My Super Dream Wishlist

Super Dream Wishlist - luxury real estate, rare scotch whisky, manuscript, diamond and emerald earrings, dressage horse, personal submarine

Thai Coconut Soup

I know I'm not falling in line with the usual fall food posts but maybe post-Thanksgiving gorging, you will be craving something light, healthful, but still warming?  This savory, spicy, sweet and sour soup, tom kha, is usually made with chicken, coriander, and mushrooms, tom kha gai.    Kha means galangal and if you don't want to go rummaging at an Asian store, you can substitute it with ginger.  This soup can easily be made vegetarian or vegan if you leave out the fish sauce.  Fish sauce can be replaced with tamari, soy sauce, or any other salt of your choice.  Tofu makes an excellent protein source as well.

Free Christmas and Calendar Wallpaper

left to right:
6.  Joy

These December 2013 calendars and winter/holiday themed wallpapers are 1366x768 as this size represents over 60% of my audience displays.  I apologize in advance for those of you with larger resolutions (mine is 1680x1050) but I wasn't sure how popular these would be in the first place.  Please let me know what you think! ^_^



Resources

Snow & forest  |  Christmas bokeh   |  pink ornament   |  colour bokeh & glitter glow by hauntingmewithstock
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In which I attempt fancy pancakes

This was inspired by To Live & Diet in L.A.'s "3 Crazy-Good, 3-Ingredient Pancakes," but I didn't stick to a certain number of ingredients and I cooked mine with copious amounts of butter.  Confession: My breakfast preference leans decidedly toward savory but should I be tempted by something sweet, it's gonna be waffles.  There's something about filling in all of the little compartments that is so satisfying.  Ask Lindsey, she knows I always inquire about the waffle situation. :p  Still, this was fun to experiment with.

Sweet Potato Flaxseed Protein Pancakes
Topped with Lychee and Honey

sweet potato protein pancakes with flaxseed and honey

Midweek Update: Finished Products, My Face, Romantic Comedies

Empties

panoxyl 10% benzoyl peroxide acne foaming wash
I always start to break out about a week before my cycle starts.  Little bumps appear on my cheeks and a cyst will arise from the Stygian depths of my chin.  PanOxyl 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Foaming Wash (http://amzn.to/1dZwDUn) is pretty harsh but does help keep my skin under control.  This can irritate the delicate eye area so avoid using it there.  My sister uses the 4% wash (http://amzn.to/1h3c1Ph) as her skin is more sensitive than mine.


Product Photography Trick and Nail Polish Swatches


So today I wanted to share this really cool photography trick I picked up from Pinterest (my boards | source).

I didn't have any kind of shiny notebook to use with my laptop but I do have a shiny surface on my printer.  It was uber fun to play around with this method and it's so easy to try!  Clearly, I'm no expert photographer and I need some practice.  I was too lazy to set up the side light source but that definitely would have helped.

This photography tip is also how I took a photo of the tea tree oil in my previous post.

If you try this, comment below with your link.  I would love to see your results!
The super profesh set-up in my room ;)



Tea Tree Oil: Basic Properties and Usage

Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia or Paperbark) essential oil has been a regular part of my toilette for over 5 years.  I’m a big proponent of using oils for beauty regimens in general and tea tree is quickly growing in popularity and being touted as a panacea, or cure-all.


[Disclosure] The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The information on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read online. 

What’s on your bookshelf?

Miley-Terry-Richardson-tongue-sticking-out
photo by Terry R. :P :P :P
I love getting a behind-the-scenes peek into everyday lives.  I want to know what other people eat, how they decorate their rooms, what’s in their bag, what they think of the latest Walking Dead episode or even how they feel about Miley Cyrus.  For me, there is extraordinary in the ordinary.

Tim Ferriss, of The 4-Hour Workweek fame, had an article written for his blog called "You Are What You Read."  Featured is Ferriss’s own bookshelf and those of other influential entrepreneurs, authors, and techies.

