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Really Good Granola

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Happy New Year! Thanks for reading this, even though I don’t post as often as I’d like.

I had the idea of making granola as a Christmas gift for some friends and family.  I wanted something that would be a bit of a treat, but not quite the guilty pleasure of  cracker toffee. I read a few recipes and set out to make a toasty granola that would have lots of clusters, be a little but not too sweet and have plenty of nuts.

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My Smitten Kitchen Cookbook has a recipe for Big Cluster Maple Granola that seemed like a good place to start. I was also inspired by Nigella Lawson and the olive oil granola she made on Simply Nigella with lots of seeds and nuts.

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I fiddled around and made two batches, each slightly different than the other. I didn’t achieve the big clusters I was seeking, but I also didn’t follow Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perelman’s recipe to the letter. I was kind of disappointed, but with the holiday hustle and bustle I just shrugged it off and went on to the next project. I didn’t have the time or energy to fiddle around with granola. I didn’t give away as much as I’d originally planned, but that was ok too.

In fact, I tossed the notes and didn’t have any photos of the granola. I wouldn’t be sharing it here now except my friend, Lisa, wrote to say it was some of the best granola she’d ever had! In my focusing on the lack of clusters, I hadn’t been paying as much attention to the flavor. She was right, it was really good granola. And, good news, I still had ingredients enough for another batch.

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This recipe uses golden syrup: I’ve seen this ingredient mentioned in some British recipes but I’d never tried it. Than I happened to notice a bottle at Cost Plus World Market and decided to give it a try. It is an amber syrup that is made in the process of refining cane or sugar beets into sugar. It has a delicious sweet flavor that reminds me of toasted marshmallows and is worth seeking out. I’ve already gone back to purchase more.  However, you can use maple syrup or honey instead.

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Really Good Granola

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3 cup rolled oats

1 cup nuts or combination nuts and seeds – I used whole and sliced almonds, pecans and pumpkin seeds for this batch. Walnuts and sunflower seeds would also be good choices.

1/2 to 1 cup unsweetened flaked or shredded coconut

1/4 cup chia and/or flax seeds – Trader Joe’s sells Ancient Grains Seed Mixture that has both of those as well as millet, buckwheat, hemp, quinoa and amaranth. I used this mixture.  In the Smitten Kitchen recipe, she uses 1/4 cup of wheat germ here, so feel free to use that in place of the seeds. Maybe you will reach granola cluster nirvana if you do.

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 cup golden syrup – maple syrup or honey would also work, each adding a different flavor and level of sweetness. If you like it sweeter, go to 2/3 cup.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract

1 large egg white

1 1/2 cup dried fruit such as cherries, cranberries, golden raisins, or goji berries

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Instructions: Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine the oats, nuts, coconut, seeds, salt, olive oil, vanilla and golden syrup and toss together. Beat the egg white until foamy and combine with the mixture until coated.

Spread on a parchment covered rimmed baking sheet, and bake for about 50 minutes. Turn with a spatula about halfway through the baking for more even browning.

Granola will be moist while warm, but will become more crisp as it cools.

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When cool, add dried fruit.

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This is a delicious snack alone or I like it with coconut Greek yogurt. It is also a great bowl of cereal for breakfast.

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Thanks for the visit.

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My Little Haircut, Accessories Sold Separately

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I was playing with my new haircut and decided to share the photos.

I’ve had it for about a month now, in fact I’m getting a trim next week.  I’m still delighted with it and have gotten really lovely compliments on it.

Here is my “Before” picture at the salon before getting it cut:

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And “After.”  So you can see how it looked just cut and styled.  (Thanks, Chaz, by the way, for a fantastic cut!)

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The floor after the cut.

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However, almost every morning, halfway through styling it I think “Oh, no.  I can’t do it! It looks dreadful.” Or something similar.

Here it is, clean and just dried with no product in it.  I’ve used a blow dryer on low while finger-combing it forward.

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Hair that I’ve thought of as straight turns out having many more little curves and curls than I ever knew. There are places that go flat while others stick out.

Today I decided to see what else I could do with it.  The photo quality isn’t great – I’m just snapping pics in front of the bathroom mirror.

Parted, combed back and slicked down.

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Brushed back and out with my fingers  with some product, plus a hairband.

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A friend at work has been encouraging me to “hawk” it up.  With some more product, flat iron, teasing and hairspray, (lots of hairspray), and I managed this!

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Hmmm…

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I don’t think I’m really carrying this one off. But it was kind of fun to try it out.

