Friday, November 30, 2012

Glowing Evenings Bake Shop - Now Open

After successfully baking a small batch of pies for Thanksgiving, I'm opening the metaphorical doors to Glowing Evenings Bake Shop. Get your pie, cake, and cookie needs taken care of here!

Currently, pies seem to be the most popular order, as nothing says "the holidays" like a warm, flaky piece of pie. Pie prices are based on type of pie and seasonal fruit availability:

Pumpkin, pecan, and other custard-based pies: $28
French Silk (aka, the world's most amazing chocolate pie), lemon meringue, key lime: $28
Apple: $30

NY Style Cheesecake: $45
Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake: $50

Decorated Festive Sugar Cookies: $25/bakers dozen
Undecorated Sugar Cookies: $15/bakers dozen

Special requests are accepted.

This double-cust apple pie has a ridiculous number of apples in it. 
Happy Holidays and enjoy some baked goods!

To order: email me at gloevedun (at) gmail (dot) com or Facebook me, or Twitter (@gloriaevonne) me.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Baking business underway (sort of)

Wedding cake number two is well underway done! After one weekend spent baking my little heart out and another spent making copious amounts of buttercream (each batch is tested for safety and taste), I am 2/3 of the way into done with my second (or third if you count the practice cake) wedding cake. I'm very grateful to friends Jake and Alicia for this opportunity!

As they are having a wedding about twice the size of mine, I've gotten creative with how to make sure there is enough cake to feed that many people. The solution, one large traditional cake, and two smaller nine inch cakes to echo the main cake and still look lovely. Creative thinking, for the win. My freezer is full of cake, and if this gets any more serious, I'm going to invest in a small chest freezer, as we don't have the space for this kind of excessive baking.

Because I am apparently a glutton for punishment, on top of cakes, I've been working on breads. This weekend, I made baguettes, which I am incredibly proud of. They're lovely to look at, quite tender, and while the crust isn't as dark as I'd like it to be, it has the right amount of chewiness. I'm very proud of these loaves.

I keep getting asked, when I mention that I'm making a wedding cake, if it is a side business. I answer, "sort of." It could be, and I definitely would love to have opportunities continue to develop. So, friends, if you, or someone you know, lives in the DC area and needs a wedding or special occasion cake, send them my way!

Update: The cake was very popular and well-recieved. Someone even asked me my secret and a I laughed as I told her that it was all the America's Test Kitchen Baking Book. I'm also looking at a few websites (Smitten Kitchen mainly) for inspiration for other types of cakes. I'm willing to branch into chocolate, and I'd love to see how cupcakes work out as a wedding cake.

And I apologize that I don't have any pictures. I can't bake, assemble, and frost while thinking about taking photos. But, if you've seen my wedding cake. you get the idea.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Grandparents Day

Sadly, none of my grandparents are no longer on this earth, but I still think about each of them for various reasons. Lately, I've been thinking about my Grandma Dunlap a lot though. She left her KitchenAid mixer to me when she died, and I am forever grateful. I don't know that she knew I'd be making wedding cakes with it, but every time I've mixed up a batch of buttercream in the last few months, I've thought of her. I've thought about how I was kind of surprised that she left it to me, since I didn't bake much at her house, but she knew that I would put it to good use. I've thought about how I hope she's looking down, happy that it's life has been extended, and it's still going strong. I think about how even I didn't expect that I'd be doing these things, but am so glad that I have this mixer, because some of the stuff I make wouldn't be possible without it.

I remember when I was starting life on my own, and my grandmother had just passed away. I was fortunate that I got many things from her home, from her silverware to her car. Those things weren't quite as special as the KitchenAid. When my friends were making their wedding registries, I felt a bit smug at knowing that I already had an off-white mixer sitting on my counter. Now, I just feel a bundle of emotions ranging from happiness to sadness to contentment when I use my mixer. Thanks, Grandma, I think of you every time I use it.

PS - Am currently working on another wedding cake, to be in a wedding this weekend. I'm working on a blog post about that.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Goodbye to a Hero

Last night I was making dinner when I saw an email from my dad. He wrote to tell me he saw that Sally Ride had passed away and wanted me to know because I'd wanted to be an astronaut when I was a girl. I stood in my kitchen, tearing up at how sad I was at the loss of a hero and how touched I was by my dad caring and knowing me well enough to know I'd want to know that.

