Sew Happy : bag charms

A quick one on the crafts I did the past few months.

School bag charm for my daughter…
I would like to think this is a red squirrel, but my girl said this is a fox. Oh well…

Totoro for my son…

In memory of Taffy Day, the cairn terrier which I occasionally took care of when my friends were in vacation, I made this for my dear friend, M.

A purple monkey for M as well.
(Her daughter’s zodiac animal and favorite color.)

A forever friends bear for one of my BFF, J. πŸ™‚

That’s all for today. πŸ™‚

Hambone with lentil and vegetables soup

One of our favorite must-have dishes for Thanksgiving and Christmas is honey baked spiral ham. For the past few years, I would just tossed the hambone away. It was only recently that I found on Pinterest that the bone can be used to make a simple bone stock. So, this year I saved them and with the bone stock, I made this delicious ham lentil and vegetable soup. This hearty soup tasted so good with my homemade baguette and even my picky eater son gave a two thumbs up! πŸ™‚

(Note: To make the bone stock, just place the hambone in a large stockpot and add enough water to cover the bone and bring to a boil. Skimming off the scum and fats from the soup and reduce the heat and simmer for about 30mins to an hour.)

Hambone with Lentil and Vegetable soup

2 cups dried lentils
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped carrots
1 large onion – chopped
a handful of garlic cloves, minced
3 cups diced cooked ham
A few good dashes of herbs (I used thyme and oregano)
2 bay leaf
1 can of stewed tomato
Hambone broth
ground black pepper – to taste

1. Heat oil in large stockpot and add garlic, onion until onion is translucent.
2. Add chopped vegetables and the cooked ham.
3. Add hambone broth, stewed tomato and stir in herbs, bay leaf, lentils and black peppers to taste.
4. Bring to a boil and then simmer the soup for about 45mins – 1hr or until the lentils are tender.

Healthy living, here we come!

“If the diet is wrong, medicine is of no use.
If the diet is right, there is no need for medicine.”

After doing a lot of research, I come to realize how red meats & dairy-rich food can affect one’s health. (Think high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cancer etc) After getting the support from my dear husband and kids, we embarked on our new diet journey a few weeks ago.

Yes, we are on a no-red meats, high fiber, low dairy “modified Mediterranean” diet now! πŸ™‚ And besides this, I am also trying to add more whole grains to our diet and buying less refined/processed food.

To be frank, the change isn’t really that difficult la. Even though we love to eat out on weekends and snack on unhealthy chips occasionally, we are actually eating pretty healthy food at home most of the time. I think the most difficult part has to be the inconveniences that come with this diet change. Now, I can’t just cook what we craved or eat junk or processed food as and when we like it. And when we dine out or do our grocery shopping, we have to be very selective of what we order and what we buy.

Since I really want to make the switch as ‘painless’ and unnoticeable as possible for my family, I have to do more research, spend more time planning for our meals (again, Trello is a great tool!) and learn to read nutrition labels more carefully. Can you imagine how time consuming it is? Really ah, if it is not for the love for the family, I don’t think this lazy sahm could to do this at all.

Anyway, it has been more than 3 weeks since the switch. I’m very pleased to say that the family hasn’t complained about the missing meat dishes YET and also, we finally managed to convert to eating all brown rice yesterday!! Woohoo!

Both DH & I also noticed a change in our physical health. He has lost almost 5~8lbs of weight so far and his ‘united nation’ belly is beginning to ‘disintegrate’ and his ‘legendary’ 6-packs seems to want to make a comeback! Well, I called them ‘legendary’ is because I have never ever seen them even though I was with him for 20 years alreadyΒ lor. Heheee…. As for me, even though I didn’t weigh myself at all, I can see that my flabby & always bloated tummy looks a little smaller lor (*small voice*)and I feel more energized, though I still need to take a short nap after lunch. Β Hmm…. I guess δΌ‘ζ―ζ˜―δΈΊδΊ†θ΅°ζ›΄ι•Ώηš„θ·―ε’―γ€‚*grin*

Ok la… lili lolo such a long post, I think it’s time for me to take a rest and do some craft work. I will write again soon and probably start sharing with you on the healthy food I cook for my family next time. Ciao!

