Friday, January 4, 2013

Tofu Larb - Zone Diet Recipe

My friend who inspired me to start running half marathons also got me into the zone diet.  I've never been the person to "diet" but decided to try it for the health benefits and to educate myself to make healthier decisions as a vegetarian.
I absolutely love it but am not here to preach about!  Just want to share my recipes for those who are already convinced and looking for some tasty zone meals.  If you're interested, look into it to see how you feel about it here.  

Zoned 4 block - Vegetarian Tofu Larb Recipe

(# of blocks) - these are the items that I count towards my blocks. All other items I do not count so depending on how strict you are, please make adjustments to meet your requirements.
Protein - (4) tofu
Carb - (2) green beans, (2) rice powder 
Fat - (4) peanuts

  • 8 oz. extra firm tofu
  • 2 cups diced green beans (I like Chinese long green beans for the extra crunch)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • shallots sliced
  • 1 tbs oil 
Group A:
  • Juice from 1-2 limes
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce (traditionally used with fish sauce)
  • 1/4 cup Rice powder
  • Salt to taste
Group B:
  • 3-5 Thai red chilies (chopped)- very spicy!!!
  • 1–2 stalks Lemongrass (chopped)
  • 2 stalks Green onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro (Leaves picked off the stem)
  • 1/2 cups Mint (Leaves picked off the stem)
  • 24 peanuts (chopped)
Drain and then crumble the tofu with a fork in a bowl.  Sauté the garlic and shallots with 1 tbs of oil (or less if if can get away with it) for a minute or two.  Add in the tofu to brown for five minutes, toss often.  Add in the green beans and cook for another 5 minutes or until you like the texture of your tofu and green beans.  I like my beans crunchy so I don't cook it for too long.
Remove from heat and add the Group A ingredients. Mix and taste. Adjust seasoning to your liking. Add ingredients from group B. 

I usually double this recipe to make two meals at once.  This dish is traditionally served as a chicken or beef Thai/Laotian salad.  I chose to have crunchy green beans, however it's more common to eat it with fresh cucumbers, lettuce, or cabbage! 

Enjoy!  Feel free to add suggestions and ask any questions.

Friday, October 26, 2012

DIY Junk Mail Cork Coasters

I came up with this project because I have so much cork scraps and my favorite material to upcycle with is junk mail!  It's so plentiful and I like revealing it's inner beauty, literally.  Here's an easy coasters project! 

{ Materials needed }    

{ Instructions }
  1. Cut junk mail with patterns into 4x4" squares to fit your cork squares.  Place on adhesive side of cork.
  2. Paint whatever pattern you'd like onto junk mail paper.
  3. Seal it with mod podge hard coat (purple bottle).  I chose this one because it is a non-toxic, waterproof sealant since we will be putting cold drinks on these coasters after all.  
I plan to add these packs of handmade coasters to Christmas wine baskets this year!

Happy upcycling!

Monday, October 8, 2012

12 Days of Christmas For Your Guy

I know it is early but for someone who DIY's it is crunch time for Christmas already!  I don't know how others do it but starting early is the only way to give myself time to make meaningful gifts for everyone on my list.  So this is the reason why I'm sharing this post now because I'm already in my brainstorming mode.

Last year I decided to do 12 days of Christmas for Sutty.  Knowing him, I numbered the gifts clearly so that he would open them correctly and what does he do?  Opens two gifts on the first day!  Men still act like boys sometimes, anyone agree with me?  This guy is 26 yet would go to the tree first thing in the morning to find his next gift.  I really enjoyed putting this together because it wasn't all just for him... The gifts were a mixture of dates for us to do and only a few actual material items.  I emphasize on spending quality time with each other instead of getting engulfed with material things during the holidays.  My goal was to only give 1-2 normal item gifts and the rest were things we would do anyway while trying to be as economical as possible.

Below is a description of each gift I gave which will hopefully give you some ideas.

