because I am LESS than a week away from vacation.  That's right; less than a week.

Where am I going?  The beach.

For how long?  Well, see- that's where I cannot give an answer.  In my mind's eye, there is this week, and then there is vacation.  There is nothing on the other side of vacation- there is just vacation.  There is me, my son, my mother and her family, my Bible, guitar, and a bathing suit.  Everything else at this point is completely inconsequential.  Everything except for (perhaps) this...

What is this gooey caramel confection?  This is home-made Dulce de Leche, and it is muy delicioso.  And it happens to be the base for the cake I am bringing to the beach (in less than a week).  Dulce de Leche, fresh peaches, pecans, and perhaps a bit of bourbon is going into this cake, and I cannot wait to share it with you.

But I am getting ahead of myself.  I have less than a week before all of those ingredients come together.  For now I will start with how to make the miracle that is Dulce de Leche.

But I have to warn you, it is a bit uncomplicated, and 2 bits accessible, and 20 bits delicious.  And it could go on everything.  And it is 150 calories for two measly tablespoons.  Ay caramba!

See?  There?  I'd say about 100 calories.  And totally worth it.

And here we go with the recipe:

Dulce de Leche
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat your oven to 425.  Pour the condensed milk into a shallow baking dish or pie plate, and cover with foil.  Place into a 13x9 baking dish, and place it in the oven.  Fill the 13x9 pan with hot water, about halfway up the baking dish containing the condensed milk.

Bake for 70 minutes.  Carefully pull out of the oven.  Let cool before handling.

Pull out the graham crackers, Nilla Wafers, pretzel sticks, apple wedges, ice cream, spoons, ladles, and dip away.  Or let it cool and whip it into some butter and powdered sugar for some frosting.  Or swirl some into some brownie batter before you bake it.

You get the picture.  This stuff is trouble.  But if it is wrong, then I don't care to be right.

Less than a week...

Have a great day.

Rachel Bee

Friday, July 8, 2011

I am having a morning when...

I am having a morning when everything looks delicious.

The Cheerios my child is playing with on the kitchen floor look yummy.

I imagine them on a bowl of ice cream topped with fresh lime curd, which I happen to have in my refrigerator as I type.  But no ice cream.

The thing about weight-loss is it is an ongoing journey.  Once the final pound is off, there it is, lingering in a simple box of Cheerios.  It is loitering in a $5 Barnes & Noble gift card where you know you can get a big, iniquitous slice of cheesecake.

I lost my weight when I was 25 years old.  I will live until I am at least 70, when I know it is doubtful I will weigh 115 pounds.  When will I let that first 5 pounds go?  Are you ever supposed to let them go?

I know, it is dreadful to listen to a thin girl moan on about her weight issues, but I seriously want a slice of cake right now, and right now is 10AM.  Sweet Lord.  That is not the way to start a day.

But if it was, I would choose this one.  Probably my favorite cake I have baked this year.  You should make one.

And then come over to my house, rip this ridiculous, measured bowl of Total out of my hands, and shove a forkful of it into my mouth.  Tell me to get over myself, and then leave.

Or don't.  I am only 31, for goodness sake, and not quite ready to concede to larger pants.  Leave me to my bowl of tedium, and enjoy the cake yourself.  Just a slice, though.  A little slice won't hurt me.

I mean you.  Right?


Rachel Bee

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My son is 3, and pictures from my camera...

Avert your eyes.  I mean, really do.  If you are here because you found me on Tastespotting, and your retinas are offended by anything but highly stylized and edited photos, please come back next week.

My husband does a great job with all things decadent and gooey.  I love him.

Three years ago yesterday was sincerely, the best day of my life (and I am not prone to cliche).  If there was ever a day I wrote out (quite literally), and completed successfully from beginning to end, it was July 6, 2008.  It was the day our son was born.

He came on his due date, light but consistent contractions starting at 7AM on that Sunday morning.  I made blueberry pancakes (as was our Sunday tradition), birthday cupcakes; and as the contractions became more evident, I showered, did my hair, and put on makeup.

We planned a natural childbirth, ie no pain medication whatsoever, a la Bradley method.  We landed at the hospital at around noon (already 7 cm dilated); labored for 3 hours, and pushed for 2.  Langston arrived at around 5:15 while the rain poured outside.  I ate the most amazing peach cobbler from the hospital, nursed and sang to our baby, and watched reruns of "No Reservations" all night long.

It was perfect.

That day.  Note the cupcake tins in the sink. 

What came after that day has been neither planned nor perfect, but wonderful regardless.  He is precious to us, and here are some silly pictures from my little camera to celebrate his little life.

Fun with old office equipment.

Diaper butt.  Love it.  

With "pappis."  Never thought we'd lose that thing.  

Sorry if I have ever given you a cake in that.

Seriously?  This outfit is divine.  

What is the male version of "fashionista?"  "Fashionisto?"

And at the beach.  Year one...

Yum.  Belly. 

Year two...

Love those legs.  

And year three...

Found it much safer for grandpa to bring the water to him.  

We had a very little party at my dad's house to celebrate his birthday last Sunday.

I. Love. Crepe. Paper. 

Always behind the camera. 

Dream boat.  

Loves his daddy.  

This year's cake... well, I have to admit.  I am really excited about it.  I don't mess with fondant much, but after 6 hours of work, I was able to bring some of Langston's favorite characters to edible form.

First, last year's cake....

Cute, but kind of a mess.

And this year's...

Phineas and Ferb Cake. 


You can't know how delicious this cake was on the inside. 

It was Chocolate Sour Cream Cake with Vanilla Frosting.  I used 3 sticks of butter, one block of cream cheese, nearly 2 pounds of powdered sugar, some vanilla and a pinch of salt.  This cake was insanely moist.  It was delicious, despite the obnoxious appearance.

Oh yes, I did. 

And Langston loved it.

And don't we love him!

So precious.  Such a pleasure.  We love you, kid.

Have a great Thursday!

Rachel Bee