Thursday, January 13, 2011

Green household tip.....#1

I usually buy those foaming hand wash in a pump bottle. And after I've finished using the hand wash.....I cleaned the bottle and filled it up with approx 3/5 dishwashing liquid and 2/5 water and stirred/shook till the two liquids were well mixed.

The addition of water is important in diluting the dishwashing liquid such that it gets pumped out easily and effectively.
The special pump foams up the dishwashing liquid like this (not sure why my photo appears like that but I guess you can still see what I mean).
It's eco-friendly for numerous reasons:

- an old handwash bottle is being reused
- the pump turns liquid into foam which makes the removal of grease/dirt much easier and hence requiring less dishwashing liquid and water for rinsing
- the use of less dishwashing liquid is not only beneficial for the septic systems, it also reduces the potential of ground/surface water contaminations as well as eutrophication (my Environmental Geog lecturers will be so proud of me!).

It's pocket friendly too.....I find my bottle of dishwashing liquid lasting almost twice as long after I started using the foam pump! :P

Anyway, my favorite dishwashing liquid is from Dawn. You've probably heard that the International Bird Rescue Reseach Center and the Marine Mammal Center use Dawn to clean animals that are affected by oil spills. And it's as gentle on my hands as it is on feathers! I had used other dishwashing liquids before and they tend to make my hands very dry and itchy. It does cost a little more than the other brands....but well worth the money!

The day after snowpocalypse of 12 Jan 2011

Yesterday was all dark and gloomy.......but thankfully, we didn't get much snow.... surprise!surprise!
This morning......we woke up to a bright and sunny day. I always like the day after the snow storm 'cos the weather is usually very beautiful....just like it is today!
The temperature seems to be rising steadily.....the snow is melting slowly and creating all these amazing looking icicles!
Hmmm......I couldn't resist picking some of them off the roof....
....and turned them into an icicle arrangement.....heh creation of the day!!
Here are more photos of TODAY.....
Guess what made those tiny footprints?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The sheer decadence of hot sticky buns......

It's snowing outside and we are stuck indoors. What better thing to make for tea but those hot, sticky, flaky, sweet and uber yummy buns!

Good that I have all the ingredients in my fridge/pantry to make 6 nice size sticky buns:

- 6 tbsp of unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1/6 cup of brown sugar
- 1/4 cup of walnuts
- 1 frozen puff pastry sheet (defrost)

- 1 tbsp unsalted butter (melted)
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup golden raisins

Now let's start making them. First, using an electric mixer, combine the 6 tbsp & 1/6 cup of brown sugar together.The mixture would be lumpy but that's fine.....'cos it's all gonna melt into a gooey yummy-ness once it gets into the oven!
Divide the mixture evenly into the 6-hole muffin tray.
Sprinkle the walnuts over the mixture. You can use other nuts like pecan, almonds etc if you don't like walnuts.
Once that's done, I started prepping the puff pastry (which has already been defrosted to room temperature). I unrolled the puff pastry and brushed 1 tbsp of melted butter all over it.
This is the frozen puff pastry that I use all the time.
First, I sprinkled the 1/3 cup of brown sugar & ground cinnamon all over the puff pastry.......
......then I added the golden raisins.
The next step will be to roll up the puff pastry. It's important to roll it firmly but do not press too hard as that might prevent the puff pastry from rising nicely.
Then, cut the rolled pastry into 6 equal parts.
Press each cut piece of pastry into the muffin pan. Pop the tray into the pre-heated oven (400F) and bake for approx 25-28min. I placed the muffin pan on the top most rack in the oven so that the buttery mixture at the bottom of the pan will not burn.
Once the buns are cooked....turn them out onto a lined baking sheet and cool them slightly before eating them. But do eat them fresh out of the oven for the best flavors and texture.
Try making them and you won't regret it! But let's just keep them for those really special days 'cos these babies are extremely SINFUL and addictive!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ladybird generation......

My best friend SN gave me this cute notebook which looks exactly like one of those old ladybird story books that I had grew up with.


Yes, I like all stuffs retro.....but ladybird books are much more than that.....they were what I lived and breathed when I was a kid.

My dad would buy me one ladybird almost every other week (ok, sometimes a few more if I were to whine incessantly)....and I would spent hours reading, re-reading and re-re-reading the books until I can memorise each and every word.

I'd gently and lovingly thumbed through the pages....admiring the beautiful illustrations....and then putting my nose up against the pages to catch a whiff of the lovely smell of a fresh new ladybird book!

Ahhhhhhhh.......the joy of holding a brand new ladybird book in my hands.....I can remember it like it was just yesterday.

While I subsequently moved on to read Enid Blytons, Nancy Drews and Sweet Dreams once I started primary school....I had never forgotten my sweet ladybird books. I kept them all in my cupboard for years and years (occasionally, bringing them out for some good'ol reminiscing) until my mom decided that it was time for me to pass them on to my young cousins (I was already in my late teens then!).

