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  1. Tiny Kitchen Toaster Oven Dinner

    December 20, 2014 by lolkitty: Kaela

    Tiny Kitchen Portobello & Asparagus

    Tiny Kitchen Portobello & Asparagus

    Micro Dining Table Portobello Avocado Sandwiches

    Micro Dining Table Portobello Avocado Sandwiches

    Toaster Oven Dinner: Portobello, Avocado & Tomato Sandwich with grilled Asparagus and Kale Chips

    Kale chips: I make these a lot, just toss chopped kale in a very small amount of oil with whatever seasoning you like (diced garlic and salt work just fine by me). Bake them for 8-10 minutes but watch so they don’t let them burn!

    For a while when I was renting an extra bedroom to take work in LA, we kept to ourselves in our shared house by cooking everything in our Kitchenaid Toaster Oven. I love the vegan food choices in LA but I get tired of paying too much for something I could make at home easily. I baked the portobello for about 10 minutes (at 350), then put in the asparagus in with it for another 10-15 minutes. Both are lightly oiled and seasoned. Cut up veggies on a tiny shelf with Ikea tupperware for a cutting board and set up the computer on a guitar case for TV time. Living the dream, LA style.

  2. Vegan Thanksgiving

    by lolkitty: Kaela

    Vegan style "Thanksgivng" food

    Vegan style “Thanksgivng” food

    Vegan Thanksgiving Style Comfort Food

    • Homemade garlic mashed potatoes
    • Corn with Earth Balance
    • Homemade cranberry sauce
    • Panko Breaded Baked Tofu

  3. Trek roadbikes stole my heart

    March 31, 2014 by lolkitty: Kaela

    I haven’t posted in a while and I have had some requests for more info so here we go. Previously while living in orange county I bought a 7-speed beach cruiser and thought that it would be built similarly to the Amsterdam style bikes that are practical for every day riding but because it was aluminum it was very bulky. I didn’t have much experience except with mountain bikes and I didn’t realize how riding position and a little bit of weight can make such a difference. I loved it for how pretty it was but it’s best suited for grabbing groceries, a farmer’s market, or even a nice bike for cruising with a trailer.

    I’ll add that I’ve ridden many bikes that were of the beggars-can’t-be-choosers variety. Everybody always has a spare beach cruiser or mountain bike. I didn’t think it mattered very much what kind of bike I rode until I inherited a rickety old junker Trek 400 road bike.
    I saved up for what parts I could and bought them or was given them by friends. Here’s the first photo of it as mostly together with some assistance from the hackerspace 23b.

    I was instantly in love with bikes and riding in a new way. The cro-moly frame was so supple and nimble it was easy to feel like it was an extension of myself. It just hopped and grazed over bumps in the road. I felt like I could ride much longer without feeling the impact or being bogged down by overkill suspension.

    Notice I use past tense about this bike as it was unfortunately stolen out of my yard not long after I had finished building it. The paint was bad but I made it worse with a black glossy paint job and some gold trim that matched my vintage Singer sewing machine. I thought it was cool- though I doubt the new owner shared my sentiment.

    I grieved yet foolishly didn’t make a police report (you should always do that if you can, there are a lot of bike thieves out there). Craigslist and my savings account to the rescue…

    This time it was a shiny red one in great condition. I almost felt too bad to take the derailleur and cool shifters off – but I had bigger plans and I saved the parts for a rainy day. I got a Sturmey Archer 3-speed fixed gear hub and had a wheel built. I also started building a lockable case out of a mini-keg of Newport so that I could hide a security system inside of it. I had all intentions to make it Pee-Wee Herman style with possibly a airhorn and/or smoke screen but while in the process of this project my bike, 3-speed fixed wheel, bike parts, and keg were all stolen. Orange county can be an unfriendly place. But one day soon we will rebuild! Funding all of my other mad-scientist projects (indoor solar hydroponics most recently) is taking priority these days since I obsessively bring my bike with me indoors wherever possible or with enough u-locks to lock the wheels as well.

    Here it is the day it was stolen, you can see the hub but I didn’t have the gears attached yet.

    3-speed fixed gear road bike

    3-speed fixed gear road bike

    A pic of the keg project that never was..

