Wednesday, January 17, 2018

New website!

So, in the interest of both consistent branding and creating a single, central location for my different entrepreneurial ventures, I've registered the domain

Stay tuned while I migrate things over and get a shiny new site set up. :)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Announcements! [Goodbye 2017, and good riddance.]

Happy New Year! This is the year of the Dog, and "my" year as well (I'm a 1982 baby).  I'm REALLY hoping this year brings far better luck than the last couple. According to, I've got a lot to look forward to: "The year of the earth Dog highlights dependability, building loyalty at work and in relationships, and certainly building material wealth."  (And hey, as a Scorpio, I'm apparently a "force of nature," too!)  I may buy a lotto ticket this week, just in case! ;) 

Goodbye 2017, and good riddance!
This past November, our ancient Peke passed away just before Thanksgiving, and we didn't really 'do' Christmas, or much of anything else to acknowledge the holiday season.  On top of that, I had an expensive car repair over the summer, had to take out a loan for a long-term opportunity I've been chasing for a while (see below news update), and just this past weekend, took my ancient car in AGAIN for a funny noise.

... That funny noise? The power steering lines and power steering pump both failing. So there's another $800-$1,000 in repairs I really didn't want -- or have -- to spend.   (And as of writing this, my car is STILL in the shop and I had to borrow my mother's wheels to get to work. Not cool.)

So let's hope we can leave 2017 in the DUST and move on to bigger and brighter things, and quickly, yes?

In Etsy shop news, I took every last bauble of inventory I had to the annual craft fair at work, and put my shop on vacation mode. With all the holiday and financial stress of late, I may commit what is most likely shop suicide and leave it on vacation mode a while longer. I turned a very small profit at the craft fair, but there are some grown adults who have sticky fingers, so I need to sit down and have an apples-to-apples session with my listings versus my inventory before reopening the shop. I'm also aware some of my listings need better photos, and while I have the equipment, I haven't had the time. So that's still on my to-do list right now.

I have found that at least with in-person sales, the little angel and fairy earring designs I have are immensely popular; the ones that I most enjoyed making with bright colored pearls and bicones? Collecting dust. Go figure!   What sorts of items do you like to see in a shop? What do you usually shop for when it comes to hand-made jewelry or wire work?

Where do you think my shop could/should improve?

Hello 2018!!

In other news:  I'm 3/4 of the way to being a licensed kimono dresser and teacher! If you're in the Southern California area and you're interested in learning more about Japanese kimono and how it's worn, please contact me. :) I will be able to teach on weekday evenings or weekends. Lessons will be in English - no Japanese fluency required. I already have an extensive background in Japanese culture with 14 years of Urasenke-style tea ceremony experience as well as time spent abroad in Japan and an Asian Studies degree from Occidental College.  In sum, I know what I'm talking about. ;)

I will be offering two learning paths:

1. Casual, basic lessons - how to get dressed in yukata and kimono with whatever items you have in your kimono closet, as well as some basic guidelines on how to find wafuku items in your size. Pricing will be very reasonable and lessons are a la carte style - schedule what you want to learn and that's what the day's class will include. Simple, right?

2. Formal Shoden / Chuden certificate courses, which will allow the student to become eligible to move on to the Okuden-level courses taught in Torrance. These courses will have required (bilingual) texts, lesson plans and materials per the Yamano-Ryu school of kimono stylists, as well as a different pricing structure established by the school.    Be advised that because this is a formal license from an established Japanese kimono school, you must complete all sections of the course to move on - even if you already know quite a bit about kimono.
(I'm not trying to scare anyone away, but the formal courses are nothing like getting a driver's license where you pass a test and you're good to go. They are much more like taking higher education classes - there are required units and texts involved in order to advance. Make sense? If you want to know more - even if you aren't in the SoCal area - drop me a line. I'll be glad to answer what questions I can!)

Option 3 is if you don't have any interest in lessons but want to be dressed for an event (o-bon, tea ceremony, etc.) - pricing will vary with the formality level, and I have items that can be rented if you don't have a kimono or yukata of your own.


I'm not much of a New Years Resolution type - I'll gladly adopt the make-good-changes mindset when the new year rolls around, but those resolutions last for hours instead of days. :P  So this year, I instead want to try and make a list of do-able goals -- actually read the books I've bought over the last few years about making better choices and not procrastinating (irony, much?), dedicate more time and resources (both mental and physical) to fewer projects, and really focus on my health and fitness. (The one GOOD thing that happened in 2017 was a department change at work, and it was both literally and figuratively a life saver.)

This week's goal? Go through all the magazines, catalogs, etc, and clip out the 'ideas' that I'd noted - instead of holding on to the entire magazine/catalog/pamphlet. I'm still an old-school fan of paper, no matter how awesome and convenient Pinterest may be, and am quite happy with some tape, three-hole-punched paper, and an old binder to make idea boards. Besides, you can't scribble notes and doodles on a Pinterest board. ;)

What are some of your goals and plans for this year?

