Friday, March 29, 2013

Needle felting

Hello everyone,

A very happy Friday (and weekend) to you!  To everyone celebrating, I just wanted to wish you a Happy Good Friday, and Happy Easter weekend. 

I've missed blogging, so I decided to do a quick entry before we head off into the weekend.

Anyways, the one thing I love about needle felting is the flexibility to make changes. Through trial and error, I've picked up a lot of techniques that have made the process of creating these little guys a lot easier.  I've also found that using thinner needles really help when you're adding fine detail to your dolls.  Recently, I decided to give my matryoshka doll a well needed face lift (hahah).  I gave her some sparkle in her eye and some well needed color in her cheeks.  The red lips also make for a warm smile =p  I think her new face looks wayyyy cuter than before! What do you think?   I also made a little friend for her as well.  ^_^

Anyways, I'm off clam digging tomorrow!  Wish me luck.  I'll show you guys my "clam haul" Monday.   How are all of you going to spend your weekend?

Take care,

<3 Janet

Matryoshka doll before surgery
Matryoshka doll post surgery

Thursday, March 28, 2013

What's for dinner?

Hey everyone,

Sorry for the lack of posts! I am working on a major project that I hope to launch some time in April.  It has to do with my needle felting and Etsy.  So who knows what will happen, but I'll be sure to keep you guys posted :)

Anyways, I thought it was due time for a new post, so this one will be a "what's for dinner" post =p.  The weather in Washington was beautiful today! I was wearing my jacket and it was definitely too warm for it.  I even had to open up the window because the room was getting a little stuffy.  It was nice seeing the sun and hearing birds chirping outside our window.  The sounds of nature are so wonderful.  Anyways, originally we were going to go out for dinner, but I decided to go out to Trader Joe's and see what I could find for dinner.

Lucky for me I found some things and made tonight's dinner.  I made sweet and sour drumsticks as well as sauteed asparagus with garlic.  The asparagus looked so fresh at the store, I had to grab a bundle!

For the chicken dish, I followed the ingredients for this recipe and made some modifications based on the comments.  The following are some modifications I made if you're interested :)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • Used rice vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
  • Omitted egg, flour and water
On medium heat, I added oil and garlic and pan fried my chicken.  I waited until the outside looked cooked and then added the sauce.  The sauce will start to bubble, so keep an eye on it.  Once the chicken looks about 80% cooked and the sauce thickens, turn down the heat (around the 15 minute mark).  I then transferred the drumsticks onto a baking sheet, added some sauce from the pot and broiled on low for about 10-15 minutes.  Use a thermometer to check when the chicken is fully cooked.  Also keep an eye out as they burn easily!  They came out really well, and this is definitely a keeper! So yummy =)  Try it out if you LOVEE sweet and sour anything at Chinese restaurants!  What did you have for dinner tonight? :)

Take care,

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Food Post: Brownie Adventure

A big hello to old and new readers of this blog!!!

Another food post here, this time about our 10 pm brownie baking adventure.  Yes you read that correctly, Mr C baked some brownies at 10 pm! Behind his reserved and serious personality lies a person who is spontaneous and has a huge appetite for brownies.  =p 

Anyways, we wanted to make healthy brownies so we opted for a recipe that called for applesauce.  We didn't have applesauce so after some Google searches we decided to subsitute greek yogurt for the apple sauce.  It astonishes me how it's possible to use ingredients such as zucchini, beans and applesauce for baked goods, much healthier than butter right?

Anyways, we used 1/2 a cup of sugar, flour, cocoa, yogurt, 2 eggs, a dash of baking powder and chocolate chips.  Easy isn't it? It came out pretty well as you can see from the pictures below.  Not too sweet, and kind of gooey because of the added chocolate chips.  Surprisingly, it came out well without any added oil/butter.  Give it a try if you love brownies! A great late night snack.  Yummo.

On a side note, I'm experimenting with making faces for my next needle felting project so stay tuned. 

