Saturday, November 29, 2014

I only had one tabletop Christmas tree before, and here's one of the pictures that I found...

I got it from Cost Plus years and years ago. It was an early evening and I wandered into the store to look at all the excitement being offered out there in the world. I remember walking around and thinking what a huge production it would be to actually buy a huge christmas tree and all that ornaments, but how much fun would that be?  When I saw the little miniature tree my heart jumped, it was so expensive back in the day that even now I still remember it, $48!! Before tax!! That was a lot of food and gas money for a college student like me. Gas was $20 for a tank, and 5 bucks bought me lunch... my head quickly raced for the numbers. But, I was working, and I justified the cost with two hours of teaching piano lessons.  So with my heart pumping I took the little tree home, out of my ugly and bare home where I did not have a single piece of furniture called my own except a table lamp, I proudly placed this little tree on my desk.  

I know I shouldn't be so materialist about things but it was a piece of festivity that had something to do with me.  The little tree with the tiny lights accompanied me through many nights of toiling through homework assignments, many hours of teaching, and on particular cold and exhausting nights through practicing to prepare for lessons and recitals.  It also was there when I enjoyed a warm cup of tea with some cookies and a good movie, it just plain made me happy. 

Since I didn't see any reason why my pretty tree had to be taken out of sight when Christmas was over, I kept it lit until well after the holiday. In fact, it was on all year round and I did not think anything of it. Once in a while I would hear comments from parents like, "I had a grandma that used to keep her Christmas tree out all year long," and I didn't think much of that either. Finally the tree light gave out and the tree got tucked into a corner of the room collecting dust.  Somehow, without the lights, the tree just lost all it's magic power.  Eventually my tree got placed on the curb and got picked up by somebody else.  

For the last couple of night, maybe all this holiday decorating has brought back memories, I kept thinking about my tree and wishing that I could have it back.  It would be so neat to have a miniature tree twinkling with lights sitting on my desk again!

Today just so happened that I was in Michael's to shop for ornaments for my wreath and garlands.  I had decided to buy a real Christmas tree this year, but I still walked through the Christmas tree section. There were many carefully packaged 4-6 feet tall trees neatly stacked on the shelves, and after circling the aisle a couple of times, I noticed a few dozen 2 ft tall white fuzzy sticks, very unceremoniously thrown on one section on the floor without any package.  I pulled one out to see what they were, turned out, these were white miniature Christmas trees, WITH LIGHTS!!!  This was a plain tree that needed to be fluffed out and decorated, which was just perfect for me.  Now you have to give credit to where credit is due, Michael's had a section of miniature Christmas tree decorations, complete with miniature tree top, ornaments, tree skirt, etc., etc.  

I picked out a snowman tree skirt, some vintage looking glass ornament sets and a silver colored star miniature tree topper! I felt like a little kid in a candy store, and I had a blast decorating it as soon as I got home.  I think my new tree has all the wonderful holiday cheer as the one I remembered and then some!  Hopefully the lights on this one will hold up for me to enjoy it for years to come! 

Friday, November 28, 2014

I couldn't wait one more day to get the fall decorations out. Last night I took down all the fall decor around the house and put up some garland on top of the fireplace, unfortunately it looked too flat and didn't fill up that empty wall space.  I thought putting a wreath would make it look better, but I had to make one myself in order for everything to match!

This was my first handmade Christmas wreath, I was able to find a blank one at Michael's for a good size with lights already wired in. I've no clue what's the right way to secure the ornaments, but these seem to do alright for now!

Ta-da! What do you think? Next step will be the tree!

Another Thanksgiving holiday came and gone. At first I was pretty set on not cooking a whole big dinner since the dining crowd on my lot is quite meager, but when the night was approaching and the sizzle of holiday cheer started to boil over,  it just felt like I would miss out if I didn't cook myself a once a year turkey meal.  I wasn't able to find those all in one package precooked dinners, but Costco had some of the packaged items and I just had to cook the turkey. It was such a chaotic experience shopping for food on Thanksgiving eve, it felt like millions of shoppers with their giant shopping carts was flooding towards me, there was shopping cart jam in every aisle, making it out of there with food loaded in my car was quite a triumphant feat!

Since I came to the States as a teenager, I had no idea what Thanksgiving holiday was all about, my family never celebrated any American holidays and there's no day off from work for a Chinese holiday, so I never celebrated holidays of any sorts with my family at all.  Later in college I lived with a landlady in a hundred year old Spanish mansion, it was a cold large house filled with dark and gloomy antique furnitures. We often gathered in the kitchen late at night telling each other haunted stories over a cup of tea for fun. She was a struggling piano teacher trying to make ends meet to support herself and her house after her husband had left, non the less she always pulled out beautiful heirloom china from the cabinet and prepared a full on dinner with a few family and friends on holidays.  On one occasion out of having no place to go I went to a half empty theatre on a very empty stomach because it was one of the only places open during Thanksgiving, when I went back to my rental place their dinner was still going on, she was surprised to see me and insisted from then that I dine with her on holidays. It was such a heart warming experience and every now and then I still think about it.  

Now I was quite stupid for the first few years when I started cooking my own Thanksgiving meals. I insisted on cooking every dish from scratch, it not only cost an arm and leg to shop for all the ingredients but the cooking in itself took forever. Gradually I learned a few tricks and started to have a little bit of a system. Cranking out holiday meals became a bit less of a hassle as each year went by.  This year for instance, I picked an easy recipe and stuffed the bird in the oven the night before and had it cooking over night, albeit I overslept by a couple hours, it still turned out quite juicy and delicious.  I skipped aromatic ingredients such as onions so that my puppies could share the huge turkey with me.  I bought packaged gravy, sweet potato and mashed potato from Costco's and they were absolutely delicious, and I froze half of everything for next month's Christmas meal. For homemade dishes I made cornmeal stuffing, green beans and cranberry sauce from scratch. That was still quite a bit of cooking, but these are simple dishes I've done a few times before. These homemade dishes are so easy and delicious, there's really no need to buy them. 