I admired Sally Ride as a girl because I wanted nothing more than to be an astronaut. I had a poster of all the Apollo mission astronauts on my wall where I'm sure other girls my age had New Kids on the Block. Even though every person on that poster was a man, because of Sally Ride, I knew that it wasn't impossible for me to become like one of those men. She made it okay for me to follow those boot prints.

As I got older and moved my childhood aspirations to other things, I continued to admire Ms. Ride because of her passion for math and science. Yes, she wanted to help young women move up in those field, but she also wanted to help young men. She was passionate and shared that passion every day in how she chose to live out her life's work. I moved away from the math and science fields, but I continued to pay attention to her work because she cared in a way that made me care.

Now, as a art historian, I'm in a very female-dominated field. However, 100 years ago, it would have looked like science and math fields do today. My hope is that Sally Ride's legacy will continue, that others will step up to fill her shoes, and one day math and science fields will look more similar to my field. More importantly, may we all follow her footsteps in living out our passion. When we live our passion, we help the world in so many ways by bringing our best selves to the forefront.

Thank you, Sally Ride, for being who you were. For sharing your self, for sharing your passion, and for inspiring so many. May your legacy burn bright.

*only a few tears were shed in the writing of this post

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Wedding Cake Update

I bet you're wondering how the wedding cake turned out. In a word: AWESOME.

Maybe people were lying to me, and maybe I was in a haze of joy with it being my wedding day and all, but that cake was amazing. Here's how it all came together...

2 weeks before the wedding: I took a Saturday and spent the entire day baking the cakes. It took 3 rounds, and approximately 10 hours. Add in a cranky oven that doesn't heat evenly or properly, and I had to babysit those cakes while they baked. But it all turned out okay. I put each layer on a cardboard cake round, wrapped it in lots and lots of Saran wrap, and carefully put it all in the freezer. Amount of butter used: 2.25 lbs.

1 week before the wedding: I made the fillings. We decided on one filling of chocolate and one filling of mocha. Seeing as I had bad results with the filling in my practice run when I used the microwave, I rigged up a double boiler and felt very satisfied with the results, even as I was pouring the filling mixture into containers for storage. This was the fastest stage of cake-making. Amount of butter used: none. However, 4 1/2 cups of heavy cream were used, as well as 24 oz. of chocolate.

4 days before the wedding: I made the buttercream. This didn't take as long as baking the cakes, but the whipping portion of the recipe takes a very long time. You want nicely whipped, fluffy, smooth buttercream, which takes about 20 minutes for each batch. I probably spent close to an hour just staring at my KitchenAid. Also, I spent a lot of time thinking about my late grandmother, who gave me the mixer. I think she would be pleased with how it was being used. Amount of butter used: 3 lbs.

2 days before the wedding: This is where things got fun! I woke up that morning with a headache and feeling queasy. But my amazing friend, Heather, came to my rescue and spent most of the day with me, chatting, helping with other things, and calming me down. By that afternoon, my friend Elizabeth (who is an organizational wizard and is responsible for much of the smooth flow of our reception), had shown up and they watched as I assembled. In the morning, I took the cakes out of the freezer to defrost, letting them come to room temperature. 
To assemble the cakes, I did it by layer size. I had three 12 in. layers, three 9 in. layers, and three 6 in. layers. I unwrapped, and with the help of my trusty assistants, determined the best order for them to go in to create the tiers. I then whipped the chocolate filling and proceeded to create the first two layers of each tier, with the chocolate. Then I repeated, but with the mocha filling, adding the top layer of cake to each tier.
Then came the buttercream. Oh. my. goodness. Reheating and then re-whipping that frosting was like alchemy. It was beautiful. I frosted each tier, and then left them on cardboard cake rounds and stuck them in the fridge to "rest" overnight.

1 day before the wedding: That morning, each tier was lovingly nestled in a box cut to size with no-slip shelf liner on the bottom. The cake was then transported by car to the church, with one of the tiers riding on Greg's lap. (I insisted on driving, since I might have been a little overprotective.) Upon arrival at the church, I began to put the tiers together, following the instructions of America's Test Kitchen, and using the aid of my dear friend, Lenora. I had one final batch of buttercream to whip, but I couldn't seem to find a mixer in my church's kitchen, so Greg and I took turns hand whipping. It came out okay. The frosting was much easier to smooth once it was chilled. I was able to fix a few spots that were bare or uneven quite easily. I would dip my frosting spatula in hot water and run it over the surface to smooth. I was quite proud. I then loaded up my pastry bag and began to pipe our pearl border on. I wanted it to be simple for a few reasons, the main one being that I didn't want to overly stress about elaborate frosting decoration. After an hour or so, we tested it with the cake topper, declared it perfect looking, and carefully slid it into a fridge.

