Monday, July 30, 2012

July wrap-up

Can not believe it is the end of July!! School for us begins on August 2nd!! Summer. Is. Over.

Well, everything except for the heat. That will be with us through the end of the year. Yes, even Christmas is Tucson is too hot for me. January, February and March are my months, those are the months I like Tucson.

Anyhow, enough of that. I just wanted to do a quick catch-up post for the end of the month. I finished taking the Color Love class by Joanne Sharpe and went right into her Letter Love class which I am loving as well. I will have a post up in a few days that is a bonus lesson for the Color Love gals. I offered to come up with one of the new challenges, just something to keep us all busy before Joanne's next class.

Here are a few pictures of the things I've been working on this past month:

My Color Girl - more to come on 8/9/12
Lettering Fun
Love these doodled letters
a mix of writing styles
 Using crayons and watercolors together
 One of the bonus lessons using alcohol and watercolors
 Practicing lettering
 beginning of some postcards for a swap
More lettering fun
 My first distress stains, did these for a swap and to enter a contest 
An ATC for a swap - the theme was "one word"
 a colorful envelope for a monthly exchange

Well, thanks for taking a peek at all the fun I've been having. Now that school is starting back up and I can have my friends over to play I am hoping to do a bit more. I have a list, I'll never get to all of it, but it's on a list! :0)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Tom Ka Gai (Thai coconut soup with chicken)

or Tom Ka Kai, is a soup that is very very popular in Thailand and pretty much anywhere that embraces their cuisine. Most people new to Thai food are first introduced to Pad Thai Noodles (sweet/spicy rice noodles with crushed peanuts on top) and then to this soup. It is the perfect balance of sweet - spicy - savory - and sour.

 I read dozens of recipes of how to make this soup. I read the very traditional ones that use Galanga, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves- these all add flavour to the soup and are pretty, but they are inedible and nearly impossible to find, not to mention expensive. I read the non traditional ones which used easy to find, but strange ingredients like soy sauce, turmeric, lemon juice or vinegar. Ick.

So I began to play around and shoot for something in the middle. We love this recipe! It is far from traditional but anyone would recognize it for what it represents and it is easy to make. So, with that in mind, take it for what it is and then tweak it to make it your own.

2 cans coconut milk
2 cups chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, pealed and slightly smashed but whole
fresh ginger (see below)
One lime and True Lime packets (see below) or 3-4 limes
2 -4 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 Tablespoons fish sauce (see below)
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 t. Cayenne pepper or finish with Thai sweet chili sauce or sriracha
Chopped cooked chicken
rice or noodles

In a large pot combine together the cans of coconut milk and the chicken broth. Start to heat gently taking it to just a simmer. Add in the garlic, I leave the pieces whole and fish them out before serving. The ginger - fresh ginger root keeps in your freezer for months. Buy a nice big root and peel it. Chop off a good sized chunk and then ziplock and store the rest in the freezer. I retrieve mine from the freezer and chop off a chunk, I add about 1 Tablespoon of it finely grated and then throw in the chunk of what ever is left. I fish this out and throw away before serving. Next is the lime and the packets:
These are completely optional, but I always keep them in my cupboard to add extra lime flavor to fajittas, margarita chicken, my water, etc. I buy one lime and cut it in half, half is squeezed into the broth and then the piece is thrown in to be removed later. The other half is cut into slices and used to garnish the bowl at the end. For the additional lime flavor I also add two or three of these packets to the soup. You could intead just buy two or so extra limes and squeeze the juice and float the rind in it.

Chop up about 1/2 a bunch of cilantro. I add 2 or more tablespoons to the soup while it cooks and I save the rest to top the bowls just before serving.

Add 4 Tablespoons of fish sauce.

Yes, it smells awful to most people other than myself. Yes, you really do need it. It will keep in the fridge for ages (not like it can really go bad) and is a flavor that you just can't substitute. I know, you are thinking you already own soy sauce. Don't do it. Get some fish sauce, trust me.

Fish sauce is almost always used in conjunction with sugar. If you have a problem with sugar or just don't like your food too sweet - this is where you start tasting as you go. Try your soup now and see what you think. Sometimes just the coconut milk can be sweet enough for some people. Add one tablespoon of sugar and let it dissolve, see if you can tell the amazing difference that it adds. If you are brave enough, add another tablespoon. Here is a good place to stop if you are satisfied with the sweetness, we like ours a little more on the sweet side so I will usually add a third tablespoon unless I plan to top of the soup with Thai sweet chili sauce. If you are using that for your heat, then stop after 2 T. of sugar.

The heat is an important element to Thai food and the balance. However, some people have small kids and like to adjust this accordingly. I use 1/4 t. cayanne pepper while the soup is cooking, and that works for my 9 year old as well as my hubby. I will add a bit of hot to mine after dishing it up into the bowl. You can use Thai hot sauce or sriracha to add heat after it is served if desired.