So there goes the final product! Another delicious meal accounted for during this year's Thanksgiving, at my very own small but beautiful house with my wonderful puppies, now that's something to be thankful about!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I got a call today from my local nursery that they got some fresh new African Violets and the owner saved a couple of them just for me.  I had told them a while back that I'm looking for unique AV flowers, and they really remembered!

These are up close pictures showing just how truly amazing these flowers are, the flowers have a fairy like glitter under sunlight, isn't that just amazing?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The weekend came and gone, next week? Thanks Giving! I've no big plans for the incoming holidays other than the excitement of perhaps doing a bit of decorating, eating my tofu turkey and kale salad for my big feast. Today while walking around the mall I saw a store selling holiday dog sweaters, covered in jingle bells, christmas trees, reindeers and etc.  I immediately had a idea of taking a holiday family picture with me and my three pups, after all we've been through thick and thin and they are absolutely my family!

There are seven orchids and six African violets on my flower table, here's some pictures for a  close up look!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Weekend in style! Denim on denim, plus bright red ankle boots! I love to add a statement piece for my outfit, and who doesn't like red shoes?

Friday, November 21, 2014

I didn't realize what a impressive array of orchids I have throughout the house until last night when I took them all to the kitchen counter for watering and misting. 

These beautiful orchids can be purchased very cheaply from Trader Joe's, the grocery store actually carry a good variety of orchids, and they don't just sell Phalaenopsis orchids either.  These two orchids attracted me because the flowers are simply so perfect, and the leaves look absolutely gorgeous and healthy!

I pulled this vintage table out from the garage today because I thought this might be a better location for some of my house plants. This was a space for a breakfast nook in the olden times, you know, like back in the 1920s when my house was built, since I haven't got my hands on that project yet, these plants can temporarily lodge here for now, we will see how they do!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A couple of months ago I saw this turquoise bangle locked up in a glass display case while antique shopping with my girlfriend. There was a pile of various vintage jewelry, but this piece quite stood out.  It was kind of a pricey piece and I wasn't planning on buying anything, so I passed on it figure that it would be sold very soon.  Today I was in the area and stopped by this shop again, and what do you know, not only it was there, it was on sale for half the price! I snatched it up this time, I like buying things with the help of a little luck, like we are meant to cross path for a point in time. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

About six months ago a friend of mine came to visit and brought me a small orchid flower, it was so tiny and blooming flowers. After the first blooms finished though, the stem grew a Keiki "baby orchid," on top.  I'm still not sure when I want to cut it and plant in it's own pot, but it looks so cool just like that isn't it?

This is another one of my recently acquired orchid, I saw the beautiful large leaves and had to have it.

These orchids are not blooming, but they are quite happy bathing in the sun on my window sill.  I water them weekly and fertilize about once a month. I have a feeling that these will re-bloom soon!

A unrelated picture, but pretty things non the less. These are old old jewelry that I've had for a really long time, especially the ring, I've had it for maybe ten years? I grew out of it for a few years, moved in and out of many places but never managed to lose the ring, it's like it was purposefully following me. This morning I noticed these two pieces together on my jewelry stand and decided to wear them again.  Aren't these colorful stones delicious?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sometimes eating out really isn't easier than dining in, especially if you have a well stocked fridge, it's always very easy to throw something together for a quick 5 minute meal.  Today for lunch, I blended some walnuts together with cumin, coriander and a little bit of soy sauce for a meat like mixture.

Spread them on top of whole leaves of fresh Romain lettuce.

Chopping up 1 tomato, quarter of an inion, cilantro and half of a avocado ( I had left over from yesterday,) add in a squeeze of lemon juice for a delicious salsa.

Spread salsa on top of the "walnut meat," and it's ready to serve! I ate all of it of course, and it was super delicious and filling:)

What me and my doggies have been eating lately? Well, somewhat healthier food.  Last night I cooked salmon and gave two whole pieces to the four legged members of the family.  I break them apart into small pieces and separate into three bowls, and they chowed them down like it's nobody's business!

This morning I made some eggs for them with broccoli and cheese because I had discovered that they love gently boiled broccoli, again, no left overs. Of course!

As for myself, I've been having green smoothies for breakfast in the morning, it gives me much needed energy and helps me get through the day without crashing mid day!

Friday, November 7, 2014

I started knitting again after a really long hiatus, and I've been knitting for about an hour almost everyday for the last week, and now I'm almost 1/3 done making my first cable scarf!

I bought this basket to use for passing out Halloween candies, now that the holiday is over it's turned into my yarn basket!  It's holds enough yarn for two of my knitting projects and a little pouch for my knitting knick knacks.

Part of the knitting fun is to hang out at my favorite yarn shop with a group of ladies over some cookie and coffee. I take classes there, pick out new projects and check out what other ladies are making.  Unfortunately I don't get to do that as much as I would have liked because the yarn store I go to is way out in Pasadena, maybe just one more reason to move back to LA county one day:)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

What does $122 gets you at Mother's? A lot, apparently! For my meals this week I plan to make blueberry pancakes, english muffin, fried eggs, broccoli and rice, and turkey bacon carbonara, etc., etc.  I'm also hooked on drinking tea lately instead of coffee, so I got several kinds of organic herbal tea. Maybe I will post my cooking pictures:)

It's always sunny here in California, but that isn't always a blessing!  It's actually been a miserable winter so far bei...