Seattleversary! 4 Years

The City Beautiful

Sunny Florida

Four years ago, one way ticket in hand, I boarded a plane that flew me far away from everyone I loved and everything I knew. It was the first time that choices were mine to make instead of my environment dictating what I must do. By all accounts it made no sense to move 3,000 miles away. I had no money, no real job prospects and only a sleazy motel to call home. I understood when certain members of my family cornered me and said I was making a huge mistake. I understood when my best friends felt put out and couldn’t be as excited as I was. While I miss seeing all my folks on the daily, Seattle is still the best decision I’ve made. It’s my magic city!

photo by Jared Wade

This is incredible photo is by Scott Dalrymple.

One month before I got on that plane, I got on this website. I posted this blog. Four years later I’m looking back at that first post teary-eyed. This is the place I come to to share all the odds and ends in life, one collected viewpoint. It makes me smile to reread posts about trying to learn how to stick with things! Duh! Clearly I’m capable of stick-to-it-ive-ness! In the past year Sunshine Press has gone from randomized whenever I feel like to semi-organized mostly consistent content. I thought it might be fun to talk about the changes made this past year and share where I’d like to go. Eh? Yeahhhh!

MENU:

We’ve added a section where I open up our kitchen and share recipes. Honeybee’s even shared one! Did I ever tell you how that whole thing started? Matt would text me early in the evening and ask what I wanted for dinner so he could bring it home from work. I realized I needed a list, a menu, so I could quickly get back to him. When we began, I wrote the list in a notebook, but then filled it with other random nonsense and blog ideas. Rather than rewriting it, I figured the internet would keep everything forever. And if you’re gonna post a list of food on the internet, you really should do the decent thing and show pictures of it. And boom! Next thing you know, there’s sisig and black beans and rice, tilapia, etc. It wasn’t until the caffeine free not-too-sweet sweet tea that I considered adding beverages, but as soon as I did it seemed like a no brainer. We love to mix up cocktails and punches! So you can expect to see more drinks in the next year! As well as the foodie goodness you’re used to!

MEET:

I know entirely too many wonderfully talented beautiful souls not to share them. Meet is my biggest challenge, but if I had to choose, I’d say it’s my favorite section here. It takes a while for schedules to line up and editing, but it’s more than worth it! So far we’ve met Briana, Jeri, Matt and, most recently, Bethany. There won’t be too many changes here except that I’ll be working on keeping this a monthly feature [you know, instead of drifting in and out randomly].

Life List:

The life list has been up for a while, but this year I was able to cross a few big ones off. Find my love, keep him/her. Be published. Hang my paintings in my favorite coffee shop. Who can forget my flowing silk satin robe? And I told a funny joke. This next year you’ll see me focusing on the financial and educational goals as well as adding some new stuff to the list. Can’t. Wait.

Photography:

Taking pictures is something you can always improve upon. Sometimes I do great work, but I recognize that my camera/lens set up is limited. Until I can afford another upgrade, my plan is do become an expert at what I have. I’d love to go back through the Menu: and remake everything during the day to get the best shots. A lot of the time I’m challenged by poor lighting in our house. I mean we live in a basement people! But even in the above-ground kitchen where the walls are yellow, when I cook at night everything looks extra double yellow. In order to effectively get better I’ve been doing at least one photo-heavy post a month. This month’s was Out of the City and Into the Woods [part 1]. I figure that’ll give me a good chance to hone my skills and keeping it all fresh. As always I greatly appreciate feedback!

Design:

I’ve been using Polyvore to design rooms and outfits. Love it. Want more of it. At least one a month. Visualizing spaces is something I do for fun. I see a Domino magazine and my eye gets to twitchin, I love that there are so many ways to make a house, apartment, ranch, farm, bungalow, duplex, trailer, whatever into home. In the far off future I want to be able to offer interior design as a service, so putting together rooms here is great practice.

