Thursday, September 29, 2011


I had a fun and relaxing evening recently with my friend Siri at CreativiTea - a "pottery painting studio and tea bar" located in Fairhaven right next to Skylark's Hidden Cafe. 

First you peruse this massive wall of things to paint - mugs, plates, bowls, frames, vases, dog bowls, and even little things like penguins, gnomes, and they had quite a collection of skulls, pirates, spiders and pumpkins out as well for the upcoming holiday. Eventually you'll be able to pick one. 

But then there is the wall of paint! How do you decide what color, what design, what style? Free hand, look to books for inspiration, or follow a pattern? Stencils? Feathers? Sparkle paint or regular?

Then you have to decide what tea to get! We decided to opt out of tea because our brains couldn't handle any more choices that night. Although when I went back with Ross to pick up our creations we decided to try the Rooibos Caramel Tea - IT WAS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! Whether you are a tea drinker or not you will love this tea. It reminded me of Christmastime at Holden Village

Eventually, we got down to business. Siri selected a lovely leopard print frame to get the part started. 

And went with a frame! 

A week later: beautiful! Sorry for the shadows, but they wouldn't let me take her frame home, just look at it. Pretty cool eh? She chose a color to paint, then placed bits of dried paint which formed those beautiful blobs during the firing. 

I went with a plate because I want a pretty fall background to photograph for my blog. Is that lame? 

Plus I love fall! I did some stencil pumpkins and leaves, some free-hand leaves, and had a lot of fun painting them! It was so relaxing and enjoyable, and Siri is such great company. 

I like it, though I feel a but critical of myself (I wish I had painted that one leaf one cm more to the left! Why didn't I do a border?) But I like it. And soon it will be covered in delicious food! Keep you eye out for it. =)

And we may or may not have painted something else, but I can't tell you about it today. I will definitely share with you when I can though! 

So here's to your CreativiTea! 

Do you like to paint? If not, what is your artsy fix? 

I love to knit/crochet and quilt, and as the weather is changing it is definitely getting to be knitting season! 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Homemade Apple Pie

I suppose it's a bit ridiculous to spend my days off making apple pies.. but I think a part of me really needed to prove that I could do it from beginning to end. And it wasn't exactly work... baking is my stress relief! And the result... simply beautiful. 

I followed this recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. The key is to keep a pie crust cold - if you plan ahead, it would be good to refrigerate the flour beforehand.  

Sweet Pie Crust 
All amounts double, separated - perfect for an 8- or 10-inch 2-crust pie. 
1 cup unbleached white flour + 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour 
1 stick butter (1 cup), cold and cubed
1 tsp sugar 
1/2 tsp salt 
3 Tbsp ice water 

6-8 Large sweet-to-tart apples (Like Gravensteins)
1 cup Sugar 
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp other spices (cardamom, nutmeg, cloves)
1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. 

Cube the butter, making sure it's cold. 

Add the butter to the food processor and process for only about 10 -12 seconds - until the resulting mixture looks like cornmeal. 

If you over-process it will warm up the dough, which you don't want. 

Pour the dough into a bowl and add the ice water. 

Mix with your hands gently until you can form it into a ball. If it's too wet add a little more flour, and if it's too dry add a little more ice water. 

Wrap it in plastic and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. You can store it for a couple days in the fridge or a few weeks in the freezer, or longer. 

Repeat to make the second crust. 

While the dough is chilling you can work on the apples! These are BelleWood's Gravenstein apples which are excellent for baking due to their sweet-tart quality. 

Slice and core the apples however you see fit really. Some of these were too big for my slicer/corer, so I did them by hand. It had me pining for the machines at work! 

Then you want to make sure there is no core remaining on your apple slices - as the core will not cook and is not very palatable. 

Slice off the skin as well. 

After all the apples are sliced you can toss to coat with cinnamon, sugar, spices, and the apple cider vinegar. 

Then take the dough balls out of the fridge and sprinkle a surface with a little flour. 

Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is 1-2 inches wider than your pie dish. 

Using the rolling pin, lift up the dough and gently lay it onto the pie dish. 

Then press the dough into the dish. 

You can cut off any excess easily with a knife. 

Fill the crust with the filling. 

The roll out your second crust. 

Place it over the filling. 

Trim off the edges leaving about an inch hanging over the side. 

Tuck the dough under and press to seal to the bottom crust. 

Then you can use your thumb to press in a pretty pattern around the edge of the crust. 

Be creative!!! 

