I thinks Me needs a Challenge

Quite often after a project I find myself in a quandary as to what to make next.  It's a bit silly to be in such a dilemma with nearly a hundred Japanese craft books in my collection!  So I offered myself a challenge..of sorts : To make at least one project from 50 books by the end of the year.

Oh yes, many a fine blogger have subjected themselves to such challenges, be it taking photos every day, or baking through an entire book, writing thank you notes, or ???  Will I succeed??..I am as certain as finding my Prince Charming (to replace the grumpy guy sitting next to me on the sofa, who touches his IPAD more than me). 

My first project from the first book is in the spirit of Valentines, a heart-shaped potholder.

I didn't follow the pattern exactly, adding a bit of gathers down the center. 

ISBN 978-4-14-031170-7
This book, a favorite, is the source for two other projects made in past ... but as usual, I changed it up to fit my style.

In between projects, I must remember to take care my family! Today, I made fresh gyoza to freeze for a quick meal...perhaps a gyoza curry dinner..yummmm.

Want to make some?

Chinese Dumplings & Potstickers
1 pkg. gyoza wrapper

Filling Ingredients: 
1 pound ground pork
1 cup won bok / Napa cabbage
3 stalks green onions
7 shiitake mushrooms, minced
1/4 cup ginger root, minced
3 T. soy sauce
2 T. sesame oil
2 T. cornstarch

  1. Soak shiitake mushrooms in hot water if using dried mushrooms.  Soak first for 3 minutes, then rinse to remove any grit.  Then, soak in warm water for 30 minutes to soften. Mince.
  2. Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl; mix thoroughly.
  3. Assemble gyoza : Place about 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of the gyoza wrapper  Leave enough dough around the filling to allow you to close the warpper without the filling oozing out.  Brush edges of wrapper lightly with water. Pinch top edges together and while holding it; pleat the edges using your finger to create a fold. 
  4. At this point, the dumplings can be frozen for future use : Place dumplings on a pan; without sides touching.  Freeze about 20 to 30 minutes until no longer soft.  Place in ziploc bag. Freeze up to 2 months. When preparing frozen dumplings allow extra cooking time.
 3 Cooking Methods :
  • To Boil : Bring a large pot of water to boil and add dumpling to pot. Boil dumpling until they float. At this point the dumplings are fully cook. Remove from water. 
  • To Steam : Using a bamboo steamer, place dumplings on a well greased surface and steam for about 6 minutes. 
  • To Pan Fry : Place dumplings in a frying pan with 2 to 3 T of vegetable oil. Heat on high and fry for a few minutes until bottoms are golden.  Add 1/2 cup water and cover pan. Cook until the water has boiled away. Uncover and reduce heat to medium or medium low.  Let the dumplings cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat and serve.

Don't forget the dipping sauce ~
2 parts soy sauce
1 part vinegar (red wine )
a few drops sesame oil
sugar to taste
chili garlic sauce (optional)
minced garlic (optional)
minced ginger (optional)
minced green onions (optional)

Until next time ~ Happy Day 

Kung Hei Fat Choi

!!! Happy Chinese New Year !!!
the Year of the Dragon

Festivities were abound in the last 3 weeks in celebration of the Chinese New Year.  We missed all of them because the grumpy man predicted that every single parking space in every single parking lot would be filled to capacity.  But the universe always has a way for sneaking goodness into one's life..doesn't it?  And so, last week the kids in the school where I do a bit of volunteering were treated to a Chinese Lion Dance ! 

In this pic, one of the students is feeding the 'lion' a red envelope containing money for good luck.

 We shared in the excitement of a couple of students who were a part of the lion dance (they are in the tiny pink lion in the middle)

And that's not all, the teacher whose class that I help with, shared GAU with the class..and ME! .. it was a treat to eat.  [ GAU; a sweet, sticky rice pudding made from brown sugar and rice flour, is one of the foods eaten at Chinese New Years for good luck ]

Oh yes, the universe did good.  

Tonight I plan to make dumplings filled with sweet pork.  I've only made it once prior so wish me luck. 

picture from first attempt
The recipe is from this book.  The book's cover caught my eye as it sat on the shelf amongst all others.  As much as I liked the cover, I found the stories by the author Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, captivating. I would have been fine if I never made a dish from this book; happy to simply read about her life
and her deep respect for her grandmother.

happy day ^-^

The Pain in Learning

Last week I was determined to learn how to do a patchwork from my mom.  But my oh my..it was as if I asked her to share a secret recipe for Colonel Sanders' Kentucky Fried Chicken!  Her explanation, is best described as confusion mixed with a dash of belittlement.

She went on and on about how no one taught her how to sew; directing a small jab at my ego. 

In betwixt the jabs, she lovingly chortled at my attempts.  It took awhile but I FINALLY got it.  I was looking at the patchwork square as one large square but it was actually 4 smaller squares sewn together.  Oh yes, this is the challenge of patchwork; being able to see the design in your head.  It reminds me how artists describe their creative experience as 'seeing colors'. 

