Friday, October 8, 2010

Visions of Etsy shops dance in my head


Ever since I heard of Etsy I have wondered about what possibilities it could hold for me. I have been thinking about this on and off for months with one thing or another distracting me from the actual pursuit of creating a shop. One thing that was holding me back was the lack of a product line. HA! That would help, huh? What I've found the past few days is a strange revival of passion to go towards my creative goals more wholeheartedly instead of saying "somewhere down the line I'll do it...when I have time to think about it...when I make a ton of products I'll start to think of it" etc. etc. etc.

I'm done with that. I'm ready to step out and think of this as a business that I can and WILL follow through with. This past week I've been studying Etsy, looking at products sold, online marketing and advertising techniques, and the importance of having a good business name. I came to the realization that I've always talked about my desire to have a boutique or small store where I could sell my handmade items, refurbished furniture, vintage items - things big and small that really represent my creativity and my style, and Etsy could be it!

This week I've found myself writing down ideas constantly in my notebook - things I can make, things I can redo, designs and colors that inspire me, words that could join together to make a cool shop name, things that are essentially just things that I love. Did I say "things" too much? Things. Things, things, things. Its just cool to have this flow of ideas that I've compiled forever, but just never put to paper.

One thing I know to be true is that it's important to write things down. Whether it's a dream, idea or prayer request, it makes it real and permanent. This can be scary sometimes because if you write it down and it doesn't come to fruition, you have the opportunity to be disappointed. However, that's when the wonderful gift of faith comes into play. =) Just from experience, when I've written down plans, goals or prayer requests and they DO come to fruition, I am SO pumped! What an awesome achievement it is! Also, I learned in my life planning class back in college that if you write up a plan and put a date to it, you're more than likely going to follow through because you've given yourself a goal with a due date. It's like you've made a deal with yourself and you MUST follow through.

In conclusion...

I WILL learn. I WILL create. I WILL follow my dreams. I WILL achieve my goals.

To my readers: Have a dream? WRITE IT DOWN!

Also, do you or does anyone you know have an Etsy shop? Any advice? What kind of handmade or vintage items are you most likely to look for or purchase?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Taking on New Recipes

If you're like me, you have your own database of go-to meals forever in your brain. You've made them time and time again, memorized the ingredients, you know they'll taste good and in a pinch you have dinner prepared.

There are those evenings though when the old faithful recipes just don't do it for me. I want something new - a challenge that I'm never quite sure that I'll be able to tackle successfully. The recipe may say that it will take an hour to prepare and cook and I don't even care if it takes me two or more, I will make something new and fabulous (or at least attempt it).

Another reason I oftentimes try out a new recipe is when I'm cooking a special meal or having company over. Risky - totally. I don't know why I do it to myself. I always think, "maybe I should make something that I know is good..." and then that's exactly when Carlos challenges me to try something new and I totally can't help myself but accept the call to action and break out the cookbooks, leaving any doubts of incompetency behind me.

Recently Carlos and I had our first dinner guests over, and I was determined to make something fancier than I had made in the past. I went through my cookbooks (usually Rachel Ray), searching for the perfect thing and I stumbled across a recipe that I had been interested in several times, but always thought it might be too difficult. Turns out, the most difficult time I had was finding the ingredients! Who would have thought that it would be so difficult to find puff pastry (in the right size), fig preserves and Italian fontina cheese?? Thank goodness I started shopping early in the day and not RIGHT before dinnertime because I had to go to four stores just to find everything. Three out of the four stores had fontina cheese, but it was from Denmark. Two out of the four stores only had puff pastry shells and out of the remaining two, only one had the puff pastry sheet size that I needed. Only ONE store had fig preserves. Can we get a Whole Foods in Salinas please?

Anyway, with all of that said, ingredients collected, the recipe wasn't difficult at all - pretty straightforward and the result was delicious. I served it alongside green beans and asparagus with a tarragon lemon dip (also Rachel Ray) yummmm and finished off the evening with pears with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. It's a pretty expensive meal, but compared to a dinner out, not bad. For four adults it was $60 for a gourmet meal in.

