Thursday, March 15, 2012

March 15th: In My Freezer

Don't judge. A well-stocked freezer runs more efficiently, promise.

Tomato sauces, leftovers, chicken, ice cream, koina, coconut, lilikoi juice, bread, Thin Mints

Veggies, berries, bananas, nuts, beans, etc #marchfoodphotos 3/15

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March 14th: Fruit

So delicious right now! #marchfoodphotos 3/14

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March 13th: Silverware

Oneida's "Marquette" collection #marchfoodphotos 3/13

Monday, March 12, 2012

March 12th: Favorite Drink

Homemade Iced Mocha #marchfoodphotos 3/12

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Friday, March 9, 2012

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March 7th: Pantry

Like the kitchen, it's small, but it does the job!

Tiny pantry! #marchfoodphotos 3/7

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

March 6th: What's Cooking?

Made dinner last night. In addition to homemade pumpkin soup, I put these yummies over some pasta:

Oven-roasted zuchini, yellow crookneck squash and cauliflower #marchfoodphotos 3/6

Monday, March 5, 2012

March 5th: Best Condiment

I couldn't choose one. Tie game!
Kilauea Fire Hot Sauce and Lilikoi Butter #marchfoodphotos 3/5

Sunday, March 4, 2012

March 4th: Dishes

All clean!
Dishes #marchfoodphotos 3/4

Saturday, March 3, 2012

March 3rd: Kitchen

Tiny apartment kitchen does the job! #marchfoodphotos 3/3

Friday, March 2, 2012

March 2nd: Something Sweet

(TOLD YOU I couldn't keep up and post every day!! These are backlogs!)

Amazing juice #marchfoodphotos 3/2

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy March!

As people say, "Time is flying!" Yes, I will join the majority who believe that the last two months just disappeard! I honestly thought I was going to be dragging through each and every day this winter, because that's what it felt like last year. I am so glad time is flying! I have many things to look forward to this year.

I heard about people doing "Project 366" or whatever, where you take a picture and post it every day for a year. Well, I just don't have enough interesting photo subjects to do that! People would get pretty tired of seeing rainbows, the beach, my happy feet at the beach, and my husband/cookies/food all the time. If I wanted to attempt something like this, it'd  have to be short and at least have some direction. So, someone posted this up on Facebook, and I thought I'd give it a try:

Looks like fun, right? I'm going to give it a whirl. I'll be doing a blog post every day (also a challenge, for me!) so I don't overload people on FB.

Here we go!

3/1: Breakfast: Greek Yogurt, homemade choco granola, and berries #marchfoodphotos

Friday, February 10, 2012

Grand Opening: Paradise Sweets!

My Etsy Shop is finally open as of now!!!

For any of you that are unfamiliar with, it is an online marketplace for people who want to buy and sell handmade or vintage items. It's not done by auction and there are a billion things to choose from. It's pretty much amazing! And it's great because it allows people like me to share my talents with others EVERYWHERE!

Name: Paradise Sweets
Selling: Decorated sugar cookies (and hopefully Liquid Gold Lilikoi Butter and candies in the future)
Link: Paradise Sweets
Like me on Facebook!

I am SO SO SO excited about this. One of my lifelong goals is to one day, open my own business. I never dreamed then that I could a business on the Internet. While it may seem like an easy, small step, it's still that - a small step. And at this point, a step is a step is a step!

You know how people have ten year plans on things they want to accomplish? I could easily see myself pushing my ten year plan off to maybe 30 or 40 years from now. Why? Because of the fear of FAILURE. Being an entrepreneur is all about taking a risk. And, to quote one of my favorite movies Blue Crush, "Take the risk, Feel the rush". You won't ever feel the rush (of success) if you don't take the risk.

I've always liked this quote as well:

  • "The only people who never fail are those who never try."
That being said, I opened this shop to prove to that small voice inside me that says "You can't do it!" that Yes, I can!

