Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Quick Fix for a Cookbook Stand

I found this gorgeous red metal cookbook stand for our kitchen years ago (either on eBay or Amazon, I don't remember which), but it hasn't been getting much use since I switched all of our favorite recipes over to digital copies. I have very few actual cookbooks and hardly ever use them, but I do love recipe blogs & Pinterest!

Cookbook stand, 1

For a long time I either had to pull the recipes up on our old & finiky laptop, or run back & forth across the kitchen to read them off of my computer. This is another reason I was thrilled to get an iPad, and we quickly realized the cookbook stand was a perfect perch for it! I also realized that the bottom edge of the stand was leaving faint, rusty rings on our white counters ~ yikes! (Take it from me, you do not want white counters in your kitchen. *Everything* stains them!) It was time for a crafty fix...

Cookbook stand, 2

First I grabbed a sheet of black felt, traced around the bottom of the stand, and cut out the circle. Since the bottom was not flat, just a ring, I wanted to add a little more stability to the felt. I traced the bottom of the stand on an old cereal box and cut out a circle slightly smaller than it. Then I glued the cardboard in the center of the felt circle and glued that onto the stand (cardboard on the inside).

Next, those dangly strings had to go. They have weights at the bottom and are supposed to drape over the pages of your cookbook to help hold the book open, but they've always been a little awkward. Since the stand won't hold too many books anymore I figured I could finally snip them off & get rid of them.

Cookbook stand, 3

I'm so happy the stand is getting lots of use again, and love having such a handy spot for my tablet. Have you ever glued felt on the bottom of something like this? It's a great fix for ceramics that are a little rough on the bottom & are scratching up your table.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Georgia Aquarium

A few months ago we visited the Georgia Aquarium and for some reason I never got around to posting my photos!

O with big fish

Georgia Aquarium, 2

Georgia Aquarium, 3

Georgia Aquarium, 4

Georgia Aquarium, 5

Georgia Aquarium, 6

Georgia Aquarium, 7

Georgia Aquarium, 8

Georgia Aquarium, 9

Georgia Aquarium, 10

Georgia Aquarium, 11

Georgia Aquarium, 12

Monday, July 22, 2013

Kitsune Udon (from Takashi's Noodles) with Abura-age

Last week we tried another recipe from Takashi's Noodles, the Kitsune Udon on pg. 73. While some of the ratios seemed a bit absurd (and need tweaking in the future), the meal was delicious.

The odd ingredient in this dish is called "abura-age", which is made from thin slices of tofu that are deep fried & marinated. You've probably seen it on sushi bars used as little pockets with a rice filling called inari-zushi. Kitsune is the Japenese word for fox, and there are many folk tales about tricky fox spirits that have magical powers like shape shifting. Supposedly the foxes love to eat abura-age, so make sure to grab a pack if you ever need to lure one! I had trouble finding it in Asian markets before but finally discovered lots of varieties in one of the refrigerated areas.

Kitsune Udon

In the recipe the abura-age is rinsed and then simmered in a sweet & savory sauce, which gives it an amazing flavor. I'm not always a big tofu fan, but this was honestly the best part of the meal! Our toddler gobbled his up and asked for more, showing no interest in the noodles or soup (which he normally loves). The rest of the dish is pretty simple ~ you make the noodles, the broth, and then put everything in a bowl with some green onion slices on top.

When I make this again I will definitely be changing the amounts around as I mentioned the ratios were all over the place. The abura-age is supposed to simmer in its sauce until the liquid is mostly evaporated, but there was far too much for that. After the 8-10 minutes called for, the liquid had hardly decreased at all so I poured most of it out and let it cook a few minutes longer. The recipe supposedly serves 4, but there were enough noodles for about 8 servings and enough broth for 6. (And we are big eaters!) I know that Japanese noodles are usually served in enormous mounds in restaurants, and while I would happily slurp them all up there, I'm not going to eat that much for a normal dinner at home. I did make a few yummy lunches out of the excess, so I guess I can't complain too much!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

DS Glamour

My sister-in-law was getting rid of a few things as she prepares to move at the end of the month, and she had a few bottles of nail polish up for grabs over the holiday. A blue holo polish caught my eye, and I was excited to see it was in the older "DS" Series that I've heard a lot of girls rave about.

