Friday, January 29, 2010

The Piano

I posted an introduction of this movie, The Piano, on my Chinese blog and  received an overwhelming number of  views on that particular post.  It seems a lot of my visitors love the music.  I decided to post it here as well so that all of you can enjoy the beautiful music and scenery of the movie.  Maybe a lot of you have already seen this movie.  The movie is about a muted married woman who fell in love with her neighbor, and the piano meant everything to her.  It's a great movie but not suitable for those under the age of 18.  For movie details please read here:

 Clip from the movie:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thai Baked Shrimp Noodle

My friend loves to cook and she invited us to her house for lunch a couple days ago.  I was very happy to see that she had made my favorite dish.  This dish was flavored with pepper and onion.  She said this was from a recipe she found from a cook book.

Baked Shrimp Noodle


Fish sauce
Oyster sauce
Vermicelli Noodle, soak in cold water until soft
3 tbsp Wiskey or cooking wine


1. Heat pan with oil, stir fry onion until fragrant.
2. Add shrimp and stir fry until cooked.
3. Drained the noodle and put them in an oven baked pot.
4  Pour cooked ingredients on top of noodle.
5. Add wiskey, oyster sauce and wiskey wine and mix well.
6. Bake noodle at 350 degree for 20 minutes.


A little history of how I became a fan of Jambalaya first. I had a chance to visit New Orleans few years ago and loved it there. That was the first time I went to the South.  I took a couple of tours to see the plantations and houses there. As the tour guide explained how the life was back then.  It reminded me of some of the scenes from the movie "Gone with the Wind".  I could see and feel that era as I walked through the old houses. The kitchen, the rooms, the beds were just what I saw in the movie.

I was also able to enjoy different styles of the popular jazz musics there.  Both traditional and contemporary live jazz musics can be heard everywhere while dining at the restaurants on Bourbon Street and dinner cruise ship.  I experienced the mini Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street. I saw and crossed the famous Mississippi River which I had heard about it since I was a little kid.  The South is just very different from the West coast where I live, and that was an unforgettable trip for me.

The food I tried at the restaurants were the famous Creole and Cajun.  They are just excellent but honestly expensive to eat everyday. The restaurant owned by Emeril Lagasse was located in the French Quarter.  Unfortunately we arrived late afternoon from the airport and the earliest reservation we could get was 10:00pm. However, I was able to try some of the famous food from the South, like seafood gumbo, crocodile soup, crawfish etouffee, rice pudding,etc. The Jambalaya was also one of the dishes I tried there.  I love the food from the South very much that I even got a couple of recipe books from the local shops. 

I have a habit of trying to mimic the food I ate from traveling and learned to cook it  for my kids.  That's the way I introduced new food to my kids.  We all love to eat Jambalaya so much that whenever we go to Elephant Bar, that's a must order item from the menu. I started to look for the Jambalaya recipe online.  This recipe is from one of Rachel Ray's cooking show. It is so delicious that it has become my daughter's "must post recipe" onto the blog.   If you love Jambalaya, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed with this recipe.


1 Tbsp cooking oil
1 Tbsp Butter
1 lb. Chicken,cut to pieces
3/4 lb. Sausage,diced
1 Medium onion, diced
2 Ribs Celery,diced
1 Bell Pepper,diced
1 Bay leaf, diced
Hot Sauce
2 to 3 Tbsp All purpose flour
1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes in juice
1 can (14 oz.) Chicken Broth
1 tsp Cumin
1 round tsp. Dried Chili powder
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 lb. Medium Shrimps
2 Cups rice, cooked

Optional ingredients:
Salt and Pepper
Chopped Scallions, for garnish
Fresh Thyme, chopped


1. Heat the pan with oil, add butter and chicken, saute for 3 minutes.
2. Add the diced sausage and saute for 2 minutes.
3. Add onion,celery, bell pepper,bay leaf and hot sauce, saute another 5 minutes.
4. Pour in all purpose flour stir and cook for 1 minute.
5. Add diced tomatoes, chicken broth,cumin,chili powder, worcestershire sauce and bring up to a boil.
6. Add the shrimps and simmer for 5 minutes.
7. Serve over cooked rice.
8. Add or decorate with any optional ingredients if desire.

