What? You Don’t Iron Outside in -50ºF?

Like most Midwesterners, I spent the majority of the past week inside the house. The Polar Vortex had landed, and there was no escaping its icy tentacles.

I knew that something interesting was going on with the weather because our local weather-people had become increasingly impassioned with their predictions. The weather segments grew in length until the 10:00 news was mostly weather with a sprinkling of “other.” Though they attempted to conceal their excitement for the imminent danger, I could see the flicker in their eyes. A Polar Vortex, I assume, is probably like a weather-person’s Superbowl or Academy Awards- exciting, watched by everyone, and talked about around the watercooler the next day.

It was into this frostiness that I decided to insert myself, my ironing board, and my cake. Having been cancelled at work, I had a leisurely morning where I made a nice little round cake with some pretty blue and purple orchids. I managed to take a semi-acceptable photo of it while inside, but then I realized that I needed a long photo to serve as the “cover photo” on the home page of this blog (it has to be cropped to a certain pixel size). No matter what angle I tried, I could not get a photo that worked properly.

Screen shot 2014-01-23 at 7.20.37 PM(The problem is that the required size for the cover is extremely narrow, which makes the photographer have to back up quite far in order to fit the entire subject in the narrow area.)

I heaved a sigh. I can make and decorate a cake in less time than it takes me to photograph. I can probably fetch the hen that would lay the egg that I will mix in the batter in a quicker time. When I try to take a photo, I become obsessed with angles, lights, shadows, and the like. And the funny part is: the photos generally still look like they were taken by a ten-year-old with a plastic camera. To those of you with gorgeous photos of food on your blogs: how do you do that?

So I searched and searched the house, walking through room after room, looking for a surface that would provide a white background. I finally came back to the kitchen and gazed dejectedly out the window. And that’s when it hit me: I needed a white background, and nature had provided 12 inches right under my nose.

It takes someone really special to volunteer to go outside on a day when all people were directed to stay indoors. But never one to let Mother Nature interfere with a good photo, I grabbed supplies and bundled up. orchidsnow3

My first idea was to put the cake on a teal piece of fabric set atop a rubbermaid. Out I went, and immediately my nose hairs froze. Afraid to breathe, for I was sure they would all crack off, and they must be there for a reason and I didn’t want to lose them all at once, I tried to breathe through my mouth. As I inhaled, a spear of icy fire went down my windpipe. “The nose is better,” I grimaced, and resolved to take slow even breaths so as to minimize nose hair loss.

I carefully set the cake on the rubbermaid, and immediately, wind blew the fabric onto the cake. (“Ahh, the wind chill,” I nodded knowingly, “I should have guessed it would be windy out here.”) I moved the fabric back again but it blew back to cover the cake once more. So I took off the fabric and laid it in the snow. I shoved a spoon in each corner to hold the corners down. Immediately two edges blew up again and the spoons sank into the snow. (Side note: have you ever dug for two pieces of metal in a foot deep of snow in -50º? I don’t recommend it.)

orchidsnow1It seemed as if there was only one option left: time to grab the ironing board.


Fabric pinned down, cake set atop, and…it didn’t work. I couldn’t get the angles right. And you know why? Because I couldn’t see anything. Why? Because my glasses looked like this:

orchidsnow2(That’s not regular fog- it was ice.)

Fingers frozen, vision lost, and nose hairs all but gone, I grabbed everything and hustled back inside. And wouldn’t you know it, as I was taking off the boots, the teal wall of the laundry room caught my eye. “Seriously?!” Muttering to myself, I set up the ironing board against the teal wall and snapped away.

Here’s the cropped, final version:

DSCN9361And the uncropped version:


If I ever win the lottery, I’m hiring a photographer.

5 thoughts on “What? You Don’t Iron Outside in -50ºF?

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