Tina Made a Harvest Grains Salad

I rarely cook dishes without a recipe. Allrecipes.com is my best friend in the kitchen. SO when I do cook on the fly (and the dish turns out edible… or even delicious), I feel really proud of myself. Like really. It’s a rare occasion to be celebrated.

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My sister recently gave me a bag of Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains blend (contains Israeli style couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa) and told me that it tastes good as a cold salad mixed with veggies and Greek dressing. Okay, fine, that’s pretty much a recipe. So sue me.

Anyway, if you’re neurotic like me (or you’re just a bad cook who needs maximum direction), then here’s exactly what I did–

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 1/2 package of Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains blend (1 1/4 c. uncooked)
  • 1.5 Persian cucumbers, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • ~20 grape tomatoes, quartered (or equivalent amount of regular tomatoes, chopped)
  • 1/2 can olives (~2 oz.)

Dressing

  • 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil (evoo)
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper

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Cook 1/2 package of grains per package instructions. You can cook the grains in either water or chicken broth; I used mostly (low-sodium) chicken broth with a splash of water. You also need a tablespoon of butter!

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Set aside your cooked grain medley to cool. Meanwhile, chop your olives…

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Seed and chop your cucumbers… Chop your red onion (just 1/4)…

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Quarter your tomatoes… then put all 4 ingredients aside (in the fridge, if you prefer).

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Combine evoo, lemon juice (I cheated… use fresh lemon juice if possible!!), minced garlic, salt, and pepper and mix vigorously. Proportions can be fiddled with per taste preference (I tend to like things extra citrusy). Note: In the picture on the left, there are two cloves of garlic. I highly advise you use just one. I LOVE garlic but two was a little too much, even for me.

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Once your grains have sufficiently cooled, mix in the olives, cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes and refrigerate for a bit. If you’re going to serve immediately, slowly mix in the dressing, being careful not to over-dress (add & taste, add & taste). If not, then I’d recommend dressing right before serving to prevent over-saturation.

Yum! Super easy, healthy, and fresh. Perfect for a summer side dish. Serves 5.

PS- There are obviously different ingredients I could have added (e.g. fresh mint, parsley, cilantro, carrots, etc.) with different dressings, but I’m very satisfied with how this combination tasted. 🙂

The Stocking Frame

You guys. There’s this pretty awesome new restaurant-bar that opened in DTLA and I kind of don’t even want to post about it because it will get super crowded once everyone finds out and then and thennnn that would be not cool.

But I will. Because a friend introduced it to me first, and you guys are my friends… even you strangers. You’re very welcome.

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Anyway, it’s called The Stocking Frame, and my friend Sunghee hosted her birthday party here a few weeks ago. She literally just stumbled upon it one day while walking to another restaurant. It opened a little over a month ago and I went back 2 days ago because… I wanted to. The space is huge with an amazeballs interior– exposed brick walls, high ceilings, wood frames, a fireplace, strands of white lights, and an open patio. As a reviewer on Yelp stated, it looks “like you can take at least ten Instagram photos with it looking like you’re always in a different place”– such truth from a clear Instagram addict.

I was able to take tons of pictures because the place is still pretty unknown to the DTLA crowd (and thus the restaurant was empty-ish both times I went). I’m sure that will change in a few months but until then, I will selfishly enjoy the quiet emptiness of the place.

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I went for dinner but apparently they have a decent brunch menu as well. Food is trendy-new-American, if that makes sense. You know… roasted marrow bones, spiced octopus + pork belly tacos, butcher nachos with pork butt– that sort of thing. Their menus do change frequently, which is kinda cool.. except.. I REALLY wanted the pork butt nachos the second time I went (they were frickin’ delicious the first time) but had to settle for beef cheek nachos (pictured above)… they were almost as good.

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The bar had some creative and unusual cocktail options as well as foreign wines and beers. I tried the “chihuaha” which had tequila with serrano chiles and citrus. Pretty good….I think (Shrug. I don’t have the most refined palette when it comes to alcohol.).

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The above-mentioned Yelp reviewer was totally right. Instagram for dayzzz here.

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My favorite part of the restaurant is the space next to the bar that opens up into the patio (pictured above right). There’s tons of seating with a small garden plot full of plants surrounded on four sides by wooden benches. It’s perfect for a warm summer night.

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Some more random decor details– a sweet stained glass window. And a large flag at the entrance.

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Anyway, I’ll definitely be back here again soon– if not for the food/drinks then for the atmosphere/cool space. The food was decent (probably 3.5-4 stars for everything I tried, minus the bone marrow, which was like.. a 2.5.) Worth checking out fo’sho.

The Stocking Frame
911 S Hill St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015

On Work. Or Lack Thereof.

