Even though it is technically still Autumn, in Michigan we’ve already gotten quite a bit of snow to remind us winter is on its way! I thought I’d give a recap of what I’ve been able to scratch off my Autumn Bucket List so far this year so I can get started on creating one for the winter ahead. As with my Summer 2014 Bucket List Recap, many of the links will take you to posts about the topic so you can remember along with me 🙂
Hi everyone! I’ve been going crazy over infographics as of late, and I even made one to describe Starbucks Christmas Blend (pictured above). After I finished my Christmas Blend infographic, I got to wondering if there were a lot of other Starbucks coffee-related infographics out there. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find many that talked about coffee, though I could find quite a few that described Starbucks as a company and its history. Here are a couple of the ones I liked (though they’re not in English):
Click to enlarge (Source)
Click to enlarge (Source)
I also found these super helpful (free!) websites that I will be using to create future infographics:
After thinking about all that coffee, I knew today I would have to make a French Press at home. I decided to pair Christmas Blend with a Cranberry Loaf, and OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS THE LOAF WAS AMAZING. I will share the recipe eventually, but I am planning on making it for every single Thanksgiving get together this year so you’re just going to have to wait and drool.
(You can find this image on my instagram, too! 😉 )
While we’re still talking (and dreaming about) my pairing from this afternoon, I think it’s a good time to mention that I tried taking my first ever video while preparing the tasting. I’ve got a lot to learn, and my friend Amanda is going to help teach me the ropes of editing, but I think the video I took today will be a good start.
A good start to what, you ask? A good start to a new YouTube channel that my friend Tia and I are starting called Epicurean Baristas. Since Chad and I are going back to Japan, Tia and I thought it would be fun to stay in touch via video “letters” talking about things we’re very passionate about: eating and drinking! We’re still working out the kinks of our YouTube page and blog, but I’ll keep you posted as things progress!
So I’m about a third of the way through my “30 Days of Zentangle” goal for my Autumn Bucket List, and I thought I would share a few of my favorite tangles so far.
In case you’ve never heard of Zentangle, it is a “fun, relaxing art form that employs structured and coordinated patterns as a means of creating beautiful and interesting pieces of art.” I got that definition from the workbook I’ve been using on my Zentangle journey: The Art of Zentangle: 50 inspiring drawings, designs and ideas for the meditative artist. I think this workbook is awesome because it starts you off with the basics and allows you to build confidence to progress into more complex tangles. Additionally, more complex does not mean more difficult; contrarily, Zentangling is all about the process of creating without worrying about the outcome or about making mistakes. The Art of Zentangle really provides great ideas and inspiration to make your own unique tangles.
I started off my “lessons” by telling myself I needed to sit down for at least 25 minutes to try to get part of the book done each day. I soon realized that tangling makes you lose track of time rather quickly–on days where I had somewhere to go after my Zentangle time was up, I would be startled out of tangling by an alarm, and on days where I had more time, over an hour would pass sometimes before I knew it.
I can’t wait to get farther into the book and try out more of the activities. I’m really looking forward to the sections that introduce using shading and colors. As I continue working through the book, I will be sure to update you again with some of my new favorites!
Take care and stay warm on this blustery day!
As some of you have probably heard by now, Chad and I made a very difficult decision recently. We were contacted by our former company in Japan and asked if we would be interested in starting a new campus for the school in Tokyo. With much consideration, we’ve decided to accept their offer! We have purchased our tickets, so things are feeling very official now. It is a bit scary to leave family, friends and kitty cats behind, and we know it’s going to be especially hard to go so soon (we fly out to Japan the end of December)!We are thankful for all of the endless support everyone in Michigan has been giving us, and we are looking forward to the great opportunity ahead. I will of course continue blogging here, so don’t go disappearing on me! Lots of love to everyone ❤
Gazing across the bars of chocolate in my local supermarket, I noticed quite a few bars I hadn’t seen before. It was exciting for me to see so much quality chocolate available, and I decided to choose a new kind to try! Although it was tough to decide between several appealing bars, this time I chose Theo Organic Fair Trade Coconut 70% Dark Chocolate. Surprisingly, I hadn’t heard anything about Theo Chocolate before coming across it in the candy aisle. However, I loved the simple packaging, the Fair Trade Label (among others) posted along the bottom, and the thought of coconut playing a role in the chocolate bar. Every time I try chocolate (whether it’s for the first time or what feels like the hundredth), I always begin by smelling it. As you would expect, this bar of chocolate smelled very much like dark cocoa with just a hint of sweetness. I couldn’t taste the coconut when I took a bite, but the coconut definitely contributed to the overall texture of the bar. Unlike bars that have crunchy nuts or soft dried fruit, the coconut in this Theo bar adds a texture in between the range of crunchy and soft. And although the coconut flavor isn’t especially pronounced, it seems to add a bit of toasty sweetness to the bar that breaks up what could otherwise almost be an overwhelming amount of dark chocolate. I would be interested in pairing the chocolate with coconut water to see if the coconut notes would become more perceptible. After trying Theo chocolate, I visited their website and decided I LOVE THEM. Here’s why: Theo Chocolate is passionate about the journey from bean to bar (and you know how passionate I am when it come to coffee and its journey from bean to cup!). On their fact sheet, Theo Chocolate touts that “Theo is founded on the belief that there is a common thread that binds us, from the cocoa farmer to the chocolate lover, and [they’re] devoted to making our world a better place.” YES!
