Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Beauty In The Jar

I saw this beautiful cookie jar on the Neiman Marcus website.  After checking out the price, I thought to myself that I could do this at home and get a similar effect without paying the expensive price.

Although I did not have a jar with a ceramic lid at home.  I did have a couple of similar jars that I could work with.   I started to put on my thinking hat and looked through my craft box.  I went to Michael's craft store and Home Depot to see what I could find.  Unfortunately I couldn't find anything similar that I could use to replica the look.  But I used some of the things I bought from Michael's and here are the replicas:

Glass bead knob

Brass bead knob

Here were what I used for this project:


Lid from the glass cookie jar
Black enamel paint
White enamel paint
Dry erase marker
Flat brush
Small brush
Beads (Glass and Brass)
Designer chromets
E4000 Glue


1. Clean the lid with soapy water first and dry them.  Unscrew the knob and use a ruler to measure the diameter of the lid.  Draw straight lines across with even spacing.

2.  Turn to opposite side and repeat step #1 to make a checker pattern.

4.  Put an "X" on the area where black will be painted on.

5.  Place the lids on a protected surface before painting.  Using a flat brush and paint the white area carefully by skipping the "X" spots, then paint the black next.  Let dry first before applying a second coat.  Use a small brush for missing spots or touch ups.

6.  Let it air dry for an hour, then bake at 350 degree Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.  Cool off in the oven.

7.  When they are cooled off, srew the knob back on the lid.  Design and glue the desired pieces on top.   Make sure they fit properly with the hole.

8.  You can also design your own knob by getting a plain doll head from craft store and painting it, or you can get a cheaper and plain knob if you are design-challenged.

I bought these from Michael's but was only able to use a few of the pieces here.  It seem wasteful but I may use them to change the look in the future.

Use paper towel to wipe off dry erase marker if mistake was made.

I found that placing the lids on individual pie plate was really useful.  I was able to turn and paint to the desire aea without worrying about touching and messing up the paint on the lid.

A small brush is good to use on small details such as lines and corners.

I learned that it's easier to clean up the mistake right away by wiping off with a rag while the paint is still wet, but it looks better to let the paint dry first before applying a second coat.

Monday, July 26, 2010

House scenic drive

Our friend just moved into a new home.  We were invited to visit them last Sunday.  The area we were in was at Ruby Hill in Pleasanton.  It's one of the more prominent areas at Pleasanton.  It was a gated community and we all had to check in at the gate.  As we drove passed the gate toward the hill, these humongous homes were within our sights.  Take a look at some of the pictures I took while our car was racing through.

Aren't these huge?  These houses are worth over $1 million and most likely over 3,000 square foot.   It's not often that we get to see a big lot size in the Silicon Valley where we live.  I am sure these houses must have a big back yard as well by the look of them.  It's too bad that I was not able to take some closer pictures as we were following our friend's car to her house.  I hope that I can take some better pictures the next time we visit them to show you other humongous houses in the area.  

Friday, July 23, 2010

Obon Mid Summer Festival In Mountain View

My little girl's friend invited her to see her performance at the Japanese Temple where the Obon Festival is held every year.  We were there on Saturday at 4:00 pm.  The weather was extremely pleasant for summer time.  We first saw these Taiku performances began at 4:30 pm.  My friend's husband and kids were also doing the Taiku here.
Elementary kids playing Taiku

These little kids were so cute wearing their little kimonos.

After the show, we headed to the Cultural Exhibit Room where Ikebana and Mataro kimekomi dolls were displayed.  The Ikebana is the artistic way of Japanese flower arrangements. These were mainly for display only and not for sale. 
We first spotted these miniature Ikebana arrangements.
There were so many beautiful Ikebana arrangments:

The bonsai were also displayed:
Japanese dolls:

There were also various cultural displays sales and games, flower shop; home crafts; children’s games and hands-on cultural activities. There were also selling handmade home crafts such as quilts, cushions, bags and aprons at very good prices.  The event also featured a variety of Japanese and other popular foods, such as teriyaki chicken, sushi, spam mushubi, udon, corn-on-the-cob, hot dogs and French fries. For desserts, there were strawberry shortcake, mochi and shave ice. 

