Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Another MAP BAG

The hubster had asked for a bigger document bag this morning to carry his stacks of papers...and so I went to work on my sewing machine with a map that I had rescued from the trash and lots of vinyl.

This was an easy one to sew...I decided to sew on the wrong side instead and so I had to flip the bag to the right side and that was what was really hard to do.

My paper map got a little crumpled in the process but no biggie as the vinyl layers have kept the map in one piece with no tears or whatsoever. So here it waterproof (crumpled) MAP BAG for my dearest.
The map is printed on both sides so it's mappy on the inside of the bag too...NICE!
And there's a map of Boston and vicinity....good for when we get lost!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Can't wait for spring warm-up....

It's spring already but still quite chilly over here. We have been in the 40s & 50s this whole week. I'm almost fully recovered from a flu that I caught last week probably due to the hot-cold weather changes.

I can't wait for warmer days to come!!! And I'm gonna have some important visitors late spring :) *crossing fingers & toes*

Snagged a lovely pair of Lindsay Phillips Switchflops from Ocean State Job Lot for $15 (selling for close to $40 on amazon)'s comfy, pretty and it also has interchangeable straps (for matching with your outfits/purses?!). How cool is that?
Now...when can I start wearing my flip-flops already!!! *impatience*

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The return of puff filling

As usual, I made too much puff filling so this leftover queen (moi of course!) created a few new dishes with the leftovers.
Here are some curry tartlets - puff filling put into lil sweet pastry shells and topped with shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.
And this was my lunch earlier....sandwich wrap using a whole-grain flat bread with boston lettuce, puff filling, ham and avocado. Super delicious I tell ya!!!
I was almost disappointed that I had used up all the leftovers. There's something about creating yummy stuffs out of boring leftovers that makes me oh-so-happy! :P

Oven baked curry puffs

I had 2 boxes of frozen puff pastry that had been lying there for the longest I decided to make some curry puffs with them.

I made the puff fillings like I normally do - the cheat's way. I boiled the potatoes and chopped them into bitesize pieces. I also chopped up some leftover rotisserie chicken breast into chunks. I fried some chopped onions till soft, added some packet curry paste (I used Brahim's meat curry) and a little bit of chicken stock...followed by the chicken and potatoes...and kept stirring till thoroughly mixed and heated. Set aside.

I left the frozen puff pastry out to thaw as per the instructions on the box. When ready, I unrolled the puff pastry and cut them into squares (the size of the square is all up to you).
I spread the puff filling on one side and topped with a slice of egg. Then I folded the puff pastry to make a triangular shape and sealed the sides by pressing the pastry with the tips of a fork.
I brushed the surfaces of the puffs with beaten egg and gently placed the puffs onto a baking rack that's on top of a cookie sheet (that's to allow the puffs to bake nicely on both sides).
I popped the puffs into the preheated oven of 370F for about 1/2 hr or till nicely browned.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Potato chips cookies

Did you know that 14 Mar was National Potato Chip Day? Well......neither did I!

Anyway, someone posted the link for making Potato Chips cookies on FB and I was like....hmm! this looks really gooood. You see, I generally prefer savory snacks than sweet ones.

So this morning, to keep myself awake (long story, I won't go into it here), I followed the recipe (with few changes) and made these crunch savory cookies.

Instead of rolled oats, I used whatever leftover instant maple/brown sugar flavored oatmeal that I was probably gonna toss out eventually 'cos it tasted awful!

And a surprise (NOT!) ingredient for the POTATO CHIPS cookies - POTATO CHIPS!!.....what do you know right! :P  Ok, my crap aside.....I used Kettle Lightly Salted chips. I also toned down the salt amount to maybe 3/4 of a teaspoon.

I pounded at the chips bag with my fists until they crumbled into smaller bits. Good workout for a sleepy me! I had some difficulties incorporating the chips into the dough with a in the end, I used my hands (they were clean ok!) and kinda squished the chips and dough together.

I also just scooped the dough with a tablespoon onto my palm and again - squished them into tighter rounds.

I made about 36 cookies. Whatever the number....I prefer it to be an even one. I'm weird like that.