Place a few slits in a circle using a sharp knife to allow to pie to steam. 

Then place the pie on a cookie sheet (the helps to cook the bottom crust and the catch any juice from the filling that may drip over the pie). Bake at 400F for 50-60 minutes, using a pie crust shield or a ring of foil to prevent the top crust from cooking too quickly (take this off in the last 20 minutes of baking). You know the pie is done when you stick a butter knife through on of the slits and meet no resistance. 

Let it cool for at least 2 hours - that way you serve slices of pie and not apple slosh. You can always reheat the slices in the microwave. 

I sprinkled it with a bit of raw sugar to give the pie a little sparkle. 

I am so excited! 

Then it can serve it up with a bit of vanilla ice cream and apple cider for a game night. 

Stress relieved for sure! Though I'm probably not going to do this again until Thanksgiving. Or if I get really stressed about finishing my masters degree... so I'm sure it'll be sooner than later. =) 

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! 

What's your stress relief?

Friday, September 23, 2011


We got three packages this week! Always exciting. The first was our order from Lush - some natural solid shampoos and a conditioner since I realized I wasn't happy with the ingredients in my current shampoo. 

I chose to try the Jumping Juniper shampoo because it is supposed to target oily hair, and, well, it was purple. I was surprised at how much lather I got out of it this morning! So far so good! 

This is the Dr. Peppermint shampoo for Ross - I picked it out because in the description it said it was "for those who have noticed a certain upward advancement in the forehead department." I think he was slightly offended. =( 

Then we are sharing the Jungle solid conditioner - which I really didn't like when I was trying to use it. I felt like I couldn't really get it into my hair - but after some lathering, slathering in my hair, and rinsing, I was surprised at how soft my hair feels! So, I think I like it. Ross doesn't - but I think he is just not as into this as me as well. 

The is the Coalface Cleanser which is meant to target oily skin - and I have seen a slight decrease in oil over the 2 days I've been using it, it hasn't been anything miraculous, yet. It had good reviews, so I'm going to keep using it for a while and see how it goes. I'm optimistic! 

The second package was this book - Poisoned - that Food Safety News sent me (FOR FREE!!!) when I subscribed to their blog! Can't wait to start reading it. In my spare time. Hah. 
What's cool is that a fellow CLU alum is writing for them now - Rock on Alli! 

And the third and final package from from my friend Michelle (another awesome CLU alum) in DC - a bazillion mini LaraBars and a sweet get-well card! SO AWESOME! LaraBars are Gluten, soy and dairy-free, vegan, non-gmo, from Denver and delicious! Thank you Michelle! 

I got the Lemon bar, Peanut Butter Cookie, and Cashew Cookies. The two nutty ones were my favorite! 

I love mail. Do you still write and send letters? 
My roommate from college - Megs -  is my most faithful pen-pal. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Do you ever get to that point where you've run out of fresh ingredients, you have a few random leftovers in the fridge and some enormous bags of various items from Costco in your freezer? Like a 5 pound bag of sweet potato fries? Yeah, we're there. We had 3 onions, no fresh produce, some frozen shrimp and a single remaining chicken sausage. And a few pantry staples - like quinoa. While I had no intention of putting this meal on my blog, it was so simple and delicious I decided I have to! It's like a Paella, or a Jumbalaya, so we're calling it:


2 sweet onions, sliced
12 shrimp, thawed and rinsed (raw or fully-cooked)
1 or 2 chicken sausages (your choice, we used sweet Italian from TJ's)
1 cup quinoa (cook it in broth for better flavor)
Corn Salsa (also from TJ's)

1. Prepare the quinoa according to directions on the package.
2. Slice the onions and cook in a non-stick pan until caramelized ~ about 25 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent burning, and you can add a little oil along the way.
3. Add the shrimp and the sausage to the onions and cook thoroughly - until the shrimp are pink all the way through. If they are fully cooked, wait and add them right at the end and cook them only until they are hot.
4. Serve by filling a plate first with quinoa, then the onion mixture, and finally top with the corn salsa.

Ross said this smelled and tasted like something he would eat in a restaurant. I took that as a compliment. The caramelized onions and corn salsa provide such flavor that you really don't even need salt or pepper. There were no leftovers - so good! This is now going to become an intentional meal, not just a thrown together meal.

Fortunately it was a CSA Box day - so now we have a plethora of fresh ingredients, including corn, kale, tomatoes and much more! More on that later.

Have a great night!