    Wednesday, January 27, 2010

    House Hunting

    My friends wanted to move to a newer area, so we went to see some new model homes. With the economy so slow nowadays, houses prices are now in a negotiated position.  We went to see some huge houses just for fun.  Here are some of the huge houses we saw:
     Interior of one of the model homes:

    New houses that are being built around the area but not sold yet:
    Breath taking views from the backyard:

    For resale value purposes and for those are into Feng Shui, we've learned to take this advice from the real estate agent when buying a house:
    1. House with the number ended with 4 is never a choice to buy, it's a homophone of "dead" in Chinese.
    2. If a house's front entrance is directly facing the T-section of a street. there's a safety issue.
    3. If the stairway is facing straight towards the front entrance, in Feng Shui it means you won't be prosperous!
    4. A house in a public area like schools or parks are considered noisy and dangerous, especially because of there are many strangers around.
    5. If there's a mountain in the back of the house, it's considered good because you are in good hands and there's always something to support you or help you out.

      Tuesday, January 26, 2010

      Low Fat Lasagna

      My friend told me about this recipe while we did our routine morning walk.  She said her kids love to eat lasagna but it's too fattening to eat the one outside of home. She learned from her sister to substitute the ricotta cheese with low fat cottage cheese, and it tastes just as good as the one bought from the restaurant.
      Since I have never made a lasagna before and we all love lasagna, this is a good chance for me to cook what we like and not have to worry about the calories and fat content. I made my first attempt, and it tasted fantastic.
      Here's the recipe. Basically you can follow the instructions from the lasagna package.

      1/2 package of Barilla Lagsana
      1 jar spaghetti sauce
      1 lb. Ground Beef
      2 gloves Garlic
      2 Fresh Roma Tomatoes, diced
      2 Cups Spinach *
      Few Bella Mushrooms
      1  small (16 oz.) Non-fat cottage cheese
      1 Cup Shredded Mozarella cheese
      1 Cup shredded Parmigiano Ramano Cheese

      1. Boil water and cook Barilla lasagna on a wider but shallow pan according to the package instruction.
      2. Drain lasagna, rinse with cold water, and lay flat on a pan first.
      3. Mix the 3 cheeses together with 2 eggs (eggs beaten lightly first)
      4. Heat pan with oil, add in garlic,beef and mushrooms,add spaghetti sauce, then tomatoes and spinach.
      5. Drain excess liquid from the cooked ingredients. 
      6. Grease the pan first. Then spread 3/4 cup of meat sauce on the bottom of bake pan.
      7. Start laying 3 pieces of lasagna lengthwise overlapping each other over the meat sauce.
      8. Pour cooked ingredients and spread some cheese mixture on the first layer .
      9. Stack on anothe layer of cooked lasagna, repeat adding the same ingredients on second layer of lasagna..
      10. Repeat layering until the pan is filled to the top.
      11. On the last layer, spread some sauce and mozarella cheese on top.
      12. Bake at 375 degree for 15- 30 minutes or until a little brown.
      13. Serve with baguettes or garlic bread.
      1 small package frozen spinach can be substitued.  Blanch in boil water until defroze.  Drain and squeeze excess liquid..
      A small rectangular Pirex pan will make a perfect 3 layers lasagna.

      Monday, January 25, 2010

      FlourTortillas - Chinese Onion Pancake

      As I mentioned before, I am trying to come up with ways to finish these tortillas I got from Costco. My kids love to eat Chinese onion pancakes, so I thought I can tweak the recipe using tortillas.  Here's what I did:


      2 eggs, scrambled
      2 stalks green onion, chopped


      1. Combine the eggs and green onion, add the salt in and mix well.
      2. Heat up the pan, add some cooking oil.
      3. Dip one tortilla at a time into the egg mixture.
      4. Place it into the heated oil and let it cook for 2 minutes or until the egg mixture is cooked.
      5. Flip the other side and cook another 2 minutes until the egg mixture is cooked.
      6. Repeat the same process until all the egg mixture is gone.
      7. Serve with mixture of 1 part light soy sauce and 2 parts vinegar.

