Inspired by Embroidery Artists & Fiber Art

This Thursday at Gather we’re hosting an embroidery class with Allie Paige of Humble North Hamilton. She’s going to teach students a variety of stitches and they’ll walk away with a finished piece inspired by the state of North Carolina and its state flower the dogwood. I’ve rounded up some work from other inspiring embroidery & fiber artists below.

How beautiful is this tone on tone piece on a translucent fabric background by Ontario based artist Sarah Godfrey? I love that the textures in this piece are what make the impact versus bright color. You can follow her on Instagram here.

Lisa Smirnova’s work is vibrant and painterly. This embroidered peach rendering feels very retro and modern to me because of the colors (and subject matter) that are very of the moment but have a decidedly 60’s feel at the same time evocative of avocado kitchen counters, salmon colored appliances and wax fruit in bowls.

This piece by Amelia Dennigan reminds me of fireworks and ocean corral and just how similar the shapes in nature are, whether they come in the form of pyrotechnics or underwater plant life.

Here, Thea Haines a textile design instructor at Sheridan College, shows us different embroidery stitched on naturally dyed fabric swatches resulting in a cohesive collection.

How cool are the textures in this piece-in-progress by local Raleigh based embroidery artist Elena Caron?

More work by Lisa Spirnova, this time her work is an avant-garde apparel piece on a deep navy waffle textured fabric that allows the corrals and pink threads to really pop.

A Scandinavian-inspired botanical silhouette looks just right on a pink circular background on this art by Claire Crider.

A patchwork coat embellished further by Lisa Spirnova.

Dax Sheppard on Choosing His Relationship/Life Priorities

I caught this video of Dax Shepard sharing some poignant insight into his relationship and life priorities. It’s moving and worth a watch.

If you aren’t familiar with Dax you need to stop everything and watch Parenthood immediately. His portrayal of the character Crosby Braverman, a rebellious but charmingly flawed black sheep of the family, is a highlight in an already stellar show. You should also listen to his podcast, Armchair Expert where he interviews others in a similarly disarming, straight shooting, weird and funny way.

Bee Sting Cake (Bienenstich)


Bee Sting Cake (Bienenstich) recipe

Recipe by Megan Crist
Photography and Styling by Michelle Smith

Hey there fellow foodies. Have you fallen off the January health-kick bandwagon in search of the perfectly decadent treat to reward all of your amazing lifestyle changes? Ha. Me too. (Total veganuary fail, if I’m being honest, because cheese exists…) This is a bit of an involved recipe, but lucky for you, you’ve got the whole week ahead to dream and plan for making this. Enter the Bee Sting Cake.

This is a yeasted German pastry (officially called Bienenstich). The cake part has a texture somewhere between actual cake and a cinnamon roll dough. The filling is a fluffy pastry cream. You might want to save this recipe just for that. I use a variation of it for my banana pudding. It’s crazy good.

This is a yeasted German pastry called Bienenstich. The cake part has a texture somewhere between actual cake and a cinnamon roll dough.

TIME 4 hours

TOOLS

    9” cake pan

parchment paper

    mixing bowl

    medium saucepan

    wooden spoon

    whisk

    mesh sieve

    kitchen scale

    measuring spoons

    liquid measuring cup

    serrated knife

    oven mitts

    stand mixer

How to make a German bee sting cake with recipe and instructions.