(Our newest family member, Mei-Li, who joined us just before 2017 ended, at least giving us one happy thing to end a rather awful year.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

So, it's been an age since I've updated here - or the Facebook page, for that matter - and I just wanted to let everyone know that I have a small mountain of items waiting to be photographed and listed on the Etsy shop, and enough ideas for new items rattling around in my head to keep me busy until next autumn. :)  Work (the one that pays the bills) and life have been busier than I anticipated, though, so my grand plans to be fast and efficient for the Etsy shop wound up sidelined.

But stay tuned!

There's also a craft fair coming up at work, which means there will definitely be more items coming soon, because I'll be spending all of my free time through the end of the month getting ready for that as well. Sometimes, a looming deadline is the kick in the pants I need to finish projects.

Thank you!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Makeup Fun

Had a grand time with Sachiko tonight; she brought out her epic makeup kits and we did some contouring and eye makeup.

I used some of the LA Girl cosmetics, Kleancolor foundation (in Vanilla 1 and Bisque 2), and a touch of Hard Candy mascara, plus my own e.l.f. lipgloss stick and Nyx undereye circle corrector.

Not bad for applying with my fingers, eh?

Friday, December 4, 2015


In the not-too-near future, I'll probably wipe out all old posts and re-vamp this space for my Etsy shop:

I just opened it, so there are only a few listings until the at-work craft fair comes to a close, and then I'll list much more in the Etsy shop.  But please take a look, and if you like what you see, share the link with your friends. I would greatly appreciate all the exposure I can get.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Been awhile...

Well, it's been FOREVER since I've posted here, but now I'm taking online classes where the "discussion" is done via a Blogger blog, so I was helpfully reminded this exists. :)

I've gotten more into Tea, and I'm trying my hand at some craft projects...

I may post again here, for the 1 or 2 of you out there who read it at all...

(Skin still is crap: solution for the best results possible is super-gentle cleansers and as all-natural-as-possible on products, such as what Fresh, LUSH, and Silk Naturals offer. Spot treatment with harsher items like Clearasil as needed. Also, sunscreen! I have spray-on-SPF100 for body and a Neutrogena SPF110 for the face.)

Also regained the 25-ish pounds I'd lost. Trying to lose that bulk again, this time with a high-protein diet and weightlifting in addition to moderate cardio. Slow, but I feel better. (I did Weight Watchers before. I went to bed hungry every night and hated life. No thanks.)

So.... hi?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Best Summer Dessert Ever

1 white peach
2 scoops French vanilla ice cream
honey, warmed in the microwave until runny

When you're done grilling your burgers and hot dogs and whatever else, slice one white peach in half (a ripe one!) and remove the pit. Place on the grill (I recommend a light brush/spray of oil or nonstick) for about 2 minutes on the cut side, one minute on the other side.
Serve with a drizzle of honey and the ice cream straight from the grill.

Mom and I split one peach this way, and it's the most amazing sweet, toasty, fruity flavor EVER. Perfect for a warm summer night.

(Dinner was hamburgers, corn on the cob, and asparagus. Trick for the asparagus: double-layer of foil to create a 'bucket' shape, rather than a closed pouch - it will take on the smoky hint of the grill's flavor as it cooks. Don't close the foil pouch! Cook until just crisp-tender, no more.)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Summery Dessert - nearly free Points, too!

I saw this idea posted over on Amateur Gourmet, and as I am a cardamom fiend, it immediately appealed to me. Seriously. I cannot get enough of that spice. I love it. (I blame my Scandinavian roots.)

Mom found some ready-cut pineapple spears at the store (I'd rather not lose a finger or pint of blood to trying to core and peel a whole pineapple), and as we're both on a diet, we used Cool Whip lite rather than whipped cream. And it was still DARN tasty - the tangy pineapple contrasts with the warm spice and cool cream topping. VERY delish.

* Heat a pan. I used about a tsp of butter in a heavy nonstick omelette pan we have on hand (no cast iron in our collection... yet).
* Lay the spears in the pan (I cut them into 3" sections to fit), and let them start to turn golden. It took a few minutes. Turn, repeat until all sides are golden.
* While your pineapple is browning and the kitchen smells like the sunbaked tropics, take 1/3 tsp ground cardamom and stir it into half cup of Cool Whip. (Or more, or less, to your preference. I was making only for two people.)
* Once the pineapple is done, plate up and place a generous dollop of your spiced Cool Whip with it. Enjoy!
(No pics - it didn't last long enough. Maybe someday when my plating and photography skills have improved...)

(And now, back to my usual radio silence. Once work slows down, I'll have more time to spend in the kitchen or on makeup - though I have managed to incorporate putting on my war paint in the mornings successfully for two weeks now.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Mango Lassi" Pistachio Pudding

So, as previously mentioned, I have new cookbooks and an ongoing love of learning to cook various ethnic foods. I have been poring over my new cookbooks all week; last night I spent a good two hours thumbing through Bal Arneson's Everyday Indian. Sunday is eat-leftovers-and-make-ahead day in our house.  After a dinner of leftover roast pork tenderloin, green beans, cauliflower mash, and roasted sweet potato, we moved away from the Continental US to approach Chinese-inspired stir-fry chicken (marinated in ginger, garlic, lemon, orange, Hoisin and five-spice) for lunches later in the week. Then we backtracked to India for dessert (finally keeping in mind our waistlines, albeit slightly).

