Simply summer

I have been enjoying these long days of late. I try not to fill my days with too many things but somehow it all goes so fast. I spend most of the day reading, checking blogs, keeping up with emails and thinking about new recipes but cooking familiar ones that I have neglected.

Around Scarlett, there has been a lot of cleaning and organizing going on. I think you have heard me mention this a couple of posts before. It has been a slow but really rewarding process. My new workspace is almost done. I just need a rug to tie the whole space together. I have also been living vicariously through the custom building process of my folks’ house. I am learning quite a bit in the process and look forward to seeing the house come together. So excited for my folks.

I made spaghetti tonight. Ripe tomatoes are just the epitome of summer. Marcella Hazan’s sauce is so easy and so delicious. If you haven’t tried it, what are you waiting for?

Today’s bits:

We painted our bathroom a while ago with a dark blue-grey and added a lot of industrial accents. I think these vintage-style pool locker baskets will make a really good accessory. You can find vintage ones on Etsy too.

Summers remind me of deviled eggs but these olive eggs look really tempting.

In Asia, it’s common to find a spray hose right by the side of the toilet bowl. It’s a hand-held bidet. While I was home this time, I got used to using one after going to the potty. I could get one of these diaper sprayers or I could make my own like in this video.

This weekend, we’re having a garage sale but what I’m really looking forward to are BBQ chicken wings. I plan to marinate my chicken wings with coke, honey and soy sauce. Then we throw them on the grill. Perfect for this weather. Scrummy.

Oh and the tacos in the picture are my favorite quick meal – tacos al pastor (spicy pork), tacos de lengua (tongue) and tacos de tripa (crispy spicy bits of fried tripe). So damn good.

Warm Breeze

Dusty Miller & Portulaca (Moss Rose)

There was a beautiful warm summer breeze that blew through the house most of the weekend. It was a busy one but very productive. I am in the process of converting the tea nook into a more usable workspace and will post pictures once that is done. Most of the elements of the tea nook will still be present but it will be more usable. I guess I am missing the use of desk/workspace since I left work.

Today’s bits:

If you are looking for new grilling recipes like I have been, how about this mustardy one or maybe this Asian Sichuan peppercorn one?

This weekend, we bought bacon dogs from The Swinery. Simply delicious! Check out their inner sanctum for grilled goodies for brunch (weekends) and lunch.

There are lots of things to do here in the summer – for e.g. the Washington Brewers Festival. Or perhaps garden tours are more your thing – here is a calendar to see which tours are going on.

And run, don’t walk, to Bluebird Homemade Ice Cream – peanut butter or oatmeal cookies n cream!

Lens

Puttanesca sauce

All it took was one photography workshop to inspire me to learn more about my camera and to play around more with my Rebel. I got this camera more than 2 years ago but I still know so little about it. Thanks to the food photography workshop that was presented by Aran of Cannelle et Vanille fame. I have to spend more time with my camera, get acquainted with it and learn as much as I can about it.

Other things that have caught my eye lately:

This super cute Orla Kiely bag from the 2010 spring/summer collection.

The Giving Tree is one of my favorite stories. That is probably why I swooned when I saw this iPad decal.

I know that I am not alone when I say that I drool over Anthropologie’s pretties. I wish I had this beautiful platter. The texture is just lovely. And how adorable are these cute elephant shakers?

An inspiring blog that Aran shared with us during the workshop – What Katie Ate. I love how she photographed these cheeses, especially. Somehow the greys and blues in the veins of the cheeses are emphasized by the gray and shadowy backdrop. So many other beautiful pictures are shared in her blog, do check it out.

Condiment

One of my favorite condiments – prik nam pla (fish sauce with Thai bird chiles). I put it on almost anything but my favorite uses – over fried noodles, fried rice or soup noodles. Try it, if you like it spicy. I just like the fresh chile flavor with the salty sweet briny fish sauce.

Today’s bits:

I made this Kim Chee stir-fry recipe today with ground pork instead of pork belly – really quick and really tasty.

This sounds and looks like a really delicious baked pasta recipe.

Another food truck to look out for in Seattle – this time, some good ol’ Creole cookin’.

Here’s a really great website – Roaming Hunger, that helps promote this mobile food truck culture – yay for curbside cuisine!

I loved Gayla Trail’s first book called You Grow Girl and now I want to get my hands on Grow Great Grub. On a related note, I mixed in chicken manure into the veggie bed and stock tanks. Can’t wait to see how happy the veggies will be.

I may not have monsters to keep at bay but this beautiful whale light box caught my eye today.

