Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Home To Geeks and Crafty Lovers

There's a new place in town and it's just the type of place that North Orange County has been needing. It's a boutique and gallery for unique artists and crafters as well as lovers of tech and avant garde. The poem above says it all. It's Galileo's House of Eccentricities in Tustin. 482 El Camino Real  Tustin CA 92780.

The owners of Galileo's, Radha Martinez(above) and her husband David Martinez are not new to the concept of promoting independent artists in the community.  A few  years ago they owned "The Art Hub" in the Orange Circle. This new place has even more. One room is the boutique and gallery with not only local art and craft, but unusual finds, some only available at this shop and no where else, like Le Whif, from France.
This is the second room which reminds me of a lodge, complete with a cardboard moose over the fireplace.  This room will be selling new books (not quite there yet) but also is used as a "hanging out room" for any stoppers by. They can read (there are paperbacks available for reading), work on their computers, play games such as Atari, and even board games, and drink free coffee. There are tables and chairs and even cozy places to sit. I love this room. I wish I could take it home.
David Martinez happens to be a very accomplished artist and he has his work available for sale.
Oh, did I mention that my work is available here too? Things like these Beaded Felted Flower pins, and many other fun things not available in my Etsy shop.
How cute are these Robot Alarm Clocks?  I believe they make robot sounds to wake you up.
These are Felt Comic Pillows by Diffraction Fiber. I love the bright graphics!
Please support local artists and local business and shop and even hang out at Galileo's House of Eccentricities. Because of the location and the local traffic, the hours are daily 5- midnight.
They also have a Facebook page. Please go join and be a fan!

Monday, February 22, 2010

LA Cupcake Challenge

This past Saturday I was privileged to be part of Meringue Bake Shop's Team at the LA Cupcake Challenge. My friend Kristin Ausk, who is Meringue Bake Shop asked me to help her for this event. I took part in helping with picking the flavors for the cupcakes (my favorite task). As did a few other friends. Also I helped with the table display, the huge raffle giveaway prize, and the display signs. Plus I donated a Cupcake Ring for the raffle that she had at the event. At the event we all helped at the table with giving the cupcakes away, describing and hyping the cupcakes and making sure Kristin was going to get known for all of the hard work that she put in slaving over these amazing cupcakes! 

What were the flavors? First was Pretty Woman: a Champagne cupcake with a strawberry topping and Pop Rocks on the top that burst in your mouth like the bubbles do when you sip a glass of champagne. Clever!

Next was Pigs on Tap: A Chocolate Stout cupcake with Bacon and a Bourbon Buttercream Topping. The Stout really makes the chocolate fudgy and yummy and the bacon gives it a little salt. Amazing! People were coming over to the table telling us they had to try it because people were telling them about it. (people were talking! Awesome).

Here is Kristin finally relaxing after getting all of her cupcakes iced. This is Clara of I Heart Cuppycakes with Kristin. She is our Twitter friend and Cupcake blogger. So glad to finally meet her IRL! We also saw more friends like Elise of Cupcake Activist and others  that are camera shy like Just Jenn and @foodlibrarian but that's ok. Read Jenn's Blog post about the Challenge. It will crack you up. She is hysterically funny.

So overall, it was a fantastic event for Kristin. She got a lot of exposure and a lot of positive feedback. I think this girl is going places!!!!

Edited to add: oh and how could I forget: when we got there and got off the service elevator  we were loudly told to move aside "crowd coming through" and whoosh, inches from me walked Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. With both arms, I was carrying this massive basket for our raffle. My camera in my purse which was hanging from my right shoulder. I knew this but I could do nothing. Johnny looked at the cupcakes expressed an "ooh", looked at the basket with interest (yes Jenn, he probably saw your "Bacon Love" cards and said hi to me. I said "hi". It's all I could do. He walked by so fast. I wanted to stop him. I needed to take a picture. But he was gone. As soon as I got around the corner all I could do was Twitter it. At least Kristin's husband Lyle was there. So I know it wasn't a dream.

And. Yes he was hot. Yes he looks as good as he looks on film. Yes he isn't super tall but not short either. No I didn't smell him. There was really no bad or good smell or I would let you know. He was wearing a beret type hat and small sunglasses. I'm still melting....

