Monday, July 29, 2013

Fruit Flip Flop

Do you like my new flip flops below which I bought on Saturday at Target? I couldn't resist since they were on clearance (the price I paid is actually less than the price online) and I haven't bought a new pair of bought flip flops for many years.  The ones that I have been wearing (similar to these except less white on the tong part and more blue and brown), I have had since before I moved to SoCal which was about 6 years ago. Considering the fact that most people live in flip flops here, I consider it quite a feat (pun intended) that I have managed to keep the ones that I have for so long. I love wearing stuff till they absolutely cannot be worn anymore (and even then I try to revive it by patching holes up, glueing stuff back on, etc.)

Anyway, the flip flops don't really have anything to do with this post except for it being in the title. Below is what this blog entry is really about.

So for the longest time I had the hardest time getting bébé to eat fruit.  She liked vegetables instead and would eat kale, broccoli, peas, tomatoes, spinach, carrots etc.  I tried to figured out different ways to get her to eat some fruit such as making smoothies (didn't really work), making blueberry waffles (this worked), making oatmeal and banana bites (this worked) and getting her to eat raisins and dried apricots (this worked as well). Only recently did she expand her fruit eating repertoire to include strawberries, blueberries, peaches cantaloupe and grapes. 

I only discovered that she would finally eat these type of fruit because I had made a fruit salad for our weekly Sunday potluck at the evening church we have been attending at the pastor's home. On a whim I decided to spoon some of the fruit salad on my plate to try to feed her some, not expecting her to eat any of it. To my surprise she loved it. I am thinking it has to do with the natural sugars that come out when strawberries are cut up which had coated the rest of the fruit. We had some leftover at home so I gave her some more the next day and she gobbled it down. 

I am glad that she flip flopped from not really eating much fruit at all to now eating all kinds of fruit, but it turns out that what I should have been even more concerned about is her iron intake. We went to her the pediatrician last week for one of her wellness visits and it turns out her iron levels decreased since last time we went. Now I am trying all kinds of ways to get her to eat iron-rich foods (at the right time). Not that I wasn't doing it in the past but I remembered the fact that calcium prevents absorption of iron, after the doctor mentioned it to me at the visit. I realized that all that milk she was drinking was probably causing her body to not absorb as much iron as she would have if I had just timed giving her the milk differently. So now I am trying to get her to eat foods rich in vitamin C when I give her iron-rich foods since vitamin C actually aids in the body's absorption of iron and giving her milk later on.  Hopefully at the next visit, her iron level will be way up!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

DIY-T-shirt transformation

Update- Voilà a photo of the transformed T-shirt:
I had sewn a cinched waist so as to hide my post-partum belly bulge. Unfortunately, it is still a little too big to be hidden.  Ideally if I lose the extra skin/fat around my stomach area, then the shirt will give me the illusion of more of a waist.

Original post below:
For the longest time I have had a purple skirt with an Indian fabric inspired motif for which I have been trying to find the perfect top to wear.  Because it is on the conservative side length-wise, I wanted to have a funkier top to balance it out. I could have worn a plain regular gray T-shirt or even a tank top but I wanted something more visually interesting. So I had been on the lookout for a gray off-the shoulder top that is cinched at the waist. I found some possibilities here and here. But the first one was not the right color and the second one was not the right price. Plus I was thinking of something short sleeved.

For a couple months now, I have had an idea brewing in my mind of transforming an oversized gray T-shirt that I already own into what I wanted. The image below is similar to my original T-shirt (I forgot to take a picture before I started sewing).
First what I did was to cut around the collar to give it an off-the-shoulder look. Just google off the shoulder t-shirts DIY and there is a plethora of videos to show you how to do it. 

Then I pinned the sides (wrong side out*) as seen in the photo below. I know it is very faint; I need to improve my photo taking skills. The image below only shows one side pinned but I pinned the other side as a mirror image.

Close up shot which hopefully you can see a little better:

A couple days later I finally had the time to do some sewing (life with a toddler means time most often is not your own) and this is what it looked like wrong side out. 

Overall I liked how it turned out except when bending over, my entire front would be exposed. I wanted an off-the-shoulder look NOT a see-down-my-shirt look. So I toyed with the idea of making the collar an elastic one. But then I realized all I had to do would be to sew the top of the sleeves a little bit in order to make the neckline a little smaller. See below for how I pinned it (wrong side out). The image below shows only one sleeve pinned but I pinned both sleeves the same way.