INGREDIENTS

CAKE

1 tablespoon yeast

6 ounces milk, warm

2 ounces honey

10 ounces AP flour

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground ginger

2 eggs

2 ounces melted unsalted butter

TOPPING

4 ounces unsalted butter

3 ounces sugar

3 tablespoons honey

6 ounces sliced almonds

¼ teaspoon salt

PASTRY CREAM

4 ounces milk

12 ounces cream, divided 4 ounces and 8 ounces

2 tablespoons cornstarch

½ teaspoon ground ginger

1 egg

2 ounces sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

2 ounces butter

1 tablespoon honey

Bee Sting Cake Recipe with Pastry Cream Filling

METHOD

PASTRY CREAM

  1. Add milk and 4 ounces of cream to a saucepan until warmed through and approaching a simmer.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk egg, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small mixing bowl.
  3. Slowly pour the milk into the egg mixture, whisking quickly until completely combined. Don’t pour the milk too fast or your eggs might cook and we’re not looking for scrambled eggs in our pastry cream, am I right?
  4. Pour everything back into the saucepan and stir continuously over medium heat until thickened. You should be able to see the bottom of the pan when you stir and it should not fill in quickly.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and honey until melted and combined.
  6. Strain the pastry cream into a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap to avoid the formation of a filmy layer.
  7. Refrigerate until cool (at least 2 hours). You can make the pastry cream up to 2 days in advance.

CAKE

  1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.
  2. Line a 8” cake pan with with round of parchment and butter or spray the sides.
  3. Mix the yeast, honey, and warm milk together and set aside.
  4. Measure the remaining dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast, honey, milk, and eggs, and mix on low speed until combined. Add the melted (but not hot) butter and mix until incorporated, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Allow the batter to rise in a warm location for about an hour. It won’t quite double in size.
  6. At this point, pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and allow to rise again.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350F and begin to make the honey almond topping.
German Bee Sting Cake Recipe

TOPPING

  1. In the same buttery sauce pan, add the butter, sugar, honey, and salt. Once the butter melts, boil mixture for about 3 minutes over medium heat. When it starts to look caramel-y in color, take it off the heat and stir in the almonds with a wooden spoon (This is going to be thick, so you want something sturdy).
  2. Let it cool for a few minutes before you pour it onto the cake. Distribute the topping as evenly as you can over the surface of the batter.
  3. Bake for about 25 minutes on the middle rack. Allow to cool about 10 minutes in the pan before turning it out onto the a rack.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Whip the remaining 8 ounces of cream. Fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream in batches. Until evenly combined.
  2. Use a serrated knife to slice through the center of the cake horizontally. Remove the top half.
  3. This is not required, but I occasionally have some flavored simple syrups in my fridge. A generous brushing of a vanilla or orange syrup on each side of the open cake is a nice touch. (Simple syrup is 1:1 water and sugar heated until sugar is dissolved.)
  4. Scoop the pastry cream onto the bottom layer of cake and spread evenly to the edges.
  5. Return the top half of the cake it’s place on the pastry cream and enjoy.

Gather Gift Guide

Just in case you are still looking for gifts and you are a visual person like me, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite items from the Gather Goods Co online shop for holiday shopping. There are of course a lot more on the site.

Pink Dots Ceramic Coastersbecause they last forever, Stylish Sunglasses, the hardest working accessory, Be Kind Sweatshirtwe could all use the reminder, Goat’s Milk Hand Soap smells amazing and is made on a solar powered farm outside of Nashville, Copper Chimes with Airplanta pretty way to nurture your green thumb, Palo Santo Sticks – perfect for new homeowners or someone looking to get rid of bad juju, Triangle Earringsjust the right amount of edginess, White Speckled Ceramic Mug – because it looks like you’re drinking from a cloud.

North Carolina Long Sleeve Pulloverbecause winter equals cozy clothes, Black & White Palm Print a simple but striking statement for your walls, High Five Cardbecause we all deserve one every once in awhile, Find Me Under the Stars Enamel Pin because dreaming is everything, Black Bar Necklacestylish and sweet, Activated Charcoal Detox Scrub because winter skin needs a boost, Things Will Work Out Print – a good reminder, Maidenhair Fern & Hand Print – to make your world a little lovelier.

