June 06, 2014

currently | may.

| these are currently being served in my house and gifted to friends a lot. |
yes, may edition even though it is june already. totally missed to post it on the last day of may.  

currently i am... 

copy cat recipes that got tweaked by me to be something totally different than intended.
i was craving panda express' orange chicken the other day. i have to admit it is one of my guilty pleasures. but of course we don't have panda express over here in germany. so what do do but find a copy cat recipe online and cook my own version. so i did. as i didn't have the real deal for ages i couldn't tell how close or far my version was from the original. i just know it was so good. but let me tell you something. i kind of wanted to have it again and again and again. sometimes i am funny like that. usually i hate eating the same thing over and over again but sometimes i am still craving it even though i just had it. anyway there i was, a week later standing in the greengrocer's shop and they were fresh out of organic oranges. so now, what to do. i already told my sister who was about to come over for lunch that i will prepare orange chicken for her as - believe it or not - she never had before. now what. out of pure despair i grabbed a mango and headed home. where i found out i had my last sip of orange juice for breakfast. argh! no oranges, no orange juice, no orange chicken! well i thought i will just make teriyaki chicken with mango rice when i found a bottle of mango juice in my pantry. so i had the idea. why not make mango chicken? and i did. and it was good. and i will make it again. and my sister said orange chicken can't be any better. and. and. and. that's the and end of this story. one more thing: i will make it again and write down the quantities and share the recipe with you. it was that good.

peaches. they are one of my favorite fruits and they just hit the stores over here again. my favorite ones are still the white flat ones. yum. they are so good. they make the perfect fruit snack during the day and the best desserts too. i never found anyone turning down a peach cobbler/crumble or a peach pie. have you? by the way, could i make peach chicken instead of orange chicken too? i might. or i might just stick with mango chicken and eat peach cobbler for dessert. ha ha.  

elderflower lemonade. our elderflower bush is in full bloom and i just have to make elderflower lemonade and syrup every time it blooms. this stuff is just too good not to. if you come across some elderflower bushes, do yourself a favor and pick some. if you can't find any get some elderflower syrup at the grocery store or at the food section at ikea and make some lemonade with that stuff.

i wanted to read »gone girl« by gillian flynn in may but i haven't read one single page yet. haven't even touched the book. i was just not feeling like reading at all. i am listening to an audio book though but nothing new to me.

listening to...
»the devil wears prada« by lauren weisberger. i read it ages ago when it first came out and i love the movie. so when i found the sequel »revenge wears prada : the devil returns« at the bookstore i just had to buy it. but i wanted to read the first one again. but like i sad i didn't feel like reading lately and as i have it as an audio book i am listening to it right before i fall asleep at night at the moment. i love audio books. it is like someone is still reading you bedtime stories.

pretty little liars. i actually didn't want to get hooked to another show but the started showing pll a couple weeks on german tv now and i actually just wanted to take a peak and see what people where talking about and i got hooked.

thinking about...
my blog schedule. as you might have noticed, postings have been a little sparse around here again lately. i don't know why that happens. i need to get back on track and work on a blogging schedule and plan out my weekly posts again. otherwise i have the feeling blog posts are just not going to happen for me.

to be cool about the fact that my sister bought that bag that i really wanted to have. it was so not cool that you did, little sis. so. not. cool! but i am trying to be an adult here and get over it. i might steal it from you though.

fresh cut grass. my neighbor must have just mowed his lawn. i love that smell.

the warm days. early summer days are my thing. it is not too hot for my liking yet. it is still enjoyable to be outside in the sun without melting away and getting red like a lobster. which i totally do when i am in the sun. oh i remember the time when i was at the beach house at the jersey shore with my american family. i was playing with the girls at the beach all day, made sure to reapply their sun screen regularly but never reapplied my own. the boating tour at the end of the day didn't help much either as i guess i got burned even more. i have that picture of me on that boat and i truly am red like a lobster. my poor skin.  

heading to the kitchen now and cook myself some dinner. i know i have some leftover chicken in the fridge and some soft tortillas. so i guess there will be a chicken quesadilla on my plate pretty soon. maybe with some peach or mango salsa. have you ever had peach or mango salsa? it is just the best salsa ever.      

have a wonderful weekende.

ps: thanks danielle for the inspiration to these currently posts. 

