Monday, September 29, 2014

show me don't tell me

I grew up with a Chinese Tiger mom who chanted "do it right or don't do it at all". I take that one step further, "Do it with Passion or not at all". Be all in or get out. Don't wander through life. Go for it. Get out there.

This series started from here

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Orange Spice Pumpkin Coconut Pie

I am all in with any recipe that involves coconut, spice and pumpkin. I saw this pie on pinterest and went for it. YUM. The whip cream topping is made from chilled coconut cream with a bit of powdered sugar. Top it with some toasted coconut. Winner.

Awesome recipe is from here

Friday, September 26, 2014

Salted Carmel Chocolate Cakepops

I finally did it! Salted Carmel Chocolate Cakepops. I have been meaning to create these for months. They were great. Super easy. I melted 3/4 cup of carmels (the wrapped ones that you can purchase in the baking aisle) mixed with 3-5 TBS of cream. Once the mixture is smooth, drizzle it over the cakepops. Then sprinkle on some sea salt. Next time, I will be sure to have coarse sea salt on hand.

My youngest loves to add sea salt to his chocolate pudding, so we are running low at our home. Stinker! But he is on to something. Try it, sea salt on chocolate pudding is the bomb. Even the lame Hunt's pudding cups get a bit a jazz with sea salt.

Monday, September 22, 2014

show me don't tell me

Once again, it's "show me don't tell me" time. This time it's a big reveal (in my mind). A photo of me, sans makeup and no wrangling of my insane hair. My son is really getting into his hair. He gets so upset that he can't tame it, sadly that comes from my side. But crazy hair, is better than no hair. We'll take it.
The two images above show my Grandmother, Marvel. Her ethnicity was half Irish and half Chinese. She never learned how to drive a car, comfortable to rely on the care of others. She was quiet, allowing her few moments of bold thoughts to be hard hitting. When she was in her 80's, she was still living downtown Minneapolis in a condo. I was riding the elevator to visit her, two elderly gentlemen were also in the elevator. They saw that I pushed floor 12. That number sparked their thoughts.
Gentleman #1"Oh, say remember that Marvel? She was a looker back in the day"
Gentleman #2 "What do you mean back in the day, she's still a looker!"
 My Chinese ancestors came to the United States back in the 1870s. They settle mainly in Yakima, Washington. This was their laundry.

No, I was not grumpy about dance or the fancy trophy. I was bumming at the number of photos that were being taken. I do love this photo though. A nice contrast to fluffy tutus and huge grins.
The fancy sir with his fine canine is my Great Grandfather, Ben. He spoke several languages and ran a hotel in Wilmar, MN in the early 1900s.
My Grandparents married at the Little Brown Church in Iowa. Only two people witnessed the service. When they returned to work after the marriage, their co-workers were very upset to have missed the wedding. So they made their own mock wedding, with newspaper dresses. 
It all started from here

Monday, September 15, 2014

show me don't tell me

It all started from here

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

show me don't tell me

It all started from here

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Back to School Chalk Fun

Poof, Summer is over and we are back to school. This is the last year that all my kids will be in the same school. My two older kids are now about five feet tall. I am guessing I have about 18 months till they both overtake me. tick tock...

My eldest son has feet as big as mine, size 10. You can sorta see the giant blue shoes in the photos above. I had to add a filter to blur the giant shoes out. They were so distracting! Generally, I am okay with my big feet because there are always clearance shoes in size 10. My son's giant feet resulted in me tripping over his shoes by the door and jamming one of my little toes in the worst way. I don't think I spoke for five minutes straight. I now have a black and blue toe for the final days of sandal season.

That black and blue toe also took a ride on a Razor scooter this weekend. My youngest wanted to try his scooter and was having a hard time. So I had to demo a bit. It really is quite fun. But in the end, he decided that he only wanted to try new things like a new macaroni and cheese, not a scooter. This declaration was delivered to me in a loud shrill paired with crocodile tears and clenched fists. I am certain the neighbors caught every bit. I think he was overtired with low blood sugar (see, he was right about trying a new macaroni and cheese). So I carried him home like a koala bear with one arm while using the other hand to guide the scooter next to us.

After arriving home, all coated in shiny sweat I was feeling pretty amped about boots, tights and scarf season to round the corner. The best part will be the first frost that clears the air for my seasonal allergy trio (and hubby too). No worries they are all good buddies with Zyrtec and daily showers to remove pollen. They definitely took showers after the chalk photo and the scooter melt down.

