Monday, October 29, 2012

Oh Hey There, Halloween

I'll start out by saying I'm not huge on Halloween. I don't like gore, I don't like being scared, and despite my theatre background, I don't really love costumes (I hate masks). But we live in a neighborhood with a lot of young families, and I was feeling a little inspired this year. Besides, I do love candy, and decorating, and I especially love rocking a good theme! Halloween's not all bad, I guess :) 

We have a great lawn for Halloween decorations, as it turns out. I had this idea in my head that included tombstones and a skeleton coming up out of the ground, but of course, it's only a few days until Halloween, so I knew selections would be limited at the party stores. After striking out all over town, I decided to swing by Walgreens on the off chance they had some scraps left. I figured it would be all Christmas there, but maybe there would be a few things I could use? Turns out, Walgreens is THE BOMB for last-minute Halloween shopping. I did have to scavenge a bit for the tombstones, but I had my pick of all sorts of things, and I have to say, I am pretty pleased with the execution! 

The lawn...spiderwebs, light-up tombstones, and a skeleton coming out of
the ground. Bingo. There are even motion-activated light-up/noise-making
eyes in the bushes, and giant spiders. The always-crooked bird bath seems
somehow more appropriate amidst all the graveyard stuff, no?
Welcome to the porch.
Beware the moving, noisy ghost at the top
of the stairs!
The window. The saggy-pumpkin-looking thing on the left
is actually a snake (why? not sure. it came in the pack.).
Jack-o-Lantern and orange lights to frame it all.
Oh, and an Obama poster. Because even though it's almost
Halloween, it's almost the election too.

I'm pretty stoked on our first big decoration! Next year, I'd like to get even more tombstones and maybe even some of those "popping out of the grave" zombie people, and make a whole graveyard. 

Have you decorated your house? What kinds of things do you have on the Halloween agenda? Are you watching Hocus Pocus?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Crafternoon: Festive Fall Style

Classy Halloween
Cheese Things
So, I like to host this occasional little gathering called Crafternoon. It's a chance for my lady friends and I to get together without dudes, without kids, without pets...without responsibilities, really. It's a time for cheese and onion dip and chocolate and wine and movies and girltalk. And occasionally, crafting. Basically, it's awesome.

I've decided that now that I have this great-for-hosting home, and it's finally in a place where it's easy to host people (aka: the living room is not filled with boxes), I'm going to make Crafternoon a more regular occurrence. Maybe even monthly. Watch out.

This Saturday, I hosted four girlfriends, most of which had never actually met each other, and it turned out to be the most fabulous Crafternoon yet! Y'all know I love a theme, and I went with "Classy Halloween"/"Fall.  I kept the food and decor to colors that seemed appropriate, especially the cheese (sage derby, chocolate cheddar, brie with an orange-colored rind, cinnamon toscano, goat with fig jam...and pumpkin fondue). And of course, I included my classic onion dip with carrots and potato chips. I even baked bread (garlic rosemary, more on that bread later this week), which turned out to be delicious with the fondue. Not that that's too surprising ;)

The spread.
The fondue. Baked in a pumpkin. 
The pumpkin brownies.
And the 2nd table centerpiece.
There was hat-knitting and photo-printing and art-framing and and secret-gift-sewing and jewelry-making and Halloween-costume-creating! I'm seriously impressed with us for the amount of crafting we accomplished. Oh, and we watched Magic Mike. So there's that.

I think the next one will be at the end of November, to work on the post-Fall, pre-Winter crafts. I have this in mind, myself (though I have a ton of ideas right now).

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Guest Post: Dori from Build.Create.Kenya

The following is a guest post from my dear friend Dori...

Hello Friends of Kim's Kitchen Sink!  My name is Dori, and our friend Kim was great enough to allow me to introduce you all to my new non-profit,  Build.Create.Kenya (BCK).

BCK is a
 non-profit organization that is dedicated to improving schools in the impoverished and under-served areas of Kenya as they become self-sufficient through building management, school sponsorship, teacher training, and the integration of arts and music programs.  Our organization was founded in 2011 by four dedicated volunteers who bring a combined experience of thirty years traveling to Kenya and working with the country’s children in the education sector. 