Briyani Rice with Beef & Potato curry recipe


Recently DH & I started using Trello to keep track of our busy life. One of the many items, which is listed in my weekly-to-do-Trello board, is to make a weekly meal plan. When DH saw this action item, he quickly updated MY list with a list of food HE loves. Haha… that glutton. Anyway, without any surprise, Briyani rice is on this list. Since I haven’t cook this for a long time, I decided to be good to him and
cook this with Beef & potato curry (Southeast Asian style) for dinner tonight.

This easy spice rice recipe is adapted from the Joy of Cooking series. I modified a little according to my family’s taste bud.

Briyani Rice Recipe:
3 cups rice (i used Jasmine, though Basmati is recommended)
Water per rice cooker recommendation

1″ cinnamon stick
4 cloves
4 cardamoms
1 tsp tumeric powder
A few cloves of garlic (optional, according to your preference)
A TSP of fried shallots
1 cup cashew nuts (optional)
pinch of salt (according to your preference)

* I omitted the raisins because my family doesn’t really like them in cooked rice.

~ Heat up 2-3 tbsp butter in a pan, stir fry cinnamon stick, cloves & cardamon & garlic until fragrant.
~ Add in rice and stir fry until the rice is coated evenly in spices & butter.
~ Add in water & TSP of fried shallots and cook for a min before putting it into rice cooker to finish up the cooking process.
Once the rice is done, you may sprinkle more fried garlic and shallots and cashew nuts before serving.

Beef & Potato Curry recipe

2lbs of beef chunks, cut into cube size

2 onions – diced finely
1″ ginger – peeled & grated
2TSP – minced garlic

3 lemongrass
1 star anise
4 cloves
handful of curry leaves
4TSP – curry powder (or more if u like)
1TSP – chilli (more if you like it spicy)

2 potatoes – cut into 1″ cube size

1 can of Coconut milk
salt – to taste

1. Fry curry leaves, lemongrass, star anise and cloves in heated pot (with oil) until fragrant.
2. Add curry and chilli powder and stir fry until the color changed to dark shade.
3. Add onions, ginger & minced garlic until onions turn translucent.
4. Add meat and stir fry until the spices are well coated on the meat.
5. Add coconut milk to the meat in high heat for a few mins and reduce to simmer when curry sauce boils. Add potatoes, and continue simmer. If the coconut milk is not enough to coat the meat & potatoes, you may add some water at this point.
6. Continue cooking until meat becomes tender and curry sauce thickens.
7. Add salt to taste when curry is done.

Absence do make the heart grow fonder

Sorry for the long absence, my dear blog.
I miss you. I really do.
I promise I will be back once the school ends.

For now, please enjoy some pictures of the new additions in my garden. πŸ™‚

My beautiful peonies in full bloom now.

DH built these trellises structure for our vegetable garden. πŸ™‚

Wood frame trellises…

Tomato cage using PVC pipes…

Another one using PVC pipes.

That’s all for today. I will be back soon!

Kids’ craft : River Otters Diorama

River Otters Diorama

This was actually the 4th grader’s school project a few months ago. We had so much fun researching and learning about River otters and making the shoebox diorama together. First she drew the otters’ habitat on paper, and then started building the diorama on a shoebox bit by bit by herself, using mostly recycled materials that we have around the house.

(I actually wanted to show you her impressive habitat draft, but I couldn’t find the photo in my photo album now. Argh! πŸ™ Hopefully she still has the original drawing so that I can show u later.)

Here’s my contribution to her project…these polymer clay river otters models. It was our first time playing with polymer clay. My original intention was for her to create her own models. But becos I was too curious, and couldn’t wait for her to be back from school, I went ahead to create these otters first. πŸ˜› And when she saw my models after school, she loved them so much that she decided to use them instead. Oh well… at least she did color these models herself! :p

River Otters polymer
(Idea from this pin on Pinterest.)

The polymer clay that we used is from Scupley, in translucent color. After the models were oven-baked, we painted them using Acrylic paints and seal it with all purpose acrylic sealant.

The background and river were painted using tempera paint.
river otters project

The tree trunks were made of branches from our yard and she used recycled green crepe ribbons as the tree canopy. The otters den was made using twigs and she used hays (it was boy’s brilliant idea!) that she collected during our trip to a local farm last Autumn as wetlands plants such as cattails/ bullrushes.