I challenge you to try them all! Here are the recipes:


Love Birds - Chicken in Pastry


Ingredients

4 pieces skinless chicken breast, boned (about 8 ounces each)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 to 3 sprigs fresh finely chopped rosemary

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 sheet puff pastry (11 by 17-inch), (recommended: Dufour)

8 slices Italian fontina cheese, slices should be 2 to 3-inches square and 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick, cut in 1/2

1/2 cup fig preserves

1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash


Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Season the chicken with salt, pepper and rosemary. Cut each piece of chicken in half across the breast giving you 8 equal portions. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly brown the chicken on both sides, 5 minutes total. Remove from heat.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut pastry into 8 pieces. Place a piece of cheese on each pastry square and top with spoonfuls of fig preserves and the chicken pieces. Pinch and seal the dough up and over the meat and cheese, seal with egg wash, flip the pastry packets over and brush the tops with remaining egg wash. Bake 12 to15 minutes, until golden.

For entree portions, simply leave chicken breast whole and cut the pastry into quarters. Trim off excess dough and use it to decorate the pastry with small cut outs such as heart shapes.



Asparagus and Green Beans with Tarragon Lemon Dip


Ingredients

1 pound asparagus, trimmed

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed

Salt

1 cup mayonnaise

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 small shallot, finely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon, (4 sprigs), chopped, plus sprigs for garnish

2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves, plus sprigs for garnish

Few grinds freshly ground black pepper


Directions

Cook asparagus spears and green beans in 1-inch of salted boiling water, covered, for 3 or 4 minutes. Drain and cool the vegetables and arrange them on a serving plate. Combine the dip ingredients in a small bowl and garnish with sprigs of parsley and tarragon and set dip along side vegetables on serving dish.


Pears with Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce


Ingredients

2 cans pears in heavy syrup, 15 ounces

4 tablespoons amaretto or dark rum

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips or, chop up a bar

1 pint French vanilla ice cream


Directions

Drain pears over a small saucepot. Reduce syrup over medium high heat 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in liquor and cook 2 minutes longer. Add chocolate and stir to melt. Remove from heat.

Slice pears and place in cocktail glasses. Pour hot chocolate sauce over pears and top glasses with small scoops of vanilla ice cream.


Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Customization. . . the HTML Blues

I have spent the past three days immersing myself in HTML and websites and Photoshop and Photobucket and tons of other sites I haven't ever been to just trying to make a blog to my liking. Three days later....I'm pretty satisfied and I have eye strain, BUT I've done almost everything that I had set out to accomplish. I changed my template to something cuter, added a signature, added more gadgets, added titles for my gadgets, set a new font for the date/post titles and most importantly, designed my own header (which was the most fun I had in the whole process).

After a few days, I'm glad the customization process is over. There's creativity and then there's eye-crossing code for days and I'm not sure if I'll ever learn how to use it to my creative benefit without a step-by-step instructional - which has been my only proven method so far, and even with that I managed to screw up. I give a round of applause to those who can actually look at the rolling pages of code and make sense of it all on the spot.

My favorite part of it was designing my header. I've always loved tooling around in Photoshop and making something that truly reflects myself and my individual creativity. I barely used Photoshop at all to make the header because I happened across a website called Scrapblog that was super fun to use and create with. You are able to import your own images, and with them and the provided images, create an assortment of items: calendars, books, albums, cards, etc. that you can order. You can also create an online scrapbook that you can invite friends and family to. Another way you can use it is create one page and export it as a jpg like I did. Then you can leave it as is, or take it into Photoshop and add some more flare to it. It was a great tool, in that it gives you lots of backgrounds and TONS of stickers to use, all for free. You can pay for some really cool decorative stickers and backgrounds, but why when you can just get it for free?

With that said, my blog should be looking the same for quite some time. I don't think I'm down for anymore html craziness for a while. I set out to make something I'd enjoy looking at and I accomplished that. I hope you enjoy it too. =)

Here's a link for Scrapblog....Check it out!

