Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Thailand Adventure: Bangkok!

I just returned from my two week stay in Thailand! My head is still spinning a little trying to grasp all the amazing things I've been lucky enough to experience in the past few weeks!


The trip taught me a lot of things about myself. Being a solo traveler can be hard, but I also think it opened me up to the experience on a different level. I learned that I'm much stronger than I thought I was and each successful public transit trip or food order felt like a little win. Being alone also helped me to be open to meeting a lot of wonderful and interesting people from all over the world. I connected and learned a lot about more than just Thailand during the trip and I am so grateful for my experiences!

There were a lot of highlights and want to document them and share them with you.  I feel like I could easily write 20 posts about all the amazing things I experienced, but I will spare you every single detail and instead share just a few post over the next couple weeks in several different posts. The first leg of my trip was in Bangkok.

I started my time in Bangkok with an amazing scooter tour (I will share more about that soon!) that helped me get acclimated to the city and get a glimpse of the things I wanted to go back to see more of. It really got me excited and inspired to start my journey.


From Bangkok, I took a day trip to visit the Damnoen Saduak floating market. Floating markets are something I've dreamed of since seeing colorful glimpses of them in books as a little girl. The truth is, the days of true Thai commerce and trade in the waterways of Damnoen Saduak are gone and this market is vastly a tourist destination. The boats are mostly full of the same tourist knick knacks you find all over Thailand and eager shopkeepers trying to pull you and persuade you to spend your tourist dollars instead of what I imagine used to be filled with beautiful produce and handicrafts once upon a time. Even so, it was a really fun visit and I am glad I went. It was a bit of a drive, but once we arrived, we got into boats and floated along the canal inundated with beautiful colors and smells from every direction. I ordered some amazing food from a vendor making impressive traditional food out of her small longboat and it was definitely an experience for me.



I spent a day in Bangkok floating up the Chao Phraya River (which is part of the Bangkok public transit system and costs only a few dollars for a day of cruising and getting off at as many stops as you want! Such a great way to see the city!). I visited some of the most unbelievably beautiful and sacred temples I could ever imagine. The Grand Palace is a massive expanse of beautiful building after beautiful building, each more grand than the last. It was like a maze of gold gilded walls with striking gems and bright colored details. The smell of inscense and flowers filled the air as people came and gave prayer to the gorgeous altars.





Just around the corner from the Grand Palace is Wat Pho. While Wat Pho is not quite as large and grand as the palace, it had it's own captivating charm. Wat Pho is most famous for being the home of the largest reclining Buddah in the world - it was an imense and beautiful sight to see and it made me feel quite small as I stood at the foot of the this massive beautiful gold, shiny monument. Wat Pho is also famous for being the home of the first school of traditional Thai Massage. If you have never had a Thai massage, it's really unlike any massage you've had in the past - a combination of yoga stretches, pressure points, and rhythmic pressure. A massage was the perfect break from the heat of the day.





Also around the corner, I took a short walk through the Amulet Market to admire some beautiful precious amulets, charms, and talisman that pay homage and bring fortune.


I was a little overwhelmed by the shopping experience in Bangkok because the options seemed so expansive and endless. I'm not a big mall shopper, but I do love a flea market and Bangkok is home to one of the world's largest - Chatuchak Weekend Market. It is 35+ acres of 15,000 stalls selling everything from pottery to clothing to squirrels. It's really an overload of the senses. More than really the act of buying things, I just enjoyed the experience of getting lost in the stalls, eating bites of all the amazing food vendors, and taking it all in. So much delicious food.


Overall, Bangkok was an incredible experience.  The city was full of life and it sometimes felt endless.  After Bangkok, I headed north to Chaing Mai. Stay tuned for lots more!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Guest Post : Support a Great Cause!

Sawadee Kha from Phuket, Thailand!

I'm having an amazing adventure in Thailand.  I've been here for almost two weeks and I am so excited to share all of my adventures with you all when I get back. For now though, I am delighted that Amanda is sharing some really important information about a cause that is near to my heart.  My mother in law was diagnosed with MS a few years ago and it's a really important cause that I am so inspired by Amanda's words and commitment to it! 

Be sure to check out her awesome blog - Chicky Stitches as well!


Hello lovely readers! Sarah has so graciously offered to have me guest post today to share something very dear to my heart. Recently, I decided to participate in the MS Walk this year. My Dad was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when I was in middle school. Watching him go through this ordeal has been heartbreaking. I am very happy to say that he is in remission at this point, and doing very well. But there was a time when things were not so wonderful. MS is a very mysterious and often debilitating disease. You never know what to expect. I borrowed this little clip from the MS Walk website:

"Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling, disease of the central nervous system that interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Millions of people are affected by MS and the challenges of living with its unpredictable symptoms, which range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS."