Wedding day! I got my hair done. I went to the church. I did a few things. I asked (the aforementioned) Heather and a bridesmaid, Julia, to assist me with the cake. I set up the cake stand I'd made (from plywood, spray paint, ribbon, and knob pulls) on the table, we carefully pulled the cake from the fridge, and wheeled it to the table. Where we discovered that in my worry about the door hitting the cake, I'd pushed it all the way back into the light for the fridge. Hahahaha! So, we turned that part to the back, put the cake topper on, and off I went to get married.

We cut the "light bulb" piece out first to feed each other, and Greg's first words after eating it were, "It's amazing!" Our friend, Dan, gave a toast to how good it was.

I'm incredibly proud of that cake. I would be happy to do it for other people, seeing as I definitely have a feel for the whole process, even more than when I did the practice cake. It was tons of fun for me, and I loved knowing that I did something that cool and memorable.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Work Discovery

The cool thing about my job is that I see hundreds of original artworks in a week. Sometimes I don't really pay attention to things because, well, I see hundreds of original artworks in a week (or day, depending on how the schedule goes). Then there are the times where I find myself slowing down and really focusing because I'm looking at a work by one of my favorite artists, and I'm blown away by the fact that I'm standing there, face to face with the same piece of work that the artist made. I usually feel like I'm having some sort of spiritual experience. (Not kidding, art viewing can be very church-like for me.)

And then there are the times when I discover something that I've never seen before by an artist I've never heard of. The most recent discovery is Rachael Robinson Elmer. She did a series of postcard prints that are amazing in their early nod to Modernism. She's so unknown, that a Wikipedia page doesn't even exist for her! She completed two full sets of postcards, after studying at the Art Students League under several well-known American artists, such as John Henry Twachtman. I don't know how many editions of these prints exist, but I am excited to have discovered some of them. She died at the age of 41, while serving with the Red Cross during World War I. However short her life may have been, I'm glad that she produced these works during that time.

Image from

Monday, May 28, 2012

DIY Wedding Suggestions

I'm 5 (5!) days away from getting married to the most amazing man, and as I am doing most of my wedding on my own, I thought I'd share my hints for what is making my life easier right now. Weddings don't have to be huge productions, what's important is that you're pledging your life to someone you love. However, if you're like me, you want a nice celebration for your friends and family. Here are the things I found most helpful in making my wedding go off with the right kind of hitch. (Ha!) (You can thank my father for that joke.)

1. Have fantastic friends and family. You are only one person, plus your significant other, that's only two. You two can't do everything, no matter how Type A and control freak you want to be. (Oh, is that just me?) Friends and family who are willing to give up time, share their talents, and be there for you not only help you make light work, it also makes you realize how much you are loved.

2. Read A Practical Wedding online and I highly recommend purchasing the book. The best advice she had at the beginning of the book was that if any wedding magazine or book made you feel like what you wanted was "less than" somehow, throw it out. I'd already done that, but it was nice to have permission. She not only covers doing your own flowers, making your own cake, making table runners, etc., but the book covers some of the emotional aspects of getting married, which are pretty important.

3. Use Blooms by the Box. I found this flower wholesaler through A Practical Wedding, and was impressed from the beginning. They have a DIY Wedding Flower guide you can download for free, and also includes a 5% off coupon when you do. Their flower consultant, Diana, will email you to just touch base, but isn't pushy at all. Diana exchanged many emails with me, understanding my budget limits, my flower desires and helping me figure out how to get the flowers I wanted under budget. Plus, when I got a call last week that the main flower I was going to use wasn't going to be in stock because of a growing season issue, Diana walked me through changing my order, and in less than half an hour I had a whole new flower plan. I cannot gush enough about how great this company is. Use them!

4. Use Etsy. Jewelry, hair accessories, ideas, and so much more abound at Etsy. I love supporting small artisans, and I've been able to keep some of my searches local to my area. If you really want unique things, this is one of your best bets for reasonably priced things that you will love.

5. When people offer you things for free, take them. When people offer to put you in touch with friends who can help you, do it. If you're not hiring a ton of people to help you out, let friends and friends of friends carry some of that burden.

