Friday, January 30, 2015

No-sew felt circle garland

no sew felt circle garland
I'm a big fan of garlands, particularly of the felt circle variety. I made one for a friend's baby shower and another for Serene's first birthday bash. Part of the one I used at Serene's party now adorns our living room. I remember seeing sewn felt circle garlands elsewhere a long time ago. I didn't want to sew since the garlands had to be pretty long, so I made no-sew versions instead. It's a great way to use up felt scraps. The result is just as pretty as a sewn garland, but is much simpler to accomplish! no sew felt circle garland
You'll need felt in as many colors as you'd like, scissors, twine (or string), and a bit of tape. no sew felt circle garland
First, cut circles out of your felt. I folded each big sheet of felt into multiple layers and cut circles out freehand. Don't worry if the circles are not completely circular.no sew felt circle garland
no sew felt circle garland
Next, fold each felt circle in half and cut two slits in the center perpendicular to the fold.no sew felt circle garland
When you unfold the felt circle, you should have two little slits that are wide enough for your twine to pass through. no sew felt circle garland
Now take one end of your twine and wrap a piece of tape tightly around it. This gives your twine more rigidity, which allows you to thread your felt circles more easily. no sew felt circle garland
Thread your twine through each felt circle, going under one slit and over the other. no sew felt circle garland
Keep threading until you're satisfied with the length of your garland. You can move each felt circle equal distance from one another, or you can clump some together and distance others so that it's more random (like I did, as seen in the first picture of this post). no sew felt circle garland
That's it! You now have a sweet and simple garland to spruce up any space. I'm thinking it would be just as lovely with different shapes: hearts: triangles, diamonds, etc. Now I'm itching to make one to decorate the kids' room for when our littler love arrives and shall eventually share a room with his big sister.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Soy braised pork with tofu and boiled eggs

soy braised pork with tofu and boiled eggs
soy braised pork with tofu and boiled eggs
I mentioned experimenting with homestyle Chinese cooking here, and this soy braised pork with tofu and boiled eggs was a winner in our home. It's best if eaten over steamy white rice, and goes well when accompanied by sides of sautéed veggies or a clear, homemade broth. It reminded me of my childhood - can't get better than that! soy braised pork with tofu and boiled eggs
Soy Braised Pork with Tofu and Boiled Eggs
Ingredients: 
1 lb pork belly or pork tenderloin, sliced
6 boiled eggs
1 1/2 cups fried tofu
1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, minced
Up to a thumb's worth of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 onion, diced in half
3 tbsp soy sauce (I used reduced sodium)
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup water (start by adding 1/4 cup first, then more)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for frying
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:
1. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, shallot, and ginger. Stir to cook until fragrant and translucent, about 2 minutes.
2. Add pork and onion halves and cook for about 5 minutes. Add soy sauce, fish sauce, and brown sugar. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and braise for 2-3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water and continue to braise on low, covered, for 10-15 minutes, continuing to add water in 1/4 cup increments.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Add eggs and tofu and continue to braise for another 15-20 minutes, or until pork is tender and soft and the tofu absorbs some of the sauce.
4. Serve over rice and enjoy!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Fingerpainting foray

serene's first fingerpainting
serene's first fingerpainting
serene's first fingerpainting
serene's first fingerpainting
serene's first fingerpainting
serene's first fingerpainting
serene's first fingerpainting
I've been looking for more activities to do with Serene now that she's a little older (almost 16 months) and learning so much so quickly. She loves interacting with other kiddos and does often since we're blessed with a dear church family. I'm looking forward to perhaps taking her to Mommy & Me classes at the community center when she's old enough. I've also heard about storytime at the local library too, but they happen to fall in the middle of her morning nap. Maybe we'll go when she transitions from two to one nap a day (although I am happy if that day takes longer to arrive!). When we're home, she's all about her stuffies, bouncy balls, accessorizing herself, and shuttling down the hallway in a box, pushcart, or her parents. She recently developed a love for snuggling up against me being read "bok" (book) after "bok" all afternoon. Reading was my favorite childhood pastime, so I'm hoping her fervor for books grows. Needless to say, reading together has now become our favorite pastime.

