Dec 22, 2008

Almost ready for Christmas

I thought I was having a pretty calm December this year. But then I realized a few days ago that I had only days left and a lot of things to do before Christmas! I was in a panic mode a couple of days ago. But tonight, I feel so much better.

The reason: The biggest Christmas project is finally completed - a doll house for my daughter M is finished. Completed. Done. Ready to go under the tree.

It took a lot longer than I thought to finish. The tricky part was that I was able do work on this only after kids go to bed. But it's done! And I am very happy with the result (thanks to my husband for his help with his tools to make windows and a door). My favorite is the checkerboard floor/yellow wall kitchen. My husband made fun of me that I was making my own dream house. Well, maybe.

A friend of mine often say "You are crazy!" when she sees things I do. And I agree. This was probably beyond what 2-year-old usually plays with. But I wanted to do it for her to play many years to come.

The house itself was a gift from my sister-in-laws for M's birthday. They know me well enough and gave me the house, small cans of paints, and a scrap carpet. With my craft supplies and scrap fabrics, it turned to be a mansion (at least I'd like to claim). So, this is a gift from Mom and Dad. And if M is being nice, not naughty, Santa is going to fill the house with furniture for her.

I can't wait for M to open on Christmas morning! But I have a few more things to do before that, so I'm almost ready for Christmas.

Dec 18, 2008

Mission Impossible: Building a Gingerbread house without a kit

On Monday night, we made a gingerbread house as a family night - without a kit.
It was our first attempt without a kit and it turned out great!!

I had baked my first gingerbread house the prior week. I used a free pattern from internet.
Candies were leftover from Halloween (I had saved them).
Frosting was a mixture of 1 egg white, a little bit of water, and a lot of powder sugar, beat in a Kitchen Aid mixer for at least 10 minutes at the highest speed.
Oh, good ol' Kitchen Aid mixer. How can I live without? (Thanks to Tami for letting me use hers while mine is not working right now)

Here is J decorating the house

I cannot take a full credit of this beautiful gingerbread house. It was a true teamwork of our family!

I baked and put the frosting on the house and J put all the candies.
But that sounds too easy, doesn't it?

What really happened was:

While I tried to put houses together on the tray with frosting - M was trying to destroy the other house parts AND eat candies, J was sucking the tube of frosting, and my dear husband was trying to keep those kids off the table.

While I tried to put frosting on the house - M was still eating candies and J decided to join too. Of course, my dear husband was still trying to keep kids off the table and keep them from eating candies.

While J tried to put candies over those frosting - M was being restrained (ahem, I mean being cuddled) by her Daddy who was really trying to keep his precious daughter from those sugary candy to avoid evil sugar-high while singing lovely Christmas songs.

While I tried to make icicles on the roof and J tried to decorate the house with candies singing along with those Daddy's Christmas songs - M was trying really hard reaching out for "just a lick" of frosting between Daddy's arms screaming crying, while Daddy still singing Christmas songs to destruct her little girl. J was placing candies in his own pace.

When J and I finished decorating the house - M was having a total meltdown because Daddy was changing her into her pajamas and she is no longer within reach of candies. Oh, poor girl! And thanks to Daddy for making this mission to be possible!

By the way, here is how J decorated the house:
With army pants, beads on the shoulder, sitting on the table....not exactly a picture of a sweet little child, is it? But, that's okay.

Good time. Good family time. Good Christmas time.

Time really flies in December!

I was reminded by my boss that I haven't updated my blog. Wow, time really flies in December!
Here is one of belated updates. Thanks, Deanna for a reminder!

On December 6, we as a family were in our local downtown Christmas parade - the Dickens Christmas parade. We joined with my co-workers and their families. It was a really cold snowy day, but kids had a good time being in a parade. J enjoyed tossing candies to the crowd and M was waving just like a princess. (The below picture is from our local news paper.)

Week of December 8, I was baking many kinds of cookies almost everyday to make plates of cookies - plates for our neighbors, plates for our friends who have been attending our kids while I work, plates for gatherings, plates for a Sorry. I was a bit busy between sugar-high kids (they might have had some cookies for their breakfast and lunch....maybe) and piled-high dishes. A plate of cookies for you? If you haven't got one, I'll take a request! Delivery before Christmas is not guaranteed :)

On December 14, I joined my friends and went out for a caroling. My kids are still too young, so my dear sweet husband volunteered to stay home with kids. I had a good time singing along with good alto, tenor, and bass.

Did I mention I love this season? It's been busy, but full of fun and happy moments!