The fact sheet also states that Theo Chocolate is the first and only bean to bar maker of Organic, Fair Trade, Fair for Life and Non-GMO Project verified chocolate in North America. That’s a reason to try Theo Chocolate if there ever was one, if you ask me! I am looking forward to trying out other flavors of Theo Chocolate in the future.
Hi everyone! Last Friday we decided to have a ramen party on Halloween. Not necessarily the most traditional approach, I’ll give you that, but it was definitely awesome. When I posted pictures from our last ramen party, several people asked me about the recipe I used for the gyoza, or pot stickers. I’ve decided to share the recipe with you today, as well as the system my friends and I used to make the gyoza together!
For my version of gyoza filling, I took parts from a few different recipes to create a version that seemed most similar to what I had while living in Japan. What’s really nice about this recipe is that you basically combine all of the ingredients, let them sit in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes to let the flavors meld, and then you’re ready to start preparing the gyoza. Pretty easy stuff!While setting up an assembly line for the gyoza, I remembered the first time I ever made gyoza at a music party in Matsusaka, Japan. (I wrote a rather lengthy post about that Golden Week back in 2009 that was fun to revisit when writing this post 🙂 ) Ariel was in charge of putting water around the edges of the rice paper wrappers, my friend Tia added a spoonful of filling, and I pushed the dumplings together with a gyoza mold I had brought back from Japan.
If you don’t have a mold, you can always just assemble the gyoza by hand, pinching together the edges. The mold does make things go much more quickly, however, so you could consider either buying one or being really nice to me so that I send you one. They are pretty inexpensive!
Once you’ve assembled your gyoza, you just heat up a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil in a pan, fry for a couple minutes, add hot water, and simmer until cooked through. Meanwhile, you can prepare dipping sauce and snack on other available treats (I made crab rangoons and Amanda made rice balls). Here is our first finished batch of gyoza. So yummy!
Also, because I know you want to drool a bit, above is a picture of one of the bowls of ramen Chad prepared. Now for the gyoza recipe!
8 ounces ground pork
1 large egg
1 Tbs finely chopped ginger (or about a tsp dried ginger)
2 tsp grated garlic (from about 3 large cloves)
1 1/2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp sake (you can also use dry vermouth)
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 c. shredded napa cabbage, blanched until tender yet crisp in boiling salt water
1 green onion, diced
34 gyoza wrappers or round dumpling wrappers
4 Tbs. vegetable oil
1. Mix together the pork, egg, sesame oil, ginger, scallion, soy sauce, sake, cornstarch, sugar, napa cabbage and onion together in a bowl and refrigerate for twenty minutes.
2. Once the flavors have melded together, place a small bowl of cool water by your work surface and prepare plates on which to place wrappers before and after you’ve assembled the gyoza. Place several wrappers on your first plate and brush the edges of each with water using your finger or a pastry brush.
3. Put a mounded teaspoon of filling in the center of each wrapper, bring the edges together, and seal the edges by using a mold or by making 4 to 6 pleats. Set the completed gyoza on a separate plate, and repeat until you’ve used all of your filling.
4. Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet, and quickly arrange half of the gyoza, cooking until golden brown on one side, about one minute. Add 2/3 cup water to the skillet (it will spatter, so be careful!), cover tightly, and let the gyoza cook until tender, about six minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook until both sides of the gyoza are crisp, and then repeat with the remaining prepared gyoza.
5. While the gyoza are cooking, you can prepare a simple dipping sauce by combining two parts soy sauce, one part white rice wine vinegar, and ginger to taste. Then once everything has been cooked, you’re ready to enjoy!
I hope you like this recipe, and that you try gyoza-making at one of your future get-togethers!
It’s already November 1st, and that means a few things: October flew by, the holiday season is on its way, and also our first Thrift Store Challenge is finished.You may remember a couple of weeks ago I started out the first challenge with the items above. I used the basket as a container for all of our mail because I couldn’t find anything that I could use that wasn’t super expensive. Although I haven’t gotten to it yet, I intend to transform the spice rack into an acrylic paint holder (I’ll post pictures when I make it!). And though I haven’t found an “upgrade” for the little clock yet, I did find a use for the Suntory Whiskey bottle and the big clock. I put a handmade paper flower in the whiskey bottle–easy and pretty!
When I first came upon this clunky hunk of a clock at the thrift store, I nearly passed it by. But once I took it on as part of the challenge, I got to thinking long and hard about what I could do with it and started to get excited about its potential. I decided, first of all, that I hated the look of the numbers, so I tried to sand them off.
Despite my best efforts, a faint outline of the numbers remained. I had gotten an idea to use the clock as a birth announcement for a baby with a space-themed room, but with the stubborn numbers remaining on the clock, I had to re-imagine my design. Inspired by vintage colors and some tattoo designs, I set to work with my wood burner. When I was satisfied, I used watered-down acrylic paint to fill in the planets, stars, numbers, and a little portion of the letters. I thought the numbers turned out looking much better than they did originally!
Next I stained the wood and let it dry before adding a glossy coat. All that was left was reassembling the clock pieces and getting a battery. I just loved hearing the satisfying tick of the clock when the project was finished. It was fun making something for a friend.
I really enjoyed hearing a few stories via email and Facebook about your approaches to last month’s challenge. This month, find something related to the kitchen and use it in a project. Bonus points: relate your project to Thanksgiving! The due date is December 1st, but please email me, post on instragram or twitter, or leave a comment with your ideas or questions in the meantime! And don’t forget to use the hashtag #littlesnailthriftchallenge!