Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fun things emailed to me

Ready for another riddle? This one was sent to me by the bf:

This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.

The following is not a riddle (or is it?) but rather an email I received yesterday:

Subject: buffet table skirting clips

Hi Becky:

How are you doing Becky? How is "the big day planning" going?  Have you and Larry settled on the food items yet?  We went visit your mom last Saturday and peeked at the linens, runners and table skirts she picked up.  I looked at the buffet table skirts and not sure how to set it up.  Come to find out we will need some Velcros table skirting clips.  I found them on Amazon, wanted to order but not sure the thickness of the table.  If you have that information with you, send it to me so I can order them.    Let me know if there are things else I can do to help.  We will take your mom to LA Flower District.  I need to get some more flowers to practice.  I will also get the floral foams to use with the arrangements. They'll make the flowers stay in place (I hope!) and hold the water in during transportation.  I plan to stop at the Chinese kitchen supply place in Monterrey Park to buy some tongs for the buffet.  If there are anything you need there, email me before Saturday, OK?   Say hi to Pat for me. 

Aunt Winnie.

It was such a fun read that I had to forward to a couple of friends whose names are mentioned in the letter, and now I'm sharing with you. Poor Aunt Winnie. I hope she realizes that her email got delivered to the wrong niece.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Project Facelift

Everyday I spend 10 minutes staring at the contents of my closet and wishing I had a new wardrobe. Then I pull out an unexciting to top to pair with an even more unexciting bottom and start my day. I really need to go on a good round of shopping (I'm guessing a week's worth will do).

On Sunday afternoon I spent 20 minutes rumaging through my closet looking for inspiration for a new look. Alas, I came up empty handed and cluttered room-ed. I ended up with a drab pairing of a black top with black jeans and realized I had finally had enough. After mass, I headed straight to my room and pulled out a few tops I had not touched in months. I selected a torquoise/teal blue shirt I hadn't worn since 2009 (yes, this should have been donated a long time ago but I have a hard time with letting things go) and decided to see what changes I can come up with to revamp the style.

With TT's help and after 3 hours of tedious trimming, styling, pinning, and hand sewing, I came up with this:

detail of "flowers"
The shirt is still one size too big but I won't be shoving it farther into the closet now that it has a new, more agreeable face. For Christmas I'd like a sewing machine that will thread itself please.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

L is for Love

On this past lazy Labor Day, after I had slept as much as my eyes desired, I decided to venture into our yard again (after a very long hiatus). My wanderings first took me to the mini orchard on the side of the house where there are now approximately 20 fruit trees. The lone avocado that was once the center of my orchard-world attention is now no more. It disappeared some time two months ago, about the same time I stopped fawning over the garden. In addition to the loss of avocado, there has been a gain of trees that bring the promise of good fruit one day. I'll report more on them next year.

After treading through the battle field of an orchard (gophers, snakes, and squirrels vs dad and trees), I ventured over to the vegetable patch (or what's left of it). Most of the plants are still alive but they're no longer lush and fruitful. Here's a look at what it used to be...
From 7/9:
Super hot chilies
cherry tomatoes

Thai Hot Chilies (not so hot)

I forgot we used to have cilantro
Opo squash vine
the actual fruit/vegetable
our harvest: green beans, heirloom tomatoes, opo squash
From 7/26, we have:
salix tortuosa, flourishing in plain tap water

Roma tomatoes (they're about half the size of store-bought ones but in my mind they taste better becuase they're my babies)
my onions!
g'bye beans

death of a garden

And finally, from 9/5:

planted down 3 branches of salix tortuosa!

I pulled a carrot out to see what it looks like. This is what it looks like...

The lucky carrot next to TT's finger. It's bent because apparently there's cardboard underneath the dirt to keep the animals from digging up. Mom didn't know this when she put the seeds down.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Everyday I'm Puzzling

I haven't come across a good puzzle lately and I had the sudden urge to flex my mind with one. Challenge me with a good one! In the mean time, I'll give you this:

A farmer challenges an engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician to fence off the largest amount of area using the least amount of fence.

The engineer made his fence in a circle and said it was the most efficient.

The physicist made a long line and said that the length was infinite. Then he said that fencing half of the Earth was the best.

The mathematician laughed at the others and with his design, beat the others. What did he do?

I'll give you some time to mull over this. First one to post the correct answer (or anything better than the correct answer by my standards) gets a virtual hi-five! Buena suerte

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Great Balls Of Fire

What an exhausting month it has been! Also, I don't recall ever seeing temperatures going up to 90 degrees in socal. Last night I dreamt that I had three exams the next day for classes I forgot I was taking. The heat must be getting to my head.

