Monday, August 31, 2015

Retro Mouse Stuffed Animal

My mom recently went through her sewing box, tossing the items that were no longer needed. Whilst doing this, she came upon a pattern she purchased when she was a teenager in 1973! The pattern is for a precious mouse stuffed animal, eating a piece of cheese. I decided to make this yesterday, for my friend's daughter who will be turning one next week.

Though the directions were a bit vague, I persevered! I'd like to give an out of this world shout out to my great grandma Esther, who taught my mom how to sew and to my mom as well, for teaching me how to sew when I was in the sixth grade. I've made so many quilts and fun little things like this mouse because of this skill. I shall treasure it always!

I never got to meet my great grandma, as she passed before I was born, but I believe that there is a connection to her as I sew and bake her delicious recipes!

My great grandma had enough foresight to copy the pattern onto parchment paper. I doubt she or my mother thought that it would be made 42 years later! Here is the cute little mouse. I still need to sew the mouth and teeth on, but I'd say that it looks pretty nice so far.

(Secret shout out to myself for keeping fabric from every project I have ever done. It makes spur of the moment projects like this so much easier! My mom would have thrown every scrap away by now. Good thing I don't live with her. Ha ha. The blue fabric was from the curtains that I sewed for this little girl's nursery just over a year ago!)

Photos of the entire process are below.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Getty Villa and The Getty Center

When I was in college, I went to the Getty Center Museum a couple of times and I loved it. Over the summer, my friend Josiah and I decided to make a special trip to the museum again. However, we discovered that J. Paul Getty also had another museum called The Getty Villa. Neither Josiah or I had ever been there. So, we visited both in one day! I've wanted to share these photos for a while, but things have been a bit hectic. I was finishing up my second masters course, I quit a teaching job that I have had for four years, I got hired at a new school (we are in week three with students already!), and I'm moving! Ugh. Talk about change! I suppose it is best to get it all done at once.

Anyway, here are the photos!
(All photos were taken by me, except the one where I am pictured with Van Gogh's Irises. Please ask before sharing any images. Thank you.)

Me and Josiah enjoying the outdoor portion of The Getty Villa.
The photos below are of many of the different floors at the Villa. I loved them.

The atmosphere of the Villa, below.

(I used Instagram Layout for this photo.)

It was a lovely misty and mystical day outside.

The below photos are at The Getty Center.
I was enjoying the foliage.

Check the museums out:
If you go to both in one day, you pay for parking at one location and get free parking at the other!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Bon Appetit Desserts: Double-Ginger Gingerbread with Orange-Ginger Sauce

This recipe makes me yearn for the fall. Such warm and lovely flavors in this cake. The orange-ginger sauce adds an extra element that is wundebar (wonderful)! 

This recipe calls for crystallized ginger. If you live in California, it will be hard to find, because there was a recall due to LEAD being in the product. Many sources vowed not to sell the product again, as part of a suit that was brought against them. However, some companies never responded to the suit, so their product could still be out there. Don't buy it at Target or Trader Joe's. I got mine at a health food store, so there really is no telling if it contains lead or not. I am hoping that it doesn't. All other ingredients should be easy to locate.

Photo by: Tiffiny Hargrave

Double-Ginger Gingerbread with Orange-Ginger Sauce

1-1/2          cups unbleached all purpose flour

1                teaspoon baking soda

1                teaspoon ground ginger

1                teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2             teaspoon salt

1/2             teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2             cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2             cup (packed) dark brown sugar

2                large eggs

1/4             cup robust-flavored (dark) molasses

2/3             cup buttermilk

1/4             cup chopped crystallized ginger

1/2             cup chilled heavy whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks

                  Orange-Ginger Sauce (see recipe)

Preheat over to 325ºF. Butter 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan; dust with flour. Sift flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, salt, and pepper into small bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in molasses. Mix in half of dry ingredients, then buttermilk, then remaining dry ingredients. Fold in crystallized ginger.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake slightly in pan on rack.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cool completely. COver with foil and rewarm in 375ºF oven 10 to 15 minutes.

Cut warm cake into squares and place on plates. Top with whipped cream and Orange-Ginger Sauce and serve.

Orange-Ginger Sauce

3                large oranges

1                cup (about) fresh orange juice **I used 5 juice oranges**

6                Tablespoons sugar

1                cinnamon stick

3                Tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger

Using small sharp knife, cut off peel and white pith from oranges. Working over small bowl, cut between membranes or oranges, releasing segments. Transfer segments to medium bowl. Pour accumulated orange juice into measuring cup. Add enough orange juice to measure 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons. Transfer juice to medium saucepan. Add sugar and cinnamon. Cook over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and simmer until juice mixture is syrupy and reduced to 6 tablespoons, about 12 minutes. Pour over oranges. Add ginger. Cool.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Book in Review: The Suspicion at Sandition

(Or, the Disappearance of Lady Denham)

This is the seventh book in a series by Carrie Bebris. I have read the previous six and enjoyed them all. I was quite looking forward to this installment.

The Suspicion at Sandition find Mr. and Mrs. Darcy in the thick of it, once again.

Carrie Bebris extends my love of Jane Austen. Sandition was the last book that Jane Austen was working on, when she passed away. I have never read the 11 and a half chapters that Austen left behind, so this edition of the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries was all new to me.

I enjoyed the characters and I found myself trying hard to figure out the culprit. I am happy to say that I was kept guessing, but the two characters that I kept going back to were indeed part of the villainy!