They look almost like regular cookies but look closer and you'll see the potato chips. The chips give a really nice savory crunch.....if you are the sort who can't eat just one chip....then you might have a problem with these cookies too. So crunch-munch away!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

No knit knit bag (upcycling)

I saw some knitted bags on etsy....they are soooooooo pretty but costly....and unfortunately, after a 2-decade hiatus, I've totally forgotten how to knit :P

So I thought....hey, I can sew right?! How about if I make use of old knit sweaters and convert them into purses?

I found a natural color cable sweater at Salvation Army for $3 and I set about to create my first ever no-knit knit bag.

The original bag design was a little more ambitious....but once I started cutting up the sweater...I was horrified to see the knit fabric "disintegrating" right in front of my eyes.

Having had no prior experience sewing knit fabrics...I soon realised that I had bitten off more than I could chew.

Anyway, to keep long story short...I learned that I need to stablise the knit fabric first before I cut. I did that by using a zigzag stitch to sew along the entire length of where I wished to cut. And I also had to prevent fraying of the knit fabric by running the zigzag stitch again around all the edges. And 'cos of the "technical difficulties" involved, I decided to keep the bag design least for my virgin attempt.


The fabric flower was made out of an old sheer curtain.
I have to admit that I'm a little intimidated by knit fabrics now after my virgin experience....but I have promised myself to attempt a couple more such no-knit knit bags and not admit defeat so soon....especially when I still have another 3 knitted sweaters from Salvation Army for this purpose....yikes! :P

Monday, March 19, 2012

Meatloaf wrap

Truth be told that I don't really like meatloaf when eaten on its own......but I absolutely love using leftover meatloaf to make all sorts of other dishes.

This meatloaf wrap is one of my favorites.

Here's an easy tutorial on how to put it all together.

Step 1: Heat up a piece of tortilla (cold is fine too. I used a low-fat spinach herb tortilla). Spread fat free mayo on it....alright, i'm a little sloppy  at mayo spreading but who cares right!

Step 2: I like to start layering with lettuce and other vegetables right in the middle of the tortilla. You can add all sorts of veg & fruits i.e. carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, avocado, grapes, apples, kiwi etc.

Step 3: After piling on the vegs, I added in slices of meatloaf, cheese and dollops of my special meatloaf sauce.

Step 4: I actually piled on more veg before rolling the tortilla up tightly.  Tuck in both ends neatly.

Step 5: To ensure that the ends are secure and to make eating easier and less messy....I like to foil wrap both ends.

Step 6: Cut the wrap in the middle at a can serve it with soup, salad, chips or other sides. It packs well in lunchboxes too.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Half full or half empty birdfeeder

Ever since we've been given a birdfeeder last year, we've spent countless hours sitting near the sliders watching the lil birds as they feed. We can now identify most of the birds that come to our feeder and they are a bunch of regular fellas who'd come to feed like clockwork.

These lil fellas can really eat I tell ya. When we first hung up the birdfeeder, we were only refilling it once a the feeder becomes empty within a couple of days...sometimes within a day even.

And I always feel so guilty when I don't refill the feeder promptly once it gets emptied. I see the lil birds going to the empty feeder and I imagine them flying off disappointed and hungry and my heart is broken into bits.....awwwww, poor lil things! And did I mention how awful I felt when we were in LA & TX for 2 whole weeks? I was so concerned that the birds would be starving and that they won't love us anymore for not feeding them :P

So rain, shine or snow....we'll have to make sure that the feeder is always full and our little feathery friends are well fed. I didn't realise having a birdfeeder can be such a huge responsibility!

And these days when we go shopping.....we'll have to shop for the lil fellas too. Sometimes, a big bag of 30lb bird seeds, occasionally some bird suet for our residential downy woodpecker....& I'm already thinking maybe a bird bath (or 2) when we have our own garden :)

Damn those lil fellas are being spoilt rotten.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Liquid lentils...

I bought this Bob's Red Mill Vegi Soup Mix at Ocean State Job Lot as part of my new healthy diet.  

The mix is full of green and yellow split peas, barley and lentils.

There's a soup recipe printed on the side of the packaging that you can follow easily. And it's really pretty versatile so you should be able to come up with your own variations by altering the herbs, spices and ingredients.

The basic method is to just simmer 1 part mix with 4 parts water for one hour until the ingredients are soft. Add salt, seasonings & other vegetables as desired.