Dec 6, 2008

Martha Stewart moment

I have been often told that I am frugal, resourceful, or thrifty. I love those words. I take them as compliments. I guess I like the sound of "resourceful" the best. It sounds wise and smart and...I don't know, it just sounds nice. I love creating things without buying things.

Here is my little Martha Stewart moment (minus elaborate price tag) today - I made my real Evergreen Wreath for the first time.
Oh, I am so happy how it turned out!!!
Thanks to our local tree farm, I got extra branches for free on Monday when we went to pick our Christmas tree. A frame from a craft store was only $1.50. And I already had a ribbon.
And Ta-Da! Woo Hoo!
Ahem. Um, sorry, I was just excited...
Here is my creation

Here is after mess
The part Martha won't show.

A trip to a Santa House

We went to a Santa House last night. Here is M loving the view of all the toys in his house. The house was full of lights and toys. It was not so full and kids got to play with train set and a doll house while waiting for their turns. Both of them sat on Santa's lap without crying (Hooray! First year of no cry!) and enjoyed a visit with him. We even got souvenirs of coloring books and candies! I enjoyed it.

J is a bit concerned though that he didn't get to tell Santa what he wanted. As usual, J was being shy and didn't want to answer the question, "What do you want for Christmas?" Well, we'd better write a letter to Santa!

Ghost factory

A box of 100 count cookie cutters was probably one of the best purchases ever. They are quite entertaining. Not only they work for cookies, they also work for pancakes, sandwiches, and even playdough!

Here is J making "ghost factory" with home-made playdough* and a ghost shape cookie cutter (yes, it's still out in this season). I showed him how to make a face (i.e. 3 dots) with the back of plastic fork. He's got the idea! So, he made one after another. It kept him busy for a good hour. He was very proud and asked me to take a picture, and here it is! Good job, J!

*Playdough recipe

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
food coloring

Mix flour, salt and oil, and slowly add the water. Cook over medium heat, stirring until dough becomes stiff. Turn out onto wax paper and let cool. Knead the playdough with your hands until of proper consistency. Use as is, or divide into balls and add a few drops of food coloring. After use, place in a plastic bag and keep refrigerated.

Dec 1, 2008

Family night - trim a tree

As a family night tonight, we went to cut our Christmas tree at a local Christmas tree farm.

Here is J with our snowman-themed tree. The theme of snowmen started from my bridal shower. My sister-in-law's idea: each guest bring an ornament that reminded them of us. The result: a lot of snowmen. And I love them!

I love the smell of fresh-cut Christmas tree.
I love the smiles of all the snowmen on our tree.
I love everything about this season.

My husband knows this is my favorite season, and he does everything for me so that I can enjoy this season 100%.

He suggested to go get a Christmas tree today so that we can enjoy the tree for a month.
He put Christmas music on. We sang. We danced.
He held the tree up, so I can decide what angle I like the most.
He walked around the tree right next to me holding a bundle of lights, so I can place them where I want.
He helped me get ornaments out of boxes, so I can decorate them.
He took care of kids tonight all by himself, so I can enjoy decorating the house.
He did everything else for me so that I was able to enjoy the process of decorating our house with Christmas decoration.
Is this selfish of me? Or selfless of him! What a guy!
Thank you, honey! I really enjoyed it!

Turkey Dinner

We had such a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. (I couldn't fit all of them on one plate)

- Oven roasted turkey, AND Deep fried turkey - my brother-in-law tried it and it was delicious!
- Stuffing/dressing - my mother-in-law makes it really tasty
- Mashed potatoes and gravy - best gravy on the creamiest mashed potatoes.
- Cranberry sauce - It was chunky and tart, just the way I like it.
- Corn pudding - I made it and it was a hit!
- Candied Yam - not a canned kind, a real sweet potatoes! One SIL did an awesome job.
- Squash - my first try on squash. The key is a LOT of butter....Mmmm.
- Green Bean Casserole - another SIL (BTW, I have many SILs) makes the best green bean casserole. I can probably eat them more often than just holiday dinners...
- Dinner roll - another SIL's famous dinner rolls.
- Fruit salad - I believe my daughter M's main dish was this
- Pies - pumpkin pie, pecan pie, banana cream pie, cherry pie, Bob Andy pie, cream cheese somethin', etc...oh, I lost track! Which one did I have? A sampler plate - a little bit of everything!

