Sunday, July 29, 2012

News from the Garden: Freezing okra for the winter


There's only so much okra I can eat.

I finally googled a method to freeze the gazillion okra (and other vegetables, for that matter) from the garden to save for the winter.

I know my future self will look in retrospect and thank me, especially when I return from Singapore with a whole bunch of sambal belachan to fry the okra in!


1. Wash and clean okra and separate them into two piles - younger pods (4 inches and under) and larger pods.

2. Carefully slice off the heads of each okra, taking care not to expose the seed cells on the inside.

3. Prepare a big pot of boiling water at the same time, so when you're done slicing off the heads you can place the okra in the boiling water immediately.

4. Start either with the younger pods, or the larger pods first. Blanch younger pods for about 3-4 minutes and larger pods 4-5 minutes.

5. After blanching, dunk okra in another pot of ice cold water to cool okra immediately. Apparently this prevents overcooking. I leave them in the cold water for about 5 minutes while I blanch the next group of okra pods.

6. Drain cooled off okra in a strainer.

7. When okra is sufficiently drained, I divide okra into meal-sized portions. I place these portions in a Food Saver bag and vacuum seal them.


Now J and I found a FoodSaver for real cheap at Goodwill. We bought the FoodSaver + FoodSaver bags for a grand total of $6.99! What a steal! And we'd seen them in the stores going for at least $100! Just buying a roll of FoodSaver bags cost about $10, so yea, it's definitely a steal!

But if you don't have a FoodSaver, you can the more common Zip Loc bags. It doesn't ensure a proper vacuum seal, but I guess it's the next best option.

Guess I'll be doing this with my zucchini and squash soon!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Watching : The Olympic 2012 Opening Ceremony

Did you watch the opening ceremony last night? I loved it and was undeniably impressed. Well, the English has much to show for. From English literature classics to the British music through the ages to iconic silverscreen actors and characters, the possibilities were endless. But they chose well!

My favorite moments :

A sky full of Mary Poppins descended...

Queen Elizabeth (stunt double) jumped out of the helicopter

Mr. Bean's appearance!

Trampoline hospital beds! FUN!

The Olympic Rings of Fire!

All images via

And of course, when Team Singapore was up, I was cheering them on! *waves excitedly*

I hope you caught it too!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Watching : Master Chef vs Hell's Kitchen on FOX


I became an avid fan of MasterChef, the cooking reality TV show on FOX, when i started rooting for one of the competitors in Season 3 - a blind lady from Houston. Christine Ha is now one of the final 7 contestants remaining in the show. It blows my mind how she manages to cook, much less come up with amazing looking (and i bet, delicious) dishes all the time.

And not to mention i love watching Gordon Ramsay on this show. He is mostly constructive with his criticisms for the competing home cooks. This is in stark contrast to the other cooking reality TV show, Hell's Kitchen, where there's too much cussing, too much drama and too much bitching for my liking.

Also, MasterChef presents different challenges each night. I like the Mystery Boxes, where the competitors each get a box of unknown contents. One night they got Paula Deen in the Mystery Box and the challenge was to use Southern ingredients to come up with their best dish! On another night, they each got an aquarium of live prawns. It's amazing how many different things you can whip up with the same ingredients! I love the creativity of some of these contestants!

Still, as the two shows are back to back on Monday and Tuesday nights, I sit through both shows religiously every Monday and Tuesday night! And i NEVER watch TV!! This has got me hooked!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Busy Busy week!

Hello world!

Thank you for your kind and encouraging comments from the last post.

I thought I would be updating the blog more with J away.

It seems I thought wrong. I must be doing a great job keeping myself busy.

I've been working on an Etsy order, making a cute set of 6 placemats for a customer. They're turning out to be so pretty, I hope she likes them as much as I do!


Cooking and gardening take up the majority of my time (who would've thought!), and giving the house a deep cleaning while J is away is a good way to while the time away too!

I love that the house stays nice and neat while I'm away at work. Hah!