My favorite style is the one I do every day.  After it’s mostly dry (and I’m thinking it isn’t going to work), I tweak it a bit with a flat iron. The magic really happens when I rub a little Got2B In Play Sculpt Paste between my hands and then rub it into my hair.  Not too much, but I usually use a bit more on my fingertips and play with some strands across the front, and the pieces around my ears.

The styling stuff is lightweight, smells kind of citrus-y and makes my hair look thick, healthy and not too fussy.  Maybe even a little bit edgy.

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Not too flat or too fluffy.

Thanks for your visit.

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Haircut

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I’ve worn my hair this way for quite awhile.  I have fine, thin hair and this was a great cut for making the most of it.   But most of the time when I get home from work, I clip it up to get it off my neck when I’m cooking or crafting.  When I work out or go to Jazzercise I also have it in a clip.

Another big reason for keeping it long (I know it isn’t really that long, but long-ish) and one that has been very powerful is that Rem likes it that way.  But lately, it’s been driving me a bit nuts.  I knew Rem wouldn’t be thrilled with a short cut, but I wanted to be happy with my hair.  I also knew he had fallen for me when my hair was short and he wants me to be happy too.

I started looking at pictures and videos and made an appointment with Chaz.  He’s been cutting my hair since high school, even before he’d been trained to do what he’s been doing so well since.  Today was the day and once he’d seen the pictures and we talked about it, he started cutting.  This is what he cut off.

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And here’s the new look!  Now THIS looks like someone who can jump out of a plane!

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Something New

I’ve added a new tab at the top of the page called “Art Journal Pages”.  It is a work in progress and is a compilation of one (or occasionally two) photos from each of my Art Journal pages.  There is a title, a link to the blog post about that page (or most often, that 2-page spread) and a photo.  Check it out. Thanks, Kathleen, for the suggestion.

In other news, I learned today that the little swallow fledgling didn’t make it.  I called for an update and was told he or she “expired” and though the report didn’t specify, the person on the phone said the injuries just may have been more severe than they realized.  I find some comfort in thinking at least this little bird wasn’t just sprawled on the hard pavement, but being cared for in a safe, warm environment.

I admit to imagining a little swallow angel, finally able to fly. May your spirit rise safely.

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Show and Tell Cards II

checked overalls on the line

I’ve spent some time recently on two special cards.  If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, this first card will look familiar.  It is a clothesline with cute little paper clothes hanging out to dry.  The first time I made a card like this it was for a colleague and his wife, honoring the birth of their son, born on Mother’s Day two years ago.

Well, that two-year-old boy has a little sister.  I decided to use the same design for this card, honoring her arrival on the first day of spring.

Onesie and Bib

Her dad is an aquarium aficionado (or should I say a-fish-ionando?) so I decided to give her a “got fish” onesie.  Cherry-print paper was perfect for a little bib.

got fish?

When he was younger he worked at the San Francisco Zoo.   I thought little cargo pants looked cute with the zoo t-shirt.

SF Zoo T-shirt

Polka-dot footie pajamas’s and a pink flowered Hawaiian shirt.

Footie PJ's

I indulged in a flowered skirt, pastel sweater and matching booties.

Flowered Skirt & Cardi

On the little baby sweater I added a small, self-adhesive jewel.  Other buttons are either paper dots or just drawn on with a pen, but I added dimensional glaze to make them stand out a bit.  Other details are drawn on with silver or black pen.

I used to have a cloud template that went out when I did my big craft clean-up last year.  I made a new one using the lid from a tub of cottage cheese.

Cloud Template

Using the top one – the cloud-shaped hole, I sponged white craft ink onto the background.  I then used the bottom one, the cloud shape, and sponged blue ink over the white, to create a pretty, sky effect.

The posts for the clothesline are cut from wood-grained paper and the line is bakers twine.  The clothes are adhered on pop-up foam dots so they look like they’re hanging from the line.  Small folded bits of brown paper serve as clothespins.

Inside of clothesline card

I made one more little paper garment for the back of the card: a pair of overalls.  I found this piece of blue, patterned paper and it looked like fabric.  I used silver ink to make the buttons and buckles and orange ink for the stitching.

Denim overalls

Last week I completed a different card, one I struggled with.  It was a sympathy card for someone I’m close to who had lost their mother.  How could I assemble something out of paper, ink  and glue that could speak to their loss?

Patchwork Squares Sympathy Card

I tried to think what words would be of comfort and read through cards I had received after my dad died.  I experimented with different designs but resorted to a simple tried-and-true scheme.

Of course I realized that connecting was what was important.  As I looked through my paper, I thought about my friend and thought about what she might be feeling.   I wrote a brief message and signed it.

A sympathy card and a new baby card.  One took extra effort for the small embellishments and details, while the other took an emotional output.