Mine is far from my dream shelf.  Most of the books I've read in the past 5 years have been digital copies.  What I physically own is a rough-and-tumble mishmash of used books acquired over the years and hand-me-downs.  Yes, I've read all of them.  A few college textbooks are not pictured and many favorites are missing.  I've "loaned" the latter out over the years and don't expect to get them back.  This is the beauty and sorrow of giving out books you like.  Sometimes you love something so much you want to share it with the world even if you don't reap any "benefits."  Blogging is kinda like that. :)

CURRENTLY READING:
bill-bryson-a-short-history-of-nearly-everything_covermalala-yousafzai-i-am-malala_book-cover

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson – Solid, quick, easy reference, way to brush up on general world history and knowledge.  We learn so much in school but in one ear and…

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai – No matter what your political leanings, you have to give respect to this 16-year old young woman who stepped into an international spotlight at age 11 to support education for girls and survived an assassination attempt in 2012 at age 15.  This book makes me both deeply appreciate and lament my life thus far.  Would you still be you if you were not allowed the rights of your brother or father or going against the grain could mean sacrificing your life?  In what way can I still make a difference in the causes I feel passionate about?

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov – My third reading and perpetually in contention for my favorite book along with Brothers KaramazovMaster expounds on the same themes of Karamazov: good and evil, divine influences, Russian society and culture as a whole, timeless dark humor, subtle anarchy.  What makes Master more accessible is its modern presentation and lively characters.  The book comes off lighthearted though its symbolism and motifs are no less complex or thought-provoking.   I've included two covers by different translators.  Pevear and Volokhonsky are my preference but Mirra is slightly easier to read.

Click on the photos below to enlarge.  Judge to your heart's content.
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Easy Method for Cleaning Your Silver Jewelry

Unlike my sisters et ma mère, I don't have an avid interest in collecting jewelry.  Still, I appreciate beautiful design and sparkly baubles and I know what GIA means (quality assurance, basically).  It was my birthday last week and, in a celebratory sort of mood, I thought an accessory or two would be appropriate.  To my chagrin, I found my sterling silver pieces tarnished, kinda grimy, and darkened.  Without regular maintenance (polishing and cleaning), this is a natural stage for silver as the metal will combine with sulfur present in air to become silver sulfide—a black-colored substance.  Some Google-fu and research brought this easy method for cleaning silver to my attention.
 

Tools

  1. Enough aluminum foil to line a bowl or an aluminum container (e.g. a disposable pie plate)
  2. Table salt (vs. Kosher or sea salt because we need it to dissolve quickly)
  3. Baking soda
    • Make sure your baking soda is still active by adding a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice to a small amount of baking soda (about 1/4 teaspoon).  Acid is required for this test of freshness.  You see a bubble, you're not in trouble (omg, don't let me use anymore stupid rhyming mnemonics).  If your solution doesn't foam or bubble up, toss the box and get a few more (75 uses).
      • The baking soda you use to keep odors away in your fridge is probably not a good choice for this experiment unless it is less than 6 months old.  Your icebox imparts a high amount of moisture and odor to the baking soda, quickly degrading it's efficacy as a jewelry cleansing agent.
  4. Enough very hot water to cover your pieces (Not boiling as mentioned in some guides. Boiling water may bind to sulfur so stop heating just shy of the boiling point.  I microwaved a mug of water for 2 minutes and let it sit for another.)

Procedure

  1. Mix an equal amount of salt and baking soda with a wood or plastic utensil (~ 1 tsp for a piece or two but, in this case, err on the side of excess.  More for more jewelry; approximately 1 cup per gallon)
  2. Nestle your jewelry in the powder.
  3. Add the hot water and admire the reaction.  If your vessel is very shallow, some fluid may bubble over.  Let this mixture sit for 5-10 minutes.  You can gently shake or swirl your container to get things moving along. 
  4. Remove your jewelry, rinse, and rub dry with a microfiber cloth.
  5. A super-soft bristle toothbrush may be used for further refining. 