The polish did little to change my opinion about holos. They can be so lovely close up in the bright sun (which we haven't had much of lately!), and can be stunning in photos ~

DS Glamour, sun

But in general I am indoors, where they usually look rather flat & boring ~

DS Glamour, shade

I know lots of girls love them, but I'd rather have something shimmery that looks great in all lights. Remembering how popular the DS polishes are, I looked this one up on eBay & saw bottles selling around $50-70!! I offered to send it back to my SIL, but she gave me her blessings to sell it. Score!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Yakisoba (from Takashi's Noodles)

We recently took a trip to the Asian market, so I pulled up some Japanese recipes for inspiration. I searched through my Japanese recipe Pinterest board and 3 cookbooks ~ Japanese Cooking, Takashi's Noodles, and a cookbook written in Japanese that is geared towards guys cooking for the first time, haha. I made a long list of potential recipes & ended up picking three, all from Takashi's Noodles!

We started off with the Yakisoba on pg.32 ~ stir-fried noodles, thin slices of beef, mushrooms, and vegetables. The results were so-so. I wanted to make this for two meals, and since you never know what "serves 4" really means, we doubled the recipe. We ended up with *tons* of food, enough for at least 3 large dinners (6+ servings), and had to cook things in batches because it wouldn't all fit in one pan! I love Asian food, so I wasn't complaining too much. ;)

Yakisoba from Takashi's Noodles

I had two issues with the final meal, which might be blamed on the ingredients. We weren't able to find any plain dried ramen noodles as he recommended and ended up using some refrigerated noodles instead. (I should have just grabbed some cheap packs of instant ramen!) Everything ended up a little too soft & liquidy, so I think a stiffer noodle could have helped that. The second problem was the sauce, which basically tasted like steak sauce. I felt it was too strong & wished it was a little sweet. The main ingredient in this was Tonkatsu sauce, with the note "semisweet" beside it, so perhaps a different brand of Tonkatsu sauce would have been sweeter.

It's hard to judge how well a foreign recipe comes out when you've never eaten the actual meal before! I took the leftovers and drained off most of the liquid, added some brown sugar, and cooked it a little longer to try & remedy the problems mentioned above. We bought thought it tasted a lot better that way. If I make this again I'd probably start over with a new recipe and see how that one differs.

Friday, July 12, 2013

July '13 Fireworks

We shot some small fireworks off last weekend in between thunderstorms & I always have fun trying to take pictures of them. Last year I looked up what settings the camera needed to be on, but when I tried them that night I had no luck. Finally I played around with dials until something seemed to work. This year I wrote down directions again and felt like I knew what I was doing! I think the pictures turned out even better too. Too bad we didn't have time to draw with sparklers!

7/13 Fireworks, 1

7/13 Fireworks, 2

7/13 Fireworks, 3

7/13 Fireworks, 4

7/13 Fireworks, 5

7/13 Fireworks, 6

7/13 Fireworks, 7

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Abstract Flag Nails

I had a different manicure planned for this week but at the last minute I remembered July 4th was coming up! I thought I'd give this awesome firework manicure a try, but without that stamp the dots were just too big and were covering up all of the pretty rainbow flakes. Finally I gave up and went with a simple abstract flag.

July 4th 2013 Nails

On the thumb and index finger I used Color Club "Cold Metal" as the base, topped with a holographic shard topcoat, Color Club "Diamond Drops". The rest of the fingers were painted with Milani "White on the Spot", with a little China Glaze "Snow Globe" over the halves that would remain white for sparkle. I then used some Scotch tape to mark off half the nail, added a few coats of China Glaze "Ruby Pumps" and removed the tape for the crisp lines.

I feel like this would have looked better with three stripes per nail instead of two, but otherwise I liked the results. Not too bad for a last minute design!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Fabric Nails

I was trying to think of something different I could stick on my nails & then it hit me... I have loads of fabric scraps! I grabbed a bag of scraps (leftover from when I sewed full time), picked out five coordinating fabrics, and stuck them to my nails with top coat. Then I trimmed around the edges with some sharp, tiny scissors and added another two coats of top coat to seal everything in. The result was pretty fun!

Fabric Nails

The fabric stayed down well on my left hand, but the edges kept popping up on my right. Easy enough to 'glue' back down with topcoat, but often enough to become annoying. I also had to trim the occasional frayed thread. I usually like to keep my polish on as long as possible, but I was ready to pull these off after a few days.

If you decide to try out a fabric manicure, keep in mind that the fabric will get a bit darker with the topcoat. On my middle & pinky finger it made the print stand out even more, which was nice. I tried adding additional coats of topcoat but the texture stayed a little bumpy.