Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ice Feathers

I just loved the "ice feathers" all over my windshield this morning. Here in the Pacific Northwest we usually have thick ice on the windows in the morning. It has been under 20 degrees and dry so this is what we get. So beautiful !!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

DIY Hanging Ornament Christmas Branch

Ah yes, after taking November off here I am. I did a few projects which I will be putting up over the coming weeks, but mostly I have been focusing on my business and having some family time with our out of town guests.

This tree branch project is something I have had in my mind's eye since my poor fruit tree failed and died last Spring. I am so please that it turned out exactly like I pictured!

I started by making a mixture of basic white glue, water and light green glitter. I painted it only in areas on the branch that had naturally occurring green moss. I wanted to keep the feel natural with just a little sparkle to tie in with the ornaments. 

For the ornaments, I got two sizes of clear plastic ornaments and used the super popular pledge floor cleaner and glitter method that has been all over Pinterest this season. For the glitter I used 3 colors (silver, pale blue and pale green) all old Martha Stewart colors.

Then it was just a mix of cursing and begging Mr Bucket & Co to help me with the fishing line and ladder. And there you are!

PS: Let me give some credit too for the painting. It is by the amazingly talented Jenna Colby (

Ornament tutorial:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Spicy Kale Salad...Oh wow was this yummy

UPDATE: I got the recipe! We have made it a couple of times now, once for a family function and it is very well received.

I snagged this yesterday on the cold bar at my local high end grocery. I wish I had taken some pics but it was too good and I ate it too fast.I am not much of a kale fan but this was amazing. Yeah, I know what your'e going to say. It's so tasty and healthy and blah blah blah. I do have to admit that raw, like this, it's the bomb.

My next mission is to figure out how to recreate it so I don't have to stalk the salad bar hoping that I manage to go in on a day that they have made it (Murphy's Law says nope).

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dia de los Muertos Pillow In Progress

Just a little work in progress...Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

My Toothbrush Plays Black Eyed Peas !

OK so if this was full price I would never have gotten it. However listening to I Gotta Feeling at 5:45am every morning (I am so not a morning person) may be a bit of a Rocky theme/get my ass up in the morning/ pump me up moment. I tried it as soon as I got home from the fabulous Grocery Outlet. When you hear it outside of your mouth it's kind of weird and barely audible. Inside your mouth it gets louder and clearer. I thought maybe I was imagining it but I dug the packaging out of the trash and fancy that - it's supposed to sound better in your mouth! Since I am in sales and need to be on my A game first thing in the morning, maybe my new Black Eyed Peas toothbrush will work some magic!

Autostitch Got Confused

We recently stayed at the Hyatt San Francisco Airport. The rooms had a cool view on this inner courtyard. I pulled up my Autostitch app (I still prefer it over my iPhone panorama). I guess all of the repetitive patterns really confused the software and produced this...which is actually kind cool...

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sashiko Embroidered Pillow

It only took me over a year but the darn thing is done!!! Don't be fooled, when I say this took me a year, it's just because I have a million and one projects I start that live unfinished forever in my studio. 

This is my first piece of sashiko embroidery. It's a traditional Japanese folk art. Back in the day, it was a method used to creatively darn and disguise worn areas on garments. Now it's just fun and pretty. Its also usually worked in a dark indigo blue on a white background or vice versa. That's nice, but I am way more colorful. 

Purl Bee has a great tutorial, so I won't waste my time explaining the how to...just go check it out. 

I am a cheap ass, so I went on to Etsy for the sashiko cloth. It was $8 with some minimal shipping. The needles and sashiko thread can be pricey so I went with DMC embroidery thread I already had and some long dollmaking needles that were hiding in my sewing box. It worked like a charm.

For the pillow part, I found some nice, thick, cheap purple fabric at Joann Fabrics (3/4 yard). Thank you 40% off coupon. Then I went to Michael's (thanks again 40% off coupon) and got a pillow form. I have never made a couch type pillow. I found this great tutorial for making an envelope style pillow case. I am a beginning seamstress, but this was a no brainer, even for me. I just made sure to sew the sashiko sampler to the front of the pillow before finishing the seams.

