Posted in Uncategorized

Saving Money

I read the Financial Samurai, and am inspired to save some moolah! Part of this is that due to the spring cleaning we are doing. We donate so much stuff – it’s just like seeing money in the trash can. So I am going to keep track of how we are saving.

This week, so far I’ve said no to:

  1. Games of Saturn – $40 – It was my daughter’s birthday, and I thought of making a quick trip to Target to get an additional gift. But seeing the dining table of gifts on her birthday make me realize how ridiculous it all was.
    1. Also, note to self: don’t buy her 11 balloons next year! She just likes the flower ones, so get her 5.
  2. TWO lunches out – $60 – Granted, husband wasn’t home and he always wants to eat out. But on Tuesday and Thursday, we decided to eat leftovers at home instead of going out to eat.
  3. A shirt $4.00 – I know my daughter has too many clothes, but it was only $4. But this time I showed it to her, and asked her if she loved it. She said no.

Total: $100!

I’m a natural cheapo so this was fun. I think writing down what I gave up makes me think of how to be more thoughtful, and more deliberate of spending.

Posted in Food, Uncategorized

Lemonade Curry Cauliflower

Have you been to Lemonade? It’s a healthy eatery that I’ve stopped at a couple of times. I feel very virtuous when I go to Lemonade, since they serve mostly interesting salads and vegetables. They also let you sample, which I love.

Their curry cauliflower is delicious. I could eat a whole plate, but at $4.50 for a side and $12 for a plate, that’s pretty hefty.   As I was savoring a cauliflower floret, I did a quick google search for a copycat recipe and found the Lemonade Cauliflower Curry Recipe.

Yahoo! I could be healthy and cheap. I bought a head of cauliflower, apple, onion and a jar of Tumeric from Trader Joe’s. The recipe sounded pretty quick, so I followed the instructions. The curry oil looked a bit sketchy, but I drained the cooked produce per the instructions. That’s when I noticed the random yellow stains on my beautiful white quartz countertops.   OMG! I’ve only had my white countertops for 6 months, and hello – I didn’t want to save $4.50 on cauliflower for another $2K on countertops. I started scrubbing profusely. Nothing. Baking soda. Nothing. Finally, I googled and someone suggested Lysol Disinfectant. I didn’t know that stuff in the can was purple, or perhaps purple is the color when the spray hits turmeric. At any rate, 30 minutes after scrubbing disinfectant into the countertops and all dishes stained with turmeric, I was done.

The salad is yummy, but I don’t know if the work of cooking + work of cleaning + stained yellow hands is worth a more relaxing meal at Lemonade.

lemonadecauliflower

Posted in Uncategorized

Banana Pancakes

This weekend, I decided to try something different: keep the work stuff in the car (outside of my laptop), so I could focus when I get home on home stuff such as cleaning/organizing, hanging with the kids, exercising.  This morning, I woke up to Mei Mei yelling “Mama.”  We snuggled for a while, and since I was more relaxed, we decided to make banana pancakes.

We found this banana pancake recipe on epicurious.com.    It was simple enough for Mei Mei to follow and get practice on fractions and for this Mama to surf and catch up on email.  We added chocolate chips, but the orange butter made these pancakes seem like the ones we can get in fancy brunch places.

We usually halve a recipe for pancakes, since for whatever reason – the act of making pancakes is more fun than eating them for my family.  But for this recipe, Mei Mei and I really liked the pancakes and were debating whether to save some for the sleepyheads that were sleeping in this Saturday morning.  You snooze, you lose.

bananapancake

Luckily though, Jie Jie woke up in time to sample the pancakes.  She wasn’t a fan of bananas in her pancakes, wierdo.  But we finished all the batter, so this will be a keeper for Saturday mornings going forward.  I’m going to try and make a mac-nut vanilla or coconut syrup to remind us of our favorite breakfast in Maui.

