September 30, 2014

Adventures in Latidoe Stamp Making + New Packaging

A little excited and little nervous that I may have found an (other!) new obsession: stampmaking.

This is something I've always wanted to try out but never actually came around to buying materials and testing. You don't need fancy materials to make can use styrafoam, tooth picks and paint. But I wanted to start off with a stamp for my up and coming store that I keep promising the world...and figured might as well get the good stuff.,

I picked up this stamp making kit from Michaels for $15. It includes a 4x6" rubber stamp base, tracing paper, and a carving tool with two different blades. 
First I played around probably too long with stamp ideas. 
Then I traced the one I liked onto the tracing paper. To transfer the image to the rubber stamp, I traced over the design with a pencil.
Cut it out, flipped it onto the stamp then rubbed the back so the pencil would transfer.
Once the basics of your design are transfered you can go over details again with a pencil to make them more clear. And then of course remember that whatever areas you carve out will be white space. I tried to shade it in so that all the pink space would be what I had to carve out.
The blade just snaps into the tool. Then you just start shaving away...
My stamp is small so I just cut off what I needed.
Then tested it out! It's in now way perfect...but I think that's what makes handmade stamps special. They have a crafty made at home feel to them and for a line of hand crafted accessories...I think the stamp is pretty true to my 'brand' (if you can call it that)! 
I'm still thinking up a presentable and cost effective way to package things. I like the simple brown paper I might do something like this. 

Maybe down the line I'll start making and possibly selling handmade stamps...might be fun :)

September 27, 2014

Making Some Floral Headway

Everything always takes longer than you think it will. But it's ok -- especially if it's something you enjoy doing. 

I FINALLY finished the scrunchies and headbands...and now have moved forward with the flowers. I'm thinking I'll leave the backs blank for now, so you can decide whether you want a pin or barrette. 
The biggest sign that I am almost done with this that my fabric is seriously dwindling! I buy material as I need it--not in bulk--so most accessories I make are pretty much one of a kind. I have mixed feelings about this. Of course, being one of a kind lends itself to a special uniqueness in each piece...but if I were the buyer, I'd take comfort in knowing there will always be more of something. Less pressure that way. 

But if there is ever a particular color or accessory that someone loves, I'm happy to do custom orders as well. When your hand making things, to make the exact same piece over and over again would be seriously monotonous. So I avoid that for the sake of my own sanity!
Also...I've decided I may not reopen my etsy, but instead just open my own online store. Then I would have more space and more freedom. But this decision of course is going to create more delay. But I'm thinking it will be worth it. :)

September 26, 2014

Mini Banana Nut Cream Pies

I think banana cream pie may be my favorite pie! The bf and I were inspired to make this after having the banana cheese cake from Cheesecake Factory (my favorite) and didn't quite get a substantial enough fix of banana because it was too good. We made the mistake of sharing one. 

Anyway...banana cream pie is yummy but very easy to make if you cheat like we did and use Jello pudding mix. The secret is to mix the banana cream flavor with vanilla--otherwise the banana cream flavor alone is a bit overkill and tastes too concentrated. Mixing it with equal parts vanilla pudding makes it way better.

You will need:
2 + 3/4 c. milk
1 vanilla Jello pudding mix
1 banana cream Jello pudding mix
Mini pie crusts
1-2 bananas
Cool whip (or whipped cream)
1/2 c. crushed walnuts

*If you don't want to make as much, use half the milk and half the Jello pudding mixes

First mix the milk and Jello mix for a few minutes until smooth. Let sit for a few minutes until it sets. Line the pie crusts (already prepped and baked) with 3-4 banana slices and a teaspoon or so of crushed walnuts.
Then top with the pudding mix and let these sit in the fridge for around a half hour.
When ready to serve, take out the pies and top with whipped cream, then sprinkle with crushed walnuts as a topping.

And that's it! It's very simple...and delicious. Admittedly, it's probably got nothing on Cheesecake Factory's banana cheese cake. But it is something! 


September 23, 2014

My Beautiful Aunt as a Retro 60s Kay Baum Model

We found this while fishing through old documents at my grandfather's funeral in August. It was a bitter sweet moment--sad for the ending of one amazing and truly robust life...along with the youth and childhood of my mom and all of her siblings...but sweet to remember how it was. And to watch the faces of my mom and all of her siblings finger through pages of samples, stills and letters from their fondest, and less than fondest, memories. This picture of my aunt was one of many really cool retro pics we found...thought I'd share!

September 5, 2014

Biotin Verses Vitamin B-Complex for Hair Growth

My little sister and I decided to try out taking vitamin B supplements for healthier hair growth. We were browsing through one of my favorite natural/organic grocery stores with a very dense aisle of natural hair products and another very dense aisle of supplements, when we stumbled upon biotin and figured why not? 

Only a few weeks ago, I actually picked up a bottle of Stress B-Complex. Because I'v heard that B-Complex (a mix of multiple B vitamins) is good for hair growth -- and the bottle I picked up claimed to also boost energy, productivity, and immunity. So it sounded like a win-win. 

