Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Macadamia Nut Waffles with Coconut Syrup


When I visited Hawaii a number of years ago, I had Macadamia Nut waffles with Coconut Syrup every morning for breakfast while we were staying at the Wailea Beach Marriot Hotel in Maui. Once a year, I feel a little need for a taste of Hawaii again, and so I make these waffles.


I use this Kona Coast mix to make the waffles. I used to find it at Cost Plus before they closed in the Detroit area, but I recently found it in Grand Rapids. You also could use any other mix and toss in some chopped macadamia nuts.


The coconut syrup is easy to make and uses coconut milk. Warning - it is VERY sweet! Here is the recipe:

Coconut Syrup

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light Karo syrup
1 13 ounce can coconut milk - I used the regular, not the lite
2 teaspoons coconut extract


Stir the sugar and granulated syrup together in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat until dissolved and bubbly. Add the coconut milk and extract and cook for another minute or so. Remove from heat and cool. Pour into a jar for serving. Keeps for several weeks in the refrigerator.

If you are really going tropical you should serve it with fresh pineapple, but strawberries work fine, too.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Microplane Herb Mill


This has been my favorite cooking toy this summer. My friend Jenni gave me this cool Microplane Herb Mill as a gift last Christmas. Since I grow so many fresh herbs, I really have enjoyed using it to get perfect finely chopped herbs.


Simply stuff in some fresh herbs and put in the plunger and twist!


These are the little blades at the bottom. The only tricky part is when you take it apart to wash it you need to pay attention to how to layer the blades to put it back together.


And these are the chopped herbs! Nice, huh? It has worked great with parsley, rosemary, basil, and cilantro. Simple, easy, quick!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chandelier Crystal Necklace

This is what I did with one of the chandelier crystals that I picked up at an antique store at the beginning of the summer.

I started with a crystal and an old earring that I picked up in a bag of jewelry bits. I removed the clip from the earring and hung the crystal from the earring loop using some gold wire. For some added bling I added a couple other small dangling crystals.

I made the chain from two different thicknesses of gold chain. I used a latch at the end so that I could use the chain with other pendants. The chain is fairly long.

I've seen some other neat things done with these crystals to transform them into necklaces that I am hoping to try!

Monday, August 15, 2011

KrisTea's - Berkley

It's been fun to see a bunch of new shops and bakeries pop up along Coolidge in Berkley recently. Over the weekend I stopped in at KrisTea's, a darling little place just north of Catalpa.

When I walked in, I was offered some tea, either hot or iced. I tried a wonderful iced peach tea. They also serve you a scone and they even have clotted cream to put on top of it. The scone was wonderful - it was made from a mix (which they sell in different flavors) but it tasted homemade. I definitely would buy this sometime when I need to make a fast and easy treat.

I love Harney Tea and they have an entire wall of both lose and bag teas. I had a discount coupon that I found in one of the discount mailers and I purchased their tropical green tea.

The store has a mix of both new and vintage items. Lots of teapots and tea cups! But I was delighted to find other kinds vintage goodies - all the kinds of things I love! The owner said indicated the shop was an outgrowth of her collection over the years.

There was an entire closet of vintage linens - tablecloths, chenille bedspreads, towels, and more.

Hats in sherbet colors

Vintage dresses dripping with white lace

An old shutter to display vintage jewelry

Loved this display of gloves hanging from the ceiling like a curtain!

If you are a tea lover or enjoy vintage goods, stop in at KrisTea's and enjoy some tea and scones while you browse the shop!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bryce Canyon Necklace


A few years ago I picked up a necklace with earthy colored shiny stones while visiting Bryce Canyon. I snipped this necklace apart to use some of the stones to create this necklace.


I was inspired by the long black wire necklaces made by Rebecca Sower (and others). The black chain came from Michaels - it was a bit heavier than I wanted but I had trouble finding solid black chain. I also discovered that the wire I bought for this project had a copper core that shows a bit where it was snipped off. I didn't like that, but I didn't want to have to purchase different wire.


I liked being able to use a lot of beads in different colors. I used some soft aqua colored beads, some white, black, and clear quartz, some gray pearls, and some dark blue Chinese crystals. The stone beads in the natural shapes came from the necklace from the rock shop by Bryce Canyon. I think the orange beads add a little zing to the necklace. The color reminds me of the orange hoodoos that are in Bryce Canyon.


The large orange bead above comes from another necklace that I bought in India many years ago. It's kind of fun to include beads that have travel memories that have been remixed from old necklaces.


I added a vintage key to the end of the necklace. I've tried a couple keys and I'm still not sure that this one is the one I like because it hangs a little off center.


I wear this necklace in 2 or 3 loops around my neck depending on the outfit. It is a bit heavy so I wouldn't wear it on a hot day! I like it because the variety of colored beads go well with a lot of different colored outfits.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Easy Thai Coleslaw with Trader Joe's Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette

I really have been enjoying using this Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette from Trader Joe's this summer. It has a flavor like a good Thai peanut sauce with just a bit of a kick. I usually don't like things that are really spicy hot and this gives just the tiniest bit of heat without burning your mouth off.