'Create


Monday, September 13, 2010

Cornbread


When I was in elementary school my mom used to take us to Bakers Square when it was raining and order hot cocoa and cornbread - it was the best. It made me crave cornbread whenever the weather was gray and drizzly. I love it.

It was the first thing I proudly learned to make when I was a kid, all by myself. I loved the feeling of measuring out so many things, mixing them all together and knowing that in 25 minutes I would have something delicious. I can't have chili beans without it. I must have a piece of cornbread with melty butter on it with every bite. Indulgent? Yes. Delicious? Totally.

I always use the recipe on the back of the Albers yellow cornmeal box. Its the best.

Albers® Corn Bread

(Makes 12 servings)

This moist corn bread can be served with salads, soups, stews, chilies, or southern fried chicken. Try it toasted and spread with butter and jam in the morning.

1 cup Albers® White or Yellow Corn Meal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 cup milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 large egg, lightly beaten

PREHEAT oven to 400°F. Grease 8-inch square baking pan.

COMBINE meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Combine milk, oil and egg in small bowl; mix well. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until blended. Pour into prepared pan.

BAKE for 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm.

NOTE Recipe may be doubled. Use greased 13x9-inch baking pan; bake as above.



FOR MUFFINS:
SPOON batter into 10 to 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. Bake in preheated 400°F oven for 15 minutes.


Don't forget to serve alongside some good chili beans. =)

As we head into the fall season, one question:

What's your favorite go-to comfort food/meal in cold weather?


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day = Cleaning Day

Okay, before I talk about the large cleaning strides we made this weekend, I am going to introduce you to my baby, Chloe. Carlos and I got her in May when she was 6 weeks old, and she's 5 months now. She's my rambunctious sweetie and I was surprised how much I missed her morning puppy hugs when we were on vacation.








I'm pretty excited about the cleaning accomplishments that we made over our three day weekend. I may still be sneezing due to the dust I inhaled, but our house is clean, for the most part organized and we were actually able to use our extra room as a creative space on Sunday when Carlos suggested we do some painting. After clearing enough floor space in the extra room and making quick run to Michaels to buy some canvases and some new colors, it felt good to have a paintbrush in my hand again, with no clue as to what I was going to paint. Our experimental painting session went well - its always fun to slap some paint on a canvas and see how it ends up. We brought Chloe into the room in her crate so that she wouldn't feel left out. She whined a bit, but I think our quiet artsy time chilled her out after a while.

Here are our paintings and our work in progress extra room/creative space:





Hopefully soon I can start using my sewing machine and chipping away at the bags of fabric I have tucked away in the closet.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Okay, so I haven't written since March? How is that possible? Easily, very easily. Here are a few reasons:

1. Wedding planning
2. Wedding planning
3. Wedding planning
4. Actual Wedding
5. Honeymoon
6. Wedding aftermath

And somewhere in there I thought I was not only going to become a crafty women extraordinaire, but also train for a half marathon. Somehow I thought that being unemployed would mean extra time for the pursuit of creative goals AND that I could become an athlete in the meantime. Ha! Well, neither was accomplished, but Carlos and I were able to plan an awesome wedding and ran/jogged/walked the Salinas Valley Half Marathon on Saturday without training (the no training thing is something I wouldn't recommend, the going for one's own sense of accomplishment, I would).

The wedding was everything I could have ever wanted: awesome weather, relaxed atmosphere, filled to the brim with everyone I love, tons of color, lots of dancing - basically a gigantic picnic with 100 of my closest friends and family, which is EXACTLY what Carlos and my desire was. I'd love to say more, but at this point, the pictures say it all. I would add more, but blogger annoys me every time I add pictures to my blogs, so this is all I can handle right now. =) I cannot wait to see the professional pictures that Mike Steelman did. I've only seen two pictures so far and I'm loving them, so I'm looking forward to seeing what else he captured.















We had a relaxing honeymoon in Hawaii, where we stayed in Kailua-Kona. Snorkeled one day and did some sight-seeing the other few days. Fun thing is, Carlos' family (parents and brother's family) are going to stay at the same beach house this month in Kona and we're going to go along with them, so we can spend some more time exploring the island.

