Monday, March 29, 2010

My little business is growing!

I have so many wonderful opportunities that I have been both enjoying and looking forward to. Tonight I spoke to a businessman in Arkansas of all places! I will give more details as I see appropriate, however, I WILL tell you that I am expecting Sasaki Bags to be available in Jonesboro, Arkansas within the next couple of months. It is one hour from Memphis and I think he said about 3 hours from Branson, Missouri. I have never been anywhere near there but maybe one day I will have to check it out!

So, sorry not too many details, for now...but I just had to share!

a hui hou!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday on the Big Island

How are you spending your Saturday? Me? Funny you should ask! A couple months ago a girlfriend (thats her in the photo) told me about a cooking class that was coming up. It was all about Spices and Thai cooking. She invited me to come along. So I just paid in advance and decided nothing would come in the way. I am SO glad I went. It was held up in Waimea at the Anna Ranch, which was a very nice facility. Chef Nicolai Winkler was our chef du jour. He was very friendly and personable. He taught us how to make 3 different curries. Red, Green and Yellow. He also taught us a lot about the herbs and spices that can go into making a curry.

For instance in his yellow curry, today he included tumeric, ginger, golongal, cumin, hot pepper vinegar (more about the vinegar later) lime juice, sea salt, garlic and 1 thai chili. He taught us that the easiest way to begin muddling the mixture is to start with salt in the mortar bowl as it keeps the garlic from slipping around as you muddle it. Finish "mushing" (a technical culinary term) the dry ingredients before adding the liquids to maintain a paste texture.

Today's red curry included 1 thai red chili, red chili flakes, christmas berry or red pepper corns, sweet paprika, ginger, garlic, lime juice and rice vinegar.

The green curry we made today included basil, lemon grass, lime zest, kafir lime leaf, cilantro, green chili pepper, nutmeg, and chili pepper vinegar.

Now to make something with any of these curries, you can add coconut milk or some kind of stock such as vegetable stock, chicken stock or fish stock. Then thicken it by using the old stand-by of corn starch in a little cold water. You can serve it over rice and add a salad for a complete dinner!

He also said you can saute up a little aromatics including lemongrass, ginger and garlic, then add one of the curries above before stirring in a little coconut milk. Yummy!

One of my favorite things to get in a Thai restuarant (but something I never did see in Thailand!) is summer rolls. They are such a healthy little appetizer filled with fresh herbs and vegies and wrapped in rice paper. We all had the opportunity today to try our hand at rolling a summer roll. I still need to practice my technique, but wouldn't get fat eating my mistakes since they are so low calorie!

Of course a summer roll needs a dipping sauce. I usually have a little sweet chili sauce with peanuts on top, but today Chef Nicolai made four sauces. For the green sauce he started with sugar in the mortar to which he added mint, cilantro, chili pepper, and a substantial amount of fish sauce (aka patisse). That was very crisp and fresh tasting!

Sauce numba 2 was a citrus soy sauce. It was very simple with sugar, lime juice, chili pepper vinegar and soy sauce (aka shoyu).

The 3rd sauce was a homemade sweet chili sauce made from the red curry past to which he added sugar and more chilis. That was also delish!

Sauce numba 4 was a bottle thai sauce to which he added coconut milk.

To wrap the day up he finished with a quick to prepare green papaya salad. The prep included using a mandolin (not the musical instrument...the kitchen appliance!) Then he juilienned the papapya. To the mortar he added sugar, red curry paste, red onion, and water. He tossed the papaya with small yellow grape tomatoes and then added the dressing.

Everything was spicy...but nothing was so hot that it burned. It was just very tasty!

I do wish his class would have included lunch since it was from 11-2pm (lunch time) and it did cost $55. I think we were all expecting to be able to eat more than just the one bite of summer roll and one mouthful of papaya salad. For my critique, I would recommend that he show us how to do something and then let the "students" do the muddling and prep while he continued on. He could have prepared in advance enough papaya salad and summer rolls so that we could have made a little plate and sat enjoying those while he did a summary.

I wish menehune man would have been able to attend with me just because I think he would have enjoyed it too. I am actually in the mood to try out some of these recipes....and I am not one that can usually be found in the kitchen!

Chef Nicolai had bottles of his special rice wine vinegar that he had infused with chili peppers available for sale. I purchased the large cruet because it appeared to have a secure topper whereas the smaller bottle had an open hole in the top. When I was about 3 miles from home I started smelling something pungent. The cruet had tipped over and spilled out about a cup of vinegar all over my car! Oh my!

One more suggestion, Chef, please place secure tops on bottles you are intending to sell!

So, anyways...that was my day! It was fun and relaxing (except for shampooing my car) and a nicely timed break. As our day was wrapping up at the cooking classes, a herd of white cattle came meandering down the hill behind the building we were using. So you can get a glimpse of Waimea...paniolo (cowboy) country

NOW...back to the sweat shop!

a hui hou!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My family has grown!