I've been keen on introducing activities to foster her creativity though. She will color for a spell, but she doesn't rub the paper hard enough with her crayons, so coloring does not impress her very much (yet?). I remembered last week that she got some finger paints and a paint pad for her birthday, so it was time to foray into fingerpainting. She was eager to dip her fingers into the colorful goop, but was a smidgen apprehensive about smearing it all over paper. She was much more interested in playing with the bowls of finger paints. She eventually got the idea though and created a cheery, colorful, if smudgy piece of artwork.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Salmon poke bowl

salmon poke bowl
Hearsay is that one shouldn't eat sushi while pregnant. Well, I'm doing it anyway. I lasted for about 3 months without sushi when I was pregnant with Serene, then ended up eating it, and continued to do so a few times after that. I can't stomach any seafood during the first trimester, but during the second and third trimesters, sushi's a go for me! Of course, I try to be careful and only order from reputable restaurants or buy fresh sashimi to prepare at home. Like poke. Ever since we had legit poke in Santa Cruz last summer, I've been on a poke kick. Casual poke restaurants have been popping up in our parts since then too. But of course, it is more economical to buy fresh sashimi and prepare poke at home. Toss in rice and some sides, and you've got a tasty meal. I shared a poke recipe on this space before, which uses mainly Hawaiian salt. This poke recipe features soy sauce and is therefore sweeter. I've been preferring this one lately, as I made it with tilapia sashimi here, and then went on to make it with salmon (perhaps my favorite sashimi, along with white tuna). You can definitely switch it up with different kinds of fish though!salmon poke bowl
Salmon Poke Bowl (adapted from here)
Ingredients: 
3/4 lb sashimi grade salmon, cubed
2 tbsp soy sauce (I used reduced sodium)
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped green onion
Furikake seasoning to taste (the one with sesame seeds and seaweed)
Japanese red pepper to taste (optional)
Japanese white rice, cooked
Persian or English cucumber, diced
Avocado, sliced
Roasted seaweed for topping
Chopped green onions for topping

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl, combine sashimi cubes, soy sauce, lemon juice, sesame oil, and green onion. Add Furikake seasoning and red pepper to taste (I love Furikake seasoning so I sprinkled it generously and added just a dash of red pepper since I'm not a big fan of spicy food). Mix well. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving.
2. Serve on a bed of warm Japanese white rice with avocado slices and cucumber on the side. Top with roasted seaweed and additional green onions. Enjoy with a side of edamame!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Parenting and picnicking

picnic and park family day
picnic and park family day2555
picnic and park family day
picnic and park family day
picnic and park family day
Some parenting days are better than others. We had a rough weekend; I wanted to lie down, shut my eyes, and hide from the world for a bit. There were frustrated tears, rebellious tantrums, and just plain exhaustion all around. Serene's naps were way off or didn't happen the whole weekend since we were on the go from Friday until Sunday. We continue to learn that our little love goes nutty when she doesn't get her rest, especially for three days straight. Which causes me to go nutty, and my desire to wield control rears its ugly head. When things don't fare as expected, I end up questioning if we've been making the "right" parenting decisions, and pretty much take my stress and irritation out on Alex. We've been learning to seek unity in when and how to discipline our child(ren) in love, mainly through tons of moments when we are not on the same page at times. This parenting gig is tough in the magnitude of responsibility we've been afforded to disciple our kiddo(s). I must remember I am but a vessel and God is a far better parent than I can ever be. Thankful for wisdom from God's Word, our community who Titus 2's us, forgiveness and reconciliation in Christ, my extremely patient husband, and my ever patient God. And for His mercies anew every morning, for yesterday was a beautiful new day. We spent family day at the park picnicking, getting up close and personal with the ducks, and playing on the playground. And thankfully, getting back into the swing of a normal week for us, which entails napping for Serene Joy.