      Friday, January 22, 2010

      Chicken Masala

      I wasn't sure what to cook tonight until I saw the 2 bottles of Masala wine in the China cabinet.  I have not made this for a long time and I was rushing to make dinner.  It only took me 30 minutes to  finish cooking the whole meal.  I must say I am surprised that the chickens were very tender and delicious.  Here's how I made this:


      4 Boneless chicken Breasts
      1/2 cup milk
      2 Tbsp soy sauce
      1/2 cup flour
      2 Tbsp cooking oil
      1/2 lb. of fresh mushrooms, chopped
      1/2 cup Masala wine


      1. Halves each chicken breast lengthwise into 2 thin slices. Add them to the milk and let them soak.
      2. Flatten the chickens by pounding the chickens to 1/4 inch thickness.
      3. Heat the pan and add cooking oil until hot.
      4. Coat the chicken breasts with some flour and then add to the heated oil.
      5. Turn to medium heat and cook for 5 minutes until golden brown, then flip to the other side and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
      6.  Add the mushrooms and mix with the chickens and let them cook for another 5 minutes.
      7.  Turn to low heat and drizzle soy sauce and the Masala wine around the pan and mix well with chickens.
      8.  Cook another 5 minutes. Then they are ready to be served.


      I recall the restaurant I dined with long time ago served this with mashed potatoes and spinach. That's why I  served the Chicken Masala with mashed potatoes and stir fried spinach.

      Thursday, January 21, 2010

      Dressy fashion

      I went with a friend of mine shopping at Macy's on a weekend.  My friend is a great shopper, she knows all the places in Macy's. It saves a lot of time if you go with someone who knows where everything is.  I found this great dressy Maxx studio blouse and didn't know where to find the pants to go with it.

      I had my mind set at first just to match with a narrower straight legs dress pants. She guided me and suggested to also get a pair of  bell bottom party dress pants to go with it.  That was something I have never thought of .  Unfortunately I didn't have any luck finding either one on that day.

      I found this Rachel Roy swing jacket with an amazing marked down price plus the discount card I have at $42. That can go with anything from formal to casual chic.  I thought it's also perfect for the black blouse I've just bought.

      On my way out to the mall, I saw this beautiful ruffle dress.  I was so attracted to the colors and ruffles on the dress:

      It's a perfect dress for spring time, and I can wear the Rachel Roy jacket for a more dressy look. But this dress is a new arrival, it's not on sale.  I still couldn't resist myself from taking a picture of it. I hope they still have my size by the time it's on sale.

      Wednesday, January 20, 2010

      Braised Pork Rice ( Lu Rou Fan )

      My friend Teresa is a great cook and she often look at recipes and cook something complicated.   I like to ask her for recipes since I don't like to go through recipe books nor do I have the patience to take the time to go through the long process of making a dish.  This is a dish that's fairly easy to prepare in huge quantities ahead of time and is well loved by all of us. It's just like spaghetti: the older it gets, the better it tastes.    She told me the most important ingredients to use in this dish are the 5 spices and the shallots.


      1 lb. Pork (Pork that has at least 50% fat is preferred)
      6 Shiitake mushrooms (soak in cold water for few hours)
      3 to 4 Shallots
      2 gloves of garlic
      1 and 1/2 Tbsp 5 spices (see Note below for description of spices)

      1. Cut out the pork skin if any, cut the pork in tiny pieces.(marinate with some soy sauce and sugar)
      2. Soak the shiitake mushrooms and dice into small pieces.
      3. Chopped the garlic and  shallots
      4. Heat pan on high,add the pork and keep stirring until all fat comes out.
      5. Scoop out the pork and put aside.
      6. Using the same pan (which still has some oil in it), add the shallots and stir fry until fragrant.
      7. Add in the mushrooms and stir fry
      8. Add in some soy sauce, rock sugar and 5 spices (1 tbsp)
      9. Add a little water just enough to cover the pork.
      10. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
      11. To make boiled eggs, add eggs into cold water and cook for 12 to 15 minutes.
      12. Remove the eggshell and add in to the pork while it's still simmeingr.
      13. Turn the eggs in the pot occassionally so the eggs are covered by the sauce and will evenly brown.
      14. The dish is done after 30 minutes.
      15. Serve egg and some pork mixture over rice.

