Sunday, August 19, 2012

Kenny's New Home (My PLAY Room!)

A photo from yesterday - putting my chalkboard to good use. After learning more about foam rollers at home depot, I am planning to repaint the chalkboard with a smooth finish roller when we are done with all these wall and counter top painting/furniture shopping/moving in and out.

Bright and happy-looking new living room! Can't wait till we fill the room with furniture!!! But before that... today was painting day! First time bringing a wall chip to home depot to get a "custom-colored" paint - my highlight of the day.

Reason for painting - the previous owner left the TV mount (very high up on the wall for some reason) and a tube for wires, we decided to take them (and some paint) off.

Things to fix before actual move-in (potentially starting Monday) - ugly green counter top in kitchen, white laminate counter top in bathroom, living room wall, burnt wall (by long-term old TV exposure) in bedroom number 1, carpet stain in bedroom number 1, missing carpet (!!!!) in bedroom number 2.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Printable Number 2!

I really should have gone to bed, but we might actually be able to get into Kenny's new apartment tomorrow! Just the thought of that can keep me up all night... so I made my second printable :) Enjoy!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Julia's First Printable!

Thanks to Pinterest (again!) and my summer holiday (free time!!), here comes my first printable! I am quite happy with my first product, makes me feel better about spending the evening learning a new software (although the first few words still look better on my computer than when exported).

And I decided to go with a Bible verse.... in pink! Just because they are my favorite book and color.  Now I just have to find a place for it in my tiny apartment.

P.S. I am not sure how to share a file yet, but I am happy to share it with anyone!

Kitchen Experiment - Bread Pudding

For my internship this summer, I have been teaching a nutrition class at two residences for developmentally delayed individuals.  To get their attention each class, I would make sure I bring along something to eat or something for them to do.  So after the first few classes, they remember me as the food lady (asking "what are we eating today?" every time) and I ended up with lots of leftover foods.

I did some online research and ended up with Paula Deen's Bread Pudding Recipe.  After a test batch that failed miserably (and of course being tortured by the guilt of adding too much sugar into a recipe), I decided to just go with my gut.  I added around 5 slices of stale white bread, 1/2 cup of sugar, ~1 cup of milk and some vanilla extract.  Soak the bread well in the mixture and baked for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

The group of taste-tester friends who are always my recipe-testing lab rats all had varied opinion, some say it's still too sweet, some say it's okay.  So I guess that means room for improvement, but hey, I used up my bread and produced something that goes well with ice-cream!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Not as thrifty chalkboard!

Thanks to Pinterest, I came across so many different versions of chalkboards on the DIY page.  So when I was planning out Kenny's new condo's decoration, I had to put in a chalkboard!

I decided to go back to Jessica's "Little Baby Gavin" tutorial since it was those creative and cute pregnancy pictures that caught my attention at first.  I went to different thrift store whenever I passed by one, but never had any luck picking up good frames for the project. So when I walked into Joann the other day and saw the sale going on, I decided to buy a frame instead.  I used chalkboard paint and a foam roller but the surface looks a little bumpy but I am quite satisfied with my first official DIY. Might repaint it later but for now... I can't wait to write on it!

Getting my Green Thumb?

Growing up in a city (and a very beautiful city indeed), I have never really had the chance to grow anything big (except for peas as a science project) because everyone in the city is cramped in tiny apartments without enough room for human living, let alone plants.  And frequently moving around during my college years don't help either.

However, the time has finally come! As part of my internship this summer, I helped out regularly at a "backyard hospital garden" with 13 beds. The garden grows a variety of foods, including tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce, bunching onions, garlic, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, and squash; all of which would eventually become donations to the food pantry at the hospital, or be delivered to shelters and residences in the community.  The garden even got featured on a local blog!

Bed filled with lettuce and braising greens (photo taken in June!)
 Colorful produce makes me smile

So I decided to make good use of my tiny balcony (after all I still live in a city) and planted tomatoes, chilli peppers, lettuce, sweet bell peppers and various herbs in pots! How exciting to see things grow! And through no particularly effort of my own (I swear I  don't have much knowledge in gardening), I actually got to eat chilli peppers, lettuce and tomatoes from my balcony!

 Long and lean chilli peppers
 A tiny pepper flower!
Green tomatoes (I ate all the red ones before taking the pictures)

Given my "success" (some herb died miserably, looking all burnt), my future plan is to grow bunching onions (scallions).  Reason? Because it's tough so it will grow in any condition, perfect for a lazy person like me. So for now, let's end with a happy sun flower from the garden!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Not-so-simple Meal - Dumplings!

Ironically, I have been super "busy" with all the going to work routine ever since summer began.  And then in the blink of an eye came August.  I cannot believe that I am a little excited to get back to my work-school routine, so much more relaxing and flexible.

Anyway, I have wanted to try to make dumplings after my mother's visit earlier this year but have always put them off because I don't have time. I have always considered myself a very "practical" chef, simple yet delicious is my philosophy.  The rest? Leave it to my quite frequent restaurant visits.  It turned out that I was so pleased with my first batch that I started making my second and third within one week. So here I am, making dumplings in the middle of my busy work-sleep-work routine this summer. 

Ingredients: minced pork (or beef or lamb for that matter), bok choy (or leek or scallion or your favorite green veggie), and dumpling wraps from a Chinese supermarket (someday I will make my own), one egg (or water)

1. It is best to marinate your minced pork overnight with a bit of soy sauce, dark soy sauce and cooking wine
2. Chop up veggies

3. Mix veggies with minced pork

4. Beat an egg as the "glue" for dumpling wrapping (or you can just use water)

5. And then I got stuck, I guess I assumed just by watching my mother made me good at wrapping dumplings. So I went on youtube for expert instruction (click here). And made my own instructioin sheet:

And tah-dahhh!! Feeling very accomplished!
 6. Bring water or broth to a boil, drop them in and serve after 5 minutes!
 7. Enjoy! Not only the eating, the wrapping is a good afternoon/evening activity too.  It gave me such a great sense of accomplishment that I almost called my mother and bragged about it!