It was nice and fun to go to a different cultural event on a relaxing Saturday.  

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Proud Moments

Summer vacation is the time for fun and no school activities at all in our home.  It's the only time my kids get to do things that no text books could teach them.  Besides letting them learn while we travel, this year I decided that my younger daughter is old enough to learn some real cooking.  In the past, she has been helping her sister here and there to bake or chop food but has never really learned how to cook by herself.

Since they both are old enough to do chores, I asked both of my kids to pick one or two days to cook dinner for the family this summer.  When my older kid was young, she eagerly offered to learn to cook and bake, but I ended up spending more time to clean up and complete the job.  I knew it was part of learning process and I had to be patient to wait for the fruitful day.  Surely, my older kid is very helpful now.  Whenever I don't feel like cooking or want some cookies, she is willing and able to do it for me.  Now that I have to start with my younger daughter, I feel like history is repeating itself and I must be patient to do it all over again.  It 's time for me to plant another seed, so that I can enjoy the fruitful tree later on.

Tonight is the first night she's making dinner.  I have purposely saved some easy to cook ingredients for her for her first real cooking.  I was not in the kitchen with her while she prepared the ingredients but verbally guided her whenever she asked questions. The only time I went in there was to guide her on how to cook.  As I was waiting for her to heat up the oil, I noticed that she had a bowl sitting in the sink with all the trash ready to be thrown out (that was from a previous training while she learned how to chop food).  I was surprised that she was very organized and able to work on a limited counter space.  I complimented her being so clean and it was funny that she thought I was teasing her.  In the next scene you would see a mother trying to show the little girl not to be afraid of the splashing of the oil and how to cook with protection, and a girl cracking and beating eggs with the mother waiting by the stove.
A few minutes later, she's ready to dish out the food, and I was very impressed that she didn't even need my help to dish it out from the hot pan.  I am glad she has learned how to cook meat and vegetables.  That's very important to me because I do not want to have another sandwich for lunch or dinner.  She has been making salmon sandwiches these days when it's her turn to make food.  It was great that I was able to show her the proper way to make Chinese food.
I must say she's very efficient with her way of doing things.  From peeling the shrimp to finishing cooking, she made these two dishes within an hour.  These were the master pieces she made tonight and we were all proud of her.  They were so delicious and I am just glad that she has a good start.
Shrimp with Chives

Chinese Mustard Green With Oyster Sauce

I honestly was pleasantly surprised to see that she was able to go through most of the cooking process by herself and that the kitchen was not a mess.  Now I am sure I will have a great summer since I have two wonderful helpers at home.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Great Finds At The Mall

I was browsing through some stores while waiting for my daughters to finish a movie in the theatre at Great Mall last weekend.  I was surprised to see there were so many great sales going on.  It seemed that many stores were giving an additional 40% off clearance items or 25 to 30% off sale items.  Take a look at my great finds at the clearance section:

I love these ocean theme gold necklace and earrings from Off Fifth and there were on an additonal 40% off sale:

and this sterling silver chain necklace can be worn short or long:

This simple desgin gold necklace was on clearance from Last call /Neiman Marcus with an additonal 30% off:

Since metallic is so in trend now, I am happy to have found this woven leather handbag in metallic by Elliot Lucas:

Shoes and clothing were on an addtional 40% off sale, but I was not in the mood to shop for those then.  Besides, I was already content with what I had  bought.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Gold Is In

After we left SFMOMA, we headed to the nearby Westfield Mall which is where the Bloomingdale's  is located.  As I was walking around in my favorite department-handbags-I noticed that there were so many handbags in gold.   This must be the trend this year, well, at least for this summer.  I hadn't been following the trend lately as I was so busy with taking care of some home business.  I did notice that a lot of people were wearing gold sandals while I was shopping in Stanford Mall at Palo Alto last week.  I concluded that Gold must be the trend now.  I did manage to buy myself a couple of pairs of gold shoes on that day for the summer.  Now I am in search of a gold handbag.  Look at all these gold handbags at Bloomingdale's.  One just can't miss the "gold is in".