I… have been officially unemployed for one week. By choice. This fact alone does not mean much, but coupled with the fact that I have no job set in place for the future, this is personally HUGE! HUGE I tell you. My friend Kevin said in a recent email: “You + No Plans is not an equation I ever thought was possible. I feel like you’re one of the few people that I’ve always thought had everything planned out to the nth degree before you took any steps. Granted, there was like 8 levels of anxiety and waayyy too much over thinking, but you always had a plan. I’m excited for this Leap-of-Faith version of Tina.”

HOKAY buddy, you’ve taken it too far. 8 levels of anxiety? More like 3.5. Watch yo’self.

My Type-A, future-oriented personality is learning to live in the moment, breathe, and trust that everything will be okay. I’m letting myself rest for awhile before looking for a job. Or jobs, since my TENTATIVE plans (I can’t not have any. I just can’t. Leave me alone.) are to work part-time in OT and spend the rest of my time doing something creative, whether that just means personally, or as part of an internship/another part-time job. Ack. But who knows. (WHO? DO YOU? PLEASE. TELL ME.).

Anyway, a few pictures as a tribute to my last 4 years working for Pasadena USD…

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My favorite part of my morning drive into Sierra Madre, whether sunny or cloudy….

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Tons of greenery, my fave. The picture on the right is of a Japanese garden and koi pond… ON THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CAMPUS at which I worked. I clearly went to the wrong school growing up.

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Spent tons of time seeing kids in their classrooms or in my treatment room. Working with children keeps me young. Or maybe it makes me feel old. I don’t know.

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After school, I went to the district’s OT/PT clinic and saw some more kiddos there. Looks like Chuck-E-Cheese’s, doesn’t it? Don’t worry. It was therapeutic.

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Farewell flowers and well-wishes from the awesome staff and teachers at my school site.

More than anything, I’m really going to miss all the amazeballs people I had the privilege of working with, from the kids (some of whom I worked with twice weekly for 4 years!) to the teachers/staff to my OT colleagues to the collaborative parents to… you get the point.

Leaving a job is always bittersweet, but I’m very excited for this next chapter in my life.

Onward, ho.

Tina Made a Banner (+BS deets)

Well, more like paper bunting. But I already have a blog post titled ‘Tina Made Bunting,’ so that wasn’t gonna work out, now was it?

First, a couple of details from my friend Grace’s bridal shower:

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Favors for the guests were tea cups from Daiso with a tea bag and some pretty paper shreddies (?) inside. Cups were bagged (clear plastic bags, also from Daiso) and tied with twine with a tag attached (printed on regular paper and mounted on pink scrapbook paper).

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Prizes for the games were single-use face masks. These are a Korean brand (Koreans get it right when it comes to skincare, seriously) and I wrapped sets of 3 in kraft paper with a strip of floral scrapbook paper glued on.

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And now, a quick paper banner/bunting tutorial!

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1) Brown flags: Cut into 6″x5″ squares. Cut out a triangle from the bottom– measure half the width, so 2.5″ in from the sides, and 1.25″ in from the bottom. [see pictures 1 & 2, top left and right]

2) Ivory flags: Cut into same shape as brown flag, but 1/2″ smaller around the entire perimeter. Mount on brown flags using glue or mounting squares. [see picture 3, bottom left]

3) Letters: Printed from Microsoft Word, font Tw Cen MT in size 350. Cut out letters. Glue onto ivory flags. [see picture 4, bottom right]

4) Optional heart: Draw (freehanded or from stencil or use clip art) and cut. Glue onto ivory flag.

5) Hole punch (I used a 3/16″ Crop-a-dile punch) at the top of brown flags, about 1.25″ in from left and right sides. Weave twine through holes from back to front.

…..I almost bored myself to sleep typing that out. No more bunting for awhile. I promise.

A Friend’s BS

A friend’s….  bridal shower. How did you know?

My dear friend Grace is getting married in a couple of weeks so her BMs (if you guess ‘bowel movements’ for this one you may be 0/2… fail) threw her a simple (albeit lovely!) bridal shower last Saturday. We rented out the clubhouse of her sister’s townhouse and kept it budget-friendly… maybe mostly for my sake ha ha…. ha. -_- As per usual for such affairs, I volunteered to do decorations/favors, which, despite the hands-on work it entails, I very much enjoy doing. A banner tutorial/a few extra shower details coming in tomorrow’s post!

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Decorations included a couple of banners, tons of colorful flowers in mason jars, some tissue poms (recycled from my sister’s bridal shower), and an underwear line. Pictured on the right is Grace, the almost-bride. Friends for 10 years and counting…!

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Our friend Prisca made PB&J bars and sugar cookies. I added a few long toothpicks with scrapbook paper flags glued to the top for a little pizazz. Lunch (not pictured) was catered from The Loft, a Hawaiian restaurant in Torrance.