6. Prioritize. One of my favorite things I saw that I made fun of was a bridal suggestion for "bridesmaids bouquets that make a statement." Have you ever been to a wedding and though, "Oh, wow! Those bridesmaids bouquets are really making a statement!" If you have, then kudos, but I don't know that I have. Think back to the weddings that you've loved, what were the things that you liked the most? Can you re-create those with your own spin?

Do what makes you happy. DIY is hard, I'm not going to say it's easy. (Baking your own cake takes a lot of time), but you can make it fun, and easier than some magazines and websites would have you believe.

Have fun! And I'll see you when I'm married!!

Image of Lego upcycled journal from Moonlight Bindery on Etsy.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fun things on Etsy

Desk Sign. Embroidery Hoop Art. Ugh. Band Embroidered by merriweathercouncil on Etsy

Despite arguments about the word "curate" and what it means to curate, I think that we all are curators of what we love in life. Be it a group of images on Pinterest, or a selection of items we collect in our homes, the heart of curating, for me, is collecting things that you value and treasure.

My personal curated collection involves a lot of jewelry. I love fun earrings, and lately, I've really been drawn to unusual necklaces. (Like at the ACC Craft Show.) I recently bought myself a necklace from Merriweather Council on Etsy, that I am very excited to get in the mail later this week. I ordered a "g" in teal on coral fabric. I love that I could choose everything, from the letter, to the case, to the shape of the small hoop, to the colors of the embroidery thread to the background. And knowing me, of course I went with pink and green(ish).

In addition to adorable, personalized necklaces, she makes these cute embroidered hoops. I personally really like the "ugh" one (seen above) as it describes my feelings about waking up every morning.

The coolest thing about her shop is that she started it pretty soon (as in 47 hours) after she graduated from college. I love that she pursued her dream and is turning it into things that are beautiful, personal, and to be treasured.

She also does so many other personalized things, so check out her shop for adorable embroidery!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Blogging Elsewhere

I might be a little bad at posting here, but I am excited to announce that I wrote a guest blog post for the American Craft Council that you can find here. It discussed my research process for my thesis on OBJECTS: USA back in 2010. Sure, it was a while back, but the materials are still in the library. The most important thing I think people should take away from it is that if you're researching a craft topic, don't neglect to look for funding. The Center for Craft Creativity and Design in Hendersonville, NC, is very generous and excited to help people uncover new ideas and research. The Craft Council would also be very excited to have you come to their lovely library space and research. Enjoy the post, and while you're there, check out the other great things the Craft Council is doing.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

American Craft Council Baltimore Show

Back in February (was it already that long ago?) I took a Saturday for my annual pilgrimage to the American Craft Council show in Baltimore. I was excited as I missed last year's show, and this year the Craft Council had special categories, including "Under $100" for young craft collectors. (That's me!)

I did my usual walk-through, noting the things that I really liked and considering going back as I navigated the aisles. Then I came to Andrea Haffner's booth. Her work is astounding. I loved her wall hangings, and could have spend hours staring at them. She uses nature in her works--literally--pulling leaves, stalks, flowers, and other things from the earth, matching them with contrasting colors and shapes. I looked over her necklaces, and knew that one of those was going on my list of things I wanted.

I continued on my journey, getting halfway down the next aisle before I realized I needed to turn around, lest someone take the necklace I had fallen in love with. I chose a long rectangular piece, with a turquoise background with pink peppercorns above small pieces of straw, to create the illusion of flowers. I love this necklace. And her other jewelry comes in colors and shapes for everyone!

As much as I enjoyed other things at the Craft Council show, this is one of the best things I've ever seen. Unique, beautiful, and she has photographs as well as the amazing wall hangings that I am already saving up for.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cake Trial: Part 2

This weekend was frosting and filling weekend. The cakes hung out in the freezer all week, and I worried that I was not up to the task of actually putting them all together every time I got ice or frozen corn. But I persevered and on Saturday morning set out a dozen eggs and two (2!) pounds of butter to come to room temperature. By that evening, I was freshly napped and ready to tackle butter cream.

But before I could frost the cake, I needed to put the filling between the layers. This is where I encountered my first hiccup. The filling (which I made a few hours earlier), hadn't set up properly. The chocolate hadn't melted completely and was grainy. It sunk to the bottom, leaving me with a bowl of heavy cream with grainy, goopy chocolate. I was unhappy. Halfway into batch one of buttercream, I was unsure what to do.