Last night I finished what ended up being a 2 year labor of love. When I first began making my diva bags, I bought this beautiful obi from a fellow in Kanazawa Japan. It was my first obi and it was so incredibly hard to cut it all up. The fabric is just amazing! At the time I cut most of it into kimono keys but I saved a piece of it and cut it into a handbag. But for some reason, I just couldn't finish this one. I couldn't decide on the lining. The flowers in the silk are such soft tones I was thinking I might find a delicate looking silk to compliment the obi. And then I was looking for some special handles. So she just sat up on my shelf, always in the back of my mind. Yesterday I worked all day on some orders I am trying to complete and then chatted with a girlfriend while I had my dinner. When I got done, I just didn't feel like going back to burlap. So I got out my two big bins of silk. One is full of obis and kimono, the other is predominantly dupioni and Thai silk. I fingered through them, as I so love to do, and was moved to take out a cream colored dupioni silk to use as the lining and a golden bronze silk to make custom piping out of. Since the obi was from Japan, I decided to add a little more international flair to this gal by choosing a golden silk for her straps that I purchased in Bangkok, Thailand at the Jim Thompson silk factory. I have told you before how that is just a piece of heaven for this bag maker!

So in what was only about a little over an hour, I accomplished what I had put off for almost two years. Please help me to welcome Yukiko into the world! Her name is Japanese for "rare child". She is indeed a rare child since there is no other bag in the world that looks like her. She has an abundance of metallic threads, both gold and silver that add a luscious sheen to her "complexion".

Born on March 24th, she is an Aries. Being made from a vintage Japanee obi, Yukiko is respectful of her ancestors and interested in history. Her curiousity abuot the world has lead to many adventures but her favorite place is Hawaii. She is a confident and wise woman, but has been knon for her impulsive nature. Life is never dull with Yukiko as your friend.

Yukiko can be found lounging around the Pacific Islands Gallery in Holualoa, Hawaii on the Big Island until someone takes her home. Stop in and check her out!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Palm Palm on Kauai

I spent the whole day today making linings for my Big Kahuna bag that I sell to Palm Palm boutique on Kauai. I finished 8 and have 5 more cut out. I have felt so bad because I haven't been able to keep Marjorie stocked with bags for several months. So I am determined to complete her order this week. Tomorrow I will work on all the exteriors and then I need to make cosmetic bags, card holders and key fobs to match each bag.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Still working on Balance

Where did this week go to? I did get a lot done but had much more on my list! My biggest accomplishment, however, was finally purging my house of excess junk! Oh sure, there is still more....but back in December when I was trying to clean my house before the new year, I started in the back of the house and went through closets, getting rid of anything that I didn't use, need or love. I kept hauling it all out into the dining room because, well, we don't use that space much for one, and secondly, because it is the closest drop next to the garage where I had intended to hold a garage sale. Please let me repeat that was back in December....3 months ago!

Well, you all know what happened next. I got that order for 100 bags that had to be done in one week and then I just never got caught up so there sat my junk...out in the dining room. Finally on Friday morning this week, I got up early and made my coffee and it hit me! I could not stand to live with that mess any more! Not for even one more day! So I started hauling it all out and pricing it. Priced to sell because I was NOT going to bring that stuff back into my house! I had several boxes of items that were priced by the box! Take the whole box! Fabric, CDs, movies, just take it! I got up early yesterday morning and made my "sale" signs. I drove up to the corner and was placing them when 3 carloads of garage salers spotted my sign and started to follow me! Yikes! I sort of wanted to get to my house before everyone else did! So I let them drive past my street before I put out the next "arrow". Phew! I made it!

As I was walking down my driveway, 5 cars pulled up. This was the busiest garage sale I have ever had! After 3 hours, all I had left was a door, some long flourescent light bulbs and some fabric. I had made a bucket of money and decided that was all the time I had to devote to that. I had some people who wanted to buy just one movie or piece of fabric. "Its priced $10 for the whole box, how much is just one?" My reply was "ten dollars". "But I only want one". "I understand, but I do not want that back in my house. Its a better deal if you take the whole box!" So they did! I sold a huge box of lace curtains for $20

Spending time on things other than my business is all part of my "Balance" goal for this year. Honestly, I am not sure how I found the time to take most of two days to prepare for and to have the garage sale. But it needed to be done. A little Yin with my Yang!

Today we have a guy coming over to give us an estimate to tile our bathroom and shower. We have been without our master bath for about a month now.

This week is going to be marathon sewing days. I have cleared my appointment calendar so that I can just sew and get some more orders shipped out. And with a clean house, I can do that free of any guilt! Balance....balance...balance!

Have a great week!
a hui hou

Friday, March 5, 2010

Stop and smell the plumerias!

Today I took the day off! MM and I hadn't had a day off together for over two weeks so this morning we got up and went to Kona Mountain for a "cuppa". Then we went to a couple of Granite places to see what is on island right now. We are re-doing our master bathroom, following the leaky toilet mishap. While planning that, we came across a nice slab of granite for the kitchen island....oh and then we may as well do the countertops too! We won't be able to do it all at once, but are having fun with the selection process.

For lunch today we rode the motorcycle out to the Queens shops by the Hilton (19 miles away) and had an Arbys roast beef with horsey sauce! It was more about the company than the food!

While he was taking a little nap I finished up a custom order (I know, I said I was taking the day off....but this hardly counted! Earl was asleep!) And in a few minutes we leave for a matinee movie.

This evening we will be going up to his mom's for dinner and then home fairly early. Maybe because I don't have days like this very often, I really appreciate them! I have to remember to "stop and smell the plumerias!"

a hui hou

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Really Hawaiian is Loving Sasaki Bags

I woke up this morning to a notice that my bags were selected to be featured on Really Hawaiian's website. A big MAHALO to Ginger Hall for sharing the love! Their website features all kinds of items from salt and coffee to...well Sasaki Bags that are made in Hawaii. Check out the other items Hawaii has to offer!