Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas 2012

This is our Christmas tree this year.  I know I should get a taller one, but I'm not ready to splurge on one yet.  This little 1' tall Christmas tree will suffice.  Tree and decorations all came from the dollar store and costed about $5 to $7.  B loved it and even helped decorate it.  Although it is a tabletop tree, I had to put it on the floor with the presents: 1. to be traditional, and 2. it just looks funny when all the presents were half the size of the tree.  The good thing about this tree is that I don't have to take it apart. It will just store right into a box and will be ready to be taken out next year.  Yay.

The Chou's Christmas Tree
B got me three Swarovski charms.  I just started collecting them since May 2012.  My favorite out of the three is the Hello Kitty.  However, the most practical one will probably be the owl.  It's blue.  It will match most of my outfits.  I pre-ordered The Game of Thrones Season 2 Blu-ray for B and a big box of Lindor and Ghirardelli chocolates.  I think he was drooling from every orifice in his head.  LOL.

Present(s) from my love
For B's parents, I made them a 12x12 layout framed in a 12x12 display box.  It contained a family photo of us (B and I, B's parents and siblings, and my parents) that was taking during the wedding in Hawaii.

Present for the in-laws
Since both B and I had to work during the holiday season (well, I only showed up to the the office for two half days), we decided to pay for two return bus tickets and bring my parents up for Christmas.  Although it was bitterly cold during most of their stay, I think they still enjoyed it.  Of course, mostly because of me!

I always buy myself a Christmas present every year.  Last year, I got myself the Cricut Expression 2.  Too bad it broke (kinda), but I got another one since it was still under warranty... Anyways, this year this time, I'm going through my boardgames craving.  I finally got Agricola, a game I've been eying since it came out a few years ago, and Legendary, a brand new deck building game with Marvel characters.  I got Legendary mostly because it's Marvel, and that in itself will encourage B to play with me.  He did, and liked it.  B gave Agricola a try and surprisingly, he didn't mind it!  In fact, he even played with me again.  However, he lost the second time and now claims he hates it.

My new boardgames
My dad left Edmonton earlier because he had to work, and so my mom stayed a bit longer.  With dad gone and B working, Boxing Week shopping for the ladies!  I bought new clothes, as I'm in desperate need for some! I got a new bright North Face jacket, since mine lost a lot of the feathers already.  I also got a new king size duvet and sheets for the bed.  New duvet, sheet set, and two duvet cover sets were $20 each. Come on, who can pass on that?  Even mom got some.  She also got a new North Face jacket and new clothes.  

My new North Face jacket
New sheets for the bed.  I think this is the prettiest bed I ever had.
Other than shopping, mom fed us well.  Before I had a tummy, now I have a muffin top... a tummy that hangs over.  Ulgh.  Roshi ate well too.  Mom complained whenever he was given dog food only.  "Give him some rice and chicken!", "Give him a some carrots/apples!"  Roshi followed mom around the house ... A LOT.  Yep, that's Christmas for me.  Great gifts, great spendings, great food, and most of all, great time with the ones I love.  
Although there wasn't much celebration of it around here, I do remember the reason for Christmas is Jesus.  Without His coming to this world, there wouldn't be the great gifts, spendings, food, and time with the ones I love.  And for that, I am truly thankful.  

Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's Dinner @ Hardware Grill

It will be our first 'New Year' as husband and wife.  So to celebrate, I, the wife, took B out for some fine dining experience in Edmonton.  Although it's not quite new year's yet, we had plans near downtown today, so it was best to 'celebrate' today.

Since I had an awesome lunch at Hardware Grill a while ago, I decided to take B there and also try the dinner experience.  B often criticizes that we only pay the extra money for the environment setting and not for great food.  This time I believe I proved him wrong.

To start, B ordered a crispy duck leg.  He already took a big bite out of it before I remembered to take a photo of it.  He loved it.  It took him a long time to eat it because he just didn't want to finish the experience.  He shared a bite with me, and yes, it was very good!

