Life's like that!

April 28, 2009

Can't get enough of seeds and plants

Its a wonderful feeling to receive plants from friends and seeds in the mailbox.

Sr. Nor kindly gave me a baby curry plant last week. I hope it'll grow well in the container.

I am planning to give away sensitive plants to friends' kids so that they can experience the fun of seeing the leaves close after being touched.

I ordered Edamame (soy bean) and Thai Basil seeds from No Thyme Productions and planted them last week. Since we eat edamame at least twice a week, it just makes sense to grow our own. I also want to try adding Thai basil leaves in my cooking, so hopefully we will have bunches of it growing in our garden soon.

I am reusing milk jugs to show kids how to reuse common household items. Yesterday I transplanted marigold and basil seedlings into these milk jugs. I cut drainage holes in them before transplanting. Allah SWT willing they will grow well in these containers.

Husband said that I have to stop growing more plants in our patio so that it will not be overcrowded. I know he is right, so I just have to fight the urge to keep growing more seeds.

I think I might be able to stop myself from growing seeds by drawing the garden's progress on a sketch pad. It's been almost 15 years since I last held a paintbrush for my art class when I was in Jurong Junior College. Well, one is never too old to pick up a new hobby. That way I can keep my hands busy and teach daughter drawing as well.


Garden Enemy No. 1: Slugs

Last month I killed a slug that I found on the ground by pouring salt on it. Apparently the salt kills slug by drawing out water from them.

Last week I drowned a slug that was crawling on the soil of my second radish container. I used hot salted water after reading about it on the internet. Yesterday I found one of my wilted bean plants with a hollow stem. Seems like the slug got to it before I killed it.

Sad casualty of a slug.

Watch out slugs. You are now garden enemy number 1.

More Information about slugs.

Golden Harvest Organics

Common garden slug: This probably the most often observed slug. One inch long, dark skin with a lighter stripe along the side. The foot can be either red or yellow. It can damage stems, roots and slither up plants causing much damage. It borrows in the soil to feed on root crops.

They can truly do a lot of damage to your plants. They like damp places, feed at night and prefer tender new growth, seedlings, lettuce, delphiniums and French marigolds. Slugs really go after hostas. These tips should help all of us hosta enthusiasts to keep them looking their best. Here are some ways to do battle with slugs:

NOTE: The following are all suggestions and may or may not work for you

General Slug Tips

Getting off the slime: If while dealing with slugs you get the slime on your hands or anything else here is a great way to get it off! Pour a little cheap white vinegar on your hands and wash it off with lukewarm water. Really cuts that slime! Repeat if needed.

Cultivation: Spring cultivation of the soil where practical will help to kill hibernating slugs and eggs.

Seedling Protection: Protect your seedlings with 2-3 litre plastic soda bottles. Make sure no slugs are around the seedlings first. Cut the bottoms out of the bottles, sink them into the soil around the seedlings and remove the caps. You can reuse them over and over too.

Weed Patrol: Be persistent in hoeing weeds and you will be breaking up clods of soil that slugs like to hide under and you may expose their eggs which you can then smash or whatever.

Mulch: Keep mulch pulled back from the base of your plants. Consider waiting to apply mulch until the soil temperatures have warmed to above 75F.

Garden Debris: Keep all decaying matter cleaned out of your garden beds. Clear all dead leaves and debris from the garden on a regular basis and put it in the compost pile which is best located in an area away from the garden.

Shrub Trimming: Shrubs with branches that rest on the ground, against fences or buildings should be kept pruned up and away from surfaces. Keep the old leaves and such cleaned out. By doing this you will have destroyed yet another slug haven!

Chopsticks: For handpicking use chopsticks to make it less disgusting.

Slug KaBobs: Keep barbecue skewers stuck in the garden at random. Your weapon is at hand to impale them!

Slug Haven: The shaded areas beneath decks can be a slug arena: keep them weed and litter free.


Try lava rock as a barrier in areas where plants need protection. We have heard from many people who say it works very well.

Use horseradish roots and geranium leaves as barriers. Does this work?

