Life's like that!

February 28, 2010

A Bunny for My Honey

Daughter has been interested in small animals such as hamsters and rabbits. Then it occur to me that now might be a good time to keep a small pet to teach daughter about kindness to animals. I will of course be to the bunny's primary trainer/housekeeper, since daughter is still too young to take on this responsibility. My mother used to keep small pets when we were growing up, so I am used to cleaning animal cages and keeping them clean.

Last week a lady advertised on Craigslist that she has four baby mini rex rabbits for sale, I have been looking around for a mini rex rabbit because of their small size. Rabbit breeders usually charge $50 to $80 for one, but this lady charges only $20 for a 2 month old mini rex. So I contacted her and we made arrangement for her to deliver one near my area.

Before we meet, I cleaned up the old guinea pig cage that I have for about four years. Our three beloved guinea pigs used to live in this cage, but they passed away three years ago. Husband wanted to keep the cage in case we keep small pets again, so it has been with us all this time.

All praise be to Allah SWT the bunny looks healthy and well.

The book that I read for taking care of rabbits is "Hop to it: a guide to training your pet rabbit' by Samantha Hunter. This is the most comprehensive and informative book that I find on keeping rabbits.

The bunny that I get has dark brown fur with orange spots. Her parents have four babies and the owner couldn't take care of all four, that's why she is selling them.

Closeup of the latest addition to the family.

I will leave the bunny alone for a few days before handling her. I will try to see if my dear sister can give a nice name to the bunny.

Daughter is already looking forward to hold and cuddle the bunny. Looks like it will take some effort for me to curb her enthusiasm or else the bunny may suffer lots of stress from daughter's attention.

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February 27, 2010

Good Day for Gardening

Today is a nice day for gardening. All praise be to Allah SWT the sun came out and there was a slight breeze.

I brought daughter to the nearby gardening center and bought a 1.5 cubit feet of garden soil (about $7) and a 1 cubit feet bag of mushroom compost (about $4). I mixed equal portion of garden soil and mushroom compost for each gardening pot to make the vegetables grow better. Next spring I intend to add compost only to all pots.

I checked husband's asparagus plants and found roots of five (out of six) still alive and thriving. So I transplanted them from a shallow container (that used to be bedding for our beloved guinea pig) to two long rectangular pots. Allah SWT willing they will sprout new leaves in the spring. During transplanting, I found a grub (not sure what kind) about 1 inch long, so I gave it to the chickens. It was amusing to see their reactions towards the grub. One of them grabbed it so fast that the other two didn't stand a chance.

I didn't have time to transplant cucumber seedlings to my rectangular pots, so probably will do so tomorrow, Allah SWT willing.

Used bottles to be used as greenhouses for cucumber seedlings.

Pots of soil ready for pole beans.

Gardening is actually quite a back-breaking hobby. I think I'll have to get a knee cushion soon to make this hobby easier on my knees.


February 26, 2010

Sprouting Icelandic Poppy

I am trying to grow Icelandic Poppy from seeds this winter, and after waiting for about 2 months, I noticed some sprouted seeds this morning. I love the way the flower petals open up as if they are welcoming visitors with open arms.

The seedlings are really tiny right now, so they are not really standing out in the picture. Allah SWT willing with warmer temperatures coming next week, we will see more growth.


Sprouting Mesclun

I always feel so excited when I see seeds sprouting!

All praise be to Allah SWT mesclun seeds that I sowed in the strawberry container has sprouted!

When daughter asks me why we have baby plants in the house, I tell her that it is because they are growing, just like her. By using the growth of plants to explain life cycle to her, I hope that it will be easier for daughter to get interested in science and gardening.


Favorite Winter Olympics Sport - Figure Skating

I love to watch pairs, men and women figure skating competition during the Winter Olympics.

This year's game is held in Vancouver, Canada. There are so many memorable stories about this year's skaters and it made it very exciting to see them succeed.

I admire the athletics' determination, dedication and devotion to be the best in the event. The sacrifices that they made to achieve near perfection are tremendous. It is a personal accomplishment to bring glory to the country that they represent when they win a medal, and even if they don't get into the top three, they should be congratulated for their achievements.

