Friday, December 31, 2010

What I did in 2010
. Got engaged to my main squeeze 
. Planned and executed a DIY wedding in Palm Springs 
. Decided to seriously focus on my hobbies as a business
. Etsy became my friend
. Guerrilla gardened all over Long Beach
. Adopted a sweet greyhound, Lola, from the Tijuana racetrack
.Made the decision to move north in the next couple of years (Nor Cal or Oregon)
. Dinner parties x10

What I want to do in 2011
.Read more, watch Bravo less 
.Expand on my Etsy/Craigslist selling
.Take advantage of the lovely outdoors around my house and bike/walk daily
.Budget, budget, budget and save for the future
.Small travel trips around the US and a large trip to Peru
.Grow our family from 2 to 3, sorry lola, i meant 4
.Visit my family more often

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

sequin season

ASOS mixed embellished tunic dress

Parker sequined jacket LOVE
sequin and silk blazer by TT Collection
this lovely number from the english company asos
and the back truly sold me
who would have guessed this hot number came from victoria's secret?! 
love these ABS gunsteel sequin leggings with a simple top and blazer
another gold number ala antik batik can you guess what one of my favorite colors is?!

a new purse for a new year

the smell of this purse is divine.  can you smell it through your screen?  i sent N a link to this baby months ago, hinting i'd like it as a christmas present.  and then i forgot about it.  well not was deep in the back of my mind but i didn't think this handmade leather beauty would soon be mine.  and what a surprise as i was greeted by it under the tree!  perfecto and so "me".  one gift that you really wanted vs. twenty that you didn't...makes everything good. thank you love for always paying attention to the details.

twas the night...or two...before christmas

lola ready to par-tay

guava mojito with yohimbe extract

bingo gifts ready to be won

south africa in the house

england in the house
frozen peppermint cake

smoked paprika deviled eggs with fried shallots

i want to rip that lamp/fan out of the ceiling.  UG.  if this wasn't a rental and if it didn't get so hot up here in the summer, i'd smash it to pieces. 

cheers to an eventful 2010.  we are looking forward to bigger and better things in 2011.  may there be more adventures, FUN, travel and growth!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

my christmas wish

my dad and i, chirstmas morning 1980

my dad has had a long road of "recovery" since his stroke 10 years ago.  for all of the strides he's made, he's had his fair share of setbacks.  many of these setbacks have been his own doing; the reasoning part of his brain was severely injured during the stroke.  his judgement and decision making skills are lacking which can lead to problems galore.  he's also had some plain horrible luck thrown in to this nasty mix.

two months ago he was hit by a car while crossing the street on his scooter.  the woman driving wasn't paying attention and plowed into him.  i have no idea how he walked away from this one, but he did.  his scooter was busted but he left the scene without a scratch, just his shaken nerves.

last sunday, he was on his scooter, cruising to get some food when he drove straight into an open hole in the ground.  a 6 foot hole.  he went head first, landing on a bunch of pipes below with his 100+lb. scooter landing on top of him.  this was a hole made by the city to fix some gas lines.  the workers left the hole open while they lunched at the taco cart.   once again, i'm amazed he didn't crack his head open...or much worse.  he is quite injured and hasn't slept much since this event.  he's suffering from horrible nightmares along with some severe pain throughout his body.

on one hand, i guess he has some of the best luck around.  he's survived two serious accidents in less than 3 months but also, i wish someone would cut this guy some slack.  enough is enough.  i hope 2011 brings him an accident free year.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

caramelized, spiced pear butter

my grandma was known in our family for her delicious seasonal pear butter. it was something that was savored until the last scrap in the bottom of the jar. typically we'd eat it on toast but sometimes a spoonful would do the trick too.

the secret to this recipe is caramelizing the sugar before the pears are added. caramel+ pear butter? TOGETHER?! it's EASY to make, uses few ingredients and makes a fantastic gift. grandma stroup would be proud i'm keeping this baby alive.
Wash the 15 bartlett pears but do not peel or core them; slice pears into a heavy saucepan (at least 5-quart size). Add 2c. water, cover and cook until tender (about 30 minutes).  

Remove from heat and press the pears through a colander or a food mill.  Measure the pear pulp (you should have about 8 cups) and return to the pan. Dump the excess skin and big bits of pear that don't go through the colander. 

