Wednesday, February 27, 2013

hug a narwhal

because narwhals are better than unicorns.

i've never quite understood the fuss about unicorns, when there is a far superior and NON-mythical animal with a fancy horn in existence.   i mean, whales are already more awesome than horses... add a long spiral horn, and really, how is this even a competition?  truly, i am stumped.

i am not sure what triggered this idea initially.  it was some conversation many, many moons ago with my bff- these days, bffbf-  that inspired me to come up with the slogan 'hug a narwhal' and 'better than a unicorn' accompanied by a simple drawing of the neglected animal.

i felt compelled to turn them into t-shirts.
and that's how i came to learn how to screen print (the photo emulsion method), but not before i over-burned my image on to the first screen and had to start over.  that made me pretty cranky, but once i made a successful screen and test print, i created this.


i realize it's a silly t-shirt, but i was pretty excited.  i also made myself a long sleeved t-shirt to putter around the apartment in.  i forgot to take a picture.


i went on to buy another screen (which, btw, michael's craft stores no longer carry, something i had to learn by driving all around san diego. i eventually bought one off of amazon.) to make version two.


i  gifted these to my foxy model along with chocolate malt sandwich cookies.  they were delicious.  i accidentally ate half the batch a few. 


i found the instruction booklet in my speedball screen printing kit a bore, but found this tutorial by lilblueboo very helpful.   if you're interested in screen printing for the first time, i suggest you take a look there first.  if you don't really feel like collecting all those supplies, you can leave out the glass and get away with not using pushpins.  i just taped my transparencies on the screen instead of placing glass on top and it worked fine, and while the pushpins are helpful, they are not all that necessary.

so, i have to know- what do you think is better? the unicorn or the narwhal?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

grey lotus root [not shower] curtain

i thought i could get away with my room mostly as is, but i was wrong, because turns out i had to make curtains.

i really didn't want to.

you see, the vampire in me has an extreme aversion to light when i'm sleeping.   while i love sunlight during all other waking moments, it is a huge no-no during slumber.   i tried hard to just live with the flood of light coming through my window every morning.  i would smash my face into my pillow.  hide under the covers.  pull a t-shirt over my face.  but none of it was working for me.   i suppose getting out of bed would have been an option, but considering one of the few perks of unemployment is sleeping in, i want to milk it as long as i can.


i have made many sets of curtains over the years.  all of which i either no longer own, or didn't bring to san diego.  not that they would have necessarily worked in my room anyway.   i didn't want to spend too much money on making or buying new ones, considering the fate of the old ones.  so i examined my fabric stash and found a few yards of my grey lotus root fabric that i had purchased ages ago with the intention of making a shower curtain for the second bathroom in boston.  that obviously didn't happen.

i was not ready to let go of the idea of turning this fabric into a shower curtain in the future.  because my window is conveniently not that large, i decided to go ahead and make it the curtain so that it could fit both the window now and repurpose it as a shower curtain later on.


i pieced it together with a strip of the white fabric that had been patiently waiting around with the lotus root fabric and lined the back with some black out curtain material i purchased from joann's.  with a coupon, this is significantly cheaper than buying a ready made blackout curtain.  i made the curtain the same size as my current shower curtain 72"x72".

when my window curtain is ready to become a shower curtain, i intend on cutting off the blackout curtain (or i suppose i could leave it there), and creating button holes along the top to put in the shower rings.  maybe one day i'll switch my current shower curtain with the lotus root curtain.  now that's an idea.

now i have the opposite problem, where i find it really hard to get out of bed because it's so nice and dark in my room when it's time to get up!

do you have a problem with sleeping with sunlight seeping in, as i do?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

earl grey cupcakes with lavender swiss meringue buttercream

happy valentine's day!
whether you love or hate this holiday, there is no denying that at the very least, it is an excellent excuse to eat something sugary and delicious.  
i myself have mixed feelings about valentine's day, but always like an opportunity to be a fatty... which is why i made these earl grey cupcakes with lavender swiss meringue buttercream.

i am really into earl grey and lavender.  
separately // or combined // in my desserts

i made these recently, without having a clear idea on how they'd turn out, because i wasn't really sure what i was doing.  luckily, everything went smoothly, and they were well received by a handful of taste-testers.



makes about 52 minis, or roughly 18-20 regular cupcakes
i halved the recipe and made minis



ingredients

1 cup almond milk *
4 earl grey tea bags 
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar 
1 stick of butter, room temp 
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
a few drops of lavender extract (optional- but also used in the frosting)

in a small saucepan, heat the milk until it's barely bubbling. turn the heat off, and steep the tea bags for about thirty minutes.   i chose tazo earl grey infused bergamot + lavender to pair with the frosting.  squeeze the tea bags as much as possible to get the excess liquid out, so you don't lose too much of the liquid (i capped the milk back up to the full amount before using). discard teabags. set aside prepared milk. 

sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. set aside.

cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated.   add the sifted flour/baking powder/salt mixture in a few batches, alternating with the tea-infused milk, beating until combined.   at this time, you can also add a few drops of lavender extract if you wish to enhance the flavor profile.

spoon batter into prepared cupcake pans until 2/3 full.  bake for 16-22 minutes for mini cupcakes at 350F.  about 22-26 minutes for regular cupcakes (this one is just a rough guess).