The pressure in last night's women skating competition was enormous. The winner, Kim Yu-Na from Korea, was the favorite to win and she scored high marks in the short and long programs. The commentator mentioned that South Koreans expected her to win gold medal, and if she were to get silver and bronze, they would not acknowledge her hard work and talent no matter that she did. I feel that this is so unfair to her. Why should she bear this sort of pressure and burden of a whole nation on her own? Those who have high expectations on her should think about what they have done to contribute to her success. And if this type of unrealistic expectation were to make Kim Yu-Na lose her passion for skating, it would be such as shame. I just feel that it is this type of obssession with success that drives young people to go insane or commit suicide. I hope that all athletics will remember that enjoying the sport is more important to getting a medal.


My Gardening Journal

I have a stack of old Better Homes and Gardens magazines that I browse occasionally. One of the issues contains some ideas on how to compile a gardening journal.

This morning I got inspired to tear out useful pages about gardening and assemble them in a notebook to be used as my gardening journal. The notebook is now full of pages of ideas about growing flowers and vegetables.

I used to be more interested in trees and growing veggies, but after months of looking at bare trees and plots of bare garden soil during cold winters, it helps to uplift my spirit when I see blooming flowers. So now I am really into growing beautiful, cold/heat and drought resistant flowers.

All praise be to Allah SWT now I have a centralized location to look up information whenever I want to get plants for the front and back yards.


DIY Cardboard Puppet Theatre

Now that daughter is into imaginary play, I have been thinking about making a puppet theatre for her.

All praise be to Allah SWT on Wednesday I spent about 2 hours making one from a big piece of cardboard. I used self-adhesive cabinet cover and markers to decorate it.

Daughter has been using her stuff toys to play in the puppet theatre. Allah SWT willing I intend to use it to teach her nursery rhymes too.


February 24, 2010

Grooming a Lady

I try to make it a habit every morning to brush daughter's hair. Now that it has grown to her armpit level, it tends to tangle easily if not brushed daily.

Allah SWT willing, I am trying to groom her into a lady as she grows up. I am grateful to my mother for being strict with our manners in front of other people. She always emphasizes that we should not disgrace her reputation outside the home. This makes me try to put on my best behavior.

As a mother myself, I can now identify my mother's hope for us to be the best in all areas (social, personal, spiritual etc.) that we can be. Even though she did not receive an education, she tried to guide us with good morals and encourages us to be around positive influences and good role models. Allah SWT willing I hope that I will have the same determination and preserverance to do so for daughter.


February 23, 2010

Book: Authentic Recipes from Singapore

I am beginning to introduce Singapore food to daughter, so I ordered this book from about a week ago.

The introduction has sufficient information about different ethnic cuisines in Singapore, and well taken pictures too.

Allah SWT willing I am going to prepare some of my favorite recipes such as Singapore Chilli Crab, Murtabak and Yu Sheng for husband and daughter.

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Wonderful Gifts From My Dear Sister

My dear sister sent a box full of wonderful gifts to me. They include lovely clothes, a bag of gummy candy and a panda toy for daughter.

This can of decaf Trader Joe French Roast coffee beans is for husband.

And a pound of yummy milk chocolate for me! (Note to self: I'll try to remember to share it with husband and daughter.)

Thank you so very much, my dear sister!


February 22, 2010

Mesclun and Carrots

Last summer my attempt to grow Mesclun was unsuccessful because I grew it too close to the hot weather in the summer.

Mesclun is a salad mix of assorted small, young salad leaves which originated in Provence, France.

This time I plan to grow it indoors and we will see if we can get some yummy salad from the harvest. This morning I started some seeds in a strawberry container and cover it in a plastic bag to trap in humidity and heat to help the seeds germinate.

Since I read that carrots are one of the easiest root veggies to grow, I am trying to grow some petite carrots that will grow between 3 to 4 inches long. By using the square foot gardening principle, I divided this dish pan into 16 squares (4 inches per square) and planted 1 carrot seed per square. Allah SWT willing the carrots will grow right in this container and we will be able to harvest them in the first week of May.

Since I needed the blue dish pan that previous housed two broccoli seedlings, I transplanted the broccoli seedlings into a milk carton and a yogurt container.

Broccoli seedling transplanted in a yogurt container.

Moss rose seeds that I planted in the seed starting tray on Feb. 6th are sprouting well.

Moss rose seedlings.

Allah SWT willing this week I plan to set up containers in the front yard to get ready to grow some pole and bush beans on March 15th, the average last frost date for our region.

Can't wait to see the garden growing!


February 21, 2010

Beautiful Plants to Welcome Spring

This morning we went to the nearby gardening center to get a fluorescent light bulb, packets of seeds (sunflower, black-eyed susans, shasta daisy, pole and bush bean, jalapeno pepper, carrot) and peat pots.

