Life's like that!

August 21, 2009

Dritz Light Duty Staple Gun

About six months ago I bought a light duty staple gun at a nearby crafts store with a 40% discount coupon. I have no idea how I would use it so it has been kept in my drawer ever since.

A few days ago I thought of getting new dining chairs, but I do not want to discard the existing ones since they are still usable.

This morning, unable to stand the 4 ugly folding chairs that have been with us for seven years, I decided to do something about it.

Then my dear sister 'nagged' me to do something about them instead of whining. So this morning I decide to give these chairs a makeover with the staple gun and some fabric in three easy steps:
1. remove screws on the back support
2. staple the fabric
3. Screw the back support on.

To add some variety to this makeover project, I use two different fabrics.

Left: Beautiful fabric #1; Right: Original design.

Closeup of the fabric design.

Different fabric for two other folding chairs.

This quick project is completed in just 15 minutes.

All praise be to Allah SWT now I can feel happy about keeping these chairs around forever!


August 20, 2009

The Month of Fasting

Saturday (Aug. 22nd) will be the start of the Islamic fasting month, Ramadan.

Due to the hot temperature, I probably will stay home during weekdays. Grocery shopping will have to wait after we break fast in the evening.

Since sunset is around 8pm, I will have to remember to drink lots of water before sunrise.

Allah SWT willing hope that all Muslims will have a blessed month of fasting.


Video: DEADLINE post-it stop motion


August 18, 2009

Video: This Land is Your Land

Lyrics taken from here.

words and music by Woody Guthrie

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me


I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me


The sun comes shining as I was strolling
The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
The fog was lifting a voice come chanting
This land was made for you and me


As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!


In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.

Chorus (2x)

©1956 (renewed 1984), 1958 (renewed 1986) and 1970 TRO-Ludlow Music, Inc. (


August 17, 2009

Video: How to Make a Pop-up Wind Spinner


August 14, 2009

No Spending Week

On Monday, I told husband that we should try not spending money for one week, just to test ourselves and see if we can do so.

All praise be to Allah SWT we have been successful so far.

I have read about several families who tried to cut down on spending so that they are not consumed with materialistic comfort. I think this is a good way to teach our kids delay gratification, and good money management.


Kuih Dadar (Sweet Coconut Roll)

This morning I made some Kuih Dadar for breakfast. I got inspired to make this when I tasted some delicious ones made by Sr. Ume.

I used the recipe from the book 'The Joy of Cooking: Local Kueh' (ISBN: 957-28458-6-1)

80g brown sugar
40ml water
200g grated coconut
1/3 tsp salt
2tsp sifted glutinous rice flour

Direction: Cook brown sugar with water until sugar dissolves. Add grated coconut and salt and stir-fry till mixture is fairly dry. Add glutinous rice flour and stir to mix well. Remove and set aside.

100g sifted plain flour
1 egg
1/3 tsp salt
150ml water

(This recipe uses 1 tbsp pandan juice (4 pandan leaves blended with water, then strained), but I omitted because I didn't have any.)

Mix all ingredients till smooth and set aside for 1/2 hour.

Pour a little oil onto a heated flat-bottomed frying pan. Pour 1 tablespoon batter and lightly swirl pan to let batter spread into a thin pancake. Heat till pancake is cooked then remove and let cool. Place coconut filling on pancake and roll up like a spring roll.

Another version of the recipe can be found on Lily's Wai Sek Hong blog site.


Flour+Corn Tortilla

Since I have a bag of Bob's Red Hill 100% Stone Ground Whole Grain Corn Flour, I decided to substitute 1 cup of all-purpose flour with the corn flour when I made the tortilla for lunch.

The dough is easier to roll than flour tortilla, and the result is also softer tortilla.

Daughter loves to eat melted mozzarella cheese in the tortilla, so I will be sticking to this recipe for future tortilla making.


August 13, 2009

Homeschooling Law in Texas

According to the Texas Education Agency,

'For most of this century, Texas has exempted children enrolled in a private or parochial school from compulsory school attendance. In the case of Leeper et al. v. Arlington ISD et al., the Supreme Court of Texas affirmed a decision by District Judge Charles J. Murray holding that a school age child residing in Texas who is pursuing, under direct supervision of his/her parents, a curriculum designed to meet basic education goals is attending a private school within the meaning of Section 25.086(a)(1) of the Texas Education Code and is therefore exempt from compulsory school attendance. This case has a statewide application because school districts in the state and certain state officials were parties to the suit. '

In addition, it is stated that

'It is not necessary for the parents to make a personal appearance with school officials or present curriculum for review. School districts which become aware of a student who is potentially being home schooled may request in writing a letter of assurance from the parents of the student regarding their intention to home-school the student. This letter may require assurances that the home-school curriculum is designed to meet basic education goals including reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and a study of good citizenship. Please note that a letter of this type is not required each year.'