This is the result:

Pistachio Mango Pudding
1 package sugar-free Jell-O pudding, pistachio flavor
2 cups reduced-fat or non-fat milk
1 ripe-bordering-on-overripe mango
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 cup heavy cream (or Cool Whip, if you're on a tighter calorie budget)

- Prepare the pudding per package instructions with the milk. Let set in fridge.
- Peel and slice the mango, being careful not to remove any fingers or significant chunks of your own flesh. Mangoes can be slippery! (Best trick: Slice off the broad end to create a flat surface. Prop it on this flat surface, and use a good vegetable peeler or be very careful with a paring knife to peel off the skin. Once peeled, slice off each side in a wide plank, careful not to get too much of the pith, then the sides.) Take your mango slices and cut them into cubes.
- Toss the mango with the cardamom. (If your mango isn't as ripe as it should be, add a spoonful of sugar and let it all macerate for a bit.) 
- By this time, the pudding should be set. Spoon the mango into a dish and top with pudding, or vice versa.
- Drizzle with 1-2 Tbsp heavy cream, or a dollop of Cool Whip.

Enjoy!  (With one mango and a half a cup of pudding each, we had pudding to spare, but were greedy and the mango only made two servings. So plan on pistachio-and-fruit parfaits again later. :) Or buy more mangoes!

I should note that our favorite "diet" dessert lately is sugar-free pudding with Cool Whip and fresh fruit (berries, mango, whatever the local market had that's ripe) -- the whole thing is usually only 2-3 Points, and it's surprisingly filling and satisfying.

I have learned that I cannot succeed at a diet unless I do not feel deprived, which means that I am filling up on veggies and lean proteins (like pork tenderloin or shrimp or chicken) for two out of three meals, and loading up most of my carbs in the morning. I have lost 12 pounds without giving up my jalapeno-cheese bagel with very light cream cheese. I'd call that a successful diet. (I'm certain dance class once a week plus walks around the block twice the day have nothing to do with it... ;P ) In addition to being actually, physically FULL from veggies (I pack gallon-sized bags of carrot, celery, and bell pepper sticks to take with me to work and nosh with hummus), I have to get my sweet tooth fulfilled now and then. These sugar-free pudding desserts do the trick. Now that the weather is changing, I'm going to start using fruit-and-gelatin desserts (but they take more planning, because of how long the Jell-O takes to set up in the fridge). 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lamb Kebabs (Meatballs) - Kabab Laham

With the recent bonuses paid out at work (finally! Yay!), I splurged on a few books, one of which is "Cardamom and Lime: Recipes from the Arabian Gulf" by Sarah Al-Hamad. [The other is Bal Arneson's book, Everyday Indian - you will likely be seeing recipes from that one, as well.]

As it's freezing outside (by California standards) and we don't have an indoor grill, I modified this recipe to be meatballs rather than kebabs. I also adjusted a few ingredients (skipped the saffron, as I couldn't find it at the store, added fresh jalapeno for a boost of bright green flavor). It's not diet food by any stretch*, but it's darn tasty.

Kabab Laham Meatballs
Modified from the original recipe by Sarah Al-Hamad

1 lb ground lamb, 85/15
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic puree
1 generous tsp ginger puree (I used a microplane and a knob of fresh ginger)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, minced fine
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 japaleno, core and seeds removed, minced
1 egg, beaten

Combine in a bowl and mix well. (I combined everything but the lamb, added the lamb last, and had a grand old time using my bare hands to make a squishy mass of more-or-less evenly combined ingredients.)

Heat a nonstick pan with a few tsp of oil over medium heat. Form the mixture into patties, balls, or whatever shape you fancy, and cook until deliciously golden and crisp, turning once to cook the other side to the same level of done-ness. (I also set the oven temp to 200*F and placed the cooked meatballs on an oven-proof plate to stay warm while I made the next batch, etc.)  I think I made 18-20 meatballs that were about golf-ball sized or a teensy bit larger.  This would also be a fabulous recipe to use to shape patties for burgers, though I'd recommend reducing the bread crumbs and using butter (per the original recipe, 3/4 cup) instead of olive oil.

The original recipe calls for shaping these over metal skewers and grilling over charcoal; serve in pita or with salad. I suspect the flavor would be even more incredible if I had a grill to use.

Served with pieces of fresh lavash bread from the local market and a side of steamed cauliflower. I sprinkled the meatballs with some of the leftover chopped parsley. :) 

* In late January, I joined Weight Watchers, and have lost 12+ pounds to date; I have about 15 more to go before I reach a weight I want to try to maintain. Part of my success is having a larger breakfast and much lighter rest of the day. The other part is not going wild on weekends, but not counting Points, either - there's a limit to how much guilt and paranoia I can handle when it comes to my food. :)