We bought a pot of yellow flower plant that looks like sunflower. I don't know why but I am now crazy for this type of flowers. I have been thinking about yellow flowers for weeks and today my dream finally came true. When we got home I immediately transplanted it into the green pot so that it has room to grow.

Beautiful flowers at the front door to welcome visitors.

Since I still have some energy left, I spent about 2 hours in the afternoon to transplant Roma Tomato seedlings into bigger pots. It makes me feel so happy to see them growing so well under the fluorescent light. I can visualize myself eating juicy yummy tomatoes from the vine in just a few months' time, Allah SWT willing. Maybe next week I will transplant the cherry tomato seedlings into bigger peat pots.

Roma tomato seedlings transplanted into bigger peat pots. Cucumber and cherry tomato seedlings are still growing in the seed starting tray.

Roma tomato seedlings in milk cartons and yogurt containers.

Hybrid bell pepper seedlings growing under a fluorescent light.

Gardening has been a rewarding and fulfilling experience for me. All praise be to Allah SWT for making this life saving skill so easy to learn.


February 18, 2010

Spring is in the air!

The bean seeds that I planted with daughter for our science project has grown quite tall now. So I transplanted three of them to bigger pots so that she can see the plants' growth.

Our Meyer's Lemon Tree and Miniature Orange Tree are also sprouting new flower buds. It sure feels like spring is already here.

Bean seedling tied to a bamboo stake.

Miniature Orange Tree

Meyer's Lemon Tree

I don't know why but I am crazy about planting sunflowers in the front yard. I think I'll have to run to the nearby gardening center to check out the flower seeds.


Chickens' Playground - The Backyard

This week's weather has been warmer compared to last week's. So I let the ladies out of the chicken coop and they roamed free in the backyard for half an hour. It was quite interesting to see where their curiosity brought them.

'What is this chunky white and cold stuff? Let's peck at it and find out...'

'Anyone home? House call from the chickens...'

'Mmmm... this minty plant taste good!'

'WooHoo! I'm scratching for tasty bugs and tender plants...'

All praise be to Allah SWT, I am thankful that we have a backyard for the chickens. Somehow it feels fulfilling to collect these beautiful eggs from the ladies.


February 16, 2010

One Egg A Day

All praise be to Allah SWT, so far we have at least one egg a day from the ladies. As of today we collected 17 eggs.

Chickens seem happy and healthy. Happy chickens = lovely eggs!


February 12, 2010

Re-purposed Towel Rack

I have been thinking of a better solution to hang grow lights over my cucumber and tomato seedlings. So yesterday I re-purposed this towel rack as a gardening shelf.

On the top rack are cherry and roma tomatoes, and cucumber seedlings.

On the floor are hybrid bell peppers and cantaloupe seeds waiting to germinate.

Still about another month to go before we can plant these seedlings out in the garden. I can feel spring is in the air already!


Record Snow Fall in Texas

Yesterday's snow fall came up to about 12.5 inches of snow in Dallas-Fort Worth area!

The last time this area seen 10 inches of snow was in 1978. Many schools and businesses are closed today. Husband came back early yesterday and built a 'snow baby' with daughter.

Husband just finish shoveled snow from the car and driveway so that he can go to work. I took the opportunity to throw snow balls at him while he was 'working'.

We got two eggs from the ladies yesterday. I am quite happy that the snow fall did not affect their egg-laying mood.

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Cantonese Style CNY Vegetarian Dish (斋菜)

Image source:

When I was growing up, on the first day of Chinese New Year celebration my parents would bring us to my father's mother, Ah Mah's place. We always eat her specially prepared vegetarian dish as one of the day's main course dish.

The main ingredients include cabbage. black fungus ears, rice vermicelli, Chinese mushroom, black moss and dried bean curd skin. These ingredients are stewed over low heat in nan-ru (南乳).

I kind of miss eating this dish because it really is delicious. Maybe when my dear sister visits us we can cook this dish together.

Here is another recipe for a vegetarian dish which includes ingredients like black fungus ear, black moss, carrot, red dates, Chinese mushroom, dried bean curd skin, mung bean vermicelli and 3-4 cubes of nan-ru.

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February 11, 2010

A Taste of Heavenly Durian

We bought a frozen durian, specially selected by husband, from the Vietnamese grocery store on Saturday. All praise be to Allah SWT last night husband opened it and we all enjoyed eating this delicious fruit. Although it costed $10, the fuit tasted like it's worth $30. Husband loves to eat this fruit and I have to say it was good after not eating it for seven years. Even daughter asked for more although this was the first time she ate it.

