Saturday, July 31, 2010

Guacamole & Fish Tacos

I picked up some avocados this weekend and made a newer version of my guacamole. I also decided to try out one of Aarti's recipes for fish tacos from her blog Aarti Parti: eat, giggle, repeat.

Aarti is a really cute lady hailing from L.A. I found out about her because she is currently competing for the next food network star. She uses her Indian background to bring an Indian flair to all kinds of unique dishes...and she is adorable! Her blog even has fun episodes of Aarti Parti that are full of quirky happenings (from her playing ukulele with a friend to playing on the word fish with a silly montage).

Check out her blog AND if you like her you should let food network know you want to see more of her on their channel.

Oh, the amazing fish taco recipe that has a delicious mint-cumin mayo to go with is here

Guacamole Recipe
2-3 hass avocados
1 lime
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/8 cup red or yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1/8 cup purple onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
dash of salt

  1. Cut avocados in half and discard seed. Use a large spoon to scoop out all of the "meat." Make sure you get it all, you don't want to waste any!
  2. Add enough lime juice to lightly coat avocados. This will prevent oxidation from occurring and keep your avocados a lovely light green color (as opposed to browning).
  3. Use potato masher to mash up avocados.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and chill before serving (make sure plastic wrap is touching the guacamole to further prevent oxidation.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Birth of a Goddess

Art of the Day

The Birth of Venus by Italian Renaissance painter, Sandro Botticelli is by far my favorite painting...EVER! After I graduated from college I got the opportunity to visit Italy. Me and two of my friends backpacked for two weeks. I got to actually see the painting (which resides at the Uffizi gallery in Florence) and cross it off my "Things to do Before I Die" list. When I saw her, I cried. Not the bad kind of cry, but the joyous kind. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. I just couldn't leave the room where she lived. I wanted to stay with her always (or take her down and hang her in my house!)

I painted on an old window pane a contemporary version of the birth of a goddess. My painting is by no way comparable to Botticelli's and really it's like apples and oranges because they are so different. However, I did want to include my painting in this post because it was inspired by my love for the same mythological story that inspired Botticelli to create such a glorious masterpiece. My painting was made using acrylic paints and the shiny stuff you see is copper leafing.

Cinnamon-Pecan Sticky Buns

I have always wanted to make these mouthwatering treats. Good for you? No! Yummy in the tummy? Yes!

I never knew how easy they were to make (just takes a little time for dough to rise so you have to be patient). Boy oh boy are these good too! Sweet, chewy, gooey, yum!

  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Filling:
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  1. In large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add milk, sugar, oil, and salt; then stir. Add a little over 1 cup of flour and beat at medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Stir enough of the remaining flour to create a soft dough that isn't so sticky it sticks to your hands.
  2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead for around 6 minutes (adding flour periodically when dough gets too sticky). Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise until doubled in size (about one hour).
  3. Punch down dough and turn back out onto lightly floured counter. Roll out into rectangle (should be around 12. in x 18 in.). Spread butter on dough, leaving a 1/2 in. edge on all sides. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over butter. Roll up, jelly-roll style (starting with the long side) and pinch seam to seal. Cut into 12 slices.
  4. Mix brown sugar and cream and pour into greased 9 x 13 baking pan. Cover with pecans, cut side down. Cover and let rise another hour...they should double in size
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for a couple of minutes before serving. Yield: one dozen.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cute Thrift Finds

Here are a few more cute as a button kitchen items I picked up at the thrift store recently!
1 cute little boy-faced bowl complete with flowers on the inside and two quite unique hand-made-looking owl mugs. You have to admit, that bowl is almost too cute to eat out of!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Luna's Collar

My crazy and fun-loving dog, Luna was in need of a collar that was more in line with her spunky-funky personality. I decided to try and alter the collar she had with some sewing materials and a crafty hand.
  • I started by painting the collar an olive green color with acrylic paint.
  • Then I cut out three felt circles (one large blue, a medium yellow and a small gray)
  • Next, I picked out some fun buttons
  • I cut some blue velvet "rick-rack"
  • Lastly I glued everything in place with hot glue

I think she likes it!

Eggplant and Okra

Eggplant and okra: a story of two friends

My okra and eggplant live right beside each other in my garden and are finally producing. I think next year I might have to be a little more diligent with the fertilizer so it will grow faster. The okra is still a little on the small side, but I have harvested a few full-size pieces. Also, I have an eggplant buddy that I think will be ready to pick in about a week (when it gets a little bigger and a little darker).

Did anybody know that okra has this beautiful bloom that flowers in the morning and closes up by afternoon? It has a gorgeous cream/yellow tinge with a deep maroonish-purple in the middle. Neat!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Blueberry Crumble Pie

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy fresh, plump, and juicy fruits and vegetables. This blueberry crumble pie recipe is quite simple and delicious with a cold glass of milk!