For the below photos, I cooked 1 cup of soup mix in 3-4 cups of home-made chicken soup stock (low sodium) for 1/2hr. And then I added to the simmering soup, some chopped carrots, celery and onion...and continue to simmer for another 1/2hr. I left the soup to cool slightly before blending it. You can blend till very smooth or if you like your soups can either just blend only half the portion or just pulse lightly so that you still have some chunks.  

As I usually make the soup in large quantities, I'd divide them into meal size portions and freeze or just chill them in the refrigerator.  Trust me, it tastes much better than it looks :)
When I'm ready to eat my soup, I'd pour the chilled soup out from the container and into a saucepan. I'd add some non-fat milk to it and let it simmer until it's sufficiently warm. While it's simmering, I'd taste the soup and add salt/pepper and other seasonings to it. I usually like to add some garam masala and paprika to the soup for some heat. 

Well, here's my liquid lentil lunch. Oops, I accidentally plopped too much chilli powder into my soup....oh well, it still was good *slurp*

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dream a little house....

We dreamed up our "ideal house" (given some land, covenants and budget constraints that is!) and RG managed to put it down on paper.

He's really good at this and has great patience in piecing our ideas together to make them work.

Of course we aren't professionals so we don't know where the main support structures need to be or about thrusts and other our "ideal layout" needs to be looked at by an architect or builder to see if it's actually buildable or what needs to be done to support such a layout.

In any case....this is just us dreaming for now....we'll take it one step at a time and see where it leads us.....

Roasted vegetables - healthy and taste sooooo gooooooood

Why has no one ever told me about the deliciousness of roasted vegetables??!!

I only found this out very recently.....and boy, oh boy, the number of times I've made it since - making this one of the GREAT discoveries of Year 2012.

Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetables with a slight hint of toastiness.

This is usually how I'd make roasted vegetables....and it's almost foolproof:

Chop up root vegetables into chunky bitesize (for example - potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, onions, turnips etc.)
Chop up "soft" vegetables into chunky bitesize (for exaple, bell peppers, tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini etc.)
Set them aside in 2 separate mixing bowls.
To both bowls, add a couple tablespoon (more/less depending on quantity of veg) of olive oil to nicely coat the vegetables.
To both bowls, add a dash of garlic powder, onion powder, Herbs de provence, salt/pepper (if you like it hot, some paprika/curry/chilli powder could be nice too).
To both bowls, add a tiny splash of balsamic vinegar.
Toss the veg till well mixed.
Preheat your oven to 475F.
Line a baking sheet with foil and spread your ROOT VEGETABLES on the sheet and put it into the oven for about 30mins (give the root veg a good stir in between roasting)
Add in the "soft" vegetables together with the root vegs, give them a good stir and roast at the same temperature for another 15mins.  
Remove from oven and start digging into the sweet toasty goodness.

Usually, I like to have a good balance of sweet and not sweet vegetables. For example, carrots, red bell peppers, sweet potatoes, squash, corn are sweet whereas asparagus, green bells, potatoes, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower aren't sweet. But you can do it whatever way you please.

And depending on how "heavy" you'd like the roasted veg dish to be - as a main meal or small side can vary the amount of the "heavier" rooted veg like potatoes/squash in the dish. The more potatoes/sweet potatoes/squash there is, the more substantial the dish.

I'd eat the roasted veg on its own or serve as a side dish. Leftover roasted veg can be used in soups (blended or not) and sandwich wraps too.

They are so yummy, good for you, easy to make (even in large quantities) and super versatile as a leftover. I can't sing enough praises of it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Summarizing January and February

It has come to that!! LOL

I've been receiving concern emails from families and friends, wondering why there hasn't been much updates on my blog lately.


I owe it to myself and to YOU to update this more regularly....otherwise, it's gonna be one of the gazillion sad abandoned blogs after just a few initial enthusiastic posts (I must've contributed a big handful to those lost in the big blackhole of the blogsphere!).

So before I jump right back in (with both feet)....I thought I should give you a run down of Jan and Feb events.

Jan was a lovely start to the new year. We were blessed with fabulous weather.....little snow, many warm sunny days. RG was on winter vacation so we spent lots of time together, doing fun things whenever we could. We also took advantage of the great weather to explore nearby towns and beaches.

