August 11, 2010

A creative family!

When it comes to sewing and being creative with fabric and furniture I am not certainly not the one in my family with the biggest ideas. I wouldn't even say that I have the skill or patience for creative work. However, my mother is a great painter and a great tailor. My sister is a great designer of children's clothing, a talented tailor and an extraordinary inventive person. You can see all my sisters work and her creative ideas at her blog at KINOKO. The blog is in Swedish but you if you use the Google Translator at the bottom of the blog it will translate it to your desired language.

Occasionally ideas pop into my mind and occasionally I get an urge to use my hands to creative something, when this happens I decide to go for it. I wish I was better at following things through but it is difficult when there are so many different and exciting crafts to discover. I started calligraphy, then I discovered card making, then knitting and then I got my beautiful dog, Betsy. Today I spend a lot of time with Betsy and I spend a lot of time "nesting" at home. If there is one thing that I enjoy the most it is definitely cooking!

I have quite a few cookbooks but I rarely cook according to recipes. I don't buy cookbooks without pictures as I want cookbooks to be inspirational and exciting. I tear out recipes of magazines and I sort them neatly in a binder or if they are short recipes I fit them into my recipe book. I watch food network and collect recipes from family, friends and colleagues. You will see a few recipes on this blog, most probably more posts on cooking then anything else!

One of my favorite cooking blogs is 101cookbooks. A few weeks back I found a recipe on Grilled Salt & Vinegar Potatoes on this website which I knew my husband would love. If my husband could be a bottle of vinegar he certainly would. He pours vinegar on everything he eats, even Salt and Vinegar potato chips. He adds vinegar on rice, on pizza, on stir fry or casseroles, pretty much on everything which is why I knew that this recipe would be a hit!

I made a small modification to force the recipe possible for an apartment without a grill (suitable for broiling in the oven in other words). I also exchanged the white wine vinegar  to Japanese rice wine vinegar as it is the only vinegar we use in our home.Finally, I wasn't sure what waxy potato was so I used the potatoes I had in the refrigerator, Russets ......

2 cups  Japanese rice wine vinegar
1 pound  Russet Potato, sliced 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

fennel salt to taste (grind fennel seeds and sea salt) 

Place the sliced potatoes in a saucepan, cover with the vinegar. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 min. Turn the heat off and leave the potatoes in the vinegar for 30 minutes. Drain and gently toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Heat the broiler and broil until golden on one side, around 5 minutes, flip each potato slice and broil other side. Serve immediately with sprinkled salt or fennel salt to taste.

Although the recipe is for 4 people we finished it all in one sitting..... 

A chair with new memories!

We have a chair that I am very fond of, however the memories are not the most pleasant as they relate to roommates that we once had. I have wanted to upholster the chair for a long time and did a short cut a few months back. However, I was not quite happy with it so I did a complete makeover. I sanded the legs to reduce the bite marks caused during Betsy's teething period. I also sanded the legs to make the paint stick better. I removed the fabric and the cushioning  and replaced both. 

A while back I bought a memory foam mattress topper for our bed. This was a mistake as our bed was already memory foam and when we added the memory foam topper we sank right down. The initial purpose of the topper was to make it easier to make the bed. The memory foam base is heavy and thick and every time we stripped the bed and had to put a new sheet on we had to life the mattress and this was troublesome and very bad for our backs. 
Long story short, we decided to store the topper in the closet and I have since then spent hours thinking of new uses for it. I made a bed for Betsy with some of the foam and I took a piece for the chair. I think I am quite happy with the result....

My husband always says that I am the most stingy person he knows because I don't want to waste anything 



August 8, 2010

Decorative pillows for a plain sofa

I am a bit of an indecisive person and my husband complains about that at times. The fact that the two of us have different taste when it comes to colors and furniture is not making the decision process easier. What I have learned is that I should go with my choice because I am the one who will blame him for his choice if I don´t like something. However, sometimes we need to compromise. When we bought a new sofa late last year he insisted we buy a corner sofa while I wanted a three seater with a chaise. Those of you who have shopped for Sofas have probably noticed that the price is pretty much the same but you get more seats with a corner sofa. I didn’t think our living room was big enough to accommodate a corner sofa but gave in as I got to choose the color. Needless to say I am happy with decision as my seat is the corner of the sofa which functions as a chase and I got my plain vanilla choice of fabric, beige.