I'm sure I'm missing some other dishes, but these are the main one. It was GOOOOOOOOD!
Yeah, I think I gained about 5 lb. from that meal :)

My lil' chef

On Thanksgiving morning, I gave my husband and J haircuts. To bribe J to get a haircut, I told him, I'd bake cookies if he let me cut his hair.

So, I decided to try a new recipe, sour cream sugar cookies - a recipe from my friend. Original one is called 1962 Betty Crocker Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Cookies, but she modified - 100% butter instead of part butter and part shortning, bake at 400 degree F, and frost the cookies instead of sprinkling sugar.

I started the process while he was getting a bath with his Daddy.
J came out of bath right when I started rolling the cookie dough, of course. (You notice here that he just got a bath!)
Usually, he would play with the cookie dough, making construction site or building a fort...

But this time he really baked his cookies - he rolled, cut out, placed on a cookie sheet, sprinkled sugars, and baked in his small oven, a toaster-oven!

It's a serious business!
My little chef J

I had only red sprinkle sugar, and they almost look like for valentine's or Christmas or some other holiday, but hey, he did a good job. The right bottom corner one is an up-side-down turkey shaped cookie.

He baked them just for his cousins. He didn't want to eat them. He wanted to take them to the Thanksgiving dinner at his Papa and Grandma's to share with them. Isn't that sweet?

And you know he said?
"I'm not eating them (red cookies). They are for my cousins. No one eat them before we go there, okay? But I can eat Mommy's cookies!"

Yes, he ate the cookies I baked, not his. His cousins loved them. J was very proud.

Nov 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Left is J's and right is M's

I stole this idea from my friend's fridge - she had her kids' posted on the refrigerator door.
These turkeys are made out of kids' hands and feet (do you see foot prints being upside down?). Instead of using paint, I traced their hands and feet on color papers, cut, and glued.

My sister-in-laws have walls of kids' art gallery, and they decorate them with accumulated kids' crafts each season - Thanks giving, Christmas, name it. Those fun stuff show up every year - wall full of pumpkins, turkeys, Santa, etc. You can see the growth of kids as you see changes in detail of the drawings. Some has gotten very sophisticated, like drawings with some computer program (I'm not sure if I can do that). I have always admired that and have been waiting for the "till kids are old enough" moment. But, those turkeys on my friend's fridge reminded me that kids don't have to be in school to make special decorations for the season (I'm sure we'll get a lot more once they start school ). That moment is NOW.

J was not sure why I wanted to trace his hand and foot, but his eyes got so bright when he saw those of his turned to be a turkey! He was so proud of it. And he is so proud of the turkeys being posted on the wall in our dining room. I found a spot for our kids gallery!

I remember growing up, there was a small section of living room wall where it was covered with all kinds of drawings and calligraphy of mine. I don't know who started it, but I remember I was proud of "my gallery", as if those drawings and calligraphy are saying "Look at me!"

There are drawings from when I was only 2 1/2 year old (she even dated! Thanks, Mom!) that my mom kept for me. I am so grateful that she kept them for me. Now they are in frames (pictures of my brothers, and I know which one is who!) and put up in M's room as decorations. And I cherish them.

Maybe that's how J sees his turkeys on our dining room wall.

Nov 23, 2008

Oh, Deer!

According to some website:
estimated population in state of Michigan in 2006: 10,095,643
estimated deer population in state of Michigan: 1,702,000 deer

Now, that's a lot of deer, isn't it? Human to deer, almost 5 to 1 ratio. (Am I doing the math right?)

Where we live, I believe, we have more deer than human being.
And here we are having deer season.
So my hubby has been going hunting to provide meat for our family.
(Ahem, he hasn't got one yet, Ahem.)

One of his co-workers was generous enough to share a deer with us last week.
Oh, no, not just a block of meat.
A DEER. The whole thing.
As a Innocent, naive girl (ahem, it's me, in case you wonder), I couldn't watch the butchering part of it.
So my sweet dear husband did that part of it, in a cold cold weather.
All I saw was really just blocks of meat in a large bowl. Nice lean meat.
No bones, no hairs, no fats. Clean red meat.

We cut them into roast, steak, cubes for later use.
Most of them went to freezer, but we also canned some of them.
We even made hamburgers - ground deer meat. I love making spaghetti sauce and chili with it.
Here is the pic.
It was fun watching how meat being ground. As you notice, my husband is the one grinding it.
Isn't that cool?
Thanks to my friends for letting me use their equipments. We will be eating well this winter!

There ain't nothin' wrong with my man bein' in the kitchen!