May 14, 2014

picture frame card | a paper craft with eeny.

i love to send pictures to friends and family with a little written note or a birthday wish. so i recently had the idea of making a picture frame card to make it easy for the recipient to put these pictures on display. 

i thought this might be the perfect tutorial to share with my fellow paper crafters for my monthly »a paper craft with eeny« guest post on my friend danielle's blog a love affair with paper. so if you want to know how i made this picture frame card and need a template, click here and find out how.
by the way, that's the back of the card. it has a stand which can easily be unfolded by the card's recipient. 

wouldn't that picture frame be cute to display your kiddos drawings in and/or send them out to their grandparents? i am sure they'd have loads of fun decorating the frames too. i went for a just plain brown craft paper frame this time, but a couple embellishments or some strips of washi tape make them even cuter. or how about cutting out any other shape than a rectangle? just be creative.

anyway, for the template and an exact tutorial, hop over to danielle's blog and say hello to her too. 

May 12, 2014

stamped loop scarf | diy.

every once in a while i raid my mom's fabric stash and i always find some fun fabric to diy something with. last time i found this hot pink jersey fabric. at first i didn't know what to make out of it so it was laying around on my craft table for quite a while until i had the idea of making a scarf. but i didn't want a plain hot pink stars to i got out some black fabric paint and stamped on some stars - they are my favorite shape. it was super easy and everyone asked me where i got my new scarf from. i even made a second one for my sister. so i thought i could take step by step pictures and share the diy with you. are you ready?

jersey fabric* or a plain jersey scarf
thread in a matching color
fabric paint
a foam brush
a piece of foam rubber
a stamp base such as a little piece of wood, a building block, etc.
a pen scissors
glue/roller adhesive

*measure a (loop) scarf you have and like the size of and use these measurements. i guess everyone has different preferences of the bulkiness of their scarfs.
you also might want to pre-wash your fabric before stamping to get rid of the ... hm what is it called... the weird stuff the put onto fabric to make fabric not as prone to wrinkles to look good in store. does that make sense? anyway, i always pre-wash my fabric without fabric softener before using fabric paint. than iron it so it is wrinkle free.
to make your custom stamp, cut out any pattern of the rubber foam you like. i punched out two different sized stars and traced them onto the rubber foam.

depending on the thickness of your rubber foam you might stick a couple layers onto each other so you get your stamp pattern a little higher which makes it easier to stamp your pattern on without accidentally getting some paint from the edge of your stamp base onto your fabric. i did three layers of rubber foam.
now it is time to get your paint out. add a little fabric paint to the side of your foam brush and use it as your ink pad and brush off any excess with the tip of the brush. you really don't need a lot of paint on your stamp. i hardly had any on there and it doesn't matter if it looks a bit streak like it does on the picture above. maybe test it on any scrap of fabric you have laying around or even on a piece of card board.
lay out your fabric onto some paper or anything to protect your working surface.
stamp on as many or as little shapes you'd like. i went for two different sizes of stars all over the fabric and it took me quite a while but it was fun. just make sure to press your stamp down straight and not get the edge of your stamp base onto your fabric. also lift it up straight. but little imperfections just make it more personal, right?
let everything dry completely. 
the following step depends on your fabric paint, i guess. mine called for ironing it from the front through a cotton towel for 2 minutes to fix it. so check the paint you use for instructions.

if you are going for a loop scarf, sew together the shorter ends of your fabric. but this of course is totally optional.
there it is, your custom designed loop scarf. wear it out and be proud every time someone asks where you got it from.

