Imaginary Friends Show

Gallery Nucleus is having an upcoming show called Imaginary Friends that starts April 19th and I’ll be a part of it! My piece is done in gouache and depicts an imaginary tea party where a girl enjoys the company of her fancy pet friends. Being in the middle of a very hectic work schedule, creating this piece was a nice and relaxing break.

It’ll be available for purchase on Nucleus’ site after the opening reception. If you’re in the LA area, be sure to check out the gallery!

pottery classes & Mermaid planter

Last year I took my first pottery class and had an amazing time; so much so that I just signed up for another round starting in April. Here are photos of a mermaid ledge planter I’d made, my favorite piece from last year’s class…her leafy hair has gotten a lot crazier from before!

Expect to see many more pottery updates in the next few months :).

Speculaas Cookies

Ever since Josh’s grandma gave us some speculaas to go with our tea one afternoon, I’ve been hooked on them. These are the ones I first tried and that’s what I’m used to in terms of flavor. So when I tried making my own batch of speculaas with an old Dutch recipe, both Josh and I weren’t keen on how it tasted. The blend of spices made it taste almost like eggnog, but not in a way that we enjoyed.

I stumbled on this recipe from House on a Hill that I adjusted a bit and ended up loving. It tastes similar to the store-bought speculaas, but we like it even more since the cookies turned out nice and crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Below is the recipe I used:

- 3/4 cup softened butter, unsalted
- 2 cups brown sugar (spooned, not packed)
- 1 egg
- 1 cup ground almonds (I grounded blanched skinless almonds)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon each of salt, cloves, and ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon each of cardamom and allspice
- 2 teaspoons cocoa
- grated rind of one lemon
- 3 cups flour (Plus a 1/2 cup extra for dusting your mold)
- 1-2 tablespoons milk

Mix your spices together in a small bowl and set to the side. (The cinnamon, salt, cloves, ginger, cardamom, allspice, and cocoa)

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer using the flat beater attachment. Add the egg followed by the grated lemon rind, ground almonds, and spice mixture. When everything is nicely combined, slowly add in the flour. Lastly, pour in 1-3 tablespoons of milk little by little. When your dough is able to be packed into a ball without crumbling, that’s enough milk (I used about 2 tablespoons).

*In the original recipe it tells you to refrigerate the dough for 30-60 minutes to prevent any sticking to the mold. I put my dough in the fridge for 1 hour, but found that it still stuck to the inside of the flour-dusted mold. I ended up working flour into the dough by hand until it was dry enough (but not crumbly) to use the molds without sticking. Next time I’ll just skip the pre-refrigeration step.

Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Make sure you dust the mold with flour and tap out any excess before placing your dough inside it. Form your dough into little clumps, make sure there are no cracks or seams on the side that will go into the mold or these might show after baking (You can see this happened to some of my fish below). Push the dough firmly into the mold, I used a rolling pin to help pack it in. Trim away the excess dough with a knife flat against the mold using a saw-like motion. If you’ve got a dry enough dough, it should come out of the mold with some hard taps against your table. Place your formed dough into the freezer for around 10 minutes (or fridge for 15-20 minutes) before putting them into the oven, this will help the cookies keep their detail. After they’ve been chilled, place your dough in the oven for 12 minutes.

*For dough using the leaf mold, I placed it in at 400ºF for 15 minutes since it was a much larger/thicker cookie. Bake similar-sized cookies at the same time.

I’m really happy with how these speculaas cookies turned out; they did a great job retaining their detail and tasted great. Now I’m a little obsessed with finding beautiful wooden molds! The above are vintage ones purchased on etsy. The leaf is actually a kashigata mold for Japanese sugar cakes, but it still worked really well with these cookies. You can also find a lot of wonderful cookie molds at this store.

Watering and Maintaining Your Kokedama

I made a post earlier on how to make a kokedama, now I’ll be going through the steps on how you can water and maintain them. It’s not too much work!

- Container large enough to hold most, if not all, of the moss ball portion of your kokedama
- Water
- Towel or Cloth

Step 1: Place your kokedama inside the container and fill it with water. It’s best to have enough water to completely cover the moss ball portion (the tinier ones may float). My container was too small for the largest kokedama, but it wasn’t a big deal, I just poured water on top of it. Leave them in there for a 3-5 minutes.

Step 2: Once they’ve properly soaked in the water, remove your kokedama and gently squeeze the liquid out. It might lose its shape a little bit, but you can just form it back into it’s original self.

Step 3: Place your damp kokedama on a towel until it’s dry enough to put it back into its bowl/planter.

I’ve been watering my kokedama about every 10 days and then misting them a few times in between. When I mist, I do it just by the base of the plant where it meets the moss ball. Keep in mind that I’d chosen hardy plants (A curly spider plant, craw craw vine, and a peperomia sp), so they’re a bit more forgiving if I under or over water them. I’ve had my 3 kokedamas for a month now and they’ve all been growing nicely with this routine!

Cat Cookies For St. Patrick’s Day

I’d been wanting to use my new cat cutter, so I made some green sugar cookies with them for St. Patrick’s Day and for Josh to bring to work. I realize the green eyes and cookies are the only reason they’re remotely related to this holiday, but I just wanted an excuse to make a bunch of cat faces!

I followed this sugar cookie recipe, except I used whole wheat flour and added some green food coloring. For the icing, I used this recipe with the help of these instructions to get the right consistency. All the food coloring I used are AmeriColor gels.

Here’s one with a gooey eye that didn’t make the final cut to Josh’s workplace…

And here’s a cutie Josh decorated!