So you see, the confusion was all me.  Once I finally 'got it', everything my mom shared made sense. But I still have black and blues from her jabs at my ego!!

For now, I'll stick to my zakka sewing.  Today, I share with you my latest linen tote bag..same deer applique that I love ... but this time I changed up the bag handle.

This bag will be in my etsy shop soon.

I also made a couple more bento bags for the shop ...

a Hello Kitty bow is a must for this bag !
I hopefully will have another tutorial to share soon.

Thank you for stopping by .....

happy day (*^-^*)

Woot ! The Book Is Out !

A few months back I was tickled silly to share that I was part of Rashida Coleman-Hale's latest book!  The book is finally out !! Oh Yeah !

ohh..and here's a sneak peek at what's inside

image from http://www.stashbooksblog.com/products/zakka-style/
At this point..I think I'm in the book..I won't believe it until I see it for myself.  I'm still waiting for my copy.  If I don't get one, then I guess I didn't make it in??!?? oh well, I'll buy the book anyways since I LOVE ZAKKA....

happy day (*^-^*)

Honor Thy Inspiration

My mom and I spent the day playing scrabble and eating sushi. A delightful way to spend a Sunday, don't you think? She is a mischievous one at 96 years; often blocking me from using triple word square and almost cackling as she executes her diabolical plan to obliterate me from a seemingly innocent board game.

As we play and eat, she still laments about her lost sewing machine (I posted about this before?). One day I asked her to help me with drawing a blouse pattern. She 'quickly' (as quickly as a 96 year old woman can move) plopped herself on the floor and started right into drawing the pattern while lively chatting about what she learned from her sewing teacher. In that moment she was very happy.

I like that I love sewing too, something we both can share..for some people, it's cooking or baking with their moms or dads, watching a football game, shopping, books, having your nails done all pretty like ...

When mom retired, my guess is that she sewed at least a hundred quilts! I'm not kidding. She sold her quilts at a local swap meet every weekend.

Mom is THE patchwork queen.  Her magic fingers and sewing machine could turn a mish mash of fabric scraps into beautiful blankets.  When I asked her how to cut the fabric..her response? "I don't know what you mean...you just cut"  Thanks, Ma.

This quilt is more mom's usual fare...using Hawaiian designed fabrics.  Of course, the local folks loved them; keeping her busy for many years! Oh I know, the blankets are not elegant.  But my son who lives in Washington and whose blanket is shredding after years of cuddling, loves his grandma's quilt.  As do the other grand kids.  "My grandma made this" are golden words.

Although I like to sew, patchwork scares me..big time.  Maybe one day though...

happy day (*^-^*)

Back into Business

I found myself sitting on the floor, deep in scraps of fabric, organizing them by color, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel..only to find oodles more hiding in my Moomin suitcase stashed in the closet...help.

Perhaps a few patchwork projects are in order? 

Happy to report that my sewing machine is back on the job....here's a pouch that I worked on with a Cinnamon Roll fabric from Japan.

I'm thinking of adding a bit of bling to the pouch with a rhinestone setter for fabric.  I can't wait to get this new toy !!...the  Darice 2704-01 Rhinestone Setter Hot-Fix Applicator Wand (woot!)

Buying (more) fabric is the best part of getting back into sewing!  Here are my latest finds from an etsy shop in Taiwan (the shipping was amazingly fast and very reasonable!) ...

happy day (*^-^*)

A New Chapter

One cannot enter the new year without a thought or two to modify one's bad habits. I use the word 'thought' instead of the word 'resolution' because it's all about the reality...a thought is fleeting; a resolution is firm.  I don't ever stick to my resolution ( in spite of my resolve on day one) so in reality I have a list of 'thoughts about resolutions'.  This is deep stuff I'm sharing here. 

I do have a couple of things on my "thoughts about resolutions" list ...

Stop to Smell the Flowers

...and the Bread...I love the smell of baking bread..

I am delighted that this will be a 'go with the flow' year.  The advantage with this is I am not setting myself to failure, angst, and self destruction...BUT to SIMPLY ENJOY...

Before I leave...I gotta show you a picture of my BAKED HAM ... oh yeah, when I pulled this guy out of the oven, I indulged myself with a quick bite...it was so delicious...ever so tender and moist.

The recipe is from an old work colleague's mother named Edith. 

1 Ham about 12 pounds
10 whole cloves
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 can pineapple slices (small can)
1/2 to 3/4 cup maple syrup

Lightly score ham and top with cloves.  Pack ham with brown sugar.  Secure pineapple slices with toothpicks.  Pour maple syrup over the entire ham.  Bake at 275 degrees for 4 to 5 hours; covered with foil.   Baste every 30 minutes.  Save pan drippings, pour off excess fat.  Slice ham and serve with drippings.

happy day (*^-^*)