If you have access to a sweet gum tree (Liquidambar) the spiny fruits it produces make a good slug barrier. The American Sweet Gum tree (L. styracflua) is hardy from zone 1 to 12!

Use the lint from your dryer as a barrier. If you are concerned about any chemicals in the fabric softener do this instead: add 4 ounces of white vinegar to the final rinse water in the washing machine. Your clothes will be static free. There will be no vinegar smell as the odor completely evaporates. No kidding, this really works great.

Use cedar, oak bark chips or gravel chips which will irritate and dehydrate them.

Try a barrier line or an overall sprinkle of powdered ginger.

Use wood ashes as a barrier around plants, however try not to let the plant come into contact with the ashes. The ashes act as a desiccant and dry the slugs up.

Shingles or Sandpaper: Get rid of slugs in the infested area then lay a barrier of roof shingles around the area to keep slugs out or use a circle of sandpaper.

Spread well crushed eggshells around the plants. The calcium released from the eggshells is an extra benefit that "sweetens" the soil. The sharp edges of the shells will kill slugs. Most folks report that this does not work well.

Sprinkle a line of lime around your plants. A pile of unaged animal manure has an high acidity and provides a slug breeding haven leading to the assumption that slugs and snails are more of a problem in acid soils. By applying lime we sweeten the soil making it more alkaline and deterring the slugs. Obviously this won't work around plants requiring a more acidic soil.

Talcum powder or diatomaceous earth work as barriers but must be replenished after after rainfall or watering.

Hardware Cloth: On raised beds staple strips of hardware cloth on wood bordered beds. Extend the cloth about 2 inches beyond the edge making sure the sharp points will be encountered by slugs trying to climb over. It rips them up. You can also use aluminum screening material in the same manner. You can push the barriers directly upright into the soil for borderless beds.

Copper Strips: The use of copper strips as a barrier will give slugs a jolt of electricity. The metal ions in copper are what repel slugs. There are mixed reports on just how effective this is. One good way to try copper strips is to make a circle of the strip around just the plants you want to protect, remove slugs first. Easier too. Copper sulfate and similar copper based products may also work for the barrier method.

Herbs: A mulch made of stems and leaves of strong smelling herbs like wormwood, mints, tansy, lemon balm along with conifer twigs mixed in will help stop slugs and other pests.

Hair and Fur: Use a barrier of hair or fur to entangle slugs. Gross and effective. An additional benefit from using hair is that it supplies some nitrogen to your plants! Human hair, pet fur and horsehair, all will work.

Prunings: Another possibility is to use prunings from raspberries, blackberries etc. Anything with fine, sharp stickers may help.

Quack Grass: Quack Grass (Agropyron repens, family Gramineae), damages the nerves slugs use for feeding. Chop it up and use it as a mulch. Make a tea by cutting it up, soak in 1 quart of warm water for 24 hours, then use as a barrier spray on soil. Don't spray directly on plants. The use of Quack Grass has, personally, worked very well for us. See more on using Quack Grass for recipes.

Oak Leaves, Lettuce and Cabbage: Using oak leaves as a mulch deters slugs, so does seaweed if you have access to some. Also of interest is that red oak leaf lettuce is not bothered by slugs or snails! Red oak leaf is tasty and can take some hot weather. Also of interest we observed that slugs were all over green cabbage, but the red cabbage was left alone!

Coffee Grounds: Used coffee grounds spread around susceptible plants may work.

Epsom Salts: Epsom salts sprinkled on the soil will supposedly deter slugs and also helps prevent Magnesium deficiency in your plants. Magnesium helps to deepen color, thickens petals and increases root structure.

Oat Bran: Scatter oat bran on the soil to kill slugs and snails.

Builders Sand: Try barriers of builders sand which has a sharp texture.

Nut Shells: Ground shells of filberts, pecans and walnuts may work, if you can find a source or grind your own.

Cocoa Hulls: Cocoa shell mulch may work as a slug deterrent as well as supplying nitrogen to the soil as it breaks down and it suppresses weeds too! We've had mixed reports of people using cocoa shells for slug control. Some folks say it works fine to fairly well and some say the slugs love it so much that they are all over it and their slime creates a hard crust on top of the mulch! We will suggest that you buy a small amount of cocoa shells and try it out first.
Warning: Dogs may be attracted to and can eat cocoa hulls which can be fatal!