Take care,


Monday, March 18, 2013

Food Post: Robot Hello Kitty Fondant Cake

Hi hi hi,

Hope everyone had an amazing weekend.  This weekend we tried two new restaurants and even had the chance to explore Gas Works Park (2101 N Northlake Way, 98103) as well as Woodland Park (1000 N 50th St, 98103)! I'll blog about them once I steal the pictures off Mr C's phone!  I'm totally a city girl, but I must admit that I've grown to love the outdoor activities that Washington State has to offer.  The green space here is amazing!

Anyways, on the weekend we had the chance to make a cake.  We tried our hand at making a fondant cake.  Originally I had asked Mr C to make me a rainbow layered cake and then a purple gradient cake.  I had seen a talented friend's rainbow cake on Facebook, and since then I have dreamed about my very own colorful cake.  This of coarse gave Mr C a minor headache as I think he spent a few days thinking about how to proceed with this request.  After much discussion, we agreed to a two layer mini cake that was just purple.  I need to work on those negotiation skills.   

On day 1, Mr C made the sheet cake with a recipe from Magnolia bakeries.  We used coloring gel to give the cake a lavender color.  We didn't have a formula to follow so we just kept adding a few drops of blue and red.  In the end we just settled for a purple-grey color.  I was responsible for making the marshmallow fondant.  I was introduced to this last year from a good friend of mine.  I remember she told me about making your own fondant with marshmallow!  Ingenious, who knew fondant could be made out of marshmallows?! This stuff is addictive and I kept eating during the evening.  I followed a youtube video online (msg me if you're interested).  It was pretty easy to do, just marshmallows, water and a lot of powdered sugar.  However, I am warning you that this stuff is really sticky.  Make sure to grease your hand because my hand became a giant marshmallow glove.  Urgh.  I was determined to make it work and I did it.  I just added more powdered sugar and kept kneading it.  I told Mr C I would make it work because I couldn't mess up the only job I was given! 

On day 2 the cake was ready, but my fondant was stuck to the plastic wrap (urgh).  It was so bad we thought it couldn't be recovered, but it was okay... lol.  I just kept adding powdered sugar.  After rolling out the white fondant we covered the cake with the fondant and proceeded to cut off any leftover pieces.  The white fondant was too plain for me so I decided to transform our cake into a robot hello kitty.

Anyways after all those ups and downs this is the end result.  My Hello Kitty fondant cake.    Ta-da.  I hope all you hardcore bakers are proud of me and Mr C.  It tasted so good... YUMMO.   

Friday, March 15, 2013

Homemade Pizza.. nom nom nom

Hey everyone,

Yay for Friday! I just wanted to make a post about last night's dinner! I've been craving pizza for quite sometime now, so I finally asked Mr C to make some pizza dough for me.  If you have a chance, make your own pizza next time :).  It's so much healthier than getting it at a restaurant and you can add whatever toppings you want.  It smells so good in the oven and tastes great the next day.  Even though it takes some time it is well worth it.  Occasionally, we make pizza dough and keep it in the fridge for next day use.  We've also tried freezing it and that works just as well.  Just remember to thaw it well in advance. 

I decided to make a tomato, mozzarella pizza with pesto sauce.  We use store bought sauce and we like to stock pile tomato sauce because you never know when you'll need it.  Mr C followed this pizza dough recipe, if you are interested.  My pizza became rather fluffy, but that's probably because I didn't take the time to roll it out into a flat sheet.  I used my hand to flatten it out on the tray.  Next time I might try using a rolling pin to see if it makes a difference.  Anyways, spread out your dough, slather on the sauce and top the pizza with whatever you like.  Ever since I tried fresh basil from my mother in law, I've been hooked.  I added a few pieces of basil leaves on the pizza too... mmm mmm good! I've also read that you should brush oil on the crust, however I skipped this step since the pesto sauce already had a lot of oil in it.  I like to broil my pizza on low and once the toppings start to bubble, I bake it at 350 degrees for a maybe 8-10 minutes to ensure the inside is baked.  Make sure you keep an eye out because you don't want to burn your pizza!