Anyhoo, I know this has taken so long, but I have yet to give away the turquoise necklace from my last giveaway because the winner didn't contact me (for a long long time!) so I picked another winner and guess what?

Miss KYLA! 
I will be emailing you soon for your mailing address.
You're the new owner of Oksana's beautiful necklace!!! 


Friday, July 20, 2012

The face I miss...

This was taken on our trip to Cebu, Philippines a few years ago,
with a bottle of local rum in my hands. Oh yeah!

So this is Day 11.

J and I have been chatting on Skype almost everyday. Sometimes we miss each other on Skype because he is 12 hours ahead. So i'm in bed by the time he is online. But we manage to talk pretty frequently.

He is in Bohol, Philippines. Before he left, I tried to get him into my work to get some travel shots (at least just a tetanus shot!), or just some medication to take with him. Two hours before his appointment, he cancelled on me, and i was FUMING MAD. He just doesn't believe in vaccinations.

So with a heart heavy, I say a little prayer every day, hoping he'll be safe and sound until he returns.

But already, he has ...

1. eaten a local fare called balut (OH-EM-GEE!) do you dare eat this? according to him, it just tastes like egg.

2. rented a scooter and fell while riding it.

3. stepped on a sea urchin in the sea.

One day during our Skype conversation, I said "I TOLD YOU SO". But he had anticipated my response and had hit the 'Mute' button so he didn't have to hear me say it.

"Say what?"

Cheeky bugger.

I'm halfway through and hanging in there. Now he tells me he's going to take a short flight to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat. The nurses at work scare me with malaria stories. Thanks J! I just need one more thing to worry about.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Recipes: What to do with too many roma tomatoes -- Tomato sauce!!!

My gawd.

The J-man would be so proud of me. For 4th consecutive day I've been cooking, using ingredients mostly from the garden.

Just don't tell him it's cause i had to use up those stupid tomatoes. Too many already! (I have a feeling i'm going to get beat up for complaining about having too much food...)

This morning i just gave away a big bag of tomatoes, bell peppers and squash. And i still have leftover for myself.

dehydrator tomatoes

We bought a dehydrator so i can dehydrate stuff. but I have ENOUGH dried tomatoes, so i had to look for recipes to make something other than sun-dried tomatoes.

So here's a recipe for easy tomato sauce for your favorite pasta. And remember, if i can do this, it's a no brainer for you!


Roma tomatoes
Garlic cloves
Basil leaves
Pepper and salt
Chilli flakes

I didn't use any measurements, just eyeballed the amount. But if you need the measurements, i got the recipe off here


Cut a slit in the tomato skin before putting the tomatoes in boiling water and let boil for 1-2 minutes. No more than that! or the tomatoes get too squishy to peel

Place all boiled tomatoes into a bowl of (optional: ice) cold water to cool. Now the slit you have made before makes it easier for you to get the skin off after the tomatoes have cooled.

While waiting for tomatoes to cool, chop the other ingredients : dice onion, finely dice garlic cloves and also the basil leaves. Set aside

Heat oil in medium sized frying pan. Saute onions for about 5-7 minutes before adding the garlic.


Meanwhile, you can start peeling the skin off the tomatoes, and dice them into halves or quarters.

Throw all chopped up tomatoes into a strainer and drain all liquids. Sprinkle salt all over the tomatoes.

When the onions and garlic are done, add tomatoes to frying pan. Add basil leaves and chilli flakes, more salt and pepper to taste. Stir to mix well, then let simmer over low heat for about 30-35 minutes.

You can boil your pasta while simmering the sauce. When they both done, just pour sauce over the noodles. I like to add shrimp to my pasta, so i would blanche some store bought cooked shrimp in the hot water used to cook the noodles, and add them to the dish.


All set and ready for dinner!! (and leftovers for tomorrow's lunch!!)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

4th of July Turquoise Necklace giveaway winner!

We have a giveaway winner for the beautiful Turquoise beaded necklace from Oksana Plus Hobbies!

