Happy New Year!

This year, I hope to accomplish two things:

1. Create more.

Anything. Everything. Make things.

2. Get my budget and financing in order this year.

I started to do this last year, but I want to continue to do it and get better at it and help others do it, as well.

The key to creating a good resolutions list is to make your goals attainable. You don’t want to start something you know you’ll fail at. Also, make partners in your goals and hold each other accountable. I’ve heard that if you tell at least two people, you’ll be more likely to keep your goals (especially if they’re diligent in asking you about them).

Do you have any resolutions for the New Year?

Happy 2014!

If you were following my blog this time last year, you know that I made a list of 30 things I wanted to accomplish in my 30s. I tried to make the list realistic, but still somewhat ambitious so that it would be not only fun and doable, but add value to my life.

Well the first thing on that list was go to Comic Con (or WWDC). And since moving to San Diego, where the convention is held, I was able to make it for a few hours this year! Here are some pictures to prove I was there…

Coconut Blueberry Pancakes with Coconut Whipped Cream

Sometimes I just love myself. Like when I make breakfast for myself. And not just any breakfast, but something decadent like… Well, like these pancakes!

Pancakes made with coconut milk and coconut oil instead of regular milk and vegetable oil, with blueberries added in and topped with homemade whipped cream made from coconut milk! Mmmmmm…

For the pancakes:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons raw sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 egg

Optional: handful of fresh or frozen blueberries, or other desired fruit

Directions:
- whisk milk, oil, and egg together. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture until moistened; small lumps are okay.
- heat a skillet or griddle over medium. Use either coconut oil or butter to coat cooking surface.
- spoon 2-3 tablespoons batter onto cooking surface and cook until pancakes have some bubbles that “stick”. Flip over with spatula and cook until browned.

Top with coconut whipped cream or topping of choice.

For the coconut milk whipped cream:
1 can coconut milk (full fat)
2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional: cinnamon or vanilla beans

Directions:
- leave can in the fridge overnight. The thick cream and the coconut “water” will separate.
- without shaking the can, carefully open and spoon the thick cream from the top into a mixing bowl. Try not to get any of the water or translucent syrup.
- add other ingredients to coconut cream and whip until creamy and peaks form.

The coconut whipped cream is best used right after you make it. It has the consistency of Cool Whip. I found that it does keep in the fridge for a few days but loses its nice consistency and becomes a little more crumbly - however still delicious! I ate it on top of fruit and with ice cream - and believe me, I was sad when it was gone!

Oh man, has it been a while! Here are some photos of the things that have kept me busy over the past several months!

1. Finished homemade vanilla extract, bottled and labeled.

2. Duct tape wallet

3. Stuffed felt lion head, mounted

4. String/nail art

5. A sailor knot keychain

6. Decorated Jawbone Up band

7. Mini chalk board

8. Painted bottle to create a bud vase.

I’m going to try to update more often, and post some tutorials, too!

I apologize for the lack of posts… I’m in the midst of trying to move and I’m still getting over my illness from last week (turns out I’m really, really allergic to penicillin…)
I promise to continue posting as soon as things settle down for me! High-res

I apologize for the lack of posts… I’m in the midst of trying to move and I’m still getting over my illness from last week (turns out I’m really, really allergic to penicillin…)

I promise to continue posting as soon as things settle down for me!

Soup from Scratch

When I’m sick at home, there are few things that are comforting to me, some of which include a steamy shower, a hot tea toddy, and a fresh batch of soup. Today was one of those days, and since I had no soup in my pantry, I had to make some myself. From scratch.
I searched through my barren fridge to find a few, select ingredients that I thought could do, but I’ve never made soup from scratch before. I’m a recipe follower - so how would I know what tastes meld together well?
To my luck, I found this incredibly informative website that actually has some great suggestions - and confirmed that the ingredients I had would work beautifully. Yay, internet!
Here’s the information from the aforementioned website, Simple Bites:

1) Choose a type of fat
Your soup will (probably) need to start with some type of healthy fat, like butter or olive oil.  This is to sauté any root vegetables or other initial flavors.  Pick whatever you have on hand that will mesh well with your flavors.  (I’d choose olive oil if I wanted an “Italian” soup with a tomato base, and butter if I were making a cream soup; otherwise it’s a toss up.)
2) Choose your base
What do you have on hand?  Chicken, beef, or fish stock?  Tomato purée?  Cream or milk?  Choose one — or two.  Stock mixed with tomato purée is delicious, as is stock with milk.  Or even cream with tomato purée!  You choose the flavors you want.
3) Choose your meat
If you want meat, that is.  Is this a chicken soup?  Ground beef (like a chili, or made into meatballs)?  Steak?  Fish?  Choose whatever you like.  You’ll probably want this to match your base (beef with fish stock might not be such a great combination), but use what you have.  I’ve used chicken stock in place of beef stock with great results, especially if I also added tomato.
4) Choose your veggies
Onion is a pretty standard veggie because it imparts so much flavor.  Garlic, carrots, and celery are all fairly common too — though not always used.  There are also beans, potatoes, spinach, kale, corn, and so on.  Use whatever you have, and whatever you like!
5) Choose your spices
Sea salt and black pepper are your two most basic spices, so you will want to include them (well…at least the salt). Here are a few more popular flavor combinations.
Celery seed, marjoram, thyme, parsley, and sage go well with chicken.
Marjoram, rosemary and thyme go well with beef.
Basil, oregano or fennel can be a nice addition to tomato-based soups.
Chilis need chili powder and perhaps cumin.
Cream soups might benefit from a dash or parsley or thyme.
Method
Once you’ve decided on what ingredients to use, making soup is very simple:
Heat a large soup pot over medium heat
Sauté your aromatic vegetables (onion, garlic, celery, carrot) in your fat
Cook your meat if necessary (for example, stew beef)
Add your base (except milk or cream), veggies, meat, and spices
Taste and adjust
Allow to simmer for an hour or two
Taste and adjust again
Add any cream or milk just before serving and heat through

And here’s what I used:
Half of an onion, chopped
Half a carton of beef stock
2 frozen sausages, thawed, cooked, and sliced
3-4 small potatoes, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
A handful of baby carrots
About a tablespoon of tomato paste
Dash of sea salt
Dash of oregano
Dash of garlic powder
Dash of basil
Keep in mind that I don’t usually measure when I cook… so when I say “a dash” I would estimate 1/4 teaspoon, but definitely taste-test and adjust to your liking.
I put everything into my crock pot and cooked on high for 3-4 hours (until the potatoes and carrots were soft). You could also simmer in a covered pot over medium heat for 1-2 hours if you don’t want to use a crock pot. It might be a bit quicker, but I just love my crock pot…
The soup turned out great and definitely made me feel better with such minimal effort.
What soups from scratch have you made and loved? High-res

Soup from Scratch

When I’m sick at home, there are few things that are comforting to me, some of which include a steamy shower, a hot tea toddy, and a fresh batch of soup. Today was one of those days, and since I had no soup in my pantry, I had to make some myself. From scratch.

I searched through my barren fridge to find a few, select ingredients that I thought could do, but I’ve never made soup from scratch before. I’m a recipe follower - so how would I know what tastes meld together well?

To my luck, I found this incredibly informative website that actually has some great suggestions - and confirmed that the ingredients I had would work beautifully. Yay, internet!

Here’s the information from the aforementioned website, Simple Bites:

1) Choose a type of fat

Your soup will (probably) need to start with some type of healthy fat, like butter or olive oil.  This is to sauté any root vegetables or other initial flavors.  Pick whatever you have on hand that will mesh well with your flavors.  (I’d choose olive oil if I wanted an “Italian” soup with a tomato base, and butter if I were making a cream soup; otherwise it’s a toss up.)

2) Choose your base

What do you have on hand?  Chicken, beef, or fish stock?  Tomato purée?  Cream or milk?  Choose one — or two.  Stock mixed with tomato purée is delicious, as is stock with milk.  Or even cream with tomato purée!  You choose the flavors you want.

3) Choose your meat

If you want meat, that is.  Is this a chicken soup?  Ground beef (like a chili, or made into meatballs)?  Steak?  Fish?  Choose whatever you like.  You’ll probably want this to match your base (beef with fish stock might not be such a great combination), but use what you have.  I’ve used chicken stock in place of beef stock with great results, especially if I also added tomato.

4) Choose your veggies

Onion is a pretty standard veggie because it imparts so much flavor.  Garlic, carrots, and celery are all fairly common too — though not always used.  There are also beans, potatoes, spinach, kale, corn, and so on.  Use whatever you have, and whatever you like!