The end product was so delicious! Try it next time!

Have a great weekend!
<3 Janet

Getting ready to make the pizza

All ready to be baked
The complete product -- so good you'll be asking for seconds!

A look inside the crust.  Very fluffy and soft.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Needle Felting: Mr C and baby turtle

Hey everyone,

How's your week been so far? Just a quick post about two recent needle felting projects.

 I've been trying really hard to come up with something original and cute.  I decided one day to needle felt Mr C.  lol, why not? I think he's pretty original...definitely never been done before in the needle felting world?  Here he is!  The picture was taken last year at the first Starbucks in Pike's Place.  For those of you who know Mr C, don't you think it looks like him? :P He objected to the glasses at first since he said they made him look old, but I think they add a bit of character. 

Today I also made a miniature turtle! He was definitely really fun to make and rather cute.  He fits in the palm of my hand.  What do you think I should do with this little guy? Keychain or magnet? I was thinking it would look great as a magnet on our fridge.  It could even become a bookmark too.  Let me know by commenting below, I'd love to hear your thoughts.  :D

Take care and have a great week! <3 Janet


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Birchbox March 2013 Reveal

Hey everyone,

I hope you're doing great and enjoying this wonderful month! :D Before you read any further I warn you this will be a make up post.  I'll be talking about my March Birchbox so if you're interested please read further if not I promise I'll have an interesting post in the near future.  Anyways, you have been warned, lol.  For those who are curious, please stay tuned.

I'm so happy that my March Birchbox just came in the mail.  I think these beauty boxes are the best things in the world! Why? Because 1) you can try new brands 2) it comes every month through the mail 3) it's so well packaged.  I've been tracking this package since it shipped Friday... yes I know, I'm a little sad. hahah, or a little obsessive.  I'm not sure which, maybe a bit of both.  Once the box has shipped you can actually view what you got in your box online.  The box is suppose to be tailored to your beauty profile.  I'm not sure how much they follow it as I've gotten 3 hair products in a row (mousse, hair spray, hair oil)... even though I'm sure I said I was more into face care.  Oh well, no complaints since I've been getting pretty large samples :)  Mr C once suggested I wait so it would be a surprise.  haha, yeah right :P, I peeked a bit. Actually I squinted as I opened up my Birchbox page so I didn't know what I was getting exactly.  Anyways, enough talk, let's look at pictures.  

Outer cardboard shell that covers the box

This is what the package usually looks like.  They include a nice little card that introduces the product and the cost at full size.

This is the actual box.  I love the kraft box.  I'm a sucker for pretty packaging.
March samples before I savaged the box. 

From left to right
1) Oscar Blandi Hair life mousse: designed to inflate your limp sad locks.
2) Whish Shave Crave Shavin cream in blueberry scent: allows for a foam free shave
3) Make Eyeshadow in Great Lakes: pretty much a blue eyeshadow in a tiny cute case
4)Make Face Primer: designed to increase your makeup's endurance
5) Madewell Emery Board: very cute floral pattern

Overall the March box wasn't too bad.  I can't wait to try the eyeshadow and even the mousse.  I was really hoping to get another BB cream sample though!  I'm happy about the larger samples and new brands. I like the blue eyeshadow since it can act as an eye liner. Birchbox hasn't really disappointed me as the excitement of trying new things definitely keep me coming back.  Do any of you subscribe to other beauty boxes? 

If you're from the States and interested in subscribing monthly to Birchbox ($10 a month), please hit the link.  I even get referral point if you do :D.  Thanks.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Weekend Activities: Clam Digging

Hey everyone,

Happy Monday! How's everyone doing?  I hope everyone is adjusting to the daylight savings time.   I'm already loving the idea of sun in the evening.  The weather in Washington is awesome! It pretty much feels like spring here.  I can't wait until summer because that means we can start to hike.  I can finally see if my jog-walking on a steep incline has made any difference to my endurance.  We want to try to climb mail box peak in North Bend.  I'm more afraid of heights then the actual workout...eeek. 