Your friends and family (or whoever you decide to share this with) will be licking their chops for another piece. You just wait and see!


2-3 cups fresh blueberries
9 inch pie crust
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
dash of salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter

  1. After placing pie dough into a lightly oiled glass pie dish, pierce dough with fork on bottom and along sides. Par-bake at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes. This will ensure that the crust isn't all gooey on the bottom.
  2. Mix the beaten eggs with 1 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup flour, sour cream and salt.
  3. Put berries into par-baked crust and spoon sour cream mixture on top.
  4. In another bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour and combine well. Cut butter into pea-sized pieces and add to sugar/flour mixture with pastry tool or hands. You know crumble mixture is well combined when it resembles bread crumbs or Parmesan cheese.
  5. Carefully add crumble to top of pie.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown on top.
  7. Let cool for at least ten minutes, then enjoy!


My doormat that welcomes each guest at the front door had gotten pretty shabby (and not in the chic way). It is one that is made up of some sort of organic fiber like straw or hemp. All of the original colors had faded. I had looked at many stores for a new doormat, but hadn't found any neat enough or cheap enough to validate buying.

So, I decided to try and re-purpose my old door mat with some good old spray paint. I started by trying to use doilies as a sort of stencil, but the detail didn't want to show up so I eventually just ended up free-hand spraying. The results are some sort of cross between contemporary genius and something a kid could do; but I like it!

close-up of finished project

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cool T-Shirt!

Teefury is a site that sells daily t-shirts for $9. Sometimes they are cool, and sometimes they are cooler. Today's shirt is a very metal/awesome/rockin' take on the Mexican holiday "Dia de los Muertos."

You can only get it today, so get it now if you like it!

Miss Van

Art of the Day

I found this book, Street Art: The Graffiti Revolution by Cedar Lewisohn at the thrift store the other day. Mega cool! It is really like a history of street art and graffiti and catalogs various artists from Keith Harring's work in the 1980's up to more contemporaries like Banksy and Miss Van (whose work is featured on the cover).

Miss Vann, originally from Toulouse, France, paints flirty comic-book esque girls paired with furry forest animals. Her signature red, sultry, pouty lipped girls make her work unmistakable. Her paintings create ethereal dream-like scenes with playful feminine figures. I love it!

Of course I love this one with the cute little owl hat atop her head.

Miss Van at work on a lovely little lady!

To check out more work from Miss Van go to her site

Owl Watercolors

I collect owls and have quite a few of them around my house. There was a count started at one point that reached 82 I think; however there has to be more than 100. As much as I love owls, they have rarely made it into my artwork.

I painted three owl watercolors. These were a lot of fun to draw and a little tedious painting since I am trying to learn how to be a more patient artist and work on more detailed and smaller projects. I enjoyed it and think I learned a lot about watercolors!




Friday, July 23, 2010

Record Bowls

Making record bowls is a fun and easy craft project. It's cheap too! I found a thrift store on my commute home from work that sells records for 25 cents a piece.

  • Set your oven to a low temperature (150-200 degrees)
  • Place a small cereal bowl that is oven-safe upside down on the top rack
  • Let bowl sit in oven for about ten minutes to warm up
  • Center record on top of bowl and close oven door
  • After about one minute (it doesn't take long, so don't leave the kitchen) take record out. Be careful because it is probably a little hot. If the record hasn't slumped down to resemble a bowl after a minute leave it in a little longer, but it shouldn't take much longer than a minute.
  • Place record bowl on counter to harden. This also does not take long at all, so if you want to alter the edges work fast.
  • You can leave record bowl as is or use your fingers to create a more organic shape with the warm scalloped edges
These make great gifts and can be used as catchalls (to collect the junk in your pocket at the end of the day), candy bowls, or you can leave them alone to make a sculptural statement. I have even hung them on the walls before to spice up a boring wall!

Funky Thrift Finds

I have a little bit of a shopping habit; but it's OK because it only exists at the thrift store. That's OK, right? Nothing feels more rewarding than discovering some funky and unique treasure that's price tag is only $2.98 and probably came from some old lady's basement.

Here are a couple of recent finds that I adore!

This is a funky bag that I believe was made out of vinyl tablecloths. I use it to gather vegetables in when I go to the farmer's market or as a tote when I go to the pool (it's waterproof)!

These are a few of the crocheted oven mits and trivets I have picked up. Aren't the adorable?

Robots and Monkeys

Art of the Day

John Lytle Wilson is a local Birmingham artist whose work is really whimsical, futuristic and fun. Think robots, monkeys and unicorns meet apocalyptic type scenes that are somehow fun and inviting!

Recently, he had a collaborative show with photographer Wes Frazer at Bare Hands Art Gallery. Part of their exhibit was a hand-made spinning wheel that you could pay to turn (some of the prizes included taking a shot of "Old Crow" whiskey and winning an original t-shirt).

