My first try with an ARDUINO project!

So today I’ve decided to give this a try! As an enthusiast of engineering I have to say I’m so very exited about this project ( due to the fact that it’s my first, probably!).
I’m thinking about an arduino computer controlled sprinkler system so I must say I have my work cut out for me, I don’t expect this to be easy, but then again I’m not known to be a quitter!
For those of you who are weekly readers of my blog, this may come as a surprise as last week for example, I literally didn’t know anything about this “arduino”. So, supposedly you don’t either , you’re entitled to some explanations.
I came across this reading a “ do it yourself blog” in which someone was building an arduino board in an attempt to build a controller for his lights around the house. Started reading then and basically this is how it goes:
Arduino is an open source electronic platform, very easy to use in fact because the software for it is free, simple and can be related to numerous computer programs and soft wares such as flash, maxMSP etc. - more informations on www.electroschematics.com/arduino/
Using arduino language you can control lights, motors, and other stuff. That being said and given the fact that the arduino board uses sensors , I’ve set out to buy one and other accessories I might need , even though arduino projects can be stand alone and manually built ( looking forward to that in the nearest future, don’t judge!).
I’ve gone and purchased an Arduino UNO board compatible with Windows,( u can also use them with MAC and Linux) that comes with a USB cable. Next step , download the software and connect it! Installing the drivers and the download time will vary because of one’s internet connection….
I’ll be getting back to you soon after figuring out the many features of the software first, and keep you posted!

New Beginnings

I'm feeling anxious and stressed again - I think it's because school is out in less than 2 weeks (next week, to be exact) and there are two graduation ceremonies back-to-back. It's just so surreal. Kids graduating from high school and one from middle school. When did this happen?

I've always felt stressed as school is about to end for the year. Because I've always wondered what to do with them over the long summer. And it's really never been a problem, because we've always found things to do, and then by the time school starts again, I'm usually complaining about that! (I'm such a broken record!)

This summer will be a little different. I really do wonder what to do with them, because this summer I won't be around. I have a little announcement: I got a job. A real, get-up-in-the-morning-and-get-dressed-8:30-5pm job. It's so weird.

The whole concept has been in the works for a while. I just realized it was time to switch gears and do something different. I've been in business now for 11 years - 6 of which I've been peddling my wares. It gets old. You get tired. And when the economy tanked, it just felt like I was spinning my wheels. I've been itching to do something else for about a year - since this time last year when I finished my spring shows, took a break, and never really got the mojo going again. I gave it lots of time, still added to my inventory, but started to distance myself from the business. That was perhaps the best thing I did, because a year ago, I wasn't ready to let go. Now, I totally am.

So, job hunting began in January. Let me just say, what you've heard about the job market out there is entirely true. It's mayhem. But one day last month, I answered a listing on Craigslist (I know, right?) for an administrative assistant/office support position for a local furniture manufacturer. I had three interviews with this company, but knew the moment I walked through the door that I wanted the job. This company designs and manufactures modern custom furniture, wall & window treatments for high end interior designers, as well as restoration of modern classic pieces - think, Eames and van der Rohe. They have their own line in the works, and everything is manufactured at their facility. Which means, it's all handcrafted. On the premises, they have a wood shop, a paint booth area, a foam cutting area, rolls and rolls of fabric (oh, joy!) enormous work tables, and a line of industrial sewing machines, just like mine, whirring along. The only thing that is outsourced is the metalwork. I just about died.

So perfect. So in tune with my own philosophies about handmade and not outsourcing overseas. It's similar to what I've done, but different. I'll be learning a whole new industry, but I can still fondle fabric if I need to. I'll get to be involved in the debut of a new line, but I won't have to sew a stitch.

(I gave myself some homework this weekend & went to the library. I've been browsing the fascinating and amazing history of modern furniture design. Wow. Just wow.)
So what does this mean for Sommer Designs? I don't know right now. I feel like I don't really have to think about it right now either. I still have inventory, and I still have at least one street fair scheduled. I know I'll for sure keep the business going, on a part time basis, through the rest of the year. Beyond that is a big question mark. The thing about this business was that it was flexible for me - it worked because I was able to mold it around my lifestyle and schedule. I don't really need that flexibility anymore, and I'm ready to move on. It's so nice to be in a place like that. 
So, that's what's going on! I don't know what will happen in this space, I am not sure how much time I'll have for blogging, but I am going to try to pop in periodically with posts. But, if I don't answer an email immediately (as I usually do), you'll know why.
It's almost like a reinvention: I have to pinch myself - I'm very excited.

Featured Interview

1. What is your favorite sound/word in the kitchen?
My favorite sound in the kitchen is when you heat up a dry pan, add the fat and then immediately the food, whether it’s protein or onions, etc. I love that sizzle sound when the food hits the hot fat. Deep fry sound is a close second. It’s often a more quiet dispersed sizzle, kind of like small crashing waves and it always means something that will probably taste amazing and most importantly be crunchy!

My favorite phrase is definitely “hot behind.” It still makes me giggle and that keeps the atmosphere buoyant. My favorite word is “challah.” I have to say, “hollaaaaah” every time we bust out the challah bread. I know I’m not alone on this.

2. What is the most eclectic ingredient you have ever used? What did you use it for?
Well, it was actually a combination and condition of ingredients for a competition: par-frozen whole Thai snapper, par- frozen young coconut, par- frozen kohlrabi, and par- frozen dragon fruit. We had to prepare a dish with all of those things in a very short period of time.

3. How did you get into the business?
I had colon cancer when I was 17 and it was a huge wake up call to what I was putting in and on my body. After having lived abroad and eaten very well in Italy and Australia, I enrolled in an Alternative Nutrition Program at Cal State LA and became absolutely fascinated with food functionality. That led me to culinary school at the New School of Cooking in Culver City and so now my cooking is less about restrictive foods and more focused on food source and wholesome ingredients. I love what I do and couldn’t imagine being in a different profession.

4. What is in your chef bag? What knives do you use?
I’m so basic. My knives, a cork screw, and a thermometer. My knives are a Shun Santoku, a Wustof slicer, a serated knife, and a cheap Victorinox Carbon- Stainless 9”. I never seem to need much more than that.

5. What is your favorite kitchen tool?
My favorite kitchen tool seems to be a rubber spatula these days. I find myself turning around and always needing it again and again. It’s the best for egg cookery (omeletts, scrambles, souffles, removing frittata from the pan, etc.) It’s crucial for getting everything nice and tidy out of the food processor and other things so not a morsel is wasted! ”

6. If you only had 5 ingredients left in your pantry, what would they be?
Polenta, sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, and white pepper.

7. What was the vision behind Taste of Pace?
The Taste of Pace brand started as a blog that allowed me to create a vision. I only wrote about things that inspired me and from here I developed a food, travel lifestyle brand including a catering company. Taste of Pace Catering is a full service catering company based in Los Angeles specializing in Western European Cuisine with international elements utilizing seasonal and local ingredients. It is my hope that the brand will expand into food/ travel media platforms and products.

8. What has been the most significant lesson you’ve learned by running and operating your own business?1. There is no problem that cannot be solved. 2. Everything is possible. 3. Persistence pays off.

9. So what are your plans in 2013?
Plans for 2013 are to triple my catering business. We should be on track if things continue the way they have been so far this year! I also anticipate more tv exposure and a new loft space for my events.