I've been making coleslaw using this dressing. No measure - just add in the amount of ingredients you desire.

Easy Thai Coleslaw

Trader Joe's Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette
Bag of chopped cabbage for coleslaw
Cilantro, roughly chopped
Sweet baby red peppers, finely sliced in strips (other vegetables could be used)
Sliced scallions
Chopped peanuts or cashews

Combine the chopped cabbage, chopped cilantro, peppers, and scallions. Drizzle with the Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette and toss. Top with the chopped peanuts.

I add grilled chicken strips (also from Trader Joe's) to make this coleslaw into a full meal. It makes a wonderful fresh crunchy meal on a hot day because there is no cooking required! I've also used broccoli slaw with the same recipe with excellent results.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

10 Fun Free Photo Effect Apps

I love to play with photography apps! I used to try to add effects to images using Photoshop but it was too much work. I've also enjoyed exploring websites like Picnik and BeFunky to add effects, but I needed an internet connection to do this. But now, it is much easier to simply use my iPad or iPhone to experiment with adding effects and filters to my images. I have found many free apps that will allow you to create thousands of interesting effects - you can play for hours!

So above is a simple photo of a peony that I took with my iPad. Let's see what can be done with it!

MobileMonet Lite app (free) - This app turns your photo into a black and white textured picture that you color using your finger. It gives a nice stylized look! You also can color just part of the photo. I know there are many other apps that let you colorize your photo, but I think this one has gives exceptional depth to the image.

PaintMee Lite app (free) - I love watching this app as it paints each stroke of paint! The texture on the photo is so cool and it looks like a real painting if you view it in a large size.You can customize the detail of the strokes of paint and the colors to make a variety of looks.

BeFunky app (free) - Many effects and edges to try. This shows the retro effect with a grunge edge. Lots of gungy effects here! Very easy to use, although the save button seems to be somewhat cropped off the corner of the screen.

Effects app (free) - I like how easy this app is to use - you simply pick a filter and a frame. It is easy to try all kinds of combinations.

Picture Effect Magic (free) - Again, there lot of combinations of effects and filters - some are a little wild but there also are many beautiful effects. I like the addition of the glowing light effect on this black and white version. There are many options in this app so its not as simple to use as some of the other apps.

Fotofunia (free) - This fun app lets you add your photo onto a billboard or into a museum gallery or put your head into photo effect. Some of the effects are goofy, but I must say that their "Pencil Drawing" effect creates the most stunning drawing effect of any app that I have tried!

Fotolr Photo Studio (free) - I enjoy playing with the tint of my photos using this app - here I added an intense peachy hue to the image. Besides the color effects and the many frames, this app also lets you add wacky lips, hair, and eyes to photos.

ArtCamera (free, for a limited time) - This app lets you add effects to your photos that imitate various artists and artistic styles. It has an animated path to follow as you select your effects that can be a bit confusing, but there are some neat options here! Above is the mosaic effect.

LunaPic (free) - over 30 effects to add to photos including a neat 3D cube effect. I like this "Photo Spread" effect. Very easy to "try on" the effects!

Crazy Photo Booth (free) - This app has 25 effects and lots of pop up ads. But the "Obama" effect that it generates is awesome!

Note: These are a mixture of iPhone and iPad apps, but they all work fine on an iPad. Since these are free versions, many of them have ads or have buttons for additional in app purchases or upgrades to a paid app. All of them let you upload a photo from your photo gallery and most also let you use the camera. Most let you save your finished image to your camera roll, although a few will only let you email the image. The images are saved in a variety of resolutions depending on the app.

Update: As I find additional great apps I will add them below:

Pixlr-o-matic (free) - another very easy app with retro effects and and edges. I like the interface on this one!

What Crepe? - Royal Oak

What Crepe? is a tiny bit of France in downtown Royal Oak. The decor is an eclectic mix of things that suggest a cozy French bistro. There are not many tables - some dining areas are separated by curtains. There also are outside tables for dining when the weather is nice.

The menu has both sweet and savory crepes. They have a quite a few special crepes with interesting combinations of fillings. You also can design your own crepe with your choice of toppings. Prices on most of the crepes ranged between 8 and 12 dollars.

The size of the crepes are HUGE! My entree crepe was called "The Obvious" and was filled with chicken, spinach, pecans, caramelized apples, and feta. Wonderful flavor that blended the sweet of the apples with savory chicken. Each crepe came split in half and was beautifully plated.

My brother had a combo of ham, turkey, cheese, and wild mushrooms. Again, great flavor and a large portion.

We ended up taking about a third of each crepe home so we would have room for dessert. Our server recommended the chocolate eclair. Vanilla custard, warm nutella, white chocolate, and whipped cream. We added raspberries for good measure. Total yummy goodness!

Service was friendly and relaxed (translation: not overly fast, but attentive). We arrived somewhat early in the evening (before 6) to get a table before the place filled up. It was a bit distracting watching everyone wandering around getting things set up for the evening.

What Crepe? is a great place to go for a elegant meal in a cozy setting.

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