So there we go. Gotta say, it was fun and cheap and I love the results. I think I am on an embroidery kick. I dug up some old Sublime Stitching patterns from the recesses of the studio and I am working on a new pillow as we speak. Pictures to follow!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bucket Loves Her YouTube

Check out this thumb aided selfie of Bucket. She was hanging out on my lap when Mr Bucket turned on her favorite YouTube channel on our AppleTV - Videos for Your Cat. Yeah I know, not good to advocate them getting excited about eating birdies but I can't help giving her a little entertainment. If you have a kitty check it out. Bucket and Red both love it!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Homemade Chai Liqueur - How to Make a White Elephant

I have been making some homemade flavored vodkas lately and decided to do a little experiment with some chai I had lying around. The flavored vodka I made was way too strong, so with a little tweaking and some simple syrup, I turned it in to an amazing chai liqueur. I then whipped up an easy little drink that had my hubby and his friend coming back for more. Here's the recipe:

Homemade Chai Liqueur

1/2 of a 1.75 L bottle of cheap vodka (I use Trader Joe's)
5 T sweet chai spice (I got mine from World Spice)
4 vanilla beans (see my post here for cheap beans)
1 cup water
1 T ground cinnamon (optional)
2 cups brown or white sugar

The ratios of chai to vodka are rough since I was just experimenting. Add chai spice directly to the bottle of vodka. I didn't add any tea along with the chai (like you would when making chai tea) just the chai spice. Since chai contains peppercorn and cardamom, you will need to be very careful to not overextract the spices and end up with something bitter. I taste tested a teaspoon daily and found that at 4 days, mine was a little overdone.

Strain the vodka in to another container. Remove the spices and return the vodka to the original bottle.

Using kitchen shears, cut the ends off your vanilla beans, then cut in half (both length and width). This will open up your bean and expose all the flavorful beany goodness. Add the vanilla to your vodka. Cap it up and store under your sink for 2 - 3 weeks. Give it a shake every couple of days and test aprox once a week until it has the desired flavor. Keep in mind it will still be strong until you tame it with some sugar.

Once your vodka mix has just the right flavor, strain off the vanilla beans and set aside.You can end the process here and have Chai Vodka - really freakin tasty but strong vodka. I think it is better as a liqueur, but it is good both ways.

In a saucepan mix water, sugar and ground cinnamon. I have made it with both kinds of sugar and with and without cinnamon. No matter what it's always good. Boil and stir to make a simple syrup. When all the sugar is combined put the pan aside and wait for it to cool. When cool, add your vodka mix, stir and you are ready to bottle. Enjoy!

White Elephant

Our friend came up with the name since it's like a White Russian, but with our Chai Liqueur

Rocks glass with ice
1 1/2 oz vodka
3/4 oz chai liqueur
3/4 oz cream or milk

You can shake and strain or just serve it on the rocks. So good!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Chilled Fruit Soup Recipes

I am not usually a huge fan of chilled soups, but for some reason I have had some serious cravings lately and no idea where to begin. I have been craving some of the chilled fruit soups we had on a Caribbean cruise a few years back. I must still be in Hawaii mode. It's not quite the weather for it here, but I can't help it.

 Here are just some of the recipes I have found on my cold soup quest. I have yet to try them

From the Royal Caribbean International Cookbook:


4 ripe large peaches, peeled, halved and pitted

1 1/2 cups (345 g) granulated sugar

2 cups (500 ml) peach nectar, plus extra if needed

1 star anise, cracked

1 vanilla bean, split

juice of 3 oranges

juice of 2 lemons

1/2 pint (150 g) strawberries, gently washed

2 sprigs fresh mint

1. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C. Lightly coat a baking sheet with butter. Place the peach halves cut side down on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the peaches with 1/2 cup (70g) sugar and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until well roasted.

2. Transfer the peaches to a food processor along with any drippings from the baking sheet. Puree until smooth, stopping 2 or 3 times to scrape down the sides. Transfer to a large nonreactive bowl and set aside.