Take A Hike Sweatshirt because bundling up and heading outdoors makes winter shine, A Hanging Succulent Kokedama Ball – perfect for all the crazy plant ladies (and men) in your life, Artisanal Ceramic Serving Platter – elevate your dinner table, Cactus Cards because it’s “Thank You” season, Sage Feather Ceramic Coasters your grown-up furniture will appreciate it, Petite Fern Necklacefor your favorite naturalist, Dried Eucalyptus Wreathfor an elegant door display.

October Playlist

I am a summer girl through and through, still, there is something magical about the Fall isn’t there? Our heat is out at home and it is the first really cold day here. And truth be told, I am loving this excuse to sit curled up by the fire with my wool socks on, my warm tea beside me and a good movie on in the background while I crank out emails that have gone neglected over the past few weeks. Why is it that in the summer months I don’t make time for such indulgences but here in the cool temperatures it feels just right? Either way, I am embracing it as I’m long overdue for some “me” time. Here are some images that have been inspiring me and a playlist I created that I have been listening to on repeat these past few weeks.

Images: Field photo via Instagram-vagabondanse, Gratitude quote via Instagram-wetheurban, Autumn style via Instgram-caro_linebiene, Dried wreath via Rose Golden

vagabondanse


Terracotta Textures

I’m really feeling these terracotta colors and textures these days.

Images: Top Left to R: Terracotta tassel earrings online at Gather Goods Co, Chunghi Lee fabric assemblage 1999 (raw hemp, cloth, stitched) from the collection of jack lenor larsen photo scanned from the book: jack lenor larsen, creator and collector, Willow Leaf Semi Flush Mount Light at Anthropologie, Tablescape photographed by Amy Batog for Anthropologie discovered via Lonny, State Fair flowers photographed by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co., painted swatches via Natasha Marie, Flowers by soil & stem, photographed by Jaqualine Hayward, Short Sleeve Linen Shirt by Rachel Harrah

State Fair Flowers & Phone Wallpaper

Every year in Raleigh the State Fair comes to the Fairgrounds and everyone you know is there eating fried foods, riding the rides, scoring Rasta banana dolls and watching pigs race. It’s a bit of a madhouse and my family likes to go early on a weekday to avoid the crowds – even still it is a lot to take in.

The food staples that we’ve come to count on are hot mini doughnuts (cinnamon of course), roasted corn, kettle corn, BBQ and this year I found a hot baked potato vendor. My husband has a lifetime goal of getting a blue ribbon for biscuits (he’s already won one for his scones).

But my most favorite part (and the only thing I really go for) is the prize winning plants and flowers. It is an oasis amidst the chaos. How charming is it to see all the cuttings of basil and single stems of flowers lined up in a row? I love thinking of the thousands of gardens these came from and the people who nurtured them

If you are like me and can’t get enough of pictures of flowers, you can right click on the photos above or press on the photo and press save photo and save them as your phone wallpaper.

Are you a Fair fanatic? What are your favorite things to do and eat there?

Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co.

Baby Steps

I am trying to get back into the habit of blogging, something I love but always gets put on the back burner. I’d like to do it daily but not making any promises or expectations to myself in this busy season. I’m thinking I might just start with snippets. Little pieces of my day, shared here. Like today, my friend Kaylee modeled for me. I took a lot of photos of her wearing jewelry and other products that are hard to photograph without another person. I hung up some makeshift backdrops and put my vision to action, something that always feels good when you have a lot of ideas and less time to implement them. I am excited to get these newly photographed items on the website before the holidays. There are some really beautiful pieces by a lot of different makers.

Also today around the studio: discussions about raising a strong-willed child and mother daughter conflicts as they get older. Also, the idea of having a lot of goals but being constantly pulled in a million directions and when finally getting that precious time to work, having no focus or energy to do so. And on the value of being grateful, and creating your dream life right now, with what you have and where you are, because once you “arrive” you’ll have a new set of challenges and expectations thrust upon yourself, by yourself. And on the value of taking stock of your accomplishments, no matter how small, instead of just always plowing ahead and not savoring them when they happen or reflecting on what has already happened. That was today. Tonight I’ll be editing these photos. Tomorrow, another day.