Thursday

Since I’ve been home from Singapore, Thursdays have become the day that I do my grocery shopping. It is far enough away from the weekend to avoid the crowds (especially in the Asian market) but still close enough to it to not miss out on the deals. Grocery shopping = shopping lists. For a while, I had been searching for a good iPhone app that I could use to create lists for shopping and other things. I would use the notepad application but it just didn’t work very well without the ability to check off the items as I went through the store. I think I have found the perfect list application for me – Crush App’s Paperless. I love how it looks (those cute icons!) and the ease of use. I have been using it for a few days now and love it! You should try it out for free and see if you like it, especially if making lists are your thing.

Today’s bits:

Lately, I have been thinking about sewing more. I think I’ll start easy again and try making some handmade napkins. I was doing my decluttering and found that I have very few cloth napkin options. These from Molly @ Purl Bee are too cute.

I am a sucker for good packaging and labels. I would find myself buying something I don’t really need because it was in a lovely package. I have 3 bottles of honey in the pantry but I would buy this bottle here. [via Lovely Package]

In the market for alphabet posters for your little one or yourself? Etsy has a good variety of them.

How adorable is this tea cosy from Robin and Mould’s Etsy shop? And this sleepy dog pillow is darling!

If you do screen captures for work or fun, Snagit is a common tool to use. It is now available in beta for Mac. Try it out, you might like it.

Flexible

Bedside

Most of yesterday was spent with K, house-hunting. What started out as lunch plans morphed into a very fun and busy day. She thanked me profusely for being flexible and spending the day but to me, it was easy to give my time to a friend who appreciated and respected my time. However, it got me thinking about how I am almost always happy to accommodate the people whom I care about. Was I born this way or did I practice personality yoga often in my life that I have become so ‘bendy’? I don’t know the answer to that but I think it is because I innately trust that the people whom I give this flexibility to, will never take advantage of it.

Today’s bits:

Although I don’t have a lot of greens to harvest yet, I love Willi’s 10 Simple Ways to Cook Greens post. I especially like the idea of a simple tart using the greens. Being Asian, I always turn to sautéing my greens. That’s delicious and easy but sometimes you just need new ideas.

I love my ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster and since I am such a sucker for type, these tea towels appeal to me.

Another homemade ice cream company here that sells their ice cream at Seattle farmers markets – Half Pint Ice Cream. The Sweet Treats mobile carries their ice cream. I have not had a chance to try them yet. I have yet to try Parfait as well which sells their ice cream in a mobile.

I cannot live without my Envirosax. I have used them for groceries, shopping and even the beach. But here’s a cute alternative – furoshiki.

I got to know West Seattle quite a bit recently, here are some businesses that caught my eye – Fleurt Studio, I have a weakness for floral displays in windows and The Swinery, everyone should have a sustainable butcher in their neighborhood.

You all know that I love my paper – here is a book I am looking forward to, Paper + Craft. Here’s a little sneak peek into some projects the book will offer.

I am in the market for some good outdoor lounge chairs – these handmade deck chairs by Gallant + Jones fit the bill, I think. (via Design*Sponge)

Outdoor Table

I have been on the look-out for an outdoor dining table that would match these chairs I got at the last DWR sale.

cafechairs_dwr.jpg

I found this one on Habitat. Don’t ask me why I’m browsing at a store that does not have a US location. I admit that any pain from seeing something I want is self-inflicted. I just love their designs and style. During our trip to Spain, I remember making everyone walk through the store with me and the only things I could bring back were the linen pillow cases.

To me, this would be the perfect table to complement my chairs. Sigh.

barodatable_habitat.jpg

Stock Tank Planters

I have been wanting these stock tank planters for a long time but I never knew where we would put them. On some days, I just stare at my backyard, as if waiting for a spot to magically open up for me so I could run out and bring them home. I tried hard to avoid the urge to plop them down randomly in the middle of my backyard (which is what I did with a collapsible growbed because I couldn’t let another growing season go by without planting a raised bed) but now, I’m so glad that I waited for the right time and the right spot to place these. The front yard is a perfect place for them.

We found the right size tanks at a farm supply store (thanks Megan!) a while ago but I took a day off from work and we drove out to pick them up. We had to hire a van since they wouldn’t fit in Angpow; we also had to bring home an obscene amount of compost and peat. But oh that lovely black gold! Armed with the right drill, making holes on the tanks went pretty quickly for Mike. It took us some time to mix the compost and peat evenly and then came the real task – to decide what to plant in each tank.

Here’s what we have so far: one tank for ornamentals, one for edibles and one for herbs.

Stock Tank Planters

More pictures here at Flickr

Owl Family

owl family

Aren’t these just adorable? I am so tempted to get them for my garden but I am not sure if I could stand to have them out in the rain even though they say it’s impervious to rain. Silly me, I know.

Hope for spring

Winter is bearable for me because I know spring follows closely behind. I am looking forward to seeing green sprout up from all over the place.

In the meantime, this might help.