So.....where does this leave creative Sarah? Well, despite my lack of fabric work (honestly haven't touched the stuff since I bought it) I have been learning video/audio editing and graphic work alongside Carlos so that I can eventually work doing that. My "creative space" aka our extra room is on its way to being cleaned out. This will be quite the accomplishment, considering for the past couple months it's stored wedding decorations, then wedding/bridal shower/bachelorette party gifts, then once the gifts found homes we unpacked my trunk (probably a good three weeks after the wedding) which was filled with the leftover wedding decorations and moved over the last of Carlos' stuff from his parents' house. So for now, I think we've got it down to just wedding decor and a couple boxes of stuff that we haven't found homes for yet. Man - its a chore trying to figure out where everything will go! Merging two lives into one is messy, and I'm just talking about closet space here. Luckily in helping Carlos' brother and his family unload the moving truck we inherited a bookshelf and we got a dresser from his parents at the same time. Score!

I'll leave you with a fun moment from my bachelorette party. If you ever have a chance, go to Kula Ranch Island Steakhouse in Marina, CA. It used to be AJ Spurs for any local readers. It's definitely one of my new favorites. If you go, I suggest you go wild and just get a load of appetizers. SO good. I'd love to tell you what my favorite meal there is, but I honestly can't tell you. I've been there probably five times and done the same thing. Do not leave without having the sweet potato fries, coconut panko tiger prawns or fire roasted artichokes! Also, try to go on a Friday or Saturday because usually they'll have this fun ukulele player dude there and he takes requests...or like he did our night, have a lady gaga medley prepared. ha!

Hopefully in my coming posts I will be able to post some pictures of crafty or household tasks accomplished - like cleaning out that extra room so that I can actually use it!


video

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Buried Alive in Fabric!






Alrighty! I haven't blogged in a while because I feel like I don't have anything to say...yet. I'm sure that by the time I finish writing this entry, I will have obliterated that last statement.

With that said, I'm on my way to creation, with no product to show for it yet. Not that I don't have ANY product. I'm pursuing so much creatively that I haven't finished anything really and I haven't started much.

I'm in the midst of learning how to use AVID and After Effects for video and audio editing so that I can start working for my father-in-law to be. I have been practicing daily for the past few weeks, just getting the hang of the programs. It's definitely fun now that I'm remembering how to do things! There's SO much to learn, so I'm trying to take it day by day and absorb everything I can like a sponge. Maybe one day I'll be a special effects expert, but for now I'll settle to be a novice with high hopes!

All I know is that inside and outside of the editing studio, I feel like my brain is ready to explode with creative ideas and I wish there were more hours in the day in which I could explore more of them at once. I guess I'll start by making a notepad that hangs around my neck with a pen attached so that I won't forget my seemingly brilliant ideas. I can only hope that they'd be brilliant and not the kind of "awesome" ideas you wake up with in the middle of the night; or like the dreams that make total sense even five minutes after waking up and then by minute six you come to the realization that flight is not an option unless you're in an airplane.

Anyway...
I REALLY want to pursue sewing and making awesomely cute handmade items from pillows to aprons and purses, to blankets and other assorted home decor items. I feel like I could make some rad, vintage-inspired quirky stuff if I just sit myself down and have a brainstorming session. All I've managed to do so far is fill up my room with fabric and pillow forms. Honestly, I cannot go to Etsy, to Beverlys or even Savers without buying fabric. I see projects in every piece of fabric I see and touch and I must have it! Then I bring it home and I'm dismayed because I have yet to even pull out my sewing machine. I have promised it and myself that its day in the sun will come.

So here's what I have to show for the past few weeks:

Fabric, and lots of it!

And a couple of videos!


and

The video captures are pretty random, so these edits are definitely just for fun. I love Carlos in the footage - he makes me laugh everytime. Enjoy!

Hopefully next time I check back in I'll have made some headway with my sewing projects. Until then, you can find me at Beverlys and please slap my hand if you see me reach for any super cute fabric!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Someone else's art!

