Saturday, November 6, 2010

DIY Wine Bag

A good friend of mine was celebrating her 30th birthday at the local wineries this weekend. I wasn't able to go, but I did make a personalized birthday wine bag for her to carry around any bottles she might buy. Basically, I cut two rectangles of white fabric, and two slightly longer rectangles of grey fabric (longer b/c I wanted to fold over the grey for a border around the top), put the two "right" sides together, sewed three sides, leaving the top open, then turn it right side out. I then cut little felt triangles and sewed them together with embroidery thread and attached to the bag. I cut an "E" out of left over felt from my ring pillows, stitched it on, added a handle in the same grey fabric, and there you go....homemade wine bag! Add a bottle of wine and you have an inexpensive, stylish gift.

Next...a two bottle bag for serious wine drinkers.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Artisinal LA

Last weekend I made a trip to the fashion district in LA for Artisanal LA - a tasting event featuring local, handmade foods, drinks and crafts. The event was in the penthouse of the Cooper Building in downtown LA, a space that is home to various showrooms, designers, artists, etc. There was a fair share of jams, bacon spreads, chemical free honey, BBQ sauces, and cupcakes, but Chocovivo and SoNo mustard stood out above the rest. The salted almond chocolate and the cilantro lime mustard are worth trying and reasonably priced. Amazing building and view of downtown LA also!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Handcrafted Coffee Table

One of the benefits of dating a creative, artistic, handy guy is that he can build almost anything. While our taste is very Room & Board, CB2, and West Elm, our budget is very Ikea, Goodwill and Salvation Army. So, my boyfriend decided to build a coffee table and finally use the cool metal casters I found at the flea market last year. The workshop/garage area of our building is non-existent, so I made a coffee cake to bribe our friends to let us use their garage and tools for the day. The result...cute coffee table below! Great storage, easy to move around and very modern. I love it!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Easy Raspberry Cobbler

This is not exactly made from scratch, but it's really good and easy to make for a last minute dessert.

1 Box Yellow cake mix
2 Cans Raspberry pie filling
1 Stick Butter

Pour pie filling in a 13x9 inch pan. Pour the cake mix over the pie filling (no need to smooth out, lumps are OK). Melt the butter and drizzle over the cake mix. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Also, notice the new china! My boyfriend has tried to impose a "one in, one out" rule to keep the flea market finds under control, but I couldn't pass this up. A full 12 piece set of china including dinner plates, dessert plates, cups, saucers, creamer, gravy boat, 3 platters, etc. for $80 at the Long Beach Flea Market! It was $100, plus $20 for each platter, but, I am a master negotiator (and, as I learned later, the top two buttons of my shirt had come undone which may have helped) and was able to talk him down to $80! Timeless, not too feminine, and a full set for about the cost of a new sugar bowl on any wedding registry....such a great find!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Another Ring Pillow

The color inspiration for this ring pillow came from the wedding invitation and the new Martha Stewart paint colors. I used felt on the last ring pillow which is really easy to work with and the edges don't fray, but the color choices are usually very limited, bright and bold. I was looking for more muted tones so I decided to go with linen, canvas and duck cloth. I used felt to cut out the letters and hand stitched them on to the linen pillow. It was so fun to make and I love the way it turned out! A few more of these and I'll have to open an Etsy store!

Shelves Before and After

Anyone that has ever been to any of my apartments in the last 10 years has seen these shelves. They are a little worn, but I can't seem to bring myself to getting rid of them. I've been looking for shelves for the kitchen to put my cookbooks on and decided to give the old shelves a makeover. This is the area I was thinking they could go...
I can't decide if they are cute or not? I'm still debating if I should put them up or look for new shelves.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I just finished A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg a few weeks ago and loved it! The best food journal, cookbook, diary, romance novel, or whatever else you want to call it. I can't stop re-reading it, planning meals, looking up specific restaurants she referenced and trying the recipes. I probably make the caramelized cauliflower with salsa verde about once a week. So, I decided to take a break from her recipes and try a new granola recipe I found in the June issue of Bon Appettit magazine. It wasn't until after I made it that I realized the recipe and article were written by....Molly Wizenberg!

I've been hugging trees and making granola for a while now, but this is the best recipe I've found.
3 cups old fashion oats
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (I omitted this)
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I use a little more)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup assorted dried fruit (I don't care for dried fruit in my granola, so I left this out)

I added flax seed and walnuts and left out the fruit.

