Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Caradamom Saffron Bitters

Most people just think bitters are for fancy craft cocktails or your aunt's Old Fashioned, but I find bitters to be a refreshing and aromatic addition to sparkling water.  

Usually, but not always, containing an alcohol base, bitters are basically herbs, roots, or other aromatics in a concentrated, or bittersweet form.  Bitters have a long and slightly sordid history.  Well before prohibition, they were used medicinally and the British added them to drinks to help cover the taste of quinine which was in tonic water and used to fight off malaria.   When prohibition came along, bitters were still available since they were considered "medicinal" and despite their frequently high alcohol content are still sold as alcoholic non-beverage products and taxed as such.  Totally weird politics going on here. 

The best thing is, you don't need to buy the super expensive fancy bitters; you can make them yourself!

Miso Cookies

The recipe called for miso paste and half an egg -- I had to make these cookies!  Sorry, I'm getting a little ahead of myself.  My book club dinner/meeting is tonight, and I'm assigned to bring a dessert.  I rarely make desserts but, when I do, I love to make desserts with a unique twist.  So I'm looking at recipes from one of my favorite websites, japanesecooking101, and that's when I saw the recipe for Miso Cookies.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tacoma Postcards

I went to a fun party this month called Tacoma Postcards.  It was a community building party for the Tacoma Historical society with a arty twist.

Everyone was encouraged to make at least one postcard representing one of their favorite (or least favorite) buildings in Tacoma. 

Now, I think of myself as an arty person that is interested in architecture, but when it came down to making my own, I was a little stumped where to start.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Building a Hot (Pepper) House

The south side of our house is the perfect spot to grow our tomatoes and hot peppers with sunshine from sun-up to sundown.  This year we decided to try enclosing our hot peppers to maximize the heat, and hopefully boost our yield.  I was able to utilize the small hothouse enclosures that formerly housed my seedlings, but unfortunately they were not designed to hold larger pots and so could only hold half of my plants!  I searched for larger enclosures but either the dimensions were wrong, or the price was more than I'd be willing to pay.  So I built my own!

More Experimentation with Smoothies

 I started making smoothies at the beginning of the year to get some more whole foods, hydration and variety in my diet and have been making them at least 2-3 times a week.  At first I was making them just for breakfast, but I have really upped my running training and have now added them as a great post-workout snack.  

I used to be pretty anti-protein powder for added supplements.  Even though I am eating mostly vegan these days, it is still pretty easy to get all your protein (and vitamins) from nuts, veggies, and whole grains.  I add in the occasional piece of fish to boost my protein as well.   But I noticed with my more intense weeks of training, I was starting to be pretty tired and sluggish.  I have been reading about vegan athletes' diets and they all seem to use a lot of protein powders.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Building a Boat Sculpture: Part 1

 The great thing about being at artist in Tacoma is that a lot of community art events exist here.  I've been asked, along with 9 other artists, to create a boat sculpture for the Maritime Festival in September.  It seems a long ways off but I want to make a fun, unique sculpture and that take time so I have started my sketches and prototypes now. 

I started by researching different boat types and making a lot of sketches.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Eat Your Vegetables!

Some women collect shoes, and others purses, clothes, or knick-knacks but not me!  Nope, I collect cookbooks!  I just love to pour over the pages, oohing, aahing over the photos of all that delicious food!  I love to cook the food, too, but now that our kids are out of the house it gets to be a chore adjusting the recipes for just the hubby and me.  Which is why Eat Your Vegetables, Bold Recipes For The Single Cook by Joe Yonan caught my eye.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

And Now for a Total Geek Out

 My husband and I were on our way to meet some friends at a local wine bar and found ourselves to be a bit early and so stopped into what I thought was a comic book store next door. 

It was a comic book store, but also a total geek out vintage shop full of toys, games, and other ephemera from popular science fiction and fantasy.   Each area of the shop was given to a different show or movie, like Star Trek, X-Men, or Star Wars. 