This weekend, we went clam digging...razor clam digging to be exact.  It was really fun, and I was pretty excited to be able to do it in my first year of being here.  Clam digging officially began on March 7th and will last for a few a days.  The tentative dates for the next dig will be at the end of March.  Digging times correlate with the toxin levels released by the native algae as well as low tides . 

We headed out to Aberdeen in the afternoon and arrived at the beach at around 2 pm.  At first we didn't notice any diggers and parked pretty far away from the beach.  Having arrived at the beach we then realized everyone was parked on the beach itself.  We thought this was kind of strange, but by the end of the day we realized why people parked at the beach! With all the equipment and bucket of clams, you don't really want to walk too far away.  Plus after a day of digging, or in my case carrying the backpack and clams you're drained.  Anyways, at the beach we kind of walked around and experimented with digging.  Basically you're suppose to look for tiny blow holes in the sand and start to dig.  Let me tell you that it is pretty challenging spotting tiny holes in the wet sand with the sun reflecting off the water.  There are 2 ways to dig clams.  You could use shovel or a clam gun which is a hollow tube with a plunger top.  It basically sucks up the column of sand as well as the clam. 

Mr C was really good at spotting these holes, and by the end of the day we could differentiate the holes belonging to a big or small clam.  You want to pick wisely as you have to keep the first 15 clams you catch.  There are park rangers around so you want to follow the rules as over fishing etc can lead to hefty fines.  At around 3-3:30 pm, the area was packed with diggers! It was amazing because along the stretch of the shore all you saw were people packed together.  3 pm was also when the tide was low and we soon discovered that more and more blow holes could be seen.  It was much easier to catch something around this time! It was amazing because these clams sort of cluster around one area.  As soon as you were digging up one clam, another blow hole could be seen behind or in front of you! It was so exciting digging them and seeing if you caught a big clam!  Watching them trying to run away while squirting water is also a sight to see.  Be warned that it is pretty messy so wear rain boots as well as rainproof pants and jackets.  We weren't really well prepared so most of the time we were running away from the waves.

Overall it was an amazing day! I would definitely recommend checking it out.  If you're a city person like me, the first clam you catch will be a "WOW!!!" moment.  Anyways, after a long day we got home and realized we didn't know how to gut and clean these little suckers ;P Don't worry we figured it out with YouTube.  Let me tell you they tasted so good.  This was our first time that we caught our own food.  Yummy. 

See ya!


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Needle Felting: Pink Bear

Hey everyone,

Hang in there, two more days until the weekend.  I just finished another needle felting project and I wanted to share.  I've been playing around with thicker wool and using it as a core for my stuffed animals.  It works really well and I just shape it into whatever I want.  After shaping, I just cover it with colored wool.  It's pretty fun and the core wool helps me make larger animals, something that is hard to do with colored wool only. 

In celebration of March I decided to make this little bear for myself (hahah). Originally I wanted to make a rabbit, but I thought bear ears looked better.  I think she came out really well.  Kind of reminds me of an ewok.  I think I might add a bow later on but we'll see :).  I took a friend's advice and made the white part of the eyes smaller (Thanks StephanieE)! It worked well and she doesn't look like a zombie.  hahaha.         

Anyways, I was doing some research about selling things on etsy and I realized there are a lot of legal implications about selling things online.  If something looks like a toy (even if you don't intend it to be), it has to meet all the safety requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  This includes the use of non toxic material and safety eyes etc.  As I look through all the etsy listings, I'm curious if these sellers realize these legal implications.  It is kind of scary isn't it?  Sometimes I feel the lines between personal responsibility and blaming the creator are too blurry.  What do you guys think?    

Talk to you guys soon!


Pink Bear, taking in all the sunshine she can get

Pink bear chilling with her family

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Felt Organization & last night's dinner

Hey everyone,

We are finally mid way through the week.  Hope everyone has been having a productive week so far.
As many of you know, I've recently picked up the needle felting bug.  Last night after dinner, it suddenly dawned on me that I'm really passionate about it and I want to learn as much as possible.  I remember a year ago, Mr C suggested that I find a hobby, and I was so insulted.  I guess I was insulted because he was right.  At that point in my life I didn't really have a hobby or interest in anything (sad I know).  Life comprised of going to work, eating and going out on the weekends.  Fast forward to the present time, and I can honestly say I love needle felting.  Last night I was happy to tell Mr C that I have a hobby now, and I think he was very happy.  I've gone back into craft mode which includes drawing, photography and sewing (something I've always wanted to do, but never did).  
Anyways, crafting requires a lot of supplies, and I'm surprised at all the stuff I've collected.  I've just been dumping everything into a bag so today I finally decided to clean it up.  Being organized is an important part of being functional.  I made mini dividers with old cereal boxes and just reused old craft boxes to store my wool.  I'm glad because now the colors won't get mixed up with each other.  I also found a clear box to store everything all together.  Not only is it organized, everything is now easily accessible and clean up will be a breeze.  How do you guys keep your craft items organized?   

Not functional at all.

Easy clean up!
Last night, I cooked up a new dish.  I was running late, and I needed to cook something quick.  I had ground beef and tofu in the fridge.  Thinking hard, the light bulb went off in my head and I knew I could cook "ma po tofu" (  This dish is kind of like a stew with tofu, beef and a lot of spices.  I can't eat spicy so I just skipped the chilli flakes and chilli bean paste.  I think it came out pretty well.   I used Chinese rice wine, some sugar, oyster sauce and soy sauce.  I useful tip I found was to boil the tofu prior to pan frying.  It helped make the tofu silkier in texture.  It was yummy :D  Have you guys made any interesting dishes lately?

Take care!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Needle Felting

Hey everyone,

Just a quick update on some new needle felting creations.  I've been practicing real hard and trying out new things.  On Friday, I made a bunny rabbit and recreated a similar one Monday.  I love needle felting, however the one issue I have is reproducibility.  I find it really hard to recreate the same creature.  It has everything to do with how much material you use, how lightly you squish the wool, and also how many times you felt it with the needle.  Every creature is unique, which is fun and frustrating! 

What do you think of the rabbits? I love their chubby little cheeks.  Today I also made a matryoshka doll (Russian nesting doll).  I have wonderful memories of these little dolls from when I was a child.  One of my favorite things to do in Toronto was to go to the CNE (a local exhibition).  While there I used to go to the Russian booth with my aunt just to look at these beautiful wooden dolls.  I've finally recreated one.  

Hope you enjoy these pictures and post! Thanks for supporting this blog.  I really appreciate it and it makes me happy to know people are (hopefully?) enjoying my posts.  Leave a comment and let me know what you enjoy reading the most (food, crafts?). 

Take care! 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Needle felted baby bird + dinner

Hello everyone,

Hurray for Friday! Just a quick post before we head out into the weekend.  I wanted to share with you last night's dinner as well as today's needle felted project!

Last night I made a steamed chicken patty with shiitake mushrooms topped with dried scallop.  I've made this before, but I think I've definitely upped my technique.  Also a flat steel plate and a rack definitely helped this time around (Thank you Vancouver)!  This is a pretty popular family dish.  I grew up eating this and never really appreciated it until now! I made some mods though!  It's typically made with ground pork, but I decided to use chicken breast instead.  Remember to chop the meat up well (don't use big chunks like what I did last time), some mushrooms, corn starch, and some soy sauce.  Mix it up and steam for 15-20 minutes and you're good to go! So delicious and healthy too.  This always makes me feel like a kid again.  

Today I was feeling rather ambitious so I decided to make a full figured animal.  You know I typically like to make felted animal heads, but this time around I wanted to try something different.  This is the end result! A baby bird.  He's so cute, but I think his eyes look kind of hollow.  hahah, what do you think? Any suggestions on how I can improve his look?

Have a great weekend!