Showing posts with label Blogging By Mail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blogging By Mail. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Things I Am Loving This Week

Up until yesterday afternoon I was thinking that I might have to skip a "Things I Am Loving This Week" post because I could think of only one thing I was loving and it was a little odd on its own. You see I can't force the love--it has to happen naturally! Fortunately, a batch of cookies and a visit from the mail-woman gave me two more things that I am enjoying and want to share this week so without further adieu, here they are!

I found these Border Sugar Cookies originally by the Two Hot Tamales, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger by accident, but I am so glad I did. A FoodBuzz friend, Molly from I'm a Sleeper Baker left me a comment on my profile and I went to check out her blog and saw them there. Reading they were a shortbread style cookie with a secret ingredient of potato chips and drizzled with chocolate worked for me. As you probably know from reading this blog I love chocolate and I love chocolate combined with something salty. Obviously I don't need more cookies but I wanted to try them and lucky for me I have a lunch with my old office that includes a cookie & cupcake exchange today so in addition to some mini-carrot cupcakes I was testing for a cookbook review, I decided to make a batch of these. I think I may have found a new favorite cookie--LOVE them! Yes I ate 3---yikes! Lucky they leave the house tomorrow or I could easily lose all self-control and happily munch away on them. Easy to make and so good--butter, salt, chocolate, potato chips, need I say more? My chocolate was thick and not very "drizzly" so I just piped it on free-form. I also made them a touch smaller than the recipe stated and ended up with 32 cookies. This is a keeper recipe!

In addition to Molly's blog, you can find the recipe at the food Network here.

Border Sugar Cookies
M.S. Milliken & S. Feniger
(Makes 24 cookies)

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup crushed potato chips
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Sugar for dipping
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the salt and vanilla. Then add the pecans and potato chips and mix well. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour just until it disappears.

Roll the batter into balls about the size of a large walnut and place on the parchment-lined cookie sheet, allowing plenty of room for spreading. Coat the bottom of a heavy glass with butter and then dip in sugar. Press and twist to flatten each ball into a 3-inch circle. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges turn lightly golden brown. Transfer to racks to cool.

For optional garnish, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Let cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, dip your fingertips, or the tines of a fork, in the chocolate and drizzle over the cookies. Refrigerate to set.

The next thing I am loving this week is neither sweet nor salty and may seem a bit odd--it is plain white vinegar! Why am I loving it? Some background: I live in a house with jalousie windows, (you can see and read about them here on Wikipedia if you are not familiar). But basically the bulk of my windows have glass louvers that open and close together. Works fine in Hawaii, lets in the breezes well, but since they don't close completely weather-tight, the occasional tiny "critter" can squeeze in. Primarily it is a gecko, (sport for Max), an occasional cockroach (quite traumatic for me), and sometimes it is ants. That means always being careful to clean things up, store things well and never leave food lying around but it still happens now and then. Saturday, I happened to look up at my living room wall and saw a couple of black smudges, upon a closer look, I found that the tops of my walls around the entire living and dining area had become the ant "superhighway". No clue why, it's never happened like that before and basically they were coming in one set of jalousies by one sliding glass door and working their way in a line all around the room and back out the other set of jalousies by the other sliding door. There was of course a fair amount of cursing that went on and I realized I didn't have enough of my supposedly "green" bug spray to handle a job of this magnitude, so I looked online and decided to try a home remedy of putting plain white vinegar in a spray bottle and spraying the ants and the trail with it and wiping the walls down.

BTW--it turned out to be a good exercise routine--up the step ladder, spray, wipe, down the step ladder, move the step ladder, up the step ladder spray, wipe...OK you get the picture. But it WORKED! It took a couple of repeat applications at the entry and exit points for a couple days and some follow up, but the superhighway is gone. It smelled a bit like the old days of decorating Easter eggs (but actually better than the spray I was using), and I didn't have to worry about any chemicals that would be bad for Max and me (or the paint), plus it is cheap. So this week I LOVE plain white vinegar and plan to keep my spray bottle handy. And that my friends is probably much more than you wanted to know about ants in Hawaii--remember, paradise isn't always glamorous! BTW--In case you can't tell those are supposed dead ants around my spray bottle-made it myself. Feel free to pat my head like you would a small child and tell me how cute it is. ;-)

Last but certainly not least--in fact saving the very best for last, my post-woman / mail-woman / mail-person (is there a technical term?), dropped off a box from Brussels, Belgium which made my day. I signed up for another round of Blogging By Mail an event hosted once or twice a year by my good friend Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness. (you can see my other posts about previous BBMs here and here). For this event you are assigned another blogger to pack up and mail a small box of goodies to--a care package of sorts, usually around a theme and then your name is given to a different blogger who packs up a care package for you. This round the theme was "favorite indulgences" the 5 things you might turn to when you want to relax or de-stress during the busy holiday season. I sent my box off a couple weeks ago to a destination somewhere in Europe (has to remain a secret until they get their box), and today had the fun of opening the wonderful box sent to me by Eva from Books That Travel. Eva describes herself on her blog as "a slightly confused Swede in her forties who lives abroad, passionate about life, books, food, flowers and travel!!" Judging from her description and what was in the box, it seems like we have a lot in common! Eva sent a card, explaining the 5 items she chose and she also threw in some extras too--since I did the same in my box--5 items is so hard, I could appreciate her "rule breaking."

I was a bit worried when I first saw the box as the end of it was quite smashed--the second box like that I have received from the post office lately--I think the holiday stress is getting to them! I was hoping there was nothing breakable in there and was relieved to find that although there was a small beautiful blue bottle of prosecco in the box, it was skillfully wrapped safely in big "bubbles" of air and was perfectly fine.

In addition to the bubbly, there was a box of a Sweet Chili Mexican Spice Tea that Eva says is a favorite of hers, a "Total Energy" essential oil for the bath or an oil lamp (lemon, ginger and bergamot are all favorites scents of mine and this smells incredible), some "Green Tara" incense sticks I am looking forward to burning, and chocolate! (More on that in a minute!). The bonuses are a a book which I have not read and is the perfect size for my plane trip to Portland for Christmas, a cute little snowman candle and a little box of Eva's favorite throat lozenges that are flavored with smoked liquorice. What a fun collection of goodies--I am going to enjoy all of it. I thought Max was going to try and enjoy some of it too, since he jumped up on the table where I was taking the pictures but he just sniffed it and planted himself right in my way. Apparently not enough attention was being paid to him. ;-)

Can you guess what I had to examine and try first?! Yep, Belgium Chocolate! I just tried one of the cute little squares so far (remember the three cookies earlier!), but it was dark, creamy and really delicious--it just melted in my mouth. My plan is to run a bath with the essential oil, light some incense and have a little glass of the prosecco, eat a couple of pieces of the chocolate and enjoy and de-stress. Ahh...

Thank you Eva, your box was truly wonderful and appreciated, and of course mahalo to Stephanie who puts so much work in on the match-ups, prodding people to send their boxes, following up, etc. Not sure when the next BBM will be but keep an eye out. It is a fun event. I usually love picking out the items and sending my box even more than receiving one but with all these goodies and that glorious chocolate, I think receiving wins! ;-)

Wow! That was a longer than usual "Things I Am Loving This Week" post--a whole lot of love going on after all.

Hope your week is going well.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Wonderful Blogging By Mail Box from a Special Blogger

Blogging By Mail is a wonderful event hosted a couple of times a year by Stephanie at Dispensing Happiness. You sign up, are given a blogger to pack and ship a package of goodies to and another blogger gets your name and info and packs and ships goodies to you. This time round the theme was "10 Items or Less"; 10 or fewer of your small, favorite, must have things. I shipped my package out to Malaysia a couple weeks ago and found out it made it there (I always worry about that) and I was really excited to get the package pick up slip on Friday telling me mine had arrived from Australia. I have never visited Australia but I since I have always wanted to, getting a package filled with fun stuff from there is great.

My BBM box came from Barbara at Winos and Foodies. I didn't know much about Barbara before this but had heard of her blog through events like Hay, Hay, It's Donna Day and A Taste of Yellow. I have to say that I feel somewhat foolish in sharing the wonderful things in my box because I discovered last night in reading her blog, that Barbara, the beautiful woman who sent it, starts another round of chemotherapy for her cancer tomorrow and her health matters so much more than the objects in a box do. When I emailed her on Saturday to thank her, I had no idea what she was currently going through and told her I was going to post about it on Monday. Since she replied she was looking forward to the post, I am going ahead with it because I know the box was packed with care and a generous and loving spirit and I want to honor that. I hope as I share it with you, you will join me in putting Barbara and her family in our thoughts and prayers. From what I can tell, she is a very strong and very courageous woman and will get through this next battle as she has in the past, but sometimes we all need a little help and love to give us the strength to get through the tough times.

Here is what Barbara so thoughtfully included:

The first thing I saw was a beautiful red and blue woven scarf. Blue is my favorite color and red a close second so this is perfect. (Barbara said it was to wear or use for a prop for my photos--I may just do both!)
The most special thing in the box was a handwritten note, explaining each item and including a picture of Barbara and her family. (They look like a great and loving group!)
Barbara thoughtfully set me up for some holiday baking with some wonderful things; fun chocolate molds (I was just telling my friend Nat I wanted to start making chocolates), some great holiday cookie cutters, a little sifter (perfect Barbara said for sifting powdered sugar or cocoa on things), a pair of mini tongs (very handy) and some cute candy-striped cupcake liners (peppermint cupcakes maybe?). Someone wants to change my NOT A BAKER ways which is just the push I need!
TimTams! I love TimTams! I have not had them in ages since a group I worked with from Australia brought them to Seattle. These are the pink filled ones, only available in October to support breast cancer research so they are all the more special. (These will not last long I am afraid).
Also included were a couple other "iconic" Australian snacks according to Barbara --Twisties, a cheese snack (similar to an American Cheeto but seem to taste a lot cheesier. OK I have eaten 1/2 the bag already while typing this!) and a Cherry Ripe candy bar from Cadbury (an interesting combo of dark chocolate, cherry and coconut I can't wait to try).
Finally, some Murray River Gourmet Grinder Salt that is Barbara's favorite and she says as good as Maldon (I love salts of all kinds so this is a great addition to my "collection"), and a container of Quince Paste from an Australian food writer, TV host and chef named Maggie Beer. (I love quince paste, especially with some Manchego cheese. The box says to pair it with Cheddar and I am willing to try that too!)
Thank you so much Barbara! What a wonderful box, filled with a great variety of fun things. I feel truly special and spoiled to have received it and to get to know you. Again, you are in my thoughts and my prayers, as I see from the comments on your blog that you are in so many peoples' minds. Be strong and take care of yourself and know that someone in Hawaii is thinking about you. I wish you Aloha, which although it can mean hello or goodbye, also has a deeper meaning of affection, mercy, compassion, love and peace. I wish you all of them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Good Foodie Kind of Day

So today was new refrigerator delivery day--I am sure everyone will be happy that I can stop my whining about not having a refrigerator! It is here, cleaned out, plugged in, but not without a bit more minor trauma (having to do with a size change in this model, having an old house built "around things", bad wiring and lack of electrical plugs in kitchen, etc.) but I won't bore you with all the details of that--instead I'll focus on all the good foodie things today:

Good Foodie Thing #1: I planned to work at home today not knowing until 6:00 PM last night from Sears, that my delivery window wasn't going to be until 4:00 PM, but since I had already told the world I would work from home I went ahead with the plan. I spent part of the morning at a local coffee shop with free wireless access working and having an Iced Chai Latte and an Acai Bowl for breakfast. If you aren't familiar with Acai, a super antioxidant-rich berry from the Amazon--you can read about it and the health benefits here. (if it doesn't go to the Acai info page--hit the Acai tab at the top). An Acai bowl is like a chunky smoothie layered with granola and fruit and topped sometimes with a bit of honey. This was research because one of the brands we have has an Acai Cup, so we like to try the competitors. This Acai bowl was actually one of the better ones I have had, even if it took them almost 20 minutes to make it and bring it to me.

Good Foodie Thing #2: I actually got a lot done today--limited interruptions, so I decided to go get a light lunch (no fridge remember!) and as a special foodie reward...a cupcake!. For lunch I went to Gyotaku, a local Japanese Restaurant with about three locations, the newest one about a mile or so from my house. I had the Gyotaku Lunch Special, salad, miso soup, assorted sushi, teriyaki chicken, a few pieces of tempura and green tea all for $9.95. It's was a nice, cool, relaxing place with friendly service and pretty good food--great to have a quick but relaxing lunch in between working.

And don't forget the cupcake! I was hoping the special gourmet cupcake would be something exciting today but since it was Chocolate Haupia again, I went with Orange Creamsicle. YUM!

Good Foodie Thing #3: (and Best Foodie Thing of the Day Winner!) Yesterday there was a message in my mailbox saying there was a package to be picked up at the post office for me from Singapore. I recognized the sender's name and it was Laureen from Eat & Be Happy. What a surprise! Back in June, Stephanie, from Dispensing Happiness was looking for some help to get boxes to some Blogging By Mail participants who never received their box for whatever reason from the event in February. Although I haven't participated in this event yet (where you send a box of small items to a randomly assigned fellow blogger), I love Stephanie, have been wanting to take part for ages and I thought it would be fun to put together a box for someone so I sent one off to Laureen. Laureen was away in Australia and in addition to my box, she also received her original box which had gotten very delayed somehow. Being the generous person she is, she decided she wanted to put a box together for me. How sweet is that and how unexpected!
So I picked up the box on my way back from lunch and got the fun of opening it up and seeing all the great things she put in. The best thing was a great note from her, explaining that since I told her I had spent time in Singapore, she had filled it with things she hoped I'd remember and enjoy and some things she likes too.

Here's what was in it:
  • Hainanese Chicken Rice Mix (I used to eat this often at the hotel after a late flight into Singapore--comfort food at it's best) Can't wait to try the box mix.
  • Sugar Peanuts--have not tried these but they look delicious.
  • Singapore Coffee Flavored Sweets--I remember the strong, sweet coffee there so these should be good.
  • White Rabbit Candy--kind of a taffy-like candy wrapped in rice paper that I have not had in a long time.
  • Cream Biscuit Rolls--I'm a bit afraid to open these as I think I will become addicted.
  • Frutips--kind of a soft gumdrop like fruit candy (I had a grape one-yum!)
  • Strawberry and Chocolate Yan-Yan's--biscuit sticks you dip into a sweet dip which I love as they are fun to eat.
  • Fisherman's Friend Lozenges (original and apple-cinnamon)--I remember everyone having these and passing them around when I was there.
  • Lupicia Tea (Kirara Rice Tea) I love Lupicia teas and love green tea with roasted rice so can't wait to brew some up.
I can't believe she put all this together! I really had fun putting her box together as did Max (see him helping here) and I never expected to get anything in return. So not necessary but so much fun and so appreciated. I guess I really did participate in Blogging By Mail--can't wait for the next one!
Thank you Laureen! Since I had the cupcake already today, I just had a Frutip but I really look forward to trying everything you sent!
All in all it was a very good day.
This is how productive Max was today! ;-)