*Note-When I say that I pinned my shirt wrong side out, it was actually not inside out. My original T-shirt had a design on the front that I didn't like so I actually wanted my transformed shirt to be worn inside out (I don't mind the "deconstructed look") so that it would be a plain gray shirt as opposed to a gray shirt with a design on it. Thus if you don't like the deconstructed look, then you should pin and sew your shirt inside out so that all the seams will not be seen when you wear your shirt right-side out.

Stay tuned for a photo of the transformed shirt once I have a chance to wear it and have my hubby take a photo.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


A few months ago I told my husband that I had a confession to make.  He was all ears and so I said it, "I think Anne Hathaway is annoying." He said that that was not at all what he was expecting to hear. Hehe, I am sure he was glad that it wasn't something else that I had to confess. Anyway, a few months ago, I was watching one of those entertainment shows and I learned that apparently I am not the only one who sees the Academy Award winning actress in the same light. In fact some people actually really hate her so much that there is a nickname for them "Hathahaters".

The NY Times article that I linked and which talks about the "Hathahaters" says that people hate her for the following reasons, "She is not a real person." "She is so affected and actressy." Also she is too perfect and “We simply don’t find successful ‘perfect’ women all that likable.” I realized why  one reason I find her annoying is because she seems like an eager beaver, one who tries too hard. 
As I was thinking about it though, why should I find someone who is eager and tries hard to be annoying? If anything shouldn't we admire people who are passionate about something and try really hard for it? 

In a lot of things in life I have a very blasé attitude almost to the point of being jaded. I want to get more excited about things but then I am afraid of getting disappointed so I keep my emotions at bay and avoid getting involved.  In comparison, I would rather be one who gets excited about something and puts my heart into it because then at least something great could come out of the effort. But because of my blasé attitude, I know I am missing out. 

Another reason why I have had a hard time liking her is because my judgmental (and probably jealous) self doesn't think she deserves all the attention and the fuss since she does not have the classically glamorous Hollywood actress-look.  To me she seems more like the "drama geek" type that the NY Times article references.  I am not saying that this is right but I am making a confession after all.  Examining my (wrong) attitude toward her, obviously reminds me again of how God wants us to see people through His eyes as opposed to our eyes which have been corrupted by worldly opinions. And not just her, but everyone that God has put in my life, He wants me to see through His eyes. The hard part is to figure out what seeing people through His eyes looks like and how that translates into practical interactions with people such as family members with whom one has not always had the best relationship. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Coupon crazy

I ended up eating the leftover ice cream that we had saved in our fridge and it actually tasted a lot better. Maybe it just has to be put in the freezer and get more chilled for the flavor to come out?

Original post below:

I love saving money using coupons. I am all about getting stuff for free too. Last year I found out that for your birthday if you sign up in advance to get on different store/restaurant mailing lists you can get all sorts of coupons for free stuff.  So I made a little note on my calendar for this year's month of July to do just that since my birthday is coming up in August. So a couple weeks I googled "birthday freebies" and I came across this blog entry and this blog entry both of which have similar lists of all the different mailing lists you can get on.

Since we had gotten a $10 gift card to a certain national ice cream chain (let's call it "Chillyrock" Creamery), I was happy that "Chillyrock" Creamery was on the list as one of the places that will offer a freebie. So I signed up for a My "Chillyrock" Account and received an email stating that I could buy one "creation" and get one free.  It didn't even have anything to do with my birthday. So even if your birthday is not coming up, you can still sign up for different mailing lists that are found on the blog entry links above and receive offers/coupons for free stuff. I wish I had known that last year.

Anyway I convinced hubby that we had to go to "Chillyrock" Creamery in order to finally use our gift card (we got it last year after bébé was born as a thank you for when we went to speak at our Bradley Method teacher's class about our home birth experience).  We went and both got different "Chillyrock" creations. Unfortunately just like my previous experience with this particular ice cream chain, which was years ago, I was pretty disappointed in the taste of the ice cream.

Actually hubby and I both didn't actually really like the ice cream from this place last time we went (which is why I had to convince him to go this time).  I wanted to go again though since we had the gift card and the BOGO coupon, plus I thought maybe if we got one of the "creations" (their special combinations of ice cream flavors and other add-ins)  it would be different. Last time I think I just got the chocolate ice cream with a nut topping mixed in.  The description of the "creation" sounded delicious: German chocolate, coconut flakes, brownies, pecans. I am especially a fan of chocolate and nuts, with which you can almost never go wrong.

Well I was wrong because pretty much the "creation" tasted pretty bland except for maybe the taste of just sugar. But of course I kept eating it up anyway since I am still learning how to have self-control around food. Anyway I didn't feel so great after eating about half of a medium sized cup, I think all that sugar and not so great quality ingredients were getting to me. Hubby had the same experience with his apple pie à la mode "creation". Oh well, at least we didn't have to spend any money on this "Let's give it a second try" experience.

