Monday, December 28, 2009


I was a pair of boring white gloves....

I'm a cute little rabbit name is Ri and I love pink!
I was a pair of uninspiring grey socks.....
I'm a handsome kitty name is Mi and I wear a bell!

And Mi and Ri are best friends!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Our X'mas present....

It was both TP and myself had gotten for each other presents in the same theme! While I had made a birdseed wreath for her....she had bought us a little birdfeeder and a huge bag of birdseeds.

It's such a cool nifty gadget! I decided to place it on our kitchen window where I hope to see the little birds come feed at it when I'm doing things in the kitchen or when we are eating at the breakfast table. TP said she bought it so that I'd have opportunities to photograph the birds at a very near distance (she knows that I'm a photo buff)! How thoughtful of her. RG and I absolutely love it!

Friday, December 25, 2009

X'mas lunch....

It was a tiny buffet for the 3 of us...there was Spanish rice, beef rendang, curry vegetables, "dao-yu" (soy sauce) chicken & cucumber raita. TP made bread pudding and brought along with her a bottle of champagne.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

DIY gift for a bird lover....

TP is one of our very first few friends in the states...and she's a very kind and generous person. She has been taking care of us by giving us tips on settling down quickly, suggestions on places to go for sightseeing, eating, shopping....she has also cooked for us on numerous occasions.

For X'mas, we want to give her something special to show our appreciation for her friendship. TP is a bird lover. Her favorite past time is to sit by her windows to watch the birds come feed at the many birdfeeders that she has hung up at her front porch.

So I thought of making her a birdseed wreath that she can put out for the birds so that she can have many enjoyable moments watching the birds.

I got the idea from an online craft website and it seemed like a reasonably simple project. All I needed were some birdseeds (I bought a huge packet for $5), a bundt pan (my landlord has numerous lying around..I just need to pick the prettiest one), gelatin powder (I bought a box of 4 satchets for $1.90)..and that's it!

So first I sprayed the bundt pan with some oil and coated the surface evenly with a brush. I decided to shred a carrot and use the thin shreds to line the bottom of the pan to create some kind of design.

Next, I boiled 3/4 cup of water in a large flat pan. While waiting for the water to boil, I dissolved 2 satchets of the Gelatin with 4 tablespoons of cold water.

When the water has boiled, I added in the Gelatin solution and stir till it's completely dissolved. Then I poured in 4 cups of birdseeds and mix till all the seeds are well coated with gelatin. At this point, I removed the pan from the heat and placed it on a heat resistant surface. I continued to stir the seeds such that every single grain got evenly coated.

When most of the gelatin solution had been absorbed or coated on the seeds, I spooned the seeds into the bundt pan. Then I leveled the seeds and pressed the top gently with a spatula to compact the seeds. Then I left the pan in a cool place (0 deg C) for it to harden. You might want to place the bundt pan in the refrigerator if your home is too warm for the gelatin to harden.

Within 3-4hours, the gelatin would've set. I then inverted the pan and knocked the bottom of the pan gently to free the birdseed wreath. Then I placed the wreath on a cookie rack so as to let it air over night.

Tomorrow, I'll decorate the wreath with some ribbons all over and then top it off with a huge bow and a ribbon loop so that TP can hang it up easily.

Simple to do....& it probably only cost a couple of dollars the most. But for a bird lover, it'd probably mean many hours of joyful moments watching the birds come feed at it. I hope TP likes it!

The man on the bridge.....

It breaks my heart to see him standing on the bridge....rain, shine, snow - he'd be there.

I asked a town resident why he's always standing there....and was told that he has been doing so for the past decade.

Apparently, the man's wife met with a car accident and died....he was so devastated that he became a little crazy.

Everyday without fail, he'd ride his bicycle to the bridge...supposedly to wait for his wife to return.

I've to hold back my tears everytime we pass by the bridge and see him standing there.

Even though it might have been craziness that has driven him to do this....I'm sure a large part of his action would've been the love for his wife. How sweet and noble is that!

Recently, I read an article in a magazine (can't recall which mag already)...the author - a cancer Doctor in a large hospital wrote that the greatest love of all can often be seen at the hospital he works. And that the best man a girl can ever ask for is the one who'd sit and wait patiently at the cancer ward...and who holds the girl's purse while she's receiving her chemo treatment. That's love!

It's easy to love somone...the hard part is to love "in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer....."

For this X'mas....I wish everyone - LOVE!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Our own lttle rotary...

While we were shovelling our walkway the other day....we suddenly had this crazy idea of building a little "rotary". You see, rotaries are a big part of driving in Massachusetts. Everyday, RG will go through at least a couple of rotaries to get to work.

We got to work by gathering some snow and compressing it into a round cone shape, right in the middle where the 3 paths meet. Then to make it more visible at night, we added some ribbons, a windmill and some pine cones around it.