Chocolate and heavy cream are too expensive to just toss away, so I put a metal bowl over a pot with about an inch of water in it to create a double boiler, put the filling mixture in it and whisked away. (This is where I begin my rant against microwaves. If you love your microwave, skip to the next paragraph.) My personal feeling about why the filling failed me the first time around was because the instructions tell you to melt the heavy cream and chocolate together in the microwave. My cream was at room temp, and I added my chocolate, then microwaved for the required 2-3 minutes. This did not work. I know that people are all for melting chocolate in the microwave because it's easier than doing it in a double boiler. But I think that microwaves ruin the texture of all foods, including chocolate, don't heat evenly, and I can't keep an eye on it in the way I want to while it's in the microwave. Plus, using a double boiler isn't that tough, and it makes me feel like a fancy cook. The filling, after being reconstituted in the method of my choosing, was much smoother, and looked much more even. However, I was now set back an extra day since it was 7 pm and the filling needs to chill for at least 4 hours.

With the filling back in the fridge, I turned out two batches of buttercream, put them in the fridge, and with an aching back, went to bed.

I woke up at 8 am on Sunday, fully intending to go to church, but unable to get the cake out of my mind. I wanted it finished. I wanted to check on my filling. I wanted to use my icing spatulas. I pulled out the filling and was thrilled to see that it set up properly! I whipped it up, pulled out my buttercream, warmed it, whipped it, and was ready to go. I had the cake assembled and frosted by 10 am. (I'm not a morning person--this in and of itself is a feat.) (Also, I did this without coffee.)

This is where I implore you to read and follow all directions. In my excitement to assemble the cake, I failed to follow directions properly. I put my bottom tier together, frosted it, and then rushed to put my second tier on top of it. As I did, I realized that I was supposed to frost all the tiers before assembling, and I was supposed to leave the cake tiers on their little cardboard cake rounds for structural purposes. (This is why we do a practice cake.) I still managed to get the middle tier frosted, though not as prettily as I would have liked. I followed directions with the top tier, and put the whole thing together. Then I, like a child on Christmas day playing with her toys, pulled out my brand-spanking-new pastry bag and started to pipe pearl borders. The result is what you see above.

I'm pretty damn proud of this cake. This is probably the biggest baking undertaking I've ever done in my life. (Aside from my intense Christmas cookie annual baking where I bake 3-4 types of cookies as gifts.) Greg has pronounced it incredibly good, with the filling being his favorite part. (Yay!) Now that I know how long all of this will take me, I feel pretty confident that I'll be able to do it come wedding week. Also, I'm really lucky that a huge number of people in my life are helping with the other wedding details so I can focus on the cake. (And getting married to an amazing guy.) Really, the timing is what is most important with this. I have a timeline written out so I can tackle this project and have an amazing wedding cake.

If all else fails, I'll buy a sheet cake at Giant.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cake Trial: Part 1

I baked cakes yesterday in the start of my practice run for my wedding cake. I didn't make the full three rounds of batter like I will for the "real" thing, I just made two rounds. This means that I will have three tiers with two layers each. (Above: 9-inch and 12-inch layers.)

Here's what I learned:
- It's not that hard to make a cake batter. (I already knew this.)
- It's not hard to bake the cake off, although I did need to adjust baking time for my oven. (This is why I'm making a practice cake.)
- Prep work takes the most time. (Eggs, butter, and milk take several hours to come to room temperature.)
- Making a cake this large uses more eggs and butter than anything else I've ever made in my life.
- Greasing, flouring, and cutting parchment paper for my pans took as much time as making the batter.
- I need bigger cooling racks. The 6-inch layer ended up cooling in a flat-bottomed colander because I didn't have enough cooling rack space. It still worked.
- Wrapping the cakes in plastic wrap for freezing takes almost as much time as prepping the pans.

The instructions in the book (America's Test Kitchen Baking Book) and the blog I read for help both said that time is the biggest factor. I do like that I can do this in stages, so when the actual time comes, I can be comfortable making the cakes a few weeks in advance. I ended up dragging a chair into the kitchen to sit in front of the oven while I read my book and kept an eye on the cakes. I've never been much of a cake baby-sitter, but this is important. After the first batch came out, I was more comfortable with the baking time and just letting it go on it's own. (With a timer.)

I am very excited to have all these new baking supplies. Where have offset spatulas been all my life? I finally have a pastry bag with different tips for frosting, which I look forward to breaking out. I never felt stressed when making this cake. I think knowing that it could fail and that was okay made it a much better situation for me. We'll see if this feeling continues throughout the process. I do like my start though!