1. Preheat oven to 300. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Mix first 7 ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Stir honey and oil in a pan until smooth.
4. Pour honey over oat mixture and toss.
5. Spread on a baking sheet and bake until golden, about 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
6. Let cool. Mix in fruit. Enjoy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ginger Cilantro Rice

This recipe is from the June issue of Bon Appetit. It is meant as a side dish but I added some roasted some brussel sprouts and carrots and made it a full meal. It's easy and really good!
1 cup long grain white rice (I used brown rice)
2 inch long piece of fresh ginger, peeled, and cut into rounds (not too small b/c you will be removing them later), plus 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 2/3 cups low salt chicken broth
1 1/3 cups chopped fresh cilantro
1 green onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1 teaspoon (or more) rice vinegar


1. Combine rice and ginger rounds in a large saucepan.
2. Add broth, and sprinkle with salt
3. Bring to boil, stirring often.
4. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until rice is tender and broth is absorbed, about 18 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, combine chopped cilantro, green onion, and minced ginger in food processor. Add both oils and vinegar (I didn't have sesame oil and used olive oil instead and it turned out fine).
6. Season with salt and pepper.
7. When rice is cooked, remove from heat. Remove ginger rounds, and mix in cilantro mixture.

I added chopped carrots and cooked them with the rice. Delicious.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ring Pillow

A few months ago, Design Sponge featured really cute, handmade ring pillows, and I've been waiting for an opportunity to make one. See my first attempt below that I made last night for a co-worker. As most crafting projects I take on seem to go, it took a lot longer than I thought to make all the flowers and sew them on, but it was relatively easy.

The felt color selection was very limited at JoAnne Fabrics, so I tried to work with what they had, but I'll have to ask my New York connections to make a stop at Tinsel Trading Company to get the premium felt and pre-made flowers if I do this again!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fabric Flower Gift Wrap

Although I'm not planning a wedding of my own, I still love to visit Once Wed for cute craft and decorating ideas. Last year there was a DIY project for fabric flower garland. I took the fabric flower idea to wrap a bridal shower gift I went to last weekend. You will need: fabric, scissors, needle and thread and something to trace the circles. Cut six fabric circles. Fold in half, and in half again. Thread through all the corners as shown.
Once you have all six flowers on the needle, pull through and pull both ends of the thread tight and tie a double knot.
When you pull the two ends of the thread together a ball will form. You may need to adjust the pedals a little bit and spread them out to make a full flower. Once Wed post suggests sewing the pedals together, but I didn't and it turned out fine.
The tissue paper wasn't big enough to cover the box, so I staggered the paper about a half inch apart and taped it between layers so the tape didn't show. Attach the flower with thread, tape, glue, or however else you like, and voila! A cute package without spending any money. Just fabric scraps and leftover tissue paper.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

David Sedaris

Last night my boyfriend and I went to see the smart and funny David Sedaris. I love his books, love listening to him on NPR and always wanted to go see him live, so I was very excited to get tickets for my birthday!

First, we stopped at a really cute, new wine bar that just opened down the street and had a glass of wine and tasty mixed bar nuts. When I ordered them I was expecting a glass bowl filled with generic mixed nuts from a warehouse store, but these were delicious! I'm not sure how much of each ingredient to use or how long to toast them for, but they were a good assortment of nuts, mixed with brown sugar, cayenne pepper, salt and rosemary. The rosemary and the cayenne pepper together was so good! The dark chocolate on the plate was a perfect addition.
After the wine bar, we walked down the street to the performing arts center and there was David, happily signing books in the lobby. All 5ft. 2 of him. OK, I didn't measure, but he seemed really mini and cute and was really nice to everyone in line. I brought a book just in case I had a chance to talk to him. As I walked up to the line, the security guard told me he had just cut the line off. I begged and pleaded and asked in several different ways but he held his ground and would not let me get in line. I waited 1o minutes and asked again. He said, "If you get in line, I am not going to physically remove you, so...". I took that as a yes and got in line.
I was the last person so it was a little rushed, but I gave him my book and he asked me what my favorite animal was. I said "dog" and then felt dumb because I'm sure 38 other people gave the same response. He drew a dog, looked at it and said, "Well that isn't very good. Hmmm......Oh, I know, I'll make it a dog that is bleeding from the anus," and added red dots to the dog's rear end. He then rushed off and reappeared 5 minutes later on stage. A fork lift dropped him off at the podium. He is wacky and his sister is wackier, but I love the Sedaris'!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Templeton Rye

I realize this blog needs some work. The pictures are dark and not very good (I passed on the $900 blogger photo class by food stylist and local Long Beach resident Matt Armendariz a few months ago) , the before and after projects are few and far between, and the last few meals I've made were not blog worthy, hence the sporadic posting, but.....despite all that, I still have the best followers in blog world!

