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.