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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Paint Night

 Last month I did something I've never done before: I went to a paint and sip event. Turns out these events are a big deal and several companies have launched all over the nation to meet the demand of folk like me who enjoy them. Paint and sip is exactly what it sounds like. You go to a venue--typically a restaurant or bar, where there is an art instructor, paint supplies, and of course a drink menu. (You can really order whatever you want because purchases from the restaurant are not usually included. I don't drink and I don't endorse drinking).

In in the DMV area there are two paint and sip companies that I know of: Paint Nite and Pub and Paint. I did Paint Nite for my girlfriend's birthday and it was a blast. Now let me tell you that I am the least artistic person God has ever made. I mean I can't even color! Of course I thought this was going to be a disaster, but to my surprise I found myself really getting into it. Just take your time and don't be afraid of making mistakes. No one expects you to be Picasso. It's all for fun. 

The venue is typically set up with individual work stations containing a canvass, a cup of water, paintbrushes, and plates for paint and mixing paint. 

My brother

 Me trying to look as artsy as possible

The artist will explain step by step what you need to do.

Paint plate 

My girlfriend and my brother 

I felt so proud of myself. I painted a moon!!!!!!

See how basic they make it. The picture evolves a little bit at a time. The artist tells you exactly what brush to use, how to hold your brush, how much paint to put on it. etc. 

My tree looks pregnant.  

I got compliments on my branches. I'm a branch-painting genius!

And then add the little blooms 

My brother was so anal about his tree. 

The artist's painting

Mine.   Not bad. Now I have this whole new interest in art I never had before. 

See how each picture is similar but unique. Each artists brings something special to his/her painting

My advice it so show up on time! The painting starts promptly as scheduled. If you miss the beginning you miss important instructions essential to your success. Also wear something you don't mind spilling paint on. And lastly don't drink the water--seriously at least one person usually ends up drinks from the paintbrush cleaning cup. Acrylic paint does not taste good. Oh and I forgot to mention, the event last about 2 hours.

Overall, I loved Paint Nite. I loved the atmosphere, the instructor was knowledgeable and funny, and the servers were on point. My only point of criticism would be the price. At just over $46, I recommend shopping Groupon for a discount--which is what we did. We ended up spending $25 a piece which is a lot more reasonable. Hey, you're not taking a college class, your just doing some recreational painting. I plan to do another Paint Nite later this month. Thanks to my girl Diamond for introducing me to this soon-to-be new hobby. 

A Beautiful Failure

I bet you thought I was gone! Nope, as I said before I don't plan on taking any more two year hiatuses. Unfortunately, my New Year was tough. I ended up sick a good portion of January and then I was busy with life and all its busy-ness. But it sure feels good to type a blog again.

Now without further ado...

On yesterday I made one of the most beautiful cakes I've baked in my life: a moist, rich, sweet, pineapple upside-down cake. All from scratch of course

See how pretty it looks

And here's a close up

Now do you see the problem?

When I went to flip the cake out of the pan and onto a platter, it slipped and landed on the island instead. I ended up with sticky glaze everywhere! Keep in mind that with a pineapple upside-down cake you have only a short window to flip it, otherwise the glaze hardens and you have a cake that is impossible to invert. Now I had a cake that was slowly welding itself to my island.

I tried to shimmy wax paper underneath of it. No good. I tried using my hands. Nope. Fell apart. Completely.  I had another baking failure on my hands.

So I should back up and explain my baking process so that you can better understand my devastation. With any new recipe I spend a lot of time planning. I scour youtube for the best videos and techniques, I read several recipes, I collect information from food blogs, and then I determine if the product is something I can reasonably make. Do I have the ingredients home? Do I need a specialty ingredient/pan/baking tray. This is time consuming, but I do not consider it laborious because I enjoy baking. Then I find a recipe I think I can work with and make it to exact specifications--I mean I'm anal about this sort of thing. After tasting the final product, I decide if I want to continue to use this recipe or add my own touches to it, or start from scratch. I went through my process with this cake. Researching, reading recipe reviews etc. I went to two groceries stores looking for canned pineapples  (first one was out) and two stores looking for maraschino cherries. Then I spent 2 hours prepping and baking a cake. All to have it slip from my grasp and land inches away from the platter and onto my counter top.  It was a very beautiful failure :-( I wanted to beat holes in the wall with my fists. Then I took a step back.

In the end, it really wasn't that important. So I screw up a cake. Not like I can't make it again--and next time I can make a better one because I know what I'm doing. I cleaned up my mess, did the best I could with the remaining cake, and went on to baking peanut butter cookies.

In life we have to prioritize. We have to decide which things are worth getting upset about and which things to shrug our shoulders and move on about. In a world filled with student loans, ever-present plumbing issues*, and demanding jobs, is it really worth crying over spilled cake?

 Peanut butter cookies.

The pineapple upside-down cake wasn't my first baking disaster and it will not be my last--especially because I am still learning to bake. Like my cake, we are all beautiful failures. Some of us are in the process of having our sticky mess removed, or having ourselves scraped back together. We sometimes end up in places we never wanted to be or in spaces we were never intended for.....

Recognize failure, Determine what you need to do to change. And then move on. The peanut butter cookies were delicious, by the way.

Happy 2015 Everybody!!!! See you next week.

*I should dedicate a blog to this topic as I always seem to have some kind of plumbing problem.