Another thing that Wilson does that I absolutely love: he takes old landscape paintings that he gets at thrift stores and carefully adds a robot here or there to create a really fascinating scene.

to check out more of his work, check out his site


I made 2 pizzas last night for dinner that were quite tasty! Pizza is a lot of fun because it gives you a basic vehicle (bread) to combine any sauces and ingredients together. I used my pesto sauce for one pizza and a Jamaican jerk sauce that I picked up at a local Asian market for the other.

I usually make the pizza dough a day or two before hand, and the recipe is really simple. It also makes four pizzas, so I usually have a couple of dough balls left over to freeze for the next time I get an itch to make pizza.

Dough Recipe:
4 1/2 cups bread or all-purpose flour
1 package rapid rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 3/4 cup water
cornmeal for dusting pan

1. Mix yeast packet and 3/4 cup luke warm water in large mixing bowl. Let sit for about 10 minutes.
2. Add flour and salt and mix loosely with a fork. Next, add water and olive oil. Slowly add more water until dough feels sticky, but doesn't stick to your hand (add more flour if dough is too sticky). Mix with dough hook attachment on mixer for 5 minutes. Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and knead a couple of times and form into ball.
3. Place back into bowl that has been lightly oiled and cover with a thin rag. Let sit for several hours and punch down a couple of times when dough has doubled in size.
4. Let sit overnight! This part is important.
5. In the morning, punch dough down one last time (don't worry, dough will fill a little dry on top from sitting out all night, but you can add a little water if this really worries you).
6. Separate dough into 4 balls and place any to be frozen into an air tight plastic bag. Dough to be used right away can be wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in refrigerator to rest. (Make sure you put a light coating of olive oil on dough balls before chilling them in fridge or freezer). When you are ready to make your pizza make sure and let dough warm back up and rise a bit on counter before you roll it out (a couple of hours is good).

*If you are using whole wheat flour, you will need an extra packet of yeast in order for the dough to rise enough. I usually add a cup of whole wheat flour and use the rest regular; because honestly you just can't get the fluffiness of pizza dough I love so much if you use all whole wheat.

Pizza Recipes!
After dough has warmed up and is ready to use, roll it out on a lightly floured counter. It will roll out to be really thin, so be patient! Placed rolled out dough onto a round baking sheet that has been oiled and dusted lightly with cornmeal.

Pesto Chicken Jamaican Jerk
3-4 Tbs pesto 2 Tbs Jamaican jerk sauce
2 Tbs butter, softened 3 Tbs butter, softened
2 cups shredded mozzarella 2 cups shredded mozzarella
2 cooked chicken breasts, sliced 2 chicken cooked breasts, sliced
sliced pepperoni 1 can sliced water chestnuts
1/2 purple onion, julienned 1/2 purple onion, julienned
1/2 red pepper, julienned 1 small can pineapple chunks
1 large tomato, sliced 1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
a few basil leaves for garnish a few mint leaves for garnish

Spread sauce and butter onto rolled out pizza dough with a spoon. If you are making the jerk, don't be tempted to add more sauce because it looks thin. It is thin for a reason! This stuff is spicy and potent; I promise you don't want any more than 2 tablespoons! You can also add a little tomato paste or pasta sauce to the jerk sauce to tone down the spiciness and make the sauce saucier. The pineapple and water chestnuts really add a refreshing note to the spiciness of the dish.

Next, add about 3/4 of cheese to pizza. Then add toppings and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes until cheese is golden brown and it looks so good you could gobble it up!

Garnish with fresh herbs (basil for pesto pizza and mint for Jamaican jerk pizza). Slice and enjoy!

Pizza dough with sauce!
(pesto on left, jerk on right)

Baked Pizzas. Yum. Yum.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Art of the Day

I love cattails!

I painted these four paintings a couple of years ago with collage images from illustrations from an old elementary mathematics book.

I went on a walk today and saw the little fuzzy parts from the inside of a cattail, made me think of being a kid


Yesterday I picked some fresh basil from my garden and made yummy pesto.

I was out of pine nuts, so I improvised with some pecans. Result? Totally tasty!


5-6 bunches (2 packed cups maybe) of basil
3 cloves of garlic
a handful of toasted walnuts, pecans, almonds or pine nuts
one tbs of salt
1/4 cup olive oil

Add everything to food processor and pulse it a couple of times...then add olive oil as needed to get desired consistency.

Put in jar and top off with a drizzle of olive oil to help keep ingredients fresh.

**a lot of recipes call for parmesan cheese, but i found that the pesto stays fresher and lasts longer in fridge if you skip the you can add the cheese to whatever dish you are making!


This here lies the outputs of my life (some of them): happenings, art, cooking, and a little sillyness