So my cousins inherited my very respectable collection of ladybirds and Enid Blytons (lucky them!). I heard my book collection had passed through numerous hands and it could still be in the hands of my youngest cousin who's already in college this year.

I really hope my cousins had enjoyed the books as much as I did.
So yes, I'm a product of the ladybird generation. To some of my younger friends (post 80s generation) who would always tease me for being so "old fashioned" and for not knowing how to use an iphone/ipad/ipod or for sending Christmas cards in the snail mail (you know who you are!)......I just want to point out that it's not because I resist new things/changes.....I just love certain old things and old ways too much to want to let go of them or forget them.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Gifts for the body, mind and soul......

Our belated Christmas gifts from ML & family!

It was well worth the wait.....'cos in the package are foods that can satisfy our cravings, coffee that can quench our thirst & warm us up, fabric that can keep my hands/fingers busy & movies that can enrich our minds and souls and soothe our homesickness.

What a heartwarming and very thoughtfully put together package! Thanks ML, SR, VR & you all.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The great packing dichotomy.....

As we do travel frequently....I've acquired good travel packing skills. I pack fast, neatly and I seldom miss out on important stuffs! :P

But nothing has prepared me for the packing that we have to do for this roadtrip that we are embarking on.

The planned route covers approx 3/4 of the entire eastern coast of US of A....right alongside the Atlantic Ocean. We'll be passing through at least 12 states (based on the last count), from Southern Massachusetts all the way to Key West FL.

It will be cold/wintery on the northeastern coast but the temperatures will start to warm up probably from South Carolina onwards. And it'd almost feel like summer by the time we reach Florida.

Just look at some of the stuffs that I'm look at them and you might think I'm packing for 2 separate and totally different trips! :P Funny.....

Friday, January 7, 2011 has finally arrived!

I think due to the recent snow storm that had half-crippled New York/New Jersey.....the US postal services have been very much disrupted.

I know KJ has been quite anxious to know if I have received her parcel.......well, here's a shout-out.....I JUST DID...TODAY!

It's a great gift......very thoughtful indeed. Extremely useful for a "globetrotter" (shameless!) like me....kekekeke...on second thoughts, "pig's trotters" might be a better term to use on me *eyeing my expanding thighs*

My THICK wads of cash (I wish!!), cards, passport, state ID, checkbook & pen all fit like a glove in the handy and compact travel wallet.
And it goes beautifully with my new wallet from RG.......they look like a SET don't ya think! KJ understands me well enough to know that I like "shiny shiny" (or bling bling) things.
And for sure......this lovely travel wallet and I are gonna find some beautiful places together!!! Thanks my dearest friend. I miss you.....and I miss your evil sense of humor! :P

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Picnic blanket.....

I was hoping to find a nice picnic blanket for our roadtrip since a great part of our journey would involve spending time in parks or on beaches. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to find anything suitable so I thought....why not make one myself?!!

So I found an old snuggie blanket (burberry lookalike!), a piece of vinyl tablecloth and some brown fabric scraps (for the edges). It didn't take me long to turn all the materials into this.......
I used the waterproof vinyl tablecloth to line the bottom of the mat to prevent the blanket from getting wet. The soft blanket is quite nice to sit/sleep on....and it's quite warming too.
Roll it up and it's ready to go!!!

I realise sewing is such a great skill to have. I can make whatever I need/want/can't find or if it's too expensive to buy. If I can just learn to sew my own clothings......I won't be needing to go to the malls too!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Of chocolates and sunset.....

A dear old friend who lives in Hawaii sent us some yummy chocolates.
The Macademia nuts chocos are RG's favorite....while I absolutely love the "Crunch" one with rice crisps!!! I wonder if these 2 boxes are gonna last till tomorrow....... :P~
Drove to Ned's Point in Mattapoisett to enjoy today's was freezing outside so we just sat in the car and watched the sky turned from light orange to bright orange and then to a pinkish-purplish-blue.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

1.1.11 Boston

Today's weather is even better than yesterday's. We spent a good half of the day wandering around Boston.
Boston Common looks pretty even when covered in snow.
The frozen pond at the Public Garden could make a nice skating rink!
Kids were having a great time sliding down slopes.
Boston Common park ranger & his cool ride!
The Frog Pond skating rink was packed!!!
Can you see the loooooooooong queue to get into the skating rink?
The ice sculptures which are part of the New Year celebrations are melting fast in the heat....
Multi-tasking to the extreme.......
RG and the Old South Church in the background (Boylston St).
How can I resist yet another photo op at 500 Boylston! :P
Me outside Trinity Church......
Me and the Christmas "ball" outside Prudential Center :)