When I saw this Darth Vader, I knew I had to have it.  I had actually owned one of these when I was about 7 or 8 and foolishly sold it at a garage sale when I had moved on to other hobbies, like collecting model horses.   But what is it?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Spicy Bonzo Salad (Vegan Chickpea Salad)

I eat a lot of garbanzo beans.  Many people think garbanzos are just for hummus or chop salads.  Both are delicious but there are numerous other ways to enjoy this versatile legume that is full of iron, protein, and fiber.  One of my favorite ways to prepare them is to mash them or pulse them in a food processor.  Then they can easily be mixed into veggie patties, salads, even cake!

Think of the mashed garbanzo salad as the vegan equivalent of tuna salad.  Once you try this, you might not ever go back to tuna again.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Decorate your light switch covers.

I think generic light switch covers are so ugly.  Our living room has a double light switch, and the first time I saw that huge ivory-colored plastic cover I knew it would have to go.  So I cut a piece of illustration board, grabbed my acrylic paints, glue, an art card, and made a new cover.  That was 15 years ago, and it's still on our wall.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Coffee-Macadamia Nut Biscotti

One my souvenirs from my trip to Maui were macadamia nuts still in the shell.  I've had some difficulty deciding what to do with them since I don't have very many, and it's not like I can run to the store and buy some more.  I found a recipe for Coffee-Macadamia Nut Biscotti on that looked interesting so I printed out the recipe, grabbed some nuts, a hammer, and headed for the front porch to get comfy on the cement steps.  

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

52 Weeks of Sewing: Week 2: Altering a T-Shirt

Unless I know exactly what I am buying and have worn it before, I rarely buy clothing online.  It never seems to fit like it should and it feels incredibly wasteful to me to ship something back even if it is free shipping.

But a few months ago (ok, let me think, it might actually have been last summer, oops) I fell victim to an online sale at one of my favorite shops, Pin Up Girl Clothing.  Their dresses are adorable and I've actually gone to their shop in L.A. to try things on so I know what I can buy online later, but they had this awesome Star Wars vintage style t-shirt on sale and I read the reviews on sizing and thought a large would be ok.  But then it came and it was swimming on me.  I think it's supposed to be a little loose and meant to show off a bra or tank top underneath, but I felt like I was wearing a muumuu.

My old sewing machine wasn't so hot with stretch fabrics so I set it aside.  Now, however, I have my new Brother sewing machine, multi-tasker that it is, and I just knew that I could now tackle this teeny tiny project.  

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Is Your Home in Need of an Energy Audit?

 If you own your own house and you have drafts that you can feel or high energy bills or are unsure whether your walls are insulated or not, it might be worth it for you to get a home energy audit. 

A home energy audit is a process in which your house is assessed on its energy uses versus the overall efficiency of your house with energy conservation as the final goal.  We've only been in our house a little over two years and now know enough about our energy uses (extreme waste because of baseboard heaters) that we decided to bring in some professional help to guide us in steps to make our house as efficient as possible.   It's not free where I live, but it is heavily subsidized to encourage you to take part.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fried Rice

When I make rice I like to cook a big batch.  It takes as long to make as a small batch, and the leftover rice comes in handy.  I use it in soups and stews, mix with a bit of soy sauce to make rice balls, or better yet -- fried rice!

Fried rice is so quick to make, and uses only a few ingredients.  A little green onion, an egg or two, and a few cups of day-old (at least) rice sauteed in some oil with a sprinkling of soy sauce.  That's all you need.

I like to add diced carrot and yellow onion, and some peas when I make fried rice, but you could also add corn kernels, asparagus tips, zucchini -- whatever you have on-hand.  Fresh or frozen vegetables work equally well but I prefer using fresh (with the exception of peas), and frozen vegetables would certainly make the preparation quicker and easier.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Healthy Cookie (Vegan and Gluten Free)

Now that I am trying to eating a mostly whole foods diet (meaning food that comes from real ingredients, not overly processed), I have found my biggest struggle has been giving up sugar.

Every ten years or so, it seems our information pendulum about what is healthy swings wildly.  We were told to avoid fat in the eighties and everyone jumped on the Snackwell's bandwagon.  Then came the no carb diet.  Now, scientists are discovering that fats are good and it is probably the added sugars that have been causing heart disease to sky rocket all along.  

