Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Sorry for the hiatus. Life and Laziness were to blame. Those jerks! Always stealing my happiness.

I wanted to share something about myself. I really like cooking but HATE baking. It seems that every single time I've tried to follow a recipe, the end result is an unfortunate and sorry-looking disaster. Could it be because I also HATE following directions and with baking, there's not much leeway for throwing in a bit of this and that and "see how it comes out" as I do with my cooking. 

This is completely tied to my impatient personality as well. I'm the type of person who would rather look at a photo of something and figure out how to put it together than follow the 9,000-step directions (yes, I'm talking about YOU,  plastic toddler play kitchen set from Aunt Krista!)  

For my twins' second birthday, I made their cake and got raves. It was from a box (like almost all other baked goods I produce) and the filling between layers was Gerber baby food banana puree. The real impressive part was my decoration of the OUTER part of the cake. THIS is where I like to be fancy:

Back to Ovenphobia: I prefer to keep food fairly simple and when I came upon a Weight Watchers recipe for yummy-looking and healthy Oatmeal Raisin Bites, it didn't seem like something that would give me any problems. I had all ingredients on hand so decided to give it a try.

It didn't seem to intimidating, but later this recipe card would be mocking me and laughing HARD. I followed the directions to a T (well, as T as I could). The happy little photo on the recipe card is what the cookies were supposed to look like.

And this is what I was greeted with when I opened my oven:

Hmm ... HOW can something so simple become so challenging? I'm a smart person with creativity and common sense. How can I mess up COOKIES?

Upon further investigation, I did notice one TEENSY little detail. The recipe called for "rolled oats" and I used organic steel-cut oats (which usually take a really long time to cook). Hmm.... I guess this is the kind of detail Mr. Bunny means when he says I sometimes don't listen. POINT TAKEN!

Even though they came out looking like hideous blobs that had to be sliced away from each other and pried off the cookie sheet, they did taste REALLY good and everyone seemed to enjoy them.

I guess the effort was not completely lost.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Feeling Pretty SOUPER

A very humble THANK YOU to all of you who have left such great comments on my last post and those of you that are "following" me now. The response was surprising and appreciated. I hope to keep you entertained and inspired!

I apologize in advance for the corny title of this one. As many of my longtime friends know, there are certain things Renaissance Bunny is good at and should pursue, and other things that I am good at and should probably NOT do so much. Two of those things in the "probably not" category are corny wordplay and rhyming nonsense. Sometimes these will slip out in posts but it's just part of the package.

People ask me, "When do you have the time to cook?" Well, I sometimes make things ahead when my kids are napping, or I might throw it together quickly while they are eating their dinner in high chairs.
This works for me, but it may not for everyone.

Getting to the meat of the topic (oops! there I go again), today I'm going to tell you about something I made for dinner. Southeast Asian inspired shrimp soup!

A few months ago, Mr. Bunny and I decided to forgo eating land animals in favor of a mostly-vegetarian diet with occasional seafood (we just CANNOT give that up!) We still eat eggs and dairy though. So technically, if you had to define how we eat these days, we'd be called pescetarians. Sounds like a religion, doesn't it?

This Bunny Couple really enjoys ethnic foods, but we are only able to go out to dinner occasionally, so I try to experiment alot more in the kitchen. This often included trying to replicate certain dishes we have tried in restaurants, such as this Thai soup.

There are very few steps, and as long as you have the ingredients, it shouldn't be too hard. I'd rate this one a "beginner-level" recipe. Most of my recipes are easy and fairly quick to prepare as with the Bunny Twins milling about, I need to accomplish something tasty in a short amount of time.

Everything is flexible. If you want to omit something because you don't care for the taste, go ahead. I view cooking like anything else creative ... you have a basic idea of what you're going to make, but you need to be open to veering off the path. Below are the basics that I used and please disregard the sippy cups in the background of the photo. You won't be needing any of those for this recipe.

I just realized that the ginger root has a really ODD shape to it. This was NOT intentional, but it is pretty funny!

1 lb. raw frozen shrimp (Target's Market Pantry has them peeled, cleaned and deveined)
1 can coconut milk
3 cups of water
2 Tbsp. of lobster or seafood bouillon paste or some fish sauce (if desired, but not necessary)
4 cups of vegetable broth
6 medium-sized mushrooms of any variety, thinly sliced
1-inch piece of ginger root, finely grated (or the already prepared kind in jar, about 1 Tbsp.)
2 cups cooked thin somen noodles or regular spaghetti or angel hair, whatever you have or prefer
3 Tbsp. lime juice or a couple fresh limes, squeezed
1/2 cup sugar (I used organic cane sugar from Trader Joe's)
About a cup of chopped fresh cilantro
Dash of hot sauce (if desired)

1. Cook somen noodles or regular pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. Get a large pot and dump in frozen shrimp (no need to defrost), coconut milk, water, bouillon paste or fish sauce, vegetable broth, mushrooms and ginger and bring to a  boil. Boil for about 5 minutes and notice the shrimp becoming pink and opaque. Then, turn down the heat to a simmer.