Rosemary: Sprigs of rosemary scattered around repel slugs and are refreshing with their piney scent.


Predators of slugs include: Ground beetles (particularly carabid beetles), turtles, toads, frogs, lizards, rove beetles, salamanders, lightening bug larvae, turtles and garter snakes.

Birds: Rhode Island Red hens are great slug hunters, they get virtually all slugs and snails they can find. A big plus is no crowing from hens! Other slug hunters include blackbirds, crows, ducks, jays, owls, robins, seagulls, starlings and thrushes,The appeal factor to all these creatures is due the fact that slugs are pure protein. Yummy.

Nemaslug: (currently not available in the USA) There is also a predatory nematode, Phasmarhabditas hermaphrodita, that is effective against slugs. They are being mass reared apparently in England but are not yet sufficient in production to be used widely. They are watered onto the soil and will kill slugs for up to six weeks. The water and nematodes leach down into the soil where 90 percent of slug populations live. It is this underground population of slugs that the nematodes attack and kill. The nematodes should be applied anytime between April and October when the temperatures are milder for the best control. Soil must be kept on the moist side for the nematodes to live. These nematodes kept in a sealed bag and refrigerated will last up to two weeks. You can do an initial treatment, then retreat with the remaining stored nematodes for two additional weeks. This would give you two months of control from one batch.


Can't Wait for Radish!

In another few days, Allah SWT willing we will have delicious organic radish.

I first had radish when I got married almost seven years ago. Husband would prepare fresh salad and added radish to the mix. They are the size of lime and taste sweet and a little bit hot.

I have never grown radish and I am just amazed at the lightning speed that it grows.

I planted them on April 8 in a long container in two rows as each seed only needs two inches of space around it.

Ohhh..... can't wait to see what I will pull out of the soil soon!


April 27, 2009

Drink, Plants, Drink!

It started to rain early this morning.

Husband helped to put up a shower curtain to shield my precious cucumber and bean plants from the rain.

Lemon grass and mint are having a ball from this rainfall though. They just seem to grow taller and fuller after each rainfall.

I have not seen much progress for the cucumber plants. Allah SWT willing maybe we'll get some small cucumbers in 2 months' time.


客家歌謠 Hakka Children's Song

My mother's parents are from the Hakka Province in China.

Although both my parents know how to speak the Hakka dialect, my siblings and I grew up speaking Cantonese because of my paternal grandmother. Whenever my mother would speak to my maternal grandmother (before she passed away in 2000) in Hakka, I would just sat quietly and listened to them as they spoke.

I prefer the Hakka dialect because it has a melody quality and it just sounds so much gentler than Cantonese (in my humble opinion).

Since I believe that one is never too old to learn, I have been looking for online videos that teach the Hakka dialect.

All praise be to Allah SWT I found the following web site and YouTube that provides Hakka children's song music video.


老虎 (Tiger)

一下仔看亻厓 ,

Tiger is in the garden sleeping
Hu lu lu! Hu lu lu!
He is dreaming of chasing a wild boar
He is dreaming of catching a wild rabbit
Tiger is in the garden strolling
Two big eyes
Saw a big tall tree
He seems to be unable to express his unhappiness


客家姑娘 (Hakka Lady)

客家姑娘勤俭善良, (Hakka lady is diligent and kind)
满有天光就杭床, (Wakes up when sun rises)
灶头放米耕田, (Grows rice in the field)
针线会愿膜, (Knows how to sew)
农忙时节割禾落秧, (Harvest time busy cutting crop)
唔惊热头晒背囊, (Carries a basket under the hot sun)
大声唱歌悠来悠去满山唱, (Sings all over the mountain)
树得风尚背得忍讓后生好榜样, (Knows how to be patient to set good example)
点点秋秋岁岁倘倘奔人好印象, (Always give people good impression)
想讨姑娘走遍天下佢就最理想, (If you are looking for a wife, in the world she is most ideal)
(Happy family for a long time)

河壩水 (River Water)


Day day night night
Fa la fa la
Day day night night
flow flow
flow under the sea
If the sea your mother?