Projects:

There’s no shortage of stuff to do in this world. This year I finally stained that antique table! And you can’t forget those pre-wedding projects such as my Love Wins window, and paper garlands, vamping out my nightstand, and staining my dresser. Looking ahead here, you can expect a great deal more. I want to build us a bed and I’m starting to get the itch to repaint our whole room. Of course if I repaint it, then I’ll want to build new shelving. Possibly add mirrored panels to the sliding closet doors. You know me. A sunshine’s work is never done. Especially now that there’s Wrays of Sunshine Press, my wee Etsy shop. Coming up soon there’ll be new pieces as well as some practical items for the every day.

In general:

General changes have included the new layout, which I love. Simple squiggly chevron. But behind the scenes I’ve created and maintained a spreadsheet to keep myself on track with all this. Why? Because I must. There’s no reason except that I positively love to blog here. If I could, I’d quit my stupid mailroom job and blog full time, but I’m just not there yet. I’m hopeful for the future. The plan is to increase readership [through consistent dope ass content], then grow to accept sponsors…actually I’m now accepting sponsors, I just haven’t gotten any yet. Lols. That’s okay, though. There’s always room to grow.

If you or someone you know want to advertise their small business/blog send em my way!

More than anything, though, I’d really like to thank you for stopping in to my little corner of the internet whether you’re new or you’ve been with me from the beginning. I look forward to many more years of bloggage. Is bloggage even a word?

It is now. Just decided.

Xo,

Sunshine

Menu: Sunshine’s Hearty Party Mac&Cheese

Well hiya, hungry!

You look thin. Have you eaten? Was it buttery and creamy and cheesy and perfect?

It’s about to be.

DONE

My Hearty Party Mac&Cheese is actually a variance on my Mama’s. Hers is perfect. And she pairs it with collard greens which is a most righteous flavor combination. This is my wee yummy version, it’s quick and painless but still achieves the deliciousness that is soul food. Comfort food. That said, you probably shouldn’t eat it all yourself. Maybe make it for a dinner party. Feeds a tribe!

Lemme just apologize for lack of true finished photos and crazy ass process shots. As far as I know, the Mac&Cheese got to the point seen above and basically fell off the face of the Earth…into my mouth…and Honeybee’s, he helped!

Okay, to make it like this you’ll need a little over half a box of rotini pasta, a slice of cooked ham, a block of medium cheddar cheese, shallot, onion, garlic, black pepper, red pepper flake and half a serrano if you like it spicy like we do. You’ll also need a tablespoon [eyeballed, but call it a thick slice] of butter and less than a quarter cup of flour for your rue. Also, a couple cups of cold, cold milk. You’ll need a spoon, a knife and a whisk.

A spoon, a knife and a whisk walk into a bar. Bartender’s a spatula, he and the whisk were old friends. He says, I know what you want whiskey, how about the couple? Eh? Funny? No. I suck at jokes. Le sigh.

My earliest memories of Mama Sunshine’s Mac&Cheese were of the important duty I was tasked, the grating of the cheese. Sure you could buy the pre-grated stuff but it’s not as good. And it costs more. You know it. I know it. Just invest in one of these.

GREATEST GRATER

This is the greatest grater I’ve ever used. I got it at Ross for like, $6. The ball on top is perfect for small hands and its rubber feet don’t slip around all willy nilly. For Mac&Cheese use the giant size, doesn’t have to be dainty, just get it done. But the other side is smaller.

AHOY GRATEY

I grated up about 3 cups of cheese. I don’t think I used the whole block. And I must say, this is the cheesiest Mac&Cheese I’ve made. Behind the gorgeous handy tool, you’ll notice my water for the pasta’s on high.

CHEESE

Cut up your onion, garlic, serrano, and shallot like this. Well, you don’t gotta be all flashy about it, I guess.

ONION GARLIC SHALLOT

Next you’ll need to make a roux. Have you made one before? When I was in my teens I literally could not make a successful rue. I rued many a day! Because this part is essential to the flavor of the whole thing. Do not try to make a rue while your  mind is preoccupied with anything other than making this rue. Or am I the only one who’s distractible as a kitten?

RUE THE DAY

Fine.

