Day 365 – Goodbye

Hello Yearlings!

Happy New Years Eve! It’s so crazy to think that exactly 365 days ago I was saying hello to the world at large; introducing myself to all of you for the first time ever. Since that day I’ve spoken to you for 365 days. That’s 365 projects, life events and stories that I’ve thought up just to share. I’m seriously surprised that I’ve managed to last this long. It took me a long time to get here to the end, and to think about what I wanted to say once it’s all said and done with, so I thought that I would keep it simple and just say thank you.

I wrote and re-wrote this farewell more than once and was never satisfied with anything I came to. Nothing seemed good enough, but the more detail I went into the sappier and less genuine it felt. I don’t need to go into detail of every single feeling I’ve ever felt, that would be ridiculous. Not to mention, I very much doubt that anyone really cares. I know that personally I would lose interest about five minutes in.

So thank you for sticking with me through my high’s and low’s, and for continually inspiring me as I went along. There’s nothing better than trying something new and getting a comment from someone telling me that they tried it, but in a different way. It really broadened my horizons and opened my mind up to the plethora of opportunities out there. I tried so many new and amazing things this year because I had the courage to do so.

I taught myself how to knit, code and embroider (sort of)! All of these things seemed so impossible until this year. I’ve learned the very valuable lesson that if you are willing to work towards something, and regularly screw up, then nothing is truly impossible. I’ve destroyed barriers for myself and made something out of my fears and inhibitions.

2015 was a truly great year for me. I can only hope that this is a view mirrored by my friends, family and readers as well. I greatly look forward to what ever it is that 2016 will bring me. I’m even thinking of starting a YouTube channel, since my mother is always complaining that she doesn’t get to see my face enough and refuses to figure out Face Time (hi mom!). I really don’t have a plan walking in to this next year, but I intend to keep up the momentum.

I hope to see you all in the coming year, and for many more after that. Thank you.

Lots of Love,

Maya

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Day 364 – NYE Countdown Confetti Favors

Hello Yearlings!

I am so excited for New Years! Normally I’m not, but since I’ve been doing a year long project it marks a huge accomplishment for me. The one down side is that I know that I will still be sick whenever it rolls around so I’m probably going to just pass out way before the ball drops.

It’s also really great to have a few things on hand that are super simple to make but really create a festive atmosphere. Originally I was thinking that we needed to do confetti eggs, but then I thought better about the possibility of people being drunk and throwing confetti and eggshells all over the place. That is not something that I really feel like cleaning up.

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Ingredients:

Clear gift wrap

Tissue paper in gold, cream, silver and white

Heart paper punch

Gold embroidery floss

I actually have a whole list of things that I’m planning to put together for NYE. I love making goodie bags, especially when there’s a theme. I’m thinking I’ll also hand out Ring Pop’s with a little note thanking them for ‘RINGing’ in the new year with us. I really can’t resist a pun.

These tiny confetti favors are perfect because they’re small and unassuming but when you open them up and throw them you’ve got little hearts floating all over the place. I probably should have thought this through more. This is going to lead to so much mess and clean up. I’m not looking forward to that.

Lots of Love,

Maya

Day 363 – French 75

Hello Yearlings!

I might have preemptively bought a few bottles of champagne for the upcoming holiday. I regret nothing. I did, however, figure that a delicious champagne cocktail was completely necessary.

I wanted to steer clear of super sweet drinks for NYE. I feel like the sweet, bubbly and fruity drinks have begun to overtake many a New Years Eve menu. If you’re already drinking champagne, then why have appletinis on the side? What you really need is a good dry cocktail to even everything out. Enter the French 75.

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Mix your lemon juice, gin and grenadine. Shaker over ice. Pour into a champagne flute, fill to top with champagne and serve. 

Ingredients:

1/4 oz lemon juice

3/4 oz gin

Dash grenadine

Champagne

This is not your everyday New Years fare. This is what I imagine Don Draper thinks of as a respectable champagne cocktail. There’s nothing super feminine or diabetes inducing about it, unlike most champagne cocktails. This is super dry, so if you don’t like feeling like you just sucked on a lemon then this might not be how you want to celebrate. Just remember to celebrate responsibly!

Lots of Love,

Maya

Day 362 – At Home Smoker

Hello Yearlings!

There are many inherent dangers that come with being a DIY crafter, the most persistent danger is perhaps the constant desire to be constantly doing something. It leads you to make all sorts of terrible decisions, like baking delicious goods or making too many different kinds of shelves, just because they look cool. You end up with a lot of extra stuff lying around that you may, or may not, ever really get any use out of. You also have a burning need to learn to do everything for yourself.