Home School Information Letter
Commissioner's Home School Policy Letter (November 2nd, 2007)


Video: How Marbles are Made

Interesting video about the process of making glass marbles.


August 12, 2009

Education options in Texas

I have been exploring several education options for daughter even though I am quite set on homeschooling her.

There are several charter schools and public schools in our area. Charter schools are 70% funded by the State of Texas, while 30% of the remaining school budget is obtained through donations and fund-raising. Charter schools tend to cater to different religious belief or demographic e.g. Catholics, Christians, African Americans, Chinese etc.

Children attend public schools for free of charge, but children are exposed to others from different backgrounds e.g. immigrants, multiracial, different learning needs etc.

Yesterday I questioned myself whether I feel secure for daughter to attend school on her own (out of my sight). I don't want to be over-protective but I want to make sure that daughter is in a safe environment.

I believe that homeschooling allows daughter to have the freedom to pursue her interest areas, and more time and creativity for me to facilitate her learning process.

I think I just have to have faith that Allah SWT will guide me on this homeschooling journey.


Asian Chicken Meatballs

My mother makes delicious meatballs, and I have been looking for a recipe that is easy to make. All praise be to Allah SWT I found a recipe here.

Dish Gal's Asian Chicken Meatballs
Serves 2

1/2 pound ground chicken
1 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground fresh/dried ginger
1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
¼ cup cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp red hot pepper flakes

1. First chop garlic and the cilantro.
2. Next, in a large bowl, stir together ground chicken, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and crushed red hot pepper flakes. Form mixture into 12 meatballs.
3. Lightly coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium-high. Add meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes.


Declutter Your Life

Saw this interesting article here.

One of the best tips I found is this: Practice SHED

Separate the treasures,
eave the trash,
mbrace your identity and connect to who you are without your stuff, and
rive forward.

Guess its time to clear my clutter.


August 07, 2009

Patio Garden Update - August 2009

This morning daughter helped me to put bell pepper seeds in three empty pots. I cover the pots with plastic bags to trap moisture in the soil. Allah SWT willing hope the seeds will germinate in 5-7 days.

Here are photos of the patio garden.

Tomato plants are growing well in the hot temperature.

I have started to add fresh basil leaves in pasta dishes.

I love the sunny bright marigold flowers!


Liquid fertilizer makes this garden grow!

Now I know what to do to make my garden grow better.


Diaper Free!

All praise be to Allah SWT daughter is no longer wearing diapers now.

She has been asking to wear panties since June but I have not been willing to let her do so. The main reason is that it just make me a bit sad to see her grow up so fast. I think I am in denial about her growing up, and just want her to be my baby for a bit longer. Nevertheless, I am proud that she is potty-trained before she turns three years old.

My mother and dear sister have reminded me to let her be potty-trained as soon as possible, so I am truly grateful for their encouragements.


August 06, 2009

Rent vs Own

I have never thought that one day I want to own a piece of property.

Being the care-free person that I am, all praise be to Allah SWT, I don't want to own the burdens e,g, yard maintenance, housekeeping etc. that normally come along with owning a piece of real estate. I rather rent a place and have the freedom to move whenever the need arises.

But lately since I have been looking into self-sustainable living, owning a piece of land to grow my own food and keep some chickens may sound like a good idea. Now that many homeowners in Dallas-Fort Worth area are in financial trouble due to the recession, a lot of homes are in foreclosure. Houses that usually sell around $100K-$150K are on sale at 20-30% below the appraised value.

I am still trying to determine if I want to look further at buying a home, so I am reading about renting versus owning on the web. Here is one of the interesting articles I found on this web site:

Myth #1: Renting is Like Throwing Your Money Away

Myth #2: There are Tax Benefits to Owning

Myth #3: It Doesn't Cost Any More to Buy Than It Does to Rent

Myth #4: Buyers Have Assets, Renters Do Not

Myth #5: Houses are a Good Investment


Recipe: Loh Mai Kai (Chinese Steamed Glutinous Rice with Chicken)

Thanks to my dear sister for recommending this recipe from this web site.

Note: I omitted several ingredients that are not halal for Muslims.