We are hosting an official launch party in Los Angeles on October 27th from 1:00 - 8:00 PM, and you are all invited!  We are going to have amazing musical acts, great Kenyan artists doing live art, awesome raffle prizes, and will be raising money for education in East Africa!  This event is FREE to attend, and all ages are welcome!  For more information and to RSVP click here.  See you there!

If you're going o be in LA on the 27th, you should definitely try to attend!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wearing my Produce

A few months ago, I was approached by a company called Fresh Produce, to see if I'd be interesting reviewing something from their line...of clothing. I wasn't sure what to expect (skirts that look like squash?  pants covered in pears?), but was pleasantly surprised to find their collection of beachy, outdoorsy, casual-yet-put-together clothes.

Admittedly, a lot of what they offer seemed a bit too old for me (maybe geared more towards the middle-aged beach-living crowd...I'll get there someday), and there are a lot of sundresses that are just not practical for my everyday life, but I found quite a few things to add to my wish list! I like that Fresh Produce is co-founded and run by a mom-entrepreneur, and that the clothes are primarily made in the US. That's always nice to find, no?

They sent me the Pintuck Knit Tunic, and I was skeptical. It's really hard for me to wear tunics without looking pregnant. Usually there's some sort of empire waist or tieback, and it's never low enough to account for my...ahem...chest region. But this tunic is awesome. Because there's no "tieback" part, there's no awkward pulling around my ribcage, and the "pintucks" actually sit right about where they should. It's lightweight, delightfully flowy, and looks pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. I've worn it with yoga pants for an "around the house casual" look, and with jeans to go out and about.

Because I lacked sufficient time to schedule a photoshoot (even though it's taken me months to get this wimpy little review together), and because real-life pictures are better anyway, here are some photos of me eating. In my tunic. (photos taken on my iPhone, by my husband, at the EatRealFest, which is awesome)

Pardon the sun in my eyes and across the front
of the shirt, but I was trying to get a "front of
shirt" picture." I think it's actually more flattering
in person than on the website. Or in this picture.
This one shows the drapeyness well, I think.
I need to not look directly into the sun when
I'm taking pictures.

And right now, ALL of their tunics are 50% off! A great deal, because I'm cheap, and I would never spend $74 on a cotton shirt, even if it is produced in the US and made by a very nice lady (sorry, just trying to keep it real here). But $36.99? I might just buy myself another one. In the same color. You know, in case one is dirty.

While Fresh Produce did send me the shirt free of charge, I received no other compensation for this post, and all opinions and awkward photos are my own.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday Funday

Today was a day that included Shimmy Pop, a pedicure, baked salmon w/scalloped potatoes, a giant sinkful of dishes, homemade parsley pesto and chicken stock, and a crock pot of chili that is chillin' in the fridge, ready to cook while we're at work tomorrow. Unfortunately, no-knead bread had to be put on hold due to lack of rising/baking time. I'm exhausted, but it has been a very productive day. #bragbragbrag

Curious about that parsley pesto? I thought so. See, our garden produces an unseemly amount of parsley. I've foisted it upon our neighbors more than once, upon peeking over the fence and seeing them in their yard while I'm gardening. It grows back insanely quickly, and there's just no way we can possibly use it fast enough. A few days ago, I decided to just rip out as much as I could hold in my hands, thinking I'd find something to do with it. Only once I'd brought it inside did I realize how much I'd picked...
Behold! A vase-load of parsley!
A mere glass cannot contain thee!
So that's a lot of parsley, right? I thought I remembered reading about parsley pesto somewhere on the internet once, and I figured that even if I was mistaken, there's basil pesto...and arugula why not parsley pesto? For good measure, I Googled. Turns out, parsley pesto is definitely a thing, and plenty of people had their opinions on what makes a good one. Since I was Googling on my iPhone in the kitchen, I chose the second one in my search results (the first called for walnuts, which I didn't have,  and the second one had few ingredients and several stars).

Y'all, did you know that pesto is insanely easy to make?

Seriously, it took like, 5 minutes. Maybe less. I doubled the recipe, because hello, tons of parsley. 4 cups, to be exact. I know. FOUR CUPS of parsley. From our garden. I also added more olive oil as I saw fit, and lemon juice, because I'm a rebel in the kitchen.

