the lazy sahm…

Feeling so proud and accomplished after deep cleaning (cleaned the brush, fixed a small crack, changed a new bag) the vacuum cleaner.

Admire the vacuum cleaner.
*5mins later* Put it back in the closet.

Floor vacuuming can wait.

Bento #33: Mid Autumn Festival

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival to you all!
祝大家中秋节快乐!

It totally slipped my mind that today is mid-Autumn festival. Life has been especially busy for us since we came back from a 2.5 months of summer vacation in Singapore, and kids went back to school shortly after. Now that the kids are more or less settled back to their daily routine, I re-started my long overdue de-cluttering project again. This time, however, I’m not just working around my home, but my mind too. :)

Anyway, here’s the impromptu lame attempt of a mid-autumn festival theme bento that I prepared for my daughter today. :)

mid autumn festival bento

Snack : steamed taro bun and apple (in case you are wondering, that is a chinese lantern pattern!)
Lunch: Char Siu (BBQ pork) rice

Back to school! (Bento #42)

My firtborn is now a 4th Grader! How time flies!!

To make her first day of school a special one, I started doing my research on pinterest (Join me if you haven’t do so!) for inspiration and made this back-to-school bento yesterday. :)

Lunch box:
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Contents:
Fried rice wrapped in white egg sheet, school bus made with cheese, grapes and homegrown cherry tomatoes. :)

Snack box:
back-to-school bento

Contents:
Pencil shaped cheese stick (decorated with nori), Kueh Lapis (aka thousand layer cake which I got from Singapore. :) ), apple and a book origami lunch box note.

If you are interested in making the book origami for your little one, here’s a pretty good tutorial video. Check it out!

Chinese New Year craft 2013 – Snakessssssssssssssssss!

2013 is the year of the snake, so here’s the snake crafts that my children made.
Very easy and fun to make, just cut and decorate! The preschooler had no problem making this all by himself. :)

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The snake template can be downloaded here.

Other related posts:
Chinese New Year crafts See our other Chinese New Year craft here!

Bento #41: Apple Galette

Overdue post… :p Made this bento last October, and only get to post this up today. LOL.

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Lunch box: Ham and lettuce wrap with strawberries.
Snack box: Apple Galette and raspberries.

Made the apple galette when it was apple season. I was craving for the Apple Galette, that my friend D made from scratch, using the test kitchen’s recipe. Of course, being the lazy SAHM, I cheated and made a simpler and fuss free one with store bought puff pastry. To be honest, unless you love homemade and like to experience making things from scratch, I would say… skip the work, just use the store bought pastry! There is really just a slight difference in taste and texture. 😉

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Here’s the recipe…

Ingredients:

1 pkg of store bought puff pastry (make 6pcs)

Apple filling and Glaze:

Apples (2-3 medium size) – slice thinly, about 0.5cm thickness.

2Tsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/4″ pieces

1/4 cup sugar (may be reduced according to your preference)

2Tsp apricot preserves

1Tsp water

Instructions:

1. Unroll the puff pastry on a floured parchment paper and dust with  more flour. If you like, you can roll one full sheet into a rough rectangle about 12×5″ long or do what i did, cut the dough where the folds are and make them into individual sized galette. 😉

2. Roll the sides of the dough up to about 1-2cm and pinch the sides to create some kind of border. Then, gently prick the dough with a fork several times to prevent puffing.

3. Now, it’s time to assemble the fillings.

Arrange the apple slices, starting in one corner, shingle the diced apples to form an even row across the bottom the dough, overlapping each slice by one-half. Continue to layer the apples in rows, overlapping each row by half. Dot the apples with butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar. Bake until bottom of the tart is deep golden brown and the apples have caramelized, 45 to 60mins at 375F.

4. To glaze the galette

While the galette is baking, combine the apricot preserves and water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium power till the mixture begins to bubble, about 1min. Pass through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any large apricot pieces. Brush the baked galette with the glaze and cool on a wire rack for 15mins. Transfer to a cutting board and cut them into individual portion, serve.

Bento #39-40

Made this simple ‘doggy sausage bun with orange slices’ snack box for the girl when she had an early release school day two weeks ago.