5) Choose your spices

Sea salt and black pepper are your two most basic spices, so you will want to include them (well…at least the salt). Here are a few more popular flavor combinations.

  • Celery seed, marjoram, thyme, parsley, and sage go well with chicken.
  • Marjoram, rosemary and thyme go well with beef.
  • Basil, oregano or fennel can be a nice addition to tomato-based soups.
  • Chilis need chili powder and perhaps cumin.
  • Cream soups might benefit from a dash or parsley or thyme.

Method

Once you’ve decided on what ingredients to use, making soup is very simple:

  1. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat
  2. Sauté your aromatic vegetables (onion, garlic, celery, carrot) in your fat
  3. Cook your meat if necessary (for example, stew beef)
  4. Add your base (except milk or cream), veggies, meat, and spices
  5. Taste and adjust
  6. Allow to simmer for an hour or two
  7. Taste and adjust again
  8. Add any cream or milk just before serving and heat through

And here’s what I used:

  • Half of an onion, chopped
  • Half a carton of beef stock
  • 2 frozen sausages, thawed, cooked, and sliced
  • 3-4 small potatoes, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • A handful of baby carrots
  • About a tablespoon of tomato paste
  • Dash of sea salt
  • Dash of oregano
  • Dash of garlic powder
  • Dash of basil

Keep in mind that I don’t usually measure when I cook… so when I say “a dash” I would estimate 1/4 teaspoon, but definitely taste-test and adjust to your liking.

I put everything into my crock pot and cooked on high for 3-4 hours (until the potatoes and carrots were soft). You could also simmer in a covered pot over medium heat for 1-2 hours if you don’t want to use a crock pot. It might be a bit quicker, but I just love my crock pot…

The soup turned out great and definitely made me feel better with such minimal effort.

What soups from scratch have you made and loved?

My new skin-care regimen

I’ve been reading quite a bit online about the healing benefits of raw honey. For instance, did you know it can be used on cuts to disinfect the wound? Cleopatra herself used to take baths in honey. I found this website (http://m.voices.yahoo.com/the-end-acne-finally-1031935.html) that actually talks about using honey as face wash, and how it kills the bacteria that causes acne and moisturizes the skin as well! 

I thought I’d give it a try: I’m ditching my current skin care regimen and replacing with honey for two weeks. Straight honey (about the size of a quarter) on the face in the morning, and honey + baking soda at night as an exfoliant & makeup remover. The website above also mentions using oatmeal powder to soothe/calm the skin, and coconut oil to moisturize. 

I’ll let you know how it goes in about 2 weeks! High-res

My new skin-care regimen

I’ve been reading quite a bit online about the healing benefits of raw honey. For instance, did you know it can be used on cuts to disinfect the wound? Cleopatra herself used to take baths in honey. I found this website (http://m.voices.yahoo.com/the-end-acne-finally-1031935.html) that actually talks about using honey as face wash, and how it kills the bacteria that causes acne and moisturizes the skin as well!

I thought I’d give it a try: I’m ditching my current skin care regimen and replacing with honey for two weeks. Straight honey (about the size of a quarter) on the face in the morning, and honey + baking soda at night as an exfoliant & makeup remover. The website above also mentions using oatmeal powder to soothe/calm the skin, and coconut oil to moisturize.

I’ll let you know how it goes in about 2 weeks!

Vanilla Sugar

Since making my own homemade vanilla extract (which is still aging, by the way), I’ve had a few extra vanilla beans hanging around.

One of the things I loved to do in college was make vanilla sugar - it was so easy and I could give it away as gifts in pretty jars. I love it in my tea, coffee, sprinkled over fruit, as dusting sugar when I bake… anywhere you use regular granulated sugar, you can use this delicious vanilla sugar instead.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 whole vanilla bean

This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled if you’re making gifts or just want a lot in your pantry.

1. First split the vanilla bean length wise, and use the blunt side of the knife to scrape out the seeds, and add the seeds to the sugar. Rub some sugar on the inside of the vanilla pod to get any remaining seeds out.

2. Toss, stir, or shake the sugar in a large container until well-combined. Add the whole vanilla pod to the sugar and store in an air-tight container for at least 2 weeks.

The sugar will absorb the flavor from the vanilla bean. It’s lovely!