Heat a pot up to medium low [4 on a 1-10 scale, 10 the hottest]. Almost medium heat, not quite. Make sure your pot is warm before you dispense your butter. Hear the crisp bubble. It’s imperative. Use three quarters of your garlic/shallot/onion collection and cook until golden, stirring frequently. Once your veggies are the gilded, sprinkle your flour, bit by bit. Whisking ever more frequently. When you no longer smell the raw floury smell, when it’s all foamy and golden, as above, then, swiftly add your milk. Whisk harder and don’t stop until you have a semi-smooth consistency. The key to the least lumps is cold, cold milk. This is a basic white sauce. Look at you! All chefly and majestic!

MELTY

The hardest part is over. Add your shreds and stir a bit to melt slowly.

NOODLY

Now you can tear your eyes away to attend to your pasta. Rotini’s great because the cheese just fills in all those ridges and really has a place to go, but elbow macaroni would be another good option. At this point I toast up my ham slice with the remaining garlic/shallot/onion. It’s not pictured, but it’s also not necessary. I mean, it’s cooked and the heat from the finished Mac&Cheese warms it well. I just like my ham crisp and with a little color on it. Toss it in!

DONE

At this point you could pour it in a casserole dish and bake to brown the top. People like that. Like, everybody. I know it goes against soul food tradition, but I don’t really like it hard on top. I mean if you add bread crumbs, it’s okay, but I take it straight up. Finish with black pepper and red pepper flake.

Aw. Here we are back where we began. Like I said, after this there were no photos!

There also were no survivors.

We had a dinner portion each and leftovers for lunch the next day as well as lunch for our roommates Jeff, Tessa & Cain. That’s seven portions, give or take. They all said they enjoyed it, but the best review was Tessa miming how she savored each bite. Awesome. That’s why we cook [soul food]: to share with others! I dare you to make this for someone you love.

Triple dog dare ya.

Bon appétit,

Sunshine!

Menu: Honeybee’s Lemon Chicken

Did I tell you my Honeybee is an excellent cook? He is! He has loads of great recipes. Look! Here’s one now:

Honeybee’s Lemon Chicken

honeybee's

Ingredients: 2 chicken breasts, a head of broccoli, 2 large lemons, white onion, shallot, carrot, garlic, cilantro, mushroom, 1 tbsp sugar, pinch of salt and pepper

First chop up your veggies.

chop shop

You’ll end up with a heap of veggie goodness like so

shallot and serrano

I know his fingers look effortless here, but, believe it or not, Honeybee posed for this shot.

broccoli

Add more veggies at will. We happen to be big carrot and broccoli fans but, say, if you were into cauliflower you could add or replace any of these.

cilantro

Cilantro forever. Lemons in line.

If you’re only cooking for two, keep your breasts whole. We always try to have leftovers for lunch the next day so Honeybee slivered off a couple slices. Cut your chicken last and then wash your knife and cutting board immediately ’cause there’s nothing sexy about salmonella.

CHICKEN

Alright, we’re chopped, let’s get cooking. Honeybee and I both agree when it comes to a little bit of butter versus a lot of anything else, but whatever lubricant you choose will do. Begin with garlic, shallot and the serrano pepper at medium heat.

sizzlin

Add your chicken, tofu or whathaveyou and carrots. Squeeze lemon over everything.

other side

Cute thing alert! Check out our Pac Man oven mitt. It was a housewarming gift from the Burrow and it’s still one of my favorite gadgets.

pac man

Back in the pan, add onion.yum

Flip your chickens, then sprinkle pepper and sugar. [No salt yet, this prevents your chicken from drying out.]

flipped

Next Honeybee gave everything a stir and another squeeze of lemon. Each breast gets heapin’ helpin’ of cilantro.

cilantro

And, finally, add your broccoli and mushrooms. Matt spends a lot of time with produce in the market [where he works] and he’s very careful to cook all veggies, but especially broccoli, just the right amount.

broccoli

Omg I want to eat that! Don’t you want to eat that?

all together now

Let this cook, still on medium heat, for another few minutes. Salt, pepper and serve. Simple.

mine

And here’s my to-go container.

to go

And there you have it: a light delicious meal ready in about half an hour. Bam. Boom. Dank. Delicious!

Forks up!

xo,

Sunshine

P.S. What do you think? Any special requests? What are you cookin these days? Make me a plate!