“Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow”

So… I’ve imported all the entries in this blog over to my website and it’s time to re-direct all my faithful followers over there as well.  It wasn’t a hard decision to make, rather one of those necessary steps to become more professional.  I’ve long outgrown my title as “BeadMonkey” but it will always be part of Hui Hui Design’s history.  It’s been an amazing journey and I will continue pouring out my heart and soul into my posts.  It’s just a new and bigger place to do it.

See you on the flip side.

Blog Spotlight ~ 100 Days of Real Food

In my quest of finding healthy but tasty food, my friend got me hooked on this blog about using the freshest and sometimes organic ingredients in their cooking.  I only buy organic if it’s a similar price as the regular produce.  Jesse and I haven’t been convinced that organic foods are the way to go, but I do adore my organic, non-homogenized, cream top whole milk from Trader Joe’s.  As a kid, I used to drink raw milk, so we had to shake the milk bottle to get the cream to mix in with the milk.

So far I’ve tried these recipes with great success:

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

You can’t screw this one up.  Slice up some onions and dump in the meat then the rest is easy.  I’ve made it with raw sugar because I didn’t have any honey and it turned out just fine.  I always improvise my cooking if I don’t have everything the recipe calls for.  Growing up, I never used recipes unless I was baking because cooking calls for a certain improvisational flair.  Make some cornbread or rolls and some kind of cooked greens and this is an awesome dinner.  Costco usually sells 6 or 9 pounds of pork shoulder at a time and it freezes well.  Just be sure to allocate some extra cooking time if the meat is frozen.  I dump it in regardless and it still turns out fine.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

I was curious about making chicken stock because I have frozen wontons that need to be prepared in a different way than being fried.  I love fried wontons, but it gets old after awhile and it isn’t the most healthy dinner option.  So I took my rotisserie chicken bones from Costco and tried out this method of making chicken stock.  It worked out really well and I even used Jesse’s obscure herbs from the yard (Pineapple sage, lemon verbena, and lovage).  The only normal veggies I used were the onions and Italian parsley.  Worked great and I filled up 4 Pyrex glass containers (4-cup capacity, I believe).  For me, that translates into 4 batches of wonton soup.  Whoo hoo!

Sour Cream and Onion Chicken Salad

This is the best chicken salad recipe, hands down.  I do add cranberries and lovage for some extra flavor (Hui.1 and I love the cranberries and the lovage tastes like celery but without the crunch).  It’s not gummy or slimy because you’re using sour cream instead of mayo.  Personally, I’ve never been a fan of mayo so I never keep it in the house.  Since chicken salad is one of the few things I can eat while pregnant (hello, gestational diabetes), I’ve been itching to make some at home instead of constantly buying it at the store or down the street.  This is a great snack or light meal with crackers and fresh fruit.  The last 2 batches I’ve made have been from Trader Joe’s frozen chicken tenderloins, which is a 2.5 pound bag.  I bake in the oven with a hint of olive oil so it doesn’t dry out, then I mash it and start mixing the ingredients together.  Once mixed, it has to be chilled in the fridge before optimal flavor sets in.  I have no idea why, but it tastes best cold.

These are the recipes I’ve been itching try out after I have the baby:

Alfredo Sauce

Mac and Cheese (not baked)

Cornbread

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Once I can start eating more carbs again, I really want to limit them as best I can and supplement it with fresh veggies and some hearty protein.  So tossing in some broccoli and chicken in with the Mac and Cheese and Alfredo sauce seems to be the best idea so far.  The Mac and Cheese seems really easy because it’s just heavy cream and cheese.  How hard is that?  And it’s a great excuse for me to go to the Italian market to get my favorite 4 cheese blend (I don’t remember what 4 cheeses are, but it’s all white cheese).  The cornbread will go great with Jesse’s salsa soup (tons of veggies, beans, and chicken).  And I’m always looking for a good recipe for spaghetti and meatballs.  I haven’t tried making my own Italian meatballs before, but it would be fun to try.  I already make my own sauce from fresh tomatoes and herbs stewed on the stove (store bought sauces have too much salt for my liking).  With 3 tomato plants in the yard, we may have an abundance of tomatoes this summer, so I see lots of salsa and pasta being made.