I liked the Tory Burch clutch on the upper right:

I don't usually fancy Kate Spade's colorful designs, but the tote bag on the upper right was my favorite:

The bottom left  is a nice size and shape for me.  I liked the outside pocket design:
These were not on sale, and they were really out of my budget. It doesn't hurt to look at them, does it? 

After the trip to San Francisco, I got an urge to shop for something gold.  I was shopping at Nordstrom at Stanford shopping mall one day and found these beautiful gold sandals.  These were so right to wear to dinner during the warm summer evening:

and this pair of low heels are so comfortable to wear and can be worn casually or dressed up at anytime:

Friday, July 9, 2010

It's A Fruit, It's A Fish! 如魚得水

Over the Fourth of July weekend, we went to a potluck party.  I saw this fruit salad presented as a fish from the watermelon website and thought it was so cute and fun that I had to make one to bring over to the party.

It looks simple to make but it actually took longer than I expected.  The instructions are easy to follow.  I didn't have a fruit baller at home, so I traced the shape using a cookie dough scooper to get the imprint of a circle.  Then I used a pumpkin cutter and trace the line of the circle to carve.  I also used the scooper as a fruit baller to scoop out the fruit. There were a lot of juice as I scooped out the watermelon balls. I poured out some of the watermelon juice first before adding the mixed fruit into the hollowed watermelon, that way I could fit more fruit balls and didn't have to worry about over spill the watermelon juice.  The fruit I mixed here were cantaloupe, watermelon, and grapes.

I used the fins to cover the open top and left the toothpicks in, then covered it with saran wrap and left it in the refrigerator.  When I was ready to go to my friend's house, I placed the whole fruit salad in a box to ensure that the fruit salad did not tip over and re-assembled the fins back with the toothpicks when I got to my friend's house.  It was just a cute and fun project if you don't mind the mess and cleaning up afterward.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Art Museums in San Francisco

Every local knows the first Tuesday of every month is a free admission day to visit many of the recreational activities in San Francisco (i.e. museum, zoo, etc).  We went to the De Young Museum in San Francisco to see the special exhibition from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris on Tuesday.  The first exhibition, Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, exhibited many magnificient oil paintings by famous artists from the mid-to-late 19th century in France.

Although it was a free admission day at the museum, we have to pay a fee for special exhibition.  It was $15 for adults and $10 for minors.  We rented the audio tour that comes with a headset for $7, so that we could hear about the life stories of the famous artists and their paintings.  I was so excited to see these famous original oil paintings.  Before our designated time to get in to the exhibition, we went to the cafe at the museum to get our lunch.  The food at the museum is usually pretty good.  We had these for lunch and they were excellent:

 (wild shrimp, dungeness crab, bay scallops,
lobster cognac gravy, puff pastry, concord petite pois) $12.50

C O Q A U V I N ( red wine braised chicken stew with root vegetables )$11.50
Although we could not take pictures, here's a list of paintings that were exhibited.  These are a few of the famous paintings I saw and I downloaded from the website.

Degas - Dancing Lesson

Whistler - Arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1

Edouard Manet -The Fifer


"The Floor Scrapers" is by far the painting I liked best from this exhibition.  All the lighting and details done on this painting just took my breath away.

Caillebotte - The Floor Scrapers

I was allowed to take some pictures without using flash in other galleries of the museum.  Here are a few pieces of modern art that I liked:

Paper Collage

Modern Furnitures

Blown Glasses

Wooden Human Organs

It would have been nice to go to the Legion of Honor to see the Impressionist Paris exhibition, but I wanted to visit the SFMOMA since I have never been there. I had really liked visiting the MOMA in New York and wanted to see the MOMA here in San Francisco.  It is so much smaller than the one in New York that we finished within an hour.  There were not many modern pieces that interested me except for these abstract paintings, but I was dissappointed to find there was only one painting exhibited from each of my favorite artists.

Painting by Paul Klee

Painting by Matisse

Painting by Picasso

It was a nice surprise to see Ansel Adams's photos here:

It was such an excited moment for me to see there were many original paintings from Claude Monet at De Young Museum, but unfortunately the paintings I hope to see were not there.  I am hoping that I will be able to go back to Legion of Honor soon to see other great masterpieces at the Impressionist Paris exhibition.