Sunday, April 29, 2012

Etsy Shop...IS OPEN!

Get ready...get set... go! We are live! A big thanks to all my family, friends, and blog readers around the world. Go out, INSPIRE, and keep those creative juices flowing. 

The Yellow & Blue Paisley Apron

This apron is for the no frill yes paisley type of cook. Its blue and yellow color scheme is sure to fit your sunshine personality! Bring on the smiles in the kitchen!

Double layer throughout. 100% cotton. 

One size fits most.

Machine wash cold. Machine dry low. Iron as needed.

Available on Etsy!

Blue Striped Infinity Scarf

This calming shade of crisp blue is playfully striped through the sheer layers. 
Perfect for the minimalist who delights in a touch of color. 

Available on Etsy!

Vera's 7 Month Photo Shoot - 04/28/2012

This adorable little girl is growing up so fast! Remember when she was an itty bitty baby? Or even just a few months ago? Look at her now!

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not?

The Best Bucket of Joy!

OoOoOOO Grass

♥ My Mommy 
For more photos, check-out:

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fresh Produce

Summer screams fresh produce. What can be better than grilled veggies on a pizza? Fresh tomato salsa? Corn on the cob? Stuffed bell peppers? Crisp green beans? Refreshing cucumbers in a salad? Is your mouth watering yet? YES! 

No, our garden hasn't sprung up in abundance overnight, we checked out Market on the Move. Never heard of it? Read below.

Our Loot: 46lb of string beans, yellow squash, zucchini, bell peppers, sweet corn, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

For those of you residing in Arizona, have you heard of Market on the Move? Market On The Move provides a farmers’ market atmosphere at various locations throughout Metro Phoenix and Tucson areas where partners and supporters of this program can come on a regular basis to pick up the free produce for distribution. For a $10 donation, you can receive up to 60lbs of produce!
Every year, The 3000 Club members, supporters and volunteers help to:
  • Rescue about 30 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Distribute over $45,000,000 worth of produce.
  • Provide over 23 million meals.
  • Help more than 460,000 families in need.
  • Distribute fresh produce to more than 300 food banks and agencies across Arizona and throughout the United States.

Since its inception in 2010 and through its successful partnership with churches and other non-profit organizations, MOM is now averaging between 8-12 locations distributing over 200,000 lbs. of produce every week. For more information, check-out:

Friday, April 27, 2012

Etsy Shop - Coming Soon!

Like my shop banner? :o)

For the past 4 months, I have been getting my wits, projects, and paperwork together to ... 

open an Etsy shop!!! 

With the support from close friends and family, I'm almost there. I have learned a lot about opening a small business and know there is much more to learn. For those of you out there seeking to take your crafts one step further, call your state Department of Revenue as well as your county. They can be of great service! The regulations seem to vary state to state. In Arizona, you are required to register for a Transaction Privilege Tax (TPT) license. Depending on whether you're operating on city or county land, additional taxes may need to be paid above the state tax. It's best business practice to register your trade name but it is not legally required in Arizona. 

By no means am I an expert so any advice given is based purely on my experiences which go a little like so:
  1. Make a lot of items that I love and gift them to family and friends.
  2. Family and friends say, "have you ever thought of opening an Etsy shop?"
  3. "Yes but that sounds like a lot of work and I'm not business-oriented."
  4. 2 months go by.
  5. Sewing machine purchased. Range of creations expand.
  6. Family and friends say, "have you ever thought of opening an Etsy shop?"
  7. "OK, maybe this time I'll look more into it."
  8. An emotional roller coaster of feeling excited offset with feeling defeated with all the jargon of figuring out how to open an Etsy shop and "be legal."
  9. Took a break for 2 weeks.
  10. Legalities all checked off. Draft listings created (not live yet). Still worried about how it will all magically come together but happily creating delightful items.
  11. Almost there!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Garden Update - April 24, 2012

In only 10 days since the last garden update, the mesquite trees are filling in and we spy green tomatoes, squash, and raspberries!

B&W Polka Dot Infinity Scarf

Who says black and white has to be boring? 

