Sunday, October 9, 2011

One person's trash is another's treasure

I love checking out Craigslist for used furniture. One lucky day I found an old dresser for free on Craigslist and I asked my husband to immediately fetch it for me. It was not in the best of condition. It was very dirty, old, and had no drawer knobs. However despite all of this I saw real potential and decided to keep it.

I love the curved lines and details. I also prefer old furniture because they usually don't have nails. 

I cleaned and sanded the dresser and then painted it green. I bought drawer knobs from an Anthropologie store and voilĂ , here is the renewed dresser!

I love saving furniture. I use it to store candles, table cloths, glass jars, etc. I also add candles, flowers, photo frames on top as a decorative touch.

One person's trash is another's treasure. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lunch boxes (September 26 ~ 30)

Kamaboko Donburi Bento
Kamaboko and mixed vegetables,
cook in a Japanese sweet broth (soy sauce, sugar, mirin),
add eggs at the end and finish cooking.
Pour over warm rice.

Halloween is coming Bento
It's hard to believe that this was the last week of September. Next month is Halloween and it's my daughter's favorite time of the year. I made chicken karage (Japanese chicken nuggets) stuck with toothpicks, wrapped with foil, and tied with Halloween themed ribbons. Cheese cut like ghosts and bats decorated with seaweed added some scare. Ketchup rice with bacon and mixed vegetables along with broccoli and grapes rounded out the food pyramid.

Anpanman Bento

Anpanman is a hugely popular cartoon charactor in Japan, he will be known by any Japanese child.
I have a bread machine and so I made this Anpanman red bean bread for my daugheter's lunch. Look at those cheeks!

I also made a simple roll bread made into a fish sandwich with baked Trader Joe's frozen fish nuggets with ketchup and mayo sauce. Yum.

I wrapped these homemade breads individually. I added grapes and cheese in a white paper bag with my own artistic touch.

Teddy Bear Bento

I made this for 2nd time. Everyone loves a bear!

Yaki Udon Bento

Stir fried Japanese udon noodle with pork and vegetables in a mentsuyu sauce. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cooking magazine

I used to subscribe to Bon Appetit magazine but without the time to try any new recipes I cancelled the subscription. The magazine had many interesting dishes but I found the ingredients used were often expensive (such as expensive spices that you probably use only once a year) and their cooking method was far too time intensive for a mom of small children. Serendipitously I discovered this month's Bon Appetit in a magazine rack and the cover looked so interesting that I bought it on impulse. Did they wait for me to cancel my subscription before publishing something I would actually want so I would feel regret? Does this ever happen to you? I feel like it happens a lot to me. Regardless, I really wanted to try out this prosciutto-wrapped pork loin cover recipe but cooking it for just one family would be too much so I invited my good friends Quynh, Daniel, and Danee to share in the bounty. I love having them over for dinner.

Cooking the pork was a lot of work and it is definitely not a weekday meal. However, it turned out very well so I am sure that I will make this again. You can get recipe here. While I was cooking the stuffing for the pork my husband came downstairs and told me that the entire house smelled like fall and he loved it. I agree. I just love fall and the season makes me want to cook and bake so hopefully I will update my blog more now that summer is over.

By the way, my friend Quynh took these pictures with my camera. She is my role model. She can do everything! She cooks, bakes, sews, the list goes on. We met in a photography class at a nearby community college about a year ago and I am so happy that we became friends. She also taught me how to properly shuck an oyster. I love raw oysters but I had never shucked it myself until last night. Wow, it is hard, but fun! Thank you Quynh!

Raw oysters with lemon vinagrette
Roasted potatoes with rosemary and garlic
Roasted asparagus
Prosciutto wrapped pork loin woth roasted apples

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lunch Boxes (Septembern19 ~ 23)

Here are this week's bento boxes.

Butterfly Lunch (Monday)
All natural frozen mickey mouse chicken nuggets, from Costco
Japanese sweet potato with honey and sesame seeds
Japanese cooked fish sausage, cut with a butterfly cookie cutter for decoration

Korean Pancake Lunch (Tuesday)
I had some Korean savory pancake mix in my pantry so I used it with milk, cabbage, chives, broccoli, and shrimp to make a savory Korean pancake. I then cut it into bite size pieces and packed it into her lunch. This lunch box is one of my lazy boxes and I don't like how it looks but oh well.

Sesame Street Lunch (Wednesday)
To compensate for yesterday's not so wonderful lunch (tastes great but not so decorative), I made a Sesame Street lunch.
Tamagoyaki (Japanese eggs)
Carrots, cut like flowers
Kamaboko (Japanese processed white fish product)

Puppy Lunch (Thursday)
Frozen fish sticks, from Trader Joes
Tomato ketchup and mayo, mixed as a sauce for fish sticks
Tamagoyaki (left over from yesterday)
Meatballs (left over from yesterday)
Onigiri (rice ball), with dried seaweed to make puppy's face

Autumn Lunch (Friday)

Do you remember Soboro Bento from a previous posting?
Cooked ground chicken thigh, scrambled eggs, green peas with rice. When you eat, you mix everything together first.
I cut carrot like fall leaves to create this "Autumn Lunch".
Let's celebrate the beginning of the fall season! 