River otters diorama

Lily pads were created using recycled craft paper, pipe cleaners and gift tissues. Again, the floating tree log was from our yard. Notice the red crab on the log and fish in the river? Here’s another one…
river otters project

Ain’t they cute?!

Bak Chor Mee (Mince Meat Noodles)

Bak Chor Mee (Mince Pork Noodles)

I have cooked Bak Chor Mee many times before, but the noodle sauce from the recipes that I used earlier weren’t authentic enough, until I stumbled upon this recipe. Because I was already pretty happy with my version of stewed mushroom sauce and fried ground meat, so I merely followed its noodle sauce recipe. This noodle sauce tasted really authentic, I give it a 10/10.

Anyway, if you are looking for a good bak chor mee recipe, I would recommend you to try this recipe first.

I’m documenting my own ingredients list here for my future reference. If you feel like you want to try mine, please be warned though… the vast majority of my cooking is ‘seat of the pants’. So, use at your own risk. Heheeee….

Sauce for noodles:
1/2 tablespoon chilli oil (optional)
1/2 tsp oyster sauce
1 tablespoon black vinegar
A splash of fish sauce
Fried shallots

Stewed Mushroom :
6-8 Chinese mushrooms
1~2 Cups Chicken stock
1 TSP oyster sauce
1 TSP dark soy sauce (for color)
1 TSP soy sauce (may add more according to taste)

Fried Bak Chor/Mince meat :
minced garlic (fried till crispy and golden brown)
1lb ground pork
1 TSP oyster sauce
dark soy sauce (according to taste)
dash of ground pepper

Sew Happy : Insulated Lunchbox warmer bag

At least 3 times a week, I would pack hot lunch for the girl to bring to school. The previous lunchbox warmer that we used is just a double layers insulated cloth sheet. Though it does serve the purpose of retaining the warmth of the lunch, but I thought it isn’t as convenient since I have to wrap the bento box with the cloth manually. So, I made this warmer bag instead, using home deco fabric (thicker), thermal bubble sheet (from Daiso) and assorted color felts for the ninja pattern.

Sew Happy : Lunchbox warmer bag

If you are keen to make one yourself and need a tutorial to guide you, here’s one I found on pinterest that is closest to how I made mine.

Happy 2014!

Bye 2013.

Looking back at my 2013, I am very thankful for my family and some close friends. Because of their love and support for me, they made me realized who are the ones that truly matter to me and who truly embraced me as who I am.

I’m also very thankful for some life lessons that I had learned through some disappointments and heartbreaks.

I’ve learned the importance of forgiving people and moving forward. Having hate in your heart, you will end up hurting yourself/your family more than the people you hate. It is so important to let go of the resentment and pain, because these will only hold you back from living a happier life. So, instead of spending your time hating people, try spend more time with the people who love you & you love.

Another important lesson that I’ve learned is that we all need to be mindful of who we are spending our time with; limit your time with negative people, and don’t allow yourself to be that negative person too.

It took me a long while to understand why I was so unhappy the past year. And like those times when I questioned myself why did I belittle my children or not being a positive & supportive friend to my friends, when these clearly made me feel unhappy, guilty and angry with myself. Well, as it turns out, that is the consequences of having negative people too close to my life. I mean I can always tell who are the negative people in my social circle and I never really have a problem with them. But because I’m such an emotional sponge, I tend to let myself take on their emotions and because of that… their negative vibes slowly affected me and then turned me into a negative person too. Anyway, don’t worry about me, if I can talk about it here, it just means that I’ve moved on and on the path of getting better already. πŸ™‚ So you see, having bad experiences actually isn’t all that bad. They actually helped me to learn more about myself, my own issues and weaknesses.

Before ending this post, I would like to wish all of you a very Happy and Blessed 2014!! Be good and stay positive!

I’m looking forward to a calmer, healthier, happier 2014!

PS: If you thought that I was going to write about my new year resolutions, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I just find that making new year resolutions is a waste of time. If I have something that I want to do, I will do it now. I don’t need to wait till January to make the list. πŸ˜‰

Got to go now.

My Comical Family #20: This is Love!

This is Love!

Happy 15th Wedding Anniversary to you, my DH! πŸ˜‰