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We asked guests to each bring one underwear that reflects their personality. Hanging them from twine + clothespins added instant color and decoration. Score. Grace had to match them to her guests and got… mayyybe 2 pairs correct. The rest went on her head. (The banner above the twine reads “she said yes!”– individual letters printed and mounted on card stock.)

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Grace is not a fan of games so after the underwear guessing game, the only other one we played was the question game (I REALLY couldn’t think of a better name okay?!) where we (earlier) recorded her fiancé on video answering a bunch of questions about their relationship. Grace had to guess his answers and the guests had to predict how many she would answer correctly. She did pretty terribly on this one too, but at least she had fun, as evidenced above. 🙂 [Photo credit for above two pictures: Grace Han]

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Left– Bride with her bridesmaids, and right– everyone! ‘Twas a good time spending time with the ladies before wedding day hits. 19 more days!

Lurvin’: Hedgehogs

IMPORTANT QUESTION:

What is the difference between a hedgehog and a porcupine?

EQUALLY IMPORTANT ANSWER:

Apparently, everything. They’re really not alike at all except in the way they look. Except porcupines are like the ugly step-sisters of hedgehogs.

With that said, I saw the most adorbz measuring cups (see #4 below) at Anthropologie yesterday and came home to do a frantic Google search of hedgehog-themed decor (Note: ‘adorbz’ and ‘obvi’ are in the same teenage-girl-lingo category. And I will use them both liberally. You’ve been warned.). I searched for like an hour and felt like it was the hugest time suck, minus the 4 hours I was on Pinterest after that, but whatevs. Here. YOU’RE WELCOME:

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1kipik toothpick holder ($25)//  2decoylab hedgehog clock ($56)// 3hedgehog door stop ($40.95)// 4- measuring hedgies ($36)// 5plush hedgehog ($4.99)// 6hedgehog lamp ($123)// 7mini box pouch ($18)

Happy hedgehogging! Or hedging. Maybe just hogging.

EDIT: Apparently Design*Sponge, who’s like the internet god of design/decor/anythingbeautifulinthisworld, did a similar post (except 4802x better) 4 months ago. FOUR MONTHS AGO. I should just shut down this blog *quiet sobs.*

Tina Made a Coffee Cozy

Note: This post is equivalent to a #waylatergram on IG.

Something in me screams “IT’S ALMOST CHRISTMAS!!!” when August hits. Mostly in a panicked way, because Christmas shopping ranks in my Top 3 first-world-problem-stressors, and there’s only ONE QUARTER of the year left to figure this all out. One quarter!! Extra stress points go to thinking of co-worker gifts. I guess I don’t have co-workers anymore -_-, but since I used to work at a school, there were always tons of people I wanted to give a little something to, and seemingly not enough money/time/creativity to go around to make it happen. So last year, I got a head start on co-worker gifts… and when I say head start, I mean… ONE YEAR IN ADVANCE.

Yup.

My friend and I got together at the end of 2011 (!) to try a reusable coffee cozy tutorial (which I can no longer find online…………..boo) to make these:

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Okay, well, not exactly that one. At first we made a ton with printed cotton fabrics and oversized buttons, but we quickly discovered that cotton burlap + wooden buttons (leaves and hearts) was the way to go…. i.e. the cutest.

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After our experimental session, I went home and made 20 more. It was like a one-woman sweatshop with tons of under the breath cursing, burning eyeballs, and picking thread off my carpet. I collected Starbucks tall coffee cups all year (i.e. 2012), minus the holiday season, when the cups are red and Christmas-y, which I assumed would make the final presentation look a little less clean. Let me just say that some Starbucks stores are extremely paranoid and stingy about their cups. One barista wrote “FREE CUP” in huge letters with a Sharpie before she gave it to me…. LEST I BREW MY OWN COFFEE AND SELL IT IN THEIR ONE CUP? Ridiculous, and a waste of a cup.

Moving on.

The cup served as instant packaging, and inside, I stuffed some red tissue paper, a Starbucks gift card, and a bag of chocolate covered almonds. Then I safety pinned a homemade tag to the cozy, wrapped the entire cup in clear cellophane, and tied it off with some red polka dotted grosgrain ribbon. Done and done.

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I’m sad I can’t find the original tutorial I used, but here are few that are pretty similar:

Practically Functional
Wait til Your Father Gets Home

These tutorials (as well as many others found online) seem to use felt, but I feel like using fabric + fusible interfacing (like I did) would be a bit more durable and washing-machine friendly.

What is fusible interfacing? Basically a non-woven fabric that adds stiffness/thickness to fabrics. One side is coated with a dry glue. When heat is applied (through an iron), it melts and adheres to the fabric that needs stiffening. Good for a coffee cozy because it provides some extra insulation as well. 🙂

Whew.

Only 4 months left ’til Christmas. I’m already behind. 😉