Lesson learned-Just because you have a coupon and gift card for something you don't have to use it, especially if you didn't have a good experience a previous time with the same place. In hindsight I probably should have just given the gift card away to someone who actually likes the ice cream from this establishment.

Tip- Start a separate email account (what I call a coupon account) to use when you sign up on different mailing lists.  That way all that mail won't clutter your personal email account and you can check your coupon account only when you are already going to a certain place to see if you there are any special deals/offers.

Chip Trick

I have tried several times to make kale chips. The first few times did not go so well. The chips were either soggy or so crisp to the point of being almost burnt and it tasted as such. After reading this blog entry I realized what I was doing wrong. The trick is to dry the kale as much as possible before baking them. Because I wasn't drying the kale enough, sometimes the same chip would be soggy and burnt because only part of it was dry while the other part wasn't and so the dry part would crisp up much quicker while the other part remained soggy.

So earlier this week I figured out what I have to do. The evening before the day that I am about to make the chips, I spin dry the kale several times with my salad spinner (the one I have is comparable to the one I linked) which was a wedding present and so we have had it for the past almost 7 years and use it all the time.  The I lay out the kale (already torn into small pieces) on my jelly roll pan and let it continue drying over night. In the morning I toss the kale with some oil and then baked it in the oven for about 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees (always watching the kale closely so that it doesn't burn).

It comes out so much better now after learning how important it is that the kale be as dry as possible. The best thing is that bébé loves eating the kale chips which are healthy and a great source of vitamins and minerals. I have been feeding them to her as her mid-morning snack and she just gobbles them down. I actually did not add any seasoning other than the olive oil though the recipe I linked does include a secret ingredient. If bébé ever decided to not eat the kale that I have been making, then I will probably try the linked recipe with the special seasonings.

Below are the tasty, crispy, nutritious kale chips baked and eaten all in one morning. There was more but I took the picture after most of them had already been eaten.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Walnuts work

*Second Update* Today I made a new batch of the pesto using more parmesan than before, spread the pesto on half of a soft whole wheat tortilla, folded it in half and then put it in the toaster oven to toast for a few minutes. I fed it to bébé and she loved it. It was like eating a souped version of a quesadilla but with more protein (from the walnuts) and vitamins/minerals (from the basil).

*Update* We just got back from a walk on the beach and I needed to prepare something for bébé for lunch. I decided to add more oil and the parmesan to the "spread".  I mixed in the now full-fledged pesto with some small shell-shaped pasta and bébé ate a lot of it. I was happy because nuts are a great source of protein especially since she doesn't eat as much meat as she used to.

Original post below:

We went to a potluck sometime last year where someone brought this delicious basil pesto.  I couldn't stop dipping veggies and pita chips into it. I really enjoy eating pesto but one of the times I had bought bottled pesto at the supermarket it tasted weird and I didn't like it. Normally I prefer to prepare food from scratch but the idea of spending close to twenty dollars a pound for pine nuts was not appealing. I wouldn't have bought a whole pound of pine nuts anyway, but even just a handful would have been close to five dollars.

Anyway, while I was reading the ingredients of the pesto at the potluck I realized that the nut used was not roasted pine nuts but walnuts instead.  Now walnuts, as well as most nuts, are not cheap but at least it is a more economical substitute for pine nuts. So yesterday I decided to make some pesto using all the basil leaves from the potted plant I got from Trader Joe's a few weeks ago and some walnuts that I picked up from the bulk bins at my favorite supermarket.

I used this recipe for inspiration.  I rarely follow recipes exactly and this one was no exception. I ended up using much less oil and no lemon juice. I forgot to throw in the parmesan (it was later in the evening and I was tired). The consistency ended up being similar to pecan and herb  spread that I had used under turkey breast skin (from a Rachel Ray recipe I found years ago) for our first Thanksgiving dinner here in SoCal the year we moved here. It was just hubby and me since we didn't really know anyone here and all our family is back East, which is why we only needed to have turkey breast instead of the whole turkey.

Anyway I realized this evening that I had some leftover chicken drumsticks which I needed to bake before they went bad. So I decided to spread the "pesto" under the skin and bake them. It turned out decently. I should have used more salt and pepper so that it would have been better seasoned which I will try to remember to do next time.