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sketchbook Inspirations

I went to the coast earlier this month, I dragged a whole bunch of art supplies with me.  I do this on every trip I take and usually the art supplies stay in the bag or suitcase untouched for the duration of the trip.  This time, however, I actually got some work done.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Birthday Treat for Mom: Dorayaki

When I was young, every December we'd pile into the car and make the big drive from Puyallup to Seattle to shop at Uwajimaya, a large Asian grocery and gift store.  Mom would stock up on ingredients not readily found in our local stores.  My brothers and I would fill up our baskets with delicious Japanese snacks and sweets, and Dorayaki was one of my favorites.

What is Dorayaki?  Quite simply it's a pancake sandwich that's filled with a sweet red bean paste called Anko.  In Japan it's a popular treat to have with your tea.  My mom loves them, so I decided to make some for her birthday.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

52 Weeks of Sewing: Week 1: Zippered Pouch

Welcome to my first project in my bigger quest of 52 weeks of sewing.  I've been thinking about sewing some zippered pouches for some time.  I used to own a great little zippered pouch I kept drawing supplies in but it turned out it was really a microphone case and I had to give it back to my husband.  And I have been missing it ever since. 

I didn't need anything fancy, but I needed sturdy material.  I worked a little on surface design on canvas a couple of months ago and so I dug those pieces out and got to work.

Monday, April 14, 2014

52 Weeks of Sewing

If I had a motto, it would be: "No time like the present to start a new project!"  And I have a crazy idea in mind.  To start 52 projects!

OK, even I am not that crazy, yet since I bought my new sewing machine I have been excited to keep working on projects but have lost a bit of my original enthusiasm.  Where to start?  I have so much fabric around the house, in piles, in bags and boxes in my office closet as well as in my studio.  And patterns, ideas, fragments of ideas and sketches piling up all over the place.

It is time to organize.  It is time to create.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cutting Board Pesto

 When most people think about pesto, they think they have to buy it at the store or make it in a food processor.  The true pesto, originating from Genoa, consists of basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmigiano Reggiano and olive oil.  It is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle, not a food processor.

Fun etymology fact: The Genoese name is pesta, which means to pound or crush and led not only to the name of pesto, but pestle as well!  

When we were at the coast earlier this month, the kitchen at the cabin we stayed in was pretty well stocked with the basics but there was no food processor, of course.  So I improvised.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Asian Cooking 101: Tofu and Rice

Tofu and I have had a love/hate relationship my whole life.  I've always hated it until about two years ago when I started to eat less meat, and tofu became one of my main sources of protein.  The more I ate tofu the more I liked it!

My son, Kevin, lives in Seattle, and when I go up to visit we always grab lunch in the International District.  A couple weeks ago I had a delicious green papaya salad with seared tofu.  The tofu was so fresh and delicious with a wonderfully plump texture.  I assumed their tofu was made at the restaurant, and wondered if I would have to learn how to make my own tofu!  Then I found this little gem at H Mart!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Washington Coast Getaway: Exploring Iron Springs Resort

When I think of going to the coast for a few nights to stay in a cabin, I usually think of cheap, uncomfortable rooms with paper thin walls, a musty smell, and mysterious stains on the bed linen.  So, as my husband was telling me he wanted to go to the coast for his birthday, I knew I needed to do some research and find something that would take dogs, have a nice kitchen for me to cook in, and comfortable furnishings or I wasn't going.  Looking online, I was completely stumped.  The whole coast of Washington to chose from: where to go? 

Luckily, some friends were over for dinner when I was complaining about my inability to find a nice vacation rental and stepped in with some advice: Iron Springs Resort.  We looked it up.  Recent updates in a rustic mid century modern style with lots of amenities and they allowed, even encouraged, dogs.  We were sold.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Don't Quit

 Dragon Boating. It’s a thing. A thing I’ve been rather obsessed with for almost a year now. How did I get involved in this thing you ask? Well, it started with a monkey; a four foot paper mache monkey to be precise. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring is Here! Time to Start Working on the Garden.

Spring has arrived, and with it visions of fresh vegetables are dancing in my head.  Here is a photo of our front yard from last year.  

I've been dabbling with vegetable gardens for about ten years.  First I tried growing some tomatoes and herbs in containers on the back deck, slowly expanding our garden by adding a new vegetable or two each year.  When I had more successes than failures I started planting in raised beds.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Spending Time With Your Food

I am taking an online art history class that is making me challenge myself a bit each week in my preconceptions about art.  This week we covered how artists can show the passage of time and movement within a piece.  And our sketchbook assignment was to use a series of photos to show time or movement. 