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Sweet buns is one of my favorite ‘make ahead’ snacks for the family. This recipe I used is very versatile. It can be made into sweet or savory treats, and because they freeze well, I always double the quantity and stock them up in the freezer. My kids favorite sweet buns fillings are vienna sausage and red bean paste.

Bento #40
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Lunch content: Chives and Egg sushi, corn and baby carrots.
Snack content: Flower shaped toast bread with sausage, orange, carrot and grapes.

The chives in the sushi and baby carrots are from my garden and I got the corn from our local farmers market. :) This year I have been quite good in making healthier choices for my family. I hope to add more vegetables and fruits to our diet. :)

Bento#38: Back to School!

How time flies! My first born is now a 3rd Grader! This year she is finally eligible for the free bus ride to school. Boy was she excited.

So, for her lunch, I made her a school bus sandwich. I got the idea from pinterest. Sorry, can’t remember who shared it!

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Lunchbox content: Ham and Cheese Sandwich, baby carrots and grapes

For her snack box, I decided to make it a school themed.
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I carved the ABC on the apple, made a pencil out of mozzarella cheese stick and folded an origami book lunch box note (in it, some jokes to lighten up her first day of school. :)) and added some crackers and baby carrots.

The girl was really happy with her lunch and snack box, she polished off them clean! :)

Vegetable garden updates

Last year, we had great harvest of cucumbers, tomatoes and green beans, but our carrots, potatoes and pumpkins didn’t do that well. So, this year we planted more of each kind at 3 different locations to see which location is best suitable for the vegetables.

Our carrots didn’t even produce any sizable root last year, so this time we plant them in a barrel instead, and placing the barrel in full sun. As you can see, they are doing great so far.

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Last year our pumpkins flowered, but they didn’t produce any fruit. DH thought that they didn’t produce any fruit because we didn’t plant enough seedlings to begin with. Not enough plants means not enough flowers to pollinate each other, hence no fruit. So, he started 3 containers full of pumpkin seedlings. Well, will see what happens when he transplants them later. 😛

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Our potatoes didn’t produce much potatoes last year. We think it could be due to the soil, sun conditions and the potato seedling that we used. This year we got 2 different kinds of potato seedlings, the red and yukon. So far, comparing the 3 sites that we planted them, seems like the potatoes like it best where it is partially shaded. :)

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Potatoes in barrels, under full sun…

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A frost in late spring killed all our cucumber seedlings and most of our tomato seedlings. This is one of the few tomato plants that survived.

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We just realized that DH has forgotten to re-start his cucumber seedlings. I think we may have to get a few cucumber seedlings from the store this weekend before it is too late to plant them. -_-”

I bought 6 celery seedlings & 12 asparagus roots from our local grocery store in late spring. We planted them at 3 different sites too. The celery, which was supposed to like FULL sun, also grow the best in partial sun condition. Hmm… I wonder why.

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As for the asparagus, they are doing well too. All 12 roots have budded, hopefully we get to harvest them next spring! :)
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Bok Choi, Spinach, 2 celery plants and a green peppers plant are planted in the new raised bed that DH and kids built for me for my birthday. :)
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Somehow, they don’t grow too well. They look rather limpy, right? I am going to try digging out some compost soil to fertilize them once the pollen counts drop. (Sigh… this year I’m affected by the spring allergies too. I think I’m allergic to Oak/Pine pollen. Argh! :()

Bok Choi close up…
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Green bell peppers…
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Spinach…
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These are green beans and long beans. So far, they are doing quite well too. :)

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Besides these, I also got a few herbs from friends, like the Lemon balm mint, oregano, chives. I’ve also started the thymes, basil seedlings too. I’m growing these herbs in pots since the perennials herbs are invasive in nature. I love them, but I certainly do not like them to grow all over the place. 😉

Lemon Balm mint
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Oregano
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Chives…
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Thymes
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Basils
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Ok… That’s all for today. Will update again soon, I hope. :)

Blossoms (2012)

The beautiful blossoms in my yard from early Spring till now…

Because of the unusual warm winter, Spring comes early this year. The Forsythia Europaea shrubs bloomed in early-mid March. So we got to enjoy fresh cut flowers earlier than previous years. :)
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Other early blooming flowers …
Muscari ‘Blue Star’
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Periwinkle
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Bradford Pear
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Even the dandelions are looking very pretty too.
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Mid-Spring blossoms…