The heat is also taking a toll on the garden. That, and the fact that I have been a very bad farmer and neglecting to care for the plants. Pictures will be posted soon (but they aren't going to be pretty).

Speaking of pretty, check out my new banner! This was created for me by my beautiful and talented friend (info available upon request). She has been commissioned to create banners and fliers for printing and for online use by important people and groups in the community (yes, she's that good!).

On a different note, I feel mentally full from today's homily. The take-away message was to get lost and be depressed. So many of us go through life with a plan for every moment that our heart beats. However, most of our best adventures are those that we do not plan. When we find ourselves in situations that we didn't expect, we are forced to be creative and possibly learn something new in the process. When we are depressed or feel down-trodden, we reflect more deeply.  We (hopefully) tend to think about the meaning of our life and where it is headed. In the end, we come out with more knowledge and understanding of ourself. So friends, get lost and be depressed!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Chapstick-free fo LYFE yo

Tomorrow marks my 4th week mark of being chapstick-free. It has been a rough journey but I've gotten so used to not worrying about chapped lips that I can't tell when my lips are dry anymore. I must clarify, I have not been using chapstick but I still apply lip gloss about one time per day to prevent my lips from turning into this:
My life is forever changed. I have more time to brush my teeth in the morning and evenings; I will be saving $10/year on chapstick; my purse weighs one ounce less than it used to weigh; I no longer need to stuff my pocket with a chapstick when I don't feel like carrying my purse. Life is great!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Making Bitter Melon Soup

There has been a delay in publishing this post because I can't get blogger to upload some of the photos in the correct orientation. If anyone knows how I can rotate photos after adding them to the post, please help an amiga out, thanks! For now perhaps you can turn your eyeballs sideways to view...

You will need:
Fresh bitter melons (as many as you can handle)
Ground chicken (about 2 lbs)
Clear glass noodles (the mini packages...sorry I forgot to take a picture)
Scallions (~4 leaves chopped finely and 3 leaves cut in 2-inch pieces)
Fish sauce (just get a whole bottle if you don't already have some, you'll like it)
Chicken Bouillon (again, we have the Costco-sized container)
Salt, Ground black pepper, Sugar (to taste)

1. Start with some fresh bitter melons. Although there are only 3 in this image, I ended up using 5:
I've only seen bitter melon at Asian markets...not too hard to find right?

Cut them into 2.5-3 inch sections:
2. Set the sections aside because I forgot to mention you should soak the glass noodles in water at the beginning of the prep process:
This image is oriented correctly on my computer but it's sideways here and I don't know how to fix it :(
3. Once the noodles are happily soaking in the (tap) water, you can turn your attention back to the melon sections. Remove the insides. I used a small paring knife to separate the squishy, spongy insides from the firm, crisp outer layer. It would be beneficial to keep the sections of bitter melon whole because you'll need to stuff it later:
WASH ME after this point!
4. Next, pull out the pre-made chicken stuffing from the fridge. If your stuffing hasn't been pre-made by your mom, you can make your own stuffing by mixing the ground chicken with the finely chopped scallions, ground black pepper, and some salt. I'm not sure how much of each ingredient but I imagine no more than 1 tsp each (of salt and pepper) would suffice. Hopefully it looks something like this at the end:

Add the glass noodles (cut in 1-2 inch pieces...scissors are easiest) to the ground chicken mixture:

And mix thoroughly:
Feel free to use your clean hands to mix..It's easier to incorporate the noodles evenly with your fingers than with a spoon or fork.
5. Add enough water to fill half a large pot (or 3/4 a medium pot) and set on high heat. Don't go tend to your garden for this recipe. The next step will keep you busy so the water will boil in no time.
Water in a pot
6. It is now time to stuff the melons! I prefer to use a spoon for this step. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a picture of the spoon stuffing technique because I haven't learned how to take pictures with my toes yet. Add enough stuffing so the chicken hangs out of the melon like so:
I like to overstuff the melon because the stuffing usually tastes better than the melon

7. Once water begins to boil, carefully drop the stuffed bitter melon into the pot:

8. Add about 2 table spoons of chicken flavored bouillon into the pot. You can add less than this if you use chicken broth for your soup base instead of water.

Once the soup is back at a healthy boil again, you can taste-test the broth. Add fish sauce, sugar, and additional chicken bouillon or salt to taste. Keep on medium heat for 15 minutes or until the chicken looks cooked.

Drop the rest of the scallions into the soup once the melon has turned an olive green color and take pot off the heat.

Garnish with ground black pepper and enjoy! I would have liked to add cilantro to this as well but I forgot about it for this batch.