I immediately thought about some sort of felting project to show in various stages as I was making it but then I realized I wanted to think about food in relation to time.  I spend a lot of time making food and taking photographs, hopefully in as perfect or as appealing a state as possible, but us food bloggers don't spend much time telling you to slow down and enjoy your food or even to think much about the part about eating it.  I joke all the time that I spend an hour and a half making something for dinner that we could easily inhale in 10 minutes if we don't pay attention. 

So, for lunch today, I decided to pay attention.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Bird Visitor Keeps the Pets Entertained

 This morning I was drinking coffee, checking my email and suddenly there was such a ruckus from the cat and the dog over by the window.  I ignored it for a bit but then Vincent's yowling drew me to the window to take a look.  A Flicker!!  A Northern Flicker, to be more specific. 

Vanilla Sugar

Among the souvenirs I brought home from my vacation was this packet of vanilla beans that were grown on Maui.  Vanilla Beans are the seed pod of an orchid (Vanilla Planifolia) whose flowers have to be pollinated by hand.  The beans are then harvested by hand, and then cured for several months before they can be used for cooking and baking.  No wonder vanilla beans are so expensive!

I have not used vanilla beans before so I decided to start with an easy project:  Vanilla Sugar.  So easy to make that I'm adding it to my to-do list for this year's Christmas gifts. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Painted Lampshade

 A couple of months ago we finally bought a new sofa.  We had been living with a small, beat up leather sofa for the last 10 years and while it worked in our old house, it was far too small for both the living room and for us.  We upgraded to a sofa that could fit both of us and the dog and the cat, all at the same time!  

But I found I wasn't using the new sofa much.  Instead I would curl up on one of our small arm chairs with ottoman across the room.  I realized it was because I had no proper reading lamp for the new sofa.  And much of the time I spend in the living room I am reading.  We weren't sure what kind of lamp to get (another decision!) and then some friends of ours came over and offered to give us a big modern lamp that didn't work in their house anymore.

Yay!  It fit perfectly!  But there was only one problem.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Returning From Paradise

Aloha!  I've just returned from a beautiful, albeit windy, week in Maui.  While I'll miss the spectacular sunsets, I am so happy to be home, and itching to get started on some projects around the house.  Oh, dear.  I see I've forgotten to introduce myself -- how rude!  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Refreshing Kale Mint Smoothie

A friend of mine just gave me the largest bag of kale you have ever seen.  It is probably the equivalent to 8 bunches of kale if I had bought them at the grocery store.  Her husband is of the super gardening type and manages to keep fresh produce coming all through winter while most of us give up and let the weeds take over until spring.  I took it on to try and use all of this splendid kale and not just in the normal, add it to a saute or soup kind of cooking.  I decided some smoothies were in order.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Felt Yardage Equals Just A Felt Pillow

I am trying to make some larger felt yardage and despite the fact that I have a pretty big studio, I have been struggling.  Wool shrinks around 30% from layout to finished product so to get anything in a large size (like enough for a cape, like I want) you have to start really, really large.  And you can make two layers at once using a resist but I didn't want to try that yet as I am still experimenting with pre-felts and layout in general. 

I started by making a smaller, test piece on a small table for a sample.

Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself

Hello all. I’m feeling a bit like a debutante arriving to her coming out party. I’ve spent entirely too long debating on what my first blog post should be about and the result is I’m freaking myself out. So, like any self respecting adult, I Googled it. Apparently it’s a bit like any other social interaction in the world. I should tell you my name and a little bit about myself. Duh.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New Contributors for HouseInsideOut!

Hey folks!

I am shaking things up here at HouseInsideOut and have brought on two new contributors, Ann and Kimberly!  Oskar (above), will not be contributing any more than usual because he wants to sleep all day.  You can read all about Kimberly and Ann on our new Contributor page.  This way we will be able to provide more cooking, arty, garden, and Tacoma stories for all of you! 

Be sure to also check out our new recipe and tutorial archives listed at the top of the page.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Winter's Nearly Over Beet and Orange Salad

The sun has been starting to shine a bit here in the Pacific Northwest.  Not enough to pull out the capri pants yet, but I saw crocuses blooming on my walk today and the sky is so gloriously blue that it is making me start fantasizing about spring salads.  This salad has all the feel of a spring salad but made with readily available winter ingredients: beets, Cara Cara oranges, and spinach. 

