Thursday, July 24, 2014

Hot Dog Pasta

I've seen this online, and just had to try it...

You can keep it simple - hot dogs and spaghetti noodles - but feel free to add some sauce, or toss with grated parmesan, olive oil, and garlic. However fancy you want these hot dogs to be, LOL. ^_~

And if you have kids in any way...don't tell me you don't want to try making these. Just do it, hee hee. =)

Dinner with the Fleschers

Baby Mia is due in a few weeks, so before their baby pops on out, we had to drop on by to hang out with Mei-Chi and Greg before they get inundated with diapers and sleepless nights. ^_^

We'll drop by after the baby's out too though, hee hee hee. ^_~

Mei-Chi cooked all of us, and Victor (her cousin that's visiting) up a storm of a dinner, and afterwards, we made s'mores in their firepit. Greg is the expert, so he showed the girls how it's done, hee hee...followed by lots of chatting, laughing, and strolling down to the beach and neighborhood before heading home for the night. I can't believe it's been FOURTEEN YEARS since undergrad. I've known this girl since freshman year - I don't even remember HOW we met (probably in one of our classes), but there was lots of bonding over cooking in her apartment and food and friends...and WE ARE STILL AMAZED BY FOOD. I think we were meant to be belly buddies from the get go! ^_~

And um, I'm seriously having too much fun with the GIF maker. >_<

Happy 2nd Birthday Sophia! ^_^

Sophia is only a few months younger than Penny, and so we celebrated her birthday at the party Giang and Bill held for them. Giang is SUCH a long time wonderful, dear friend to me, and we've been through thick and thin. I don't know what I'd do without such a friend! ^_^

Aiva and Penelope had a lot of fun playing in the Slip 'n Slide and the kiddie pool, blowing and catching bubbles, singing Happy Birthday and eating a delicious taro cake that Bill's mom made. =) Time doesn't stop, and the world seems to go by faster as we get older - the kiddies are all getting bigger and bigger! Not the last time we saw them, but the last time I THINK we were at their house was for the baby shower, pre-Sophia! What's kinda funny is if you look at those pictures from the baby shower 2 years ago, Aiva was wearing the same dress that Penny is wearing below! LOL. Total coincidence.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cow Appreciation Day

Because Chick-Fil-A had a Cow Appreciation Day on 7-11, we simply had to don our paper cow hats, and moooooove on over for Chicken Sandwiches and Nuggets, right? =) It's also one of Aiva's favorite places to eat at, since she can get her favorite combination #1 - fruit cup and a chocolate milk. Plus there's a play area, so what's not to like for a four and a half year old? ^_~

Uh, that's a Trader Joe's cucumber sticker on my neck. Because we stopped by there in the morning, and Penny insisted it be stuck at that spot. O_o

Summer Wreath

I love how it adds a bit of happy color onto a plain ol' front door!
I was inspired when I saw this online at Good Housekeeping, and decided to give it a go this summer. 

IT WAS SO EASY! So easy, I got it done in less than 20 minutes (would have been faster if I didn't hem and haw wondering where I should put the flowers!) and didn't even take any pictures of it. 

Get whatever flowers you like from the Dollar Tree, and cut them off the stems with a sturdy pair of scissors. I chose these big pink peonies and a stem of smaller white flowers that had babies breath on them. In total, I used 4 stems, which is $4 from the Dollar Tree.

I got the grapevine wreath ring at Michael's. They are usually $5, but I used a 40% coupon and got it for $3.

With the stems cut off, loop and stick them into the grapevine wreath, and arrange it in any way until you are satisfied. =) That's it! You can hot glue the flowers down if you want to make it permanent; I did not glue them down, and they stay on perfectly well as long as you twine them into the grapevine well. It's been hanging on the front door for a few weeks and it's still good. =D

I was tempted to ring flowers all the way around it, but there weren't enough peonies at the Dollar Tree. I did try to add a butterfly in the there, but it didn't have the effect I wanted; if I come across a little Welcome sign though, I might add that in somewhere later down the road. =)

Hey, for $7, when these things are selling for triple and four times or more online? Not bad. ^_^

Fairy Garden

So I've always wanted to make a Fairy Garden for Aiva, as she has these little Tinkerbell and friends plastic figurines from this book of her, and well, you have to admit, it's a cute idea. I mean, just look at Pinterest! All the tiny pieces are just too adorable!