I had a soup of yesterday - something with bacon in it (more like that's the only thing I remembered!).  The reason why it's called soup of yesterday is because the soup was made yesterday, and this allows the soup to sit overnight and soak in all the flavours.  It was very flavourful and good.

Soup of Yesterday - a flavourful bacon soup.
For the mains, B had bacon wrapped elk and beef short ribs and I had sea bass with lobster-truffled potato crepes.  His elk was good (I almost ordered it), but my sea bass and crepes were awesome.  The crepes were filled with chunks (not shreds) of lobster meat.  The filling was also very creamy.  So good.

My sea bass and lobster crepe. 
What made the elk fell short was the incorporated horseradish.  We are just not big fans of horseradish. Wasabi is ok on sushi (well, B doesn't like that neither), but not on meat.  However, B solved the issue by cutting off the side of the elk with the horseradish, and enjoyed the rest of the dinner.  Just look how happy he is!

Happy B with his elk.
To finish off the dinner, we had a lava chocolate cake.  Sounds simple, but it was a fine dining experience   It was not sweet at all but so chocolaty at the same time.  It was paired with caramel popcorn and peanut butter ice cream.  Odd combination, but surprisingly good.  I forgot the photo AGAIN.  Please forgive me, since all I could think about was 'chocolate cake, must eat now'.

I'm glad this place met B's high expectations of fine dining.  I really like this place.  The food is very good.  Of course, it's not going to be a place we can go often (unless we win the next 649 draw), but it will be one of those places we would want to go again when we want to do something special!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

New Floors

While my new townhouse was still under warranty, my vinyl flooring in the kitchen was bubbling.  The reason was likely because there was moisture trapped in the subfloor when they installed the flooring.  The builder was willing to replace it while I wanted to upgrade it to laminate and willing to pay the difference. However, the whole thing just dragged on and on.  Builder had to contact contractor.  Contractor came out to see me a few times.  I had to choose a flooring and go back to the contractor.  The contractor go back to the builder for pricing.  Overall, there were a lot of back and forths.  Finally a quote came through and it was ridiculous.  Even giving up the builder's warranty credit, and buying the materials and tools and make it a diy project was not as expensive as what the contractor quoted me.

So after a few months of arguments with B (regarding silly things regarding spending money on tools, installation procedures, etc.) and laborious work  (by B, not me!) the floor is done.  Too bad I didn't take better "before" photos.  But here are some comparison photos, using "just moved in" as "before" photos.   They work!

The stairs
The Living Room
The Dining Area
The Kitchen

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My Breakfast Sandwich

First things first... I'm on a roll with blogging!!!

Ok, now back to the subject.  I got this recipe idea from  It tastes so good because it's so high in everything bad for you (cholesterol, sodium, fat, etc).  To cut some unhealthy stuff, I used vegetable oil and margarine in place of butter, two slices of ham and cheese per sandwich, and no salt or pepper (why, there's enough salt in the ham).  Making these "kind" of sandwiches (i.e. having a piece of bread in a heated pan) requires patience.  You can't have the heat turn up too high, or else it will burn, and so having it on low heat setting means you need to wait for the egg to cook and not burn the bread.  I have to admit, my first sandwich was a bit on the burnt side.  Good thing B likes his bread toasted.  Well, he pretty much eats anything I cook because then he doesn't have to cook.  Nonetheless, he likes this, I like it.  It's all good, but I definitely need to go on the elliptical (or mall roaming for at least 4 hours, oh darn) after eating this sucker!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Chinese Cooking

So after leaving the nest for almost 3.5 years now, I have learned to cook pretty well.  In fact, I quite like it, provided that I have time, such as the weekends.  As you have seen on previous posts, I had successful dishes, as well as complete failures.  However, the dishes I seem to enjoy making happened to be Chinese-style.  Maybe I grew up eating Chinese food or there is just so much variety (besides pasta and sauce).  This post is to celebrate some of my recent Chinese dishes, because I've only been gathering memories and not posting them.  Please put on a bib, as these photos may cause some drooling.  Just kidding!  Sorry, no detail recipes.  Seriously, I just buy whatever is on sale, and season whatever I can find in the house.  However, there is one important thing that all these dishes have in common:  A wok!

Clockwise from top left: Fish and Tomatoes, Bulgogi Beef, Chop Suey Vermicelli
Fish and Tomatoes:
I don't know how to describe it besides fish and tomatoes.  Well, I guess I also had onions in there, but the main ingredients are fish and tomatoes.  The sauce was mostly ketchup and some herbs (I like basil and oregano).  All mixed in a wok.  I guess this dish isn't quite Chinese, but whatever, it's cooked in a wok.

Bulgogi Beef:
Here's a cinch: buy slice beef and a big bottle of bulgogi sauce, put it all together in a wok and add in whatever vegetables you like (as you can see, I like carrots... sliced ones that you can buy to save time).  Ta da, done.

Chop Suey Vermicelli:
I really don't know what to call this, but I love vermicelli.  I seriously could devour this whole plate myself, but I can't be selfish as I now have a husband who needs to eat more than me.  Anyways,  to make the vermicelli easier to cook, it needs to be soaked for a few hours.  While it's soaking, decide what to have in it.  I had eggs, black Chinese mushrooms (those need to be soaked too, or else it will never cook and you'll be eating rocks), and suey choy.  Again, add it all into a wok and add some soy sauce and oyster sauce.
Left to right: Fish Paste stuffed in Tofu Puffs and Hairy Squash, Spicy Mussel Stir Fry
Fish Paste stuffed in Tofu Puffs
TnT had a sale on all these ingredients.  So what else can I do but to put all these three things together.  I remember when my mom used to make these.  I haven't had them for a while.  Yum.  Cut the puffs in half and stuff them with fish paste.  1 tsp will do.  I like to fry them up a little bit in the wok before adding the squash ('shaved' of course).  This gives them a little more... crispiness.  Sauce: soy sauce?

Spicy Mussel Stir Fry:
So I bought this pack of on sale mussels and it was sitting in the freezer for a long time.  It's time to eat it.  I also had a half wrinkling red pepper left.  Why not put them together?!  Yep, I put everything in a wok again and mixed it all together with some green onion.  As for the sauce, it was a mixture of some black bean sauce and Rooster hot sauce and dried chilli peppers.

Tofu Cupcakes
Tofu Cupcakes:
I really don't know what to call this, since I made this dish up on my own with no recipes.  The combination of tofu, fish paste, and a sausage on top does seem like a cupcake, icing and a cherry on top.  Ok, I'm pushing it.  Seriously, I made this one up based on what was on sale and what I had on hand.  Both the tofu and fish paste were on sale at TnT, but the tofu and fish paste together were too bland looking and probably taste wise too.  So why not add the some preserved sausage that's been sitting in my freezer for a while?!  I steamed this dish... in a wok.  It tasted fine the way it was, but I had a spoon with some soy sauce and Rooster hot sauce and it tasted even better after being dunked in it.  However, I will need to find a way to incorporate that without having to take the fish paste off the tofu, dunk it, and put it back on.  Any ideas?

My First Pair of Pumps

Christmas parties are coming up.  With B and my new job, I have enough dresses (to recycle) for Christmas parties (if they still fit).  However, I have no shoes.  Back in the days when I was a "wee" one, wearing a dress meant bare legs with sandals.  Therefore, I own a good number of dress sandals (yep, I have at least two pairs over 10 years old, and are still awesome - one being my prom sandals. I think I just divulged my age...)  Now that I'm older (and couldn't stand the Christmas cold), I'm in need for some pantyhose and a pair of pretty (grown up) dress shoes.
I'm a practical person.  I don't mind spending good money, but it better be well worth it - as in it could be worn many times for different occasions.  But as a girl, I can only be so practical.  I fell in love with Franco Sarto's black leather pumps with 0.5" platform and 4" heel.

A pretty pair of shoes deserves some photo editing.  LOL.
Yes, they are gorgeous.  For the last few years, I've only purchased "good for feet" shoes - Merrell, Keen, etc.  It's been a while since I bought a pair of "kill my feet in 2 minutes" shoes.  Beauty over comfort.  It's definitely a girl's thing.