So I'm breaking my theme in part just because I'm excited. I received an email from our wedding photographer, Mike Steelman (www.mikesteelman.com) today that our engagement pictures were available for viewing. I was sooooo pleased that they turned out so well. I of course have some favorites, but I love them all. Hopefully we'll be able to order an album from Mike in the future, but we have to make some decisions about which ones will make the cut for save the dates and maybe some photos to display at the wedding first!

So...I know I don't have many followers yet, but I figured a little blog input wouldn't hurt!

Here's the link to Mike's Tangents (blog): (we're currently the latest update)

http://mikesteelman.com/blog/

Here's the link to all pictures: (There are a few that he didn't put on his blog that I like a lot)

http://www.pictage.com/796352

Let me know which one(s) you like the best! And make sure to look around on Mike's site. He has some really awesome images that totally capture his "raw and refined" style. Heads up to any ladies who might need a wedding photographer someday - go with Mike, you won't regret it! And if you're interested, he does the "dirty dress" sessions too, where you...get your dress dirty for a lack of a better description! Take a look around at his site, you'll see what I mean.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

First things first - Write first blog entry.

Here I am with a blog...what now?

I've heard that one should stick to a defined theme. Last night when I came to the conclusion that a blog would be a fun idea, I went to bed with all of these grand literary bits of genius in my mind, frustrated that my laptop was all the way in the living room and I, well, had work in the morning so I couldn't stay up half the night spewing all of my awesome ideas about life (sarcasm). The creative juices were flowing, and now...not so much.

So here's what I think the theme of this blog will be in its most simple form. I am as my blog title states, an administrative assistant by day and creative soul by night. As mysterious and catchy as the title is, the fact of the matter is, my headline should read "Warning! A desk job may ruin all creative juices left in your brain! Run while you still can!" Okay, that was completely over dramatized. Honestly, I like my job. I just wish I was more passionate about it. I can do it, and do it really well, but what could I be doing differently that might motivate me to greater heights of excellence?

My frustration is in the lack of motivation I feel to push paper anymore when I'd so much prefer to learn how to design and make an awesome piece of furniture or even plant some flowers and watch them grow. There's something to be said for making things. Even if it's hard work, when you're done, it's a reflection of you. I was at the beach on Valentines Day and was overwhelmed with the thoughts of creation, amazed at the world that God created for us and the way he paints the sky daily to remind us of his awesome imagination and artistry! My mom always says that God's putting on another show for us whenever the sky is filled with extraordinarily vibrant colors. I took this picture on Valentines Day at Carmel Beach. It has not been enhanced or photoshopped in any way. How awesome, right!? I want to paint it, its just so beautiful, but I definitely wouldn't do it any justice. I'll leave stuff like that for the Bob Ross' of the world that can paint "happy little trees" ohhhh so easiliy.


I LOVE color. Ask my fiance what I used to dress like a few years back when we were first dating and he'd probably make some reference to rainbow brite or something. Honestly though, how awesome is color?? In elementary school, I felt like the coolest kid ever when my mom got me the BIG BOX of color crayons. Once you have that box, you can't go back to having only 12 to work with. Magic mint, burnt sienna, robins egg blue, radical red, cerulean - the choices were endless! I'm the same way now when I go to the craft store and pick out some new acrylic colors for canvas painting. New colors are so fun, especially when I can see the possibilities of mixing a couple to make the most intense color combination ever.

For me, creativity sometimes takes the willingness to have the heart and imagination of a child. As adults we tend to pigeon-hole ourselves and stay within a box that gets smaller and smaller with every year added to our life. For children, the possibilities are endless and dreams ARE reality. I mean, I used to talk to Big Bird at nap time - and that was real to me! I'm not saying you should start imagining that a large yellow bird is your best buddy, but look a little deeper when opportunities present themselves. Say yes to yourself more than you say no. Look at the possibilities rather than the limitations. I used to say to myself that if I did what I loved to do for a living, than I wouldn't like doing it anymore. I've found out that its SO the opposite - find your bliss and chase after it! If you can make money doing it, kudos to you!
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