I like when my husband does dishes for me.
I love when he makes pancake breakfast for us.
I LOVE when he cooks dinner when I'm really tired.
But isn't it FANTASTIC that he baked cookies?
Chocolate chip cookies to be specific.
They were the best chocolate chip cookies ever!
I mean, THE BEST!!
(Sorry, I can only share the picture with you.)

On the top of it, he served me the nice, warm, freshly-baked cookies with a glass of milk, while I was curled up in the couch with a book. Mmmm!

It was so nice.

I love you, honey!

My new alarm clock!?

I am a lucky mom. I get to sleep till at least 7 am or 7:30 am. Both of our kids sleep through the night, and sometimes they let me sleep in. One of the benefits of being stay-at-home mom, well, at least for me, it came as part of the package :)

But here is my new alarm clock.

Mama!!! Mama!!!
MA-MA!!! MA-MA!!!
(blue is J's voice and pink is M's voice, in case you wonder)

Oh no, they are not in the same room. J is downstairs and M is in her crib upstairs in her room.
But they manage to do such a beautiful job!
Just like those fancy alarm clocks, it gets louder and louder....

The only thing I wish this new alarm clock had is a snooze button....well, I guess that's not the case here.

Oh, they love me so much.

Nov 15, 2008

Chocolate chip for breakfast!?

Yesterday morning, J and I had a small "discussion" over breakfast.

J: "Mama, I'm hungry."
Me: "What would like for breakfast?"
J: "Chocolate chips!"
Me: "Uh, no. That's not a breakfast item." (though I may have had chocolate chips for breakfast, personally, but as a mother I can't let my kids do such a thing...)
J: "But I want chocolate chips!!"
Me: "But I said NO! "
J: "How about cookies?" (of course with his cutest grin)
Me: "No. You may have cookies after breakfast, but you are not having cookies for breakfast! How about cereals?"
J: "No. I want you to make something."
Me: "Like what?"(Oh, dear. Here comes. I'm not even awake enough yet, and he wants me to make something....)
J: "Hamburger!"
Me: "Hamburger!? I'm not making hamburger for breakfast!" (Nor will I eat it!)
J: "Macaroni & cheese?"
Me: " about pancakes? That's a good breakfast."
J: "Pancakes? Hmmm...Okay! I can help you making pancake!"

So, we made pancakes for breakfast, together.
I measured, J mixed. I cracked eggs, and J "crushed" eggs using wrisk, with "Yah! Yah!" noise. Yap, he is a boy.
I started scooping the batter, then J said "I want to do it! I can do it!"
So, I let him do it...
Of course, batter, batter, everywhere....but he did pretty good.
J poured batter, and I flipped.
Oh, I can't wait for the time he will cook for us all by himself. That would be nice.

And he wanted to cut out pancakes with cookie cutters.
Choices of the day: car, train, and ghost
Why ghost? Guess when was the last time we made cut-out pancakes?
He ate 1 car, 1 ghost, and 1 train pancakes.
It was fun for both of us.

Nov 9, 2008

A for Autumn

I made this small purse for my niece, Autumn.

A for Autumn

The other side

Today was her birthday party. She liked the gift from us. That made me happy.

It was really fun making it. When I was making it, I was thinking of her carrying her favorite items in it - dolls, books, lip sticks, or whatever she likes to carry with her.

I love making gifts. I enjoy the process of making things thinking about the recipients. And when I think of them, I feel happy to know that they are in my life. It is like, my attention is focused to that person for that short period of time - it is a time for me to reflect my relationship with that person.

Now I know why Autumn's mom (my sister-in-law) not only made such a beautiful ring box for us when we got married, but also said "But I really enjoyed making it." I didn't quite understand what she meant back then, because that box looks like it took a long time for her to make (I'll post a picture later, maybe). But now I know. I like creating things, but I LOVE creating things for someone I love.

Happy Birthday, Autumn.

Indian Summer

We had a nice Indian Summer last week. It was nice and sunny, upper 70's (70 degree Fahrenheit). Just beautiful! (by the way, we had snow today....yap, we are in Michigan after all.)

Beautiful leaves on our front lawn. I love the color of our temporary front lawn "carpet."

Raking leaves in a T-shirt and boots!?
J was having fun burying her sister in the piles of leaves, and M just loved it!

J and a "giant" leaf, he said.

Yes, this back-to-T-shirts weather in November is very rare here in Michigan. But we sure enjoyed it for almost a week. It was a nice Indian Summer.

Later that day, kids enjoyed watching city workers gathering leaves with front loaders. It was cute to see kids lining up over couch, looking out the window, and exciting over what was going on in front of their eyes.