I ♥ Polka Dots

Available on Etsy!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Blue Floral Chartreuse Infinity Scarf

I am inspired by our garden in many of my creations. I love all that is floral. This infinity scarf is a 100% polyester, light weight, floral print that goes slightly abstract into playful blue and chartreuse splashes of color when worn. This time I made multiple instead of just one. As you may know, I'm working on opening an Etsy shop (and if you didn't know, I'M OPENING AN ETSY SHOP!!! EEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!) and if I only make one of a particular item, I may end up keeping it for myself.... 

The Skinny One

The Bigger One (can be worn like a shawl)
Available on Etsy!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Rust Infinity Scarf

Even though it was 102°F today, I was inspired to make another infinity scarf. I found the perfect light weight wrinkle-free fabric (rayon?) with a geometric pattern of a muted yet bold color that can make navy blue pop or add a layer of fun over neutrals!

Available on Etsy!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Paisley Infinity Scarf

Scarf weather is my favorite weather, you know, the optional-sweater-type of weather. This infinity scarf is made from a long piece of leftover fabric. With my sewing machine, I sewed the long sides shut with the wrong side out, essentially creating a tube. Then I flipped it right side out, gave it a twist, and sewed the short ends together with the raw edges turned in. Ta-dah! Super easy, comfy, and a happy splash of color to  brighten up any outfit!

Note: To avoid seams on the outside, sew short ends together inside out, leaving 2 inches for turning it with the right side out then stitch that opening closed.

Lemon Slice Coasters

Summer time calls for cooling drinks and whimsy. Why not have both with these lemon slice coasters? Glass of mint lemonade anyone?

Mint & Lemon from the Garden

12-18 Month Gray Wild Rose Sweater

Light weight worsted 100% acrylic baby gray marl. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

涼拌黃瓜 (Liáng bàn huáng guā - Pickled Cucumber Salad)

A side dish I ate as a snack throughout my childhood is a tangy, crunchy, slightly sweet bowl of pickled cucumbers and radishes. I watched Grandma turn freshly picked cucumbers from the garden that smelled of sunshine into nearly transparent disks that would later pop in my mouth. Our garden doesn't have cucumbers yet but when we do, this will be a great way to enjoy them!

The measurements below are approximate. I have never seen Grandma use a measuring cup or a measuring spoon. 

Prep: 15 minutes     Yield: ~1 cup     Wait Time: 1 hour or more

~1 cucumber
~5 radishes
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 Thai chili, minced (optional, if heat desired)
  1. Thinly slice washed vegetables. Use a mandolin if you have one, if not, sharpen that knife and watch those fingers!
  2. In a large bowl, let cucumber and radishes sit with salt for 5-10 minutes. Don't let it sit too long or your end up with very salty vegetables! This salting process draws out the water in the vegetables to keep its crunch.
  3. Rinse the vegetables with cold water; use a colander or strainer to make this easy without losing any vegetables down the drain. Set aside.
  4. In a small container with a non-leaky lid (I usually use a glass container with a lid but opted for a washed out pint-sized gelato container this time because all glass containers were in use), stir together rice vinegar and sugar until dissolved. Add vegetables and chili (if desired). Close container, shake it up gently. For a stronger flavor, marinate in fridge overnight. Otherwise an hour can do!
  5. Enjoy!

Note: There are many variants to this dish. Some prefer peeling the cucumbers. Some prefer slicing the cucumbers in chunks instead of thin disks. Others add carrots. Be creative!

Twilight Baby Blanket

The setting of the summer sun paints a sky of pinks, lavenders, and sherbet orange across a darkening canvas. The magical time between sunset and dusk. That is the inspiration for this baby blanket.

18-24 Month Petunia Sweater (100% Cotton)

The inspiration for this sweater jacket comes from the variegation of the yarn spinning into unprecedented patterns, the surprise of colors that sprout from a packet of petunia seeds, and the spontaneity of a toddler's daily adventures!

Available on Etsy!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Coconut Almond Cookies

For a quick and delicious cookie that takes you to the tropics, try this coconut almond cookie! Drop cookies are the easiest to make because all mixing is done in one bowl and a dollop of dough will do. 

Prep: 20 minutes     Baking Time: 12 minutes per batch     Yield: 5 dozen

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups chopped almonds (or pecans or macadamia nuts)

No food processor? No problem! Buy the nuts pre-chopped or use a sharp knife to chop them up!