      1. This dish tastes well with fatty pork, you can remove the excess fat when it's done stir frying.
      2. The 5 spices consists of fennel,anise,cinnamon, gloves, and ginger. It's supposed to be added in before ready to be served.  You can find a bottle of this blend of spices in any Chinese grocery store.

      Tuesday, January 19, 2010

      Red Box - Rent a Movie

      We used to go to Blockbuster to rent movies. We would walk through every aisle just to see what movies we wanted to watch for that weekend.  Then it became inconvenient  for us to spend a long time looking for a movie and possibly end up wondering if we got the right movie.  We stopped doing that for a long time.  Then we started to watch movies on Netflix where you can pay a monthly fee and they send you the movies you select.  Then it became too much trouble to deal with the mail.  In the past few years we haven't had time to watch movies.  I would take the kids to the library and check out some movies during summer vacation. The good part of going to the library is you can borrow a few movies at a time and not need to return them until a week later.  The bad part is most of the movies are not new releases and sometimes we have to wait a long time before the new movies to be available for check out.  Sometimes we didn't even have time to finish them all and ended up forgetting to return them and having to pay a fine.

      Now there's this new vending machine for renting movies.  I find it very convenient.  It's called the Red Box. You can find out online what kind of movies are available for rental before going to the Red Box to rent by credit or debit card.  They are available outside Lucky grocery store for $1 a day. The best part is they are all new releases and you can return the movie no later than nine o'clock the next evening.

      I like it because I get to see a newly release movie whenever I feel like watching a movie and I don't have to wait a long time to watch it.    For example, I have watched these newly released movies: Julie and Julia, Public Enemies,The Proposal. So far I haven't had trouble not being able to rent any movie I wanted.

      The next time when you feel like watching a movie, you can go here to see the list online.

      Monday, January 18, 2010

      Toothpicks Containers Collection

      I was visiting my friend last week and found out that she has this interesting collection. She was so nice to let me take some pictures of her toothpick containers collection. 

      This is a very unique piece and also my favorite.  It apparently is made from some kind of cinnamon woods because I could smell the fragrance as I was holding it.  She told me this was a gift her mom had given her 10 years ago.  It was carved by a village man  in Vietnam. Amazingly the fragrance is still there today.

      This fabric pouch of toothpicks was given to her from a Japanese restaurant while she dined there.

      This is a little Japanese house from Japan.  It's crafted with woods. The back of the house has an area to hold the toothpicks. 

      The wooden heads you see in the back of the house (see above picture) and in the wooden box (below) are just the decorations you can stick onto the heads of the toothpicks.

      Don't you just love these cute collections!

      Sunday, January 17, 2010

      Bake Tortilla Chips

      Yesterday I baked the tortillas as snack for my kids.  My kids loved them so much and asked me to bake more again today.  This idea came from making garlic breads:


      5 sheets of Flour Tortillas
      2 Tbsp of Garlic Powder
      2 Tbsp of Garlic Powder and Parsley Spices
      Some Olive oil


      1. Drizzle some olive oil on both side of tortillas.
      2. Sprinkle garlic powder,spices over the tortillas
      3. Stack the tortillas together and cut into random shapes.
      4. Spread out the cut tortillas on a nonstick baking pan.
      5. Turn on heat at 350 degree and bake for 5 minutes, toss the tortillas and make sure to spread out the tortillas and bake for another 5 minutes until crispy but not brown. It's important to toss often and make sure they are not burn. Take out the chips immediately when they are all crispy.
      6. Let the chips cool off before serving.
      7. Serve with Creamy Southwestern Ranch dip.

      You can use any spices you like.  Another option to use these chips is to cut them into smaller strips and add them to any tomatoes/lentil soup.

      Friday, January 15, 2010

      Flour Tortillas - Chicken Fajitas

      If you like to grill food at home, this is an excellent way to make Fajitas. I  made this using the grilled pan over the stove top at home.

