Saturday, December 28, 2013


2013 has been a wonderful year, full of adventures, musical birthday celebrations, travel to south east asia, a new home, job and car, and of course and most importantly a circle of friends and family who have supported me in making 2013 a year of living every moment to the fullest.

After taking a break from blogging the past few months, I was discouraged to come back to my blog and see where I had left off. The first thing I noticed was my post count stating that I had posted 18 posts in 2013 -how freaking exciting! I know that they haven't been regular or organized or always complete (but now I have something to work on in 2014) but that is very impressive to me. I am looking forward to a new year filled with creativity. I plan to better documents my artistic endeavors and expand into new mediums including adding poetry and short story to my blog. 
Bagan, Myanmar in November 2013

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Simple Leather Wallet

I have always had an eye for leather purses and wallets, really of all shapes and sizes. Inspired by a friend of a friends handmade leather wallet and her claims of how easy and simple it was to sew together. I promptly took a trip to the local leather shop, Leatherwise, to see what inexpensive scraps I could find to create something on my own.  I found myself in heaven. Leather Wise carries all types of leather and the selection of scraps was just what I needed.

Stitching together the wallet after pre 'poking' holes with the Awl

I ended up taking home two squares of leather and choose to begin with a very simple wallet. I needed to purchase a few tools for proper assembling including an Awl-to pre 'poke' holes in the leather, and a setter-to attach the front snap. I already had a large sewing needle and thick thread.

Finished product, top wallet lined with cotton print
 To add a pop of color my mom gave me the idea of lining the interior of one of the wallets with a cotton fabric. 
I am extremely happy with how these turned out and have plans for several more leather pieces, including a larger purse. These simple wallets have been very handy, to cary cash at the farmer's market and as a chic checkbook holder.

Close up of interior

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Gourmet Dining

So far the month of July has been filled with amazing gourmet food from several amazing restaurants around the bay area. I have been feeling like a spoiled piglet but have embraced each meal and enjoyed every experience. My taste buds have definitely become accustomed to these decadent meals, and my standard homemade quinoa salad last night did not taste as good a usual.... 
Phillip, Me, and Mom, left to right, top to bottom, anticipating tacos and beer, tacos and beer and zinnias from my backyard garden
 July 1, 2013 began with a trip to Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery where we enjoyed there Monday Happy Hour with $1.00 off beers. We selected the SCMB IPA and Wilder Wheat to pair with Fish Tacos delivered from Kelly's French Bakery around the corner, hands down the best fish tacos I have ever experienced. Enjoyed in the small beer garden of SCMB, with the smell of the fresh ocean air of Santa Cruz, CA.  
Close up of double scoop in house waffle cone, mint chip and green tea, bottom to top
Later that week I landed at my all time favorite dessert shop The Penny Ice Cremery, where we indulged in a double scoop of Fresh Mint Chip and Green Tea. The Penny Ice specializes in high end, gourmet, small batch ice cream with ingredients from local farms. The mint chip contained actual pieces of fresh mint leaves and the green tea was absolutely to die for. They also are the only ice cream shop to be license  to pasteurize all their own milk. 

Goods, Me, Phillip, left to right, sitting on a bench in front of the Cheese Board Collective rationing
 On a spur of the moment trip to Berkeley we decided to go all out. Beginning the day with a stop at the The Cheese Board Collective where we sampled Rosemary Foccacia, Sourdough Baguette, Wisconsin Blue Cheese, Corn-Cherry Scone, Ginger Cookie, & Chocolate Chip Cookie and coffee from Philz Coffee. I was quite excited to try all of our tasty treats and got a bit territorial wile rationing the goods. 
Artsy menu, drinks, pizza and filet mignon, left to right
Chez Panisse Cafe had one reservation for 9:45 p.m. and we didn't think twice in booking the reservation. We would have loved to eat in the restaurant, obviously, but decided to start with the cafe and to stick with something of budget.....ha...... the average meal in the cafe is $30-$50 per person. 

We started with drinks around 9:15 at the bar selecting a Farmhouse Ale and a Napa Valley Zinfandel both made especially for Chez Panisse. Dinner began with a Corn Zucchini Blossom soup and a Squab (pigeon!) Beet Salad and followed with a Fennel Sausage Pizza and the most perfect filet mignon and potato crisps. This meal was worth every minute and bit and I hope someday for some special occasion I get to go back and eat downstairs!
 I hope you enjoyed this post and I encourage all you foodies and non foodies to check out these great spots, every dollar is worth every bit! Here are some links to other delicious spots I recommend checking out and stay tuned for more eatery reviews... this has been quite fun.

Buttery Bakery- Sandwiches, breads and pastries are all amazing. Santa Cruz, CA
Gayles Bakery- Cakes and pastries. Santa Cruz, CA
Chaam Berkeley- Thai everything is excellent. Berkeley, CA
Lillian's Italian Kitchen- Pesto and Prawns, Lasagna, Polenta. Santa Cruz, CA

Friday, June 28, 2013

What I'll be wearing this weekend....Happy Friday

Bright V-Neck T's & Do It Yourself Circle Scarves
This week at the Gap I scored when finding a sale on basic v-neck t-shirts in bright summer colors, $10.00 each! I paired these basic comfy T's with Do It Yourself circle scarves. Since I am totally against wearing anything remotely uncomfortable ever this is perfect for me to throw on for work....pretend it is business casual... Also a great outfit for a morning coffee date or farmers market run usually paired with jeans, yoga pants or a neutral summer skirt.
 I made these circle scarves last fall with my sister and friend. Another easy, simple, and cheap do it yourself project. I used 1/4 - 1/2 a yard (depending on how full I wanted the scarf to be) of cotton stretch spandex. The blue scarf is 1/2 yard and black/white stripe is 1/4 yard. The fabric was between $6.00-$10.00 per yard. I sewed the fabric long way first into a tube with a sewing machine and then hand sewed the tub together creating a circle tube. So easy! I already have 4 of my own and made a couple more as gifts for friends. Happy Friday!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Colorful Hair Ties

Although I have made the claim before, this is the easiest do it yourself project EVER. Over the past few years I have seen these cute hair ties in several salons and boutiques  There are so freaking cute, in all different colors and patterns including tie dye and stripes. The average cost I have found to be about $1.00 (+) each, affordable for one but definitely not to purchase the entire collections. These are perfect to match with an outfit or to spice one up and can keep you looking fashionable while working out. They are also really great for the health of your hair because it is more difficult to damage and break your hair while using these soft elastic ties.
How to? I was able to find this stretchy material ribbon at my local fabric store Hearts Fabric, so check yours or go online and place an order. Cut pieces of the elastic ribbon to your desired length and tie! Great addition to a birthday gift. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Seven Salads

One - Quinoa Fennel 

Key ingredients are quinoa and thinly sliced fennel bulb. Incorporating a grain into your salad can be an easy yet amazing transformation for a salad. I use warm grains, on fresh salads to lightly steam and soften the fresh veggies or chilled grains to add additional crunch, especially during the warmer months. I highly recommend adding fennel bulb into your salad regiment, it also can be grilled or sauteed in olive oil for a warm salad topping, a refreshing substitute to onions! Other ingredients featured are avocado, thinly sliced baby red cabbage, red bell pepper, butter head lettuce, Bragg's Liquid Aminos, olive oil, lemon.

 Two - Yellow Beet Parmesan 

Key ingredient is the grated beet, the sweet beet juices are combined with a balsamic vinegar and Parmesan cheese. Several types of greens were mixed for the base of this salad including fennel leaves, arugula, mustard greens, butter head lettuce, chopped leeks, lemon, and olive oil. 

Three - Pea Shoot with Mustard & Dandelion Green

Key ingredient is the sauteed mustard greens and Dandelion greens which add bitterness and spice combined with the sweet sauteed pea shoots. Lightly sauteed in olive oil and garlic and arranged upon a bed of fresh mixed greens (baby lettuce, fennel, arugula) and blossoms. Dressed with Meyer Lemon and coarse sea salt.

 Four - Rainbow Chard-Sunflower Sprout-Tahini 

Key ingredients are steamed rainbow chard chopped and cooled. Fresh sunflower sprouts, avocado, steamed and cooled sweet potato, red cabbage, parsley, cilantro, mint, fennel. Dressed in a homemade Tahini dressing-sesame butter, olive oil, garlic, lemon, salt, turmeric, cumin, black pepper blended until smooth and creamy. 

Five - 100% Backyard Gardener

Key ingredients are steamed rainbow chard chopped and cooled. Fresh sunflower sprouts, avocado, steamed and cooled sweet potato, red cabbage, parsley, cilantro, mint, fennel. Dressed in a homemade Tahini dressing-sesame butter, olive oil, garlic, lemon, salt, turmeric, cumin, black pepper blended until smooth and creamy. 

Six - Carrot Avocado

 Key ingredients are fresh baby carrots, roasted in olive oil and plenty of garlic and topped with salt and pepper. Let roasted carrots cool and mix in with fresh cut avocado, dress with additional lemon if desired. This is such a simple but delicious salad.

 Seven - Rosemary Garlic Potato 

Key ingredient is the rosemary garlic olive oil roasted potatoes. I found a large selection of miniature potatoes at the local market this past weekend. Roasting them was amazing because they we so small and tender and only took 25 minutes to roast at 400 degrees! The warm potatoes steamed my fresh greens. I used the left over garlic rosemary olive oil from roasting to dress my salad. Other ingredients in this salad include, arugula, parsley, cilantro, sliced white, orange and purple carrots, grated beet. 

Zucchini Bread Three Ways

'Tis the summer season of backyard gardens overflowing with fresh summer veggies and herbs. This past Sunday was our first find of an over grown zucchini. I was actually very surprised because we only have harvested 3 zucchini's total this season and they were on the smaller side-a lack of patience and excitement for summer harvesting! The only use for this big guy was to shred him up and make zucchini bread. I obviously browsed Smitten Kitchen for recipes first looking to see if there were any recipes that could tolerate an over sized, woody zucchini like the one we had... zucchini fritters were a possibility but I already had my mind set on something sweet and on the addition of dark chocolate chips, so I stuck with the plan. The recipe I used can be found here Smitten Kitchen's Zucchini Bread

 After grating the zucchini and finding that I had 4 cups, I decided to double the batch. This was an easy decision because my refrigerator is overflowing with fresh eggs from the chickens (this recipe calls for three eggs per two loaves!). I split the batter into three large loaves (instead of the recommended four) and mixed pecans into one loaf, dark chocolate chips into the second loaf and left the third loaf to be a plain Jane. The list of possible additions is endless, cranberries, raisins, all types of nuts, seeds, chocolate, spices....sesame seeds or sunflower seeds are next on my list.
I was so incredibly happy with how this recipe turned out...moist...crumbly...and a perfect ratio of spices and sweetness level.
The advice I careful not to over stir the wet and dry ingredients, gently mix them until just combined. If you over stir the result will be doughy and not crumbly like a muffin. Also, if using an oven with confection bake, remember to decrease the temperature set by 25 degrees from whatever the recipe calls for and check for the bread to be finished after 30 minutes. After the three breads were out of the oven, I cut each one so we could do a tasting of the three, and compare.i obviously ranked the chocolate chip first, Plain Jane second and pecan (not my favorite nut) third. Enjoy!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Kitchy Boards

This is a teaser for what is to come. Introducing Kitchy Boards, handmade with love my two fine young urban farmers and woodworkers in Santa Cruz, California. It all started when I began to brainstorm Do It Yourself  wedding gifts. Then came the Pinterest post of a beautiful cutting board. It clicked as I had flashbacks to woodworking classes in 7th grade, where we had made cutting boards as one of the assigned projects. Not long after these thoughts all messed together, I found myself sander in hand creating, cutting, sanding, and oiling a few of the most beautiful cutting boards I had personally ever seen.

We used Brazilian Cherry, the darker boards, because it is a very hard wood, resistant to cut marks and potential for contamination and mold growth. They sanded so smoothly a reflection could nearly me made out when looking in them. The lighter board is made of Maple, which is a wood naturally antimicrobial due to a compound found in the sap of the wood. Although the lighter look is nice and I was able to find a cool knot, it did not sand as smoothly nor will it hold up to knife marks like the harder woods will. The recycled leather strap was definitely key, maybe the addition of glass beads to personalize and spice them up?

We were able to personalize the boards using a dremmel to etch initials, and shapes. I did a simple heart on the handle of the Maple Board. The recycled leather strap was definitely key, maybe the addition of glass beads to personalize and spice them up? Stay tuned because we have plans to increase production of Kitchy Boards. I may venture out to see what Etsy has to offer, but at the very least these bad boards will be out for sale soon!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Discretion Brewery-Santa Cruz, California

My little sister turned 21 so while visiting me in Santa Cruz, we figured it would be appropriate to take her to the new local brewery for her first formal beer tasting.Discretion Brewery is located in Santa Cruz and feature several different beers, ranging from a light and refreshing Pilsner to a crisp and hoppy Rye IPA. My favorite during our tasting was their Saison beer, a farmhouse style beer, which was very refreshing and full of funky flavors. 

Discretion Brewery features a beer garden patio with hop plants trellised up the building and tomato plants in raised garden beds, designed and built by Loamstead. A great atmosphere to enjoy the warm summer night and a pint or to order a meal prepared by Main Street Garden Cafe.

Gold Spray Paint...Pots....Jars...and a Desk Organizer

My favorite blog to follow is Cupcakes and Cashmere. On one of her recent post Emily describes that gold spray paint can make anything look new again. 
 This is probably the easiest Do It Yourself yet. Since I luckily had gold spray paint, all it took was a walk outside with some news paper, two old mason jars, some painters tap, two empty terracotta pots and an old desk organizer. Within 20 minutes I was walking back inside with my new adorable vases, succulent pots and a chic desk organizer now displayed on the top of my workspace.
 I was able to find a rose bush in my backyard that was overflowing in pink roses so these were the first to be displayed in my gold hipsters mason jar vases!
Clip small succulent flowers off larger succulent plant from friend, neighbor, random person, park, beach, leaving a 1-2 inch stem. They seem to grow everywhere. Let the succulent clippings sit in a dry area until the place where you cut the plant has completely scabbed over. Plant cutting in succulent soil, which can be purchased from most garden or hardware stores (don't skip buying specicial succulent soil, these plants need a very well draining soil to grow). You hardly need to water succulents, just a teaspoon every month or so.With so many varieties I have developed an obsession and desire to collect them all!

Fluffy Marshmallows with Golden Graham Crackers

 Recent backyard bonfires brought some nostalgia and helped me to relalize how much I do love roasting marshmallows to make s'mores on warm summer nights. While shopping at Whole Foods I couldn't help but notice their fancy and flavored marshmallows, which run $6-$7 for a pack of 10. I swiftly went to my computer and checked Smitten Kitchen for a homemade marshmallow recipe. To my delight I found not only a recipe for Marshmallows but also for graham crackers! The combination was absolutely amazing!
Using cookie cutters to cut the graham crackers instead of the traditional graham cracker squares.
 Here are the two recipes I used, choosing to flavor the marshmallows with classic vanilla. Smitten Kitchen and Since these marshmallows contain more than just gelatin and sugar, they have a beautiful texture and weight to them. Be careful roasting them because the cook much quicker than the store bought jet-puff.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Redwood Bookshelf

 A large do it yourself project ended up more than rewarding. I purchaced redwood from a local lunber yard, cut, sanded and screwed together this bad boy. Stained with a simple linseed oil for a shine. Fits perfectly at the end of my bed and hold every single book I own!

Everyday Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Whipped Cream and Farm Fresh Strawberries

This weekend was my little sisters 16th Birthday. I found this amazing everyday chocolate cake recipe, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen (currently my go to site for every type of recipe inspiration). I transformed this simple cake, recipe found here, into a farm fresh summer birthday cake with the addition of a vanilla bean whipped cream and juicy strawberries from the local market.

After assembling the cake, which i decided to do an hour before we ate it (so the cake would not get soggy) I stuck it is the freezer to ensure the whipped cream and strawberries stay put and it ended up being a refreshing cake for a warm summer night!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Reclaimed Wooden Frame

 My father was given 3 daughters. Although he loves us all, I often feel it to be my duty to pretend to be his 'son for the day'. This past weekend we sorted though old wood in the backyard and ended up finding some wood perfect for some frames. My father taught me how to use an electric saw, sander and drill. The sander was definitely my favorite. By the end of the afternoon, we had put together a Shabby Chic/Beachy style earring and necklace hanger in my bedroom. I used some left over wire mest and spray painted it gold. It was easily stapled to the back of the frame. I couldn't believe how beautiful the weathered wood looked after being sanded. Material cost was $0.00! It ended up being a fun day, with not only a more organized display of jewelry but it felt rewarding to turn old wood into something beautiful!

Rainbow Chard Wraps in the Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen

For my birthday I was given my first Ayurvedic Cookbook, which actually was the first Vegan and Ayruvedic Cookbook published. I was able to go and see the author Talya Lutzker speek about her book at the Capitola Book Cafe. It was very inspiring to hear her testimony and sample a few of the recipes featured in her book.

The first recipe I decided to try from the book, titled as Green Collard Wraps quickly turned into Rainbow Chard Wraps when I brought home Rainbow Chard my mistake. These nutrient packed wraps turned out delicious, featuring sweet potatoes and spicy homegrown mustard greens and several spices. I made a Tahini dressing, also featured in the book, to dip the wraps in. A few weeks later I made then again, except this time using Collard green, which do wrap up much nicer due to their thicker leaves and rounder and larger shape. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Apple Tarte

 In my parents back yard is a small and very old apple tree. After many taste tests we have all concluded that it must be a golden delicious. The apple are always very small but extremely tasty. Often containing a worm or two, but with careful slicing they have been enjoyed raw or in baked dishes. Currently feeling worn out on apply pie I decided to try an apple based dessert with a little more excitement and flavor profile. I remembered this pear rosemary phyllo dough dessert I had on my 21st birthday at a wine pairing I went to with my friend. I remember it being simple, only a handful of ingredients and light but full of delicious flavor.
 Ingredients: Fresh apples, rosemary and local honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and philo dough.
Directions: slice apples thinly removing seeds and clean fresh rosemary and remove it from stem. Layer ingrediens on large baking sheet, phyllo dough, apples, rosemary, honey, spices, repeat!
 Once all ingredients have been layered stick it in the oven at 325 and bake until top is golden brown and crispy and apple begin to shrivel.
Slice into large squares and serve. Enjoy with sweet dessert wine, homemade whipped cream or tea!

Light Wheat Bread & A Garden

I found an amazing and EASY Light Wheat Bread recipe on Smitten Kitchen-(, my favorite online source for recipes and cooking inspiration. This bread used a combination of white bread flour and of whole wheat flour. With the addition of a little honey it had a wholesome and sweet flavor and didn't last long. I love homemade bread, typically I enjoy it with an egg on top or toasted and dipped in my coffee! 

 First Garden Salad of the season featured argula blossoms, mustard greens, fennel and sunflower sprouts. I decided to keep it simple and let the spicy greens dominate the salad, dressed in lemon, pepper, salt with thinly sliced fennel bulb and argula blossoms lightly sauteed in olive oil. Delicious!

 My hop plant has sprouted and is nearly an inch tall. I burried the rhizome about a month ago and with persistsent watering and patience it has finially broke the surface!

Snap peas are hand down my favorite plant to grow in my garden. This is the first year I have ventured to grow nearly everything (minus the tomatoes  which i kindly was given from a friend with connections to Love Apple Farms heirloom tomato starts). These little guys are getting me pretty excited and are measuring in at about 2 inches!

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Piglet named Finn

Love at first sight in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Butternut Squash Vegan Lasagna vs. Mushroom Spinach Vegetarian Lasagna

 A delicious meal I created for family and friends featuring two very different lasagnas. In the name of meatless mondays. Butternut Squash Lasagna was seasoned with fresh sage and roasted turnips. A more traditional mushroom spinach cheese lasagna with flavored with basil.
Of course we needed two very different salads to go with the meal. A sprout salad with grated beets, sesame seeds and bell pepper. A herb salad with fresh fennel root, grated golden beet, dandelion leaves and homegrown arugula. Both salads were simply dressed with fresh pressed olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Feeling very blessed and thankful to enjoy such fresh, delicious, wholesome foods during the Winter months!