Month: April 2017

dinner al fresco: live oak park.

Being a craft lady has the extra perk of having all these tables and chairs to use for things like pop-up dinner parties in the park! I’ve been wanting to throw a pop-up dinner party (aka fancy picnic) for a while now. I don’t have a backyard so a park is the next best thing! For my first of, hopefully, many dinners al fresco to come, I set up at Live Oak Park in Berkeley. I particularly enjoy this park because there’s a lot of grassy areas, a lot of parking, and it is also the park where Hubs and I got married. The most difficult part of the whole event was finding a flat patch of land that wasn’t too muddy. Once we found a decent location we set up two tables, place settings for 12, and all the yummies. The Menu I wanted to serve foods that were not only packed with fresh ingredients and flavors, but that also sat well (outside) and could be made the night before (with little day-of prep). I …

tea time.

One of my new favorite tea spots is Blue Willow Tea in Berkeley. As part of birthmonth, I invited some friends to join me here for an afternoon of tea and good company. It was going to be my first time at the tea lounge, so I called ahead. The owner Ali was super friendly and sweet, and I was so excited that she could section off a part of the tea room for my gathering. The tea lounge is a bit hidden; you have to know it’s there to find it, but once you do, you are welcomed with a wall of teas and these beauties. On a normal visit, I would probably enjoy one type of tea, but since it was a party we enjoyed three! We tried an oolong, the bourbon vanilla black tea, and a green tea. Our cups were warmed and each tea was served in region-specific serve ware. One of my life goals is to be become a tea expert so here is my attempt at learning the lingo… The oolong …

truffles and bonbons!

Truffles anyone? Me, me, me! I recently took a truffles and bonbons class at Oaktown Spice Shop. The instructor was none other than the owner and founder of Endorfin Foods – Brian! He makes the smoothest chocolate bars sans milk! (You must try the Turkish coffee bar!) I’ve made truffles once before; they turned out smooth and decadent, but they were on the softer side and would lose their shape quickly. I brought all my questions to class and learned lots of important tips and tricks. We even learned some truffle making hacks like making the ganache in a blender with a heat gun instead of using a double boiler, and using an infrared thermometer to read the ganache’s temperature instead of a candy thermometer (it’s way cooler!). Brian demoed how to make ganache and he brought some premade/precooled ganache for the hands-on part of class. We learned how to flavor the ganache, what types of liquids to use, and what the ganache should look like while it’s being made. Then, with gloves on (and being …

horticulture. 

Happy Earth Day! Featuring a local nursery seems fitting for today. Behold: Berkeley Horticulture Nursery. It’s like a nursery dream! I had been here once before to purchase a garden pot and have been meaning to visit again. This is by far my favorite nursery in the East Bay. Helpful staff, suuuuper organized garden, awesome selection, excellent prices, and all the inspiration!   Time to tend to the garden! How will you celebrate Earth today? Share below.   

hello kitty! 

I did it! I went to the Hello Kitty Cafe truck…finally! But it was completely on a whim. My parents were in town and heard about the Japantown Cherry Blossom Festival so we went. And we found parking! And we explored. And I saw the famous pink truck. And I left my family to stand in line. Ha! I was expecting a long wait considering the line length, but it went by fairly quickly. On the menu: Hello Kitty decorated cookies, mini cakes, macarons, and donuts; plus shirts and mugs. Deciding among the available desserts was easy: get one of each! We tried the donuts first (too sweet, but so cute!) and had the mini cakes for my birthday (triple layered and delightful!)! I sent the macarons home with my parents to give to my sister and niece, and the cookies keep for a little longer so we’re saving those for later. 😉 Where my fellow Hello Kitty fans at? Have you been to the truck or cafe? Share below!  

stop, sticker time.

Most of you 80s and 90s kids probably remember giving or receiving a Mrs.Grossman’s sticker at some point in your childhood. I was never really a fan of the designs, but I have always been a sticker fan. So when I learned the only US-based sticker company was less than an hour away from home and they gave tours, it became my mission to visit one day. Tours are offered Monday through Thursday, and are about thirty minutes in length. The tour started with a video on the company’s history and then our tour guide walked us through the factory to see each step in action. At each station, we were rewarded with a sheet of stickers. So. Many. Stickers. (We were only allowed to take photos of the sticker wall and sticker roll storage due to confidentiality agreements with some companies they work with and print labels for.) How to make a Mrs. Grossman’s sticker: Each sticker starts with a design. Templates are made for each layer of color in the design. Sticker paper is inserted …

eggicorns!

Happy Easter to you! I saw this on Pinterest and had to make my own rendition. I made one first to test the waters and it turned out pretty good so I made a whole fleet, and they got more and more ridiculously cute as my eggicorn army grew. Materials and tools: Plastic or real eggs Cardstock (for the horn) Felt (for the flowers) or other faux flowers Scissors (for paper and for fabric) Hot glue Permanent marker Candies or other treats for the inside How to: Get an egg of eggs. I found this bundle of colorful eggs at Target. Bonus, it comes with one golden egg! Add a golden horn. Cut cardstock and roll to form a cone shape; use hot glue to seal. Then, hot glue the horn to the top of the egg. Add flowers. Use any color combination to make tiny flowers for the eggicorn’s crown. Cut a spiral, roll starting from the outside, seal with hot glue, and hot glue in place around the horn. I made five mini …