No one knows what causes MS, and there is no cure. For anyone currently effected by this disease, all anyone can offer is treatment for the symptoms. Usually this requires large doses of pain medications that wreak havoc on the body. There are medications available to try to slow the progression of the disease, but they are extremely expensive, and many people cannot afford them. The MS Society's mission statement says:

"The National MS Society is a collective of passionate individuals who want to do something about MS now—to move together toward a world free of multiple sclerosis. MS stops people from moving. We exist to make sure it doesn't. We help each person address the challenges of living with MS through our 50-state network of chapters. The Society helps people affected by MS by funding cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education, and providing programs and services that help people with MS and their families move their lives forward."

There are currently over 2 million people living with MS in the world today.




I am sharing this with you today to ask for your help. Our team has set a goal to raise $1,000 to help find a cure. You view our team page here. Follow that link or click the image below to make a donation today. Everything helps! No amount is too small. You can donate anonymously if you like, but if you wish to leave your name, I will personally send you a small handmade thank you gift to show my appreciation.



Also, any sales made through my Etsy shop this month will go directly towards our team fundraiser. Not just 10%, or even 50%, but the ENTIRE purchase price. You could have a brand new wallet for yourself, and still be donating to a great cause! Make sure you leave a little note when you check out, or send me an email at anelson726@outlook.com, so I know it's you! I don't want anyone to miss out on their Thank You gift! And thank you in advance for helping out with such an important cause.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Perfectly Portland : The Japanese Gardens


The first few weeks of spring in Portland are always a game of cat and mouse.  It's beautiful, sunny, and hopeful one moment and the very next moment it goes back to grey, rainy, drab as it has been for the past 5 months or so.  Despite all the rainy months, Portlanders are nothing if not optimists.  We make the very best of every single ray of sunshine we see and we brave the chance of rain just to soak up the small moments of sunshine in between.  We know each rainy season has an end and this one is in sight.



Yesterday, I grabbed a friend and took advantage of a break in the clouds to enjoy a bit of wandering in the Portland Japanese Gardens.

The Japanese Gardens are a lovely thing to do when you are in Portland.  They gardens are a part of Washington Park - a 400 acre natural oasis just outside of downtown Portland.  Washington Park is also home to the Oregon Zoo, The World Forestry Center, Hoyt Arboretum, The Portland Children's Museum, and the International Rose Test Gardens.  It's a great place to relax, explore, and take in some amazing views.  You can drive or hop on a blue line or red line max train to the Washington Park stop.


The gardens aren't very big, but there are a lot of little moments of zen and beauty as you walk around.   From waterfalls to serene coy ponds, it makes for a perfect day.



After you visit the gardens, be sure to step across the street to visit the International Rose Test Gardens to see over 550 varieties of roses and learn why Portland is known as Rose City.  Roses are in bloom from about April - October, so sadly we missed out this time!



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

31 before 31


I know I am a little behind the ball on this list.  I've been making it for a few months, but I haven't really shared it just yet.  It's a big list, but I have 8+ months to complete it.  There are a few things from my 30 before 30 list that were carried over - no shame, this is the year! This year had a really hard start with the surgery, health issues, and so many life changes.  Despite all of that, this year is full of possibilities and adventure for me and I feel really optimistic about this list!

1. Get back to blogging
2. Take a boat ride through a floating market
3. Feed an elephant
4. Visit a night market in Thailand
5. Snorkel in the Andaman Sea
6. Take a Thai cooking class
7. Celebrate Songkran (Thai New Year) with a water fight festival
8. Hang out with a tiger
9. Learn more about buddism & explore temples
10. Connect with extended family
11. Make bagels from scratch
12. Co-host a wedding shower
13. Learn to make wine
14. Recovery from neurosurgery and focus on self-care
15. Travel alone and make a new friend while doing it
16. Attend GeekGirlCon 2014
17. Go bungee jumping
18. Find a new job that makes me happy and leaves room for a work/life balance
19. Find a new bar trivia night and create new traditions
20. Get a good bra fitting
21. Reorganize the Pyrex collection
22. Go to a distillery tasting
23. Celebrate Galentine's Day

24. Make one piece of clothing for myself
25. Attend the Cherry Blossom Festival
26. Find a new volunteer opportunity and also take in more fosters
27. Finish an embroidery project
28. Host a dinner party
29. Plant a fall garden
30. See Crater Lake
31.Turn 31 in a special place I've never been before

What do you hope to do this year?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Thailand Dreaming...

