Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Coffee-Macadamia Nut Biscotti

One my souvenirs from my trip to Maui were macadamia nuts still in the shell.  I've had some difficulty deciding what to do with them since I don't have very many, and it's not like I can run to the store and buy some more.  I found a recipe for Coffee-Macadamia Nut Biscotti on that looked interesting so I printed out the recipe, grabbed some nuts, a hammer, and headed for the front porch to get comfy on the cement steps.  

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

52 Weeks of Sewing: Week 2: Altering a T-Shirt

Unless I know exactly what I am buying and have worn it before, I rarely buy clothing online.  It never seems to fit like it should and it feels incredibly wasteful to me to ship something back even if it is free shipping.

But a few months ago (ok, let me think, it might actually have been last summer, oops) I fell victim to an online sale at one of my favorite shops, Pin Up Girl Clothing.  Their dresses are adorable and I've actually gone to their shop in L.A. to try things on so I know what I can buy online later, but they had this awesome Star Wars vintage style t-shirt on sale and I read the reviews on sizing and thought a large would be ok.  But then it came and it was swimming on me.  I think it's supposed to be a little loose and meant to show off a bra or tank top underneath, but I felt like I was wearing a muumuu.

My old sewing machine wasn't so hot with stretch fabrics so I set it aside.  Now, however, I have my new Brother sewing machine, multi-tasker that it is, and I just knew that I could now tackle this teeny tiny project.  

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Is Your Home in Need of an Energy Audit?

 If you own your own house and you have drafts that you can feel or high energy bills or are unsure whether your walls are insulated or not, it might be worth it for you to get a home energy audit. 

A home energy audit is a process in which your house is assessed on its energy uses versus the overall efficiency of your house with energy conservation as the final goal.  We've only been in our house a little over two years and now know enough about our energy uses (extreme waste because of baseboard heaters) that we decided to bring in some professional help to guide us in steps to make our house as efficient as possible.   It's not free where I live, but it is heavily subsidized to encourage you to take part.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fried Rice

When I make rice I like to cook a big batch.  It takes as long to make as a small batch, and the leftover rice comes in handy.  I use it in soups and stews, mix with a bit of soy sauce to make rice balls, or better yet -- fried rice!

Fried rice is so quick to make, and uses only a few ingredients.  A little green onion, an egg or two, and a few cups of day-old (at least) rice sauteed in some oil with a sprinkling of soy sauce.  That's all you need.

I like to add diced carrot and yellow onion, and some peas when I make fried rice, but you could also add corn kernels, asparagus tips, zucchini -- whatever you have on-hand.  Fresh or frozen vegetables work equally well but I prefer using fresh (with the exception of peas), and frozen vegetables would certainly make the preparation quicker and easier.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Healthy Cookie (Vegan and Gluten Free)

Now that I am trying to eating a mostly whole foods diet (meaning food that comes from real ingredients, not overly processed), I have found my biggest struggle has been giving up sugar.

Every ten years or so, it seems our information pendulum about what is healthy swings wildly.  We were told to avoid fat in the eighties and everyone jumped on the Snackwell's bandwagon.  Then came the no carb diet.  Now, scientists are discovering that fats are good and it is probably the added sugars that have been causing heart disease to sky rocket all along.  

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sketchbook Inspirations

I went to the coast earlier this month, I dragged a whole bunch of art supplies with me.  I do this on every trip I take and usually the art supplies stay in the bag or suitcase untouched for the duration of the trip.  This time, however, I actually got some work done.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Birthday Treat for Mom: Dorayaki

When I was young, every December we'd pile into the car and make the big drive from Puyallup to Seattle to shop at Uwajimaya, a large Asian grocery and gift store.  Mom would stock up on ingredients not readily found in our local stores.  My brothers and I would fill up our baskets with delicious Japanese snacks and sweets, and Dorayaki was one of my favorites.

What is Dorayaki?  Quite simply it's a pancake sandwich that's filled with a sweet red bean paste called Anko.  In Japan it's a popular treat to have with your tea.  My mom loves them, so I decided to make some for her birthday.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

52 Weeks of Sewing: Week 1: Zippered Pouch

Welcome to my first project in my bigger quest of 52 weeks of sewing.  I've been thinking about sewing some zippered pouches for some time.  I used to own a great little zippered pouch I kept drawing supplies in but it turned out it was really a microphone case and I had to give it back to my husband.  And I have been missing it ever since. 

I didn't need anything fancy, but I needed sturdy material.  I worked a little on surface design on canvas a couple of months ago and so I dug those pieces out and got to work.

Monday, April 14, 2014

52 Weeks of Sewing

If I had a motto, it would be: "No time like the present to start a new project!"  And I have a crazy idea in mind.  To start 52 projects!

OK, even I am not that crazy, yet since I bought my new sewing machine I have been excited to keep working on projects but have lost a bit of my original enthusiasm.  Where to start?  I have so much fabric around the house, in piles, in bags and boxes in my office closet as well as in my studio.  And patterns, ideas, fragments of ideas and sketches piling up all over the place.

It is time to organize.  It is time to create.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cutting Board Pesto

 When most people think about pesto, they think they have to buy it at the store or make it in a food processor.  The true pesto, originating from Genoa, consists of basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmigiano Reggiano and olive oil.  It is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle, not a food processor.

Fun etymology fact: The Genoese name is pesta, which means to pound or crush and led not only to the name of pesto, but pestle as well!  

When we were at the coast earlier this month, the kitchen at the cabin we stayed in was pretty well stocked with the basics but there was no food processor, of course.  So I improvised.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Asian Cooking 101: Tofu and Rice

Tofu and I have had a love/hate relationship my whole life.  I've always hated it until about two years ago when I started to eat less meat, and tofu became one of my main sources of protein.  The more I ate tofu the more I liked it!

My son, Kevin, lives in Seattle, and when I go up to visit we always grab lunch in the International District.  A couple weeks ago I had a delicious green papaya salad with seared tofu.  The tofu was so fresh and delicious with a wonderfully plump texture.  I assumed their tofu was made at the restaurant, and wondered if I would have to learn how to make my own tofu!  Then I found this little gem at H Mart!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Washington Coast Getaway: Exploring Iron Springs Resort

When I think of going to the coast for a few nights to stay in a cabin, I usually think of cheap, uncomfortable rooms with paper thin walls, a musty smell, and mysterious stains on the bed linen.  So, as my husband was telling me he wanted to go to the coast for his birthday, I knew I needed to do some research and find something that would take dogs, have a nice kitchen for me to cook in, and comfortable furnishings or I wasn't going.  Looking online, I was completely stumped.  The whole coast of Washington to chose from: where to go? 

Luckily, some friends were over for dinner when I was complaining about my inability to find a nice vacation rental and stepped in with some advice: Iron Springs Resort.  We looked it up.  Recent updates in a rustic mid century modern style with lots of amenities and they allowed, even encouraged, dogs.  We were sold.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Don't Quit

 Dragon Boating. It’s a thing. A thing I’ve been rather obsessed with for almost a year now. How did I get involved in this thing you ask? Well, it started with a monkey; a four foot paper mache monkey to be precise. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring is Here! Time to Start Working on the Garden.

Spring has arrived, and with it visions of fresh vegetables are dancing in my head.  Here is a photo of our front yard from last year.  

I've been dabbling with vegetable gardens for about ten years.  First I tried growing some tomatoes and herbs in containers on the back deck, slowly expanding our garden by adding a new vegetable or two each year.  When I had more successes than failures I started planting in raised beds.