So that was one of my goals this summer.

Only the more I thought of it, the more it seems like I'd be doing all the work, and Aiva wouldn't really - I mean, the attention span of a 4 year old? And because there are live little plants, I'd have to take care of it. It's like when kids ask for a puppy, and the parents say no, because really, it ends up being the parents taking care of it. Ha's lookin' at ME, and fully understanding now why my parents always said no to the million pets I've asked for, LOL. I'm lucky with my little Emily parakeet, who became part of the family, as she was with us for 13 years! From when I was in 8th grade until my first few years TEACHING 8th graders. Crazy, huh? ^_^

Anyways, I digress.

So I was hesitant on making the fairy garden. And though all the little crafty parts would be fun to make, it'd have to end up being a long hobby for me, when I'd prefer to make cards and do other crafty things, instead of investing all my time on teeny-tiny-albeit-super-cute-parts. I laid off on the idea until I went into the Dollar Tree to pick up some fake flowers for a wreath I was making, and all the parts of the Fairy Garden suddenly came together!

Aiva! Choose a flower for your fairy garden! Find blue colored stones for a pond! Do you want a little butterfly in there? 

And Aiva, with her love for fairies and everything pretty, responded quickly, finding things she wanted for her garden. I had a large, unused basket at home that I figure could be the vessel for the garden - she could even carry it around if she wanted to after it was done! And she already had fairies at home. Everything else was from the dollar tree, and added up to $10 even. Later on, I ended up using a plastic bag (the one that held everything from Dollar Tree, ha!), a piece of blue felt, and some small seashells we had around the house.

Started with the basket, and cut up some foam flower arranging squares to fit most of the bottom.
Open up and put floral moss all over the place.  Actually, I didn't get a picture, but I went back, added a plastic bag under the foam squares and a bit up the edge of the basket, to keep the moss from falling out and to fill in lightly some of the open spaces that the squares didn't fill up.

Aiva started adding blue clear stones to make the pond. I paused her here because you couldn't see the blue much when it was on to of a the floral moss. I cut out a piece of blue felt in the shape of a pond, and placed it on the moss before having her put the blue stones on again.

Much better! You can see the pond better with the blue felt below. Aiva added rocks to wherever she wanted - these rocks and the stones are all found from the Dollar Tree, in the floral decoration area. We found a black potpourri warmer also and used that to hold glittery sequins for pixie dust. If you've seen Tinkerbell and the Pirate Fairy, you know what in the world this represents, LOL.
I cut the two flowers that Aiva chose from the Dollar Tree (a stem of pink tulips, and another stem of small flowers with Easter eggs on it. There was only one and I think it was a leftover stem from spring flowers, but she liked it and said the Animal Talent Fairies would like the eggs for baby birds, hee hee. We stabbed the flowers through the moss into the foam underneath to keep them in place, creating a "Tulip Forest" and some flowers/eggs to frame the pixie dust.

Here's Silvermist - her favorite fairy, probably because she looks Asian, hee hee - and a water talent fairy, in her natural pond habitat. Shelton had a bag of seashells from long ago, and Aiva chose a few to add nearby.

The Animal Talent Fairy, Fawn, is next to a butterfly and a cat figurine. Also near the eggs, where the baby birds will pop out of one day, hee hee.

Queen Clarion and Terrence the Sparrow Man are guarding the pixie dust. Below, we found a pack of 2 LED battery powered fake tealights. So we used one here that she can turn on when she's playing with her fairy garden, and saved the other for when this one dies.

Vidia, the Fast Flying Talent Fairy, is sulking in a corner, LOL.