In a mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and baking soda; beat until combined. Beat in eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour with a wooden spoon. Stir in coconut and nuts. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 1-2 inches apart (I started with 2 inches apart, fitting 12 cookies per sheet, but noticed they didn't spread much so then I went to 1 inch apart, fitting 20 cookies per sheet) onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Baked at 350°F for 12 minutes, or until tips of shredded coconut sticking out are lightly golden brown. Remove cookies and cool on wire racks.

Recipe adapted from The Little Guides: Cookies.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Garden Update - April 13, 2012

Another week has flown by since the last garden update. With several blooming roses and many more to come, beautiful bouquets are springing out of the garden!

Garden Bouquets

Left Top and Bottom: Look at that cilantro stalk! It's the width of my finger! We're letting it go to seed (coriander!) so we can plant more to continually enjoy throughout the summer without panicking about it always going to seed and the not having any cilantro. Top Right: Crocus? Bottom Right: No idea.

Who's going to win, tomato plants or snap dragons?

Top Left: YAY! Peaches! Top Right: Bougainvillea shading a forest of mint.
Bottom Left: Texas Yellow Bell. Bottom Right Top: Jasmine. Bottom Right Bottom: Raspberry flower.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Blood Orange Olive Oil Chiffon Cake

Last night we had the most amazing cheesecake at our favorite restaurant. It was a mascarpone cheesecake with strawberry compote and brown sugar oat crumble baked in a mason jar. This usually heavy dessert was transformed into a surprisingly light and creamy jar of summer. I am no cheesecake whiz but I am inspired. This chiffon cake reminds me of Taiwanese cakes, spongy, light, and with just enough sweetness to be a cake but not to be a cloyingly sweet cake. 

Prep: 30 minutes     Bake: 55-60 minutes     Oven: 325°F     Cool: 2 hours

Tools: electric mixer (I used a hand held mixer and a separate stand mixer to avoid contamination of my  egg whites), spatula, 2 large mixing bowls, 2 small bowls, measuring spoons and cups, zester, 10-inch tube pan, sturdy small neck bottle. 

7 eggs
2 1/4 c sifted cake flour
1 1/2 c granulated white sugar
1 T baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c blood orange olive oil
2 tsp orange zest
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
3/4 c cold water
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1. Separate eggs VERY CAREFULLY. This can make or break your cake. Make sure all tools used are clean, without any amount of oil.Even a trace of yolk will compromise the volume of beaten egg whites. I usually separate out one egg at a time, lumping my yolks together and using a small bowl for each egg white that gets emptied out to its final destination before the cracking of the next egg. This way, if a yolk breaks into my whites, I don't have to throw out a whole bowl of almost perfect whites.

2. While your eggs are coming to room temperature, in a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center. Add egg yolks, oil, zest, vanilla, and water. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Beat on high speed for 5 minutes more. Should be satiny smooth.

3. In a very large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Pour batter in a thin stream over beaten egg whites; fold in gently. Pour into ungreased 10-inch tube pan evenly. Make sure the rack in the oven is low enough that when the cake rises, it doesn't hit the top.

4. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until top springs bake when lightly touched. Resist the tempation to open the oven door more than you have to otherwise the cake might deflate. Once removed from the oven, immediately invert cake while it's still in the pan. Cool for about 2 hours before loosening the sides of cake from pan. Remove cake, decorate as you please. Serve pretty or just as is!

Chiffon Cake: Said to have been created in the late 1940s by a professional baker, chiffon cake is distinguished from others of its genre by the fact that oil, rather than solid shortening, is used. It contains leavening, such as baking powder, and stiffly beaten egg whites, which contribute to its rather spongecake-like texture. (Food Lover's Companion 4th Ed.)

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook 75th Anniversary Edition

Friday, April 6, 2012

Garden Update - April 6, 2012

In just one week, our garden has taken off in warp speed. Compare today's photos to last week's post! The cilantro is towering over every other plant in the garden bed. The green onions have been cut (and eaten). The tomato plants have grown into a miniature forest. Unknown spouts are shooting up. The snapdragons, ranunculus, and calla lilies, have made their way into vases inside.

Our first rose!

Tulip. Zucchini. Thai Chili Sprouts. Something We Aren't Sure Of Because We Forgot to Label.... Towering Cilantro.

Forest of Tomatoes. Okra Sprouts (I think).

Peaches are Getting Bigger!!!!