數字歌 (Counting Song)

One mountain road
Two train cars
Three ladies
April Cherry Blossom


MV劇情是兩名暑假裡結束返校活動的男女童,中午去麵攤吃粄條當午餐,中間簡易地演繹 了粄條的烹煮過程,在第二段主角則化身為廚師,自己烹煮粄條,象徵將這道常民麵食發揚 與提昇。角色服裝採用民國60年代的小學制服,環境場景則採用臺灣鄉鎮老街。

English: This song is about a girl and a boy who returns to school after summer holiday. During lunch when they visit a food stall to eat Chinese noodles they explained the noodle cooking process. Later they became chef to cook their own noodles. The students' primary school uniform pattern is from the 1950s. The animation is set in an old street in Taiwan.


Dumpster Diving

It is not unusual to find discarded furniture at the dumpster.

But I always wonder if people ever think of donating them to the local thrift store or homeless shelter to benefit the poor and needy.

The seats on these green chairs are ripped, but they can be fixed easily and reused. The wooden 3-tier drawer cabinet is shaky, but it can too be fixed easily. Knowing that husband would not be happy if I were to take these items to our place and fix it, I lingered for a few minutes before pulling myself away.

I found a used plastic container in good condition except it was covered with grass and cobweb. So I took it back and cleaned it so that I can store daughter's toys in it.

When I was growing up, my mother would bring home discarded furniture in good condition and fixed them up. She either let us use them or send them to her relatives who needed them. I guess I learned from her not to waste resources and reuse items as much as possible.

Allah SWT willing I hope that daughter will learn to reuse things as she grows up.


Flowers Flowers Everywhere!

Yesterday when I brought daughter to get mail, I took some pictures of beautiful flowers growing around the apartment complex.

Pink and purple flowers.

Red Rose Bush.

Mini flower garden.

White Flowers (look like rose to me).

White Flowers and Red Berries.

I'm so glad that spring is here!


25 Random Things About Me: The Daughter

Every so often I read MetroDad's blog and just came across his entry 25 Random Things About Me: The Peanut.

Here is my take on 25 random things about my daughter at 2 years 7 months old now.

1. I can fall in love instantly with anything I find, like books, milo, cookie, pretzel, flowers, carrots, apples, banana, raisins, orange, grapes, juice...

2. I get to make my dad do pretty much everything I ask him to do, with a sugary sweet 'please' behind every sentence.

3. I can survive for days just on rice porridge or cooked rice with small fish fried with dark soy sauce and sugar (anchovies) that my mom cooks.

4. Give me a balloon, candies, chocolate or strawberries and I will stick to you like bees to honey.

5. I will fight you to the death if you hug me longer than 15 seconds (unless I ask you to do so).

6. I love taking showers!

7. My mom just sewed the prettiest skirt for me last week!


9. I am soooo into taking pictures with a fake camera that I am looking for ideas to get my dad/mom to buy one for me. Any suggestions?

10. Why is mom speaking Chinese while dad speaks Khmer? I like it best when they speak Singlish (Singapore English) and Kinglish (Cambodia English) because I do that too!


12. Pretend play on phone: "Hello Yi-Mah, where are you?" (That's my mom's sister.)

13. Now I am trying to bluff my dad that mom beat me, and bluff my mom that dad beat me. Why don't they believe me? Maybe its because they are always near each other when I try this.

14. Reminders for mom: We go see Auntie Mulki, ok? Auntie Shahnaz? Auntie Malika? Auntie Norsofina? Auntie Angela?

15. I want gai-gai (outing) everyday. Where do I want to go? I don't care, just get me out of the house!

16. I LOVE (going to the mailbox to get) MAIL!

17. I LOVE ICE-CREAM! PASTA! MIEN (Chinese Noodle)!

18. I don't want sleep, please, please, please!

19. Mmmmmm.... ketchup....

20. I LOVE HUA-HUA (drawing)!

21. Gimme me tissue. (I can wipe my nose like dad and mom).

22. My preferred gardening method:
Hmmm... that (green) thing looks like fun... Hey what's that? (a spade) Let's see what I can do with that? [Mom screaming in the background: WHY YOU DIG MY PLANTS!!!] Oops, better run for cover now...