    After having my second bike stolen, even when it was locked up, I accepted my fate and began looking for another Trek 400. It had to be a vintage Trek, no other would do. I don’t know why but they fit my size and riding style really well.

    It became apparent it wasn’t common enough to just stumble upon anywhere and I figured I wouldn’t find another for some time. I very much needed a new bike because I went car-less in 2011 and if it isn’t a bike – it’s the bus – and nobody wants to ride the bus in OC/LA. I started out commuting by riding the bus and it generally took me the same amount of time to get around my usual trips as it did to ride my bike (up to 15 miles or so). In LA I calculated bikes to be about the same time as even cars (in some cases faster depending on where and the distance).

    I ended up getting a Takara from HB Bike shop which I liked but because the steel wasn’t as good quality it just didn’t ride the same. It felt really sluggish and heavy in comparison. To be fair the bike was much older but with vintage bike frames it pays to buy what’s made out of the best metal and always lugged. Plus, lugged frames are beautiful.

    Here it is right after I got it..

    After riding around streets that are mostly flat I lost my taste for extra gears. There’s something really satisfying about slowing yourself down with your pedaling pace and controlling your speed dynamically rather than just stop-and-go.

    I traded some bike parts to build this fixed gear conversion and was given tires and wheels by friends who donated toward the bike kitchen. As bad as it was to have so much stolen, I had a lot of people help me out with parts and how to put it together.

    Here’s a pic of it after conversion.

    Commuting by train and bike is the best of both!

    Commuting by train and bike is the best of both!

    A custom rack I made (with welding help from 23b). The rack was shaped to fit the keg.
    Custom bike rack

    I had to make it complete with a touch of Kaela-ness with the Singer Sewing machine medallion.

    My first fixie was painted to look like my Singer Sewing machine, so I continued the tradition with this 1947 Singer Sewing machine medallion. Here I have a slackline in a bag tied to the rack up front.

    My first fixie was painted to look like my Singer Sewing machine, so I continued the tradition with this 1947 Singer Sewing machine medallion. Here I have a slackline in a bag tied to the rack up front.

    I put some good miles on this Takara but it just never felt right because of the frame. I figured since I had everything else I’d rebuild again so I found another Trek 400 roadbike frame on eBay.

    Trek 400 Frame

    In the end, I had to update a lot more than I expected to get the bike where I want it but I love it.

    All assembled for the first time with new bar tape and headstem

    All assembled for the first time with new bar tape and headstem

    Since this photo I got many more parts: a Velo Orange headset, new handle bars and tape (don’t go cheap on bar tape!), and pedals. I had power grip pedals for a while and liked them for getting around and not being clipped in but I have since moved up to Shimano clipless (Chrome makes awesome shoes for clipless).

    Bikes are fun; you should ride them! =^-^=

    What happens when you have a lot of bike-riding friends… good times!
    Bike party

  4. Stop SOPA & PIPA

    January 18, 2012 by lolkitty: Kaela

    “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

  5. The Quest for Skirt Guards and a Stylish Bike Commute

    March 20, 2011 by lolkitty: Kaela

    Since I have moved to Orange County, my bike has become my favorite means of transportation. Except for one thing, my bike has no sense of style. For me, this is a sin.

    After investigating the idea of putting an electric motor on my current bike, I realized that my problem with my bike is that it is overly sporty (mountain bike) for what I do and I don’t have the freedom to wear what I want when riding it (I get dirty). American attitudes toward bike riding are very different than in Europe. In America, cyclists tend to be very athletic and wear skin-tight neon lycra outfits topped with ridiculous aerodynamic helmets, presumably with a shower waiting for them at their destination. Then there’s super elitist hipster biking, where people tend to be just as stereotyped in their own class as a bunch of hipster kitties. In America, we’re cliquey, trendy, and snobbish about a sport that should be for everyone. I only noticed this huge difference in attitudes when I learned that everything I was looking for in a bike was standard issue in European bikes and their bike culture. A catchy phrase I saw in an ad for ‘antbikemike‘ was “Not sport… Transport!” and his shop features some jaw-droppingly gorgeous bikes.