Tonight, we had some snow. Yes, it's November. After that nice surprise warm weather last week, I'm okay with that. And I feel charged up enough that I am ready to face our coming long winter.

J is looking forward to making snowmen and meeting with Santa at Santa house.

Umm...maybe after we eat turkey, then I'll think about it. How about that?

I like how he is always excited about the next coming season, instead of being sad about the past season no longer there. He sees changes and looks forward to more changes to come.
That's a good attitude that I can learn from him.

Nov 4, 2008

Tonight's menu: Japanese-style Hamburger Steak (chopped steak)

Tonight's dinner menu was:
- Japanese-style Hamburger Steak (or knows as chopped steak here in the U.S.)
- Baked potatoes (brushed with oil and salt before baking)
- Green salad (lettuce, baby spinach, radicchio, red pepper, and tomatoes)
- Mixed vegetables

It actually turned out to be more like a feast than just a regular dinner.

As I was making the Japanese-style Hamburger Steak, I was explaining to my friend how I make it. And then I remembered how I started making this Hamburger Steak, a long time ago...

I think I was in 2nd grade when I first read this book (picture above). I couldn't find a good translation of the title of the book, but if I try it would be like "Ms. Trouble's Hamburger Steak."

I don't remember the whole story, but I remember the impact of the story. I discovered this delicious popular item only available at restaurants can be actually cooked at home from scratch! I remember begging my mom to make it at home.
And she did. Well, she tried, just for me.

What a good mom.

She probably didn't feel comfortable making such a strange food without actual recipe with exact measurements. Because the book was not a cook book. It was a kids picture book. It was about how this Ms. Trouble tries to make stuff. You know, her name is "Ms. Trouble." It didn't occurred to me back then, but she probably didn't know how to cook that thing, otherwise she won't have such title, don't you think?
But because I begged my mom so bad, she tried and tried, with some tips that she learned from my friend's mom's experience. Bless her heart. And I remember making it with my mom.

It's a good memory.

Over the years, the recipe has evolved, to my own. Well, I don't even measure things, so I don't know if I can even call that as recipe. But here is how I make it. And this is one of my husband's favorite. J ate 1.5 serving tonight. It's THAT good. Try it, or I'll cook it for you, maybe. (I won't say it is healthy, because it probably isn't.)

2 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup Panko bread crumb
3 Tbsp milk
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp all spice
Dash of ground pepper

Saute chopped onion in a small pan with butter, let it cool. In a large bowl, moisten bread crumb with milk. Add the rest of ingredients and mix well (use your best cooking utensil - HAND!). Divide into 8, form flat oval shape, and slightly push down the middle part. Place on heated iron skillet to brown the both size, about 3 minutes each, then place the skillet in preheated oven. Bake at 350 F for about 10 minutes or till the juice is clear. Remove the hamburger steak to a platter. To make sauce, scrape the skillet and gather all the goodness left on the pan, add 1/4 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup TONKATSU sauce, and 2 Tbsp cooking wine. Stir well, cook for 5 minutes to let the alcohol evaporates.

Don't look at the amount of grease. Just enjoy it. It's really good.

Nov 2, 2008

Horton Hears a Who!

2 kids movie ticket: $0
2 Adult movie tickets: $5.00
A large popcorn bucket: $5.00
Watching a movie at a movie theater as family: priceless
(Yes, I know I have use this trick once, but I still wanted to use it. Sorry!)

Today, we went to watch a movie Horton Hears a Who! at a local theater (part of Dove Family Film Festival). We never go to theater to watch movies, but with this price, we couldn't resist. Plus, it was M's first time watching a movie at a theater.

It was really fun watching her giggling and clapping during the movie.
And she sat still the whole 88 minutes of it, half of it on my lap, with her favorite blanky.
I enjoyed the snuggling time with my daughter.
It was a good movie. I enjoyed the story.
It was such a fun family time.
Thanks to my husband for the suggestion.

It was a good Saturday.

Trick or Treat!

Happy Halloween!

We enjoyed trick-or-treating last night, and got A LOT of candies.
While kids were out with my husband this morning, I checked their trick-or-treating bags. You know, make sure they are no choking hazard type of candies and what not...

Here is a sketch of my mumbling during the sorting candies....

M&Ms, M&Ms, and more M&Ms....I can save them as stocking stuffer (how cheap!), can't I?

, that's my favorite. So this one is going to this pile right here (i.e. Mommy tax* pile)....

Ooh, a dressed in ghost sucker (wrap in a tissue)! That's cute idea....that is going to their candy jar....

Snickers, Smarties, Kit Kat.....I guess some of them can go to their candy jars....and some goes to mommy and daddy pile.....

Hard candies and bubble gums....they have to go to this pile so that kids won't eat...

Oh, good ol' spooky body parts shaped gummies and skeleton shape candies....yeeeew!! Well, J will probably enjoy them, so they'll go here.....

Mmmmm, Butterfinger and Almond Joy.....yeah, they have to go to Daddy tax* pile....

Okay, let's see....a candy wrapper!? Oh yeah, M was eating a big purple sucker the whole time we were trick-or-treating.....

Whoa! A ramen noodle??? Wow! Who would...!? I guess we live in a college town....

A real popcorn ball! Nice! I want to taste it!! We have to share this one....

Ooh, pumpkin shaped pretzels....I'll put this in the snack drawer....

A pencil, stickers, puzzles....nice non-sugary items....

2 pennies....

A DOLLAR BILL??? Score! Um, I mean, that will go to J's train-shaped piggy bank.........

I spent good 30 minutes doing this. It was quite entertaining.

*Mommy and Daddy tax:
Personally, I have never heard of such thing, but obviously it exists. What it is that after trick-or-treating, parents go through kids' bags to make sure there is nothing hazardous or if it's okay for kids to eat certain items, and then take Mommy and Daddy's share, about 10% of them (usually good kind of candies), according to our friend who is a professor in finance. If kids have multiple trick-or-treating occasions (such as at school or at a party), then they have to go to higher bracket or something...

For the time and effort of making costumes and bags, going to trick-or-treating in coordinated costumes, pulling kids in a wagon all over the town, and dealing with sugar-high-wired-kids later on....yeah, that sounds about right.

Oct 27, 2008

Girls' Time Out

Two of my friends and I went to a girls' time out trip to IKEA on Saturday.
It was a lot of FUN!
We talked, talked, and talked without any interuption.
Thanks to all of our husbands to make this possible.
It was a good 1 day vacation for Mommys.

By the way, one of my purchased items was well loved soon after I came home. It's a roll of drawing paper. I covered the entire dining table. We all sat around the table and drew for a good 1 hour. That was fun too!

Oct 24, 2008

Beauty and the Beast

"Mama! Look! M is a princess. Isn't she cute?", J called me.

He decorated M's hair with stickers.
And he made himself as a monster/beast/some kind of scary creature with "long nails."
I guess I'm glad that he didn't decorate himself as a princess...

Yes, they are the same kind of stickers, a 500 count roll of stickers from a dollar store (you can see in the bottom right corner).

But M is a princess and J is a monster.

Beauty and the Beast.

Oct 21, 2008

Halloween crafts

Leftover felt scrap from old craft project: $0
Daddy's old boy scout pants from his teenage years: $0
Trick-or-treating with one-and-only kind of bag: Priceless

One side (above) and the other side (below)

I'm afraid my sweet baby boy is turning to be a BOY. He wanted a spider, a ghost, and "bat mans" on his trick-or-treat bag, not those cutesy pumpkin or cat. But I'm not quite ready for spooky stuff yet...

Farmers Market

I love Farmers Market. Here in Michigan, it's almost the end of the season. But I just love to see all the fresh produce piled up. They are so beautiful without some artificial lighting. We enjoy every summer.

My kids love it too. Well, they have one favorite section - a honey stick vender (link is just a reference). They get to purchase their own honey stick with 2 dimes. Sour apple, raspberry, watermelon...they have so many flavors. J usually pick based on color.

So, J decided to have his own farmers market here.

Remember those beads seeds from the alst post? He put them into those tiny spots on Duplo truck. "Look! Farmers Market! This is how farmers carry cucumbers and tomatoes to the market."

I'm so happy to see my son learning how seeds grow to be vegetables, and knowing those vegetables come from farmers and gardens, not from store shelves in plastic bags.

Oct 18, 2008

What matters.

When kids are quiet for a long time, we wonder what they are up to, right?

While I was occupied in the kitchen canning more applesauce yesterday, my son J and his good friend A were playing very well. They were playing so well. No screaming. No crying. Playing well quietly.

"Hmm? What are they up to?"
I wondered.
This is what I saw.

And, this is what was going on.

A pair of scissors
a bunch of beads necklace from a parade.

"Mama! Look! I made seeds for my garden out of beads!"

Yes, they were cutting those beads into pieces....But, they were contained in a box. So, I was okay with that. Carrots, beans, peppers, egg plants and tomatoes, he told me. Just like our garden. They are just made of beads. But he is going to plant them and grow them, in his mind.

Because I have been in kitchen a lot this week, our house is full of toys. Toys, toys, everywhere. Toys on the floor. Toys on a couch. Toys on a dining table. And, toys on our bed.

When a friend of us showed up this morning to pick up my husband, I said "Sorry for our mess. Come in and have a seat, if you can find a spot." But he said, "Don't worry about the mess. It seems like kids are having fun."

Yes, our kids are having fun.
That's what matters.
Not a spotless house.
Yes, our kids are happy.
That's what matters.

I like a clean and organized house where I can feel calm and peace, but that comment really made me feel better and happier. And I became okay letting our house be full of toys, at least for the day.

Is my house picked up now? No. I am surrounded by toys (I'm on a couch with PBS on). Dining table is still full of dishes from lunch. But, I'm happy.

That's what matters.


Alternative Heating!?

Sugar Cookies for a Baby Shower

Halloween Cookies

Apple Pie


Apple Turnovers

Our house has been very warm this past week because of all the baking and canning that I have been doing.

Can I call it Alternative Heating!? Please?

Not only these things make our house warm, they make my heart really warm.
I like cooking, baking and canning, but I LOVE watching my family and friends enjoy eating them.

I don't even eat much of these cookies.
I just want to watch my family and friends enjoy eating them.
That's enough for me.
No, that is what I like about.
It's fun creating things, but it is so much more fun to see those happy yummy faces.
It's kind of addicting.
I want to see those happy yummy faces.
More and more.

My husband's "Mmmm!!!" is the best prize ever.

My kids' request for "More!" is the best compliment.

My mom is a good cook, a very good one.
She doesn't seem to mind spending many hours in kitchen cooking many delicious dishes because she enjoyed watching her family and friends enjoy eating what she creates.
Many times, I remember, she made things that she didn't even eat much of.

I used to think, "Why would she cook things that she won't even eat?"

Maybe I started to understand why.

Maybe it is genetic after all.

Thanks mom for giving me good cooking genes.

Oct 15, 2008

Before and After, and more...



Thanks to my friend Tami for sharing these beautiful apples. These beautiful apples came from an apple tree in her backyard. It was so sweet of her sharing these precious apples with us.

They are
so crispy and sweet, and just delicious.

I don't even know what kind of apples they are. But we are enjoying these apples.
And we will be enjoying these home-made applesauce this winter.

And these jars of applesauce will remind me of her

Oct 14, 2008


When was the last time you were able to enjoy your breakfast in one sitting?

Mine usually goes like,

"Mama! I don't want this."
"Mama! I want to watch Curious George."
"Juice! Uh! Uh! Juice!"(accompanied by baby-sign for "more")

So, I stand up, go get something, come back and sit down just long enough to take a bite, and stand up again, etc.

But, today it is a little different.

It is such a beautiful morning.
Sun is shining through our front picture windows.
Mild breeze moves colored leave gently.
Morning dew on leaves reflect the sunlight.
Our dog is sleeping by my feet.
Kids are nicely playing upstair in our daughter's room.
I was able to pray quietly as long as I wanted.
I enjoyed my breakfast toast while it was still warm and crispy.


So quiet.


That would the perfect word to discribe this moment.

Then, there goes,
"Mama! Look! Happy Birthday! I made a cake for you!"
I can hear my son calling me from upstair.

Today will be a good day.

Have a wonderful day.

Oct 7, 2008

Kids' Birthday

We celebrated our kids' birthday along with my father-in-law's last Sunday.

My son will soon turn 4 and my daughter 2. It was fun making these cakes. Yes, we had a lot of leftover cakes, but it was more for a show than than taste of it...

Three, Two, One, Blast off!!
JSA - Josh Space Agency!

My daughter LOVES rubber ducky.
She took a bite of jello and just played with her new PINK ducky.
This was the idea....

Looks close enough?

Oct 6, 2008

The "bestest" husband

I need to brag about my dear "the bestest" husband.

Last night, we came home late from our family birthday party (I'll post about kids' birthday later). I was tired. The house was a mess. And a tons more mess came home with us from the party.

While I was on the phone taking care of some personal business, my dear husband unpacked the car, unpacked bags and put stuff away, picked up all the toys on the floor, and swiffered the floor!

I felt SO LOVED!

Then, he offered me a back rub. With my favorite Stress Relief Eucalyptus Spearmint Aromatherapy Body Lotion from Bath & Body Work.

I haven't been relaxed that much in a long time. I felt SO GOOD!


He is the best husband, the best father, and my best friend.

Oct 4, 2008

Mama! Mama!! Mama!!!

Oh, my kids love me so much!

Today is Saturday and I was hoping for a bit of sleep in. It didn't happen.

"Mama! Mama!! Mama!!!" times two, by 7:30 am.

"Mama! I want chocolate milk!"
"Mama!! I want Cheerios!"
"Mama!!! I want to play outside!"

How do they get that much of energy that early!?

So, I decided to let them run around the house. We are staying at my sister-in-law's this weekend, and they have this perfect circle that kids can run around - from entrance to kitchen to dining room to back to entrance.

They were making laps. "1, 2, 3..." I think I counted till 10.
Then I gave up counting.
It was too early for me to count more than 10.

And there went my son J running around, and around, and around...

"Hi, Mama!"

"Aren't you tired?"


And then, more running around, and around, and around.....

In his Dalmatian Halloween outfit....

Sep 30, 2008

My own creation - Chocolate Chex Mix

I had a couple of box of Rice Chex given to us. I am personally not a big fun of as a cold cereal, nor my kids.

So, I tried to make a good use of these poor boxes of Chex.

I coated the plain rice chex with caramel (butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and a bit of water).

It was pretty tasty!

I mixed the caramel-flavored chex with alphabet-shape pretzels (yes, it's from the same bag that J discovered a fun with letter E), teddy graham crackers, and M&M's.

Kids ate M&M's first, of course... (Who won't pick them!?)

Then moved to teddies....

Maybe some pretzels...

But NO Mama's special caramel chex!

But, I didn't want to give up on those just plain Chex.

So, I tried a chocolate flavored one (butter, sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder and a bit of water)!

This time I mixed multi-grain cheerios trying to make it somewhat nutritious snack.

Doesn't it look good?

My DH ate almost half of the chocolate covered chex while it was on a wax paper to cool and dry.

I had a hope, I thought.


How many missing pieces in the second picture???

Sep 28, 2008

Where is Bertie???

"Mama, where is Bertie???", my beloved son J.

Mama: "I don't know, where did you leave?"

J: "I don't know. Will you find it for me?"

Mama: "If you don't know where you left, then how would I know???"

After a few distractions, he forgot about his little friend Bertie.

Later that day, my bedtime came. Since my kids messed up our bed with many pillows, toys, and miscellaneous items earlier the day, I was trying to make a space for me to actually sleep on.

Then, I hear "Kaboom!" on the hardwood floor, around 11:58 pm to be precise.
Of course kids and our dog were sound sleep.

Aha! I found his Bertie!

My DH in basement studying heard that loud noise.

DH: "What happened?"
He sounded worrysome.

Mama: "It was J's Bertie. He was looking for it and couldn't find it. It was in our bed."

Mama: "You know, it must be some genetic thing that you guys go,
'Mama, where is ####???'
all the time. "

DH: "Well... good night!"

Did I mention that I have 4 kids? A 4 year old boy, a 2 year old girl, a 5 year old dog, and a 30 year old boy (a.k.a. my DH).

They all make me laugh, smile, and happy.
(yes, I have my own share of those not-so-happy moments too, but I will not mention here.)

E for Entertaining

My almost-4-year-old son J was eating alphabet shape pretzels. He was very fascinated by the fact he can create many letters out of one letter E.

"Mama, look! See, when I eat this part....*crunch* becomes letter F!"

"Mama, now look! When I eat this part....*crunch* becomes letter L!"

"And then...okay, Mama, look! *crunch*...See, it becomes letter I!"

What a discover!!

Sep 23, 2008


If you have heard a Japanese kids cartoon character "ANPANMAN". Here is the picture of the real one.

ANPANMAN is a cartoon hero for Japanese kids (young ones). His head is made out of bread filled with sweet bean paste.

I couldn't find any better place than this in English to explain this yummy guy.

Kids love it not just the look of it, but also the taste too. It was fun making it.

Sep 21, 2008

My happiness Journal entry started from a gift from my dear friend for my birthday. Ever since, I try to find happy moments in my crazy life.

Things make me happy or smile will be posted here. They might be just small things, but big enough to help me look at positive sides of my life.

Hope it can make you happy or smile too.

Today's happy moments:

I read many books this summer for my kids and we earned many free coupons to our local ice cream shop. After dinner, we enjoyed our tasty local soft serve, the best one in town!