Tuesday, June 30, 2009

walk like an Egyptian

One of my favorite things in the world is mail. I think this stems partly from my love of record-keeping and partly from my love of...office supplies. Ever since I was a little girl...envelopes, postcards, stationary, pens, paper, stamps...love love love. I love both sending and receiving things in the mail.

Today I received this wonderful package from my friend Sharon! I met Sharon last summer when I studied in Greece. She goes to college in New York and recently went on another study abroad experience, this time to Egypt. She sent me this absolutely adorable handmade camel, as well as a little charm that stands for a healthy life (she said it is a symbol for the key of life), both items from Egypt. Her package made my day. :) I sent her a 'zine that I made a few months ago, but I'm going to have to think of something extra special to send back to her in return for this little treasure. Thank you, Sharon!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

a successful loaf

Success! What a steal for $5.

here's to fresh bread

Yesterday I convinced Corey to accompany me to the local Salvation Army to look at housewares. I've been collecting a few things here and there for the new apartment, which is only one month away from becoming a reality! I enjoy collecting glass and ceramic dishes one by one...of course, nothing really matches that way, but I think there's something nice about it. Maybe having mis-matchy dishes is something not many would appreciate, but when I see so many dishes I like, how can I settle on just one design? And vintage dishes are my favorite. I don't know, there's just something I like about opening up the cabinet and seeing a variety of colors and patterns, each handpicked from the thrift-store shelves. It feels nice to be able to reuse and treasure once-unwanted items, as well.

So, we went...I found $5 worth of coffee mugs, glass bowls, and tiny dip dishes (at least, that will be my use for them) which I'll post pictures of later (they're very adorable). Then, from a few feet away, I heard Corey say, "Hey, there are some breadmakers over here." He knew I'd been planning to buy one as an apartment-warming gift...ahem, to myself. I think he's excited about that because he knows I will be sharing fresh bread with him. After inspecting the three that were available--each at the price of just $5--we decided that one really stood out...it looked almost brand new, with a plastic wrapper still covering the keypad of programming buttons. So, we plugged it in to be sure that it worked, and when it came on just fine, I decided to make the purchase. I figured that if it didn't work (it was nonrefundable), it was at least worth a try before shelling out $55-$100 for a new one, and I'd just consider it a donation to Salvation Army. It's sitting on the kitchen counter now, waiting to be tested later today. Cross your fingers for me! I was even able to download the instruction manual/recipe book for free from Sunbeam's website. Here's to fresh-baked bread!

Update: The inaugural loaf is now baking! I chose to start off with one of my favorite bread recipes, a wheat bread from Betty Crocker (my mom's breadmaker is by Betty Crocker and has a recipe book with it). Here is the recipe for a 1.5 lb loaf:

9 oz. lukewarm water
1/2 Tbsp. salt
1/4 c. brown sugar
3 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. butter (I used Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread)
3 Tbsp. dry milk (I used 3 Tbsp. soy milk and cut out 3 Tbsp. of water)
1 packet dry active yeast

And to liven it up a little, I threw in a very easy add-in of 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder and 1 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning. This adds a delicious flavor of garlic and basil to the bread. The only downfall is the resulting bread isn't very good with peanut butter, and I do love a good slice of peanut butter toast.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

falafel falafel falafel

A few weeks ago I discovered a delightful cooking website called 101 Cookbooks. The biggest feature of the website is that it has reviews for dozens of healthful cookbooks, and, from each cookbook, one sample recipe complete with beautiful photographs. The recipes are even divided into different categories (and lucky for me, there are vegetarian and vegan categories). One recipe I came across was for sweet potato falafel. Falafel is one of my favorite foods, so I decided to try it out...and it came out great! The recipe was very easy (I was intimidated at first--it just looked so fancy) and I'd definitely recommend it.