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sewing Olympics

I opted to take a challenge. A challenge of Olympic proportions. Well, not really but for me to fit it into my crazy schedule, it's a challenge that's mighty huge. I am hoping to sew a dress during the Winter Olympics and have it finished by Closing Ceremonies. Luckily I got my new Janome sewing machine and my pattern comes from the book by Christine Haynes, Chic and Simple Sewing. So, I may have a bit of an advantage. I'm not an advanced sewer but more of a periodic mediocre sewer. Sewing was my favorite thing I learned in junior high home ec class. And that's the extent of it.  I made some simple skirts last summer and the most difficult project prior to that was 16 years ago when I sewed my daughter's crib bumpers, quilt, decorative pillows, curtains, tablecloth and room accessories for when she was born.

The dress I chose is called the "Opera Dress". It's difficult in the scale of simple to difficult in this book but it still means it's not too tough to do. There are no fasteners. The material is cotton. I wanted something silky but that 1. tends to be tougher to manage and 2. I couldn't find any I liked in the stores I went to. I love this floral print I think it will make a nice summery dress that I could wear. Who says it has to be dressy. Maybe if this one turns out I'll find a silky fabric for another one. I do that.
So I will post my progress as I go along. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Easy Appetizers: Mediterranean Roll-Ups

This is such an easy and very impressive appetizer. I brought it to a party and people devoured it and all I heard was "mmmmm".  Above are the ingredients. I love Fresh and Easy products because they are inexpensive and the quality is nice. It's easier to spread  Whipped cream cheese, than regular. Get 1 container per each jar of spread. Get creative. You could use red pepper spread, eggplant spread, a sweet spread, anything that goes with cream cheese. I used a black olive tapenade for one set of rolls and an artichoke spread for another set of rolls. Get a pack of 10 Burrito size, which are the large, flour tortillas.
That's it.

Start with a layer, and it doesn't have to be really thick, of cream cheese. Change knives and spread a thin layer of spread. As you roll, it will move.

Simply roll from one end to the other and the spread will move to the end.

You will cut the ends off and not use them you will find because there's nothing in them and they aren't formed. Continue cutting lengths of 1 1/4 inches wide.

That's it! Enjoy. Arrange them on a tray and try not to pop them all in your mouth before company comes.

Another appetizer I suggest is get prosciutto, thinly cut and wrap it around breadsticks or cheese straws and serve. Easy.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Biscotti vs Mandelbröt Faceoff

biscotti is smaller in the back, mandelbrot is in the front

Sunday we were going to go visit my husband’s aunt who is in ill health so I wanted to bring something to the house. I knew there would be lots of family and friends in and out of there for some time to come and it would be nice to bring some food to have around. I thought biscotti would be good because it’s something you can eat anytime of the day. So I asked around on Twitter and my friends came through again. Kristin gave me a “tried and true biscotti recipe she uses” so of course, if it’s good enough for Kristin, it’s good enough for me!
As I was pondering ingredients, it also hit me that I had a Mandelbröt recipe that my grandmother passed down to me. Hmm. What’s the difference between Mandelbröt and Biscotti, I wondered. They’re made pretty much the same. So I decided to make both and see for myself. I could have just read the recipes and compared, but I wanted to see the end result as well. Sorry Grandma Jean, I did modify the recipe a bit. I substituted almond extract for vanilla extract and added some dried cranberries and chopped almonds for fun. I love the flavor of almond. 

After I baked these I had to help my husband install new bathroom faucets. I grabbed my camera to take a picture of the finished products and he was telling me to “drop the camera, it’s not important, we have to finish the faucet installation”. I said “I have to take a picture so I can blog it”. He asked, “Why? Because if you don’t blog it, it didn’t happen?” Ah, now he’s starting to understand…..

Oh, so how did they taste? They were both delicious. The  Mandelbröt is drier and better with say milk or coffee. Neither are too sweet. 

The main difference in the ingredients between the two is that Mandelbröt does not have butter, whereas biscotti does. So Mandelbröt seems to come out denser. Here is my Grandma Jean’s Mandelbröt recipe. Get creative. Add cranberries, chocolate chips, change the nuts; maybe pecans, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, change the extract; coconut, lemon, add 1 T. of lemon peel.

3 eggs
¾ c. sugar
¾ c. oil
1 t. baking powder
2 ½ c. flour
¼ t. salt
1 t. vanilla or almond extract
½ c. chopped almonds
Beat eggs and sugar together until lemon colored. Add oil. Blend. Add baking powder, flour and salt. Blend together. Add vanilla and chopped almonds. Blend well into soft dough. With floured hands, shape dough into 2 long loaves about 3 inches wide and 1 inch high.
Place on parchment paper on cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 45 min. Remove from oven, cut with serrated knife into ½ inch slices and return to oven to toast for 10 min.
Makes 3 dozen slices