Pumpkin Cake Recipe

Megan is back with another delicious recipe for us, a pumpkin cake, just in time for fall. Here’s the recipe from her:

“Pumpkin roll has been my favorite cake for years. I used to request for my mom to make it on my birthday when I was a teenager. I just love the whimsical swirl and decadent cream cheese filling wrapped up in a deliciously moist and lightly spiced pumpkin-y cake.

This cake is inspired by my favorite pumpkin roll. It is a fun cake to bring to events because it looks like a basic little cake, but when you slice it, the layers are vertical and everyone has a little oooh and ahhh over the surprise. There are many cakes out there with various creative interiors, but they take a lot of time. I love that this cake is a little bit different, but not really that labor intensive.”

Pumpkin Cake Recipe by Triangle Pastry Co, Food Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co
Pumpkin Cake Recipe by Triangle Pastry Co, Food Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co

TIME 2 Hours
TOOLS

  • 12×16 sheet pan
  • large mixer bowl
  • small mixing bowl
  • whisk attachment
  • rubber spatula
  • large mesh sieve
  • measuring spoons
  • dry measuring cup
  • liquid measuring cup
  • can opener
  • chef’s knife
  • ruler
  • oven mitts
  • 12×16 linen towel
  • offset spatula
  • cake plate

INGREDIENTS

PUMPKIN CAKE:

  • 3 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 3/4 cup of canned -or freshly roasted (ideal, but not necessary)- pumpkin purée
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger

MAPLE CREAM CHEESE:

  • 1 pound cream cheese
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1-¾ + cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Pumpkin Cake Recipe by Triangle Pastry Co, Food Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co
Pumpkin Cake Recipe by Triangle Pastry Co, Food Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co

METHOD
To Make the Pumpkin Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line your sheet tray with parchment. Spray and flour.
  3. Beat the eggs and sugar on high speed until they turn light in color and the mixture thickens slightly. 5-10 minutes.
  4. Add pumpkin purée and lemon juice. Mix on medium speed until combined.
  5. Sift dry ingredients together and fold into wet mixture until combined.
  6. Spread the batter evenly over the prepared sheet pan.
  7. Bake 12-15 minutes, turning half way.
  8. Let the cake cool slightly.
  9. Lay the towel out on a flat surface. Use a fine mesh sieve to cover the towel with confectioners’ sugar.
  10. Turn the cake out onto the sugar coated towel. Remove the parchment from the cake if necessary.
  11. Sprinkle the top of the cake with more confectioners’ sugar.
  12. Gently, but snugly, roll the cake over itself, starting with a short end.
  13. Refrigerate the cake for one hour to allow it to cool.

To Make the Maple Cream Cheese:

  1. Beat the butter and cream cheese together until combined, scraping the bowl once or twice as needed.
  2. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar on low speed until combined, scraping the bowl as once or twice as needed.
  3. Add the maple syrup, also on low speed, until combined, scraping the bowl as once or twice as needed.
  4. Beat on medium speed until moderately fluffy and smooth. About 3 minutes.
  5. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To Assemble the Cake:

  1. Before you begin the assembly, note that the important thing here is that your icing is not too soft because it needs to support the layers. So make sure your icing is cool. It is okay to leave the cake in the fridge a bit longer until the icing is ready, but if you plan to leave it for an extended period of time, wrap it in plastic after it has cooled so it doesn’t dry out.
  2. Very carefully unroll the cake. It will retain some of it’s curvy structure, so when you handle it, it will be delicate. While you don’t want it to completely fall apart, don’t worry about a little crack because it’s all going to be covered up with icing.
  3. Use a chef’s knife to slice off the edges, which may be more well-done than the center.
  4. Use a ruler to evenly divide the cake into four equal strips. This should give you strips 2-½ to 3 inches wide and 15 or so inches long.
  5. Use the offset spatula to coat each strip with a generous but not excessive amount of icing. You will need enough icing leftover to cover a 6-inch cake generously.
  6. Roll one strip starting with the short end. Continue rolling it onto the second strip, and so on.
  7. Use a spatula to place your cake on a serving plate.
  8. Lightly coat the cake with icing -this is a crumb coat- and put it in the freezer for about a half an hour. This makes it easier to do a nice job with the rest of the icing.
  9. Apply remaining icing as you see fit. Note: There may be some leftover and it is delicious swirled into or on top of my favorite brownies. Keep it in the freezer. You’ll be glad you did.