The two fears I have are:
  • I won't get any business
  • I will get absolutely overloaded with orders
Are any of those two fears bad?! No. It only costs 20 cents to post a listing on Etsy. So if I absolutely fail, it's not like I lost a huge chunk of cash. And I will know in my heart that I tried my best. The timing may not be right, or I might not be offering a product that people want right now, but at least I will have given it a shot. That's better than wondering.

If I get overloaded? GREAT! Then I can quit my day job!

I know that God has equipped me with all the things I need to be successful. And He will never lead me wrong. I don't have these skills to keep to myself. I love to share and bless and make other people happy. I wish that I could bake for everyone for free. Maybe when I'm a millionaire that will happen :)

So, dear friends. We come to the part where I must give my official THANK YOUs, because I could not have done this on my own.

Thank you to my family for always being so encouraging. For being the FIRST official taste testers! You guys are all so wonderful and the best family a girl could ever have!

Thank you to all the other taste testers: The guys at The House, ALL of my past roommates, classmates, dorm neighbors, friends, and co-workers. A big shout-out to our couples group - they let me experiment on them pretty much every week without complaining that I'm making them fat :)

Thank you to ALL of you who ever said, "You should open your own place!" It's affirmation like that that pushes me over the edge to do what I love. If no one said that, I'd think I was junk. So this is for you - I'm doing it!!!

Thank you to GOD of course. Without His constant love, support and blessings in my life, I would be nowhere. I'm blessed to have a home with an OVEN where I can do this. Blessed to have the money to start this hobby up last year and blessed to have the free time and spirit to want to do all of this!

I saved the best for last. And I will make him read this!

Thank you to my husband, K. He is my biggest supporter and encourager. He comes up with the best ideas.. "You know what you should do... You should make _____". Sometimes they are off the wall but he really comes up with great, different ideas. He makes it through all my meltdowns when I think I can't do it (haha, wedding cakes!) or I mess up and don't know how to fix things. He calms me and makes everything right. He puts it all into perspective. He puts up with my cookies and cookie decorating materials taking over the kitchen (I keep it neat, I swear!) and encourages me to KEEP GOING! Without his support, I would not be doing this. Marriage is a team effort and his support means everything to me! So thanks, honey!!!

Wow, so glad I am not standing up in front of you all saying this outloud. Even just typing it I am getting a lump in my throat and tears are welling up! I feel so loved and encouraged.

So, here we go. Here I GO! Whatever happens, happens, and I have high hopes!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

February 2012: Goal Check

I'd like to start checking in every month to make sure I'm keeping up with my goals.

Here's what I set for 2012:

  • -get into a healthier lifestyle
  • -continue with last year's goal of being more generous with my time, talents and money
  • -open up my Etsy store by the end of January (look out!)
  • -be a more thoughtful gift giver
  • -keep in better touch with my family and friends on the mainland
  • -do devotions with my husband once a week
  • -pay off my car early as planned. only a few more months to go!
  • -grow some edibles in our mini garden. last year I was still figuring things out back there.

Well, reading through those again makes me feel like I have so far to go! Good thing it's only February :)

Healthy Lifestyle
This is not a diet; it's a lifestyle change. I'd say that we are doing pretty well at this. Since Thanksgiving, I unintentionally lost 6 pounds. I think the culprit was working too hard in December :P I won't complain too much though, hehe! I am perfectly fine with my weight and lately I've just been wanting to feel more athletic and comfortable in my body.