The very fragrant Lilacs! :)
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I love the lilacs, they made my house smells so nice. Do you know that lilacs are edible flowers? I didn’t know until I found this lilac jelly recipe on pinterest and I hope I’m brave enough to try it next year! 😉

Rhododendrons – This year the Rhododendrons are blooming so much better than the previous years. Maybe the prune last fall help them to flower more. :)

Purple rhododendrons – doesn’t the flower bud look like a water lily flower bud?
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Fiery Red rhododendrons
– This one hidden under the Holly shrub, I may have to trim the holly shrub even more if I want to keep this shrub.
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White rhododendrons
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Late Spring/early Summer blossoms and I still have trouble in identifying them. Sigh.

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That’s all.

home & gardening updates (Spring 2012)

This year we had a really warm winter and because there isn’t much snow, we didn’t have to wait for the snow to melt before we could start the yard spring cleaning. For the past few weeks, DH & I (actually kids helped too!) did quite a bit of yard work and some home repairs too! To tell you the truth, I actually prefer working on the yard and getting the home fix, over shopping!! HAHA… :)

Anyway, here are what we did for the yard so far…
1. Raked the brown leaves off the lawn, grind them into smaller pieces and used them as natural mulch for our trees.

2. Cleared the broken tree limbs and branches that were left behind by the freaky halloween ice-storm.

While we understand that open fire burning poses many threats, like wild fire, health issues but the fact that we have a really small yard and there are just too much yard wastes this year that we have to resort to burning them.

We intend to use the ashes from burned wood for the plants & trees in our yard since ashes are known to make them grow larger and produce more flowers, greener shrubs, and fuller leaves.

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Roast marshmallow is our favorite treat after we are almost done with the wood burning!

A word of advice if you are thinking of burning your yard wastes too.
Make sure you check with your local fire department, and check their regulations on burning. A permit may be required for opening burning.

3. Cut back overgrown bushes and shrubs, remove dead branches.
Do you know that dead branches can cause further harm to the shrub, and removing them stimulates the growth of roots, foliage and new branches?

4. Trimmed the lawn and reseed the grass. It is very important also to “wake” the grass up by raking and removing the dead grass.

5. Prep our vegetable garden.
– In fact, this year DH built two more sets of raised beds for my birthday (thank you, dear!! Best gift ever!)

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6. Started sowing our vegetable seedlings.
So far, our spinach, bok choi, potatoes, thymes, basil, tomatoes, garden beans, long beans, onions are doing well. We have to restart our cucumber seedlings though… a sudden drop in the temperature a few weeks ago, killed all of them. :(
Anyway, I will try to post the photos of my vegetable gardens soon! :)

7. Clean out our garden shed. Boy, am I glad that we did it this year! It was a breeding ground for mice!!!!! -_-”

For the home, here’s what we did.

1. We finally got our door bell fixed!
2. Had our power transfer switch done for our newly bought portable power generator! WOOHOO!! We no longer have to worry about power outages anymore! No more suffering in the cold during power outages in the winter!! Yeah!
3. Replaced a new water boiler. (Ouch! It was expensive!!)
4. Re-caulked kitchen sink! Yes, I did it myself!! So proud! LOL

Summer is soon coming, and since we are not going back to Singapore vacation, I hope we have more time to do more repairs and updates around the house. These are the projects that I hope we can at least get them started…

1. Fixing the sprinkler systems. – Already contacted someone to look into it.

2. Fix the lights switches.
– It looks like a simple job, I’m still trying to convince DH to do it ourselves.
– If we have to engage someone to do it, I would like to take the opportunity to update the living room’s semi flush ceiling lights and also the bathroom lighting fixtures. The one we have look like they are from the circa 80s. I prefer simple contemporary styled lights that can go with my black sofa.

3. Fix the wobbly deck staircase.

4. Repave the drive way. – Saw some online DIY videos, I think this is definitely do-able for a novice like us!

5. Clean the bricks pavement and refill them with more sands. – Pavement cleaned, and almost ready for sand filling. :)

That’s all for today’s all update on home and garden.
I will go and take some pictures and share them later! 😉