This fully assembled cake keeps well in the freezer if you need to make it in advance. Thaw overnight in the fridge.”

Pumpkin Cake Recipe by Triangle Pastry Co, Food Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co
Pumpkin Cake Recipe by Triangle Pastry Co, Food Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co

Recipe by Megan Crist, Triangle Pastry Co. Food Photography & Styling by Michelle Smith, Gather Goods Co.

Guiding Thoughts

I made this graphic a few years back and it serves as guiding principles to what my business, Gather, represents. These are the things that I think are important:

  • Shop Local: Neighborhood mom & pop shops used to be the norm. There is something amazing about knowing the person behind the counter and them knowing the community that you live in. Their product assortment reflects local trends and buying patterns versus what someone forecasts from afar as a national perspective. The goods local shops stock and sell tell a lot about your neighbors and the community you actually live in and their tastes and values – that’s fascinating. When you support your local businesses you are creating dynamic neighborhoods which help raise the quality of life across the board. Thriving shops create thriving communities. Also, shop owners are the unseen/under praised cog in an important economic wheel, they need your shopping dollars to stay afloat and pay their grocery and mortgage bills. They can’t do it without you. Lastly the dollars you spend at your local shops goes back to your local government and infrastructure and community so you are investing in where you live.
  • Support Local Makers: Many of the same things above are true here. Your neighbors are talented, oftentimes making high quality goods for less than the labor hours they are charging. You can find more unique gifts that enrich the lives of the recipient and the maker by purchasing locally made goods. You are also enabling and encouraging someone’s dream and that’s pretty amazing.
  • Inspire & Create Community: This is a big one for me. I do believe in the “be the change you wish to see in the world” mentality and for me spotlighting and showing others the incredible, not-yet-seen or less talked about facets of the people & spaces around me is my passion. Spotlighting others so that they can then become more successful and then helping them find other like-minded individuals and connect them to others, is a privilege and a natural extension of who I am.
  • Work With Your Hands: There is something so deeply cathartic and fulfilling in working with your hands, something that, as many of us head toward lives that are dominated by technology, often gets neglected. I believe it is good for our souls and mind to use our hands to create things, whether that is food, stories, art, flower arrangements, fixing things and on and on. Our bodies were meant to be used and when you start using your hands more your mind becomes soothed as well.
  • Never Stop Learning: There are so many cool things in the world, from researching a type of furniture to a new skill, learning makes others more compassionate towards others and also just interesting (and interested) people.
  • Love Your Neighbors: I believe strongly in being kind to everyone, to choosing to include and listen to others and their struggles and triumphs. It’s easy to stay in our own lanes and heads, but when we love and reach out toward our neighbors incredible community is created. This one goes in tandem with the above as many of the other points do.
  • Elevate the Everyday: This is about appreciating what-is, and the simplicity and grace of our everyday lives. There is so much beauty surrounding us, how can we make the lens through which we see the world be more positive, hopeful and beautiful? It’s not about making magic out of thin air or being overly and impractically optimistic, it is about recognizing that diamonds come from coal and seeing the beauty in the life that you have and the world that you live in, it’s about creating and living a beautiful life, wherever you are and with whatever you have and striving to maintain that perspective.

How about you? Are you a business that has guiding principles? Do you have any as an individual? What are they and why?