Step 1 - 1.5 lbs baked sweet potato, fresh cilantro, cumin, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Step 2 - add chickpea flour. (To save money and a trip to a specialty store, I researched how to make my own chickpea flour and found out that all it really takes is dried chickpeas--available in the dried bean section of any grocery store--and a food processor. My family has a Magic Bullet so I used that instead.)

Step 3 - chill.

Step 4 - scoop onto a baking sheet, and top with sesame seeds.

Step 5 - bake for 15-20 minutes and voila! Delicious falafel.

So then, I got to thinking, and I've been wanting to try making pita bread too, so I found this recipe, which uses a bread maker to mix the dough. They turned out perfectly! The only thing I changed in the recipe was using 1/2 wheat flour and 1/2 white flour.

After the dough was mixed and had risen, I divided it into small pieces and rolled them out into circles.

Then they went into the oven straight onto the wire rack for just five minutes. They puffed up a lot, making a perfect pocket when sliced open...

...like so.

And asparagus is particularly good right now, so I decided that would be a good side dish.

...so here you have it, sweet potato falafel on homemade wheat pitas, with asparagus on the side. Mmm!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

hello, cupcake

I did a little baking today. Cupcakes. Vegan. Whole wheat. Chocolate!

You don't know how I've tried to make a picture in my cappuccino foam! Success!!

Vegan Whole Wheat Chocolate Cupcakes

* 3 c. whole wheat flour
* 3/4 c sugar
* 1/3 c brown sugar
* 1/3 cup cocoa powder
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 teaspoons cinnamon
* 2/3 cup vegetable oil
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
* 2 cups water

Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

Vegan Buttercream Frosting

* 2 tablespoons vegan butter spread
* 1 cup powdered sugar
* 1/4 cup water
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Top with chopped dark chocolate and pistachios.

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com.

Monday, June 15, 2009

me on the world wide web

Today I put several hours into updating my website. As much as I always feel like I've just updated it, there always seem to be things I need to add and change. It's a never-ending project, but one I enjoy. I started learning html code and experimenting with graphic design at the ripe old age of nine...so what can I say, I've always been a bit of a computer nerd.

I came up with a better layout for each of the categorized pages in my portfolio, having all of the images in each set load on one page, in a single horizontal line, and scroll sideways. This seems to be a trend right now, and I've really grown to like it. On my site, it's more conducive to fast viewing than the layout I'd been working with previously. Today, I added a few new sets (paying special attention to update the "commercial photography" section), and updated a few others. I still have quite a bit to redo, but this is a good start.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

going to the chapel

I had a lot of fun at Matt and Sarah's wedding yesterday! The ceremony was in Sarah's beautiful hometown church, and was followed by a great reception at the Memphis Zoo! I had a fantastic time (thanks to my charming date, Corey) and am pleased with how my first wedding pictures turned out. Here are just a few of my favorites.

Friday, June 12, 2009

winnings & weddings

My apologies for not updating sooner. It's been a busy week! A few things...

1. Margherita pizza. Made at a local restaurant from local ingredients. Lovely.

2. Portrait shoot with Gillian.


3. I entered to win a giveaway on one of my favorite blogs, Design Is Mine, and won! I win these four prints from Print + Press--two photographs and two screenprints. They will look great in frames when I move (soon!).

4. My friends' wedding tomorrow! Taking a little roadtrip to go see them tie the knot. I'm not the official photographer, but I took their engagement pictures and have been asked to take additional pictures at the wedding as well. It'll be my first time doing any photos at a wedding, so I'm excited to get that experience without the pressure of "not messing anything up" that comes with being the only photographer.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

art on the house

I've started an additional blogging endeavor, which is going to provide weekly listings for free calls for submissions for artwork (some double for writing as well) from galleries, journals, magazines, etc. As an art student, I am always on the lookout for places I can submit my art to, without paying a lot of fees. Lately my searches have proven very successful, so I thought starting a blog about it would be fun and might help out other young starting (& starving) artists! You can check that out here. I'm calling it Art on the House. If you find any similar calls for submissions, or have any success stories of your own, drop me a message and I'll feature you on the blog.