Heart Overalls

As always, I appreciate the visit.

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Chinatown, San Francisco

Lanterns & Banners over Grant Avenue

Rem and I weren’t prepared to brave the crowds at the Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco tonight (Saturday, 2/23) but we did enjoy a visit to Chinatown last weekend.  New Years celebrations were ongoing so we decided a walk around enjoying the sights, and some nice baked barbeque pork buns would be a great way to spend the afternoon.  I hope you enjoy our photos.

Mural of Chinese Lion Dancers.

Mural of Chinese Lions

A lantern-shaped streetlight with the Transamerica Pyramid in the background.

Transamerica Pyramid with Chinese Lantern

Colorful embroidered shoes.

Colorful embroidered shoes.

The sidewalks were crowded with people.  Plenty of tourists, like us, and lots of locals out shopping.

This gentleman is dapper in a navy suit with blue pinstripes, a leather vest and a beret.

Dapper man.

Walking around the bustling streets we saw produce stands piled with tangerines, oranges, and many different kinds of greens. Oranges are considered auspicious – the word for orange in Chinese sounds like “wealth”.

Oranges for sale

A window display of roasted ducks and chickens.

Glazed Duck

A large tray of steamed pork buns.

Steamed Pork Buns

Very fresh (still live) crab.

Crab Wagon

Roly poly piggy banks.

Street Stall Wares

Are these the opposite of dunce caps?

Wisdom Hat

Bay Area locals may have heard radio ads for The Walk Shop in Berkeley, home of footwear for people who walk.  Here is another Wok Shop.

the Wok Shop

Woks

Dragon details on several buildings.

Dragon Detail

Dragon II

We heard the loud, rapid popping of firecrackers several times and once, when it was particularly long and loud, we jogged to a corner and up around to an alley to see what was causing all the ruckus.

We were in time to see the very end of a long string of firecrackers, hanging down from a balcony, exploding noisily.

Firecrackers

Afterwards, the sidewalk was littered with bits of red paper.

Confetti Remains of Firecracker

Walking down another street we saw several groups of young men, some with flags, others with drums and a few in traditional lion dance costumes.

Drummers

Several lions were going to different businesses.

According to Wikipedia:

During the Chinese New Year, lion dancer troupes from the Chinese martial art schools or Chinese guild and associations will visit the houses and shops of the Chinese community to perform the traditional custom of “cai ching” (採青), literally means “plucking the greens”, a quest by the ‘lion’ to pluck the auspicious green normally ‘vegetables’ like lettuce which in Chinese called ‘cái'(菜)that sound like ‘cái'(财)(fortune) and auspicious fruit like oranges tied to a “Red Envelope” containing money; either hang highly or just put on a table in front of the premises. The “lion” will dance and approach the “green” and “red evelope” like a curious cat, to “eat the green” and “spit” it out leave it in a nice arrangement, like an auspicious character but keep the “red envelope”. The lion dance is believed to bring good luck and fortune to the business and the troupe is rewarded with the “red envelope”

Festive Flags

Lion Dancers I

Lion Dancer II

Across the street, an orange lion and a green lion were bringing good luck to restaurant.

Orange Lion

Orange & Green

As they leave, one of the group lights a small firecracker at the doorway of the business to scare away evil spirits.

Firecracker

Thanks for stopping by, I hope it has been a good visit!

Close Up Orange Lion

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Happy New Year!

Photo by Susie B

Wishing you all a very, Happy New Year.

Sťastný Nový Rok

Bonne Année

Shana Tova

Felice Anno Nuovo

Sal Mubarak

Bblwyddyn Newydd Dda

Writing a blog is very fulfilling to me.  I learn  so much from trying out new things and researching new ideas as well as from the comments and suggestions I get from you.  When I read other blogs I have a much greater understanding and appreciation of the time and energy it takes.

This has been an unexpected haven for me.  Focusing the blog has given me an escape from the tough reality of my dad having cancer.  But even before he was sick it was a wonderful new way for me to use my creative energy.  Working on craft projects and recipes, taking photos and figuring out how to explain a technique is extremely satisfying.

I received a lovely email report from WordPress with statistics about my blog in 2011.   This was great:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Thank you for reading my blog.  Thanks for coming back and reading it time after time.  I appreciate every one of you.  I love the comments and the “likes” and the subscribers.  I am delighted when you share it.  I’m touched by messages I receive from readers I know and from people I’ve never met.  Even if you haven’t commented, I look at the stats for every post I write and see how many times it has been viewed.

I’m working on new posts for 2012 (Valentine’s  Day Projects coming soon) and will be celebrating my one-year blogiversary on January 16.  As always, thank you for stopping by.

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