Yummy, creamy, sweet and soft fruit.

Safety first! Must wear glove when opening the durian.

After eating this fruit, we mixed water mixed with a little salt, poured it into a durain shell and drank it. This helps to counter-balance the heatiness of the durian. I have always done it this way when my parents bought durain in Singapore. If I didn't do so, the heatiness would make me sick the next day.

Allah SWT willing we will buy more durian in future.


Snowy Day

Last night it started to snow. This morning the ground is blanketed with 10cm of snow.

Although it is very cold, somehow it feels so quiet and peaceful. The snow is soft and light, so it feels quite nice. Of course the chickens are not happy about the weather. They cannot go out to play and the mushy snow gets their feet all wet and slippery. This evening the temperature will dip below freezing point, so roads and bridges may be icy and slippery. Hopefully the transportation department will spread enough sand on the roads and bridges to melt the ice.

Too bad husband has to go to work, if not he could have fun snow fighting with daughter.

Snow blanketing the chicken run cover.

Snow on the chicken coop roof.

Snow and slush on the driveway.

Tree sculptured by a layer of snow.

Good news: Today's gasoline price is $2.27 per gallon. (WooHoo!)


February 10, 2010

Three Eggs - Finally!

All praise be to Allah SWT, we have three eggs today! I have to thank the ladies for making a big announcement when they saw me just now.

The only thing is I found them together in the far corner of the chicken run. It's a good thing that I had a hunch to go look for the eggs.

Now I know that all the lovely ladies are egg laying hens. Guess I will have to start giving away surplus eggs to friends soon.


Recipe: Long-Life Noodles

When I was growing up, my mother usually cooked Chinese long-life noodles for my siblings and I for our birthday celebration. She normally used this Amoy Extra Thin Noodles and added two soft boiled eggs to the ikan-bilis broth for each person. Instead of a birthday cake, I find this specially prepared dish more meaningful and tasty. It symbolizes wishing the birthday girl and boy a good long life of happiness and blessings.

Now that I am a mother myself, I really appreciate my mum's effort and love to prepare this dish. Allah SWT willing I am going to do the same for daughter to carry on this tradition.

Long-Life Noodles
4 to 6 servings

* 8 medium dried black mushrooms
* 2 cups very hot water
* Two 9-ounce packages of fresh egg noodles or one 8-ounce package dried egg noodles
* 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1 tablespoon low-sodium or regular soy sauce
* 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)
* 3 small shallots, chopped (3 tablespoons)
* 4 ounces button mushrooms (white or cremini), trimmed and sliced (1 cup)
* 2 ounces enoki mushrooms, trimmed and separated into bite-size pieces (1 cup)
* 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
* 5 Chinese chives or skinny scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths
* 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
* Freshly ground black pepper


Combine the dried mushrooms with the hot water in a medium bowl and let stand for 20 to 30 minutes, until the mushrooms are rehydrated. Drain the mushrooms, reserving 1 cup of the soaking liquid. Slice the mushrooms into 1/4-inch-thick strips.

Prepare the noodles according to the package directions. At the end of the cooking time, pour them into a colander and rinse under cold running water. Transfer the noodles to a large bowl; add 1 tablespoon of the oil and the soy sauce. Toss to combine.

Heat a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the garlic and shallots; cook for 30 to 45 seconds, until fragrant. Add the black mushrooms and button mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes, stirring, until the mushrooms are almost cooked through. Add the enoki mushrooms, the reserved mushroom liquid, oyster sauce, chives and 1 teaspoon salt (add less salt if you are not using low-sodium soy sauce). Add the noodles, then stir quickly until the ingredients are well mixed and heated through (use a spatula in each hand to evenly toss the noodles, if necessary). Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot.

Recipe Source:
Adapted from "The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook," by Patricia Tanumihardja (Sasquatch Books, 2009).


February 09, 2010

BIL's Chinese Calligraphy Gift

My brother-in-law learned how to write beautiful Chinese calligraphy when he was young.

So I asked my dear sister to have him write some Chinese calligraphy for the coming Chinese New Year. I have been wanting to introduce Chinese words to daughter for a while, so this would be an excellent opportunity to do so.

Yesterday we received six calligraphy artwork from my BIL. I am really impressed that the words are so well-written! I think I'll frame them properly later when I have time to run to Hobby Lobby or some other craft stores.