    I needed something with some style. I decided to buy a new bike, one that fits my riding lifestyle and sense of aesthetic. I considered vintage Schwinn’s with 3 speed hubs that I could use with an electric bike. Just like with my vintage dresses, I don’t have it in my heart to modify a vintage piece in any way.  I decided to go with something modern that I could swap out parts to my heart’s content without feeling like I was dismantling a piece of history, or wear out it’s parts in the many commuting miles I would put on it. (Though if my finances would allow I would love a vintage bike for casual riding).

    I went with the Diamondback Della Cruz 2, the 7-speed version.

    It has that cute beach cruiser style but is more medium weight, like a vintage bicycle.  Plus, I think I’ll need all 7 speeds until I make it electric, and the extra gears will be nice to have even when it is electric too, because I can do more peddling myself and save battery.  Since it’s a Diamondback it’s of good quality considering I only spent $330 on it.  Another reason I opted for this model is because it has front and back brakes, unlike  most vintage-looking bikes which have a coaster brake.  I’ll need these brakes when I make it electric, and I might even upgrade one to disc brakes.

    I still have yet to receive my new toy in the mail and assemble it though, so I’ll post again on how it feels to actually ride the thing. I’m mostly looking forward to having a bike with an upright-sitting position so I can ride long distances comfortably, with a lady-like posture, and a nice ensemble of a skirt and dress shoe flats.

    I wanted this exact Skirt Guard (standard issue, Electra Amsterdam series)

    I started looking for some luggage racks and baskets because that will also be one of the advantages of this bike, I can use it for going to grab groceries, instead of taking the bus. And I can throw my purse, coffee cup, etc. in the front basket and not be bothered by annoying backpacks or messenger bags.

    I stumbled across various bike blogs and saw one post about a “skirt guard” or “coat guard” that goes over the back wheel to protect the rider’s clothing from getting caught in the wheel.  It’s such a practical and useful accessory, I decided to hunt it down as my first accessory for my bike. This blog has a few great posts on the practical use of skirt guards, in fact it’s a really great blog about biking in a commuter sense without letting your fashion go.

    Electra makes really amazing bikes, and the skirt guard that comes on the bikes in their “Amsterdam” collection are exactly the style I had in mind. (They sell the guards separately but only in black, and claim they don’t work with any other kind of bike.) So I kept looking for skirt guards to see what other kinds I could find. Also note, after looking at many varieties of skirt guards, I noticed the Electra one doesn’t seem to cover as much of the wheel as others.

    Crochet Bike Guard

    I found this lovely crocheted bicycle skirt guard:

    You can see the skirt guard pattern is in Dutch but I imagine someone skilled enough with crochet could figure it out with google translate (my glance at the translated version told me I didn’t know enough about crochet to get past the translation barrier).

    I was so enamored with the idea of this crocheted bike dress guard that I looked all over the internet to find something similar. It has that great ‘vintage’ style that I always crave, and is practical too. There are commercial versions, but I just didn’t think they were quite my style.

    An Etsy shop, JustDo, has these pre-made crocheted skirt guards and this pattern if you have the skills to make it yourself. There are also a lot of very unattractive skirt guard solutions that I have seen (wire or mesh), but since they’re not pretty there’s no sense in detailing them here.

    In any event, all this was pretty difficult to find, and I didn’t feel like shelling out $65 for pre-made one, or attempting to do it myself anytime soon. (I have a bad habit of over estimating my skills as a do-it-yourselfer and I don’t want to take on some extra random talent for a one-time need).  I started googling ‘beginner’ crochet patterns that were round, like baby afghans, to see if I could get away with an easier pattern and a similar effect. Then I had a ‘eureka’ moment and remembered the fabulous material: oil cloth!

    Oil cloth is water resistant polyester with a plastic-like glaze on it.  It always comes in adorable patterns and bright colors, and it is inexpensive, $6/yard or so depending on where you go. 

    I happened to be on to look up crocheted patterns and I am always trying to think of a good excuse to use oilcloth, so I browsed through their large selection and found some cute ‘Dutch’ looking floral prints that I think will match my bike perfectly.

    Now all I have to do is measure and make a pattern for this and I’ll have a waterproof, and stylish skirt guard for about $6 worth of materials and maybe an hour of work. I’ll also make a liner for my basket, either in the same oilcloth as the skirt guards or I got some cherry-print oil cloth as well that I might use for that (but I bought it for a re-usable lunch bag that won’t leak, and I will definitely be making that!)

