February 27, 2013

Terrariums and Succulents

Planting Succulents via Tried & Twisted

This weather is a terrible tease. The other day, I swear I felt a warm breeze; then I actually saw the sun when I woke up in the morning. My hopes were raised! But then it rained, and the cold gray skies of winter returned.

That silly Punxsutawney Phil promised an early spring and yet the gray days and bitter cold just drag on.
I suppose it serves us right for taking our weather reports from a rodent, but it's still a fun tradition*-- even if it is a bit inaccurate. 

With the sun peaking above the horizon when I get home from work, my green thumb has been itching to get started with the garden outside. Since it is still too cold for that, I looked around inside the house for some dirt to set my fingers into.

Behold--my terrarium!
He's seen better days: What happens to succulents without light

It's in sad shape, isn't it? My terrarium was a gift from my fella over a year ago, and the plants thrived for a while...until I took it into work. Locked within the dark windowless cubicle environment with nothing but UV light to keep it company, each plant withered, cringed, and gave up the ghost. All except for this last plant. See how he tries so desperately to reach a light source? What a trooper.

So for a quick afternoon project, I gave my terrarium a face-lift with fresh dirt, new succulents, and a brand new spot by the window. In 5 minutes and for about $10, I brought a little color into the house and added a touch of natural decoration to the place. Care to see how it was done?

February 25, 2013

Sushi Sashay: Tips for Making Sushi at Home

Sushi Sashay: Tips for Making Sushi at Home

There was a time, not that long ago, when I was not a foodie. I did not bake, I did not cook, and I certainly didn't have the enthusiasm necessary to blog about food!

So what transpired to change a woman who was quite satisfied with a boring fried egg or turkey sandwich to long to try curry, quiche, or sushi? Quite simply, I fell in love.

While dating and falling in love with the man who is now my husband, many of our date nights were spent in the kitchen collaboratively cooking, trying out exotic produce or new recipes. Cooking became a way to show him my love, to express my care for him, through the dishes I lovingly made with him by my side. It has brought us so much enjoyment and closeness in daily life. Cooking is a way of saying that we care for each other, and because we care about each other, we want only the best on each others' plates.

As my friend Andrea Lazarus at Classy Local phrased it, preparing a meal for someone is just a "wonderful gesture. It's a gift of time, food, thoughtfulness, and love."

So this year for my birthday, my fella showed the ultimate gesture of love by personally making the delicious high-class meal of sushi, bringing five-star cuisine into our home kitchen.

Think that meal is far too challenging to prepare at home? Read on for a few tips on getting started with sushi.

February 16, 2013

Letters of Love Take Flight

Paper Airplane Love Note via Tried and Twisted

Valentine's Day has come and gone. Can you feel the love?

Since I share my birthday with the annual commemorations for the St Valentine, the holiday has always had a special place in my heart. The day of whimsical love always served as a reminder to me growing up of the love for all the people I care about, friends and family.

Now for seven years, this holiday has been even more special as I spend them with the man of my life. But the holiday isn't about Hallmark cards and pre-packaged candies for us, so we almost always create something personal for each other to truly express our love.

Update: The full length video seems to have been removed from YouTube, so here's the Trailer version.

Recently, my fella shared this adorable video with me. This short from Disney is about a man who falls in love at first sight with a woman he passes at the train station. He sees her again in the building across the way, so he tries to get her attention with one paper airplane after another. The ending is magical, so I won't spoil it for you. This video inspired me for this year's Valentine's Day love note. Care to see how I made it?

Paper Airplane Love Note via Tried & Twisted blogspot

February 11, 2013

First Try: A Doughnut for Fasnacht Day

Baked Glazed Doughnuts via Tried & Twisted

In the south, they celebrate with the wild and crazy parties of Mardi Gras. But here in Pennsylvania, we celebrate with the sweet doughy goodness of the Fasnacht.

Every "Fat Tuesday" or Shrove Tuesday, the Pennsylvanian Dutch break out the lard and warm up their deep fryer to make the sweet dessert that is a heavy-weight of the doughnut world. As part of the tradition of Lent, they emptied their pantries into one heavy delectable dessert.

To celebrate this tradition, many around town enjoy doughnuts and fasnachts alike. I have yet to learn the traditional family recipe for fasnachts, but I am learning how to bake doughnuts, thanks to my mother-in-law's generous gift of a doughnut-baking starter kit. Today, in the spirit of the donut holiday, I tried out a scratch recipe for a basic glazed doughnut based on Food.com website. The glaze recipe came from The Pioneer Woman.

February 9, 2013

Pop-up Valentine's Day Card

DIY Pop-Up Valentine's Day Card via Tried & Twisted

If you are a devoted follower of Pinterest, like myself, then perhaps you have often seen the same DIY craft repeated over and over again. Sure it sounds like a good idea, which is why it's so popular. But who has actually tried this craft?

Well, part of my mission here on Tried&Twisted is to try out these popular posts to see if the results are just as stunning as the professional's. Is it easier or harder than they said? Can I add my own twist to the design?

Today, I'll share my experiences with making the popular I <3 U pop-up card for Valentine's Day. Homemade cards have so much charm and personal care. What better way to show that you love and care for someone than to take the extra time to create a love note just for your fella?

February 7, 2013

DIY Celtic Knot Heart Pillow

DIY Celtic Knot Heart Pillow: Tried&Twisted.blogspot.com

With Valentine's Day on its way, it's time to deck the home with an ode to love. In a quest for unique and cozy Valentine's decor, I created this lovely Celtic knot heart pillow. Made of comfy knit jersey, this Celtic knot pillow makes a statement in the room while also providing a cozy place to snuggle up during the holiday of love.

Celtic knots are a design that are near and dear to my man due to his part-Irish ancestry. My search for a new way to use the Celtic knot pattern, led me to Cut Out and Keep's tutorial featuring the idea to twist a long rope-like pillow into a Celtic knot pattern. I love the idea because it is unlike any pillow I've seen at the average department store.

DIY Celtic Knot Heart Pillow: Tried&Twisted.blogspot.com

Ready to give it a try?

February 2, 2013

First Try: Patachou Pastry

Patachou: Tried&Twisted.blogspot.com

Not everything works out at the first try. An important lesson in baking is not to expect perfection and allow for the little lessons that come with each new treat. 

However, I'm always the last person to remember this lesson. This dessert I originally planned to show you was supposed to have a delicious fig filling, but sadly the filling turned too stiff and the process of filling the pastry was trickier than I expected. But, lesson learned and I'm sure I'll be able to produce a fantastic treat on my next try. In the meanwhile, these pastries are just as delicious in their own right and worth sharing with you all. 

Patachou: Tried&Twisted.blogspot.com

Patachou or Pate a choux is a puff pastry that's airy and eggy, sweet and versatile. It's the pastry you'll commonly find surrounding your eclairs or beignets. The dough can be used for savory or sweet variations, but today we'll be looking at the sweet.

I based my recipe on master-chef-mixalot Alton Brown's recipe, but I also took guidance from Martha Stewart as well, for added tutelage.  This recipe will make about a dozen.