It's actually two salads in one.  Instead of serving them separately, I present them on one plate for a really lovely presentation.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sewing for Broke (And Corgis)

I was a crazed, sewing fool earlier this week...until my sewing machine broke.  I was immersed in a couple of sewing projects and was pretty mad when it happened.  It's an inexpensive Elna and while it's over 10 years old (they don't make 'em like they used to) I decided instead of repairing it to buy a new machine.  Maybe I will still have it repaired as a back up, but I thought it was time to get a little fancier machine that can handle more than just 8 stitches!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Spirals and American Hustle Soundtrack

Two things I am obsessed about this week:  My new spiralizer and the American Hustle soundtrack

We saw American Hustle a few weeks ago and at the time, I thought it was pretty entertaining, but didn't think about it much more than that.  Yet in the last couple of weeks, I have found myself thinking about the performances, the story, the music, and I have decided that I absolutely love this movie.  It does wax fairly nostalgic for the 70's and happens to make that time period look a lot sexier than I remember it to be. (Side note: I can't get over the facts, for some reason, that Christian Bale and I are the same age and that it seems that Bradley Cooper keeps playing the same roll over and over.) 

Doodles in the Sketchbook

I've been drawing like crazy lately.  Maybe it's because I am still getting over my cold and finding myself in front of Netflix many evenings.  Or maybe because I am in the middle of redoing both my blog and artist website and suddenly, the need to draw over takes any need to organize photos, check and refine old links, redesign logos etc.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Year of the Horse Needle Felted Sculpture Tutorial

This is now the Year of the Horse, according to the Chinese calendar.   Chinese New Year is a big deal here in Tacoma,  Every new year (this year it was January 31st), a group of super secret glass artists distribute and hide 100's of glass spheres (Monkeyshines) all over the city.  I have never found one.  But then again, a lot of my friends get up at 5 AM to go find them and I come along 4 hours later and come up empty.  Oh well, one day I will find one!

Instead of a sphere, I decided to make a needle felted year of the horse sculpture.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

How Did I Live So Long Without a Spiralizer?

As you learn to cook more using whole foods, you start to get bored of the normal knife work in chopping up a carrot, zucchini, etc.  You crave different textures.  That is where some unique kitchen gadgets step in and make life a little more interesting.  

I was looking to purchase a spiralizer for veggies and was baffled by all the options offered online.  A friend, who is also a veggie fanatic, had purchased several gadgets and offered to let me try them out.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Felted Cat Afternoon

I've been sick all week.  Nothing flashy like the flu or Norovirus, just an old fashioned, miserable cold.  Which means I have had some time on my hands.  I finally read Gone Girl.  And I decided I need to needle felt some cats. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Jumping on the Smoothie Bandwagon

Everybody is making smoothies these days.  Maybe it's a new year resolution thing or just the newest fad.  While it seems like a great way to get a lot of nutrients, smoothies can have a downside too.  Many recipes recommend using an excessive amount of fruit juice (lots of sugar without the fiber, etc.) and one "serving" can end up totaling two to three times the calories you would have had with just a bowl of oatmeal.  So, I approach the whole thing slowly, cautiously, and with a lot of skepticism.

I don't really want too sweet of a smoothie so

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Feeling Fantastic!

 OK, there is something I have realized about myself that I would have been shocked to have discovered just a few short years ago: I like rules. 

It turns out my husband and I both like rules.  As in, 'Let's not drink alcohol for the entire month of January!'  'Let's eat only vegan food for at least 3 weeks in January!'  'Let's cut out white sugar!'  Still working on the white sugar part, more on that later.  But doing great on the not drinking and eating vegan.  And, not a big surprise here, feeling really fantastic.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Playing with Corgi Video

My husband bought me a video camera, a Sony HDR-CX220 for Christmas because he knew I was interested in making video tutorials.  Here is my first, very rough, attempt at video editing.  The Windows movie maker that came on my computer is pretty useless.  I am going to need a much better editor to synch up music and make more interesting edits.

But you have to start somewhere, right?