    In a few days I’ll have my bike and my oilcloth skirt guards, so I’ll take some photos to post soon! I’m so excited to see it put together!! I gathered a lot of information on the subject (at least what’s relevant to America and the difficulties of finding such a useful item!) so I hope this was useful to someone out there!



  6. Artie’s first acorn!

    May 26, 2010 by lolkitty: Kaela

    Some unbelievably cute photos of my precious little Artie after discovering his first acorn in my window sill!

  7. Henna: my new (but very old) beauty secret…

    May 19, 2010 by lolkitty: Kaela

    What do you mean I’m no natural redhead? This color *is* all natural, it’s henna!

    After being a platinum blond for many years and loving it, my hair was not. And being fickle like I am, after being one hair color for a while I get bored no matter how much I like it.

    The boyfriend voted for red hair. My facebook friends voted for pink. Guess who won.

    Going from blond to red isn’t easy, since you have to build up the color, and what worked before might not work again, since it had been a year or so since I attempted red. (I was stuck with Ronald McDonald orange for about a month before I bleached it again, damaging it so bad I had to cut my hair to a bob!)

    I’ve been pretty tired of using all these chemicals all the time, and after researching different ways to go from blond to henna red, I was pretty sure I could pull it off alright.

    Actually, America’s favorite redhead, Lucille Ball was once a blond who used henna for her vibrant red. This, of course, appealed to my 1950’s preoccupation. Let alone rumors of other notorious historical women like Cleopatra.

    henna paste

    Henna mix

    My first batch of henna was with “Light Mountain” brand in the shade “auburn” since I knew I had to build up the brown tones in my hair before using the red. I didn’t anticipate how much my hair was actually going to soak up the color, and my hair was almost exactly my natural brown after one color set (overnight).

    The pics in this post are from my third coloring. My last one was with pure red henna and this current color treatment was as well. Pure henna is *much* more fun. It’s very easy to work with, compared to any other “plant” hair dye that contains other plants to make the henna darker. (If you haven’t heard before, NEVER use henna that isn’t 100% plants, in the US it’s not very common to find for hair dye but always read the label that you’re only getting pure plant powders).

    Steps I like to use for good henna application:

    1. Boil water and mix in the henna slowly (just get out all the lumps!) Once it’s the consistency of toothpaste I add in an essential oil like Tea Tree Oil (my favorite) or Eucalyptus. Those oils are supposed to help enhance the color and they make it smell really good too.

    henna on hair

    Keep your application neat, and it will make rinsing easier!

    2. Let the mix sit for 1 or 2 hours (this helps “activate” the henna so it’ll dye better).

    3. Brush out your hair and part into sections. Apply Vaseline to your ears to keep them from getting dyed. Use an applicator bottle to apply the henna. Part your hair, apply to roots, and part again with the nozzle until you’ve done your whole head.

    4. Pull the color through, cover every bit of your hair until it’s soaked, trying to keep it neat and not tangling it (you’ll see why when you rinse).

    5. Put on the plastic cap and use a blow dryer on low or even wrapping a towel over the plastic will heat your henna enough to help bring out the color. (I think this helps more than any other tips I’ve read online).

    6. Leave in for at least 4 hours. I leave mine on 8 hours (overnight).

    7. Rinse in warm water and be patient. I don’t shampoo until next wash (so wash your hair before you apply!) I usually have to run conditioner through my hair 3 or 4 times to get all the little henna particles out. (If you get most of it, when you blow dry your hair, the rest should brush out ok, it will just leave your hair a little heavy until next washing.)

    8. Voila! A redhead.. naturally!

    henna in my hair and on my skin

    When you have left over henna, you can use it for body art!

    And if you’ve tried to keep your hair red with usual dyes, you’ll probably be really pleased with the results. You’ll see it does leave your hair much more “natural” looking and healthy looking than any dyes I’ve bought at beauty supply stores, or had applied professionally.

    So I’ve read that by the third or fourth coloring, the henna will be completely saturated as far as color. I’ll have to see how this fades, but my red is much more brilliant after this last coloring.

    So henna is much easier to use than chemicals, since if you leave it on too long, all it does is enhance the color.  (My last one I did more watery and it dripped everywhere and didn’t color as well). The henna is really gritty if you’re used to dying your hair, it feels strange like you’re putting a mud mask in your hair.