So, with the rotary....take the first exit to our neighbour's house...and the second exit to our house....kekekeke.

Silly but all of us had a few good laughs about it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Our very first snow storm......

We were issued a blizzard storm warning the day we were prepared for a lot of snow and strong winds.

It started snowing much later than anticipated at around 10pm last night....but the snow came fast and furious and within minutes, the entire place turned white. We had strong gusts of up to 50+mph and we could really hear the winds howling the entire night. It snowed throughout the night and only stopped at 4pm today.

This morning, we realised that the door to our main entrance/exit area (back porch) couldn't be opened as too much snow had accumulated there. So we had to force open our front door (thank god we managed as there was less snow in the front porch) and to make our way to the back of the house to shovel the back porch so as to unblock the door.

RG was the first one out of the house....he bravely led the way as we really had no idea how deep the snow was...or where exactly the walkway and stairs were as they were completely covered in snow.

Then we had to make our way to the back of the house through our driveway. Look at how LONG the driveway is (can you spot RG standing between the 2 cars at the far end?). We would have had to shovel the entire driveway (& break both our backs!) if not for the fact that we've engaged a professional snow-plough guy.

Here he his huge truck to clear the driveway. Our saviour!

That's me with my ski-poles...struggling to walk in the knee-deep snow!

That's our blocked's almost 2/5 buried in snow!

Look at how much snow RG had to clear off the back porch!

Finally...his hard work paid off...and we've got a clear, unobstructed path out! RG did such a wonderful job...he even straightened the edges.

Time to celebrate by cutting the cake....keke....

That's me relaxing on my "snow-couch".....while RG did all the work.

We took a measurement of the depth of the snow before noon and it was already over 22". It'd have been closer to 25" by the time it finally stopped snowing

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Decorating for X'mas...Part III (Final)

So with the remaining ornamental balls...and a few pieces of ribbons...we turned our living room lamp into this....

It looks quite pretty when the lamp is switched the light would bounce off the reflective surfaces of the ornamental balls.

For the final touches, a few more of my spray-painted white twigs near the fireplace.....

Some "golden" pine cones on the mantel (next to my landlord's snowman & tin solder)....and we are all set for X'mas!

Decorating for X'mas...Part II

So part 2 of our frugal x'mas a DIY x'mas tree!

I secured a much bigger twig (spray-painted white) in a metal can with the help of some cement. Then I wrapped the ugly looking can in a few sheets of recycled white tissue wrap and tied a big white bow around the can. I had also spray painted (in gold color) some pine cones that I had collected in the yard and strung them up on the "tree" using white threads.

Then RG suggested that we take out our halloween lightings and "fake spider webs" and turn them into x'mas lightings & "snow" for our tree. I made some "stars" out of some chenille pipe cleaners.

We bought a few inexpensive pieces of wooden decorations and added in our own colors using magic markers and paint. We also bought some ornamental balls at a huge discount (maybe 'cos one of it was shattered) for the tree.

Last but not least, the x'mas cards that we've received from friends and families are also hung up on the DIY tree.

All in all, the cost to put together the tree is less than $10. The excitement when lighting it up and the many hours spent enjoying our fruit of labor thereafter - PRICELESS!

Spread a little chocolatety cheer.....

While we can't afford to buy x'mas presents for everyone...we still decided to spread a little x'mas cheer to RG's colleagues/students with some homemade chocolate choco chip muffins.

I found a basic choco chip muffin online and made some amendments based on the things that I have in my pantry as well as changes to some of the measurements to yield the kind of soft, light and moist muffins that I prefer.

2 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour (original recipe called for more flour but i substituted some flour with cocoa to give muffins a more chocolatety taste)
1 1/2 cups of fine sugar
3/4 cup of baking cocoa
1 1/2 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream (original recipe called for applesauce which I didn't have)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
3/4 cup semisweet choco chips (original recipe used less choco chips, I was being greedy!)

Preheat the oven to 325F.
Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt evently.
Add eggs, sour cream, water, milk, oil and vanilla essence into the mixer bowl and blend with electric mixer at medium speed until well mixed.
Stir in half the dry ingredients and mix. Then pour in the rest of the dry ingredients and fold till moistened.
Add in the choco chips and fold till well mixed.
Line the muffin trays (2 x 12 = yields 24 medium size muffins) with papercups.
Spoon the mixture into the papercups until 2/3 full to allow batter to rise.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or test with toothpick which should come out clean (although I prefer mine to still have some moist crumbs stuck to it).
Cool for 5-10min before removing from muffin pans onto wire racks.

Here they are....all packed and ready to go!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Care package from a very dear friend....

I was surprised and thrilled to pick up a big box at the Post Office...and was over the moon when I opened it to find all kinds of goodies stuffed in there!

My dearest friend Kayjay had mailed me all kinds of stuffs to nourish my heart, body and soul! Each individual item was so nicely wrapped and came with a cryptic message on a card. SO SWEET!!!!

And she didn't forget RG too....oh by the way, RG gobbled up all the cookies the minute I opened the box =) He sends his heartfelt appreciation for KJ's lovely gesture.

While I loved everything that Kayjay had most favorite of all her gifts has to be the hae-bee! She's such a darling to know that I miss my hae-bee in my pumpkin kueh. Now, maybe I can make some of the hae-bee-hiam that RG and I both miss badly.

Thanks Kayjay. Love you...muak muak muak!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Decorating for X'mas....Part I

The shops are filled with all sorts of x'mas decorations...everywhere, trees are lighted, the 10-ft snowman blown up and santa has arrived in his sleigh!

We've too have started our own decorations around the house (in fact, we are a little behind time). I know I wanted our decorations to be unconventional and to beautify without breaking the bank.

So my X'mas theme for 2009 will be:
- white
- nature
- recycled
- unfuss

This is my first creation and I've placed it at the alcove window. I've assembled a few broken twigs that I had spray-painted white and secured them in the vase (courtesy of my landlord) with some florist foam and garden pebbles. Then I folded several longevity cranes using used dryer sheets and then strung them up on the twigs using white sewing thread. Cost of the decorative piece - USD1.50 (for the spray paint), joy in putting it together - priceless!

The whole piece is white in color. The twigs are from nature and by placing the piece at the alcove completely blends in with nature as if one. The recycled dryer sheets look good as cranes and smell great too! The piece is so simple, unfuss and yet, it always gives me a feeling of zen just by looking at it. The cranes lend it an asian-feel...and symbolise longevity for me, RG, our families and friends.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Indian food galore

TP chanced upon this new indian restaurant in North Dartmouth and told us about it. So the 3 of us decided to check it out today.

The restaurant is called Ayur-Shri (menu can be found @ a small quaint place with both dine-in and take-out options.

The menu is super long and we were spoilt for choice. Each of us decided to order a different type of bread for that we can try more things. TP ordered lamb naan, I had paratha and RG had his favorite poori. We also ordered a chef's special briyani and a few other sides like veg pakora, aloo gobi, chicken/lamb curries etc.

Look at all the food we had!

It was a truly great meal. The food tasted very authentic...not like one of those very "americanised" indian food at all. We couldn't finish all the food in one all of us went home with a big doggie bag each!

It's definitely a place that we'd go back again whenever we miss authentic indian food. We might be back there sooner than we think 'cos we were told that their lunch buffet is starting on the coming Tuesday.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Easy mashed potatoes

As I'm eating alone today....I'm too lazy to cook anything elaborate.

There are 7 potatoes lying around in the corner of the kitchen I'm thinking mashed potatoes. That's an easy one to do!

6-7 medium size potatoes (peeled and cut into small cubes)
1/2 cup of low-fat milk (pop it in the microwave to warm for 1-2min)
1/4 cup of butter (melt it slightly in the microwave)
8-10 strips of low-sodium bacon (cut into tiny strips)
3/4-1 tsp of salt
Dash of pepper and garlic powder
(would've been nice to add some chopped spring onion or chives too - unfortunately, I do not have either)

Put potatoes in a pan filled with enough water to cover the potatoes and bring to a boil. Let the potatoes cook for about 20min till soft.
Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a pan using very little or no oil until a little crispy. Set it aside together with bacon fat.
When potatoes are cooked...drain well and then pour them out into a big bowl and add warm milk, melted butter, bacon bits & bacon fat, salt, pepper and garlic powder and mash until fluffy and well mixed. Taste and then add more seasoning, if necessary, according to one's taste.

So easy to make and yet extremely satisfying. Potato as always is such a good comfort food. The steam from boiling the potatoes heated up my entire kitchen and brought much needed warmth on this cold snowy day.

I'll eat some for lunch and leave the rest for dinner with RG. Maybe I'll make a gravy for the mashed potato later if I'm not too lazy. For now, it's good on its own

More white stuff.....and it's not even officially winter yet!

It started snowing again this morning at around 6+AM.

While the last time the shrubs looked like muffins covered in icing dust....this time round, the snow look more like cake frosting!!! heh heh....

It's white everywhere now....kind of serene to watch if you are indoor in the warmth....not so nice if you've got to run errands in this snow.

New Englanders must be quite used to this....people are still zipping around on the roads like any other days. All these snow and it's not even winter yet. Imagine what it'd be like in the thick of winter come Jan/Feb.

I'm definitely not looking forward to our gas and electricity bills. The latest one reads USD334....*faint*