BTW everyone chill out with the pumpkin recipes on Pinterest. It's too soon for the frenzy.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Brain on Fire

This book was an intense read that I didn't want to put down. I just wanted to know what would happen next. In 2009, Susannah (the author) goes through a medical condition that starts with paranoid thoughts,  numbness in her limbs, a bit of manic tendencies, then seizures and all out psychotic breakdown. The doctors run countless tests and cannot figure the cause of her issues until one doctor steps in with a lifesaving diagnosis that nearly saved her life. The total cost of her treatments were over $1 million. Good thing she had insurance at the time. 

From the book...
"By the time I was a patient at NYU, Dr. Dalmau had fine-tuned his approach, designing two tests that could swiftly and accurately diagnose the disease. As soon as he received my samples, he could test the spinal fluid. If he found that I had anti-NMDA-receptor autoimmune encephalitis, it would make me the 217th person worldwide to be diagnosed since 2007. It just begged the question: If it took so long for one of the best hospitals in the world to get to this step, how many other people were going untreated, diagnosed with a mental illness or condemned to a life in a nursing home or a psychiatric ward?"

In May 2014, it was announced that the book is being adapted to a film staring Dakota Fanning as Cahalan with Charlize Theron producing the film. 

This book was a bit of a personal read for me. I was sick back in September of 2001. I had been into urgent care and my regular doctor several times, finding no solution. I had severe pain in my back that was so intense it would take me over forty-five minutes to just get out of my bed. I would be drenched in sweat and tears and shaking by the time I stood up. The pain was so bad, I wanted to die. My final visit to the doctor office ended with me demanding to be sent to the hospital. 

I was in the hospital for over a month. It took nearly two weeks before they knew what was wrong with me. Before the diagnosis, I had multitudes of CATscans, MRI's, X-rays, blood tests and physical therapy sessions. Then from being so still for weeks, the doctors thought they saw a pulmonary embolism in my lung on an X-ray. That is a huge red flag, they rushed me in for an angiogram. I was awake for it all. It was just like the show ER, so intense. 

This was right after 9/11, the only shows available on the hospital TVs were Sesame Street or the news about 9/11. I would lay in the bed looking out the window at the planes flying by wondering when the next one was coming, thinking that I couldn't get up to run from anything. At one point during the whole process I lost it. I was screaming at the doctor, throwing anything I could get my hands on. I was yelling that people with brain tumors go home before me, why can't they figure this out! I am in America not a third world country. That particular doctor dropped me as a patient that day. I got a new doctor the next day.

It all panned out fine. This new doctor ordered a spinal bone biopsy. Think that is scary? Yeah it is. It's terrible. You are awake, laying on your stomach then they run you through the scanner. You come back out, they start drilling into you spine a bit then back into the scanner. This process goes on about forty minutes till they hit the right spot. The area is numbed but you hear the sounds and feel the pressure. 

After all of that the bone biopsy showed nothing. However soon after, I had a blood infection. It was a terrible blood infection with a very high fever. They collected vile after vile of my blood for testing and immediately began running IV antibiotics. It was the weekend, so the tests took longer to come back. Of course, perfect timing as always. 

In the end, I had Spinal Osteomyletis caused by Salmonella in my L5 vertebrae. The bone biopsy has shaken it all lose into my system. It was in the exact spot I had indicated the very first visit at urgent care. The entire staff came in to apologize to me. Many of them had thought the whole thing was in my head, that I had just thrown my back out (at the ripe age of 24). I was placed on a high dose of many painkillers, my blood thinners for the blood clot and a permanent IV was attached to my arm. I was on IV antibiotics for several months. 

The craziest thing about my disease was that I did not have a compromised immune system. I was not very young or old. I did not have a broken bone, diabetes, tuberculosis or sickle cell. I had absolutely none of the risk factors associated with this disease. I didn't even eat meat during this time of my life. So the Salmonella had to of come from dirty vegetables or cross contamination. The particular strain of Salmonella was so strong that it must have just busted through my system and found a home in my spine. 

A year after the whole ordeal, I was pregnant with my first child. Life has a funny way of working out. Luckily, I had insurance just like Susannah. I also had a doctor that went for a crazy idea when no one was listening to me. I am designer, not a writer. I never wrote a compelling story about my month of Ostemyletis. Susannah did, and she did a great job. I am grateful for her passion to bring awareness to a disease that needed to be known. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Minneapolis wanderings

Hello, Hello farmer's market veggies! I love that my work is located near the Minneapolis Farmer's Market. Today I popped over there during lunch time to nab some tomatoes for my daughter. We both agree that tomatoes from the Farmer's Market taste like the earth (in a good way). The tomatoes at the grocery store do not have the same earthy goodness. Soon it will be fall and then winter (boo) when the sun sets at 4pm. Until then we will dash to the farmer's market while we can.