    Henna is so much fun that after I was all finished putting it in my hair, I got a little plastic back and poked a hole in it to apply some henna body art. It was a less than ideal tool, and I think I’m going to pick up a proper squeeze bottle with a fine tip to do much more intricate work. After the color “matured” over a day, the body art was very  beautiful. I think I’m going to use it as an indicator of when I need to recolor my hair. It should last about 6 weeks.

    henna color

    This is a fairly accurate pic of the color

    I tried to get a pretty accurate photo for the color result. This is the color over several previous henna applications, and bleached blond hair underneath. The great thing is, though, this is the *exact* same color as my roots! It blends in beautifully.

    I’m not the sort of girl that usually goes all “herbal” and “natural” whenever the opportunity arises. But I’m glad I gave henna another chance.

    There are just a few things that make henna difficult to find, or use in America. Unless you live in a big city, or have a large health food store nearby it might be hard to find henna. I’ve looked at buying bulk henna from several places but I’m always weary when I can’t see it or feel it in person. Because henna is a plant, the quality can vary widely.

    The final henna results

    Henna hair and henna art

    If you buy online, you can get Light Mountain brand, which I’ve been using for all my recent applications but I have tried other henna brands (once with GREEN results!!) so you have to be careful. It’s the only brand I recommend unless you know a friend or a source for mehindi quality henna.

    One thing I’m pretty certain of is that henna treatments will also make my hair accept pin-curling and other wet-set styling better. It seems to have a side effect of making my hair feel thick and full. With pin-curling or wet set styles you will sometimes lose a little body depending on the style and that’s always bothered me. After letting my hair curl naturally, I noticed that it almost looked *too* big! So I’m sure those evasive Andrew’s Sisters and Peggy Lee styles that are just sky high won’t be out of my grasp now.

    My hair has never been healthier since I’ve been using henna. It also seems to have an astringent quality that keeps my hair from looking greasy by the end of the day like my natural hair can do. Also the texture is a little “straw” like, which I’m sure some girls don’t like, but that was my favorite thing about bleached blond hair, because it’s actually easier to control when it has a little bit of texture to it.

    Henna is my hair’s new best friend! I am really surprised at how underrated henna is…

    That’s my two cents on the subject, I’ve had a lot of girls asking about how I get my hair red the way it is. If you have questions, feel free to comment!

  8. Artie: The Trainable

    March 29, 2010 by lolkitty: Kaela

    Artie has a reputation around here of being the boss. If he doesn’t want you to catch him, you will not be able to catch him. If he wants you away from his hazelnut, trust me, you keep away from his hazelnut. For all his fiercesome ways, he has another reputation, and it’s of being very smart and sneaky.

    He already figured out that he can sneak under our bedroom door if we don’t watch him closely enough. The good thing though is he is endlessly and tirelessly greedy. So bribes are alright by him.

    Chris started training him with almond slivers to come to your hand when you stand up and put your arm straight out. He understands this signal in different contexts, with different hands or signals. So my next goal is to train him to come when I call him. I think it’s completely possible.  I haven’t seen video of a chipmunk that comes when you call it, so I’m hoping it’s at least rare enough to be noteworthy.

    Here’s some video of his sweetness. I’ll continue training him and post my progress.

    This is Chris playing with him:

    You can see he puts my finger in his mouth to play bite me, but then he does surprise me with a bit more of a bite toward the end. He’s still pretty gentle, but this is why these special little animals are a little too wild for small kids to play with. I even still think that people who are unfamiliar with the way chipmunks behave would have a hard time playing with him. He also gets spooked a little easy if there are new people around.

    That’s all for now!

  9. Dracula’s Lament Vegan Creamy Garlic Vinaigrette

    January 28, 2010 by lolkitty: Kaela

    I love salads. I could eat them for every meal, every day. I guess that’s the kind of thing you crave when you grow up vegetarian. Nonetheless, I like variety, and I love to make my salads “fancy.”

    I came up with the dressing kind of on accident. I made a creamy mayonnaise dip for some roasted garlic potato wedges and didn’t care for it much on the potatoes, so I altered it for salad use! Use vegan mayonnaise for this, it tastes just as good!