23. Baby so cute! Why can't I get one for myself?

24. I want (to watch) Arthur/Martha/Elmo/Super Why/Word World/Caillou (on tv now)... [Mom: Arthur is sleeping now, wait ok?] I want Arthur...

25. The mosque is my playground. I love to run round and round and round and round and round...


April 26, 2009

Book: How to Talk So Kids Can Learn At Home and In School

I just got this book from a used books bookstore and its full of useful information. I highly recommend it to any parent/teacher who wants to inspire kids to be self-directed, self-disciplined, and responsive to the wonders of learning. Here are the main points from the book.

How to Talk So Kids Can Learn At Home and In School by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.
ISBN: 0684824728 (paperback)

Chapter 1: Children need to have their feelings acknowledged.
1. Identify the child's feelings.
2. Acknowledge the child's feelings with a sound or word.
3. Give the child in fantasy what you can't give him in reality.
4. Accept the child's feelings even as you stop unacceptable behavior.

Chapter 2: Engaging Cooperation-Instead of questioning and criticizing, you can:
1. Describe the problem.
2. Give information.
3. Offer a choice.
4. Say it with a word or gesture.
5. Describe what you feel.
6. Put it in writing.
7. Be playful (use another word or accent).

Chapter 3: Alternatives to punishment-Instead of threatening punishment, you can:
1. Point out a way to be helpful.
2. Express your strong disapproval (without attacking character).
3. State your expectations.
4. Show the child how to make amends.
5. Offer a choice.
6. Let the child experience the consequences of his behavior.

Chapter 4: Problem Solving
1. Listen to the child's feelings and needs.
2. Summarize the child's point of view.
3. Express your feelings and needs.
4. Invite the child to brainstorm with you.
5. Write down all ideas-without evaluating.
6. Together decide which ideas you don't like, which you do, and how you plan to put them into action.

Chapter 5: Helpful Praise/Constructive Responses-Instead of evaluating, you can:
1. Describe what you see or hear.
2. Describe what you feel.
Instead of criticizing, you can:
3. Point out what needs to be done.

Chapter 6: Freeing a Child from Playing a Role-Instead of labeling a child, you can:
1. Look for opportunities to show the child a new picture of herself.
2. Put a child in a situation where she can see herself differently.
3. Let the child overhear you say something positive about her.
4. Model the behavior you'd like to see.
5. Remind the child of her past accomplishments.
6. State your feelings and/or expectations.

Chapter 7: The Ideal Conference-Instead of starting with what's wrong,
1. Start by describing something right.
2. Describe what the child needs to do.
3. Share pertinent information.
4. Describe what has worked at home or in school.
5. Develop a plan together.
6. End the conference with a positive statement that can be repeated to the child.
7. Follow through with the plan.

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"I was a better mom before the internet"

I just read this blog entry I was a better mom before the internet and it got me thinking.

The blogger wrote "make sure the time you spend is really nurturing you. "

After reading this, I think I got the techo phobia just so that subconsciously I am protecting my alone time by not using the computer.


Homeschooling: Charlotte Mason Method

I just came across this web site about the Charlotte Mason homeschooling method.

According to the web site, ''Charlotte Mason Method:A method of education popular with homeschoolers in which children are taught as whole persons through a wide range of interesting living books, firsthand experiences, and good habits.'

Charlotte Mason’s methods are gentle, simple, yet amazingly effective. Some homeschoolers use all her methods; others use some of her methods along with some from different approaches.

Charlotte Mason was a British educator who lived in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Her method, the Charlotte Mason method, is centered around the idea that education is three-pronged: Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.

By “Atmosphere,” Charlotte meant the surroundings in which the child grows up. A child absorbs a lot from his home environment. Charlotte believed that atmosphere makes up one-third of a child’s education.

By “Discipline,” Charlotte meant the discipline of good habits — and specifically habits of character. Cultivating good habits in your child’s life make up another third of his education.