April 30, 2014

currently | april.

it's the last day of the month and it is time for another currently post. 

currently I am...

lots of asparagus dishes as it is asparagus season here and i can get regional grown one which is the best.
there also might have been a couple macarons that i have been eating. i just can't stop making these now that i finally conquered the art of the french macaron.

water with homemade rhubarb syrup. yum yum.

i just finished »secret smile« by nicci french on tuesday night at 3:38 a.m. i couldn't stop reading even though it was so hard to keep my eyes open.
it was a good read and i had a hard time putting it down the further i got into the story. it is about miranda who dated a guy named brendan for about a week or two and breaks up because she caught him reading her diary. shortly after he sneaks back into her life by dating her sister and making everyone in her family love him. he manipulates them in a way that no one believes miranda anymore when she tells them the truth about brendan. she becomes more and more suspicious and almost obsessively tries to find out more about him. bad things happen and at some point you even think it is her that is crazy and not him. i don't want to get further into the story but it is really thrilling and you just want to know what is going to happen next. but i got to say that i think the end was a bit rushed and i wish it would have been more detailed. there was a bit of a jump from one scene to the next where i thought it would have made sense to add a little more details what happened in between. it does have an unexpected twist at the end though and it is thrilling to the last page.
next up on my reading list: »gone girl« by gillian flynn. 

too many trashy shows on tlc. this. got. to. stop. 

listening [to]...
the rain on my window and i have to admit, i love that sound. it's somehow calming.

the maybelline eyestudio lasting drama gel eyeliner in ultra violet. i amazing formula and lasting power. i wore it almost every day as my tight lining color on my upper and lower lash line since i got it at the beginning of this month. it adds just a little touch of color that is just perfect.

the sight of the pink cherry blossoms right in front of my bedroom window. ok, i'll stop talking about it. guess i have done that a lot this month.

i could have been able to go to vienna with my friends. i miss them and they had an awesome time. but i couldn't make it due to work. next time i am in.  

hoping for...
a city trip with said girls in the near future. if i could pic a city i'd pick london. it's been too long since i have been there. plus there is a shake shack. ha ha. 

being happy for...
one of my friends and her husband. they are expecting their second child. so happy for them.

to work on two special cakes for two cute kids for their first communion on sunday. hope they'll love their cakes.

working on...
a fun diy that will probably go up next week. it includes stars and fabric paint. 

this post. have a lovely holiday tomorrow if you are in germany. if not, hang in the weekend is almost here. 

ps: thanks danielle for the inspiration to these currently posts. 

April 28, 2014

asparagus, shrimp and mafalda pasta | for one.

the perks of being a foodie - when someone goes on vacation they don't bring you back some of those touristy souvenirs that just tend to catch dust on your cupboards. no, they usually bring you some special foods like macarons from paris, jamón from spain, speck from south tirol, english breakfast tea from london, fancy spices from india, coffee beans from chile, chocolate and cheese from switzerland, cookies from denmark... and parmesan, olive oil and pasta from italy. and so did my dad. he brought me some pretty awesome pasta. my favorite was the super long mafalda pasta. it literally is half a meter long. i think it might be available at grocery stores over here as well but if it is from italy it just tastes so much better, right?

so it came naturally that now that it is asparagus season, i just had to make my very favorite pasta dish ever. it is the first dish my american host mom cooked for me and i just love it ever since. it was the first time i ever had green asparagus. it wasn't very common in germany until just the recent years. at least i never had it. only the delicate white asparagus was available at the farmers market or in the produce section of grocery stores. thinking about it now, i think i have never seen white asparagus anywhere in the states while i lived there. have you, my american friends, ever had white asparagus? the most classic way is to serve it with boiled potatoes, thinly sliced ham and sauce hollandaise.

anyway, back to my favorite dish. it is super easy and it takes just as long as it takes your pasta to cook. you know that's my kind of every day lunch/dinner dish - quick and easy. do i say that in every recipe i post? sorry if i do. it's just the truth.
pretend there is some freshly ground pepper right above the salt in that picture. haha. totally forgot to put it there before snapping this picture. food blogger/photographer fail.

asparagus & shrimp pasta

[serves 1]

3 oz | 85 g pasta of choice
5 stems asparagus
4 shrimp/prawns
1 tbs olive oil
fresh basil
salt & pepper

cook pasta in salt water according to the directions on it's package

wash and dry shrimp and asparagus. cut asparagus in diagonal slices or bite size pieces.

heat olive oil in a pan and saute asparagus and shrimp in it until cooked. it only takes 2-4 minutes. season with salt and pepper.

add cooked pasta to pan and toss. add a spoon or two of pasta water, drizzle on a little more olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with fresh basil and serve.

there you go, a delicious pasta dish. you might also add some parmesan to it. 

aren't these ruffly mafalda noodles just too pretty?
thanks for this pretty pasta, dad. 