Day 1: "Thanks for being a sweetheart."  Wrapped up some candies.  I don't encourage his sweet tooth so I would only give him a few and shared the rest with my coworkers, haha.
Day 2: "Movie date night :)"  You can either do this at home, go out to the theater, or even drive-through.  Gift wrap a bag of popcorn or favorite box of candy.  Microwavable popcorn packets is a good, cheap option.
Day 3: "We're going on an ice skating date Friday night, dress warm!"  I got discounted tickets to a local ice skating rink.  I use Groupon, LivingSocial, and Goldstar but there are so many more out there!  This date was more for myself.

Day 4: Some more candy.
Day 5: Banana Republic Men's Gloves - I wrote a note that said "These should come in handy for tonight's date."  This was our ice skating date night.

Day 6: honestly can't remember what I did here probably more candy... but I'll keep thinking about it.
Day 7: A box of cookies.
Day 8:  "Put this address in for tonight's date." I got discounted tickets to a local Christmas lights wonderland.  I thought it was going to be cheesy but it was surprisingly really fun. Again, I use Groupon, LivingSocial, and Goldstar but there are so many more out there!

Did you notice we can't take serious photos yet?

Day 9:  A candy cane.  I was getting lazy and brought candy canes in for work so left one at home for this guy.
Day 10:  "Pack warm for a weekend in the city!"  We live an hour away from the San Francisco so simply taking a weekend trip up there during the holidays is magical. Plus, Sutty loves to shop so it made it easy for me--Union Square.  I planned ahead and told our friends we'd be coming up.  We enjoyed dinner, went shopping, and then our friends showed up as a surprise to join us for the cable car ride.  It was beautiful at night time with all the city lights.  The cable car drops you off right next to Ghirardelli so we had a delightful late night dessert :)  Oh, I can't tell you how awesome this trip was! 

Day 11:  "You always make my heart melt."  Box of chocolates.
Day 12:  I made cuff links from rare Cambodian coins since his culture is very important to him.  They're subtle and classy.  This cost me around $7.

Here's another version I saw on Pinterest you should check out:

Please comment if you have additional ideas!  I need to mix a few new ideas this year.


Monday, October 1, 2012

DIY Beeswax Candles

I love an excuse to bring out my beeswax candles since they set such a romantic ambiance.  This photo is from my point view, sipping on some chianti while Sutty makes dinner in the background.  We don't do candlelit dinners every night but he does always cook dinner.  We've learned that I struggle in the kitchen and it's just a scene we'd like to avoid and so I get to set the table while he cooks the meals, works for me! :)

DIY Beeswax Candle Kits are available in my shop if you're interested!  Get them in time for the holidays which will be rolling in soon!  This is a very easy project. 

How-to: Beeswax Spiral Taper Candle
1.  Lay beeswax sheet on paper so that it does not stick to your working surface. Your sheet will come as a rectangle sheet, 8" x 16".  To create your spiral taper, cut the rectangle diagonally from one corner to the other so that you get two triangular sheets that looks like so: 

2.  Align wick along edge.  Flush the wick on one end which will be the bottom of your candle and then on the other end let it exceed the candle about 1 inch so that this will be the top of the candle.  

3.  Fold end of beeswax sheet over the wick.  Tuck it around wick to achieve a round basis for rolling the rest of the way. Work slowly to prevent cracking and breaking.  You can use a hair blow-dryer to warm up your sheet but don’t over heat it.

4.     Once you’ve reach the end of your sheet, press edges to flush to candle.

I use a collection of vintage and recycled glass bottles as my candle holders.  I place kraft paper on the table so that clean up is easy.  They're so beautiful and smell wonderful!  Get your kits here!

Happy candle rolling!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Egg Shell Candle Tutorial

Earth911 saw my egg candles on my Flickr account and asked for me to create a tutorial for their blog, uh yes!  Way to motivate me to finally get this tutorial together.  

Let's get started!

Supplies Needed:

a. Candle thermometer 
b. Clean, empty egg shells
c. Old pot for boiling water
d. Wick (or old birthday cake candles)
e. Used candles (once melted, you can also reuse the wicks)
f. Melting pour pot 

You can probably find most of these materials around the house, but you may want to head to your local crafts store for the candle thermometer and melting pour pot. in handy for candle crafts for years to come.