4 cups of parsley = 1 cup of pesto. Just FYI. This shiz is delicious, and I can't wait to spread it on my everything, starting with a whole wheat English muffin (with cream cheese and lox) tomorrow morning.

And you know, because I'm an overachiever, I decided today would be the day to finally make chicken stock out of the gallon-sized bag of chicken scraps that's been in the freezer for a year.

Giant lump of frozen chicken bits. 
Celery scraps, tons of parsley stems (see: pesto), and some
dried herbs from the fridge. I later added scraps from the
bell pepper and onion I used for the chili.
Oh yeah, while the stock was simmering, I made chili.
See prev: overachiever.
Surprise! Chili!
The liner of our crock pot comes out.
I put it in the fridge overnight, so I can just
take it out in the morning before I go to work.
Set it and forget it, yo.  
After making the chili, it was time for a little chillaxin' on the couch while the stock continued to simmer. Around 10pm, I took out the trash, tidied up around the house, and knew it was time to face the beast. In a small moment of panic, realizing I was going to have to strain this sucker, I Googled "how to strain homemade stock" and the general consensus of the Internet was that I should line my strainer with coffee filters, to prevent little bits of stuff from getting in my stock. 

Coffee filter magic.
I started by scooping the biggest chunks of veggies/chicken bits into the strainer with a slotted flat spooney thing (what are those things called?). Then I used a ladle to start pouring the liquid over the whole pile until the pot was light enough to lift and pour easily, trying to keep all the liquid within the confines of the coffee filter.
Bowl #1 full, time to move on to Bowl #2.
Strainer full of gross-looking scraps.
It totally (mostly) worked - my stock is a bit cloudy, but IMO, that's to be expected with my "no recipe, throw it in the pot" stock. But how to store my newly made gallons of stock? I don't have enough room in the freezer to do this, so I'm making do. The plan was to use quart-size freezer bags, but it seems I only have one left. What? Where are all of my baggies? Quelle horreur!

Temporary storage
The two cylindrical containers in the middle are freezer-safe, hold 3 cups each, and are now tucked gently into the freezer. I have no idea how much stock is in the rectangular container and the two circular ones...I'd guess a total of another 6-8 cups. Tomorrow, I'll stop by the store for more quart-size freezer bags, so I can redistribute and freeze them flat for easy storage and thawing. Marvelous.

I tasted the stock when it was still pretty hot, and the flavor was frankly weaker than I'd hoped. I probably should've salted it, or used less water, or used stronger-tasting veggies or something. But it's my first batch, and it'll probably get more concentrated, flavor-wise, after some time in the freezer? Besides, stock is just the first step in making soups and risottos and all sorts of delicious things that get more spice and flavor added when you cook it, so I'm not too worried.

Ed note: Before putting the three non-frozen tubs in baggies, I decided to try the "reduce by boiling" method. This method ("method" = put it in a pot and boil it until it reduces down to a flavor you like) gets rid of some of the excess water, leaving you with a more concentrated stock. Which is perfect when your stock is too watery. Easy. I took the biggest pan I had (pan = better than pot, because more surface area = faster boiling), dumped in the two circular containers, and let it go. It actually reduced TOO much, and I was left with maybe 1/4 cup of supercrazyconcentrate. To water it down a tad, I added the rectangle container and boiled THAT down, with the supercrazyconcentrate (because I didn't want to remove it from the pan). About 30 min or so later, it had reduced by about half, and I had a quart of stock-tasting liquid. Delightful! It's now in the freezer, in a quart-sized ziplock freezer bag, ready tot use...someday. I'll probably end up reducing the 6 cups of watery stock too, but I didn't feel like thawing and boiling, since it was already pretty late :)

Not bad for one day.

And oh...I lit pumpkin candles. To offset my little white pumpkin. Because even though it was toasty warm outside today, it's fall. And I'm ready, clearly.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Technogel Giveaway: A winner!

Thanks to all who entered my Technogel pillow giveaway! Congratulations to Tizz! I'll contact you via email to arrange delivery of your new pillow :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway