I am not sure how many of you out there run into the same problem I do. I used to buy candles from Bath and Body Works, I would stock up on them when they have sales. I use a coffee warmer to warm up my candles so that I don’t go through them as quickly as lighting them, unfortunately, candles don’t last forever. So the better question is, what do you do when you have an empty glass jar like me? I think so far I have collected at least 6 of these empty containers, I asked myself how do I re-purpose these glass containers instead of throwing them in the trash?
After thinking long and hard, I decided to decorate them with twine. Twine is cheap and all you need is a hot glue gun and a roll of twine. I got mine from Michaels, I am pretty sure you could get all these from Hobby Lobby or whatever your favorite craft store is. I started off with some clean glass jars. I wiped down the outside with some lint free cloth, and I start applying hot glue on the outside of the glass jars. After that I just start wrapping the twine around the glass jar and keep going.
For me, this is a really quick and easy project that I could do on a Sunday morning while I wait for my lovely boyfriend to get out of bed and have breakfast. I hope you enjoy making these easy DIY glass jars. I use them to hold my stationary and some small things that are laying around all over the condo.
People in Kalamazoo are kicking off the summer with having an art fair in downtown Kalamazoo in Bronson Park. They invited artists and vendors from all across the country who showed off all different kinds of beautiful crafts and art. Victor and I decided to head to downtown Kalamazoo and have a look at what the hype was about.
Oddly enough we both enjoyed our time at the art fair very much. There were a lot of beautiful pieces from different vendors. It’s amazing how some people are very talented but you would never be able to tell just by looking at them. All the pieces in the art fair are handmade by different artists. You can find some fabulous photography, sculpture, painting, ceramics, glass, and wood furniture or containers in the art fair. Did I mention that spending a day at the art fair make a great art-filled family weekends.
That is it for now, I could go on and on and show you guys all the photos I have taken during the art fair. With just the few pieces of arts that I have mentioned above, this event is totally worth your time to check out. In the future, even though your local art fair like ours may not seem like a big deal, if you have any interest at all in art or seeing what amazing pieces humans can produce for fun, they are definitely time well spent with family, friends or significant other.
Do any of you guys remember in one of the previous blog post I mentioned about getting some planters for herbs or succulents? Here it is, we made easy do it yourself planters. Of course this DIY planter is probably not as nice as those that you could find in the nurseries, but keep in mind, making these planters probably cost a fraction of what you would pay from the nurseries.
Making these planters takes some time to measure, cut, and assemble, but they make a great activity with others, trust me they weren’t as troublesome as you think. We picked up some treated wood from our local Lowe’s, you could also find them from Home Depot too. Just keep in mind if you use treated wood to build the planters, you can’t plant anything that you would eat. If you would like to plant herbs or any consumable plants, you should use cedar wood, which is pricier than treated wood. Since this was trial run we decided to just go with treated wood and make something much smaller, in case we failed.
We wanted to make our planters with the following dimensions (7′ W x 6.5′ H x 27′ L). I have to give credit to this handy boyfriend, we had Lowe’s cut up the bigger side pieces but he had to cut up the rest of the end pieces with a hand saw. We used 2 pieces of 1×6 wood 90 inches each. The planter is held together with 1.5 inch wood screws.
Putting the planter together is probably the fastest process, just a couple of screws and viola, you have a pretty sturdy planter.
When you are done sanding them, you are pretty much all set to put in potting soil as well as the plants of your choice. I have to confess we did spend money to buy another planter from the nursery when I was picking up the herbs this morning since we couldn’t wait any longer for the basil plants that we wanted to plant.
I guess that’s it for today. We got everything that we wanted to get and we went to the Kalamazoo Art Fair 2017 as well. I will write another post talking about the art fair. I hope you guys have as much fun as we did making these planters and starting our small garden. Have fun planting this summer!
Basil is my all time favorite herb, my can’t live without herb. Basil’s aroma simply exudes summer. I love basil on the Caprese salads, or add it into any Thai or Vietnamese dish. Oh did I mention I also love chopped basil on my pizza? My boyfriend and I have been buying fresh basil leaves from the grocery stores, they can get pricey. We are currently in a process of getting a planter so that I can grow some basil plant in my back deck.
Here is another recipe from the Thai cuisine. Basil chicken fried rice is not your typical Thai dish, it’s a little different from the basic basil chicken. I figured since we are always in a hurry, why not just combined basil chicken and fried rice?
1/2 cup of fresh basil
1 large chicken breast
2 large eggs
2 cups of cooked rice
3 tbsp of fish sauce
a pinch of chili flakes
soy sauce to taste
lemon or lime juice
your choice of cooking oil ( I use extra virgin olive oil)
Wash and dice the chicken breast into small prices, alternatively, you can buy ground chicken breast from the grocery.
Heat up your pan and add 2 tablespoons oil to the pan, or enough to cover about 3/4 of your pan. Once your pan is heated add chicken and stir.
Cook your chicken until they start to brown, add a tablespoon of fish sauce and some chili flakes while stirring.
Once your chicken is cooked through and browned, add your basil, stir until basil becomes sott and starts to wrinkle, add fish sauce and chili flakes to taste.
Add your cooked white rice to the chicken and basil, stir well, crack your eggs and add them to the pan and stir well, evenly distributing egg, rice, chicken, and basil throughout the pan.
Once everything is evenly distrubed in the pan, you can add lemon and lime juice, soy sauce, or your choice of seasonings to taste.
I have been traveling a lot lately because of work, didn’t really have the time to make a home cook meal. The perk of being able to travel while working is you get to try a lot of different types of food in different restaurants. It’s always a hit or miss for me, sometimes you get some really good ones, but there are also times when the food isn’t really that nice. The downside is by the end of the trip you are sick and tired of eating out. All you want to do is to eat some home cook meals, it doesn’t matter if it’s just a slice of peanut butter toast or a four course home cooked meal.
Pad Thai is one of most popular dishes that people order from a Thai restaurant. Pad Thai is a stir fried rice noodle dish that is commonly served as a street food in Thailand. I love the peanut sauce that is bursting in flavor, of course you can probably guess that I am a big fan of peanut butter, just like Mylo (my dog).
2 cups of vegetable of your choice
1 cup of bean sprout
1 chicken breast (cubed)
Rice noodles (depends on how much you want to eat)
1 large egg
1/2 tbsp of chili flakes
3 tbsp of fish sauce
1 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tbsp of lime juice
2 tbsp of spicy thai peanut butter (alternatively you could just use regular peanut butter, or crushed peanuts with chilli flakes for that kick.)
Blanch the noodles in a medium size pot for about 3 minutes. Make sure you do not overcooked the noodles, the noodles should be just cook through but not overly soft.
Combined fish sauce, lime juice, spicy peanut butter with 2 tbsp of hot water. Set aside of later use.
Heat up the frying pan with small amount of oil, add in chicken breast to brown. After the chicken is all browned, add in an egg and scramble along with the chicken.
Combined the rice noodles, bean sprout and vegetable of your choice to the frying pan and stir fry about 2 minutes along with the chicken and egg from earlier.
Add in the sauces that you prepared earlier and make sure you turn down the heat to medium low, so that you do not burn the rice noodles.
Season with salt and white pepper to your own taste.
I like this dish when it’s first come off the stove. This is the dish that I was craving for when I got home, I guess any Thai food would make me very happy after two weeks of eating out. I am also glad I won’t be travelling for a little while, that way I will at least have some time to write and relax just like before.
I haven’t been good for the past week, work has been pretty busy. Now that everything’s been slowing down, Japanese sounds great. Speaking of Japanese cuisine, Miso soup is one of my all time favorite dishes other than sushi. I personally do not think there is something else in this world that can triumph sushi in my book. Miso is a Japanese seasoning that is produced from fermented soybeans. Miso soup is warm, comforting and savory with perfect little bites of tofu (provided you like tofu) and seaweed in every little scoop. You got that right, I do have a lot of love for tofu as well. Tofu is made by coagulating soy milk and pressed into soft white blocks. It’s a very popular ingredient in Asian cuisine. Generally, tofu is bland, it doesn’t have a lot flavor, but they do pick up whatever flavors you decided to put in them.
We have an Asian store in Kalamazoo where I pick up Miso base and tofu from. The store is not as big as Super H-mart but it’s convenient for us to pick up Asian ingredients when we need to. These two ingredients should be a pretty easy find if you have an Asian store around where you live. Shall we talk about seaweed too? Wakame is an edible seaweed that Japanese restaurant usually serve it with soup or salad. You can usually pick up Wakame from Asian market too. With Wakame you will have to re-hydrate them before you cook them.
4 cups of water
1 tbsp of bonito soup base (substitute with vegetable or chicken stock if you don’t have bonito)
1 cup of firm tofu
2 tbsp of Miso paste
2 tbsp of Wakame (you should get a pretty good amount after you re-hydrate them)
Place water and bonito soup base in a pot and bring it to a boil.
Add in the Miso paste, and simmer it on medium low heat for about 10 mins. Stir well to make sure you do not have any clumping of the Miso paste. They should dissolve completely before simmering.
Add the remaining tofu and seaweed into the pot, let it simmer for another 10 minutes.
I personally like to serve my Miso soup hot, you could add some green onions at serving, I didn’t have any on hands so I served it as is. This is a pretty simple recipe, I have days when I crave something warm and light, this is one of my go to.
In one of the older post, I did a very berry smoothie. Today, we are talking about a smoothie recipe that suits the summer time. I came from a tropical country, we have all sort of tropical fruits back in Malaysia, including mango. I loved mango since I was little, I love the sweet mango as well as the raw sour type. I remember my mother used to buy the raw mango and slice them up, we would sit around the dining table and dip the raw mango into a spicy soy sauce that mom used to make. Of course, who doesn’t like the super sweet ripe mango?
One thing that I really like to get in bulk is frozen mango. Costco usually has them pretty cheap in the summer. Did I mention that, Mylo the destroyer loves frozen mango too? We sometimes use it as treats for the naughty puppy. Long story short, everybody in the family loves mango, so let’s get into the ingredients list and how to make this yummy summer time smoothie.
1 cup of frozen mango
2 cups of orange juice
1 Fuji apple
Place all the ingredients in the blender and hit the power button. Blend all the ingredients on high for two minutes.
When it comes to changing seasons, it’s that time of the year for me. I get sick easily, but I don’t like to take medication. I rather eat healthy to make sure I don’t get sick, this smoothie is my vitamin C booster shot. I hope you guys enjoy this recipe as much as I do. Let me know if you have any smoothie suggestions, leave a comment below. I would love to try it out. =)
Chicken picante was one of the first dishes I learned from Vivian while living with her. I am not very sure what type of cuisine this is classified as, my guess is Mexican.
If you know what type of cuisine if this dish please leave a comment below and let me know. Long story short, I like to make this dish when I have a big tub of salsa in my fridge after I am sick of chips. This is a good way to get rid of the salsa before it goes bad.
2 cups of fresh salsa
1 chicken breast (cubed)
1/2 cup of parsley (you could use fresh or dried, I personally prefer fresh parsley but at the moment I only have the dried parsley)
3 tbsp of peach preserve
4 teaspoon of taco seasoning
Heat oil up in a large frying pan, place all the cubed chicken breast in the frying pan to brown.
When they are browned, add in the dried parsley and taco seasoning. (If you have fresh parsley, I would put them in last.)
Add in the fresh salsa and stir in the peach preserve.
Let the dish simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes.
Let’s talk about crêpes today. What about them? Who doesn’t like a little French pastry for breakfast? I still remember a bunch of friends and I used to head to the mall that was right behind our college to grab these delicious suckers. I don’t know why are they so addictive, or rather how. One thing I do know is, they are super easy to make. Just a couple ingredients and a blender, then we are all set to make breakfast.
Here I have a recipe that is really quick and easy. I like to prepare the batter the night before as you know I am the kind of person that gets really hungry after a good nights sleep. Breakfast is not something that I would skip, it doesn’t matter if I only have 5 minutes, I will still have a slice of toast and my cup of coffee.
In one of the conversation I had with my sister recently she mentioned that she was trying to make a crêpe cake. So this two ways crêpe came across my mind, and I thought, wouldn’t it be great if I can make these for breakfast and they only take a couple minutes? You could also make these crêpe with a savory twist if you would like. I personally prefer them with jams, nutella or cream cheese.
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cup of milk
1 cup of flour
2 1/2 tbsp of sugar in the raw
1 tsp of vanilla extract (you could also substitute with vanilla beans)
3 tablespoon of melted butter
Butter, for coating the pan
Combined all the ingredients in a blender, blend for 20 seconds.
Store the crêpe batter in the refrigerator for an hour or overnight (of course I preferred overnight).
Heat up a small non-stick pan, with some butter, just enough to coat the pan.
Pour a ladder full of batter into the center of the pan, and swirl quickly to make sure the batter spread as evenly as possible to cover the pan.
Cook the crêpe for about 30 seconds before flipping it.
Cook the other side for about 20 seconds and lay it flat on a dish to let it cool before spreading the jam/ cream cheese.
I hope you guys enjoy the crêpe recipe as much as I do. Let me know if you guys have something in mind that you would me to make. I am always open to suggestions.
I have heard a tons of great things about juicing. Juicing is an easier way to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet, but on the other hand, you don’t get a lot of fiber that is in the fruits and vegetables. Juicing machines usually extract the juice and leave behind all the pulp, that being said you left all the fiber behind. In addition to that, juicers can be pretty expensive as compare to a blender.
As I mentioned before, juicers are much more expensive than a bender. I spent about two weeks doing research about juicers and blenders. Knowing me, I ended up with a blender, I got my Ninja Professional Blender (BL610) from Amazon while they were on sale. Now that we have the blender, what kind of smoothie should we make? I saw a bag of frozen antioxidant blend berries that I picked up when we were at Costco two weeks ago.
I decided to try out the blender on Sunday morning. What’s better than starting the day with a vitamin C smoothie and a slice of toast?
1 cup of Sunrise Growers Organic Antioxidant Blend
1 cup of almond milk
1/2 cup of kale
1 Fuji apple
Place all the ingredients in the blender and hit the power button. Blend all the ingredients on high for two minutes.
Viola, another smoothie recipe that can be done in one step. My philosophy is, healthy doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Sometimes a simple recipe like this could be just what you need to stay healthy.
I have been living in Michigan for almost 8 years, I have also been to Chicago more times than I can count. Recently when my brother visited us in December, we had to drop him off at Chicago airport. This is when we found the Super H-mart, the store is huge, you can find a variety of Asian food with a focus on Korean food in the store, even things that you believe is impossible to find in the United States. I can’t believe I did not know about this place for the longest time. Anyway, long story short, I was really excited about this place, I was like a kid in the candy store.
While we were walking around this store, the was a Korean lady standing by one of the booth handing out samples. I had one of those and I was sold, it was a clear broth with udon and nothing else, it was amazing. I grabbed a couple bottles of the soup base, we have been making a lot more udon these days. Did I mention this recipe take less than 5 minutes? Let’s get into the ingredients and instructions before we go way off topic.
1/2 cup of dried bonito/ anchory soup base (substitute with your own favorite soup base or chicken stock)
4 cups of water
8 oz. of frozen udon noodles
1/2 cup of vegetable of your choice
1/2 cup of shrimp
Add 1/2 cup of soup base and 4 cups of water into a small pot. Bring the soup to a boil before adding in the frozen udon noodles.
Turn the heat to medium low before adding the frozen udon noodles into the soup. At the same time, add in the shrimp and the vegetable and cook them for 4 minutes.
Heat up some oil in a small frying pan and make a fried egg like you normally would.
Put the noodles in a bowl and top it off with the fried egg, and the dish is ready to be served.
This recipe doesn’t take a genius to figure it out. As long as you have the soup base and the udon noodles, you may add in any leftovers you have in your refrigerator, and viola, you have your dinner for the night.
This little nugget is Mylo. He joined our family on September 06, 2016. We adopted him from a shelter called Animal Rescue Project in Kalamazoo. When my boyfriend and I were first planning on getting a puppy, we had been looking around for breeders, I had my heart set on either a Shiba Inu or a Husky. We were on a hunt for about three months, we found out that there aren’t a lot of breeders that would breed Shiba Inu in the Midwest area. It could also be we weren’t looking in the right place. We ended up volunteering in a the dog walk event that was held by the Kalamazoo Humane Society. During the event, we saw a lot of Huskies, and then we started thinking to ourselves, maybe we should start looking into Husky, because we have a ton of cold weather here.
After a couple of months of searching, my boyfriend had an idea. According to him, if we are willing to pay a breeder that amount of money to get a puppy, why don’t we look into a rescue puppy instead. Rescue’s are always looking for new owners to adopt, we would be able to help reduce the amount of puppies in shelters.. That’s a win-win situation for the puppy and for us. We agreed on doing so, we decided to take a look at the Animal Rescue Project in the Kalamazoo area. When we went there the first time, we saw a few puppies, we thought we were ready to adopt him. We went home without him because we wanted to sleep on it before we act on that. Also at that time the condo that we bought wasn’t finalized yet. So we didn’t end up with the puppy that we saw the first time.
A couple of weeks had passed, we went back to the shelter to check on the new puppies that the shelter brought in. We looked in the metal crate, there were six husky mix puppies in the crate that were just brought in from a rescue in Kentucky. Four of them were already adopted, that left the two of them, a boy and a girl. Mylo and his sister were the last two puppies left. When we first went into the play room with the two of them, they were both shaking, and wouldn’t really respond to us. To him, we were a complete strangers, I don’t blame him for not coming to us. Just when I was about to give up, he started warming up to Victor. I guess that was the moment when we knew he will be ours. I can’t find words to describe that moment, we just knew he is the one that we would bring home that day.
He was tiny little puppy about 12 weeks old when we first got him. After we got him we moved into the condo, it was a process for him to adjust to the new environment. Potty training took him about a month, and completely house broken after two months. He is a very smart puppy, he picks up commands pretty quickly. We are very blessed on that, he does go to puppy class every Saturday, he is a lot more disciplined than before. Having him in the family has created a need for adjustment, not only for him but for us too. We do a lot of things together, especially on weekends we have gone on a lot more walks. We can’t spend a lot of time with him during the weekdays, he has to be in the condo by himself for the most part because we both have to work. As a results we try to spend as much time as we could with him when we do not have to work, because he is an important part of our family.
One of my new resolutions is to eat healthier. We are constantly looking for ways to improve our lifestyle, sometime we neglect the little things like eating healthier. This year I started with a small goal, I have been telling myself I need to eat healthier and head to the gym more often.
It’s pretty hard to find the motivation to be as active as I would like in this cold weather. Michigan weather changes in minutes, it could be sunny out there this minute but the next will be snowing again. I am going to be honest, I have not been going to the gym as often as I would like but diet-wise, both of us have been pretty good about that. We have been eating pretty clean on a regular basis, but we do have cheat days here and there. I am a firm believer of you are what you eat.
Alright, back to today’s recipe. We are going to talk about my breakfast recipe for the coming week. A couple of my friends been posting photos about what they eat for breakfast. I have been thinking what else could I make that’s super quick and easy. I came up with this chia breakfast bowl idea. This recipe seriously takes no time, but did I mention it looks and tastes awesome. I rolled out of bed and made this breakfast bowl while I was waiting for my coffee. I hope that caught your attention. Enjoy the recipe below!
1/2 cup of Chobani Blueberry Greek yogurt (or your favorite type of yogurt)
1/3 cup of frozen berries or tropical fruits
1/3 of rehydrated chia seeds
1/3 of honey, almond & chia granola or your preferred granola
Combined the greek yogurt and rehydrated chia seeds in a bowl and top it up with frozen berries and granola.
Viola, this is the easiest ONE STEP recipe. Enjoy!
My boyfriend used to work in a Thai restaurant, but for some reason he has a soft spot for this Vietnamese Spring rolls. Who doesn’t like a spring roll that is actually made with fresh ingredients. We do not have a lot of farmers market around here in Michigan, but when we do we love to head over there and get some fresh ingredients. You can also get these ingredients in a local supermarket or your local fresh market.
There is one ingredient for the sauce I am not sure where you can get your hands on, my boyfriend actually bought it when he was in Wisconsin. I finished an entire jar of the almond butter from Yumbutter. I love the almond/ peanute butter from Yumbutter, I spread it on my toast, I also included them in some of my cooking. They are just so versatile, and of course they are super yummy too. Hence the name, YUMBUTTER! I will include a link in the ingredients section of where you can get the spicy thai peanut butter with cayenne, tumeric anc cumin. In addition, I also like to dip the spring rolls in a wasabi/soy sauce mixture just to change things up as well as add a kick.
1 cup of julliened carrots
1 cup of shrimp
1 cup of cucumber slices
A stalk Romaine lettuce
A pack of rice paper
2 tbsp of Spicy thai peanut butter (alternatively you can use regular peanut butter, add some siracha and soy sauce to taste)
1 tbsp of water (if the sauce is too thick for your liking you may use 2 tbsp of water)
A dash of fish sauce
Clean, peel and cook your shrimp in boiling water with some salt for about 3 minutes. Set aside for later use.
Start by rehydrating the rice paper in a bowl of warm of water until soften. You should be able to tell when they are soften you will be able to bend them and use it as a wrapper.
Lay the rice paper flat on a plate or a board of some sort. Arrange your fillings of the spring rolls starting with the lettuce at the bottom. Add a handful of carrots and two slices of cucumber. Lastly, add in your cooked shrimps.
Fold the left and right side of the wrap inward, then tightly roll the rice paper forward, to make sure that all the ingredients stayed in the wrapper.
Repeat with the above steps until you run out of fillings to wrap.
For the sauce, combined the spicy thai peanut butter with water and add a dash of fish sauce. Mixed all the ingredients together and stir well before serving.
I do not feel guilty after eating 6 of these puppies. They taste so good and they are pretty healthy in my opinion, or at the very least better than the deep fried version. Enjoy them on a warm summer day or a cold night.
Bah Kut Teh is a must eat if you ever had a chance to visit Malaysia or Singapore. A lot of Malaysian Chinese actually have this dish for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The name of this soup literally translated from a hokkien dialect as “meat bone tea”. Despite the name, this dish do not include any tea in cooking the soup, but we as Malaysians do have hot tea to go with this dish. It is believed that the tea helps with digestion when you are consuming the protein rich soup.
I like to use dried shitake mushrooms for this soup because they have an nice meaty flavor that enhances the flavor of this soup. Some people do not like to use dried mushroom because the soaking process can be time consuming, you may use fresh button or portobello mushrooms instead.
I prefer to blanch my pork ribs and pork loins. This is not a necessary step, I like to do it because I like a clear soup without the gray foam floating in my soup. By blanching the meat, excess proteins from the meat’s surface coagulate, creating the gray foam that you often find in the broth of a pot of hot soup. This way the broth will be much clearer and require less skimming or straining. This method will also help get the full flavor of the ingredients.
1 pack of pre-packed Bah Kut Teh herbal seasoning
1 lb of spare ribs
1/2 lb of pork loins (cubed)
1 head of whole garlic
A handful of dried Shiitake mushrooms (soaked, stems removed)
2 packs of enoki mushrooms
1 pack fried tofu balls
1 tbsp of soy sauce
2 tbsp of dark soy sauce
Blanch spare ribs, and pork loins in a pot of boiling water for a minute. If you don’t want to blanch your meats before hand, skip to step 3.
Rinse the meat under running cold water, to get rid of the gray foam formed while blanching.
Fill the crockpot half way with boiling hot water, add in the Bah Kut Teh seasoning and turned it on high.
Add in all the cleaned spare ribs, pork loins, soaked mushroom and garlic into the crockpot.
Add in soy sauce and dark soy sauce and let it simmer on the crockpot overnight.
Add in enoki mushroom and fried tofu pouch 45 mins before serving the dish.
Besides curry, this is probably the one dish that reminds me of home. The fragrance of the soup will fill your entire house. I don’t have a lot time as I mentioned before, I prefer to make the dish in a crockpot. This dish is considered quick and easy if you can get everything ready the night before. Enjoy your pork ribs soup.