April 17, 2014
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I’m just going to jump right in here: you know what’s delicious?  Chinese food.  You know the kind of Chinese food that is perhaps the MOST delicious?  The CRISPY BEEF kind.

 

My local and favorite Chinese food restaurant has a great version called Schezuan Beef which is both spicy and sweet.  Even though I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be able to replicate that exact flavor (it’s awfully specific and I’ve never had anything similar elsewhere), I was pretty sure that I could think of a flavor that would suit me.  And ginger is hands-down that flavor: it’s sweet and spicy all at once, with a flavor that really lends itself to Asian cuisine.

 

I love the idea of making this Crispy Ginger Beef to top some coconut rice and a large scoop of steamed broccoli.  And if you make it at home, there’s plenty of opportunity for seconds and thirds!

 

Crispy Ginger Beef from alyssaandcarla.com

 

April 16, 2014
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preserved lemons from www.alyssaandcarla.com

 

Preserving lemons is one of those projects that makes me so, so happy.  It’s really easy to do, and you end up with bright, salty, acidic lemon that you can add as a secret ingredient to your dishes for months to come.  

 

But what dishes, exactly?  Preserved lemons are a slam dunk in Moroccan food.  You can’t go wrong with a classic chicken tagine, especially.  But they’re also a great addition to salad dressings, roasted vegetables, as a relish on fish or lamb chops, and in pasta or grain salads.   Or make these delicious seared lamb chops with lemon & tahini sauce.

 

April 15, 2014
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If you’ve never switched out the hardware on your drawers, you’re missing out.  There are tons of glam options, of course- you’ve probably seen several ideas at Anthropologie!  Luckily, drawer pulls are super simple to pick up at any hardware store and even easier to customize!

 

My bathroom is the epitome of a “rental”: a couple dings in the enamel sink, a vanity that doesn’t match the mirrored medicine cabinet, a curtain rod that was installed backward so that the shower curtain rings catch when you try to close them.  On the plus side, the room gets tons of light and is in great shape and mostly white.  Since I tend to buy blue bath towels (and striped ones, obviously) I decided I needed to make some inexpensive new drawer pulls to pull the space together.  I came up with these adorable nautical drawer pulls, featuring a freehand anchor in navy and white!

 

DIY Nautical Drawer Pull from alyssaandcarla.com

 

April 14, 2014
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lamb chops with lemon and tahini dipping sauce at www.alyssaandcarla.com

 

Lamb chops are so, so easy to cook.  They’re kind of fancy, though, which makes them great dinner party or special-occasion food.  And they’re a slam-dunk for Easter.  Why not go a little less traditional with your Easter lamb this year, though, and make these seared lamb chops with lemon & tahini sauce?  They hint at Moroccan flavors without being inaccessible for someone who isn’t very daring.  And if you want a little more punch in the sauce, just add a bit of za’atar.

April 11, 2014
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Alyssa's Week

 

 

tokyo sky     

“The days are getting longer and there has been some spectacular late afternoon skies here lately.  But the highlights of this week were the meals.  We ate like kings!  Amazing sushi, homemade pasta with fresh spring vegetables, a chipotle shrimp salad, a new ramen joint with curry gyoza, and beef sushi (if you’re a carnivore in Tokyo, I’ve got a great place for you. Let me know if you’re interested!).  Wow.  I think I need a week of salads to make up for this!”

 

Suburban Turmoil’s series mocking Pottery Barn catalogues cracks me up.  Her latest is great, but the PB Kid’s one makes me actually laugh out loud.

 

* Ohmygod, you guys, less than two weeks until PARIS and ROME.  I’m freaking out.  And this just made me more excited.

 

*I’m considering an Easter brunch this year.  Asparagus bread pudding, anyone?  And maybe some rosemary-peach bellinis?

 

Carla's Week

 

 Carla's Weekly Love Letter for 4.11.14

 

“I was shopping in Target with my nieces last week (a more-than-weekly activity) and when we reached the Easter section, I asked them what their favorite Easter candy was.  And then I found out that they didn’t HAVE ONE.  How do I have family that doesn’t understand the proper appreciation of seasonal candy?  Look, you can’t get those jelly eggs YEAR ROUND, kids.  Sure, Peeps have expanded to Christmas, but look, they used to only be yellow chicks.  CADBURY MINI EGGS NEED TO BE APPRECIATED.”

 

* Despite my desire to get through every sample and full-size bottle of beauty items in my bathroom before buying any more, I recently picked up Loreal’s Advanced Haircare Triple Resist Ultimate Strength Solution and I LOVE IT.  I spray it on before blow-drying  and it really helps my hair feel more moisturized and strong.

 

* Let’s face it, I love learning.  If I could, I would collect degrees like I collect magazines.  If you like learning new things too, check out Skillshare.  They offer a bunch of courses by subject or software and it’s a great way to pick up a new, well, skill.

 

* I may not have a whole garden to show for it, but I love plants and flowers.  Thankfully, I have a few small projects planned to add some green to my life.  If you do too, you might love these amazing DIY seed bombs from Be Crafy.  I wish you many, many wildflowers!

    aroundtheweb

 

Energy We Bring added Carla’s DIY Blueberry Exfoliating Mask to their list of Favorite Food-Based Beauty Recipes. 

 

Addicted 2 Fun loved two of our crafts this week: Alyssa’s Watercolor Easter Eggs and Carla’s DIY Clay Cupcake Toppers.

 

Eating Well 101 added Alyssa’a DIY Mason Jar Travel Cups to their 10 Crafty Mason Jar Ideas for Spring.