Using a frying pan, heat 1 1/2 cups of sugar, stirring until it melts and caramelizes to a medium brown color. This is the trick to giving it a wonderful depth of flavor and caramelness.  Pour immediately into the pear pulp (the syrup will sizzle and harden, but dissolve again as the preserves cook

Add the 4c. sugar, 1t. ground cloves (i used about 6 whole since i didn't have ground), 1 1/2t. ground cinnamon, and 1/2t. ginger. Cook uncovered on medium, stirring frequently as it begins to thicken to prevent it from sticking (about 45 minutes) Stir in 2T. lemon juice just before removing from heat.  

Pour hot mixture into steralized 1/2 pint jars, put on lid tightly.  (i used old jam jars we've been collecting.)  Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  (i skipped this part.  this makes the pear butter last longer and able to store out of the refrigerator.  i'm going to just make sure the recipients are told to keep it in the fridge.)

this recipe yields 9 1/2 pints

DELICIOUS on some good bread, toasted with cream cheese.  my grandma's pear butter is very smooth.  this recipe makes a chunkier version.  i ended up blended some with a hand food blender for a smooth batch and left the other half chunkier.  i'm a fan of the smooth, the hubs is a fan of the more jam like texture.  take your pick!  

Friday, December 3, 2010

$12 and $2 hollers

this baby was priced at $24 which is WAY over my thrift budget for such an item but once i googled it and found a similar one online for $395...but on sale for $197.95....well hello there!  i went for it.  thursday was my lucky day.  red tag sale: 1/2 off.  $12 holler! all leather, unique style rad brass closure in the front.

this $2 hot little number was also another i couldn't pass up.  great style, great condition...SOLD.

food mill anyone?  this single serving food mill caught my eye on the shelf and all for $1.95.  just when i was talking such trash about nothing being at the thrifts this time of the year, wham! bam! thank you mam..
this is where vegetables go to die

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

happy chanukah!

i'm not jewish, but i seem to gravitate towards jewish friends.  i've always enjoyed their culture... especially the food.  we recently had a cool couple move downstairs with their young daughter and they happen to be, that's right, jewish!  since i have so many succulents left from the wedding, i decided to give them a pot full to welcome this special night.  i was then given a gift from their daughter evie.  she drew me and nello on her new dry erase board.  it was one big circle with a smile.  awesome.

and now our non-jewish meal for the night: leftover turkey...turned into a pot pie.  my mom sent me a magazine clipping of a swanson chicken broth recipe for turkey pot pie but it was, well very middle america.  frozen veg, no fresh herbs, not a lot of imagination.  but i DID like that they used puff pastry for the top.  i took this idea and ran with it:

my motto is use what you've got.  cooking should be easy and always has room for imagination and experimentation. if flavor combos don't work together, well you won't combine those in the future!

Long Beach Leftover Turkey Pot Pie

in a large pan, saute about 2 c. frozen pearl onions (or white if you don't have pearl) with about 3 T. olive oil.  once these are starting to get some color, add a basket of sliced crimini mushrooms (trader joes). continue to saute these two, gaining more color.  add one large shallot, finely chopped, 3 sprigs of fresh thyme-leaves only and 2-3 chopped sage leaves.

while this browns, peel and thinly slice one large carrot.  also cute one large potato into small cubes...about the size of large peas. add both of these babies to the pan and season with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. you might need to deglaze the pan with some white wine if it's starting to get dried and crunchy on the boom like mine was.  plus this adds fabulous flavor. i'd say add about 3/4c.  stir occasionally and cook for about 5 min until everything in the pan is browning nicely.  lastly add your turkey to the party.  add as much or as little as you want.  we had about a cup of breast meat and about 1/2 c. of dark meat.  i cubed some, ripped some...get wild.

since we had leftover turkey gravy, i added that to the batch as well...about a ladle full or 1 cup.  i then added about 1 c. of milk, anything but non-fat will do.  you want the full flavor and consistency.  mix and cook this down until the liquid reduces by half.  wa-la!  you are done....well the "hard part" at least.
if you're wondering what's in that jar with the black liquid in the's my christmas gift to friends.  i hope it's ready in time. 

let this cool a bit and transfer to a 9 in baking dish.  trader joes sells puff pastry squares in the frozen section... conveniently 9in. square! i told you this was easy.  you don't need to defrost, just rest on top of the turkey mixture, it will quickly soften.  cut an X in the middle with a knife to give this pie some room to breath!

whisk one egg and brush on top of the puff daddy.  you'll only use about a 1/4 so save the rest for breakfast tomorrow.  chop some extra thyme and sage for the top.

bake in the oven @ 400* for about 40 min or until the top is nice and golden brown.

this baby was GOOD.  like real good.  one to keep for the records for sure.  enjoy.