I just bought my tickets for a two week trip to Thailand at the end of March!  I am so excited and looking forward to it!

It should be the adventure of a lifetime!

Have you been to Thailand?  What are your favorite spot?  Tips?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Mandarin & Green Tea Hot Toddy Warm Up!


 It's a pretty rare sight to see my beloved city covered in a blanket of snow, but I guess those winter storms finally caught up with Portland.  Today is a beautiful day for a snow day!  The pup and I ventured out for a little snow play date, but mostly I've been really enjoying just cozying up inside and watching the snow fall

This is the perfect perfect day for a nice warm drink.  I whipped up a little special version of the classic hot toddy and it is divine comfort.


This is a really easy cocktail to make and it's really a nice fresh, sweet take on the classic - a mandarin & green tea hot toddy!  I used my yummy new Celestial Seasonings Green Tea (compliments of the fine folks at Influencer) combined with these beautiful seasonal mandarin oranges and a bit of spice and honey.  It takes the classic toddy to a smoother, sweeter place while still having all the comfort and warmth of the classic.  It also has all the great benefits of green tea!

Mandarin & Green Tea Hot Toddy
2 cups water
3 slices of mandarin
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon whole cloves plus additional to pierce orange and lemon wheels
2-3 thinly sliced pieces of ginger
2 ounces of spiced rum
1 bag of green tea*
1 tablespoon honey (or more for taste)
Combine water, orange, and spices in a small pot and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes to extract the spice flavor and then strain liquid into a mug. Steep green tea for 2-3 minutes. Add honey and rum and give it a stir. Garnish with half of a mandarin slice and cozy up to enjoy!
*Celestial Seasonings also makes a Mandarin Orchard Tea that I am excited to try with this recipe!

You can make this drink with or without the alcohol, either way, it's a sweet warm way to enjoy the snow.


What are your favorite snow day activities?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Creative Collective : A Winter Playlist




This week's challenge for the Creative Collective was to create a playlist of new music.  I admit, I cheated a little on this one!  I started to go through music on Grooveshark to find some new artists that I hadn't heard before, but I found myself also getting caught up with old artists from my past that I'd almost forgotten about and also a few that have been playing on repeat in my car this season.  This winter has been full of ups and downs, cozy boring days of recovery and crazy adventures, horrible news followed great news...it's been a rollercoaster, but in the end, it's been about finding a place of contentment and learning to celebrate the little things.  That is what inspired my winter playlist.



What are you listening to this winter?

Friday, January 31, 2014

Celebrating the Chinese New Year with Pork Goyza!

Today is the Chinese New Year! Welcome the Year of the Horse!

To celebrate, I made one of my new favorite recipes - pork pot stickers (goyza)! Jiaozi dumplings are a traditional Chinese New Year dish in northern China and are often shaped into an ingot coin shape because eating them is said to bring prosperity in the new year.  Mine might not be as pretty as traditional dumplings, but they are just as delicious and I am excited to make them again and get better at my folding skills!


This may seem like a daunting recipe because there are a lot steps, but they are all super easy and the results are fantastic. The dumplings are wonderfully filling these would make a real WOW for an party appetizer, or you could just make them for dinner as a fun way to switch things up for your family. My husband and I made these with a stirfry, but they were so good that we ended up just filling up on dumplings and just saved the stirfry for a massive left-overs the next night!

You can use premade wontons, or just make this 3 ingredient dough yourself. It is super easy to put together and really rewarding and I'm sure you already have all these ingredients on hand! The dough is nice and tender and a little thicker than the usual wonton wrappers. My husband & I both just loved them!


Chinese Pork Dumplings
makes about 30 dumplings

To make the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
3/4 cup boiling water
1/4 teaspoon salt


Using a dough hook on your stand mixer, combine ingredients and mix until a smooth ball forms. Mix on medium-high speed to kneed the dough for about 5 minutes. If you don't have a stand mixer, you can mix the ingredients using a chopstick and let them sit for a few moments until cool enough to kneed by hand for 5 minutes. Cover dough and let rest for one hour.

Divide the dough into 4 sections and the roll each section into about 1" logs. Cut into 3" pieces. You should end up with about 20-30 peices. Roll into balls, flatten, and roll out to about 1/8" with a rolling pin. Be sure to flour your surface to avoid sticking. As you work, cover your pieces with a wet paper towel to keep them from drying out.