Finally is the chicken, or shrimp, or mushrooms or ..... I like to cook chicken separately and add at the end to just warm it up. I also like to add cooked shrimp at the end. You can cook the chicken in the broth if you are willing to keep it at a low simmer for longer and check extremely well to make sure it is cooked all the way through. 

Serving: In a deep bowl place cooked rice or noodles and spoon the soup over the top. Garnish with fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lime juice and a little hot sauce if desired. Enjoy!!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

So very Charming

I am participating in my first ever Altered Charm Swap! There are two themes, one is "general" and the other is "Halloween". The idea is that you make 5 charms and mail them to the host who then swaps them out and you get back a clip with 5 different charms. Mine all go in the mail tomorrow!! I did three different charms for the general swap and two for the Halloween swap.

1st general charm: Hope
2nd general charm: Dream
3rd general charm: Wish
1st Halloween charm: Skull

2nd Halloween charm: Clock face
Here's a better look at his face:
There all ready to send out -

Check back in a few weeks to see what I receive back!!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

She's Cussing up a storm!

Ha - that got your attention didn't it!

I'm not trying to push the blogging envelope here, and I'm not going to be typing anything vulgar so you can uncover your eyes. This is simply and observational post, something I've been thinking about for awhile and thought I'd share.

I consider cussing and cursing to be two different things. Although some sources I found say that cussing is just a euphemism for cursing, I don't agree. For myself, cussing is an expression or a profanity and cursing is just that "to curse" asking for something evil or bad to befall that of another. Cussing is used to make a point stronger, make a feeling known or to express excessive amounts of frustration. Cursing usually involves invoking the name of our Lord, is mean/insulting and usually vulgar.

I grew up in a household where there was mild cussing. I knew not to do it, I wasn't an adult and didn't have that privilege yet. I say mild cussing because although it was frequent, it wasn't very vulgar. I rarely heard the f-word or anything outrageous. My parents cussing was often quite amusing. (I love listening to older generations cuss!) My Dad was really good at it. I grew up thinking that a rat-fink was the worst thing you could call someone or something that wasn't doing what you wanted. And if my dad didn't believe something, it was a load of Bullshaviki. I didn't realize until recently what he was actually saying was related to the Bolshevik party in Russia, what was the beginning of their communist party. Of course, growing up I heard all the other more standard four-letter words and the third commandment broken often in plenty of places.

I think most people cuss at some point. It has actually been shown that it creates bonds among people and it really does ease pain when you get hurt, as long as it isn't overused. Of course, most of us with kids try to be creative so that our darlings aren't repeating what they hear at inopportune moments (out in public). I read something about how replacing a similar word for a cuss word (also called a minced oath) is "just the same" as saying the original word. I don't tend to agree with that, especially when it comes to kids. If they are watching a movie and hear "oh, Snap" (Chicken Little, Disney 2005) and repeat it to their friends. I don't think they actually know what they are saying is "Oh, Shit" like the rest of us who grew up before "Oh, Snap" was created. I think the same holds true for "Shut the front door". I have no problem with my child repeating it although others might, as it sounds very close to "shut the f-up" and is used in the same way.

As a pre-teen I learned to cuss in other languages, or make up words, or use words that were already out there. There were tons of TV shows growing up that taught us how to cuss without really cussing. Mork from Mork and Mindy said "Shazbot", Flo telling Mel to "Kiss my grits" (yea, we all knew what "grits" meant), the cute kid from Different Strokes "Whatchu talkin' 'bout, Willis?", Wilma was always ready with a Jeenkies or Shaggy with a Zoiks! (Scooby-doo), and Battlestar Galactica is probably the worst offender of all with using the word frek in every freking sentence.

So what creative ways do you have to cuss that won't land a dollar in the swear jar? Here are a few of my favorites gathered from all over the place. Feel free to add them to your repertoire as needed. 

Gee Wilikers
Jumpin' Johosephat
Shazam (I don't think anyone says this anymore)
Wholie Crow (and any variation of the Batman/Robin explicitives)
Goodness Gravy (a favorite of mine)
Son of a Mother (one of my hubby's favorites)
Jimminy Cricket (one of those minced oaths that some people don't take a cotton to)
What in the Dickens
What the freak (one my son would say constantly if I allowed it)
Shut the front door
Oh, Snap
Dagnabit (another of my personal favorites)
Bullsheviki (thanks Dad, for the BS alternative)
Pissant (another of my Dad's highly offensive insults)

Well, I hope I didn't offend anyone with this post or the *gasp* list of cusses. Remember, occasionally it might be necessary to cuss - but it is never alright to curse. And save the Lord's name for praises!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

101 things in 1001 days

Task is private

I found this website today while bopping around on blogs and decided this is just the type of thing that I need to get me going!

I am horrible about remembering what I think I want to do - so this will give me a jumping off point and a place to keep track of my progress. I'll be blogging my progress as I go and I'm sure items on the list may get changed here and there.

I have until April 2, 2015 to complete the entire list.  Please click on the link above and make your own list and join the insanity - it's gonna be fun!! (let me know if you do make your own list because that is one of the items I can cross off mine!! #62)