Thursday, October 23, 2014

Grab a Tissue...

So yesterday I was feeling sorry for myself.

(That's a lie, because I never feel sorry for myself.)

(Well, that's a lie too, because I do feel sorry for myself every time I have to renew my driver's license or go to a post office.)

(I know you don't know what to believe at this point, but I'm telling the truth. Don't make me get out the iocane powder.)

But I had a little chagrin over the fact that I've eaten way too many sauces out of a jar in my life.

WAY too many.

My relationship with spaghetti is complicated. I liked it when I was little. Then, when I was 7 or 8, there was a very unfortunate incident at a Howard Johnson's during one of our summer trips which really made Ebola seem tame. I might have actually caught Ebola from that Ho-Jo spaghetti. If not, I definitely suffered mightily. As did my father, upon whose head I barfed in the parking lot. After that, I did not eat spaghetti until I was 20 years old. That's how long it takes to get over the Ho-JoBola, in case anyone needs that for their science book.

Thankfully, I recovered from Ho-JoBola at age 20 in upstate New York, where I was attending college. Those people up there know their way around a marinara. So I eased back into Italian food in the safest and most delicious environment possible.

Then I moved back to Austin. And I'll say this - some of the best food on earth is in Austin. HOWEVER - none of that food is Italian or Mexican. We just don't do those two things well. Yet.

Having been out of the spaghetti scene for most of my life, I hadn't been present for the devolution of jarred marinara. But I quickly discovered that it was horrid. I tried EVERYTHING. Classico was new then, and there were a few varieties of theirs I liked, but they, too, devolved quickly and started to get watery and flavorless. I found a local one a few years ago that I loved, and then it got watery and flavorless. It's probably the introduction of cheap Chinese garbage into our food supply.

So last year, I decided enough was enough and I tried a few marinara recipes of my own. GOOD LORD why did I waste all that time on the jar? It's SO easy and so delicious, and I have PROLIFIC herbs in my backyard. GAH. So much time wasted on sub-standard marinara. Now I eat so much I worry about lycopene poisoning. If you have to go though - that's not a bad option.

But it doesn't end with marinara. My favorite Thai sweet chili sauce suddenly started tasting like cardboard too. I'd eaten this stuff for years and one day, it tasted AWFUL. Again, probably Chinese garbage.

So I set out on a mission to make my own. After all, I have a Thai chili plant in my backyard that has about 30 so-hot-they-peel-paint peppers on it at all times. So I tried a few recipes and combined them into one I LOVE.

So, to go along with yesterday's DELICIOUS crockpot Thai peanut chicken recipe, here is the recipe for the homemade sweet chili sauce - a MUST in that recipe.

Sweet Chili Sauce

  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 5 thai chilis, tops cut off + 1 jalapeno (adjust to milder peppers if you're a Yankee :) )
  • ¼ cup white distilled vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ tablespoon salt

  1. In the food processor or blender, purée together all the ingredients.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until the mixture thickens up a bit and the garlic-pepper bits begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Lower to low and cook until thick. About 15-20 minutes.
  3. Let cool completely before storing in a glass jar and refrigerate.

1. I keep the chili seeds in, but your mileage may vary, so adjust the heat accordingly. More seeds = more heat. Keep in mind, however, that the heat is the strongest the day you make the sauce and starts to dissipate gradually. This sauce keeps for a long time, and after a couple of weeks, you can’t even taste the pepper.
MMM you will be so glad you made this. Maybe I'll share my marinara recipe next time.

In the meantime, if my story about Ho-JoBola made you cry, grab a tissue!

Or, grab some tissue paper and make an AWESOME card! WAIT till you see how I did this!!

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Don't you love that?? I'm not gonna lie - I do. I saw this crazy awesome tutorial using tissue paper collage by Carol Kutz and I had to try it.

My inspiration to do this card came from today's Hope You Can Cling To challenge - you MUST come play! We may or may not have $5,000 in prizes to give away :).

Mine is not super original - I copied the design from Carol's tutorial until I got comfy with the technique, and man is it easy and fun. Here are the steps:

  • Do a watercolor wash on a piece of watercolor paper - I used reinkers of the colors below.
  • Take a piece of white tissue paper and scribble all over it with Melon Mambo, Coastal Cabana, Daffodil Delight and Pumpkin Pie Blendabilities markers. (Do not use Stampin' Write markers or any other water-based markers).
  • Cut the tissue paper into the shapes of flowers and leaves.
  • Using a foam brush, apply some matte gel medium (this is what I use - it's my fave) to the watercolor paper and smooth tissue paper onto wet medium. Then paint more gel medium on top of your flower gently - don't oversaturate the tissue paper or it will tear.
  • After it's dry, trace and doodle around the flowers with a Project Life pen.
  • Stamp the greeting from Ray of Sunshine.
  • Admire.
It's a fun combo of zentangling and freer, relaxed techniques like watercolor and collage.

I think you should put the peanut chicken in the crockpot, start the chili sauce and come stamp with me today :)



  1. What a completely cool tissue creation!! I must say ... this one looks like a true time-taker-upper though ... and I'm basically on more of a "coasting-for-now" state of mind. ;) Beautiful, m'friend!

  2. That is totally cool! AND full of all the colors I LOVEEEE!!! Beautiful, gorgeous, delightful, charming, and so on.... Love it!!

  3. Awesome technique, we will have to try this!


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