*i used almond milk, but you can use reg milk


i used martha stewart's swiss meringue buttercream recipe for the frosting, and added lavender extract at the end, during the final blending (and followed her instructions about the coloring).  i suggest starting with a conservative 1/4 tsp of lavender extract and taste, working your way up to a strength that you like.

the result is a not too sweet, moist cupcake with subtle (but notable) flavors. 

enjoy!

if you find yourself desperate for a card today, it's not too late-- download and print my free valentine's day card.   

Sunday, February 10, 2013

my ikea room

ta-da! say hello to my new ikea bedroom.
it's nothing to get too excited about, but i really like it.
i found this great place for rent on craigslist, that fulfilled all my 'requirements', and more.  i only had to buy the furniture for my room since my roommate had fully furnished everything else.


i mulled over furniture selection quite a bit, and in the end, ikea just won every time.  i tried to be as minimalistic as possible, but still extremely functional.  

one of the first things i bought before i even moved in was the ceiling lamp.  every rental i have ever lived in has lacked a built in ceiling light, and i have often tried to get by with a side standing lamp, which i've never liked.  i actually had this very same light in my boston apartment, and decided that i liked it enough to buy again.  it diffuses light so much better than a free standing lamp could, and since i spend a lot of time in my room, i consider it a solid decision.  and really, while having the long cord stretch across the ceiling and down the wall is not the prettiest, i think it's totally worth it.  

i already knew that i wanted most of my furniture to be white.  i considered several bed options, keeping in mind the importance of under bed space for extra storage.  i nearly went with the simple bed frame at west elm, but realized that i wanted a headboard, so i went with the nordli.  i talk about the nightstand in depth here, and it's also featured on ikea hackers


my craft area on one side of the room.   since i have a roommate now, so i have to keep my craft space within my bedroom.   it's a smaller version of what i used to have in boston, but this time with a glossy tabletop instead of matte.  in theory i would love a larger workspace, but i didn't want to clutter the room.  i almost went with a different desk, but i decided having a deep table that fits my cutting mat was essential.  


i intentionally arranged my furniture so i can have enough floor space to do pilates.  it is just barely enough space for my short legs to flail about without hitting something.  i don't love having my bed against the wall, especially since i'd prefer it if i could have a second nightstand, but it's still an acceptable set up.


the other side of my room, with more ikea furniture (plus the tv i got for christmas!).  my dresser has two very spacious drawers, with more than enough space for my needs.  i was pleased that my shelf fit perfectly between the wall and the door, and it only cost $20. 

it was somewhat of a struggle to decipher between my wants and my needs, but in the end, i think i came out okay.  every time i have the urge to paint my walls or buy more items, i sternly remind myself that i live in a potentially short-term rental and that i am still sans-job.   

i am considering ideas for diy wall decor, but we'll see about that!  

happy chinese new year to everyone celebrating!  my celebration involved a mostly failed attempt at making chinese new year glutinous rice cake.  i intended to post the recipe today, but as it was so sadly unsuccessful, i opted for this instead. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

150th + a giveaway

the giveaway is now closed.

the winner is #35, brandi! look for an email from me soon so i can get your information.

for everyone else, i am offering a 10% discount to my etsy shop.  just enter code 10OFFTWO at check out.  thank you to everyone that participated!!
----------------
it has been nearly four years since i started this blog, and i have finally reached my 150th post.

this is it.  sure took me long enough.

to "celebrate", i am giving away two coffee sleeves from my etsy shop: one red with a top ruffle, and one yellow with a pink side ruffle, to one winner.



to enter and possibly win these coffee sleeves, you have the opportunity of up to three entries:

entry 1: leave a comment on this entry - tell me, what is the drink you most frequently order when you're out? - or something else, if you prefer
entry 2: follow my blog + leave a comment to inform me (if you are already following, leave a comment stating so)
entry 3: pin one of my tutorials/ideas/recipes/etc from this blog, and leave me a 3rd comment + link me to the post
entry 4: blog about this giveaway, and leave me a 4th comment + link me to the post

make sure you leave a way for me to contact you on your entry/entries!

the giveaway will close on tuesday, february 12th, midnight, pacific time.
1 winner will be chosen via random.org
*giveaway valid for u.s. entries only, sorry!* 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

cashew butter cups

i made these over christmas but thought i'd share them now as another dessert filled holiday will be shortly upon us (we should really space these out better).  


like all americans, i am a big fan of peanut butter, but i am also quite partial to the fancy cashew butter.  so when i added this recipe to my holiday baking list, i thought that cashew butter cups would be nice twist on a classic favorite.

just substitute cashew butter for the peanut butter in the recipe. i also suggest using dark chocolate to combat the sweetness.

any baking plans for valentine's?

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