You may remember the Whiskey 101 post a while back. In the comment section I mentioned to one of my Midwest followers that we can't get Templeton Rye (only sold in Illinois and Iowa) in California. And look what showed up in the mail yesterday! Modern day bootlegging! I love it! Can't wait to try it at the next whiskey club in May!
Interesting factoid: The term bootlegging comes from the prohibition era when people would hide flasks of alcohol in the legging of their boot. Maybe everyone knows that, but I just read it and thought it was interesting.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Birthday Gifts

A couple weeks ago I celebrated my birthday with a few friends at a farmer's market picnic. Good food, several bottles of wine, an ice cream cake, and lots of cute gifts! My friends apparently know me very well! Gifts included McClure's pickles, a marble mortar and pestle, ceramic measuring cups and spoons, a personal embosser stamp and a really cute blue hand mixer! The pickles are good but very spicy! You will need some relief for your mouth mid way through eating one. I've never had a pickle that needed a chaser, but these do. Prepare a few slices of cheese and possibly a beer to help you get through it. For those of us not lucky enough to live in Brooklyn or Detroit (OK, just Brooklyn), you can now pick up a jar at some William's Sonoma stores.

I was so excited to receive the hand mixer before KitchenAid discontinued that cute blue color. I did not act fast enough for the stand up mixer in the same color though. Maybe it's for the better. The things I was making with my old mixer before it blew up were not doing my waste line any favors...compound butter, cookies, whipped cream, cream pies, etc.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Candied Carrots

These carrots are delicious and almost impossible to screw up. My brother has been making these for years and I think he got the recipe from Martha Stewart but I'm not sure, and I don't have any measurements. Cut about a pound of carrots or so into 1/2 inch circles. Add carrots, a cup of water, butter (about 1-2 tablespoons), brown sugar (I use about 1/4 cup), a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of pepper and a 1/2 teaspoon or so of cinnamon and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until done. Add more salt, pepper or sugar (or any of the other ingredients) to taste. They are delicious, cheap and so easy! A friend of mine invited a new suitor over to her apartment for dinner and made these carrots. The suitor said they were the best vegetable he ever had. He then had to leave for his late night shrink appointment(true story). They never did go out again, but the facts remain, that they are still the best vegetables ever.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


A friend of mine just came back from a vacation in Tignes, France and brought me back this cute little jar of honey. I love the European food labels! They are so simple and cute. I was in Brussels a few years ago and came across this cute little honey store and had to take a picture. I love little specialty shops like this!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Walla Walla, WA

The stars have not aligned in my favor this week as my boyfriend is in Walla Walla, WA for a wedding and I am here at home. Walla Walla is in the south east corner of Washington and has been featured in several magazines in the past few years for its adorable Main St., great restaurants and wineries. I did have a chance to go last summer and fell in love! It is so cute and there are so many things to do. Most of them have to do with eating fresh fruit, fine cuisine and drinking wine, so it's almost impossible not to enjoy yourself!

The family wheat farm.
The beautiful family farm house built around 1905 overlooking the wheat fields.
The groom is the pastry chef at the best restaurant in town , Whitehouse Crawford. I'm missing a dessert reception for a pastry chef's wedding. Upsetting.
Another wheat farm.
Another fantastic restaurant, Brasserie Four! I had the most delicious quiche with caramelized Walla Walla onions and best chocolate souffle with fresh raspberries. I love the french bar stools also!
The wine industry is relatively new and is booming now that the grapes are in their 10th year. A few of the wineries have been open for a while but they were using grapes from the Colombia Valley, not local Walla Walla vines, until recently. The winery below is in an old French school house, hence the name L'Ecole, which means "the school" in French.