My youngest is a mega fan of the mini donuts you can find at the market on the weekend. He was convinced that the mini donuts were available everyday. "Mom, since the Farmer's Market is so close your work, you could get me hot mini-donuts everyday, RIGHT?" Insert big blinking brown eyes and a wiggly leg hug.

Back to today, my other downtown adventures to included popping tags at the Salvation Army downtown Minneapolis. They sell clothing and home goods by the pound upstairs. Downstairs you can find oodles of Target headquarter sample goodies. Today I found a Nate Berkus platter for only $4. I just saw this same platter at Target stores for $24.99! They frequently have Target dresses for only $4 too. Love it.

Show me, don't tell me


Let's travel back in a time to my college years. The time in my life when teachers chanted "show me, don't tell me". I have carried that theory throughout my design work. Good design hits you in the heart when you see it. There is no need to explain things, your soul already absorbed the goodness. Any additional explanation of the visual only enriches the goodness.

I have three kids that have reached the critical point in life where we are discussing that life is not always fair, that there is a need to be a kind friend and a quality human in this crazy world. I can discuss things at great length but I will often get the semi-blank stare, huff or sneaky eye roll. So I have decided to use my college-days design theory with them. Show me, don't tell me.

I am the keeper of most of my extended families photos, going back to the 1890s. I am going to use a combination of old photos, notes and textures mixed with my current kids art to make visual graphics that convey the advice I want them to hold tight to their souls. Who knows where this will go. I will take it day by day and see the goodness I can craft up.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mint Dark Chocolate Cakepops

Order up! From time to time, I craft up custom cakepops for sweet treat friends and fans. This latest version is a dark chocolate mint version. 

I love a spicy chocolate so recently I experimented with a spicy concoction of chocolate, cayenne pepper and chili powder. I topped those spicy bad boys with sea salt. Almost hot enough, next time I am going to amp the heat up and add some bacon crumbles with the sea salt. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Summer time fun : cake pop stand

The other day, I was attempting to have a conversation with my husband. I said "profit" during our discussion. All the kids said "What's profit? What does that mean?" So this weekend, we ran a cake pop stand to discuss and learn matters such as cost, profit, supply, demand, salesmanship, teamwork and hard work.

Before the cake pop stand opened, a kind gentleman gave my son $2 for his efforts. We didn't have the cake pops out yet. So sweet, perfect little motivation to get the day going. I love that. Turns out our youngest is a fabulous "waver" but also a great inventor of excuses (reasons) why he needs yet another break. My oldest was a hard worker, keeping a constant look out for potential clients. "We are running a business. Pay attention. Wave!"

Our products were Vanilla and Chocolate cake pops! The chocolate turned out to be the street traffic favorite. We had lots of truckers today due to construction work down the street. The kids jumped when they pulled the big horns. Even after subtracting our costs we had a very profitable four-hour shift. They celebrated with a romp in the sprinklers.

Of course, all that time in the driveway lead to another chalk drawing. Luck would have it, friends stopped by for a quick photo shoot! Summer time fun. . . cake pops, profits, sprinklers and friends!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Summer Chalk Art

We have two giant buckets of chalk, this year we are going to burn through it. This weekend we crafted up two chalk scenes, beach bound and parachutes from the sky. A tall ladder is a must to make this photo happen. I was up at the top of the ladder in my usual attire, a dress (not too short). Soon after a car with teenagers shouting inappropriate remarks. Fortunately they stopped when they realized that my kids were laying on the driveway, hearing every word.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Naan with Cilantro and Garlic

My new favorite food blog is HalfBakedHarvest. Tieghan, posts a new recipe every day with beautiful photography. INSANE and awesome too. I recently made her recipe for Naan. It was perfect topped with garlic and fresh cilantro. I paired it with her Basil Red Curry dish. I went with the chickpeas instead of chicken.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Chai Latte Cakepops

Time for some Chai Latte Cakepops. The mix was from Target's Archer Farms Brand. While baking the cake made the house smell amazing. The mix comes with fancy spiced up frosting too. I only used half of the frosting to make the cakepops. Dipped the cakeballs in white melted chocolate and sprinkled with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.

Par for the course, my kids were not total fans but my co-workers were thrilled.