Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Al strikes again

I particularly like the bear grylls food web.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Magazine Coasters and Bowls

I recently found these two projects while I was looking for a kid-friendly art activity.  Since we moved to California, our place is still really empty and bare.  I've slowly been trying to decorate and furnish our place on the cheap, and in the process I've found some fun ways to reuse stuff we would normally throw out.  These magazine coasters and bowls are a cool way to do something with all our old magazines besides stack them on a bookshelf.  When I have more time, I plan on making some larger bowls to put on our coffee table.  The pictures here are practice pieces and I can't wait to make more!

I've also labeled these under wedding ideas, because I think a set of coasters as favors or bowls as centerpieces would be a fun (and super-cheap!) way to add a green element to a wedding.

Magazine Coasters  See howaboutorange for tutorial

Notes: for each coaster I used four magazine pages.  I cut each page to a width of 7.5", and then cut them into four narrow strips before folding.  I considered dabbing glue to secure the edges, but once I finished weaving a tucking in the ends, everything has been really secure and glue is unnecessary.

For weddings, I've seen people give out sets of photo coasters or coasters that say "love" or something romantic.  Tie sets of four magazine coasters together with a nice ribbon, add a tag, and you've got a unique wedding favor!

Magazine Bowls See indiepublic for tutorial


Notes:  For this sample, I used 60 magazine pages.  I also folded each page into 1/8 of the width of each page (also cut to to 7.5 inches).  I saw from some other tutorials pages that were folded to make narrower strips, which I think also looks really cool, but might be more frustrating to shape because the coil could pop out more easily.  I also gained an appreciation for magazines geared towards women because they definitely have a lot more color than those for men! (which was all we had at home so the colors were mostly blues, grays, tans, and whites).

Make large bowls and fill with ornaments or fruit to use as simple wedding centerpieces.  You can even change the shape of the bowls by wrapping them as squares or triangles.

Happy folding!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas in December

I know that it is already December.  I see the Salvation Army collection buckets outside of Safeway.  Wal-Mart has converted its garden center into a Christmas warehouse.  There is a Christmas tree in the lobby of our apartment building and Christmas music is in the air.  All the signs that Christmas is just around the corner are all around me, but it still doesn't feel like the holiday season.

Why?  It was SUNNY and 63 degrees Fahrenheit today!  Haha, not that I'm complaining too much or anything--it just feels weird to think about all this Christmas stuff when I'm comfortably taking walks outside in the beautiful sunshine without a scarf or a hat.

So, just be jealous that the weather has been so nice here the past couple of days.  I think there may be some rain later this week...but it's still nothing compared to freezing temperatures and snow!  I will have to try harder to get in the Christmas spirit by bombarding myself with Christmas movies and treats.  I'm looking forward to two holiday get-togethers later this week, which I think will help with that!

Also, I really need to get started on my Christmas shopping!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cross-Stitch Projects

Last spring and summer I did a lot of nothing while Al finished up his 1L year at NYU.  Well, a lot of nothing actually can be quite exhausting--I cooked, did laundry, watched youtube videos, and cross-stitched.  These are the two cross-stitch kits that I completed and I just love the summery feel of them!  I've also finished VERY few cross-stitch projects in the past, so I'm really happy to have completed these to the very end.  The kits are from Dimensions Crafts, and I will definitely do more in the future.  Cross-stitch kits have already come such a long way since the first one I received when I was 10!  They have presorted string, more elaborate designs, clearer instructions...haha I predict a very few people I know can actually appreciate this like me since you all lead more exciting lives than me =)

Seaside Cottages:

Cafe by the Sea:

I like the cafe picture especially because I think it would be so cool to have a cafe by the sea!

Pork and Hominy Stew

On Wednesday, I made a stew that reminded me of this Simpson's episode:

Lisa:     I’m going to become a vegetarian.
Homer: Does that mean you’re not going to eat any pork?
Lisa:     Yes
Homer: Bacon?
Lisa:     Yes Dad
Homer: Ham?
Lisa:     Dad all those meats come from the same animal
Homer: Right Lisa, some wonderful, magical animal!

This wonderful, magical animal provided the pork, bacon, and ham that went into this Pork and Hominy Stew recipe from Bon Appetit!

 This picture doesn't really show much, but again this is just for record keeping purposes because I will want to remember to make this stew again!  According to wikipedia, hominy is "is dried maize kernels which have been treated with an alkali in a process called nixtamalization."  To me, hominy is just big corn kernels that I buy in a can. =) 

Anyways, this stew was really delicious without having to add very many spices.  I used a combination of my regular chili powder (whatever is 50-cent kind is from Wal-Mart) and ancho chili powder, and doubled the vegetables as I usually do just to try to make our dinners slightly healthier.  Serve with a side of cornbread--yum!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Surprise Wallpaper

Maybe I'm too obsessed with North and South?  When I came home from work today, Al left this wonderful image on my desktop.  LOL

Move over Colin Firth, you are old news!

P.S. Al, you're still No. 1!!!!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Favorite Things: North and South

It has just dawned on me that this blog is the perfect place to gush over all of my current likes and....just likes.  Perhaps there will be another label for pets peeves and dislikes.  (Oh my, the list is already feeling really long for that one)  The down side to gushing over my favorite things, though, is that I'll probably end up hyping everything up and ruining it for you (lone reader)--but I don't care because I still think the thing is awesome enough that it doesn't matter!

Favorite Thing #1:
So last year, I went through a phase of watching many, many, BBC-produced period dramas.  I saw bad ones, old ones, boring ones, and, occasionally, good ones.  North and South, based on the book by Elizabeth Gaskell, was a GREAT one!  Al might be afraid that I'm a little too infatuated with Richard Armitage due to my love of this mini-series (I've already lost track of how many times I've watched it).  Just for the record, he is only a small reason for why I like this mini-series so much =)

If you watch a lot of other period dramas based on books, you would might appreciate this mini-series a little better if you can compare it to something else.  That's as much of a disclaimer as I'll give for talking up this mini-series.  The screenwriter, Sandy Welch, did an FANTASTIC job--in my book, she is now in second place for adapting books into movies after Andrew Davies.  Furthermore, each of the characters was well acted, the soundtrack was really moving, and I loved the balance of romance, social commentary, and other conflicts that were resolved over the four episodes.

I like what I like because I like it.  So just watch it and thank me later. =)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lollipop Flower Favors

Here is another DIY project that we did for Grace's wedding!  Again looking for something budget-friendly, we turned dum-dum lollipops into pretty flowers with scissors, tissue paper, and masking tape.  I really like the idea of edible favors--they seem to be the most "useful" because everyone can eat them.  Dum-dum lollipops are just about the cheapest lollipops you can find out there.  If you are willing to spend more on lollipops, you can also look for lollipops that have solid-colored wrappers or lollipops that bring back special memories for you.  I saw the gold-wrapped lollipops from See's Candies and thought that they would also make great wedding favors.

- lollipops
- tissue paper
- scissors
- tape (any kind will do, you can even use floral tape if you like)

1. Cut tissue paper into squares of 6-7 inches.  (for See's lollipops.  For smaller lollipops, cut smaller squares--around 3-4 inches).  Layer six squares of tissue paper together.

2. Fold the stack in half and draw flower petals.

 3.  Cut out traced flower.

4.  Cut a small slit in the center of the folded flower.

5.  Unfold the flowers and insert a lollipop through the slit in the center of all six layers.

6.  Stagger each layer so that the petals do not directly overlap.  This will create a fuller-looking flower.

7.  Pinch and gather together the center of the tissue paper around the lollipop stick.  Since the See's lollipops are rather large, pinch about halfway down the stick to make sure that the flower "petals" will surround the lollipop at the right height.

8.  Adjust the petals as you like and secure the tissue paper by wrapping a piece of tape around the base of the flower.

9.  If desired, wrap green tissue paper or floral tape around the lollipop stick.

You can place each lollipop flower by itself, or place them in mini-pots or vases at each guest's seat.  You can even insert all the flower lollipops per table into a large piece of styrofoam or floral foam and place it in the middle of each table to double as a centerpiece.  You can also add silk leaves to complete the floral effect.

 Have fun!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving was a busy day for the Hos!  We had a wonderful visit from the newly-engaged Dan and Yuan Yuan in the morning who were in town.  Again, congratulations to the adorable couple!  So meal number one consisted of pancakes with strawberries, turkey sausage, and balsamic-onion omelettes with salsa.  (sorry, breakfast, no more details about you because turkey dinner steals the show)

While I missed having a big Thanksgiving dinner with our families back home, I was still excited to cook a big meal here for (originally) two.  Then we more than doubled our size with the wonderful addition of three friends to our party.  Here is this year's menu--I was so ready to eat that only one picture is from me, but everything turned out just as awesome as it looks in the magazine pictures anyway (please note the totally serious tone of that statement).

The Recipes:

 I've always liked the idea of a turkey roulade because I think it looks cool and fancy.  However, I'm not sure that stuffing a turkey breast really changes the flavors in anyway--I think next time if I don't want to do a whole turkey, I'd rather just roast a turkey breast and make the stuffing separately.  (I was a big fan of this sausage stuffing!)  Also, not pictured is the Jell-O that we had for dessert =P  I don't have a mold, but I basically made the same Jell-O mold that we used to make for holidays at my house (involving canned whole cranberry sauce, canned fruit, nuts, and red jell-o).

This is a terrible picture, but it is evidence of our meal. =)  Already looking forward to next year's Thanksgiving!!!

Needless to say, I am thankful for stretchy sweatpants with plenty of elastic.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rice Burgers

World travelers~did you ever eat rice burgers in Taiwan (or other Asian country?)  I was reminiscing about the rice burgers we tried at Mos and at Mcdonald's in Taiwan recently and had a craving to try to make some.  So, I pressed some sticky rice into a patty, fried it up, and sandwiched chicken tempura, homemade teriyaki sauce, and asian coleslaw between two rice patties to make my own version.  It was a bit messier than buying it in Taiwan, but still fun enough that I think I will do it again!

I think the pictures are pretty self-explanatory~

Yum!  Also, for reference, I like to use this recipe for teriyaki sauce from allrecipes.com.  The only change I make is that I add honey to sweeten the sauce and tone down the acidity from the vinegar.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


On Saturday morning, I open my eyes to a pretty gray and wet day.  As I'm trying to decide whether I'm still sleepy enough to fall back asleep, I ask Al (who is apparently just woke up and is lying there playing with his iphone) what time it is.  He tells me it is already noon.  Wow, I must have been really sleepy.

So I get up, brush my teeth, ask Al if he wants the leftover Thai food for lunch (he says yes), and I heat up everything in the microwave.  We sit down at the table, Al says grace, and we start to eat.  I pick up my phone to check messages, etc. when I see the time.  It is 9:30 AM!!!!

My mouth drops, Al is laughing, and I can't believe it took me so long to figure out the real time.

+1 for Al.

However, the result of his prank was no lunch when noon actually rolled around!

Now it's my turn to get him back.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Planet Granite Bloc Party

Rock climbing comp!  Planet Granite's Bloc Party Series Final was on Friday night.  Al climbed hard and we had a good time.  I mostly wanted the free t-shirt =P  It's been a long time since we've participated in a comp and I glad to be there even though my climbing still has a long way to go to get back to pre-injury shape.

Here are some pics!

From our grainy pictures, the gym looks deceptively empty.  It was actually REALLY crowded, but not completely annoying since comps always have such a great energy.  PG is starting to feel more familiar, but we still miss Sportrock!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Watermelon Smoothies

The Problem:
Two thirsty people have half of one big watermelon and are too lazy to slice the watermelon to eat it.

The Solution:
Use an ice cream scoop to scoop out watermelon.  Place in blender with ice, a dash of sugar, and a squeeze of lime.  Result: Watermelon Smoothies! =)

Al got really good at making these.  The proportions are about 2 cups of watermelon, 1 cup of ice, 1 tbsp. of sugar, and the juice of half a lime.  In retrospect, maybe these weren't really less work than just cutting up the watermelon and eating it (maybe about the same?) but they were definitely more refreshing!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Country Captain Chicken


I still don't know what exactly country captain chicken means, but based on the recipe we used I'm assuming it means something yummy and delicious!  The curry mix was a little annoying to make in the recipe because you had to grind a lot of spices, but I thought it was worth it.  I also used boneless chicken breast (on sale!) cut into bite size pieces because Al likes easy-to-eat meals.  I was really surprised by just how tender the meat became when it finished baking in the oven!  The coconut rice was also really good, and it just makes me sad that the coconut milk has to add fat to our meal.  (Again, worth it).  I will definitely make coconut rice again for any other curry-like dishes.

The red onions had a wonderful sweet flavor from the pomegranate molasses.  Now that I finally bought a jar of pomegranate molasses, I can't wait to go back and look for recipes that I've skipped over in the past since I never felt like buying it.  In my opinion, the gremolata did not enhance the dish at all (I think it was the orange zest) and I would rather just sprinke some parsley and fresh pomegranate seeds over the onions instead.

Disclaimer:  I did not originally mean to post so many pictures of food and recipes, but we love to eat so here they are!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wedding DIY: CD Favors

 While we didn't get a chance to make them for our wedding, Al and I originally wanted to make CD favors for our guests.  I've always liked the idea of sharing playlists and exposing friends to new music, so a wedding CD favor would have been a great opportunity to do that!  (Unfortunately, we just ran out of time)

Resist the urge to make another romantic compilation that, in all honesty, may never even make it to the CD player (or iPod).  Think about making a playlist that you would listen to while doing something you and your fiancĂ© enjoy—if you love to travel, make a road trip mix.  Make a dance mix, a karaoke mix, a tailgating mix….you get the idea.

CD favors are incredibly budget friendly--spools of CD-Rs and printable labels make each favor cost very little.  You really just need the patience to burn each CD and to check to make sure each CD is burned properly.

Another fun part of CD favors comes with the packaging.  There are endless possibilities for how to present your CD favor, and here is just one simple way you can make a CD case with a piece of cardstock and a ribbon.  You can buy petal CD cases at the website above, or you can easily make your own.  (Please excuse the bland colors, they happened to be the only cardstock and thick ribbon I had available)

Petal CD Case:

- 12 X 12 cardstock
- scissors
- ribbon

1. Draw a 5x5 inch square in the middle of the piece of cardstock  This will be slightly larger than the size of the CD.

2. Mark 2.5 inches out from the center of each side.  This is how far each petal will extend.  Align the top of the curve of a CD to each mark and trace a curve from corner to corner.

3. There will be a slight gap from the edge of the CD to each corner (since the square is slightly larger than the CD).  Just sketch a smooth curve (or use a compass if you really want to be exact)

4.  Your cardstock will now have four semi circles around the 5x5 inch square.

5.  Cut out your case.  (trace on other sheets of cardstock if making multiple cases)

6.  Fold up the edges and place your CD inside.
 7. Overlap one side of each edge over the next to close the case.

 8. Press the edges down firmly to close.

9.  Secure with a ribbon or a sticker, personalize with your own tags or labels.

Have fun!