Filling:
1 cup ground pork
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup green onion, finely minced
1 1/2 cups finely diced Napa cabbage
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger (or powdered ginger is fine)



Mix all ingredients by hand until fully combined.

Assemble the dumplings by adding about a teaspoon of filling to the center of each. Wet the edge of one side, fold over, and seal by pinching the tops.

You have several options when it comes to cooking, you could steam, fry, or boil them. I really love the traditional goyza option of frying & steaming...it gives a really great crunchy bottom and a soft pillowy top. To do that, put about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet, heat to medium-high heat until the oil is hot and glistens. Add dumplings and cook for about 3-5 minutes until the bottoms are browned. Add about 1/3 cup of water to the pan and quickly cover with a lid. Turn down to medium and allow the dumplings to steam for about 20 minutes.



Dipping sauce:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sweet soy
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger

Whisk all ingredients together and serve along with your dumplings.

Enjoy and happy new year!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sponsor New Wave Domesticity in February! Get 1 Month Free!

I am so excited to be back to blogging this month and I am thrilled to be able to open up sponsorship opportunities! Blogging is all about community and support - I love being able to promote and share lots of amazing project, so I would love to feature your blog, etsy shop, business, or project on New Wave Domesticity! Next month I will also be opening up a new sponsor feature so that I introduce you to all my readers!

Your sponsorship dollars go directly into helping this blog grow and I appreciate your support & hope that we can grow together! I am excited to learn more about your blog and projects. If you'd like to swap ads, I would love that too, just get in touch!

I also love hosting giveaways and featuring guest posts when they are a good fit for my audience, so please get in touch if you are interested.  In addition, I am happy to occasionally do reviews for products or businesses. Want stats? Click here!

I would be delighted to hear from you to get involved in other ways.  I am always opened to teaming up with other bloggers for exciting new projects, guest posting, and opportunities - please get in touch!  Email sarahswingset@gmail.com.
All ads are subject to approval.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

We Are Mint to Be : DIY Buttermints for Valentine's Day + Free Printable

Free printable : We are mint to be!  + easy DIY buttermint recipe

I have bit of a soft spot for buttermints.  You know the ones...those baby pink, yellow, and green candies that used to be in your grandma's candy dish or in little tulle satchels as wedding favors.  The ones that feel like little soft mint pillows melting away into your mouth.  Sure, they taste a little like chalk, but they really bring me back to a sweet, child-like place.

Buttermints are really simple to make and they are perfect for Valentine's Day because you can cut them into any shape or color you want.  Also, like many things, the homemade version will change the way you look at this candy - it's not chalky at all, but instead the homemade buttermints are softer and much more rich and decedent.  I also experimented with another version - chocolate buttermints. They feel almost like minty truffles and are so smooth and luxurious, so if you are a fan of the chocolate + mint combination, these are perfection!  And they make the perfect gift for Valentine's Day!

Free printable : We are mint to be!  + DIY buttermint recipe

Homemade Buttermints
makes about 15 dozen mints

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups (1 lb) powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon cream or milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4-1 teaspoon peppermint extract
food coloring 

Beat butter in a stand mixer using the paddles attachment until smooth.  Add powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract and mix on medium speed until candy is smooth.  Taste the candy and add more peppermint as needed - the extract is usually quite strong, so start with a small amount and add more in 1/4 teaspoon increments until it meets your taste.  Remember, you can always add more mint, but you can't go backwards - a little goes a long way.

Once you have the right flavor, you can add your color and mix until fully combined.   The dough will be very thick, but pliable.

Recipe for easy homemade buttermints! Yum!

To make the mints, the traditional way is to roll the dough into long cylinders and cut 1/4"-1/2" squares off.  You can also just roll the dough to about 1/2" and cut out like you would a cookie.  Use powdered sugar to cover your workspace and rolling pin to avoid sticking.  I used a small heart cutter that I found at the local craft store with the clay supplies.  There's no wrong way to cut and design your mints.  Once they are cut, just set them on on a cookie sheet to dry for about 24 hours.   They will harden on the outside, but the inside will stay nice and smooth.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.

Recipe for easy homemade chocolate buttermints!

To make mint chocolates : Follow the above recipe and simply add 2 tablespoons cocoa powder + 1 teaspoon milk or cream and omit the coloring!


I wanted to give these as little Valentines gifts, so I packaged them up in small cellophane bags and made up this little label for them!

Free printable : We are mint to be!  + DIY buttermint recipe


Print the labels onto cardstock and cut into 1/4 sheets.  Fold and staple over 3"x5" cellophane bags filled with candy.  Give and spread joy!