      Chicken Fajitas


      1/2 Onion, sliced
      6  Mini Pepper, sliced
      Some Black Peppers
      8 oz. Chicken Breast, sliced (marinate with sauce first)

      1 Tbsp Teriyaki sauce
      1 tsp of sugar
      1 tsp of cornstarch
      1 tsp of cooking wine
      1 tsp of sesame oil

      Garnish ingredients:
      1 package of Knor Spanish Rice
      1 Can of Refried Beans
      Some Shredded romaine lettuce
      1 Tomatoes, diced
      Some Cilantro, finely chopped
      Some Flour Tortillas
      Tobacco sauce (optional)


      1. Heat up grilled pan, then add 1 tbsp of cooking oil.
      2. Add in marinated chicken, grill for 2 minutes, then flip to the other side and continue cooking..
      3. Add in onion and  grill until fragrant.
      4. Add in mini peppers until soft. Mix and stir fry all together.
      5. Add in some black peppers when done.
      7. Warm up a nonstick pan and place a tortilla and warm for 30 seconds on each side. If using microwave, heat for 30 seconds on high.
      8. Cook Spanish rice according to package instruction.
      9. Heat up the refried beans from the can.
      10. Ensemble the cooked ingredients and the rest of the garnish ingredients on a warm tortilla as you would with a breakfast burrito. Serve while it's still warm.

      If you want to use beef, oyster sauce also goes well with beef.  Add a tbsp of water to the marinated sauce.  Tobacco sauce is recommended for spicy taste.

      Thursday, January 14, 2010

      Flour Tortillas - Breakfast Burrito

      I bought a big bag of flour tortillas from Costco and thinking how I can finish these tortillas without eating the same way every time.  I have thought of several ways to use the tortillas. Here's my first try with Breakfast Burrito:


      1/2 Onion, chopped
      1 Portuguese Sausage, cut into small pieces
      3 Eggs
      6 Mini peppers, diced
      8 Bella mushrooms, sliced
      Some Black Peppers
      Some Cheddar Cheese
      Some Flour Tortillas


      1. Heat up pan until hot, then add 1 tbsp of oil.
      2. Add eggs and scramble until cook, scoop up and put aside.
      3..Add in onion, stir until fragrance.
      4. Add in sausage, stir until cooked and brown.
      5. Mix in mushroom, and mini peppers and cook until a little soft.
      6. Pour back the eggs and cheese, mix well together, add some black peppers when they are done.
      7. Warm up a nonstick round pan, add a  tortilla in the pan, warm one side for 30 second and the other side for  another 30 second. Repeat to warm up the rest of tortillas.  Put them in the tortillas warmer container to keep them warm.
      8. Place a warm tortilla on plate, add some cooked ingredients to the tortilla, roll and ready to serve.

      The sausage is already salty, you don't need to add any salt at all.  You can add some salsa or tabaco sauce if you like some spicy flavor.

      Wednesday, January 13, 2010

      Cute, Quality Gadgets

      I have always liked to look at gadgets at culinary stores such as William Sonoma so that I can get familiar with the quality of kitchen gadgets. I recently replaced some of my old gadgets and they are so cute and easy to use. The can opener that looks like pliers is useful when opening a can for you can do it without much effort for a "semi-lefty" like me.  I love this cake server because it can be displayed like a high heel shoe and the heel is magnetic so it can be removed when you are using it.

      I  love serving my guests with this 2-piece hostess serving set which are styled with beads.  My favorite gadget is the scented candle (which is battery operated). It flickers and glows like a real candle but without the fire hazard. I have tried the Elastomoule silicone muffin mold, and it is so easy to pop the muffins out. The grater is so sharp and grates as well as a professional culinary grater. After using these good-quality gadgets, I am definitely going to look carefully at whatever I buy in the future.

      Tuesday, January 12, 2010

      This Made Me Cry

      This subject title immediately caught my attention when I open my email and later found out it's a great commercial to watch.  Like most of the people, whenever there's a commercial going on TV, I would use the  remote control to change and flip to other channels until the commercial ended.