 

 

Posted in Family, funny, Uncategorized

The Boot

The little one is a hypochondriac. We go the doctor so often that the adults in the household are embarrassed and do a game of “Not it” before scheduling our monthly visit to her doctor. She’s a regular at the school nurse’s office for her boo boo’s (suspiciously always occurring during PE hours, where she’d prefer the air-conditioned comfort to the rigorous exercise of 1st grade PE). For the past couple of months, she occasionally complained about foot pain, usually when she wanted her father to carry her and give her a piggyback ride, but not when we were at the park, or at the beach, or anything else fun.

This week, she complained again and both my husband and I were arguing who should tell my mother that she was this month’s lucky winner to take Annabel to see the doctor. My mother – who relishes any moment to spend time with the little ones – puts her foot down when it comes to the doctor visits. “It’s too embarrassing, – I see the doctor too much” she says as she hears Annabel complain of another malady.

As a joke, we had her godfather – a spinal surgeon – take a look. He said it looked a little swollen, and maybe we should bring her in. Annabel’s regular doctor took a look and said it looked ok, but he’d get x-rays just in case. As Annabel skipped happily from the doctor’s office with her doctor visit stickers, I couldn’t help roll my eyes about another unnecessary doctor visit.

Two hours later, however, we got notified that the x-rays showed a small chip in her bone and we needed to see the orthopedics at Kaiser the next day. All night, Annabel kept jumping up and down (really???) and peppering me with questions. “What’s a chip? Which bone? What do I tell my friends? Do I get a boot?” She told Hubs that she couldn’t wait for her boot. Hubs and I both rolled our eyes.
Why would she need one? She clearly didn’t have issues as she imitated her new life with the boot.

The next day, we visited the orthopedic doctor who said that Annabel unfortunately would have to wear a boot for the month. Brother. Who knew a 6 year old could diagnose her self? Annabel was beyond excited. “This is the happiest day of my life.” (Really, why bother with $300 birthday parties?) “I prayed for a Boot and got one!” (THIS is what you pray for? ) “Don’t tell anyone about my boot! I want it to be a surprise!” (Yes, your parents’ apathy and ineptitude is definitely the first thing I want to share with everyone on social media).

The little one is constantly enthusiastic about everything. I wonder how she’ll be in about a month. This morning, though, she was still going strong as she considered fashion choices with the boot.

Posted in Food

Chocolate Chess Pie

Every Saturday, we trudge up to San Francisco for the girls’ music lessons at the SF Conservatory. We have about an hour and a half break between classes, and so far, we’ve been trying out at Hayes Valley, which is in walking distance. Hayes Valley is is a super cute neighborhood, but I can no longer stomach paying $80 for eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns for a family of four.This weekend, we went to the Tenderloin (about a 6 minute drive from school). I made the mistake of telling the girls that this wasn’t the safest neighborhood to walk alone, so the girls were a bit hesitant. After telling them it was daytime and it was fine, we took a quick walk to the restaurant, passing by colorful murals that Mei Mei loved. When Jie Jie peaked into the window at Rusty’s Southern Eats with its modern rustic decor, she decided she “liked” the place. Given the complaints leaving the car, Hubs and I rolled our eyes. Sigh…I guess she isn’t into dives like her cheapo mother.

Rusty’s brunch menu had eggs and bacon for the girls ($12 still, but at least this time they shared a plate), poached egg with pulled pork and grits for me, and an amazing fried chicken sandwich for Hubs. He needed two hands to eat it! The best dish, however, was the chocolate chess pie. We ordered one slice, and the Mei Mei decided to create a wall with her chubby arms around the family plate. Mei Mei’s head would suddenly lower and bump our forks away as we would try and reach for another bite. I debated ordering another plate ($7!) but finally Mei Mei got full and lifted her head to give us access.

This weekend, for our baking project, I decided that Mei Mei and I would make a chocolate chess pie. It was raining in CA (whoo hoo!), and I didn’t want to go and get evaporated milk. I found this recipe, which had everything I had in the pantry and refrigerator. It took 10 minutes to mix up, and Annabel did most of everything except for adding/removing from the oven. The pie was amazing, and I quickly cut seven slices for the girls’ teachers so I would have less to binge on. We used a pre-made crust, and the crust to filling ratio wasn’t optimal. Next time, I would double the custard. This might be our new go-to dessert for fast entertaining.

IMG_5363

Posted in Food

Halloween Leftover Candy Brownies

This year’s Halloween haul was very light. Between the two girls, the candy barely filled a full jack-o-lantern. Moreover, Mei Mei was obsessed with Twix so picked Twix at every possible moment and now won’t share. Poor Jie Jie just got Phase 1 of her braces, so wasn’t as keen as Halloween as previous years.

For this poor mother, who truly believes that Halloween candy is calorie-and-guilt free because it is only available once a year as a holiday, this was a sad day in coming. Ever since the girls were born, Halloween was the one day they earned their keep. As I looked at the measly pile of leftovers they deigned to give to their mother– whoppers, random milky ways, and plain M&M’s – I knew that my calories would not be wasted on subpar candy treats.

I had found this blondie leftover recipe earlier, and thought this would be a fun weekend baking project with Mei Mei. Of course, Hubs decided that it was pretty late and Mei Mei should go to sleep, but alas, I had already melted the butter. It was pretty quick though.  I wouldn’t recommend using whoppers and peanut butter reese cups in the future – they kindav look like turds in the brownies.  That being said, both girls ate and loved the blondies the next day.

Halloween Leftover Brownies

Posted in Family, Fun

15 Minute Respite: Slime

When Jie Jie first started kindergarten, it was a mad rush to volunteer for some classroom activity. I remember setting the kitchen timer, so I could ensure that I would get one of the coveted spots on the field trip, classroom parties, and parent helper. Now that the second born is in first grade, there’s no need to bother. There must be other parents that feel the same, because our first grade class couldn’t get anyone to volunteer to host this year’s Halloween party.

I reluctantly volunteered and spent a morning whiling away precious minutes on Pinterest searching for Halloween party ideas. I found several activities, including Q-Tip skeletons, Hand-Bats, and Halloween cookie decorating. Most of these were pretty simple, but I wanted to incorporate some educational science activity. I found a recipe for slime, and decided I had better try and make it this weekend before exposing 21 rowdy first graders to the activity.

It was pretty easy to make the slime, and the kids were immersed in it for a good 15 minutes. It looked pretty disgusting, and was very slimey. The kids had a blast while I got some valuable me-time to search for food porn on Pinterest. Much better use of my valuable Pinterest researching time.

Homemade Slime

Posted in Food

Roast Pork Loin

Sunday night is steak night at our house. Hubs usually grills ribeye, and he’s such a bbq master that I refuse to get steak elsewhere. Our Sunday night tradition started about seven years ago, when Jie Jie was a baby. Hubs and I were eating our first steak in a long time, and gave a bite to Jie Jie on a whim. She devoured it. Ever since then, both girls chomp down easily a pound of USDA Prime every Sunday.

The problem with giving your children good eats is that they expect it on a regular basis. And they won’t settle for less. When the price of beef started going up, I urged Hubs to get choice instead of prime. The girls refused to eat steak that night and the following week at Costco, insisted that we get the “blue pack.” The fact that a 2 and 4 year old can decipher and remember the packaging between prime and choice at Costco is scary.   I didn’t know who I felt more sorry for: Me, who had to pay for top-of-the-line steak for the next 20 years, or their future husbands, who would have to deal with such high maintenance wives.

Fast forward seven years and the toddler appetites are becoming more adult-like. I watched Hubs cut 3 slices of steak last week, and my eyes nearly feel out of their sockets. We buy prime ribeye at Costco in a vacuum pack; it’s $10.99/pound, which is a lot cheaper than $25 at Whole Paycheck. That being said, if he uses a third of the vacuum pack ($180), that’s a $60 dinner!   Hubs said it would be much more expensive at a steakhouse, which I agree with, but who eats at a steakhouse every Sunday?

It was time to take matters into my own hand. At Costco this week, I perused the butcher counter. Since when was ground beef $4.99/pound? As I wondered if “organic” was a marketing ploy, I saw a special on pork loin. $1.99 a pound with a $2 rebate? I never had pork loin before, but 7 pounds for $10. I’m in!

I decided to try this Epicurious recipe for rosemary and garlic pork loin. It had 400 reviews and high ratings, and usually Epicurious doesn’t let me down. The rub smelled delicious as I made it, and I threw 3 potatoes (diced) beneath the roast.

Pork Loin Pre-Oven

The loin come out moist, but didn’t have much flavor. Hubs drowned his in Tonkatsu sauce, but the girls both ate one slice. Jie Jie said she liked it: “It tastes like steak!”   I’m not too sure what steak she is referring to, but it wasn’t ribeye.   I was proud that I learned how to roast a moist pork loin.   More importantly, for that price, pork loin will now be in our regular rotation.

Roast Pork Loin with Potatoes

Mei Mei wanted to bake something for her teachers. I was in the midst of making 2 pans of lasagna so I needed something quick. We decided to make oreo-stuffed brownies. The recipe is really simple.  Use your favorite boxed brownie mix, follow instructions, pour half of the batter in a pan, layer oreos, and top with remaining brownie batter.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  The girls thought the brownies were awesome. There didn’t seem to be enough batter for one pan (8 inch square), so I would double the batter next time.

Oreo Stuffed Brownies

Posted in Food

Easy Leftover Oatmeal Cookies

This weekend, Annabel and I made a fabulous oatmeal cake recipe. It was sooo good. I ate about a sixth of it when it was warm out of the oven. The next morning, I had another slice before the girls woke up. I knew this cake was trouble, so had to get rid of it as soon as possible. I cut up the cake in pieces, bagged it in plastic, and gave the cake to Annabel’s teacher and some school mom friends. Of course, three hours later, I stared at the empty pan and wanted to kick myself. Why did I give away that delicious, moist, sweet cake? Why couldn’t I have left myself some well-deserved pieces? Why diet in Q4 anyways?

I wanted some more oatmeal cake, and dreamed about it every time I had the munchies for the next couple of days. Today, I had leftover oatmeal and could have made the cake. However, I was feeling particularly lazy and didn’t want to wait for the butter to soften, cream sugar/cream, start up the oven, etc., etc. Yet, I didn’t want to throw away leftover oatmeal. The Asian in me just couldn’t deal.

So, I came up with these oatmeal cookies. They take about 5 minutes to stir up, and I baked them for 20 minutes in the toaster oven (saving electricity!). The girls had them after school, and both liked them. The cookies are soft and fluffy.  The girls wanted to give the leftovers to their teachers tomorrow, but I learned my lesson. The four leftovers are mine.

Easy Leftover Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup cooked oatmeal (plain)
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter melted
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1 cup chocolate chips

Steps
1. Mix everything in a bowl.
2. Drop in tablespoons on greased pan.
3. Bake in toaster oven for 25 minutes at 350. I didn’t bother preheating.

Leftover Oatmeal Cookies

Posted in Uncategorized

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

Annabel’s Focused Learning Goal this year is to learn how to bake. I thought it would be fun bonding event to bake weekly. For our first week, Annabel wanted to make something chocolate, and I wanted to make something “fallish.” We searched on Pinterest, and found this recipe. Annabel insisted on using real pumpkins instead of canned.

I never made pumpkin before, so was surprised how easy it was. I picked a pie pumpkin at Trader Joe’s, sliced it, stuck in the toaster oven for 45 minutes at 350. It came out pretty tasty and I would consider eating it alone for a side dish.

The brownies were pretty easy to mix together. The browned butter smelled heavenly, but I don’t think the portions are right. There wasn’t enough batter to fill the pan, so I’d recommend doubling the chocolate mixture. We didn’t have enough to do swirls, which I found out later why Annabel really wanted to do the recipe.

The brownies came out moist. The chocolate part of the brownie was awesome; the pumpkin wasn’t bad – I guess I’m a chocolate brownie purist, and don’t want a pairing of tastes for the brownies. Annabel wasn’t a fan; she just nibbled the chocolate brownie part off.  We gave some to Annabel’s teachers, who thought they were yummy.

For the FLGs, I’m having Annabel write her own posts.  This proud mama thinks they’re funny.  Plus, I gotta start her publishing empire and my retirement fund early.