October 30, 2012

READ: open by andre agassi

one of my favorite books is "open" by andre agassi.  this is my second time reading it, and it's just as good this time around.  the book is an easy read, and you don't have to know the game of tennis in order to enjoy it.  you'd never guess that such a successful professional athlete might have endured so many struggles and internal battles on his journey to the top.

the opening quote is a great one:

One cannot always tell what it is that keeps us shut in, confines us, seems to bury us, but still one feels certain barriers, certain gates, certain walls. Is all this imagination, fantasy? I do not think so. And then one asks: My God! Is it for long, is it for ever, is it for eternity? Do you know what frees one from this captivity? It is very deep serious affection. Being friends, being brothers, love, that is what opens the prison by supreme power, by some magic force.

 - Vincent van Gogh, letter to his brother, July 1880

EAT: udon with uni, shrimp & shiitake mushrooms

There's something about hot noodle soup on a cold day. There's something about throwing in uni into an unexpected dish. This is only delicious if you know and like uni though. If you don't know, uni is the slimy, orange inside of an sea urchin.  It's sort of an acquired taste and only tastes great if its fresh.   If you can't stand it, you can totally leave this part out because its just a topping anyways.  

This is more of a trial and error kind of dish instead of a recipe anyways.  You can add ingredients more or less to your liking.  I had jumbo shrimp in my freezer and some udon noodles and wanted to make something with it so I looked around online for some recipes with those two combinations and found some random recipes that had these two just thrown into some boiling chicken broth and white miso paste.  Simple! I thought, I will find some of my favorite vegetables to toss in there and some other seafood ingredient. 

On the way home from a long and dreary day at work, I stopped by my local  super market and darted straight for the shiitake mushrooms because I feel like they always give good texture to a dish.  And then on the way to the register, in the corner of my eye,  there lay one lone box left in the sushi grade aisle, a box of fresh uni! I didn't know exactly at the time how I would use it in the udon, but then it was simple.  I could use it as a topping!  It really made the dish, it added the right amount of saltiness that was needed in the light taste of the broth! Below is my version of a seafood udon soup with shiitake mushrooms.  Try your own and let us know how yours turned out!

Ingredients:  (about 2 servings)    
  • 5 cups vegetable or low-sodium chicken broth 
  • 1 pk. dried udon noodles, or pack of frozen udon
  • 1 box of fresh uni
  • 1/2 lb. fresh jumbo shrimp 
  • 1/4 cup water 
  • 1 pack of shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 Tbs. Mellow White  Miso, (add more for taste) 
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger 
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions 
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes  or togarashi chili pepper (optional) 
  • seaweed (optional)
  • 2 eggs (optional)

Bring chicken broth to a boil on medium heat.  Meanwhile, clean jumbo shrimp and cut off tail and put aside. Clean shiitake mushrooms and trim stems or slice to your liking (optional to keep whole as well) and put aside. Chop the green onions and put aside. Then,  in a bowl, combine water, the miso paste and grated ginger and put aside.  Poach the egg or boil a soft boil egg and put aside to add in the end.  After the broth comes to a boil, place the udon in the broth and cook for about 10 min. Then, add the miso paste mixture.  Taste the broth and add more miso paste for taste.  Add  in the shrimp and cook until pink. Then throw in the mushrooms last.  After a few minutes of boiling and you feel like the shrimp is cooked but not over cooked, serve the soup in the bowls immediately.  Add the poached or soft boiled eggs.  Add a sheet of seaweed on the side, garnish with the green onions and sprinkle with the togarashi chili or the red pepper flakes.  Now for the cherry on top, scoop out the uni, just a couple pieces at first and place on top! Now slurp away and add more or less uni to your tasting.

October 26, 2012

DIY: macrame bracelets

What is macrame? It is a form of textile-making using knotting rather than weaving or knitting.  It was long crafted by sailors, especially in elaborate or ornamental knotting forms, to decorate anything from knife handles to bottles to parts of ships. Nowadays, it's been revived to make handcraft jewelry especially bracelets such as the ones here.  

I saw a picture of it on pintrest and then further researched and found a really great tutorial from honestlywtf.com and decided to try it myself and post my own version here.  It's pretty much the same, but there can never be too many tutorials right? Maybe this can inspire you to make one with your own flair. 

*first and last longest post and tutorial that I've ever made! 

You’ll need: (got this info from honestlywtf.com in order to get my own supplies to start)

Start by cutting the knotting cord into two 30 inch, two 20 inch and one 10 inch lengths. 


I apologize here, I had to finish the tutorial with another bracelet thats why the color changed but oh well, same steps. haha. 

Now you can layer, mix and match, or give to your friends as gifts or party favors!  I handed it out to my friends on our girls Vegas trip. :) Try a version of your own.

Credits: www.honestlywtf.com 
Photos: taken with iphone4s


October 15, 2012

DIY: hand painted mug

daily musts are my morning coffee and afternoon green tea (i prefer both without sugar or cream). i love mugs and am always on the lookout for the perfect whimsical touch or unique look to one. i spotted some diy hand painted mugs on pinterest and decided to try it out. it was fairly easy and i'm pretty happy with how they turned out.

i made this one for my cousin's new baby girl named Hope <3

and i just had to make one for myself to sip my tea in =)

here's how you can make your own!

what you'll need:
- a ceramic mug (mine is from target for $3.99)
- a paint pen (i used pebeo porcelaine from amazon which was less than $10)
- toothepicks and q-tips for cleanup

the paint pen was a little more difficult to use than i had hoped. here's some tips:

- keep a scrap piece of paper/paper towels around as you'll need to press the tip down several times while using it
- the paint doesn't flow out evenly, so you'll sometimes have paint seep out which i blotted on paper to dip and use on the mug
- painting more than one layer on at a time is difficult. wait for the first layer to set for a couple minutes before applying a second layer
- i used a swab dipped in water and toothpicks to clean up edges

i started with 'tea time' but decided to change it out to the dotted line and heart (it felt more whimsical)

i found another tutorial here that uses a sharpie instead, but they noted some issues with having the ink stay after running it through the dishwasher. the paint pen is supposed to work better than the sharpie method - however, i went ahead and baked my mug as well just in case (350 degrees for 30 min)


October 8, 2012

SOUL: divine inspiration

duende (spanish) - the spark of divine inspiration, expressing itself out of one's heart, or the involuntary feeling of awe in reaction to an inspiring piece of art or music