3. In a small nonreactive saucepan, combine the peach nectar, remaining sugar and star anise over medium heat. Use the tip of a blunt knife to scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the mixture. Bring to a boil and then remove from the heat. Let the syrup infuse for about 1 hour in a warm place. Strain through a fine sieve into a nonreactive bowl and add the citrus juices.

4. Tasting as you go, slowly add the peach syrup to the peach puree until the desired flavor is achieved. If the soup is nicely flavored but too thick, thin it with a little plain peach nectar. Cover and refrigerate until completely cold.

5. To serve, ladle the soup into chilled soup plates or cups and garnish with sliced strawberries and mint sprigs.


1 pt (150g) fresh raspberries, gently washed

1 pt (150g) fresh strawberries, gently washed & trimmed

2 cups (500 ml) sour cream

1 cup (250 ml) whole milk

1 cup (250 ml) ginger ale

1/4 cup (60g) granulated sugar

2 tablespoons Triple Sec

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

fresh mint leaves for garnish

1. Reserve 6 of the strawberries and 12 of the raspberries for garnish. In a blender or food processor combine the remaining berries and puree until smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve over a nonreactive bowl, pushing through as much of the pulp as you can, leaving the seeds behind.

2. Whisk the remaining ingredients, except the reserved berries and mint, into the puree. Cover and refrigerate until cold. To serve, divide the soup among chilled soup bowls and garnish with reserved berries and mint leaves.

Serves 4 to 6.


20 fresh medium apricots (around 5 cups, diced) (700g)

1 cup (250 ml) club soda

1 cup (250 ml) dry white wine

1/2 cup (70 g) granulated sugar

juice of 1 lemon

1/3 cup (75 ml) cognac

whipped cream and chopped fresh mint for garnish

1. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 quarts (2l) water to a boil. Working in batches, plunge the apricots in the boiling water and leave them in just until the skins are loosened, 10 to 20 seconds. With a slotted spoon, transfer the apricots to a large bowl of cold water to cool. Slip off the skins and cut the apricots in half. Remove the pits and dice the apricots.

2. In a large nonreactive bowl, combine the apricots, club soda, wine, sugar, lemon juice and cognac. Ladle the mixture in batches into a blender and puree until smooth. Transfer the soup to another bowl. Cover and refrigerate. To serve, divide the soup among chilled soup bowls and garnish with whipped cream and mint.

Serves 6


6 cups (1.5 l) water

juice of 2 lemons

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus extra for garnish

18 golden delicious apples, peeled, cored and roughly diced

4 cups (560 g) vanilla ice cream

1. In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the ice cream. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the apples are soft.

2. Transfer the soup in batches to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain the soup through a fine sieve into a nonreactive bowl. Let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 4 hours. To serve, stir in the ice cream and divide the soup among chilled soup bowls. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve immediately.

Serves 8


2 pounds (905 g) chopped fresh ripe pineapple

2 cups (280 g) sour cream

1 cup (250 ml) whole milk

1 cup (250 ml) ginger ale

1 cup (140 g) granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

1. In a nonreactive bowl, combine all the ingredients except the coconut. Transfer the mixture in batches to a food processor and puree until smooth. Pour the soup into a clean nonreactive bowl. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

2. Meanwhile, toast the coconut. In a dry skilled over high heat, toss or stir the coconut, taking care not to scorch it, until lightly browned. To serve, divide the soup among chilled soup bowls and garnish with the coconut.

Serves 4 to 6


8 cups (1 kg) peeled and finely diced mango (about 12 mangos)

1 cup (250 ml) water

1 cup (250 ml) ginger ale

1/2 cup (125 ml) rice wine vinegar

1/2 cup (125 ml) light olive oil

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and finely diced

1/2 cup (70 g) finely diced red onion

3/4 cup (100g) chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a blender or food processor, combine half the mango with the water, gingeral, vinegar, oil and sugar. Puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the soup to a nonreactive bowl. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 4 hours.

2. In another nonreactive bowl, combine the remaining 4 cups of mango, cucumber, red onion and 1/2 cup cilantro. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

3. To serve, divide the mango/cucumber mixure among chilled soup bowls that are each sitting in a bowl of crushed ice. Ladle the soup over the mango/cucumber mixture and sprinkle with the remaining cilantro. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6