April 10, 2014
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I know this isn’t a revolutionary thought, but isn’t it kind of neat how apples are a year-round fruit?  I’m just as likely to crave apples on crisp fall days as I am to shovel apple pie into my mouth all summer long.  And that feels like a Very Good Thing.  When I was making my chocolate chip hot fudge sauce a few weeks ago, I realized that apple pie is another perfect addition to an ice cream bar.  Sure, maybe you won’t need apple pie AND sprinkles AND maraschino cherries, but I bet I could talk you into a thick slice of pie with vanilla bean ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

 

 

These apple pie bites have a few key advantages.  Maybe you just want a bite of two of apple pie flavor.  Check!  Or maybe it’s the middle of summer and hot and the thought of a pie cooking for upwards of an hour in a blazing oven is enough to make you want to cry.  Well, these bake in just fifteen mintues!  One thing is for sure: you won’t make these just once.  These guys have so much flavor and texture you’ll want to make them all the time.

 

 

Apple Pie Bites from alyssaandcarla.com

 

April 09, 2014
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truffled deviled eggs with prosciutto crisps at www.alyssaandcarla.com

 

I feel like I’m one of the few people in the world who doesn’t like mayonnaise.  My view may be slightly skewed, between my husband and Japan.  My husband tells stories of going on a monthly Costco trip with his mom when he was a kid and coming home with a giant tub of mayonnaise, so that should indicate what a big fan he is.  And Japan is surprisingly into mayo.  An expat friend recently told me how shocked she was to discover it in her supermarket sushi roll, which was a new one for both of us.  If there’s even a smear of it on my sandwich or burger, I consider it completely ruined.

 

truffled deviled eggs with prosciutto crisps at www.alyssandcarla.com

 

April 08, 2014
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Despite my hefty paper product obsession, I never feel like I have ENOUGH.  I have shelves full of stationery and cards and specialty envelopes and varying thicknesses of colored card stock, but I still want to craft my own.  I use washi tape like Alyssa did for her masculine birthday card and colored markers and stamps and calligraphy pens.  My mom loves using stickers on her letters and birthday cards (yes, it IS adorable) and sometimes I channel her and add a few of my own.  It’s an exceptionally varied infatuation is what I’m saying.

 

Today let’s talk about how to make this fun paint dot card:

 

DIY Paint Dot Card from alyssaandcarla.com

April 07, 2014
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I love decorating Easter eggs.  It takes me back to my childhood, and let’s face it, it’s just plain fun.

 

watercolor easter eggs at www.alyssaandcarla.com

 

But the kits just don’t give me the flexibility I want.  I want to be able to make my own mix of colors and have more control over the vibrancy.  And as much as I like the effect of using a crayon to create designs, I also want to be able to actually paint the egg.  So I thought I’d try watercolors as a new option.

 

April 04, 2014
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Alyssa's Week

 

 

cherry blossom sunset in tokyo from www.alyssaandcarla.com     

“The cherry blossoms are out in full force, as well as other flowers.  The whole city is covered in green and pink.  It’s beautiful, but the accompanying allergies are killing me.  I guess it’s worth it, though!  Our days are full of walks along the river, cherry blossoms, street food from all over the world (lots of Japanese, obviously, but also Korean, Thai, Turkish, Indian and American snacks), and too much beer and sake.  If you ever get the chance to be in Japan during cherry blossom season, don’t pass it up.”

 

*The hubby and I are gearing up for a trip to Paris and Rome in a few weeks!  I’m collecting must-eat/must-do articles and suggestions.  It’s not our first trip to either city, so we’re searching for the hidden gems and considering doing things like cooking classes and cooking with local produce in our airbnb kitchens.  I’ve got my heart set on finding some antique kitchenware.  Does anyone have any suggestions for less-touristy things to do in Paris and Rome?

 

*I love matcha, and I can’t wait to try this matcha mint iced tea recipe as the weather warms up.  Think of the fun variations, too!  Add ginger syrup. Or lemonade.  Or make it sparkling.  There has to be a cocktail in there somewhere, too…

 

*Do you suffer from a cluttered refrigerator?  I can’t think of a better way to clean it up than with some fromage fort.  Take all those little bits of random cheese and make something fantastic with them.  Yes, please!

 

Carla's Week

 

 Carla's Weekly Love Letter for 4.4.2014

 

“So… I have a pretty hardcore magazine addiction.  I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the pile by my sofa has grown from a few manageable inches to a couple feet of terror.  (Am I deranged in thinking that even a few inches are manageable?)  I spend so much time reading and consuming online that I forget how much I love sitting with a cup of tea and glossy magazines full of beautiful photos and interesting tidbits.  I’m resolving to whittle my stack down over the next few weeks and I’m dying to know: do you like magazines?  Would it be at all interesting to share some of the tips/tricks/features I find in my stack?”

 

* Favorite April Fool’s Joke: I’m no fan of April Fool’s Day (I don’t really dig making people feel foolish), but I’ll never forget Google’s joke from two years ago called GMail Motion.  My coworker and I spent about 20 hilarious minutes contorting into every pose on the printable motion guide.

 

* Favorite Savory Recipe: After an especially challenging work week, I scoured my Pinterest boards for something hearty and delicious for this weekend’s dinner.  I think this Grilled Flank Steak with Chimichurri Butter is a great choice.  (I’ll have to add some carbs to this because you may remember  I foolishly signed up for a half marathon with a coworker a few months ago.  Somehow those months have passed in a blink and the race is Sunday!)

 

* Favorite New Hotel to Dream About: Opening soon in Sausalito (just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco), you should take a peek at The Mansion at Casa Madrona.  Check it out even if you’re not planning a west coast trip, the photos are divine and will have you wishing for summer.

    aroundtheweb

DIY & Crafts included Carla’s painted burlap coasters in a roundup of 100 Gorgeous Burlap Projects.

 

Cup of Bloom put Carla’s mint lip duo in their “Make Your First Homemade Lip Balm” post.