Monday, December 31, 2012

Gifts of Fun & Hello 2013~*

The year 2012 is about to be the year of the past. It sure is another eventful year to remember. As I get older, I have grown to realize the value & importance of a family so much more and how fragile our lives could be. The circle of friends becomes smaller year after year. With that realization, I want to start fresh and add more positive attitudes towards my life and people around me.
Life is too short to keep ourselves locked up in anxiety...depression & fear
I want to focus on the "now" moment ...I want to do my best for "today", not tomorrow
I want to do "more" for my family members who I love dearly and those who love me
I want to live to the fullest....
I want to give to the fullest....
I want to love to the fullest....
This Christmas I made a few twists on the gifts I normally exchanged with my husband under one condition "less is more". At first he was not entirely loving the idea. My husband is the person who loves to go all out on Christmas gifts while I don't like that concept. I hate the thought of having to pay for those stuff afterwards. However, I could finally  convince him to spend was not easy but it was done.
I promised him, good things come to those who wait (and spend less).
I had some surprises, I wanted to give the gifts of fun and excitement. I really mean FUN.

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A Lamborghini and a Ferrari must be every man's ultimate dream. Seriously you can't even get close to these cars at the Motor Show let alone dreaming of sitting behind the wheels unless you are a millionaire or a billionaire. What about a dream comes true and we are not talking about a car toy?!? My husband seriously thought it was a joke when I presented him with my handmade card, he really did.
1st gift of fun: I rented him an exotic car of his dream (either a Lamborghini or a Ferrari). We are going to have a drive of a lifetime next year. I know he is thrilled to death!!
The best part, I got a great deal from Living Social on the rental rate. Hip..hip..Hooray!! My wallet screamed in excitement.
We love yummy food (who don't?!?). Since we don't splurge on anything else these days, we decide to splurge on fine dining.
My husband and I started our fine dining adventure a few months ago, and we sure have found a really good one we both love and are dying to go back again and again.
2nd gift of fun: Fine Dining
It is getting more exciting!!
3rd gift of fun: A Mini Family Getaway to Austin, TX at Vintage Villa Resort
(Thanks Groupon for such great deal!)
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Now this one is really exciting!!!!!!! (for me anyway).
4th gift of fun: This is somewhat a contingent plan but it looks like we are going to New York - YESSS!!!! We dont' have a concrete at this point but it sounds like a blast already just thinking about a vibrant city of New York.
Last but not least, Happy New Year 2013 to you!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

This Christmas~*

Hello world...hello fellow bloggers...hello blogsphere!!!
 It has been a good while since I last popped my head in here. Please excuse my hiatus and the lack of comment on your blog. I hope to get back in the swing of blogging and play catch up with your posts in weeks to come.
  As it turned out, we ALL barely survived the Doomsday and the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping/celebration, didn't we??? Woooo-hoooo!!!
The past few weeks were wild and crazy as expected. Between getting the house clean, trying to get Christmas shopping done, wrapping presents, cooking my life away, running like chicken without its head at work, finalizing paperwork for my dauthter's pre-K and coming down with a nasty cold...that's enough to keep me occupied alright. Yeah.
Now I feel like I need a week to recuperate but that is not going to happen either...sigh. Work is kickcing in high gear starting this coming Wednesday (what a great way to start a new year?!?) and it looks like I will be extra busy with work related activities until at least March or longer. Exciting or what??
However, we did have a great family time this Christmas. After we opened presents at our house we headed to my in-laws who live about 20 mins away. Their house was beautifully decorated. As we walked in, we were greeted by the delicious aroma of breakfast floating in the air. There were presents after presents after presents under the tree. The highlight this year must have been a doll house which didn't fail to make my little girl's excitement goes through the roof. Grandma and grandpa sure were as happy as the little girl.
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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Heartache before Christmas

By this minute, I am pretty sure most of us have heard about a devastating incident at an Elementary School in Connecticuit, USA. It is not my nature to read about news like this since my child was born because I become incredibly emotional. Before I had a child, I didn't have this profound sympathy or sadness as I couldn't relate it to myself. I was sad hearing or reading about tragedies of young children but nothing close to the level I am experiencing now as a mother. Those children are not my own but the news simply breaks my heart in pieces thinking about the pains and heartache those parents have to go through. I just couldn't stop my tears.
Losing the ones you love dearly is never easy. It doesn't matter how you lose them...when you lose them and how well you prepare youself for the loss, the pain can't be described and is intolerable. The worst fear that every parent has is to ever lose your child(ren) before you die.
 Today I was thinking about those parents/grandparents who recently lost their children in this indicent. This time of the year is supposed to be the time of joy and reunion.
The presents must have been brought for their kids.
The surprises had been planned. 
Their houses must have been beautifully decorated.
Now nothing matters anymore. The joy and love had been stolen in a blink of an eye. It was forever and eternally gone the minute their little lives were taken away. It only left them with memories, loniness and eternal grief to live with. They were only 6 or 7 years old. They had not been in this world that long.
Something is awfully wrong here.
How many more shootings are await to happen??
How many more innocent lives will be taken away??
How many more losses and heartache are we going to experience??
I look at my child and hold her tight everytime I hear this kind of story. I can't help but feel worried about her safety and become a paranoid freak. I know I can't control everything but the only hope I have is for my child to be safe everywhere she goes because I will not be able tolerate if anything ever happens.
This post comes in time for Christmas. It reminds us that life is so short and fragile. Remind yourself to do your best as if today is the last day. Remind yourself that tomorrow may not be the same. Live with the present. Don't wait to tell those peole how much we love them. While we are happy and in Christmas spirit, just remember that there are people who are enduring great loss..people who are hungry...people who are losing hope...people who are lonely....people who need love and support. the fullest the fullest the fullest
May everone who lost their lives in the incident rest in peace....
May the parents find way to heal their hearts....


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cranberry Orange Muffins

At the rate my baking extravaganza has been going, I am staying (far..far) away from a scale since November (wonder why?!?). This time of the year is the time for indulgence and special treats. It is necessary to pamper and rejuvenate both body and soul to get yourself in gear for another year so “let it be” (with portion control in mind of course). I enjoy filling my home with sweet aroma of different desserts and home cooked meals while glancing at our Christmas decorations, it is simply delightful and pure happiness.
This past weekend, I made Cranberry Orange Muffins (adept from Cranberry Orange Loaf). A Cranberry Orange Muffin from Nestle Tollhouse used to be my favorite until they closed down a store by my house. They made wholesome muffins filled with tangy cranberries and yummy pecans and a hint of orange which I was dying for more until I found this recipe. It was pretty close, not as heavy but enough to fulfill my craving. Find recipe {here}
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Colors of Christmas: Home Edition

Oh blogging, how am I lazy so!!?? Well at least my laziness only spirals in the realm of blogging, not onto my offline line. I am rather productive in the kitchen and at home organizing/cleaning lately. For some very odd reason, I feel quite inspired to get the house cleaned around this time of the year. Last year I spent New Year’s Eve cleaning a room until 1AM in the morning…talking about fun thing to do on New Year’s Eve there!
Cleaning and organizing is such a daunting task, don’t you agree? It requires a great amount of motivation, time and energy to accomplish such demanding and unpleasant tasks. The other day I opened a closet in a study room just to close it and walk away - lol. It was ridiculously and unbelievably messy. It was overwhelming because we hadn’t cleaned that closet since we moved in our house in 2007!!! All we had been doing was putting more craps in there. Just imagine boxes after boxes, trashes and everything you can imagine. Carpet was dirty because of the darn kitty. She likes to go in there and shred the paper. It was AWFUL. Okay I admit that I don’t do a good job as far as keeping the house in a tip top shape. Having a full time job and a little kid in tow already occupies most of my awaking moments so I would rather sit on my butt when I can which mostly is at night after 8pm until about 11pm. That’s right – that is my only window of opportunity to sit back, relax, blog or clean. Pick one!!
Blogging has to wait until all the craziness wade off, then I shall blog more regularly again. However today is 12/12/12 – I thought I popped my head in and did two posts (not 12!!) for such a special day. These are a few snapshots of our Christmas decorations. We are not quite done but have made a good progress this year.
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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Craving for Crepe~*

December is by far the busiest month of this year. A lot of things are about to happen at the same time like...

....To finish Christmas shopping (I dread on this for some reason. Who knows. Perhaps waiting for some surprise money to fall from sky?!?!).....

.....To wrap things up at work and be prepared for a busier year of 2013 (if the world doesn't end as  predicted on 12/21/12. Heck I haven't stocked up on food or water?!?! Well I guess if the world would end, I didn't need any of the above.).....

......To complete some lenghty paperwork in order to send my precious child to a Private Pre-Kindergarten in Jan 2013. We spent majority of our time calling up and touring a few places in our area and a decision was finally made. Education is an investment and we feel she is mentally and physically ready for this (she has been in the same in-home daycare since 7 weeks old - the ladies were sad to learn she's leaving). We are excited and frustrated (especially me) at the same time as how she will handle everything. I hope she handles the changes smoothly and transition to like her school and new friends quickly. She will be wearing uniforms too so we don't have to deal with morning dress up battle! Last but not least I hope our wallet cope with a significant cost increase well - Amen!.....

Other than that, I continue to dirty pots and pans explore and try new recipes in the kitchen with joys and good appetite. One of our family's favorite is this Blueberry Rhubarb Crepes. Boy the last time I made crepes was at least 5 years ago....yes 5 years ago. Ever since my child was born, fancy breakfast was NOT an option. It was a bit too much of a work for me. Now that everthing has fallen into place, I feel much more eager to venture out again. It is about time to savor some decadent crepes.

I have tried a few recipes in the past with no impression whatsover. Some recipes appeared too complicated and required too many ingredients (I hate that). Some appeared to have too much butter/salt.
What I love most about this recipe is that it is so incredibly easy, simple, low in sodium, healthy..yet full of flavors and very filling. Three hours after eating these babies, our bellies were still full. Pretty amazing!!

I know it would be a crime not to share. So here is a recipe (source: My H-E-B Texas Life, November Issue)

This recipe yields 8 servings (I did half and used 2 eggs for 3 people)
3 Large Eggs
1 1/4 cups Milk (I used 1% milk)
1 cup All Purpose Flour
3 tablespoons Unsalted butter
1 cup Blueberry Fruit Spread (I used grape fruit jam)
2 cups Frozen Rhubarb
2 cups Vanilla Yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
1/4 cup Powdered Sugar

How to:

1) Combine eggs and milk in a mixing bowl, and beat 1 min with an electric mixer. Add flour and beat 15 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons melted butter and mix 30 seconds or until a smooth batter is formed. Set aside.

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2) Combine fruit spread and rhubarb in a microwave-safe bowl, cover and microwave on high power for 4 minutes (this didn't work too good for me, next time I would cook in a pot on stovetop).

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3) Heat a heavy-bottom nonstick skillet over medium heat for 2 mins. Brush skillet with melted butter, pour in 1/84 cup batter and rotate pan to evely coat. Cook crepe 30 seconds or until lightly browned on bottom. Turn crepe over and cook 15 seconds. Remove from pan and keep warm. Repeat process with remaining batter.

4) To assemble crepes: Fill each crepe with 3 tablesppons vanilla yogurt, roll up like a taco and arrange on a platter seam side down. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with a spoonful of blueberry rhubargb sauce.

Bon Appetit!!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fashion, Pains and the Great Sufferings

Leather, fur and exotic accessories are associated with luxury. They are the most sourced items as we can see they are in high demand around this time of the year. While most of us adore the “luxurious” feel and look of exotic products, have we ever paused and thought about how animals were killed and how their lives were before their skins transformed into a beautiful purse?

I am not gonna lie because I too am one of many ladies who like the look of leather, fur and exotic stuff. But I cannot always afford the real things which I think is good. The only “real” leather product I own up to this point in my life is a lambskin flap. After doing some research on how animals are killed for their skin/fur, I literally gasped in horror and tears filled both of my eyes. This whole thing made me pause and think long and hard about my future purchases – be it clothes, shoes, handbags or other accessories. Of course, animals are human’s food - I don’t detest this fact. It has been that way for centuries and I have yet to fully convert to a vegetarian at this point. Killing animals for consumption may not be wrong but raising and killing animals brutally is UNACCEPTABLE.

All along, I thought animals are killed before being skinned. Little did I know, most of them are skinned ALIVE – yes “ALIVE” and left to die in pain slowly. I can’t imagine how much pains and sufferings animals must have gone through during their short lives. The poor condition they “lived” in every day. The constant fear and distress they must have gone through every second.
I know this sounds awful and heartbreaking, and most people don’t even want to read further but bear with me and continue if you haven’t known already. Who am I to tell people to stop buying leather goods or fur coats?? The least I can do is to share what I have read with someone because I believe most people don't know this just like myself.

I do not work for PETA or any animal organization but I have a VERY weak spot for animals. Reading stories about how people abuse animals never fail to bring tears to my eyes and make me depress. Today, out of the blue I was looking at one stunning croc bag and happened to be curious as how crocodiles are killed for their skin. Then the research began and the rest was a history. The way I viewed luxury goods forever changed.

[Contents via Actionforourplanet]
Exotic Skins
Many animal skins are considered exotic including the skins of snakes, alligators, crocodiles, turtles, eels, ostriches and kangaroos. Millions of reptiles are bred or taken from their jungle homes every year to provide for the growing exotic skins industry.
Snakes are nailed to trees and skinned alive, bludgeoned, decapitated and their live bodies are filled with water to stretch out their skin. Lizards are captured in the wild using snares before being cut open with knives and decapitated. Alligators and crocodiles sometimes have a chisel and hammer smashed into the back of their head to paralyse them. All reptiles have slow metabolisms which means they experience pain even if they have been decapitated. Their skins are then tanned and used to make fashion accessories.
Fifty million animals are cruelly killed every year for their fur pelts. The majority of animals are kept on fur farms where they are kept in tiny cages either isolated or with other animals. These cages are extremely small and animals are unable to fulfil their social, physical and natural living requirements. Therefore, many animals suffer from psychological problems, repetitive habits, self inflicted injuries and limb pain. No anaesthetic or veterinary care is provided to the animals so they are forced to endure ailments their entire lives. Foxes, mink, rabbits, sable, dogs, cats and chinchilla are just some of the animals exploited for their furs.
When the animals coat is ready to be removed, fur farm employees pull the animal from it’s cage and begin the slow and agonising slaughter process. Animals may be hung upside down and strangled or may have a blunt knife inserted inside their body to cut off the skin. The live animal is then dumped in a pile to die in pain. Foxes are often anally electrocuted whilst mink are gassed, poisoned and have their bones broken. Dogs and cats may be hung upside down and drowned, skinned or bludgeoned to death.
Over one billion animals are killed a year for their skins which are tanned and made into leather products. The leather trade makes  around half of all profits generated by slaughterhouses and many animals are bred specifically for their skins. Cattle, sheep, goats and pigs are among some of the animals kept in extreme confinement for leather production. In India, cattle are forced to march hundreds of miles without any food or water. Those that tire have tobacco and chilli power rubbed into their eyes or their tail bones broken. Once they reach their destination they are slaughtered, often being hacked to death or skinned alive. During the slaughter process of most leather bearing animals, they receive no anaesthetic whilst they are being scalded alive, electrocuted, skinned, cut open or bleed to death.
After reading these, will you continue to buy?
Personally, I won't.....

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Eye Candy: Tom Ford Sunglasses

I normally own a pair of sunglasses at a time and use them until they literally fall apart. Living in Texas, sunglasses are must have accessories. I don't think I wear sunglasses as often as I should to protect my eyes from harsh and harmful sunlight. My previous pair was from Guess which I have had for at least 2-3 years. Not exactly sure why I don't have a few pairs to switch around just like clothes. Well that may sound a little too excessive but it would be fun to have two or three pairs to switch around just like clothes, shoes or bags.
I guess the reason I don't like buying glasses or sunglasses in general is due to the fact that I don't quite know what shape really suits my face so I would rather buy when I need to. Tryinig on glasses can be fun but frustrating at the same time. Buying online is not my preferred option.
However...okay...however, I broke my rule when Groupon (oh my god, I am loving Groupon!) advertised this Tom Ford sunglasses deal a month ago. It was too good to pass, plus it was a perfect timing since I was on a lookout for a new pair anyway. I scored this beauty for about $90 something (retail price $550). They were made of metal (I always opt for plastic for lightness but thought I tried something different). Love the color.
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