The other third of education, “Life,” applies to academics. Charlotte believed that we should give children living thoughts and ideas, not just dry facts. So all of her methods for teaching the various school subjects are built around that concept.

For example, Charlotte’s students used living books rather than dry textbooks. Living books are usually written in story form by one author who has a passion for the subject. A living book makes the subject “come alive.”

She taught spelling by using passages from great books that communicate great ideas rather than just a list of words.

She encouraged spending time outdoors, interacting with God’s creation firsthand and learning the living ways of nature."

This looks like the kind of homeschooling method that I can use for daughter. Allah SWT willing I am going to spend some time to understand it.


"Read Stuff!"

My two and half year old daughter has been bringing books to husband and me to read to her.

Since two weeks ago she started to bring a book to us, point her index finger at the book and say "Read stuff!". In the beginning I didn't understand what she was talking about. After asking her to repeat her words then I understood her intention.

Sometimes at night before bedtime she brings books to me and says "Read stuff!". I am a morning person so by that time I have to really focus hard to read at least one book to her. Allah SWT willing I hope that she will be a lifelong reader (aka bookworm) like me. I only hope that her husband does not complain her having too many books in the house like mine.


April 22, 2009

Grow Your Own (GYO)

Today is Earth Day and lots of people living in big cities are holding events to remind people about environmental issues.

I found this blog that posted the following logo for "a twice-a-month blogging event that celebrates the foods we grow or raise ourselves and the dishes we make using our homegrown products".

I think I am going to make cards with a similar logo and give them to friends who are also gardeners.

Tree Huggers Unite!


Picnic at the Playground

Last Sunday husband had a business meeting in the City of Farmers Branch.

After that we had a picnic at the nearby playground. The weather was really cool and breezy, so it was really nice to spend some time outdoor. My allergies took a vacation so I was just happy that I didn't sneeze and get dry and itchy eyes.

Husband and daughter walked around the beautiful and well-kept lake while I prepared a sandwich with smoked salmon and lettuce. After eating we let daughter play a while before heading to visit a family who just have a new baby.

We'll be looking for more beautiful places in North Texas to have picnics!


Beans are Here!

All praise be to Allah SWT last week's rain has helped the plants to grow better. Since yesterday highest temperature has been in the 80s degree F and will continue for the next few days, Allah SWT willing.

These radish seedlings are so tall now. Can't wait till end of this month to harvest those delicious radish for our salad :)

Cilantro, peas, cucumber and lettuce are also growing well in the warmer weather.

Yesterday morning I harvested a bunch of spring onions. And here is how our garden looks like now.

Finally the star of the garden now is the bean plants. Tiny baby beans are appearing among the pretty purple flowers.

Can't wait for my dear sister to come and taste the delicious organic vegetables :)


April 17, 2009

Fast Growing Radish and Beans

Radish is one of the fastest growing root vegetable.

I planted the seeds last week and now the seedlings are taller than my tomato and pepper plants. It'll take about 22 days for the radish to be ready, Allah SWT willing. Next week I will have to remember to plant new radish seeds in another pot to get continuous harvest.

All praise be to Allah SWT the bean plants are full of pretty purple flowers now. Daughter is so happy to see the flowers on these plants.

I'm still thinking of planting sweet lantern peppers because the plant looks so nice. Allah SWT willing I'll head to Lowes or Calloway Nursery to look at some pepper plants.


Handmade Bag

Sr. Nor gave me a bag of fabric that was left behind by her friend when she moved.

I kind of like the look of this fabric so I sewed this bag and gave it to Sr. Nor.

I am glad that she likes the bag. Now I'll be looking for more bag designs to sew!


I'd Rather Be Quilting

Rather than be miserably because of dry & itchy eyes on top of running nose every day, I have been quilting and sewing like crazy. At least it keeps my mind off my allergies and keep my brain awake.

I sewed this pin cushion this morning. I'm using pink/rose/brown/beige combination for my sewing projects a lot nowadays.

Last week I quilted this blanket for Sr. Nor's 10 month old daughter. I quilted another blanket for her four years old daughter but forgot to take a picture before I gave it to her.