Next weekend, filling and frosting.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fish Tacos

I've only eaten fish tacos a handful of times in my life, but I always really like them. The creamy sauce and the cabbage create a great contrast to mild fish. The fish is usually fried, sometimes breaded, sometimes not. Last night, I was craving great flavor and something light, yet meaty. Enter fish tacos.

We're trying to eat a little more healthily around here, so I combined a few recipes to get the tacos we had last night. I used Serious Eats Fish Taco recipe, but used catfish instead of tilapia. (I don't like tilapia; it has no flavor.) I also didn't make the sour cream sauce, but instead substituted with Pioneer Woman's pico de gallo and guacamole. (As requested by Greg.)

For the fish, I coated it in a spice mixture of salt, cayenne, paprika, and cumin, and then shallow fried it in olive oil. The result was great flavor that married well with the cabbage, guacamole, and pico de gallo. It was like eating a salad with fish and a tortilla. For two people who have eaten a meat salad as a side dish with fish (we follow the Ron Swanson rule that fish is a vegetable), this was satisfying and filling. We will definitely be having these again, paired with a Corona.

I promise that at some point, pictures will get better. It's hard to cook and photograph at the same time!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Creativity Always Needs an Outlet

The problem with being a potter is that when people ask me if I ever get to work in clay, it's always a tough question for me to answer why I don't. It's not quite a hobby, and even with my class this summer, I never got it together to pick up my finished pieces. (Part of the problem there was not having a car.) It's tough to lug a wheel, clay, kiln, and glazes around with you. And expensive to have those things on hand. I know every art comes with it's tools, but I tend to think mine are slightly less portable.

Which is all to say that at times, I still need an outlet for my creativity. Sometimes I write, but mostly I cook. I really think cooking, baking in particular, is a close cousin to pottery. You work with your hands, you shape things, you add heat, some basic chemistry, and BAM! you have a work of art. This weekend I was very much in a cook-to-be-creative mood. I made fresh Italian bread that we turned into garlic bread, lasagna from scratch (everything except the noodles), biscuits, brownies and pizza. I've often thought about being a food blogger, since I cook and bake all the time, but just forget to take pictures.

However, I've resumed my resolution from a few years back to make one new dish every week. I realize that I get stuck in a rotation of about 10-14 dishes that I really like, are easy to make, and lean toward the healthier side. I'm going to try and remember to take pictures and I'll try and blog about the new dish each week. This will also help me get toward my goal of blogging more, since the job has led to less of that.

And, at the end of the month, there will be the test wedding cake, which will definitely have to be blogged.

I'll try and provide links or where you can get the recipes I work from. Typically, I use America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, which I received for Christmas last year. Really great recipes, but I also try things from Serious Eats and Pioneer Woman Cooks. So, there will be more pictures, and food!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Abstract Art

I've been studying art in one way or another for most of my life. It occurred to me the other day that my elementary school art teacher was teaching us art history right alongside our art lessons. This became more pointed in high school, and then one day, in my college years, someone pointed out that Art History was a discipline. Something that I could study, write about, and explore in ways that other subjects were explored. My life was forever, wonderfully changed.

But in all of this study, and after all these years of looking at art, sometimes I forget how important and powerful it can be. I am fortunate in that every single day of my job, I get to handle original artworks, but most of the time, I don't even think about it. It's just my job. I never walk in and think, "I GET TO LOOK AT AND TOUCH ARTWORK TODAY!!!!!!!!" Today though, I realized I should.

I often think about art more in the abstract, like an idea to be discussed, rather than actual, physical objects. Strange, since I argue all the time about object-based focused in art. In all of my studying, writing, and working, I've forgotten how powerful the original artwork can be--and is.

Today, I got to touch an M.C. Escher print. And a Van Gogh print. Two things that the artist also touched. Two things that the artist designed, created, and have survived in amazing condition. I stared at both for minutes on end, poring over each little detail, marveling at how Van Gogh's faces all seem sad, sunken, and full of a world-weariness. Escher's print was like standing on the top of a roof and looking both down and out, with the perspective working perfectly--simultaneously! That is the beauty of Escher, he understood how math made amazing art. Something I still don't grasp in my own work.

The irony of working in a museum is that you can become numb to some of the things you see on a daily basis. Artwork becomes part of a job, not a thing of beauty. Today I was reminded that artwork is a real thing, to be admired, savored, and learned from.