250g glutinous rice
2 cups water/chicken stock
100g chicken meat
10g black Chinese mushrooms, soaked and cut into thin slices

Seasoning (A):
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp ginger juice
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp oil
1 tsp tapioca flour

Seasoning (B):
1 1/2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder


Wash glutinous rice, then soak it for two to three hours.

Steam it for 30 minutes.

Cut chicken into slices. Marinate with seasoning (A) for about one to two hours.

Heat oil in big glass bowl and microwave for 2 minutes. Add the chicken and mushrooms, microwave on high for 2 minutes , stir and cook for another 1 minute more.

Mix cooked glutinous rice and seasoning (B)

Grease six small-size rice bowls.

Arrange mushroom slices.

Top up with glutinous rice and press down with a ladle.

Fill the bowls with water/chicken stock, make sure the water level is above the rice.

Steam for 30-40 minutes. Alternatively, wrap the bowls with plastic wrap , poke the wrap and microwave on high , 3 bowls at a time for 20 25 minutes. Repeat with the other 3 bowls.

Turn over the rice bowl onto a plate and serve or leave to cool before wrapping tightly with wrap and then foil, leave in the freezer. When you need to eat them, remove the foil and microwave until heated through.

Loh Mai Kai can be eaten with chilli sauce.


August 05, 2009

My Baby for Adoption?

Yesterday husband told me that a woman found out that an adoption agency used her son's picture on the agency's web site without her permission.

Mom finds her baby up for sale on Craigslist


If you responded to the listed yahoo address, you received an email with a photo of an adorable baby boy. The email said the child was Canadian-born but living in an orphanage in Cameroon. If you replied to this email, you received another message requesting $300 to start the adoption process.

Sound suspicious? Yes, it was a big scam, and it turns out the photograph was lifted from the family blog of Massachusetts mom Jenni Brennan; the baby in the picture was her 7-month-old son, Jacob.

Scary, right? That is why husband doesn't think that we should post daughter's pictures on the internet, no matter what.


Are you the stay-at-home type?

Found this information here.

Attributes of relatively happy stay-at-home moms

  • A temperament suited to small children
  • Financial means and a support network that works
  • Faith- or value-driven desire to be at home
  • Desire for major life change
  • Easier hormonal/emotional adjustment
Attributes of relatively happy moms working outside the home
  • Economic need
  • High energy and good at handling stress
  • Long-held desire to be a working mom
  • Family-friendly job
  • Need to restore herself, away from child
Attributes of relatively happy split-time moms:
  • Adaptable personality
  • More flexible budget
  • Husband who's willing to help or meet his wife halfway
  • Independent-minded and comfortable with lack of firm identity

Self-diagnosis: I think I am the happy-mom-working-outside-the-home type, but I am also the happy-stay-at-home-and-homesteading type.


August 04, 2009

Video: Praise vs Encouragement

Taken from here:


Let's face it, who doesn't enjoy praise? It feels good to know someone likes us or likes what we've done. Praise motivates good behavior – temporarily. Do I only act this way as long as I'm receiving praise? What happens when it's taken away? What are the conditions or parameters to ensure I continue to receive praise?

  • "You're such a good girl"
  • "You did it just like I told you to."
  • "All A's? You deserve a reward."
  • "I'm glad you listened to me."
  • "You really know what makes me proud."
  • "I'm proud of you."

Often, when praise is given, the receiver feels pressure to live up to the standards or expectations of someone else. Excessive, long-term praise can inhibit children from gaining independence because they rely heavily on the praise of those in authority positions.


Encouragement is empowering. There are no conditions and it isn't judgmental. The receiver is encouraged to make judgments of their own behavior, work, and ultimately, worth.

  • "I really appreciate your help."
  • "I knew you could do it."
  • "You did your best and you didn't give up."
  • "You must be proud of yourself."
  • "I have faith in you."
  • "I trust your decision."
  • "I love you no matter what."


August 03, 2009

Public Auction for Stolen Properties

On tonight's Nightline, I watched a report about a web site,, that auctions off stolen properties for some of the major U.S. cities' police departments e.g. Los Angles in California.

According to the company's CEO, they auctioned off more items in 2008 due to the recession.

One of the stranger items ever sold on this auction site was a stolen Colonoscopy Machine .



Hot days ahead

This past week has been cool and nice.

Too bad hot temperature (100 degree F/40 Degree C) is coming back this week.

I really cannot stand the heat when I am outdoor. I always feel like my energy is drained away the minute I step outside a cool room.

Guess I will be hibernating indoor for now.

I am so looking forward to Autumn now.