3. Add in the lime juice, cilantro, sugar and hot sauce (if using), and cooked noodles and simmer for about 10 minutes.

4. Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Visiting Etsy Labs

Hello and welcome! This is my very first blog post EVER!  I hope you will find Renaissance Bunny enjoyable, inspirational and informative.

I've been selling my vintage and handmade items on Etsy for about 3 and a half years. Mainly this was a little hobby, but after being laid off and not sure what to do that I was excited about, I decided I need to improve upon what I already have and make it into a "real" business already. A few weeks ago after filing one of my last unemployment claims (I was laid off from my graphic design job 2 years ago), I saw a post on the Etsy Facebook page for an upcoming "Seller's Symposium". After reading the details, and seeing as it was only $25 for a full day of creative inspiration and instruction on how to build a better business out of doing what you love (PLUS meals and a goodie bag!), there was NO WAY I was going to pass this up!

The day began at 5:45 a.m. as I got ready and said goodbye to Mr. Bunny who was going taking the day off to spend time and take care of the Bunny Twins (Boy Bunny and Girl Bunny, age 2). My journey of 25 miles took just about 2 hours (hey, did I mention it was in Brooklyn and I was coming from New Jersey and, oh yeah, it was morning rush hour?)  I took the train to Manhattan and then the subway to Brooklyn, then walked a couple blocks and I was there.

I entered alone (and surprisingly ON-TIME Рa first!) but feeling really nervous as I had no idea what to expect. I've been a stay-home-mom for 2 years and haven't been mingling much with other creative types. Was my pseudo-punk-looking Geisha t-shirt bought from Target 5 years ago too clich̩? Or, oh no! Maybe I was supposed to dress UP in business attire. After all, wasn't I attending a seminar on how to improve my BUSINESS? Am I going to be nervous and clam up around all these strangers or will I be nervous and become Overly Chatty Bunny (she can get irritating)?

I was given a beautiful handmade organic cotton tote which held LOADS of goodies: Promotional postcards from various cool places like Swap Bot, "I Love Handmade" and "I Love Vintage" bumper stickers, promotional business cards from some guest speakers, an "Etsy" necklace, super-cool "Etsy" keychain made from a spoon handle, promo from Burda Style where you can download patterns (came with funky spool of thread and a promo button), hand-printed mini blank notebook by BangBangYou'reThread, awesome ceramic NYC photo frame by Our Name Is Mud (who was also a guest speaker), beautiful "Maker's Notebook" supplied by the folks at Make, and a few other trinkets.

Once I arrived, though, the staff (they all all themselves "Admin") were SUPER friendly and accommodating! Admin Danielle was very inviting and Admin Dave took the time to sit down at my assigned table and really get to know many of the sellers, asking us questions about what we think of this and that. Their new space was an airy open room with walls lined with fabric, sewing machines and many other crafty goodies for the classes they hold there.  And a brand-new photo booth! A fellow seller and I broke the ice by checking it out and having our photos taken.

They had other areas such as a library and tech rooms but all of my lectures were in this one room so I mainly stayed in the workspace area.

The day began with some mingling and getting to know our fellow sellers while having breakfast (supplied by a yummy bakery in Brooklyn). We traded business cards and asked about each other's work. My wardrobe uneasiness was relieved as I noticed that some others were equally shy and some were wearing jeans and sweatshirts, others were dressed spiffily in boots, tights and vintage-looking dresses. Everyone was unique but we were all here for the same thing: To learn how to better ourselves, our items, and present ourselves better professionally. This goal was met tenfold. I almost forgot to mention, this whole symposium was being filmed and broadcast via the web to thousands all around the world. How cool!?

This is Admin DanielleXO. She was really nice and helpful.

The lecturers who were chosen by Etsy to speak on a variety of topics were truly amazing. Etsy Admin Vanessa was really knowledgable on many business topics.

Noah Scalin spoke about how he challenged himself to create a new skull every single day for a year, thus leading to a book deal and him launching a whole new idea in creativity: daily art. Check out his web site here: Make Something 365 .

April Bowles was one of my favorites. She's a former therapist who quit her "real" job and followed her passions to become quite successful and now helps others do the same thing: Blacksburg Belle

Along the same lines, but with a unique energy and some other key advice, guest speaker Michelle Ward told us of her painful, yet instrumental life decision to give up her dream of pursuing an acting career in favor of becoming a life coach: When I Grow Up Coach

In between presentations, there were breaks for using the facilities, stretching our legs and then a nice lunch break where we ate SUPER delicious sandwiches (I chose the vegetarian sub: marinated grilled tofu, carrots, cilantro and other veggies, and a veggie spring roll! Mmmmmm!). During lunch, we were treated to a talk by keynote speaker Nancy Soriano (creative, and former editor of Country Living Magazine). In the late afternoon we had a coffee/tea break with desserts from another awesome local bakery and complimentary sea salt caramels given out by fellow Etsy seller The Caramel Jar!

The day was long, but I felt it was extremely productive and inspiring and I know I wasn't the only one. So many people were happy to have signed up for such a great experience. I was rapidly taking notes throughout the presentations and trying to absorb as much as I could.  One of the key elements I took away was the realization that I needed to start a BLOG. So here I am.