    1/3 cup vegannaise (vegan mayonnaise)
    1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
    2 tbsp. olive oil
    3 cloves garlic (you might want to start out with 1 if you’re not a garlic person)
    Pinch of Rosemary
    Pepper to taste

    Mince garlic as small as you can and mix in with the other ingredients until well blended. :)
    Serve over spicy green spring mix salad.

    One thing I missed being vegan was creamy flavors especially on a salad, so this is a good way to have an easy vegan alternative.

    Happy animal-friendly eating :)

  10. Portobello Parmesan & Rosemary and Garlic Brusslesprouts Vegetarian Dinner

    January 18, 2010 by lolkitty: Kaela

    I decided to make something a little more fancy since Chris is trying to be vegetarian and could use some unusual delicious food.

    There are probably a bunch of ways you can make this, since it’s basically one of those meals you throw together “to taste.”

    Brusselsprouts and Portobello

    Breaded “Portobello Parmesean”
    2 Portobello Caps
    2 eggs
    2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
    2 tablespoons oil

    Cut Portobello caps into strips, and cut off as much of the stem as possible because it is tough. Beat the eggs in a bowl (you could add cream or milk to the egg to make it thinner, or to make it vegan you could use oil and soymilk).  Dip the mushroom strips in the egg then coat in bread crumbs.  Do all the strips at once and heat up the oil on medium.  2 mushroom caps will be enough to fill an entire skillet, so you can do them all at once.  Preheat oven to 300.
    Cook until browned and turn over.  The nice thing about mushrooms is you don’t have to worry about an internal cooking temperature, like you would have to with meat, so you’re more likely to overcook than undercook, so keep an eye on them.
    Because I was cooking the brusselsprouts afterward the Portobellos, I put them in a casserole dish with a lid, and put some small balls of fresh mozzarella on top so when they were sitting in the oven keeping warm the mozzarella melted on top of the mushrooms!

    Portobello's cooking

    While the mushrooms are keeping warm and getting melty, you can cook the brusselsprouts.

    Rosemary Garlic Brusselsprouts
    1 pound (or approximately a skilletful) of brusselsprouts
    2-3 tablespoons olive oil
    1 tablespoon rosemary
    3 garlic cloves, finely minced
    salt & pepper to taste
    1/4 cup parmesean cheese

    Wash and cut the stems off the brusselsprouts and quarter them. Some leaves will come loose from the rest of it, but they sear nicely in the pan, so don’t throw them out. Mix olive oil, minced garlic, rosemary and salt and pepper together in a bowl until brusselsprouts are coated in oil (may need more oil). Toss everything in your frying pan and cover, stirring frequently. Keep on medium/low heat until you see the loose leaves starting to darken.  You can test if they’re done by poking a larger one with a fork.  I liked mine a little on the firm side, so anywhere from 12-20 minutes depending on how high the heat, the size of the sprouts, etc.  When the brusselsprouts are finished cooking, sprinkle in the parmesean cheese and let the heat of the pan cook the cheese a little as you stir it.


    When the brusselsprouts are done, you can take the Portobello’s out of the oven and serve with side of tomato sauce for the mushrooms.  This made a lot of food, probably serves at least 4.

    This would be good with garlic bread too.  I didn’t do it this time, but I think the brusselsprouts would have benefited from a splash of good balsamic vinegar. Since that’s an easy thing to do wrong, I think you should test it on a per-serving basis.  Also, a balsamic glaze would have been decadent and delicious on the brusselsprouts as well.

    It’s one of those dishes you can try many different ways.  Even just switching the seasonings from garlic & rosemary to, say mint and lemon would turn it into a greek dish!

    Let me know if you try this out! I thought it was a nice meal.

    Here’s what it looks like all done! Yummy!
    I think the main thing to be careful about with this dish is the seasoning and cooking the brusselsprouts enough without overcooking.  The Portobello’s would be great topped with some homemade marinara (I felt like the jarred sauce was too behind on “fresh” flavor).

    Portobello Parmesean and Brusselsprouts with rosemary and garlic

    Also, I used “portobello” in this post, even though I think colloquially I call them “portobella.”  It seems like it’s more popular as “portobello” though I don’t think it really matters. Just in case anyone was wondering.