Darcy and Elizabeth thought that they were going on vacation with their favorite cousins. They really should no better than to plan a normal family outing, by now. Things never go as planned. Of course I  thought that this was another great mystery. I liked that it all took place essentially in one night kind of like the board game/movie Clue.

You do not need to read the previous books in the series to read this edition, but I highly recommend that you do!

Photo by: Tiffiny Hargrave

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Book in Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Yet another book purchased with birthday money!

I had wanted to read this book for years. Someone I once worked with suggested it and it piqued my interest. Well, now I have finally read it. It is told, in its entirety through letters. Letters from an author (Juliet) to her closest friends and also from the author and her new friends in Guernsey. It takes place in London, at the end of World War II.

How does a group of people recover after such a war? Or do they recover at all? In this book you'll see how this group of people make each day count.

It was cute and fun. I laughed a lot and I enjoyed the characters.

Photo by: Tiffiny Hargrave

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Book in Review: The Shoemaker's Wife

Thanks to my friends who know that I love to read and support the nerd in me, by supplying gift cards to books stores, for my birthday!

Five words sum this book up: It is so, so sad.

The book has three part and each part is home to a particular sadness... a sadness that increases in each part. Though it was sad, I really enjoyed reading this book. I was captivated. It makes me want to visit Italy even more, now. It also reminded me that life is quick. Love those around you while you can.

A tragedy in Enza's life leads to a chance meeting with Ciro and so their story begins! Most of it takes place in America once circumstances bring Enza and Ciro over from Italy.

This book gave me a list of baked goods to try out, so it wasn't all sadness. Though I did cry a lot (not as much as Firefly Lane, last summer), I recommend this book!

Photo by: Tiffiny Hargrave

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Book in Review: The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

I purchased this book with some birthday money that I received, well, for my birthday... in November!

I enjoyed the action and the mystery of the Pink Carnation. There was a bit of romance mixed in here, which I was not expecting, so be warned. This story takes place at the time of war between France and England. Circumstances require a young woman to leave England and return to her birth country of France. The journey over to France starts off this story. It is told through the writings of the main character, as a present day scholar is reading her journal. I found it to be fun!

Photo by: Tiffiny Hargrave

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Finding Vivian Maier

I recently learned about a woman. Her name was Vivian Maier. She was a nanny, but also a photographer. She was not known as a photographer until after her death.

The documentary 'Finding Vivian Maier' was really intriguing. Who was this woman? What was she all about? These questions are not answered all the way, because we can only learn from speculation via those who knew her and through her photographs. I recommend checking this documentary out.

Finding Vivian Maier The diddy from the cover.

When longtime nanny Vivian Maier died in 2009, she left behind thousands of photo negatives that she'd produced over the years. But the now famous shutterbug's unique body of work lay in a storage unit until an amateur historian uncovered the trove.

Rated NR
1 hr. 23 min.

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Book in Review: A Mad, Wicked Folly (Plus a Recipe)

Image from

A Mad, Wicked Folly was so fun! I read it in less than 24 hours. I couldn't put it down! I was rooting Victoria on to freedom the whole way through. PC Fletcher is the bees knees and I just loved his character. I'm an avid baker and I was happy to see that the author included a recipe for Victoria's favorite Pikelets. I'll have to give them a go. The history involved in this story was top notch. There were several moments when I actually laughed out loud and some where I shouted 'Why!!!' or 'what??!!'. It certainly kept my attention. I highly recommend this book!

My book is currently on loan, so I did not get to make the Piklet recipe listed in the back of the book. However, I did find this recipe on Pinterest and they turned out well.

In case you do not know, Pikelets are essentially miniature pancakes. Who doesn't like pancakes?!


1          cup self-rising flour, sifted (or 150g)

1/2       teaspoon baking powder

1          banana, mashed

2          tablespoon honey, plus extra to serve

3/4       cup milk (or 180ml)

1          egg

yogurt and fresh berries, to serve

Place baking powder and flour in a bowl. Make a well in the center. Place banana, honey, milk, and egg in a separate bowl and whisk to combine. Gradually add the banana mixture to the flour and mix until smooth. Heat a lightly greased non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add tablespoonfuls of batter to the pan and cook in batches, for 2 minutes or until bubble appear on the surface. Flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until a light golden color. Serve with yogurt, honey, and berries. (Or anything you would like, really. Like jam! Or nutella!) Makes 20. (I got 27)

Tip: Place pikelets in zip lock bag for up to two months. 

For the original recipe: Donna Hay's perfect Pikelets

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Quitting Life

Have you ever just wanted to quit life? No, not die, but to be free! To quit your job to move to another place and meet new people, taste new foods, learn a new language, see new things?! I feel that way almost every day. Obviously the grass is always greener on the other side, but I cannot help but dream about what my life would be like in another place.

I often feel like I am not quite living the life that I want, but I was raised by a single parent and I am often excruciatingly realistic. This is very hard for me because I am a creative soul and I love to travel and move about. In another life, I must have been a gypsy. I suppose this is the life of an adult. Going to work and paying bills, being an upstanding citizen. Isn't there more to life than working?!

I wonder how I can get the excitement of travel to show itself in my everyday life. Any suggestions? For now, I will dream of finishing my masters and paying off all student debt. That's kind of exciting, but it will take a lot of work.

Sound off in the comments to share how you keep the spunk in your day to day comings and goings. Thanks!