Yesterday I quilted a baby blanket using the combination of fabric below for Sr. Ju Qing's newborn daughter (April 12). I forgot to take a picture of the finished blanket as I was in a hurry to bring it to her.

Now I am quilting a lap blanket for my dear sister. After looking at some pictures of homemade quilted blankets on several blogs, I got inspired to design the blanket like so.

I am using this retro design fabric for the backing, which my dear sister has been eyeing since she last saw it on my blog.

Daughter has been helping me by handing out safety pins to me and smoothing out the fabric as I am sewing. Looks like I'll be having a quilting partner soon!

Beautiful handmade quilts:

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April 15, 2009

Fast, Easy and Cute Crafts

After looking at the tutorial posted on these web sites, my hands immediately went to work on these easy and cute crafts!

How to Make a Humbag Lolly/Party Bag

Felt Flower Pin For Summer

Peony Flower Felt Clip


April 14, 2009

My Exercise Buddy - Treadmill Machine

Since last week I have been walking on the treadmill machine about 30 minutes per day. A $100 used treadmill (3 years old with timer and calories counter) that we bought last year is really a good investment. At least I can still do some exercise when outdoor allergies are keeping me indoor. Allah SWT willing hope that the treadmill machine will last for a while.


Comfort Food

Last weekend we bought a halal duck (duck that has been slaughtered according to Islamic teaching) and I prepared it according to the recipe below. It's been seven years since I last ate duck meat and boy was it good!

Aromatic and Crispy Duck
(Recipe from 'Chinese Cooking for Everyone' edited by Emma Callery)

4-5lb duck (cleaned and cut in half)

Cooking Sauce
6 cups stock or water
6 tbsp sugar
10 tbsp light soy sauce
4 tbsp yellow bean paste
6 slices fresh ginger
6 pieces star anise
1/2 tsp five-spice powder
1/4 tsp pepper

1. Mix the ingredients for the cooking sauce in a stockpot.
2. Submerge duck in liquid and simmer gently for 2 hours.
3. Remove duck from pot and leave to cool.
4. When required, deep fry duck in hot oil for 10-11 minutes.
5. Drain well and serve.

Dipping Sauce:
1. Boil remaining stock till about 2 cups left.
2. Strain residue and serve sauce with duck.


When I was growing up, my parents would rarely bring four of us to eat at the Kentucky Fried Chicken fast food restaurant at the old Thompson Plaza because it would be too expensive then. When we ate there we would all fight over the delicious coleslaw. All praise be to Allah SWT I found the recipe on the internet. Yummmm!

KFC Coleslaw


3 1/4 cups finely diced cabbage (White or Purple)
5 teaspoons finely diced carrots
2 1/2 teaspoons minced onions
2 1/4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of pepper
5 teaspoons milk
3 1/4 tablespoons mayonnaise
5 teaspoons buttermilk
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 tablespoons lemon juice


1. Cabbage and carrots must be finely diced.
2. Pour cabbage and carrot mixture into large bowl and stir in minced onions.
3. MIx in remaining ingredients until smooth.
4. Pour over vegetable mixture and mix thoroughly.
5. Cover bowl and refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving.


Now that daughter is growing up fast, I have been thinking of cooking more Cambodian dishes so that she may learn about her father's heritage partly through the Cambodian cuisine. I cooked this soup today and husband gave it two thumbs up! Yeah!

Cambodian Sweet and Sour Soup

  • 2 tablespoons tamarind pulp concentrate
  • 6 cups water, clam juice, fish broth or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup chopped lemon grass, finely chopped in a food processor or mashed with a mortar and pestle
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 to 4 medium shallots, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger root
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves (may substitute 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest)
  • 1/2 peeled and cored pineapple, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks (about 8 ounces)
  • 3 small to medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 3/4 pound firm white fish fillets, such as halibut, catfish or tilapia, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
  • Red Thai chili peppers, for garnish
  • Basil leaves, for garnish
  • Thinly sliced scallions, white and light-green parts, for garnish
  • Lime wedges, for garnish


Place the tamarind pulp in a small bowl and add just enough hot water to cover. Let it stand 10 minutes, then mash it into a paste, discard the seeds and push it through a fine-mesh sieve.