      After taking a psychology class back in my college years.  I have changed my way of thinking about commercial.. The professor who taught the class had always lectured in  a very humorous way and  he would talk about anything that's funny to get us interested. One of the thing I remember he said was he liked watching commercial, becuase of how some commercial can be very funny and influential.  I started to watch commercial since then, and begin to realize so much were put into just one short commercial. No wonder a short commercial can cost so much.

      The commercials today are so well thought of and so sophisticated to watch.  Marketing product required  good brain storming.  Some commercials are truly intriguing and remarkable to watch.  For example, there's a jewelry store had an advertisement on Patek Philippe watches with a slogan "You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely take care of it for the next generation." What a great slogan.  That advertisement alone immediately brought up the sales.   Here's the funny commercial I received:.

      Now I am wondering and interested to know if any of you like to watch commercial like I do!

      Monday, January 11, 2010

      Chinese - Style Spaghetti and Meatballs

      A request from my daughter was to make my "secret recipe" spaghetti that the kids love so much and post my recipe on this blog. I think most people, including my children, love spaghetti.  I have always made a point to learn to make what they like to eat. However, they don't like vegetables.  They always complain whenever I give them vegetables.  As a result, I began sneaking in vegetables here and there without them realizing it.  My friend, Teresa, shared her spaghetti recipe with me.  She too made spaghetti with vegetables right under her children's noses.

      This is a "blend" of my friend's and my own recipe:


      Meatball ingredients:
      1 to 2 lbs of ground beef
      6 Wood ears (soak in cold water for few hours until soft) finely chopped/ground -*Teresa's secret ingredient
      1/2 cup ground walnuts -*Teresa's secret ingredient
      1tbsp oyster sauce
      1tsp soy sauce
      1tbsp sugar
      1tsp cornstarch
      1tsp of water

      1 (24 oz.) jar Ragu sauce (Teresa uses organic)
      1/2 Onion, chopped
      1 tomatoes, diced
      3 gloves of garlic, finely chopped
      1 cup sliced bella mushroom or any fresh mushroom
      3 tbsp rolled oatmeal
      1 package spaghetti ( I used Barilla, as it cooks faster)

      1. Put the ground beef, wood ears,walnuts,oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, a tsp of water into a big bowl and mix well with your hands until evenly blended. Form the meat mixture into shape of 1 inch balls.

      2. Turn on high heat, heat the pan first until hot (when you see smoke), sprinkle 1 tbsp of cooking oil on pan so the pan is coated with oil.. Heat oil until hot. Pour in all the meatballs. Do not flip the meatballs right away, let them cook until a little brown, then flip with a spatula to cook the other sides of the meatballs. Make sure it's brown enough, if not the meatballs will crumble and become ground beef.

      3.  Add  and cook onions first,then tomatoes and stir, then add mushroom, spaghetti sauce and oatmeal and mix well together and cook on high heat until boiling. Stir to make sure the bottom is not burned, then turn the heat down to low or to a simmer.

      4.While spaghetti sauce is cooking, start to prepare the pasta according to the package instructions.
      When the spaghetti is done, drain the water and pour them in a covered pot to keep warm (I used my tortilla warmer container). By then, the spaghetti sauce should be done. Turn off the heat and serve while hot.

      *This is my modified recipe that includes the optional two ingredients wood ear, and walnuts.  I say that they are optional, for the meal will taste delicious whether or not you decide to use them.  All ingredients and sauce can be adjusted to your preferred taste.

      Friday, January 8, 2010

      New Phase (face) for New Year

      I begin to feel bored with the green background of my blog, and also I am ready to move on to the next phase - learn to take better photos.  It will be an interesting journey since I have "zero" knowledge about camera except for point and "click".  I decided I should give my blog a clean and simple new face/look for the new year.

      I started the blog about a month ago.  It's a big challenge for a computer illiterate like me to learn everything fresh from the beginning.  I had no knowledge of how to do a blog.  I had opened an account and attempted to do a post a year before that, just to see how blogging works, but I was not able to find time to continue exploring it.

      I am not a very patient person, but I have a thirst to learn.  I wanted to learn how to type in Chinese on the computer for a long time. I know for a fact that I have to learn Pin Yin (Chinese phonics using English alphabet) to compose Chinese characters. Without any knowledge of what tool to use, I  spent a fair amount of time researching online and downloading all the possible tools I can used from Windows.