Friday, July 19, 2013

DIY Decor (on a budget)

I love Pinterest. It has really expanded my mind to all different ways to decorate and how to decorate, especially on a budget. Even before we moved I had already started pinning many many ideas for our new home. I was really excited to especially decorate bébé's room, which was originally a plain white color. From Pinterest I got the idea of using gray as a neutral color. I like it because it is not a usual neutral color like white or beige, but an out-of-the-box neutral. I like to think of it as a sophisticated neutral. It took a little convincing but hubby agreed to it, though he was hesitant at first.

 Bébé's room: Before shots

Voilà bébé's room: After shots

For the crib area I re-used the Japanese tree blossom decals that we had up from our old apartment. I had saved the original packaging and when it came time to move I carefully took off each decal and placed it on the sheet on which it came. I sewed the curtains myself. I got the idea of using ribbon as the ties up top from a blog (which I unfortunately can't find anymore).

For links to general inspiration shots, see herehere, and here.

For the opposite wall I hung up some Japanese lanterns that I found at the Japanese $1.50 store that opened up a couple years ago in our town using this image as inspiration. I also did some DIY decorations. Hanging on the door is something I made using scrapbook paper, with the meaning of bébé's first and middle name and including one my favorite photos that I have taken of her. This was something I originally made for a little party we had after her dedication ceremony at the church we attend.  I decided to re-use it by hanging it on the outside of her door which is opening into the room in the shot above.

Here are some close up shots of my DIY projects:

I painted a canvas white with gray chevron stripes (using a stencil I found and printed from online). I used cardboard, yarn and some flower embellishments to make a pretty letter "A" which is the first letter of bébé's name. 

This is something I made after bébé's dedication ceremony. I printed out the prayer and blessing we had read over her, pasted it on some scrapbook paper, added a flower embellishment, and framed it.

For the "shadow box", I found a random birch colored box we had lying around and painted it white. I decided to wrap an Eiffel Tower statue with pink ribbon to give the feeling of ballet shoes tied up. This particular Eiffel Tower statue has special meaning because it was part of the decorations of the wedding shower that my sister threw for us. I also decided to tie a pink ribbon around the neck of the koala bear an Australian friend gave bébé.   Originally I was going to hang the frame and the canvas on either side of the "shadow box" but I realized I actually like the look of everything together, with the frame and canvas on top of the "shadow box" and canvas overlapping the frame a little bit. 

See here, here, here for the inspiration photos. 

There are still some more things I would like to add to bébé's room but for now I am liking how it is coming along.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Star Skater Spotting

I found out from one of the moms in my playgroup that the LA Kings practices in a town nearby. We had originally wanted to have a playgroup outing there so that we could watch them since it is open to the public. Unfortunately the weeks that we had wanted to go, they weren't practicing because they hadn't advanced in the playoffs. Later on, one of them moms found out that we can actually watch world class ice skaters while they practice their routines there. So two of us moms went (though our playgroup has four moms it is always hard to coordinate nap schedules for everyone to make it) and got to see several ice skaters one of whom was Evan Lysacek, the 2010 Olympic Gold Champion.

Though I stopped following ice skating a long time ago, I still really enjoyed watching the skaters do their jumps and spins just a few hundred feet away from us.  The most memorable part of the outing though was when I was walking to the parking lot and trying to get my keys out of my black hole of a bag at the same that bébé (who is now quite a walker AND runner) wanted to explore the area which included cars driving by. It was nearly impossible to hang on to her while also digging through my bag. My lesson learned that day was to always get my keys out BEFORE heading out of a building.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Back to Blogging

So after a very long hiatus, I have decided to finally start to try blogging again. One of the main reasons for why I stopped blogging was because we went through a very long, difficult and stressful escrow.  Thankfully we ended up getting the mortgage.  After doing some work on our place, we were able to move in this past March. The whole time we were so stressed though and I really didn't know how we were going to get through it all but with God's help we made it.  Some reasons for the stress-our lender pretty much lied to us about not having to pay mortgage insurance but it turned that we did have to because we put a down payment 5% rather than 10% (though he knew the whole time that we were only going to put 5% down and still originally said we would not have to pay the mortgage insurance), The bank also took forever in approving us for the loan thus jeopardizing our chances of getting the condo since the owner originally wanted a 30 day escrow which ended up becoming a 60 day escrow.

We also had a very stressful move since our 1 bedroom apartment was too small for us to pack in advance since there was no where to put the packed boxes. We had started sleeping on a blow up mattress in the living room so that our almost 1 year old daughter could sleep through the night. Then the actual day of the move was hard since we were packing and moving at the same time, while also taking care of a baby.  We had issues with the contractor who was doing work on our place too.

But anyway, like I wrote before, God got us through all the difficulty. We survived!  The lesson I learned was that no matter how difficult and stressful a situation/circumstance is, with God's help everything will work out in the end.