To my dismay, the Stress B-Complex I picked up was a bit of a let down. Not so much because of the results -- or lack thereof -- but more so because I just can't get past the horrible smell and taste! When I take the vitamin B complex I literally start to feel sick. 

But the Biotin pills that my sister found were so tiny and unassuming. Also, maybe because they were in a natural/organic food store, they seemed less intimidating. So we're trying them out! The brand we chose was Country life. We picked up one bottle of 1000 mcg (100 tablets per bottle) and one bottle of 5000 mcg. We split the bottles so we each have half and half. The plan is to alternate daily from higher to lower dosage--don't want to get carried away. 

Country Life Biotin Tablets:

My first impression:
  • Both the 1000 mcg (round) and 5000 mcg (capsule) are very small.
  • Smells like nothing.
  • Doesn't taste bad.
  • Doesn't make me feel sick.
These are all good things. Compared to my previous experience taking Stress B-Complex:

Nature Made Stress B-Complex:
My first impression:
  • Makes me feel sick.
  • Smells HORRIFIC.
  • Pills are HUGE.
  • Tastes as horrific as it smells.
These are not so good...but after doing a tiny bit of reading, I've heard that it's most beneficial to take biotin and stress B-complex not in place of each other, but at the same time, as biotin can sometimes cause acne and B-complex can help counter the acne. 

So now I've decided I may take one pill every day, alternating between Biotin and Stress B-Complex and see what the results are. I suggest taking B-Complex on a full stomach to avoid getting sick because it smells and taste like fermented chalk. 

The difference between Biotin and Vitamin B Complex is a bit confusing...because Biotin is actually vitamin B7 and is present in most B-Complex pills, which are obviously then not as potent (with B7/biotin) as are Biotin pills, and is one of the more important and widely used B vitamins in hair products and hair care. 

My hair is severely damaged and breaking off...(I'm still mourning) while I don't at all expect this biotin and B-Complex medly to reverse the damage and heal my broken hair...I figure at this point, it can't hurt! Even though I vastly prefer the Biotin pills over the looks like I'm stuck taking both unless I want to deal with excess acne and...'aint nobody got time for that. Sigh.

My goal is 2" hair growth -- and length retention -- by 2015. Think I can do it? We will see...

September 3, 2014

My Weekend in Instagrams: Blue Moon Birthday, Farmers Market, and Sister Breakfast Bash

I'm not surprised that out of 5 snapshots, 4 of them have something to do with my food...

My two little sisters visited for the week and we had a lot of fun! At least I did. I hope they did...we did a lot of cooking and a lot of eating out at restaurants...but for breakfast one morning we made stuffed french toast rolls and they were yum! 

The recipe is very easy...we used potato bread (just because). Before dipping into whipped eggs, spread on a thin layer of whatever filling you'd like on one side of the bread (Nutella, honey & peanut butter, or jam & cream cheese for example!) Then, roll the bread so the filling is inside roll. After rolling, dip in whipped egg batter and roll around so all sides are submerged. Then fry in a pan sprayed with light oil. Top with whipped cream and berries. We used the leftover whipped eggs to make a scramble...

In all of the commotion of driving 10 hours to NJ to pick up my sisters, driving 10 hours back, taking a couple days off work, dealing with a power outage and lots of rain when I returned to work, and spending time with sisters in Michigan, I suddenly turned 23. I feel very indifferent toward it...I feel like I'm at the pivotal point where you don't want to get any older. I'm not panicking just yet. But fear I might soon...still not sure where I'm going with my life. Hoping somewhere good....

To celebrate, I hosted a mini "Blue Moon" themed party at my house -- of course decked with all blue-moon treats. Including this pear, blueberry, and blue cheese flat bread (recipe here -- we added blueberries and walnuts). And my "Blue Moon" chocolate cake...with the help of my dear friend Trader Joes. (I just decorated with gold sprinkles...).
We also made a Blue Moon beer-cheese fondue which was delicious...and Blue Moon beer-battered onion rings and string beans. These were the most experimental because I have never made them before. But they were good! I used this Guy Fieri recipe as a guy and just left out the ingredients I didn't have (sun dried tomatoes, bell peppers...) and replaced the beer he uses with Blue Moon. Everyone liked the batter. 
My sisters have never spent much time in Detroit, so on Saturday I took them on a drive around town and we stopped by Eastern Market. I go there often on Saturdays. We got ridiculously good zucchini bread...and they liked it. Maybe one day I could start selling Latidoe products at Eastern Market.......maybe. 
And lastly, but not least -- lavender soda from Great Lakes Coffee. This is one of my favorite coffee houses in Detroit (probably tied with Roasting Plant). I like it because it comes equipped with a bar...and occasional DJ. A good place to have a coffee, get some work done, (or eat waffles with sisters) and then celebrate productivity with a beer. I opted out of beer and went for the lavender soda instead...and it was good! I love flower am always anxious to try lavender, rose, jasmine...etc. in new forms. Soda was a new one for me...