Shopping Local and Handmade

Photo by Jessica Rice of Beer and Baking

Anyone who knows me knows there are 3 distinctive elements to my style:

  1. Comfort
  2. Functionality
  3. Uniqueness

Let’s face it; I’m an artist.  You can see it whether I’m at my local Starbucks, dressed in my staple bellydance-esque cotton ruffle capris and basic black tank top (sometimes a nursing top-in-disguise) or while I’m running around town with Jesse and Hui.1, sporting my favorite, frilly flyaway cardigan from XCVI.  And of course, I’m usually sporting a Harveys Seatbeltbag.  Like XCVI, Harveys designs and manufactures their bags right here in the heart of Southern California.  They also put on several in-store events to encourage fans to socialize and become a community.  That’s how I’ve met some of my nearest and dearest friends over the past 4 years.  The photo above was taken at their Mother’s Day event at their Chino Hills location.  One thing I love about Harveys is their sense of community and family.  You’re welcomed with open arms, tasty snacks and refreshments, and personable people.

There’s something magical, or perhaps something old-fashioned, about being able to shop in a brick-and-mortar store.  There’s the possibility of making new friends with fellow customers as well as creating a relationship with the sales associates.  I have a love-hate relationship with our digital age.  While I’ve been able to make new friends by bonding over Seatbeltbags, there’s a huge disconnect when shopping online.  We lose that sense of local community and I’ve decided to start an on-going blog series about the small businesses I love and frequent the most, as well as hidden treasures that need to be known to the rest of the world.

But there’s more to just shopping local and supporting small businesses.  As consumers, we need to know where the stuff we buy is made.  Even though we’re supporting a local business, they may be getting their merchandise from an overseas sweat shop.  It’s true that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  But let’s be aware of where our consumer goods come from and make a decision from there.  If you’re buying jewelry, look for a local artist instead of heading to the department store, even if it’s for fine jewelry.  There are a bunch of local fine jewelers out there.  You just need to browse through the Internet like we all do these days.

Here’s hoping to bring back our humanity that’s lost amongst the digital and consumer age.

My Secret Love Affair with the City of Angels ~ Downtown

Japanese Garden in Little Tokyo

As a child, going to Downtown Los Angeles meant going to eat Chinese food. As I got older, it meant going bead shopping. As a working 20-something, it meant going to Caltrans and METRO for meetings and workshops. Now, married with kids and living on the northwest edge of the “Orange Curtain” with better freeway access than the 5, I’ve found myself secretly in love with a city I never truly appreciated until now.

My love for beads, and the coincidence that my dad was going there for work frequently enough, meant there was ample opportunity for perusing around Bead District (8th Street and Maple Avenue). Mom and I would drop him off then quickly scurry away for some quick shopping. Once my oldest sister started working in the Downtown area as well, it was exciting for her to come home with a bundle of new treasures after work. We mostly trekked out there for reasonably priced Swarovski crystal, but it also started my love of stones in the form of chip beads.  If you’re ever in the area, check out Bohemian Crystal, not only for their beads, but for their extensive selection of Eastern European glassware that takes you back into a bygone era.  Jesse’s taste is much less gilded than mine or else I would have more pieces from there.

My family’s favorite Chinese restaurant has recently closed after 30 years, which means excursions to Downtown require finding a new watering hole for lunch. Jesse and I went to the old Clifton’s cafeteria during one of our first explorations of the inner city. He wants to visit the construction site of what is supposed to be the tallest skyscraper in the Western US once they start . Once Hui.1 is a better walker (he waddles well enough but still prefers crawling), it’ll be a good time to go to the zoo and maybe the Tar Pits. My friends have formed a “Trip of the Month” party again and one of the trips on the list is Griffith Observatory. And maybe this year we’ll finally get a chance to go to JPL’s annual Open House if it doesn’t coincide with Hui.2’s arrival.