If you are ever in Washington, make a side trip here. Or make an entire vacation out of it!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Ginger Chicken and Crispy Sesame-Crusted Brussels Sprouts

It is only when Native Midwesterners move to other states and enjoy colorful, cooked vegetables full of life, can they crack jokes about the grey, limp counterparts they grew up on. They will say things like, "The broccoli is almost done, let's put the turkey on!" And then they all laugh and reminisce about grey asparagus and broccoli of Christmas past. So, growing up with Midwestern parents and bad vegetable stories, I didn't think I liked brussels sprouts. But, they have have become my new favorite vegetable. For one, they are about $1.99 at Trader Joe's, two, they are on the very short list of fruits and vegetables my boyfriend really likes, and three, really easy to make and delicious. I normally roast them in the oven with a little salt and pepper for about 30-45 minutes around 425 degrees, but I found a good recipe for Crispy Sesame-Crusted Brussels Sprouts in Rachel Ray Everyday while at the hair salon last week. They are easy and really good.
6 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds brussels spouts, halved
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper
3 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1. Cut sprouts in half. Melt the butter, sesame and vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
2. Add the crushed red pepper and season with salt and pepper.
3. Cook, stirring frequently until golden brown. Recipe says 25 minutes but I cooked for less.
4. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and cook until the brussels sprouts are dark brown and crunchy, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.
To go with brussels sprouts, I made chicken and brown rice. This basting sauce is delicious and so easy!

Ginger Basting Sauce for Chicken
3/4 Cup brown sugar (yes, that much)
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons minced ginger root
3 cloves garlic
1/4 Cup wine vinegar
1/3 Cup soy sauce

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Marinate chicken for an hour, stirring frequently. Cook however you like. In the oven, BBQ, etc.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

On the search for bread recipes that don't require a stand up mixer, I was excited to read A Slice of Ireland in the March issue of Bon Appetit magazine. I've never had soda bread, but the pictures looked so good so I tried it. It was delicious, but more like a giant biscuit than a slice of bread. Great for breakfast! Eat while it's still warm, with lots of butter and jam if you have it.

Mrs. O'Callaghan's Soda Bread - Ballinalacken Castle Country House & Restaurant

3 cups all purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled margarine or butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a heavy baking sheet with nonstick spray.
2. Whisk both flours, sugar and baking soda in a medium bowl to blend.
3. Add butter and cut until butter is reduced to pea-size pieces.
4. Add buttermilk, stir until shaggy dough forms.
5. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until dough comes together, about 10 turns. Shape dough into 7 inch round.
6. Place dough on prepared baking sheet. Cut a large X, 1/2 inch deep, in top of dough.
7. Bake bread until deep brown and bottom sounds hollow when firmly tapped, about 40 minutes. Transfer bread to rack and cool completely.

The picture in the magazine shows the bread in a baking sheet about 2 inches deep, but the recipe says to shape in a 7 inch round, which is what I did but the center was not cooked all the way. I will make this again, but will press into a baking sheet as the picture shows, rather than a round. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pizza Sauce and Lee & Perrins Aioli

All I could manage to get together this week was a snack platter, pizza and a not so good lemon/parmesan/spaghetti dinner that's not worth posting. And, I think there may have been an entire meal of peanut butter fingers in there somewhere as well. I found a good recipe online for pizza sauce and usually keep a few containers in the freezer for nights I feel like a quick, easy meal.

Pizza Sauce Recipe from
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1 garlic clove
1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 small bay leaf
1 teaspoon fennel seed (I usually skip this and it's fine)

1. In large skillet, melt butter and oil. Add the onion, celery and garlic and saute until soft and transparent.
2. Add tomato sauce and tomato paste and stir until smooth.
3. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a slow simmer. Simmer 30-60 minutes
4. Remove bay leaf and spread on pizza. Or let cool and freeze.

Walt's Wharf is a really good seafood restaurant in Seal Beach, CA that serves the best oak grilled artichokes and dipping sauce (Lea & Perrins Aioli). They had the recipe online for a while but have since removed it. Here it is...

Mix together and chill: 1/4 cup sesame oil, 1/4 cup olive oil, 3 Tablespoons honey, 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, 2 Tablespoons season salt, 1 cup mayonnaise and 2-3 oz of Worcestershire sauce. I usually skip the sesame oil and use kosher salt instead of season salt.