April 25, 2014

macarons | finally accomplished.

today was the day. i made my first batch of french macarons that wasn't a total disaster. i have to admit that i might be a little over excited about it. but it is something i wanted to accomplish for quite a while now.

it was back in ferbuary 2010 when i gave them a first try. it failed. i gave them another try a couple months later but failed again. and the third batch was even worse.

batch #1 was too gooey on the inside and had "oil stains" on the shells, also had a weird foot
batch #2 had no foot, wasn't smooth and shiny on top, looked more like a whoopie pie
batch #3 the batter was too runny to even begin with so they ended up super flat and not even being filled

after that third batch i kind of gave up on them. well i didn't really give up but put them on hold. i decided to stick with other baked goodies for a while - like cupcakes, cakes, petits fours, sugar cookies and pies. but i added them to my list of life time goals. can you tell that i am a major foodie? ha ha. who else would put anything like that on her list?!

i have to admit that it bugged me ever since that i can't just get them right. i read a million blog posts and watch a gazillion of youtube videos on how to make the perfect macaron. but the more i read and watch the more intimidated the got. i thought about making them ever so often but always backed out because i was scared to fail again. that's just something about me that i need to work on. i hate to fail and sometimes i end up not even trying something because chances to fail are higher than chances to succeed. i am really working on that. i am trying to do.

today i felt brave enough to give them another try. i had some egg whites left over from last nights sauce hollandaise. so i thought to myself that it is the perfect time to just go ahead and do it. i have to stay true to my little word of 2014, right? i have to just do things. that's what i did. i went ahead and without much thinking before hand, i just whipped up the batter, piped them and baked them. there where no big expectations for them to even turn out ok. but surprise surprise, they turned out great. so batch #4 was my lucky batch i guess. and i am proud of myself that i finally accomplished macarons and can cross it off my list.

now i want to bake another batch and see if it was just my lucky day today or if i really know the tricks now. so i might bake another batch tomorrow.

actually i think i know what the biggest problem of everything was - thinking about every single step just way too much. i guess i heard, read and watched way too much about the whole process. the batter has to have that consistency, don't fold more than 40 times, do this, do that, pay attention tho this, don't do that... i kind of made myself crazy about doing everything the right way. today i didn't think about any of these things i read, i just did what i thought was right. actually that's what i learned over the past few years of baking anyway. sometimes it is better to trust your feelings than what the recipe calls for. 
i love macarons and i might have had one or two while writing this post. aren't they just so delicious? or are you one of these people who don't care about them much? i heard they are out there somewhere.
by the way, these are just simple almond macarons filled with chocolate ganache. my favorite flavor. nothing can beat a good chocolate ganache. i might add a couple drops of food color to the batter next time, but no other experiments yet. i am happy with the way they are now. and like i said it's my favorite flavor anyway.

alright, i guess that's it for today. enough ramblings about macarons for today.

April 19, 2014

cherry blossoms + free desktop wallpaper.

it is no secret that i love cherry blossoms. specially the pink ones that i see every morning when i open the blinds in my bedroom. there is that huge tree in front of my window that makes me happy every time i see it. i could spam you with pictures every single day now that it is in full bloom.

two days ago i snapped a few close ups right before my camera battery died and because i loved the way these pictures turned out, i can't help but post them today. 
i also couldn't help it but make a some desktop and phone wallpapers for me and for you too. my easter gifts for you.
download desktop wallpaper »shine« [for noncommercial use only.]
iphone4 | iphone5 | 1440x900 | 1920x1080

download desktop wallpaper »don't forget to shine« [for noncommercial use only.]
iphone4 | iphone5 | 1440x900 | 1920x1080

i hope you like them.
now i am off to enjoy my super long weekend - friday to monday - with lots of family time, baking, movies, reading, and so on.

happy easter.