Another hidden Los Angeles gem is XCVI. Anyone who reads my blog knows how much I love their clothing and I am one of their featured artists in their Fashion Island Pop Up Shop. Well, did you know they manufacture their clothes in the heart of Downtown LA? How ironic considering I was buying most of their clothes in Hawaii and later on whatever I could find on the Internet. Knowing that I am supporting a local business I truly love (their clothes in larger sizes make great maternity wear) just makes my heart sing.  Hopefully I can make it to their summer warehouse sale, but I doubt it because it’s so close to my due date.  The winter warehouse sale was beyond amazing.  It makes me think I never have to shop in between sales ever again.  As I’ve said before, their clothes fit the aesthetic of my more recent jewelry designs, especially the new collection that’s scheduled to debut by March.

I think we’re past due for another trip Downtown…

Early to Bed and Early to Rise

I woke up a little after 4am today and couldn’t go back to sleep.  I know I’m going to regret it later, but I’m more productive in the morning when there’s no one to bother me with their needs and I can get stuff done.  This particular blog post by Penelope Trunk has been sitting in the back of my mind for a month or two.  Today I wrote a more detailed to-do list, rather than the vague notion of “make jewelry” or “finish bracelet”.  My list looks like this:

  1. Chain and ring 5 beads
  2. Watch 1 free video
  3. When Hui.1 goes to bed, turn off computer, and get ready for bed.

I also made a list of stuff I need to buy from the store, but I won’t bore you with that.  Basically I’m trying to maximize my productivity, which means going to bed early and getting up early.  Jesse will be happy with that change because he likes getting somewhere between 8 and 9 hours of sleep.  After I had Hui.1, I would be wide awake after 7 hours of sleep and he’d ask why I’m so perky in the morning.  So yeah, that’s my plan until the holidays show up and try to ruin it.  But I need to enforce a good bedtime for Jesse.1 while she’s here for her post-Christmas visit so I’m going to do whatever I can to keep us all rested, happy, and productive.

And off to collect the trash for trash day tomorrow before this stamina wears off…

The Hui Legacy

Hui Hui Designs is proud to be part of the Hui Legacy.  My dad taught me everything I know about style and I aspire to have his eye for style.  Simply being a Hui, is a lot to live up to.  Let’s hope Hui Hui Designs, Hui.1, and I can meet those expectations.

If You Have Pierced Ears, You Should Always Wear Earrings

I have 3 pairs of basic, sterling silver earrings in the tumbler right now.  Today I decided to be “proactive” and will pack these earrings in my wallet, purse, or car so I always have a pair of earrings to wear when I leave the house.  These earrings are also easily reproducible, so my next step would be to carry duplicates to sell to people who inquire about said earrings.  You’d think being a jewelry artist would mean I’d always be wearing my jewelry, but we all have our off days.  Let’s face it; I have to remember to put the baby in the car because my worst fear is forgetting him somewhere and taking off.

I didn’t get my ears pierced until I was 18 because my dad did not approve of the idea.  Once I started making jewelry again during college, I had dangly earrings up the wazoo.  I still love shaking my head and feeling them bounce back and forth against my cheeks.  It’s one of the most magical thing in the world.  But once I reach my studio, I end up making less earrings and more of everything else.  But now that I’m telling you this, that will leave me accountable for making more earrings to go with everything else I’m making.  And Allison will kick my butt if I don’t, so that’s two counts of accountability to keep me in line.

But seriously, if you have pierced ears, you really should be wearing earrings in them.  That’s the whole point of having pierced ears, right?  I won’t go into the cultural aspects of piercings just yet.  For now, we should wear earrings all the time because it makes us look and feel polished and put together, even though we may not be feeling that on the inside.