Tuesday, May 31, 2011


As #30daysofcreativity quickly approaches, and our plan is to participate again this year, I find myself reflecting on what we can do throughout the course of the next 30 days.

I recently at my blog stats -- I was on a roll in 2010, blogging almost every other day. This year, well, I am ashamed by my stats. I've been lucky to fit in 2 posts a month. This has left me a) embarrassed and b) puzzled. What was going on in my life in 201o that allowed for me to have more energy/ideas/ambition to keep up with regular posting? And, more importantly, how can I get back into the grove?

This is not something that I do just to do. I don't do it to see the number of followers & readers increase (albeit nice). No, I do it because I want to share what's going on in my creative mind. I do it for nothing else -- to document things. This has proved to be quite handy when I've needed a recipe on the fly when away from my cook books (cue: one bowl choco cake, sugar cookies, tomato soup, coconut macaroons & seafood gnocci.)

A side step. My last post I talked about opening up the voting for the color I will be painting our kitchen/dining room. My end goal: to have a color that inspires cooking, warmth & good times. I am aiming for a "Tuscan-yellow" (to which my Mediterranean husband does not understand :)).

Voting is open (choose your favorite name) by way of comment:
  1. dreamy caramel
  2. toasted pecan
  3. brushed almond
Tomorrow I will get geared up to do this again more frequently.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

color swatches

Time for me to share a secret. A secret talent I wish I had, so that I could have made a career out of it. This time, no, it is not having one dominant artistic talent so I could live strictly off my creativity. I am convinced after all that this may not be the life after all.

I wish I was an expert at the color palette. Admittedly, I do have better skills than many. I can tell the distinct difference between colors -- which have more browns, reds, yellows, blues, etc. Although even with this, it's not enough to cut through the color and identify what would look best.

As per the photo, we're in the midst (correction: I am in the midst, and pm has given me all decision making capabilities on color--as long as it is not red) of choosing colors for the walls. We had a couple of easy decisions.

I always wanted a green bathroom. After 30+ color swatches and evaluation, we got that project done. Since then, we've only done one other wall and it was just the accent wall. My next project entails painting an accent wall in the kitchen. The larger project tying into this is painting the hallway.

I know that I want for the colors to be rich, but not overbearing. We have a very well lit kitchen. We've already got reds, blacks, greens, purples and beige. This got me thinking in the direction of yellow. Blue and green (in my opinion) are too chill for a kitchen. Since the party almost always starts and finishes in the kitchen, it has to be a color that evokes energy. Since red is out of the picture, I am leaning toward yellow.

I took an inventory over the weekend of the paint swatches to date I have collected. It is ridiculous. How hard is it to make a decision? Well, hard. I know it's just paint and you can just repaint it again if you decide you don't like it. I am perfectionist people -- I want to do it right the first time and get it right the first time.

My master plan is to make some decisions this weekend so that more paint can go up on the walls. I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help me make decisions:
  1. The paint color must have a food name. To date, we've used "Pistachio Ice Cream" and "Italian Roast" (I am personally leaning toward something with coconut :))
  2. Label my favorite colors with numbers. Ask pm to select a random number.
  3. Have you vote. I could post the colors, and you could vote.
  4. Don't paint this weekend. Ponder more...
And, so there it is. I wish I was a colorologist. With that, I wish I could just make a decision. It's just paint, right?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

DIY: China Cabinet

If we've learning anything through our more recent home ownership, it's that there's always a project on the sidelines.

We went from nearly no furniture to an immediate need for more--mostly so that we could store the many items that were packed safe and sound at the 'rents house. Owning property has expedited the lease on that free storage space.

Our first big DIY project stemmed from the need for more kitchen storage. While our new kitchen has plenty of cabinets, with a 10+ foot ceiling, not all cabinets are conveniently accessed or useful.

pm and I decided to start our search for a china cabinet. We wanted something that would be big enough to hold a good portion of our kitchen wares (p.s. it's amazing how much kitchen stuff you get from your wedding that you ultimately do not use unless you have the space to accommodate it). We started our search by going to the usual suspects--Crate&Barrel, Ikea, Target, World Market, etc. No luck. There were very few china cabinets that fit our style and our budget.

On a random Monday night we decided to stop off a local thrift store. This trip was made more to donate old clothes, than it was buy anything. Turns out: Once we walked in we discovered an amazing china cabinet (with character!) that fit the bill for what we were looking for our kitchen space. The cabinet (as pictured) was in great shape, but needed a modest amount of TLC. (We later discovered that it would need more than a modest amount of TLC, but I digress...)

Nearly 2 weeks after the purchase--plus 3 coats of paint, sanding, waxing and reconstructing--we could hang our towels and toast to a china cabinet that was truly ours. It's nice to know that the piece we ended up getting not only goes well in the space we designated for it in the kitchen, but it also is an original. No one else will ever have one just like it. This fact makes us proud (even if it was a pain the butt to do when we were in the process). What may make us the most proud, however, is that the whole project (cabinet, paint, etc.) cost us under $300. A small price to pay for what we were looking at in all stores.

So here was the whole DIY project timeline:
  1. Find china cabinet and purchase it.
  2. Move it to the house. (aka: Hire strong men to move it to the house)
  3. Remove all hinges, screws, glass and other hardware.
  4. Clean it, bleach it, clean it.
  5. Sand it. Sand it. Sand it.
  6. Prime time. We primed the whole cabinet with an oil based primer.
  7. Paint cabinet, drawers and details in white with a latex paint.
  8. Paint drawers with green accent latex paint.
  9. Patiently wait for all paint to dry.
  10. Wax. (Minwax, finishing wax in natural)
  11. Add all hardware and glass back to the cabinet. (we found the knobs at Ikea--of the snodd variety)
  12. Fill cabinet with kitchen items.
  13. Blog about it.

Not exactly sure what our next big project will be in terms of furniture. That said, we're experimenting with different paint options for the hallway.

Never a dull moment. Never a project undone. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chamomille IPA

After a longer than expected hiatus, moving can be quite time consuming, we are brewing again. Our last two beers had been a Chamomile IPA, which is almost ready to be bottled, and an Orange Coriander American Wheat. The Chamomile IPA is a Chinook IPA from Northern Brewer with a little twist, we added half a gallon of Chamomile and half a pound of honey.

Regarding the half gallon of Chamomille, just note that what we added was a very strong half gallon, we are lucky to live close to Harvestime foods and they sell 1 oz. Chamomile bags for little more than $1.50, so we put the whole thing to boil.

The recipe:

0.75 lbs. Dingemans Caramel Pils

0.25 lbs Briess Caramel 120

6 lbs Pilsen malt syrup

1 lb dry malt extract

3 oz. Chinook (1 oz. boils for 60 mins, 1 oz. 10 mins before the end of the boil and 1 oz. finishing hops about 1 min. before the end of the boil)

1 oz. Chamomile

0.5 lbs honey

Wyeast 1056 American Ale

The original gravity is 1.054 and after two weeks we put it into secondary fermentation for about six more weeks. We want to bottle it sometime this week and will be posting a review around mid June.