I bought some swim goggles a few weeks ago and since then I've gone swimming three times, hopefully going again tomorrow!
Sunscreen and googles, that's all I need. Oh, and a suit.
I was on the swim team my senior year of high school and it was SO much fun. I really enjoyed it. So being back in the water like this makes me feel good. Swimming in the ocean is a very different from swimming a pool. Yesterday we had to deal with a pretty strong current. One way it was such a breeze. The other direction, it was like fighting a losing battle and I felt like I was going nowhere. What a workout! Also, there are more things to look at than just a blue line on the bottom. Where I swim, I try to stick to the "inside" where there's a sandy bottom. I've seen a few different types of fish and of course all the coral. There's also a channel which goes out, and I've swam there before, but it's super spooky. There's a pipeline to follow that goes out to a windsock and then you swim back. But I heard a rumor that someone saw a shark in the channel, so it creeps me out. I also once encountered a VERY large sea turtle when I was by myself and it freaked me out! I know they don't eat people but it was still very unsettling.

So my goal with the swimming is to get more comfortable going by myself, and go at least twice a week. I will only swim the channel if there is perfect visibility. Murky water gives me the creeps!

I also incorporated some strength training and I do walks and runs. Last week I rode my bike to work. I try to do this whenever it's not raining and I have the morning shift. It's safer and cooler then. It's only a 4-mile roundtrip ride, but it's a good way to sneak in some exercise when I don't have time.

Being More Generous
Yup, still good on this. Whether it's tithing monthly, supporting a missionary friend, or donating cookies, I feel good being more generous. I am trying to live life with more of an open hand than a closed fist.

Etsy Store
Stay tuned for an announcement tomorrow! I may not have made my goal of opening by the end of January, but that's okay, because it's still going to happen! LOVE IT when I reach my goals!

Be a More Thoughtful Gift Giver
I think I'm still working on this. I'll admit that I copped out on Christmas presents last year and bought a bunch of giftcards. They were easier to ship and just easier in general. However it's better when I can join the recipient in enjoying the giftcard. Sometimes you can't be present to do that, though.

Keep In Better Touch
I've been failing on this one. What is it that makes me too lazy to just pick up the phone and call? Or Skype?

Husband-Wife Devotions
We set the goal to do these once a week together, and so far it has been GREAT! I can't report any huge breakthroughs or anything, but it has been really fun and is a wonderful way to grow our relationship with each other and God. I love praying with my husband and learning together with him. Plus it's nice to hear someone else's perspective.

Pay Off the Car Early
We are on track. Estimated pay off date: July!

Grow Some Edibles
This is probably third on my list of things I need to take care of. However the lilikoi vine is absolutely growing out of control! I was training it to stay on top of the fence, but the top of the fence is flat so it doesn't have anything to hold onto. It was also pretty windy so it blew down a little bit. That thing grows so fast, I have to check every day to make sure it's not grabbing onto the clothesline! I got some nails to pound into the fence so hopefully it will be able to anchor itself on that way. I want to get it to grow across the whole length of the fence AND stay on our side so no one else can get the fruit (which will hopefully come out this summer!).

The garden is small but I want to try to make something of it! Besides the lilikoi vine, we've got a jasmine pikake plant, aloe, and three ti leaf plants. I killed the Amy Yoshioka Gardenia :( Oops!

I have a bunch of blog post ideas running through my head but just not enough time to do postings lately. Hopefully I can get on that soon.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Fun With Flax

Sometimes I feel like I'm turning into a weird hippy-version of myself. One day I woke up and decided that I needed to jump on the flax train.

Right around the beginning of high school, I noticed that I just could not make it from breakfast to lunch without feeling like I was starving by 10am. I decided to save breakfast as the last thing to do before I left for school, but even that didn't help. Now, how many years later? I've finally got my solution (yeah maybe my metabolism is a little crazy but this works).

Flax. This simple little seed that makes me feel so full! I love it! And I can't even taste it! After I got my urge to jump on the flax train, I went down to our local (aka next door) health food co-op store and scooped up some flax meal. I started adding it to my bowl o' Vanilla Honey Greek Yogurt with added assorted berries. I couldn't taste it and I made it until lunchtime! So amazing! Yes, I am really excited.

There are lots of other blogs and websites out there where you can read about the benefits of flax. So go do that. I just love that it's high in omega-3s and fiber. Woot!

Once flax became acceptable as a "good food" to me, I couldn't wait to try it out in other things. I found a recipe via Pinterest for different kinds of granola. I'd been buying granola for my yogurt and the good stuff was getting expensive. My mom-in-law made an awesome granola for us for Christmas and it inspired me to try to make my own!

I made an almond vanilla granola which came out... not too tasty (still eating that mistake - I'm too cheap to throw it away!). Then I tried this recipe from Always Order Dessert for Triple Chocolate Quinoa Granola. Holy chocolate granola goodness. It was sooo delicious. I brought some to work and they demanded more. I sent some to my mom for her birthday and she demanded the recipe. I have yet to sit down and eat some myself (remember, eating the first mistake) so I'm pretty excited to get to it! The recipe calls for chia seeds (which are supposedly even BETTER than flax) but I substituted in my amazing flax meal instead. I had some leftover quinoa so I was able to throw that in. The only things I had to buy were the rolled oats and raw cocoa nibs (which my husband recommends you do NOT eat by themselves, haha!). Give this a try! I want to experiment with subbing in coconut oil for the olive oil since I have a lot, maybe throwing in some wheat germ, sunflower seeds, and more chocolate chips? :)

I also had to give a cookie recipe a try. And I saw this in my very first copy (thanks, Mom!) of the Food Network Magazine. This picture pretty much enticed me:

That and the fact that I already had all the ingredients! Love it when that happens.

Let me tell you that these cookies are a match made in heaven for K and I. For some weird reason, he loves crunchy cookies. I love delicious, soft n' chewy cookies! Whenever I make cookies for us I have to do some juggling to make sure we both get our fix.

These cookies are baked perfection, for both of us, all in one go. Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. Wow! And ya know, "semi-healthy" with the addition of the flax. TRY THEM!

Oatmeal-Flax Choco-Chip Cookies
Adapted from Food Network Magazine
Makes 32 small or 15 big cookies

- 6 oz (12 T) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 c granulated sugar
- 3/4 c packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
- 1 c quick cooking oats
- 1/4 c flax meal
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 c (or more!) semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, mix and scrape the bowl.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, letting them incorporate fully.
4. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and slowly add to the mixer, on low speed.
5. Mix until just combined and fold in chocolate chips.
6. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Let cool on baking sheet for three minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

Notes: I decided to go against my "small cookie" routine and go BIG! using my cookie scoop. These took a bit longer in the oven (13-16 minutes). Not sure the small cookies will be as chewy but it's worth a shot! I would love to try this recipe with whole wheat flour and maybe bigger chocolate chunks!

These also fit perfectly in my snazzy ant-proof cookie jar (thanks FSIL!!). That chalkboard part is just too much fun!

So, try some flax. And these recipes. Got any more to share? I'm game.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Let's Get Political (Not Really) - Keepin' It Sweet

I was asked to do these last-minute cookies by a friend of my last client. She explained that she was hosting a birthday party and the guest of honor was really into politics. Could I recreate the Democratic Party's logo - the donkey? Instead of "Happy Birthday" she wanted "Vote For Karen" on the cookie. What a great idea!

Of course, I said yes. I am not huge into politics at all. When I registered to vote at age 18, I put "undecided" for the party. I grew up around a lot of Republicans but I wanted to make the choice on my own and figure it out myself.

Well, it's 9 years later and guess what? Haven't done a bit of political soul searching. It's not that I don't care, it's just not my thing. I'm not really interested. When people begin to talk politics, I back out of the discussion mainly because I know I'm not informed. I don't want to put my ignorant views out there. I'm one of those "I'll-figure-out-who-I'm-voting-for-the-day-before-the-election" people. Yes.