Tinkerbell and Rosetta (Plant-Talent Fairy, peeking behind the forest) are hanging out, and Iridessa, the Light-Talent Fairy, is supposedly getting ready to fly up. Aiva has a firefly figurine but she can't find it, but when she does, it's supposed to  hang out with Iridessa, hee hee.

Aiva and her Fairy Garden! She loves it completely! She plays with it often, and it would make a great centerpiece for a fairy-themed party, don't you think? =)

June 2014

Another catch-up post! I'll try to stick to the highlights, but of course, lots of pictures. =) I might have to do these posts mellowdee style. ^_~

June 1st, Sunday: We kicked off June 1st with Mei-Chi and Greg at their Baby Shower for Baby Mia, who is due in August! =)

There was a giant sweets bar, with cotton candy the size of my head!
After that, we visited one of our old stomping grounds, the Irvine Spectrum, and then Old Town Tustin to hit up Izakaya Honda-Ya to fill our bellies some more before heading home. We left the girls at home with grandma and grandpa for this one, and as always, it's nice to have just time for us two before going home to shower them and tuck them in for the night. ^_^

June 3rd, Tuesday: Aiva and Penny began their summer swim classes; Aiva for the third summer, and Penny for her first. Aiva's a MERMAID. She loves the water and does great! We go swimming at the club now, and we don't have to worry about her too much. Penny can swim okay now - stay afloat for a while and all. But she hated the lessons, and when we go swimming, she prefers to just cling on me. Actually, she's like a koala baby in and out of the water, as she's extra clingy in general. People say it's a younger child thing, LOL. At least she's not too heavy, right? =) Anyways, Ms. Nancy's good. Penny cried the whole first few days, but she got it and if she fell in water now, she'd be okay for a bit before anyone gets to her.

June 8th, Sunday: Danaka's 3! So went to celebrate her birthday down at the base where Lorie and Damon worked at, eating tacos and quesadillas, playing at the playground, blowing bubbles and having Aiva surrounded by a giant bubble, and catching up with them. All good stuff. =) Danaka (in the hat and pink) wasn't too happy with taking pictures here, mostly because she had to pee, heh heh. ^_^

Aiva is a great big sister. She wants to take care of Penny all the time. ^_^

June 12, Thursday: Promotion Day! Last Day of Work! I am always, always proud of seeing my students promote every year. =) Some of them have had it hard; their homes may be broken and they may be going through many things, more things that many of us as adults have had to go through, and yet, many of them persevere. As a teacher, and putting my heart into the every day things that go on in my classroom, I wish I could change so much for them, but all I can do is control what happens in my classroom, and what kind of experiences these kids through being a family in there; every year, I hope I've done the best I can to show them that they matter, that they are valued, despite everything that may happen to them during the year, and as they go off into their futures. But as a teacher, I also wanted to scream with joy when that last bell rang on the last official school day with the students, hee hee hee hee...can't help it. Summer break is just great to have. =)

Just some of the awesome people I work with during the 8th grade field trip to The Cove: Rochelle, Erin, Elissia, Shalyn, and Keren!
And oh! I got the brand new Aquaport launchers for my bottle rockets this year - all 5 of them, from the REEF grant I submitted earlier in the year for "Newton's Aqueous Shuttle Adventurers" (Shelton helped me figure out the name, hee hee!) grant proposal. They worked wonderfully - no more worries about protocols not being followed and having to pull the project anymore. Woo hoo!

June 16-21: Summer break kicked off with food poisoning that I got somewhere, maybe from the church's Father's Day BBQ competition. How exciting, huh? But, besides that, we also hosted a little taco party with the Lu's and Ma/Lee's; when the Ma's and us used to live in the Anaheim Hills apartment, we used to get together randomly on Sundays after church and have dinner together with the Lu's and anyone else that was around. It was fun! And so now that we've moved and have a bigger house and actual dining tables, it's time to bring it back! LOL.