Meanwhile, bring the 6 cups of whichever liquid you prefer to a boil over high heat in a large pot.
Combine the strained tamarind, lemon grass and fish sauce in a small saucepan over low heat and cook for 10 minutes or until the lemon grass has softened. Add to the large pot, discarding the lemon grass.

Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the garlic. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring, just until it begins to brown. Transfer the garlic to the soup, then add the shallots and ginger. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, until the shallots soften (you will need to bring them up to the surface with a slotted spoon to check them). Add the lime leaves, pineapple and tomatoes, stirring to combine, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the fish and cook for about 5 minutes or until it is opaque and cooked through. Divide the soup among individual bowls and serve hot, along with garnishes of cilantro, chili peppers, basil, scallions and lime wedges.


April 05, 2009

Home Grown Bean Sprouts

Its so easy to grow bean sprouts from green beans! Two tablespoons of green beans is enough to feed a family of four for one meal!

This batch of bean sprout started growing 7 days ago. All I did was to rinse the beans with clean water every day. No need to fertilize at all. By the fourth day I have to split the sprouts into 2 glass jars to allow more room for growth.

Usually I'll have to pay a dollar a pound for bean sprouts at the Asian grocery store.

Now it'll only cost me a few cents to have fresh and healthy home grown bean sprouts!


Allergies Blues

I have been having dry and itchy eyes for two weeks already. To relieve this condition I have been splashing cold water on my eyes and it seemed to help. I also have been taking an allergy medicine 'Zytec' to relieve my allergies symptoms. Because of this irritating allergy reaction to pollen and grass, I have been staying at home most of the time. Daughter was not happy that she didn't get to go 'gai-gai' (Cantonese: Outing) with me.

Last Friday my eyes got so red that even eye drops for allergies didn't help. Husband took half a day off to bring me and daughter to the doctor's office since I couldn't drive.

After about 30 minutes, I was relieved that I did not have eye infection and received 2 sample bottles of eye drops for allergy that usually require prescription at the pharmacy.

I am thankful that I don't have serious eye problem but just wish that this allergy will go away soon!


Coming soon: cold temperature

Tomorrow morning temperature is going to drop to the low 30s degree F (close to 0 degree C) Allah SWT willing.

Husband and I brought the cucumber, tomato, hot pepper, lettuce and pea seedlings inside to keep them warm and cozy. Bean seedlings seem to survive the cold very well, so we are not worried about them as much.

For the past few days the weather has warmed up to the mid 70s degree F but windy condition dried up the soil faster than usual. The plants looked really happy soaking in all the sun and warmth.

Looks like we have to wait till Wednesday to see sunny and warm weather again, Allah SWT willing.


'I want to hold fish!'

Daughter is so excited about the new betta fish that she keeps yelling 'I want to hold fish!' all day. I keep explaining to her that we should just enjoy watching the fish swimming in the water. Now she looks forward to feeding the fish one pallet per day and laugh herself silly when the fish actually ate the pallet.

All living creatures need space to roam freely. Same goes for the betta fish that husband got for daughter. So last week I bought a 2.5 gallon fish tank as a new home for the fish.

To make the new and bigger living quarter more interesting for the fish to explore, I also bought a pound of blue aquarium gravel and silk plant. The little bottles sitting in the gravel used to store maple syrup. I cleaned them well and filled them with filter water. They look so cute in the fish tank and the fish keeps swimming around them.

I've also got really good tips on keeping the fish healthy and happy from these web sites:

Betta Fish Care

How to Care for Your Betta Fish


Korean Cookware: Naem-bi

While watching the popular Korean drama 'Coffee Prince' last summer, I got interested in cooking Korean food in Korean-made pots and pans.

This afternoon I went to the Korean supermarket at 'The Shoppers Alley' along Harry Hines Blvd and bought this Korean pot 'Naem-bi'.

Can't wait to cook Korean noodles in this pot tomorrow!

Here's a photo of how its used to cook ramen: