Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Back in Time and New Experiences

This Thanksgiving was a time of reflection upon the past as well as a time for opening my eyes to new joys. Traveling to my childhood home of Tempe, AZ brings me back to my past but whenever I’m back there, I never see school friends. As I’ve gotten older I find that I really miss those kids. I guess I see myself in my high school age daughter and the things she does and friends she knows remind me of how much I miss my old pals. You know, with Facebook reuniting with school friends made it possible. So my friend from high school that I got re-acquainted with on Facebook and I planned a little gathering and contacted many people from school to join us. Turns out with the holidays and people having company or traveling out of town, it was just 3 of us and our spouses. But that was a good re-entry for me. Plus, early in the day, I ran into 2 more friends from high school in my old neighborhood. Seeing everyone again was a joy and seeing what they’ve done with their lives was so interesting. Plus, we caught up on gossip and talked about the old days, which was hilarious. I recommend you do the same. There is nothing like seeing people after 20+ years and catching up.

As the weekend continued, I experienced one of the highlights of my artistic life which was seeing the Chihuly glass exhibition at the Desert Botanical Gardens.

It was an art exhibition with spectacular glass features intermixed in the desert landscape. The colors and shapes were extraordinary. This just confirms my love for color and shiny things. I highly recommend visiting. The display will be there until May 31, 2009. Thank goodness I had 2 cameras. To see more pictures, visit my flickr album.

Oh, and I have to let you know, I have a bunch of new items in my Etsy shop and am having a major inventory sale. Free shipping to the USA.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Migraines are my Personal Hell

photo 'borrowed' from my friend Jennifer Ramos
Titled: How I Look Younger Though Today I’m Older, or How My Migraines are Managed

This is the birthday I have really dreaded for a few years, but actually, it turned out not so bad. I look in the mirror and wonder how I got this old this fast and yet look fairly good. Oh yeah, it was the Botox I had 2 weeks ago. Ok, hold on, now I must explain. And the only reason I am outing myself is because I know a lot of people suffer from migraines and are looking for a cure (though there is none at this time), a treatment, a prevention, whatever. I am one of those people and I want to share my treatment program if it could help even one person. I’ve been suffering with migraines for some time and was fortunate to find a neurologist that specializes in migraines in Newport Beach named Phillip O’Carroll, M.D. I’ve been working with him for over a month to get my migraines under control with a couple of treatments. I typically have about 11 or so migraines a month and take Relpax when I get them. I was taking some preventative meds, but they stopped working. My new doctor has now put me on Lexapro, which he calls “Vitamin L” and thinks it should be in the water supply that’s how much he loves it. It’s an antidepressant but it evens out your moods supposedly and should help decrease the frequency of the migraines. The other treatment that he believes strongly in is Botox. At least initially, for me, he believes it should help me. The issue is right now, I get a headache, I take a Relpax. I get another headache, I take a Relpax. All of these migraines are caused by the Relpax; rebound headaches. I should only be getting about 2 a month, not 11. So to help brake this migraine/Relpax cycle, he recommended Botox. The first month I did the Lexapro, I thought I could break the cycle on my own, without the Botox. But again, 11 migraines. So this month, I opted to try it. This website explains Botox in the prevention of migraines but essentially it was found that people that had migraines and were using Botox for cosmetic purposes saw a decrease in their migraines. Thus, more research was done. Problem is, since it’s not yet approved by the FDA for use with migraines, at least my insurance doesn’t pay for it. But believe me, at this point, I am willing to pay for it for 1 treatment if my dr. thinks it will work. He’s seen many patients that it helped. Plus you get the added benefit of no ability to frown for 3 months. I only had it 2 weeks ago so I’m not sure if it’s helping the migraines yet with all of these winds and fires, but damn, I look at least 2-3 years younger (per my 14 y.o. son). I think I look 10 years younger. I think I need a major paying job because this may become a habit.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Recipe: A Twist on Pot Pie, Make it Moroccan

Moroccan Chicken Pot Pie

With kids doing something each night, life has become so stressful. So organization and prep is the key to decreasing my stress. I’m trying to be so organized these days and plan meals that I can make ahead or at least do the prep work for ahead of time. One dish meals are best for my sanity.

On Sundays I plan the meals and shop by Monday for the week. This past week, I roasted 2 chickens. On Monday we ate roasted chicken for dinner and had leftovers. I used that meat for this dish below and I still have the meat from the other roasted chicken that I put in the freezer for something next week. I haven’t decided what yet.

Here is a recipe I found in the Bon Appetit, Dec. 2007 issue and it sounded pretty interesting. I did make some changes because the original recipe had cumin and my husband can’t eat cumin. Also I wanted more color and texture in the dish and a little kick so I added the Tapatio sauce, apricots, marjoram, and artichokes. The pot pie was a huge hit with my family much to my huge relief. So I can now put it in my bag of tricks for another time.

On to the recipe for Moroccan Chicken Pot Pie

1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
11/2 teaspoons of Tapatio or Tabasco hot sauce
1 lemon
3 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup of quartered artichoke hearts (I use frozen from Trader Joes)
1 cup imported green olives, pitted, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
1 refrigerated pie crust (half of 15-ounce package)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Mix chicken cubes with paprika, marjoram, and cinnamon in large bowl to coat. Sprinkle chicken generously with salt and pepper. Cut lemon in half; remove seeds. Using small spoon, scoop out enough pulp and juice from between membranes to measure 2 tablespoons. Add to chicken mixture. Add Tapatio sauce; stir to blend.
Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, olives, apricots, artichokes and raisins. Sauté until onion is almost tender, about 4 minutes. Add chicken mixture and stir 1 minute. Sprinkle flour over; stir 1 minute. Add broth and bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Transfer filling to 9-inch-diameter deep-dish glass pie dish.
Place pie crust over dish and seal dough edges to rim of dish. Using small paring knife, cut several slits in pie crust. Bake pot pie until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling thickly, about 20 minutes.

Source: Mostly the Bon Appetit Dec. 2007 recipe with some substitutions

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Tutorial: The Remake of a Boring Cardigan Sweater

From this

To this

I got this Gap wool cardigan at the thrift store last year and never really liked the neckline or the fit. Since I’m not a sewer, I procrastinated on doing anything to it, and only wore it a couple of times. Finally, the other day some inspiration blew in with the northern winds and I thought to myself “what have I got to lose? The sweater cost me $5.” So I stuck the sweater in a couple of warm water washes to felt it and make it smaller. I pulled out my sewing machine and thought of a way I would minimally have to use that, and instead use mostly my needle and thread, my noggin, and my love of color and design. I also decided to enter this tutorial in the Birdie “Know-it-All Tutorial Contest to see what other's think.

I suck at drawing. No matter how many years I took art, I never achieved the ability to make anything symmetrical on paper so don’t laugh. Typically I don’t plan things out and just wing it, but this time I needed some sort of an action plan. As you will see though, my drawing isn’t exactly like my finished project but just an inspiration for it and I’ll explain why in a minute.
So I cut the sleeves ¾ length, the bottom band and around the neck and button band.
I used ½ of the bottom band for each sleeve to make them flare a bit. This is where my sewing machine came in. I zig zag stitched the sleeve edging on.

Next I started cutting out pieces for the flowers and leaves as well as the fastener bands.


I used the sleeve portions I cut off to make the flowers. I cut across the sleeve 1 ½ inch pieces and cut that circle to open that up. I twisted that piece and rolled it from the edge around my finger and secured it with a pin.

I later sewed the back of those to secure them so that they wouldn’t unravel and then hand sewed those on with needle and thread to the sweater.


I used parts of the neckband and cut pieces about 1-2 inches long. I cut a long oblong on the edge opposite the fold so when I cut the leaf, I could open it up and there would be a leaf with a crease in the middle.

I used an unraveled thinner strand of the colored yarn to baste stitch the leaves onto the sweater down the center of the leaf.

Fastener band:

I used 2 pieces that incorporated a buttonhole on each end.

The Edging:

I used a basic blanket stitch with colored yarn for edging the bottom and neckline.

I used a whip stitch to go around the fastener bands.

I put 4 buttons on the sweater to attach the fastener bands.

Here’s why I changed the original pattern. Once I put on the sweater I realized that it had shrunk a bit more than I realized especially since I had cut it apart. So the back gathering with a band idea wouldn’t work. Then just laying out the sweater, I thought it would be a bit much with flowers on both sides. The way the sweater fit, the fastener band could not be single and high, but would look more interesting lower and with 2.

It’s ok to use a pattern for inspiration. Once you get going on any project, things can change and so might your finished piece. And that’s ok. I can’t wait to hit the thrift for another sweater and another set of inspirations. I learned from the first one and have some ideas for another. I might even get a bit braver with my sewing machine. Maybe.

Coca Mallorquina

3 years ago my husband’s mother passed away. Prior to that we would go to their home many weekends and eat Cuban food prepared by both my mother-in-law and my father-in-law as they shared the kitchen. Since her passing, we really haven’t eaten much Cuban food and my father-in-law seemed not interested in cooking much, even for himself.

For several years, my husband has wanted his father to come to our home and teach us how to make one of the family’s favorite dishes, Coca Mallorcin. It’s a Spanish pizza but my father in law (Nestor) says that you can’t get his version anywhere, even if you spent $100. He says that in Spain, they don’t put enough stuff on the pizza and his version is the best. After eating his version last night, I would have to agree hands down that it is the greatest pizza ever eaten.

I believe one reason Nestor hasn’t made it sooner was because of the time the dough takes to make as well as just his loss of interest in cooking. I had a solution to get him over here and not worry about the dough this time. Thanks to Trader Joe’s and their refrigerated pizza dough, our first problem was solved. Next time we can make the dough from scratch. The next issue I hoped would resolve once he got started.

Our day started at 3 pm with slowly chopping and preparing the ingredients for the dough and at the same time listening to stories of Nestor’s younger years in Cuba as well him sharing his tricks and tips on how to make these cocas different and even venturing into the next time he comes over other dishes he will share with us. He was truly in his element and I hadn’t seen joy like that from him in a long time.

So, on to the recipe:

We made 3 pizzas

Preheat oven to 400

2 bunches of swiss chard

3 prepared pizza doughs

Spanish chorizo sliced (or a hot dried sausage such as Boar’s Head Apprezzese)

1 lb uncooked, peeled shrimp

¼ cup capers

½ cup sliced green olives

1 onion sliced

3 tomatoes sliced

5 cloves garlic minced

Olive oil


Flour for rolling dough

  1. roll out dough to fit onto cookie sheet or pizza pan
  2. brush the dough lightly with olive oil
  3. salt the dough (we added quite a bit)

4. start adding ingredients starting with ¾ of the swiss chard and end with the remaining swiss chard
5. drizzle olive oil on the pizza
6. bake at 400 until dough is cooked on edges. Swiss chard should be a bit crispy and shrimp should be pink (about 12-15 min)

And of course don't forget a good bottle of Spanish Rioja. We drank Marques de Riscal Reserva 2003. Chin-chin.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Little Passion in the Winter Wardrobe

I thought it would be fun to add a little rose embellishment to the plain dark gray armwarmers I made so I added knitted, felted roses.
To knit these roses:
Cast on 5
Row 1: knit in front and in back of all stitches (10 stitches)
Row 2: knit in front and back of all stitches (20 stitches)
Row 3: knit in front and back of all stitches (40 stitches)
bind off
Roll the rose how you'd like and stitch it together using one tail end. I usually have a tail end in the center and stitch my way out towards the sides as I roll it.
Felt by putting them in a lingerie bag and throwing them in a warm water wash with the rest of your laundry.

Stitch the roses onto the armwarmers how you'd like.

Monday, October 27, 2008

One for the Road

This blog post is my first without pics. No pics could be taken, and none are needed in this case. read on....
Thursday was a fingernail biting day. I took my daughter to take her driver’s permit test. Since she gets out of school at 12:15, it gave us a good head start to get to the DMV. I pictured the crowds and nastiness that is typical of an average DMV, but we truly lucked out. We walked in without an appointment and had only a 10 min. wait until we were called to a window. Before I knew it, the picture was taken, the thumb print taken and in the examination room she went. As she took the test in the other room, I sat in a chair and frantically started knitting. It was not long until she emerged from the room, holding her permit up proudly saying, “Jeez, 3 people before me didn’t pass and it was their 3rd time taking it.” I’m thinking, “although the DMV wasn’t bad today, I only want to come here twice; once for her permit and once for her license”. I couldn’t do it more than that I don’t think.

So we will soon have another driver in the house. She’s taking her driver’s ed and behind the wheel classes at AAA. Before you know it, it will be my turn with her behind the wheel after her first class at AAA behind the wheel. Then I will have stories to tell…

Friday, October 17, 2008

Looking Forward to Keeping Warm

I was completely enthralled when I came across the free patterns for Toast and Toasty on A Friend to Knit With blog. It was a must do right now type pattern but of course, I didn't have enough stash yarn to complete the pattern the length the pattern asked for. Which turned out fine, because being a bit smaller, I made them only one inch shorter and added colors which I just love.
I knitted the green ones with Cascade 220 and the black color blocked ones with merino wool I had laying around. The pattern is easy and moves quickly. I think these will make great holiday gifts. I finished a pair as a one and 1/2 day project only about 4 hours total.
My next pair will be a more luxurious yarn, a bit thinner and softer.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Indie Designers Have a New Home in Santa Ana

Indie designers do exist in Orange County. And this exciting development is long overdue. Believe it and now you can see for yourself. The Craft Kitchen, an indie designer boutique and craft workshop has opened in Santa Ana right on Main Street at the 5 freeway. Nicole of Random Nicole is the owner and many of her wonderful designs are available at The Craft Kitchen as well.

I was swooning over her little appliquéd tops for babies. But not having a baby, I can only hope to have to buy one for a friend. I also loved her silk screened ties and bags. The prints are vibrant and exciting. There’s so much to choose from for everyone. There are several designers represented here but they were trying to get ready for the grand opening when I snuck in to take these pics, so I'll get back to you on which designers have their work here besides Nicole.

The Craft Kitchen will also be offering workshops starting this week in everything from sewing, bath and body, bookmaking, screenprinting and much more.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I'm a Craftstylish Challenge Winner

I typically don’t enter contests, but when Craftstylish Magazine and website had a Flower Power Challenge, I figured this was a contest meant for me. After all, much of the jewelry and accessories that I create are inspired by flowers and color. So I entered 3 items. There were 130 entries and 4 winners, and guess what. I was one of the 4 winners with one of my entries. It was my favorite Flower ring that I sell in my Etsy shop, but what I did was put 3 rings together resulting in an Aster. I made these 3 rings in a different set of colors than I have in the past and there it is, the Aster Ring Set.
What I won is the ultimate embellishment package: an assortment from the new Crafty Chica Craft product line, the fab Crafty Chica book, The Crafty Chica Collection: Beautiful Ideas for Crafts, Home Decorations and Shrines from the Queen of Latina Style, and a copy of the premiere issue of CraftStylish Quick Gifts to Make.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Adding Zing to T-shirts with Crochet

I acquired this adorable handmade cowgirl and polka dot skirt from my pal Jennifer Ramos of Textile Fetish and realized I needed a top to go with it to give as a very special gift for an adopted baby in our extended family. So I purchased 2 plain tops, a black and a white long sleeved cotton t-shirt with the idea of using crochet to embellish them. I crocheted 5 stars in a white cotton yarn, which reminded me of sheriff stars and sewed them randomly on the black shirt. I got the very easy pattern here . I sewed each point on by hand from the back.

Then I made a simple crocheted edging to the length of the front of the neck and sewed it on. I figured that if I sewed it all the way around, it may not stretch enough to get the toddler’s head through. I found the pattern in a vintage crochet book called “A Treasury of Crochet Patterns” by Liz Blackwell that I picked up for a couple of bucks at a used bookstore. I’m sure if you look up crocheted edging on the web, you’ll find free easy patterns. And that’s it. I hope she likes it.

Impromptu Paella

Dinner last night came about with the goal being to make food without having to go to the grocery store. Alas, I had ingredients for Paella believe it or not. This version was a chicken and chorizo paella. My husband said it was Arroz con Pollo, but I disagree because I put saffron, paprika, olives, and peas in it, which to me defines paella. And it was in a paella pan. The picture above showed it cooking about half way done. The paella pan that I used was a 13 inch diameter one used on the stove. I also have a very large one I use for parties and make it on my gas grill. The one frustrating thing to me is that paella is made uncovered and unstirred and I have a heck of a time cooking that rice on the top. If anyone has any suggestions I’d love them.
Now for clean up. What a nightmare it would seem because since paella is not stirred, it develops this really yummy crusty bottom called Soccarat. This it seems would be a nightmare to scrape off and clean but alas, my new handy dandy Bambu Pot Scraper made the job a cinch. And it doesn’t hurt the pan. Love it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


The most exciting thing happened yesterday. Well, exciting for me in my non-exciting life. The knife sharpening guy was stationed at my craft store so I brought all of my knives in for a professional sharpening for the first time and let me tell you, it was like bringing new knives home again. It's exciting for me, but the best part was that I brought my poultry shears for sharpening. You see, when my grandmother (who we call Mama) moved into a senior apartment and gave all of her cooking supplies, to my aunt, this was one of the things that I just had to have. They have to be 60-70 years old and they are strong and working still. As a child and a teen I remember the distinctive smell of a roasting chicken in mama's home that had simply white wine, salt and pepper for seasoning. She taught me how to make one her way which I do to this day. So each time I prepare a chicken and use her shears, it reminds me of mama.

Monday, September 22, 2008

End of an Era Sale

HUGE clearance sale at Bonnin Designs. Every single thing in my shop is 50% off and more.

It's been a long time coming, but I have finally made the decision to close my website. I will still be selling my pieces in my Etsy shop, but my website will only give a direct link to the Etsy shop. I've been having a lot of technical problems on my administration end on my website which affect my ability to update the shop. Shopping there isn't a problem for customers though. And since I can't seem to fix the issue plus many other things, the time has come to close up.
So please come and shop, tell your friends, pass it on. I'd really really appreciate it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I Have a Fetish...for Textiles

My dear friend Jennifer Ramos of Textile Fetish has truly spoiled me. We did a little product trading and look what I ended up with! The Mother Lode! A very cool apron with a skull pocket and a patchwork intense heart that's a full apron but short enough for me, which is rare, several patchwork potholders which I love. I have a pair and plan on gifting these for the holidays. Also, a baby skirt, (a special gift for someone), a couple of box zip pouches made especially for me, a bookcover and a sock monkey checkbook cover. I'm such a huge Textile Fetish fan. I own so many of her amazing items which are all one of a kind and truly unique. Jennifer will be selling her wares at Felt Club on Nov. 16 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. I will be helping her in her booth. Can't wait.

Speaking of gifting and Felt Club, I did another little trade with my pal Carrie Sommer of Sommer Designs and got a very cool and very useful key fobs and a zip pouch. People are always asking me where I got my key fob. She just added some really cute key fobs on her site. You have to check out the one with cupcakes and the one with trailers. So fun. She will also be selling at Felt Club and now it truly will be a big party!

Friday, September 05, 2008

A How To: Jewelry Shadow Boxes

I had these pine shadow boxes with sliding glass fronts that someone gave me a couple years back. They've been sitting in my garage and it hit me yesterday what I could do with them. I originally was given them to use for displaying jewelry at shows, but they were a bit bulky with all of the other things I had to bring and they had glass, so I never used them and they sat in my garage all sad and lonely. So I decided to put them to my own personal use. 2 days ago I purchased a big pad of scrapbook paper on clearance at a store and I just loved the colors. I used some to line drawers of an old banquette. I also used it for this project. I measured and then put the fun scrapbook paper on the backs of the boxes with a little glue stick and added little screw on hooks. Done. And for under $5.
I have a shelf in my closet that they can be displayed. With so much of my own personal jewelry, it's nice to be able to see it sometimes.