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Food & DIY

    Food & DIY

    Strawberry & Mint Agua Fresca

    Since it has been extremely hot these past few days, I thought that it would be a good idea to start sharing some of my favorite Summer recipes on the blog. The first recipe that I’m going to share with you is for a delicious Strawberry & Mint Agua Fresca, which is super easy to make. I have a soft spot in my heart for aguas frescas because they always remind me of my childhood Summers; my mother and my abuela (grandmother) often made different types of aguas frescas such as horchata and other various fruit drinks. Other than the childhood nostalgia that they ignite in me, what I also enjoy about aguas frescas is that they are always a great alternative to store-bought juices and soft drinks, since they are made with fresh ingredients. I really hope that you enjoy this recipe, and that you use it often this Summer!
    Strawberry & Mint Agua Fresca Recipe
    INGREDIENTS:
    3 1/2 cups of water
    1 1/2 cups of pure cane sugar
    2 16-ounce containers of fresh strawberries (chopped)
    Mint leaves (according to taste)
    1. Blend the chopped strawberries, pure cane sugar, and 1 1/2 cups of water.
    2. Leave the strawberry mixture in the blender, and slowly start blending in mint leaves according to taste. This mixture makes a strawberry and mint concentrate, which you can freeze and use to make agua fresca at a later time.
    3. Pour the strawberry and mint concentrate into a large pitcher, and stir in 2 cups of water.
    4. Serve over ice.
    Optional: If you’re really looking to cool off from the heat, you can also pour the agua fresca into popsicle molds for a delicious frozen treat.
    —————–
    I have to admit that I’m glad that I decided to post a recipe on the blog this week, because I definitely didn’t have the energy to get dressed and take outfit pictures this weekend. This past week of work just left me feeling drained and tired, so I spent most of my free time this weekend in my pajamas. All I accomplished was laying on my bed and binge-watching the second season of Orange is the New Black. I still have a few episodes left in the current season. However, I have decided that from now on, I will limit myself to an episode a week so that it feels more like a treat. It’s so hard to do that because this season is so good!
    Another reason that I’m trying to limit my television time is because I’ve let go of many of my hobbies, and I’ve made a habit of spending too much time in front of a computer. I don’t read as much as I used to anymore, and I also haven’t been keeping up with creative projects other than this blog. I need to make time to experience the world around me.
    xoxo
    Helen Grace
    Food & DIY

    Vegan Mixed Berry and Caramel Crumble

    Even though I’m usually not a fan of sweets other than chocolate, recently I’ve had a major craving for pastries and baked goods. I think that I have Instagram and Pinterest to blame for my newfound sweet tooth, since I’m constantly being bombarded with pictures of delicious food over social media. Unfortunately, these days the weather in California is way too hot for me to even think about turning on the oven in my kitchen. In order to curve my craving for sweets, this weekend I decided to adapt a recipe for a Vegan Jewel Fruit Tart with Caramel Filling that I had made a while back for my friends’ New Year’s party. I love that this recipe is perfect for hot weather because it is super easy to make and your refrigerator takes the place of an oven.
    As you can probably tell from the title of this post, my adaptation didn’t turn out quite as I expected. As I was experimenting with making the crust, I realized that the mixture that I had made had a more crumbly texture than the one in the original recipe.  Since this blog is all about experimenting, instead of starting all over, I decided to keep the crust as is in order to see what I came up with. The result was this delicious Vegan Mixed Berry and Caramel Crumble that I now have the pleasure of sharing with you.
    VEGAN MIXED BERRY AND CARAMEL CRUMBLE
    INGREDIENTS:
    CRUST/CRUMBLE BASE
    2 cups of walnuts
    1/2 cup of shredded coconut
    1 and 1/2 cups of pitted dates
    CARAMEL MIXTURE
    1/4 cup of almond butter
    1/4 cup of maple syrup
    1/4 cup of melted coconut oil
    1/2 tsp of cinnamon
    1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
    TOPPING
    Fresh of frozen berries of your choice
    INSTRUCTIONS:
    1. Blend 2 cups of walnuts, 1/2 cup of shredded coconut, and 1 and 1/2 cups of pitted dates in a food processor until the mixture forms a paste-like texture.
    2. Pour the mixture unto a greased pan and press it against the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate this for 2 hours to allow the crumble base to harden.
    3. To make the caramel mixture, blend 1/4 cup of almond butter, 1/4 cup of maple syrup, 1/4 cup of coconut oil, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract until smooth. Then, pour the mixture over the walnut and date crust.
    4. When ready to serve, place fresh or frozen berries on top of the mixture (If you let the berries sit on top of the crumble base for too long, the mixture might get soggy). You can serve the berry crumble alone, or with a side of ice cream.
    I hope that you like this recipe and that you find time to make it at home. If you do decide to make this at home, please leave me a comment and let me know how it turns out.
    Sincerely,
    Helen Grace
    Food & DIY

    Give A Little Love-D.I.Y. Valentine’s Day Cards

    Photos by: Sarah Veyna
     Lately many of my friends and I have been getting into the habit of sending each other greeting cards and letters. Several of my friends are abroad or living in different states, and writing letters is an easy way for us to keep in touch without the hassle of coordinating Skype sessions in different time zones.
    In order to add a special touch to my next round of greeting cards, I decided to make them by hand using a block print. Since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, I thought that it would be fun to dedicate this post to D.I.Y. Valentine’s Day Cards. Block printing is a very fun process that you can easily do at home. Keep reading to learn how…
    Supplies:
    Black marker
    Fine tip pen (optional)
    Linoleum block
    Carving tools (You can purchase a lino handle
    and cutters individually, or purchase a set.)
    Block Printing Ink (I recommend using a brand that is water soluble,
    since it easier to clean up.)
    Foam or Glass Palette
    Brayer
    Note Cards ( I bought these at Target.)


    STEP 1 and 2: Draw and Carve Out Your Design*

    Begin by drawing a design on your block using a black marker.As you begin to carve out your design, keep in mind negative space. Negative space is what you don’t want to print out on paper and are going to be carving out using your tools. I recommend that you distinguish negative space by either carving out all the blank parts of your drawing, or all the parts drawn in with marker.

     

     
    STEP 3: Roll Out Your Paint
     
    Squeeze out a small amount of printing ink on your palette, and roll it out using the brayer. As you roll out the paint, make sure that there is an even coat of paint covering the brayer. This step is important since you will be using the brayer to coat your stamp.


    STEP 4: Paint Your Block


    Use the brayer to cover the block in paint. Roll the brayer over your stamp in different directions in order to create an even layer of paint. You will have to repeat this step every time you make a new print.
     
    STEP 5: Make Your Print
    To make your print, place the block on a notecard and hold it firmly for a couple of seconds. I would recommend placing a stack of newspapers, or any other kind of padding, underneath the notecard that you are printing on. If you place the notecard directly on a flat surface, you can’t place as much pressure on the block and the quality of the print does not come out as clear.



    STEP 6:  Let Your Prints Dry Overnight


    Finally, lay the prints flat on a surface, and let them dry overnight.

    STEP 7 (OPTIONAL) Write In Your Text: As you can tell from the finished product above, I went ahead and wrote a message using a fine tip pen. Because of the size of my print, it was easier for me to write in my text. If you are going to add some type of lettering using the block, I would remind you to carve it out as a mirror image so that your lettering won’t come out backwards when you print on paper.
    * My final print is not identical to the original design on my block because it did not print out exactly the way that I wanted it to. If you find that your print isn’t quite working for you, you can always wash off your block using water and soap and modify your design as you go along.