Alternative methods and caveats

  • Store-bought polish or cleanser - Overly harsh or destructive to jewelry, depending on ingredients.  This is especially dangerous for mixed media (gemstones, plating, protective varnishes, etc) or, like mine, pieces which are handmade (tend to be more malleable due to millesimal fineness) and hold sentimental value.  You may notice a small improvement in sheen but, unseen to the human eye, you've also removed removed some of the silver as well.
  • Toothpaste - Particles can be overly abrasive as above or settle into jewelry lines and grooves (kinda gross).

References

  • http://lecturedemos.chem.umass.edu/electrochemistry19_4.html
  • http://www.wired.com/geekmom/2012/07/silver-jewelry-chemistry
Wolfram Alpha is useful for checking answers to homework or for general visualization.  Redox occurs between aluminum and silver sulfide and pictured below is the final reaction.

FOTD One: Simple, Everyday Makeup

fotd one: simple, everyday makeup

[Disclosure]  

I will try to post more exciting FOTDs in the future though there will also be variations on my "everyday" routine.  Taking face of the day photos isn't easy!  These were shot in the evening so I tried to color correct. Please pardon the odd expressions and poor lighting.  Practice makes perfect! :P


Products and more photos after the jump...


Quiet Birthday Celebration

Friday, November 8, was my birthday.  I always celebrate simply with friends and family.  I never had a birthday party as a kid and don't enjoy the prospect of so much fanfare focused on me.  The pretty flowers up above are from my sweet mother.  She also made me super spicy chicken curry to mop up with French bread but I neglected to take a photo in the midst of my gorging.

[Disclosure]  My little sister (you may remember Cambosoup) got me Na No Kuni accompanied by the official guide book.

I love this game and have logged in over 3 hours so far.  Animation is by Studio Ghibli so it's very calming and cute!  The guide book is a great collector's item, and includes lots of gorgeous illustrations and helpful tips in the walkthrough.  A full review will be done when I finish.

Met up with my buddies later for a beer sampler, garlic fries, and club sandwich at a local brewery.  The evening ended with games, We're the Millers, mango ice cream, and a birthday nightcap (or two).  

Custom Blog Banner and Background


Before & After
I'm a freelance graphic designer and small business web developer by trade.  I make the majority of my websites on Wordpress.  [Disclosure]  So why did I choose Blogger for my own blog?  While Blogger is missing the more advanced back-end customization options Wordpress has, I knew I wouldn't need to make use of them (for now).  Where Wordpress is strong on power, it is weak in blogger networking.  Blogger has a lot of established, active, community spheres already in place, which makes it easier for the new blogger to get their foot in the door.

Both platforms are great for different reasons, though if you are a true novice or not so tech-savvy, stick with Blogger.  I've walked two of my senior clients through posting and editing on Blogger when both had trouble following my directions on Wordpress.  This could have been the result of flawed teaching but they each expressed their preference for Blogger.  Je n'y peux rien.

Most of the very popular blogs are on Wordpress, and many are all white, very simple, and look pretty much like default templates.  Don't get me wrong—I like white and simple; it's clean, functional, and not distracting.  And, really, if you're running a blog, there's not a whole lot you can do to the overall layout without sacrificing some usability for the average reader.  Maybe the frame doesn't need to be fancy if the content shines on its own.  There are also some practical reason for why black text on a white background is easier on the eyes: W3C Symposium; Color Combinations & Readability  Still, I can't help but be a little bored by all of the white themes.  So!  In an effort to set myself apart, I've drawn a self-portrait of myself for the banner and designed a custom background. 
The rough sketch

Four Bean Vegetarian Chili


This four bean vegetarian chili is healthy, hearty, spicy, and perfect for fall or winter.  I had a delicious vegetarian chili at Moab Brewery this past June and it's been taunting me ever since.  The Salt Lake Tribune posted Moab Brewery's recipe and I referenced it in conjunction with a very popular Allrecipes version.  [Disclosure]