During that week, I also flew up to Sacramento for a quick little conference for HBA, where we worked, worked, worked on the budget and our plans for the following school year. I've not been to many conferences, and most of the time, a conference brings to mind of workshops and vendors giving away free things. The HSEI conference we do for HBA is always about the work, and maybe because of funding, there are now less days to do all the budgeting, and no vendors (not much in the past anyway, as it was always about the work). Super productive, and I love working with all the folks every year on this. Victor even came on this trip as Ramon's admin, so it was nice to catch up again, and I was Femi and Olympia, who live in Sac, were able to come pick me up after dinner one night for a movie (How to Train A Dragon 2. Awesome!) and a night time driving tour through the city, hee hee.

June 22-28: The Ocean Institute at Dana Point had a new Adopt-A-School program that started last year, and during the school year, I was told that I got the adoption! I would be taking 30 students of my choice on a 3-day, 2 night cruise on the Spirit of Dana Point, which is a 100-ton sailing schooler (imagine an old pirate sailing ship!) to Catalina. We'd sleep, eat, everything on the boat, and it was a giant science camp and team building experience for the 3 days. Students raised the sails every day ("Heave!  Ho!"), cleaned the decks, polished the brass, and cleaned the bathroom heads. Students learned how to measure how many knots our sailboat was traveling, used the ocean maps to determine where we were and how long it would take to get to Catalina (6 hours!), and learned to use a marine compass and steer the actual boat. They saw marine life everywhere - dolphins, sea lions, squid from the squid lights at night, flying fish, and on our hike, at a bay, even a dead sea lion that washed up with a gunshot wound, and a decapitated baby seal nearby with another gunshot wound. They learned about plate tectonics, geology and the plants found on the island, snorkeled with forests of kelp and leopard sharks, kayaked into little beaches and coves, and literally jumped into the Pacific Ocean from our boat. And a few brave ones, including me (and this was my absolutely favorite part!), climbed the ropes to the very front jib sail (the tippy-tip-tip of the front of the sailboat, past where the mermaid and front sails are), and leaped and flipped into the beautiful blue ocean. It was AMAZING. A once-in-a-lifetime learning adventure that was given to us through an almost $10,000 generous donation from a shipping company in the Caribbeans, the TK Foundation. Many of the students have never been to the ocean, a few overcame their fears of the water (near drowning experiences, or not knowing how to swim), and everyone learned new things, bonded, and fell in love with the ocean like they never had before. I took the top 6 of each of my classes on this trip well-earned, and I hope that they continue to work hard in whatever their futures may be, knowing that hard work pays off with amazing experiences. =)

I have many pictures, but won't post them here, as they have students and such; you can ask if you want to see some though. But if you're a teacher, look into the programs - it is worth it, especially if you go for the AAS program. =)

June 29 - July 6:  We ended June by going back to Vegas to help move anything else Yeh-Yeh and Mah-Mah wanted from their home. Of course, it included a lot of eating out. ^_~

Like eating at the typical, delicious, Hong Kong style place we always end up at with the family...

And because I decided to play with a GIF maker...

The first night, after the kids went to sleep, Shelton and I visited Serenade for some coffee and hang out time.

Iced Mango Macchiato - It was good. Not my favorite thing ever, but different and fun to try out.
Hee hee, can you see the quote on the window behind him? He also got the Pistachio Frappe, which he liked very much. I'm not a fan of pistachio things - ice cream, drinks, etc...though I love real pistachios. I have the same relationship with cherries. ^_~
The giant Honey Bread with ice cream on top. Super yummy! Reminds me of Guppy House's brick bread thing. The fork is there as a frame of reference to the size of this monstrous dessert. =)
The next morning, we hit up our favorite breakfast spot, Babystacks. A Loco Moco plate, Baby Chick Omelette, and Red Velvet Pancakes were more than enough to fuel us for the day. =) You can never go wrong there. If you're EVER in Vegas, EAT BREAKFAST HERE. Those pancakes are one of the wonders of the world. ^_^ And while we're on favorites, we also went to Monta for ramen, and got the spicy version of my favorite order - Tonkatsu soup base with the thick ramen with cha-shu, nitamago (soft-boiled egg) and all the fixins that come with it!