I am glad however that there are people out there who are intensely interested. I tend to be more conservative so I probably would be labeled a "Republican", but I am glad there are liberals out there. I live in a pretty liberal state. It provides balance. It's what makes this country great - we can all have our own opinions and not get locked up for saying them out loud. Awesome!

That being said, I couldn't create the donkey, without doing the elephant :) WHEN I get my Etsy shop set up, I will definitely be selling these treats around Election Day. Wouldn't they make a great addition to a party?

My mom-in-law gifted me a wonderful Make Your Own Cookie Cutter kit for Christmas. Would you believe that I have already run out of the aluminum provided in the kit?! I've made four cutters so far and it's harder than you'd think. This cookie was a last minute request, so I headed down to my *favorite* cooking store (note sarcasm - their customer service is awful) and they didn't have it in stock. Went to the hardware store, and they didn't have any aluminum thin enough that I could bend with my hands. So, I had to get creative.

I've seen this on other websites before so I gave it a go. Here's what you'll need to make your own cookie cutter:

-Shape printed out on paper
-Plastic lids big enough to fit your design

Cut out your design, tape it to the lid, trace it and cut it out. Make sure you wash off any pen residue on the plastic. You're done! Lay it on your dough and cut around it with a very sharp knife.

These are really only good if you're making about 10 cookies or less. It gets pretty tedious cutting them out. I was happy to see that the edges still looked clean and not jagged.

Kept these simple, but maybe I'll add the stars next time.

Vote for Karen ('cause she's the birthday girl!)

Who would you vote for?

I had a fun time making these cookies and loved the challenge!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Currently Current

I've let my blog spot go to waste because I have been too busy to sit down and spend time on my computer! The last half of the year is pretty hectic at work, and I'm thankful for that. I'd rather be busy and in over my head than have to scrounge around for things to do.

Usually, January - April is a slower time at work and I don't have any pressing things to do at home so I have more free time. I've resisted the Pinterest fad for a looong time, but finally gave in and I am hooked like so many others! There are some great crafty ideas out there. I've already "pinned" some new recipes to try, some date ideas, and ideas to save for the far off future. It is pretty cool. I also stumbled across a blog post that inspired me to start blogging again! So, enjoy.

current book(s)
I'm on a "re-read everything I own" kick in an effort to save money (and avoid paying my overdue fees at the library...eep!). I just finished re-reading Fahrenheit 451. Next up will be To Kill a Mockingbird. I just love that book and am excited to read it again!

current playlist
Foster the People, the Temper Trap, Iration, The Black Keys, and Tyrone Wells

current color
"natural". I can't have nail polish on at work, but I do paint some on when I have days off! I'm currently on a subtle sparkly gold kick.

current food
fuji apples with a bit of natural peanut butter

current favorite show
none - we don't have cable and I'd rather read!

current #1 blessing
This guy, of course!

current needs
keep cleaning up our apartment! it was clean for new year's but then I started all these organizing/decorating projects and it got a little cluttered again :P

current excitement 
new projects in the works!

current mood

current indulgence
I dropped the Starbucks habit and now make my (cheap!) iced mochas at home with this bad boy:

current triumph(s)
my friend Kristen and I climbed Koko Crater yesterday. It was my first "hard" workout of 2012. Champs!

current bane of my existence

current #1 item on your wishlist
a new water bottle. I bought K one for Christmas and it's so awesome, I want one too!
Hydro Flask Insulated 40 oz.

current new years goals
-get into a healthier lifestyle. we indulged a bit too much last year!
-continue with last year's goal of being more generous with my time, talents and money
-open up my Etsy store by the end of January (look out!)
-be a more thoughtful gift giver
-keep in better touch with my family and friends on the mainland
-do devotions with my husband once a week
-pay off my car early as planned. only a few more months to go!
-grow some edibles in our mini garden. last year I was still figuring things out back there.

Well that was fun!

I've also been doing some "home improvement" stuff lately (mostly organizing) and tons of fun cookie projects, so I'll be posting them... soon!
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