      I started off with doing a Chinese blog.  It's a mistake to begin with, reasons being I have never learned PinYin before and I  have to learn how to blog at the same time . On top of that, I haven't written Chinese for over 20 years.  It literally took me 10 minutes just to finish a short sentence. From composing to typing, or translating to editing, it took me 2 to 3 hours to finish a Chinese post compared to a 20 minutes English post.  With practice and playing with all the widgets whenever I had time, all the practice paid off and today I can publish a post in about an hour time frame. Maybe I will get faster in the future or maybe this is the best I can do.

      Blogging is easy, from setting up an account to uploading links and pictures to changing the template, fonts and colors.  They are all self explanatory. You just have to have the will to learn and practice.  With the blogger's help, I can find most of my questions answered at this stage.  It's the Chinese Pin Yin that's killing me. So anyone interested in doing a blog, it is no biggie.  But if you don't know PinYin and wanted to do a Chinese blog, starting with the English blog and practicing/learning all the widgets here first then moving on to a Chinese blog is so much easier. 

      Why am I writing all these?  Becuase I truly find joy in sharing what I know or what I like on my blog. It's also a way to keep track of the things I learned and pass them down to my children. I hope that my children will find it useful in the future when they become adults.  That's why I do not have a theme for my blog. I hope to encourage more of you to write and keep a record of what you have learned, such as in cooking, flower arrangement, etc.  All you have to do is read a little, learn a little and do a little everyday.  It's nice to share and learn from each other and that's why there are many bloggers out there. I am not a good writer, but it's the things I want to share, not my writing.  So I am having fun blogging, so should you!

      Thursday, January 7, 2010

      Beef Noodle Soup

      I made the family's favorite noodle soup last night for dinner. My friend, who taught me how to make this dish, used to own a restaurant just selling noodles.  This is her recipe:

      2 packages Beef Neck Bone or Oxtail
      2 packages Beef balls
      2 Cinnamon stick
      3 Pickled Garlic
      1 Bunch of Cilantro, separate roots and leaves
      2 stalks of Celery
      Noodles (Rice Stick Noodles)


      1 tbsp Brown Sugar
      Fish sauce
      Dark soy sauce
      Light soy sauce

      Garnish mix:

      Cilantro leaves, chopped
      Green onion,chopped
      Crushed peanuts
      Dried chilie flakes


      1. Put the oxtails into boiling of water first, let cook for one minute, then drain the water.
      2. Add a fresh pot of water into the pot with all the rest of the ingredients (Add cilantro root only)
      3. Turn on high heat until it's boiling, then turn to low heat to cook for 2 hours.
      4. Cook noodles according to the package instruction. I used rice stick noodles with this soup.
      5. Scoop the soup and meats over a bowl of noodle.
      6. Serve with bean sprouts,spinach or any vegetable.
      7. Add garnish on top and mix well.
      Adjust the soy sauces to preferred taste. Chili sauce goes well with it.

      Wednesday, January 6, 2010

      Fancy Crepes

      We love crepes and I usually made them on no school days for the kids.  On Sunday,  I was busy working on my accounting book, my daughter was very nice to make brunch for us.  This is how she presented it, isn't it beautiful?


      I saw this orange ceramic container last year and loved the color.  I later found out it is supposed to use for keeping the cooked tortillas warm.  I thought it would be nice to use it on crepes too. It did keep the crepes warm while we ate. I love these square plates I bought from Z Gallery last year and I have been using them daily at dinner time.  The simple food just look delicious when you have good presentation!

      Tuesday, January 5, 2010

      Great Bargain at Gilroy Outlet Mall

      As mentioned in my last post, we went shopping at the Gilroy Premium Outlet Mall. Although there were not very many good sales, I got lucky and found some great deals.
      At Anne Klein, I bought these three items and this is how I like to wear them:

      Teal cashmere sweater: $20
      Black patent belt: $15
      Black square fringe scarf: $10

      The scarf is a lightweight square scarf with fringe.  It's folded and tucked into the sweater.  The teal sweater goes well with other brown-colored accessories such as scarves, necklaces and brown pants.

      Ralph Lauren Polo Store:
      Yellow Polo: $20

      I am not really a fan of Polo Ralph Lauren.  I always feel like it's a man's store and it's not feminine enough. Their clothes are usually too long for me.  However, I found this while my husband was browsing through the store. I was surprised to find this shirt at such a low price. I have learned not to buy things that do not flatter me, no matter what the price. However, this shirt really fit me nicely.

      Rockport store: (Buy one, second pair 50%, third pair for free):
      Brown flat boots: $89 (Orig. $110)

      Tall black boots: (Orig. $110, marked down from $80 to $60), it would be $30 if I didn't get the third pair:

      It's very difficult for me to buy boots that fit me comfortably and Rockport is the only brand that I can wear for long time without getting painful heels. After trying 4 pairs of the same size, only one pair fits my calves (go figure!).  I am so ecstatic to have finally found a pair of high heel boots that is within my price range.  I paid a total of $150 for three pairs of shoes and my husband got the third pair (of men's shoes) for free.  Later in the day, we happened to look through the Shopper's guide and found a 15% off coupon inside. So, the salesman had to adjust the price and we saved another $24, which means that I only paid a total of $126 for three pairs of shoes.  These boots were sure a great bargain.

      It's been a wonderful and busy day for me, and best of all I made my friend extremely excited and happy that I got her a great deal on Gucci bags.

      Sunday, January 3, 2010

      Off 5th Saks Fifth Avenue -Gucci Bags are Great Sales

      We were down at the Gilroy Premium Outlets Mall, which is about a 45 minutes drive, and found out the new store Off Fifth Saks Avenue is located there.  I went in there just to get a quick look before I headed home.  The store there at Gilroy looked bigger than the one located at the Great Mall in Milpitas.  After walking around the jewelry section, I took a gander at purses and bags, as usual.  I was so happy to see that there were many Gucci Bags on sale. Most were an additional 20% off, even after the marked down price.  The only ones that have an additional 50% off  and can be bought at around $230 each before tax are these:

      This one comes in brown and black, from the original price of $625, marked down to $449.99.

      This one is in the hobo style, original price was at $650, marked down to $467.99: 

      I like the fact that they are in classic styles and neutral colors which I personally would pick if I am going to spend on high end products to make sure they will last for many years.  They are also not too big or too small and can be used in the daytime or evening out for dinner.   My friend from Canada really wanted a Gucci bag for a long time. She said Gucci was very expensive in Canada, and was disappointed that she couldn't find any good deals at the Gucci outlet store in Vacaville while she visited California.  I promised to let her know if I ever found a good deal.  I immediately made a call to Canada.  She told me to get all three with both of the different styles in black and brown becuase her sister wanted one too. This is why you get to see these pictures here. 

      As I was paying, the cashier told me that these just came in a few days ago and it's a great deal that you can get three for the price of one.  It is really a good deal if anyone is interested in getting a Gucci bag.  I am not sure if all the other Off Fifth Saks Avenue stores carry them, but it's worth to check it out since they do have many good additional sales on marked down designer's jewelry and clothing.

      Have fun shopping, everyone!

      Friday, January 1, 2010

      New Year 's Eve Party

      This is the very first time we had friends over for New Year's Eve.  My kid and her friends made these Chocolate-Macadamia Nut Oatmeal cookies for them last night.
      I, for once, made a cake! I just baked a regular sponge cake, cut the cake across into two layers, then spread on a small tub of whipped cream and decorated with strawberries.

      Our friends came to our house around 5:00 P.M. and we had cake and snacks before went out for dinner.
      We had already made a dinner reservation at a Chinese/Japanese restaurant where they also offered one free hour of karaoke if we have spent over $60 on our meal.  After that, we all came back to our house for the new year's countdown, with more snacks and drinks.

      Everyone (including the kids) were in the family room watching TV when it was almost midnight. We did the count down along with the T.V.  We had champagne and sparkling cider for the children and the party lasted until 1:30 in the morning.  The party was fun and the fact that all the college kids came too to make a picture perfect moment with everyone present made it all the more amazing!