Also on the snack platter, granny smith apples, hummus, fig spread, brie, gruyere, white cheddar, olives and homemade pita chips. To make the pita chips, cut whole wheat or regular pita bread in triangles, brush with olive oil on both sides, and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for about 12 minutes (after 6 minutes, remove from oven, flip triangles over and put back in the oven) at 350. I got the cute platter for $.50 at a vintage store on 4th St. in Long Beach, aka "retro row". It was missing the tile, but $1 and a trip to Home Depot solved that!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Peanut Butter Fingers

I have a deep love for all things peanut butter, and had some free time, so today I made Peanut Butter Fingers from my Grandma's Lutheran Laymen's League Mixed Group Cookie Cookbook. I don't know how old it is but many recipes call for Oleo, all of the women on the cookbook committee signed their name using their husbands name (Mrs. William Smith, etc.) and it was typed with an old typewriter font, so I'm guessing it's at least 50 years old. I followed the directions exactly and it was good, but there are a few things I would do different next time. Cream together:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
Blend in:
1 egg
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 tsp. soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Stir in:
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
Spread in a 13" x 9" greased pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with small bag of chocolate chips. Let stand for 5 minutes to melt and spread with a knife. I made toffee squares a few weeks ago and melted a larger Hershey bar over the top which would work well here also.
Mix together:
1/2 cup powdered sugar (I used more)
1/4 cup peanut butter
2-4 Tablespoons of milk
Drizzle over the top. I think the peanut butter/powdered sugar mixture is great, but I think it adds too much peanut butter to the cookies. It would be much better on a cupcake as frosting, not on this cookie. You don't need a pastry blender (pictured below), I just don't have an electric mixer.
I think the peanut butter with the oatmeal is a really nice mix! I would hold the frosting though and use it for cupcakes.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day Trip: Venice, CA

Venice Beach, CA. Thirty miles north of Long Beach, 15 miles West of LA and the epicenter of all things trendy, artsy, eco friendly, creative, cute and funky! I didn't have a lightning bolt tattoo on my neck, a pierced nose or a hairless dog so I didn't quite fit in, but we had so much fun! The purpose of the trip today (other than to enjoy the sunny 70 degree weather) was to go to Intelligentsia Coffee. I paid a visit to the Chicago store last summer but only got a coffee to go, so I wanted to go to the Venice store to get a pound of beans to take home. First we stopped at the super trendy Nom Nom truck for lunch. (See the March 2010 issue of Sunset Magazine to bring yourself up to speed on the food truck craze/revolution if you are not already familiar. See pg. 24 and 36).
Delicious $5 BBQ pork sandwich.
After lunch at the food cart, we headed to Intellegentsia. We listened to the DJ spinning a club mix in the back of shop, drank our Americanos (a suggestion from our hipster, lighting bolt tattooed barista), admired the decor of all natural materials, and eaves dropped on conversations of the Venice social scene and, we are squares! Or at least I did.
Cool succulent wall and funky benches in front of the coffee shop.
Every shop was adorable and full of creative inspiration, but Floral Art was one of my favorite. I asked if I could take a picture inside but the salesperson politely said no, so I snapped one of the outside. Everything was way over my budget but a good place for ideas for arrangements and vases.
Another cute store, Urbanic Paper. Check out their blog, so cute! I had to limit myself to a few sheets of card stock and matching envelopes, but I really wanted to get the Wallpaper Projects book. Next time you are in So Cal, plan a day for walking around Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice, just make sure to stop at American Apparel first.

Friday, February 26, 2010

New Tea Towels and Cute Portland Store!

Two exciting things happened today. 1) I got the new tea towels I bought on eBay for $4! and 2) I cut my hair short for the first time in 10 years! The last time I did anything other than long, parted on the side, blonde and wavy was when I had a frizzy version of "The Rachel" in college. Few people can pull off the same look for a decade. Claudia Schiffer is the only one I can think of. I on the other hand, needed a change. I was afraid I was going to back out and suddenly found myself wishing I had made the appointment at one of those fancy salons that serves wine and cocktails for a little liquid courage in the chair. But, I managed without.

I only have one cute tea towel that I got at an adorable store in Portland, OR last summer and every time I read a recipe that suggests I squeeze excess water from vegetables, etc. in a tea towel, I can't bring myself to do it. So I thought I would buy cheap tea towels that I didn't care about and then I wouldn't mind if they were gross and zucchini stained.
New eBay towels
Every time I read about a cute restaurant, or store, or cool travel destination, I save the article and keep it in a folder and wait for the day that I can go there. Yes, friends make fun of me when I pull out my reference book of things I love, but it has served me well over the years. An article about Tilde was in my book and I was so excited to be able to check one thing off in the list! I got this cute tea towel made by the stylish Euro company Ferm Living. Check out their website, they have the cutest pillows and wall stickers! I am still trying to convince my boyfriend we need a wall sticker to complete our place. He will come around I'm sure.
My Ferm Living towel.
Garden State, the famous Portland food cart that has been featured in Sunset magazine, on Food Network, etc., is just down the block. Sellwood is the cutest neighborhood!
Garden State