Our dinner was at the lovely Tivoli Village, a gorgeous little shopping plaza made to look like the streets of Europe. We wanted to try Poppy Den by Angelo was sadly disappointing. =( I mean, I understand that sometimes, a restaurant might run out of this or that ingredient. But out of avocados AND chicken wings AND cashews AND mussels AND corn, so that they couldn't serve many, many items on their small menu? We wanted to like it, but couldn't. We won't be back. =P The ambiance is gorgeous, but the food matters more!

Pork Belly Fried Rice. Seriously. I could make better at home. This was drenched with too much dark soy sauce (the sweet kind), which was too bad, because the idea of a pork belly fried rice sounded really yummy!
These were ordered as Seared Fish Tacos. Came out crispy and fried, and tasty. It wasn't bad at all, but the thing was, it wasn't what we expected from the menu. Still wasn't my favorite fish tacos EVER. (THOSE would come from the Georges On The Cove - more on that later in a July post, or the ones from Hubert Keller's Fleur de Lys!)
Calamari - I really liked this dish because it wasn't the typical fried calamari appetizer dish. It was crusted so that it was crispy, but also sweet and spicy. Probably one of my favorite dishes of the night.
Beef Curry. The curry flavors were good, but the beef wasn't as tender as we could make it at home. Seriously, I'm not paying for food that I and other Asians I know can make at home, and better! They used a regular ol' cut of beef, when, if Angelo was seriously behind this dish and have had time in Asia as he says, he should have considered beef drop flank, which gets melty and tender when cooked in a curry like this for a good time.
Crispy Fried Won Tons. EH. Just pork inside that tastes like the Vietnamese spam type meat you can get in Little Saigon for real cheap. Don't get me wrong - I like that Vietnamese spam! But put it in a won ton wrapper, fry it, and pass it off as something worthy of a restaurant of such caliber? That's just wrong.
Miso Coconut Tiramisu. I loved the presentation of how it was served in a little delicate tea cup! I thought this was good, but not GREAT. Shelton though, really liked it as his favorite dish for the night - the glazed peanuts on top were a nice salty and sweet contrast for the dish, the miso near the bottom gave it a salty richness as well, and the coconut was a nice touch that I'd definitely consider adding into my future tiramisu desserts. ^_^
We got to meet up with Uncle John one of the days, visiting his new condo at Green Valley Ranch and spending some time with him. He's a VIP to us, and such a wonderful man, with a great sense of humor, always a twinkle in his eye and love in his heart for our little family. I wish we were closer to him so that we could spend more time together. =)

Later that night, we ate at Pasta Shop Ristorante in Henderson, and had amazing homemade pasta dishes that filled our belly so much that we had to pass on dessert.

Shrimp Scampi. Giant jumbo sized shrimp, perfectly cooked, drenched in a beautiful scampi sauce that we used the complimentary garlic bread sticks to sop up every drop of it!
Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp in a Saffron Cream Sauce. AH-MAZING and flavorful, and the pasta had this delicious briney sea taste to it that was perfect for these flavors!
Cheese Ravioli in Browned Butter Sauce with tomatoes, basil and pistachio. It sounds so simple, but it was filling and wonderful - the tomatoes were succulent and juicy, and what was that? REAL PISTACHIOS? YES PLEASE!
Of course, after that, we walked it off and then plopped ourselves down for the X-Men Movie, because X-Men rocks. =)

We also totaled up to about 700 tickets after playing at Circus Circus one day, so that in the end, Aiva and Penny made out with an Elsa and Anna pen each, a Hello Kitty 3D Puzzle, and a Cinderella Kite. I think Shelton and I enjoy the midway games more than the girls...hee hee...^_~  Melody also gave us a visit, and Penny has decided that Melody is no longer an enemy. They are now friends - AND THE WORLD WILL NEVER BE THE SAME. ^_^

We ended our time there with one of our favorite buffets at the Aria, packed up and drove on home in two cars, taking home boxes and boxes of things to unpack here.

And that, my friends, was a giant June update. =)