You have three different wick options. Brand new wire wicks can be purchased from your local crafts store. But I recommend recycling old birthday candles or wicks from used candles to cut back on environmental impact. 

You can salvage wicks when melting down old candles: Once candle wax is melted, simply extract the wick from the melting pot using tongs or a skewer.
Next time you're scrambling eggs, remember to salvage your egg shells for use in your candle project. 

Start by cracking the top of each egg with a spoon. Break shell away carefully until the hole is large enough to pour content out. 

Rinse your eggshells using hot water, and run your finger around the inside of the egg to remove any remaining shell pieces. 

Let them dry, and they're ready for crafting!
I repurposed wax from old, un-burnable candles for this reuse project. 

Reusing old candle wax is a great way to cut back on waste, but it can be tricky if you don't know what you're doing. So, keep these safety tips in mind while working on your project. 

>> Firstly, candle wax is flammable. This includes parrafin wax, soy wax and beeswax. So, do not use direct heat to melt your candles. Keep flammable items away from the stove, and never leave melting wax unattended. 

On the off-chance that the wax does catch fire, do not douse it with water. Keep a fire extinguisher or baking soda handy, and reach for one of these instead to avoid a crafting mishap.

Cover your workplace with newspaper for easy clean-up - since wax is not fun to clean off counters,.

To begin melting your wax, boil water in an old pot or saucepan and place the melting pot inside. 

Add used candles to the double-boiler setup, and heat to between 125 and 150 degrees Farenheit. 

Check the temperature frequently with a candle thermometer, and never leave wax unattended. 

Tip: Don't let your mixture get hotter than 250 degrees Farenheit or the vapors could become flammable.
Trying to fill your egg shells with wax all in one pour could yield less-than-perfect candles so I do two pours to give the candles a smooth surface.

For the first time around, pour melted wax into eggshells about three-fourths of the way.
Allow your candle wax to cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Once the wax has slightly hardened, gently insert wicks into the center of your egg shell candles. 

Before moving on to the next step, your wax should be soft yet thick enough to hold up the wick by itself.
The first pour will create a concave around the wick. So, a second pouring will fix this. 

Top your candles off with more melted wax, enough to create a smooth surface.
Allow your candles to set for at least two hours before using.
Float them in a bowl of water or use egg candle holders.  

Happy upcycling!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Quality time in Napa

Due to technical difficulties, I have no idea how to retrieve my old blog so it looks like EcoMonster is just going to have some blogging gaps.  Oh well!  

I had such a great summer this year, sadly it went by so quickly with autumn rolling in now.  Recap on our anniversary trip to Yountville/Napa.  Sutty gave me one clue as to where we were going and he said that we had to wake up at 5am and I immediately knew we were going hot air ballooning!  I've got mad planning skills...

We have been dating for three years now and I have to say that setting aside quality time together is very important, even when you live together.  Actually, especially because you live together!  You get into your routine and before you know it, the relationship goes bland so we like to do mini getaways to remind us why we should not strangle each other.  Relationships are like gardens, you need to actively tend to it to keep it beautiful and alive.   

Do you have any fun date ideas to share?


Monday, February 23, 2009

Upcycled Zebra Earrings

z e b r a . e a r r i n g s
{recycling process}
I had mini glass beads sitting in a box for a while, the ones where you add to your fish bowl or plants as decor. I got them for my little sister's fish but they've been useless since Skittles passed away :( So these earrings were definitely inspired by my little sister who is obsessed with zebra print. Every single thing that she owns is decked out with zebra, zebra, zebra! I took my old black nail polish from last year that got clumpy which doesn't look good on nails anymore, and hand painted the animal design. I love painting my nails and I always go for crazy wild colors but when I come home they just don't look great on me. So I'm satisfied that I've found another usage for them. I glued on surgical steel (hypoallergenic) posts and backings.

{materials recycled // from}
paint // nail polish
glass beads // my stash of collected junk

These are made to order so if you're interested, please allow 1-2 days from the day purchased for the earrings to be shipped out to you.