Chinese New Year was early this year on the 23 Jan. Being away made me miss home, my parents and our annual CNY celebration. So this CNY, I decided to go all out to recreate the festive mood here in the US of A. I made bak kwa (grilled the pieces outdoor in the snow!), pineapple tarts, huat kueh, nian gao and for CNY eve dinner, we had a sumptous steamboat dinner, just the 2 of us.

The nephew also came to visit briefly end Jan during his 1 week school break. We did fun stuffs like shopping at Wrentham Outlet Mall and also checked out a mega supermarket in New Bedford where he got ingredients to make a lovely dinner for us. Even though his visit was a short was wonderful having him.

In Jan, one of my photographs of a moonlit night over the harbor made the front page of our local town publication. I received a gift card for my photo...token amount only but there's nothing more joyful to see my work in print...front page nevertheless!

RG also received good news for his tenureship and now that things are looking more "permanent", we have embarked on a more active househunt again. Most of our weekends were spent at houseviewings or talking to builders. Hopefully, we'll be able to find something real soon and finally set some roots instead of having to move from rental to rental every year.

February was kind of a whirlwind. We saw many more houses, spoke to builders and actually started thinking of house designs and our ideal floorplans if we really wanna build from scratch. Nothing has been finalised yet but we are exploring all possible options, leaving no stone unturned.

We also went on a 2-week trip to the states of Louisiana and Texas. The trip was planned to coincide with Mardi Gras 2012. We wanted to experience the craziness of Mardi Gras in New Orleans where it all started. We spent 6 days in New Orleans, 2 days in Baton Rouge, 2 days in Galveston, 3 days in Houston and 1 day in Lafayette. There was quite a bit of driving and a little rushed throughout but we made the fullest use of our time in all the places that we had visited. It was an exhausting trip but an extremely eye-opening one. I'll probably blog more on our trip later....together with the photos.

By the time we got back, it was almost time for RG to return to work as the new semester commenced end Feb this year.

This year, I have quietly made some new year resolutions but I feel I should share that they don't fade away as I get bogged down with mundanities or become lazy.

My new year resolutions are:
- Get shit done first (doing all shitty stuffs first so that the rest of the day will be a breeze) 
- Eat healthy (meaning, less processed foods, more wholegrains, vegetables, lean meats)
- Use less of dishwasher (save energy, water and $)
- Sew more stuffs
- Recycle more (turn trash into usable products) 
- Blog more regularly

Well....I guess that's it for Jan and Feb. March updates to come soon.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Poori (Puri) making

I was inspired by my nephew to try to make some pooris after seeing his on FB. So I googled youtube and found this fabulous video instruction. I followed her recipe and instructions to a T and the pooris turned out nicely puffed and yummy.

Here are some photos of my own poori making attempt....

...and here are the photos of the final product!

Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012!

We finally waved goodbye reluctantly to Year 2011 and welcomed with open arms Year 2012. Our little quiet household had been bustling with activities for the past few weeks. We rushed through (madly) all the shopping, writing/mailing of cards and gifts, cooking and baking. We hosted our friends on Christmas eve as well as Christmas Day - just casual luncheons for small groups, nothing too elaborate or fancy....but a hell lot of booze!

Although we are only renting....we'd usually still try our best to decorate for the festive seasons - with minimum budget and plenty of brain juices. We made sort of a wall banner using all the Christmas cards that we had received from families and friends. My landlord has these evergreen conifers that look like miniature Christmas we hung lights around them as we didn't want to buy a tree. I also used the holly leaves and berries for the wreath and all around the house.

We received lots of lovely gifts from our friends and neighbors - new and old.

And of course, there were plenty of food and eating and's no wonder why my new year resolution is ALWAYS to lose some weight!

This festive season was made even more joyous with the visit of a dear old friend from Singapore. We had a great time shopping, catching up and she cooked for us.

She also brought us some goodies all the way from home....

The birds visited our new birdfeeder and joined in our celebrations....

....and of course, the squirrels too tried to get their hands on the festive goodies but were all defeated by the smart gadget!

We visited the Cape right before New Year and it was nice and peaceful without the summer traffic.

Here are the photos of the very first sunset and twilight of Year 2012.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish everyone nothing but the VERY BEST for the new year. May you have love, peace and joy in your hearts.