If you click the links you can see recipes from my previous postings.

Which is your favorite lunch box from this week or from the past 3 weeks? I think the autumn lunch box is my favorite because it is simple, tastes good, and you can clearly tell it is representing the fall season (well I hope it is).

Fun way to keep your children's art work

My daughter loves to draw and of course I think she is really good at it too. What I love about her drawings the most is discovering how she views the world differently from me. I have been keeping many of her drawings thinking someday I will frame and hang them on the wall. Recently though I have found a new and unique way to preserve her artwork.

I was looking at craft magazines recently and came across the idea of stitching a child's drawings on to fabrics. Wonderful, I thought! I also found a blog that used freehand embroidery to stitch art work with fabric directly. I decided to combine the two into one. I have never done hand stitching so I was unsure I could pull it off. I bought a self-teach book and finished everything yesterday.

Here is my daughter's drawing of an apple tree. Not bad for 3 year old, right?  She drew this in June of this year. I adore this artwork so I decided to use it for my 1st attempt at hand stitching.

I used 4 different fabrics (5 if you include the actual fabric I stitched on). It is hard to see but I used two different red fabrics for apples. I used dark brown threads for the stitching.

I am thinking about turning it into either a pillow case, a small bag for my daughter, or a small quilted blanket, a lovey. I'm open to suggestions.

People ask me how I have the time to do this. The answer is "I don't have time to do this." My house is a mess right now, there is too much laundry to be folded, toys to be put away, and so on. A stay-at-home mom's job is pretty much the same everyday. Even if you clean, fold laundry, organize the house, and cook meals for your family - somehow the house still becomes messy, the laundry still piles up, and we all need to eat 3 times a day, everyday.

There is no deadline for these jobs and there is no end either. Through all of this I realized that in order for me to have time to do what I like I would have to make time. It is hard to ignore laundry and a messy house but sometimes I just have to forget about them. Ultimately I don't have time to do everything so I have to make sacrifices here and there. For example, I worked on this fun project last night while kids were sleeping, sitting on a couch with clean laundry waiting to be folded and put away, while kids toys were all over the floor around me, and the clock ticking well past midnight.
Mom has to do what makes her happy sometimes. Happy mom (Happy wife) = Happy family, right?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Lunch boxes photos (September 12 ~16)

My daughter did much better eating her vegetables this week. I am a happy mom. Also I am getting better at packing lunch in the morning. I can pack it in about 20 minutes or so on avarage. The key is to prepare some of food the night before, use leftovers from dinner, and use frozen food wisely.

All I have are photos for now, I promise that little by little I will introduce some of the useful recipes for lunch boxes.

Snoopy Bento
rice, Japanese version of cod fish meuniere, carrot and gobo root stir fry, broccoli, grapess

Pig Bento
rice with furikake and cooked spam, Tamago, chikuwa with mix vegetable and cheese, apple

Teriyaki Chicken
teriyaki chicken, snow peas, cooked carrot, apple, grapes

Chinese Bento
leftovers, fried rice with egg cut with airplane shape cookie cutter, pork and vegetable pot stickers, garlic stir fried snow peas, apple

American Bento
SB and J sandwich (Soy nut Butter), chocolate soy butter and fresh banana sandwich, dried raisin, grapes, chicken and broccoli gratin

Recycling my daughter's dress

Seattle had some beautiful sunny days this August and I was hoping we might have an Indian summer. Unfortunately September brought autumn with it and the cold rainy weather we are known for was not far behind. I decided to go through my daughter's summer clothes and sort into donation, clothes for my neice, and what simply needs to be thrown away.

The picture above is a summer dress from Cath Kidston in London. My daughter wore this dress a lot this past summer and it became too dirty to donate or give to my neice so I thought about throwing it away. However, since this is a gift from my good friend Donovan and Mandy, who got it for our daughter when they went to London, I could not throw it away. I also love Cath Kidston and so I decided to recycle this dress and make a futon set for my daughter's baby doll.

Here is the picture of her baby doll. My daughter loves to wrap her in a bath towel and make her sleep right before she goes to bed. We can do better than just a towel, right?

I cut open the summer dress and used the pretty flower print fabric to make quilted futon, conforter, and a pillow. It took 1 hour or so to make everything.

I kept the Cath Kidston tag from the dress and sewed it on the futon. It is now a Cath Kidston futon set for a baby doll!

Don't forget about details. Ribbon!

Last night, I put this new futon set with the baby doll in front of my daughter's room to surprise her when she woke up. This morning sure enough, as soon as she found it she came running into our bed room and said, "Mommy, did you make these for my baby?" She looked so happy. Her smile makes it worth all the effort, and then some...