Thursday, January 31, 2013

January instagrams (photography).

Overall, January was a beautiful month here. We had some rain, but we also had many gorgeous warm sunny days. Despite getting sick (twice! ugh) I still made it out a few times to get some pics of our fantastic city.

We had lots of blue skies. My friend from back home jokes that in San Diego "partly cloudy" means there's one or two small fluffy clouds floating around in the distance; today the weather on my phone said it was "partly sunny," and I didn't see a single cloud all day. We're spoiled here (you should see the fuss - and traffic - that a few drops of rain creates!).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My tiny kitchen (writer's workshop).

I'm back for another week of the writer's workshop. This week I'm choosing Kat's third prompt: Show us your kitchen! Don't get me wrong, I'm not choosing this prompt because I think I have a beautiful kitchen. On the contrary, I want to show you that you don't need a huge fancy kitchen to cook your heart out (although I do dream of double ovens, six burner stove tops, and islands full of storage; heck, even a few feet more counter space or a window would be amazing, but I digress).

We've been in our place for three and a half years by now, so I have the kitchen set up just how I want it, and I am comfortable in it. One nice thing about having a small kitchen is that everything is always within a few feet of you (never mind that sometimes that means a few feet above my head causing me to climb to reach it... these are the perils of being vertically challenged). Anyways, the moral is that you make do with what you have. I've even made Thanksgiving dinner for 8 people in this kitchen. It took some planning, good timing, and a lot of stacking, but I made it work, and you can to.

Okay, enough talking, now I have to go clean the kitchen so that I can take some pictures to share with you (at least since there's no window I don't have to worry about taking pics during the daytime!).

 Here's the overview shot; you can see that I wasn't kidding when I called it small. It's long(ish) and narrow, so there's not much space for more than one person in there at a time. Matt and I are always sidestepping each other trying to get to the fridge or microwave.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pastry wrapped pears (get your chef on).

I love participating in the Get Your Chef On challenges. So far I've competed in the lemon, coconut, and apple challenges; it's always fun to be challenged to use an ingredient in a new or unusual way, but what I really enjoy is seeing what everyone else comes up with. When I saw that this rounds theme was pears I had no idea what I would make. Honestly, I don't know if I had ever cooked with pears before (I don't know why - they are delicious poached, in tarts, and even in jams). I turned to Pinterest for inspiration, and I was not disappointed!

This dish was inspired by the beautiful picture in the recipe for Pera in Crusta. The only problem, is that the recipe is in Italian. With the help of Google translate, I was able to get an idea of what it said. I adjusted the recipe (the original calls for brandy, and what's the point of cooking with alcohol if you can't have a few sips while you're doing it?!), gave it a try, and was delighted with the results. This is an impressive looking recipe that is actually very easy to put together (15 minutes of prep work, tops), and can even be put together ahead of time. The only changes I will make next time are 1) add a little cinnamon to the honey and butter mixture, 2) cut the pie crust into thinner strips so that it wraps around more times, and 3) not flare the edges before putting it into the oven (I think they will flare on their own while baking). 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Four for one (treasury, but not Tuesday).

I'm bringing you these treasuries early this week because there's something very special on Tuesday. January 22nd is the day we all unveil our creations for Get Your Chef On: Pears, and I can't wait to show you what Ive whipped up.

The first treasury is one that I created in honor of Punxsutawney Phil and his shadow. The other three are fantastic treasuries that feature some of the items from my shop. Enjoy the eye candy!

Groundhog Day

Music is my Valentine by WavicleWays

It's Amazing What You Can Accomplish! by Tiffany Heater

Spillover by Tiffany Heater
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Friday, January 18, 2013

Grilled cheese fail (testing Pinterest).

I'm sure you've all seen some variation of the above image on Pinterest or elsewhere online by now. It's always captioned with something along the lines of, "Turn your toaster on its side to make easy grilled cheese!" Now, I saw this, and thought, "wow, genius! Why didn't I ever think of that?"It looks so simple. The only drawback I noticed at first was that there was no excuse to use copious amounts of butter like I do when I fry my grilled cheese (and I suppose that could be thought of as a good thing, it's just that I sort of have a love affair with butter).

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Crockpot dulce de leche (testing Pinterest).

I've seen so many versions of this slow cooker Dulce de Leche on Pinterest, and I finally had to give it a try. I actually made this a few months ago (it just took me a really long time to get around to editing the photos), and I as I sit writing this post I'm wishing I had some to indulge in right now (there would be a can of condensed milk in my crock pot right now, if it wasn't already full of beef). 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Going back in time (writer's workshop).

I have been a spectator of the writer's workshop over at Mama's Losin' It for a while now, and I'm finally taking the plunge and becoming a participant. I actually linked up last week too, but that was just because my post happened to fit one of the prompts, not because I had planned it. This week I chose prompt #5)  Find a photo of yourself taken 10 years ago and display it on your blog along with a current photo. How have you changed since the day that photo was taken?
10 years ago I was a junior in high school, fall 2002; Showing off my new baby journal Christmas morning, 2012

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

San Diego love (treasury Tuesday).

I've been really enjoying making treasuries recently. It's inspiring to see all of the fabulous creativity that is on Etsy; the first two of these are entirely made up of items from San Diego. What a fabulous city this is!

San Diego: black and white
What's new San Diego?

Love is in the air ♥

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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Apple cider cookies with Heath Bits (recipe).

These cookies are very serious contenders for my absolute-favorite-cookie-ever-in-the-world! The texture is perfect, chewy, with just a little crunch on the edges, but it's the flavor that really makes these. It's unlike any other cookie I've ever tried. The apple cider mix has warm cinnamon and nutmeg spices balanced by the refreshing tartness of the apples, and the Heath Bits are like little golden nuggets for your tastebuds. 

Credit for these cookies goes to The Cooking Photographer via Scrambled Henfruit. I don't think I would have ever though of putting apple cider mix into cookie dough on my own. Their recipes call for stuffing Kraft Caramels into the middle of the cookies. I tried the recipe this way the first time, and it is amazing, there are just 2 problems; 1) I can almost never find those little cubes of goodness in my local grocery store, and 2) it's a lot of work individually stuffing caramels into each cookie, and let's be honest, I'm lazy when it comes to baking. When I made the cookies again, I was going to simply leave out the caramels, when I opened the cupboard and a bag of Heath Bits fell out (see, there are good reasons to overstuff/not organize your cupboards sometimes!). I have to say, I think the cookies are actually better with the Heath Bits than with the caramels. The Heath Bits are evenly distributed throughout the dough instead of just being being in the middle. Plus, as much as I love caramel, I'll still take toffee over caramel every time. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

One word (resolution).

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful end to 2012. Looking back, it was a great year for us. We celebrated our 1 year anniversary, enjoyed several lovely vacations to visit family, found out that our family will be growing by one, and we have myriad pleasant memories to remember the past year by. I can't wait to see what 2013 will bring.

In prior years, my New Year's resolutions rarely made it past January. Last year was (as far as I can recall) the first time I ever stuck to a resolution. My goal for 2012 was to start blogging. In just 3 days I will be celebrating my one year blogiversary! Now, I definitely slowed down over the last few months; life caught up with me, and with all the other priorities blogging started to feel like a chore. That is not the attitude I want to bring here, so instead of forcing it, I gave myself a little break. However, it feels good to be back, and I'm going to try to post more regularly again (although it may only be once a week).

This year I wanted to try a different kind of resolution, a one word resolution. I saw a lot of these last year, and I really liked the idea. So maybe I'm a few years behind on this trend... c'est la vie. I think (hope) it's the best way to go considering other plans we have for the year ahead. 

My broad goal for this year is to simplify, and to appreciate the simple pleasures of our everyday lives. With a little one on the way, I think it's important to focus on what's important, and to eliminate or minimize the unnecessary distractions that waste time, energy, and money. I think another aspect of simplifying is organizing, and I want to get as organized as posible before the baby arrives (because realistically, if it's not organized before then I doubt it will happen afterwards). I am going to apply this principle to all aspects of life, but since I am a list person I also feel like I need a few specific and concrete bullet points to focus on.

* Organize our apartment
Reorganize the belongings we use and need, and get rid of the unnecessary detritus that has accumulated over the years in preparation for all of the baby stuff that will soon be flooding our small space.

* Spend less time watching TV
There are a few shows that we really enjoy watching, but too often I find that I'm watching something just because it's the most tolerable choice from the selection of bad shows that are currently on. If I don't care enough about a show to give it my full attention I will turn it off.

* Cut down on multitasking
I know that I am actually less productive when multitasking, and now it's time to actually apply that knowledge. Avoid the temptation to check email, facebook, shop stats, text messages, etc in the middle of doing something (I almost just broke this one, but caught myself in the nick of time). Close the computer when I'm spending time with the hubby (I like to think I can follow the plot of a show or movie while browsing the internet, but time and time again I have been proven wrong. If I can't even do that, how can I expect to have a genuine conversation?).

* Streamline my Etsy business
Figure out and focus on what's really productive for my Etsy shop, and cut down on the activities that  are not moving the business forward.

* Go back to blogging for myself, not for pageviews
Last year, the more I worried about pageviews, the less I enjoyed blogging. Honestly, the posts that get the most hits are never the ones I expect them to be. I might only post once a week, but I'd rather enjoy writing one genuine post than force myself to write 3 just to meet a self-imposed quota.

* Avoid overloading my schedule
I have a hard time saying "no" to people (even myself). I need to be realistic about how many tasks and activities I can actually fit into a day or week. When I stretch myself too thin, my performance everywhere suffers. I'd rather say "no" to a few requests then perform at a subpar level.

* Bonus: Finish reorganizing my Pinterest boards
Over the holidays I resorted all of my food and photography Pinterest boards (no small task - check it out!). There have been so many times when I have pinned something fabulous, and then been unable to find the pin again when I'm finally ready to put it into action. Hopefully by organizing my boards I'll be able to actually find all of those great recipes, tips, pieces of advice, and tutorials when I need them.

What are your resolutions for 2013? What resolutions have you made in the past that have been successful? What ones have failed? I'd love to hear from you.

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