No longer are you contented with going out and just buying everything you could ever need without sparing a thought to what went into it. After all, why buy bread when you can make it? In our household this mentality has gotten a bit out of hand. Alex has literally just been spending his weekends mountain man-ing things into existence. His latest desire was to learn how to smoke things to accompany his homemade bacon recipes.

Turns out that making an at home smoker is incredibly easy. We didn’t have to go out and buy a single thing, but even if you did nothing in this tutorial is expensive. At most you would have to go to the hardware store and spend a couple of dollars. Perhaps the most troublesome part would be finding a heat source to place under your dish of wood chips. If you have a camping stove then this will work perfectly.

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Soak your chips for half an hour before smoking. Make a plate out of your aluminum foil, place your chips on your foil in a pac man shape for air flow. Put your terracotta pot on top of your chips and connect your dryer vent tubing to both your pot and your bottom cardboard box. Place your cooling rack in your top box, place whatever it is you’re smoking on the rack and go to town. Light your chips, blow them out until they’re smoldering then use your heat source for continuous heat. 

Ingredients:

Heat source, ours was a propane burner set to low

Wood chips, use different types of wood chips

Aluminum foil

2 flat rectangular boxes

1 cooling rack placed inside the top box so that whatever you’re smoking doesn’t just sit straight on the cardboard

The trouble with the at home smoker is that now I can’t seem to stop smoking things. I find myself making lists of things that would be better with a little bit of smoke added to them. I keep trying to talk myself out of smoking some salmon, but it just sounds so good. I’m just not sure that I look forward to doing that much babysitting. You are working with heat after all, it’s best to keep a constant watch over it.

Lots of Love,

Maya

Day 361 – Heart Photo Filter

Hello Yearlings!

With Christmas cards being mailed out and a new family photo being taken ever five minutes I figured it would be cool to make something that livened up boring pose and shoot photos. Obviously it’s too late for anyone to be just now getting around to taking their Christmas card pictures. It’s also cool whenever you’re taking New Years Eve photos or vacation photos.

This is kind of like a bokeh filter, but in reverse and you don’t need to do anything special with your camera settings. It just filters everything down to the shape in front of the lens. You aren’t creating any special effects, but I’m sure if you had more camera experience then you could use something like this project to do just that. I just don’t know how.

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Cut your shape out of a strip of black paper, then tape it to two larger rectangles of black paper, just make sure that they’re all long enough to cover the lens of your camera. You might want to use a rubber band to keep everything in place. 
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Then just point and click on the object of your hearts desire. 

Ingredients:

Thick black paper

Tape

Paper punch in the shape of your choice

You don’t actually need the paper punch, you could do it by hand but I find that the punch just works better. I’m kind of crap when it comes to cutting things out so I need as much help as possible. I do wish that the punch I’d chosen had been a bit smaller, it was just big enough to have trouble keeping everything in frame. These photos also look specially good whenever you have them printed and hung up in a collage. Not that I’m telling you what to do.

Lots of Love,

Maya

Day 360 – Vodka Sauce

Hello Yearlings!

I’m not going to lie, I thought that there would be a lot more leftovers after Christmas. I figured I would be drowning in starches and cold cuts for ages. As it turns out there was little to no waste after Christmas dinner at all. Everything was perfectly portioned so that everyone could get their fill without having full pans of food just lying around afterwards. The only downside to this is that it means the day after Christmas you’re having to make your own dinner.

For dinner tonight we decided to put some of our new kitchen gadgetry to the test and make ourselves some homemade vodka sauce. If you’ve never had vodka sauce then you have no idea just what you’re missing out on. It’s a fragrant, robust and tangy red sauce that pairs especially well with gnocchi. Literally one of my favorite comfort foods is gnocchi with vodka sauce and fresh mozzarella on top. It’s heaven.

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Heat your olive oil and butter in a large shallow pan over medium-high heat, add your onions and cook until just slightly transparent. Add your garlic, herbs and tomatoes. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes or until about half the amount. 
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Transfer to a bowl and use an immersion blender to whizz up the ingredients. Add in your heavy cream and vodka, then return to the heat to simmer on medium-low heat while you make your pasta. Toss your pasta in your sauce and serve. Best if served covered in some form of cheese. 

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons butter

1 onion, finely chopped

2 large cloves of garlic, either minced or very finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

28 oz can whole tomatoes, crushed by hand

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup Vodka

Kosher salt

This makes enough sauce to coat a full pound of pasta. I cooked up some penne pasta and just coated it in the stuff. It makes more than enough to feed four people hefty portions for dinner. This would be a perfect dish for a potluck or family dinner. It’s just different enough from a regular red sauce to really wow anyone who might not have had it before.

If you’re not going to eat it immediately it does freeze, just make sure that you re-heat it with a little bit of milk or heavy cream. You can also store it in a jar in the refrigerator for up to a week but I wouldn’t push it much past that. It does have cream in it, so its shelf life is a little different from that of regular red sauce.

Lots of Love,

Maya

Day 359 – Christmas

Hello Yearlings!

Merry Christmas! I woke up sick! At 6:30 AM! I’m miserable!

I apologize for the excessive use of exclamation points, I just really wanted to get my point across. Today I woke up feeling terrible, but I suppose that getting to get up and open presents sort of made up for feeling like my throat was on fire. Not that a sore throat kept me from drinking coffee and eating sweets. I was not to be perturbed in my quest to eat delicious noms.

I think that the older I get, however, the more important the family experience becomes. I’m less impressed by gifts and more impressed by the people around me. We spent the day, and last night too, with Alex’s family and it was a treat. Everyone was there and it really felt like a full family. It actually made me excited to see my own family in Lubbock no matter how inconvenient the travel.

There were also a lot of jokes about how gift giving is great because by the time you’ve wrapped your presents and handed them off you’ve completely forgotten what you’ve gotten people so you’re just as excited to see what you’ve given them as they are to get it. We also made quite the haul on amazing kitchen-related gifts. We’re officially the foodie couple whose every holiday gift is somehow food oriented. I love it.

Sadly I didn’t get any pictures this year, but I’m sure that there are some floating around out there. I’ll do my best to get my hands on them late. After the family festivities we came home to celebrate with our roommate, then I immediately fell asleep. I’ve actually been sleeping the better part of the day. I’m exhausted. On the upside everyone had a great day and got to do exactly what they wanted, which is rare for a holiday.

Happy Holidays everyone, I’m going back to bed.

Lots of Love,

Maya

Day 358 – Italian Hot Chocolate

Hello Yearlings!

Merry Christmas Eve! I think that at this point I’m just willing the weather to actually feel more like Christmas. It is literally seventy-five degrees outside right now. I’m sitting in my apartment with the A/C on high in shorts and a T-shirt. This is ridiculous. Then again, this time last year we had already had snow several times by now. I guess I can’t really complain. I could be scraping snow off of my car.

In order to take advantage of this wonderful time of year when I can eat and drink anything under the sun and claim it’s in the holiday spirit, I thought it was my duty to bring you lovely folks an Italian hot chocolate recipe. This recipe is not for the feint of heart. You have to be a serious chocolate lover to down this one, but if you are it is absolutely heavenly.

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Mix heavy cream, sugar, and half your milk over medium heat. In a small bowl mix the rest of your milk with the cornstarch. Once the milk mixture begins to bubble a bit at the edges go ahead and add in your chopped chocolate. Stir until thoroughly mixed and serve. 

Ingredients:

2 oz dark chocolate

1 cup milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

2-3 Tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon corn starch

I topped mine with some homemade whipped cream and served it up to the eager young men in my house. They literally looked at me as though Christmas had come a day early. I had no idea they liked regular hot chocolate, much less molten chocolate in a mug. I would have been making this for weeks, so it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t know. We would all be in trouble. I strongly suggest you make this for your loved ones come Christmas Day.

Lots of Love,

Maya

Day 357 – Crochet Candy

Hello Yearlings!

My days have been spent in a rushed and wooly mess as of late. I’ve been rushing to finish up all of my last minute christmas decorations/gifts that can be made by hand without having to wait until after Christmas to give them. This is the problem with being a crafter: you actually get around to a proper gift giving holiday and you’ve completely run out of the time required to make your crafty gifts.

I actually eyed this pattern last year when Twinkie Chan made it, but I didn’t have the time to just sit down and make a garland for myself. So I told myself that this year I would at least make little crocheted candies and put them all over the tree. Also, when I make more I can make then in white and red and then they will fit in with our apparent candy cane theme. Though now I’m actually starting to think that perhaps our theme this Christmas is just candy, as none of us can seem to stop eating it.

You can find the pattern here.

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Ingredients:

Worsted weight yarn, preferable in bright and fantastic colors

Size I crochet hook

1 1/2 in styrofoam ball

These whip up crazy quick. If you’ve got a little bit of time to sit in front of the TV watching Netflix then you can make a whole garland of these in no time flat. They would also make insanely cute hair decorations. Just glue/sew an alligator clip onto the bottom and pop into your hair. I might just do that for myself.

Lots of Love,

Maya