Congrats #5 Kate Duff of CheapCraftyMama

Thanks for participating everyone! Look out for more giveaways meanwhile, and I hope you had a great 4th!


Friday, July 13, 2012

News from the garden: Spooky Bumpy Yellow Squash


So, in the garden harvest every day, we get okra, beans, tomatoes and tons and tons of squash. Our squash plants keep going at it! We have zucchini, yellow squash, pattypan squash (the white flower shaped one), and the latest, is the crooked neck bumpy squash! It sorta makes my skin crawl looking at it. I don't know if I will eat this because I think J wants to save this for its seeds so we can continue the bumpy trait in future crops. Don't know if i like that idea...


And getting lots of bell peppers too...


Our famous neighbor, the Tomato-Man-of-Highway-115 has begun to sell his tomatoes. I just placed one on his weighing scale and it weighed a pound and a half! But like him, our tomatoes grow in abundance and our lovely Brandywine tomato is the size of my TWO HANDS!


Ok maybe because i have small hands. But still...


Excuse the giant hairy leg, but did anyone say ginormous zucchini? This one is going to seed as well, that was why we let it grow so big. I don't think it would have tasted as good as the smaller ones...

If you have good recipes for squash (i'm sick of eating them stir fried / grilled...) send them my way please!

One more thing, let's turn this Friday the 13th unlucky day around by saying : Last day to enter the beautiful turquoise necklace giveaway if you haven't already heard. Yes it's open to international readers too so join in the fun! Are you feeling lucky?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Miss Independent : Mid-week blues on Day 1

No, wait. This is not a part of Jess' (from Avant-Garde Living) Miss Independent series. This is me, attempting to function on Day 1, after J left for the Philippines on his all-boys vacay.

This was taken at the airport just before he had to check in.

He will be gone 3 weeks.

And as you may know, he cooks

When he told me about his decision to go on this trip, the first thought that popped into my head was "What about my meals?" A very pragmatic woman, i agree.

But I had to start planning my time better now that he's gone. Because there's a ton of things on my to do list, that used to be split between two people.

Such as

☹ Feed and play with the lizards.

☹ Water the garden.

☹ Weed the garden (on weekends only)

☹ Pick veggies from the garden before they rot and go to waste.

☹ Figure out a way to feed myself

☹ Motivate myself to keep up with evening runs without J

☹ Wash the car and change the oil.

Such and such and such. Bah.

Is it really just the first day?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Crafting: Reconstructed pillow case dress / top

So i bought a set of two striped pillow cases from Goodwill one day, because I was going to attempt the Little Dresses for Africa charity, after procrastinating for such a long time. I first read it on Nana Glo's blog, Glo Sews and it seemed like such a simple project to attempt.

When i finally sat myself down to make the dress, i realized i didn't get any bias tape and I so wasn't in a mood to make them...

So I did a little free hand reconstruction on the pillow case to make myself a top instead!

I used a pattern for a ladies apron to cut out the neckline and armholes. When I cut the pieces out, they looked pretty promising as a mini dress, especially when I loved the stripes so!


Alas, when i sewed the shoulder and side seams together, and tentatively tried it on, I looked like I was wearing a feed sack! I was so amused I had to take a picture of myself in it!


So i took in some fabric at the armholes (too big!) and sewed three darts on the back and trimmed off the bottom to make it a long top, instead of a short dress. Much more presentable.


Here is another way I would somehow wear it.


And so, I present yet another one of my ghetto snip-and-sew RTW piece.


And oh yes! Only four more days left in the Spreading Good Cheer Giveaway for a turquoise necklace! So if you haven't checked it out, do so now! You might just be the lucky winner!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Crafting: Junior / Teens Halter Top Simplicity Pattern

halter front

I made a couple of these as gifts, but I had to try them on myself! Not having much of a chest meant they fit me perfectly. It's a pity I didn't get to take pictures of the two little cutie pies I gave these tops to. But i gifted a third one to J's cousin and she looks so adorable!!

Does this count as trying out dress patterns? (even though it's the super easy ones?) If so, another off the bucket list please!

Alright, i'll try an actual DRESS pattern one day!

Don't forget, we're giving away a beautiful turquoise necklace handmade by Oksana from Oksana Plus Hobbies. It ends this coming Friday, July 13th so hurry up and enter for a chance to win it!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Spreading Good Cheer Giveaway: 4th of July

Today, I would like to introduce one amazing lady and crafty fellow blogger friend. Meet Oksana, from Oksana Plus Hobbies.

Oksana wrote to me one day and we decided to do a craft exchange. She would make me a pretty turquoise necklace, in return for one of my little embroidered pouches. Well, the exchange was settled, but I decided to turn it into a giveaway + interview post because this little lady is just about amazing. When the blog title says Oksana PLUS HOBBIES, she absolutely is not kidding.

1. First of all, please tell us a little about yourself!

Hello my dear bloggers! I’d like to thank Chui for the opportunity to tell you
about myself. My name is Oksana. I’m a girl from Siberia. You would think that
I’m tough and used to cold and snowy weather, but I’m not. I hate cold, maybe
this is why I now live in California :).

2. Living in an exciting city like LA, can you introduce one of your favorite spots?

I’m also a city girl (yes, there are big cities in Siberia). Maybe this is why I
immediately fell in love with Los Angeles. The Old Town in Pasadena is my
favorite place to hang out. And of course, Santa Monica which is near perfect—
has a beautiful beach + the Promenade, the street with all my favorite stores and a
shopping mall.

3. Tell us more about your passion for creating jewelry. Why jewelry, how you got started, who/ what was your inspiration, how long you've been doing this.

After I graduated from a medical school “100 years ago”, I landed my first job as
a psychiatrist at a hospital for mentally ill. Wait, what psychiatry has to do with
jewelry? It’s funny, but one of my first recollections about that time is looking
at stunning jewelry pieces my colleague used to wear. Later, she told me that her
husband made them for her. I couldn’t imagine even in my wildest dreams that
one day I would be making my own cabochon earrings. But here I am, taking
jewelry classes at a community college.

4. Do you have any new exciting craft projects in the works?

I’m always working on something, a necklace, earrings, etc. I also like to cross-
stitch, sew, take pictures and blog in my spare time.

5. Do you have any words of advice/ encouragement for fellow crafters out there?

A word of advice/encouragement for fellow crafters: Be open to constantly
learning new things/skills. Get out of a rut/comfort zone, and take risks:
experiment with a new craft/technique/project. It will be exciting, maybe
frustrating at times, but you will advance at the end. And most of all: your
everyday life won’t be boring. I’m taking an applique class this month :).


Check out Oksana's blog for crafty DIY tutorials, especially on jewelry making, as well as to read about her latest hobbies. She also has a gallery of photos of her past projects. You can email her with custom orders!

We're doing a giveaway on Oksana's turquoise necklace!

This giveaway is open to international readers, but you'll have to be either a follower of ElephantisLove or Oksana Plus Hobbies or BOTH!

Leave a comment below to enter, and don't forget to include your email address so I can contact the winner!

The giveaway is open till 11:59PM EST on July 13, Friday the 13th! *gasp* and the winner will be picked via Have a great 4th of July and good luck!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy 4th!!

What are you planning to do on this lovely midweek holiday?

My friends plan to hang out at the National Whitewater Center for the Coca Cola 4th of July Festival to do some whitewater rafting and kayaking in the day, and stay on for live bands, fun and fireworks in the night!

The Carolina Raptor Center plans to release 8 red shouldered hawks in different parks in the Mecklenburg County in Charlotte, NC, between 11am and noon. One of the parks is really near my house, i might just pop over!

I'm not sure what i want to do yet. But I look forward to spending some nice cosy time snuggling in bed with the J-man (before he leaves for the Philippines on Tuesday!) and then finishing up my 3rd Game of Thrones book!

Happy 4th everyone!

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