To spice up the room I decided to buy some fun fabric and make some decorative pillows. I found this charming print online and bought a simple shiny grey trim from my favorite store Tinsel Tading. I already had the pillow inserts which made the project simple and cheap.

I also found this pretty fabric online, it has a cute baby blue parrot blended into the beige pattern which makes the fabric somewhat fun but also discrete.  The  pillow insert I used was from a pillow that I bought two years ago from IKEA. I copied the pillow cover and this was the outcome:


Finally, my new blog! To start with,  the first picture you see on my blog is not my home but it would have been great if this cape dutch house at Blaauklippen winery in Stellenbosch, South Africa was my residence. I live in New York city, a 1br apartment in Manhattan with my husband and my miniature schnauzer Betsy. I add and subtract numbers while dreaming of creative projects and travel during the day,  and I spend most of my spare time with my little family, nesting around at home, making long trips and short trips to various places and dreaming big of my future house, a house on the country side with chickens that provide me with fresh eggs in the morning, a herb garden, lemon tree, avocado tree, bird bath, a back yard for my dog…and so on…. For now, I try to find pleasure and enjoyment in life by doing what I feel like doing!

My name is Hermina, at least that is what my husband calls me, I was born in Sweden by my Japanese mother, I live in New York city and I am married to a global man who doesn't know where he is from. The intentions with this blog is to make me more active and productive in my life and to share it with others!!!!! This blog is going to be a great mix of home decor, cooking, baking, travel and maybe some things about fashion and other fun projects. What ever floats my boat will posted right here! 

Before i start, I'd like to share some of my cooking influences:
My father has a culunary background and cooked pretty much every single dinner at our house when I was growing up. He refused to buy baby food or any processed or ready to eat food. He made his sauces froms cratch, the pancake batter from scratch and all his marinates from scratch. Although he is not practicing anything close to cooking these days my heart still remembers his ribs, port cutlets with creamy mushroom sauce, oxtail casserole, meatballs and pancakes! If I asked my dad about any of his recipes I am sure he would throw out some key words on how to make thecook but I doubt he actually remembers the small details that were just the extra touch to perfect he flavor.  I hope to incorporate some of his recipes in this blog.

My mother however, hated anything that had to do with cooking but also learned almost everything she knows about cooking from my father. Eventually their cooking styles were the same but the focus was different. My dad always planned for the day while my mum planned long term. She would cook big pots of curries or meat sauce and freeze them in portions together with their starch so that my sister and I would always have homecooked meals easily accessible. My mum would always make sure there was a big salad or some other yummy vegetable side dishes with the meal. She was always about nutrients and thought we should gain all the vitamins and minerals from the food we eat and not from supplements. Although not always practices in our house but often desired by my monther, she strongly believed that each meal should consist of 7 different dishes. This is one of japanese golden rules when it comes to food!

My mom used to love spending time with her friends in the forest picking blueberries, lingonberries and various mushrooms. She would make jam, juice and pies from the berries, and creamed mushroom on toast. She would dry some of the mushrooms and use them in sauces in winter. 
My mom is pretty much a vegatrian and is an experit in making exciting salads. I personnally think the cherry on the ice cream is the like the dressing on the salad. My mom has never bought a pre-mixed dressing. She makes all her dressings from scratch which is usually a perfect blend of various herbs, or herb mix, oilve oil with vinegar or a generous amount of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Everytime I am standing at the dressing isle in th grocery store I hear my mum’s voice..... Why don’t you make you own dressing?!  

Growing up I was not very interested in cooking and no one ever expected any of my dished to come of scrumptious or even eatable....... In university I started cooking to save money and to eat healthier. My now husband and I loved and still love to spend time in bookstores. I was always stuck in the cooking section while he was browsing the music shelves. Getting inspiration from all the Asian influenced students and restaurants in Brisbane (where we were both studying) I began my serious interest in cooking! 

I am lucky to have a husband who is always hungry so I can experiment with different ingredients and dishes. He will eat everything put in front of him except for anything zucchini looking! 

I hope you will enjoy  the blog!