Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mandarin Mondays: Spring (春天)

Spring (chūn tiān, 春) is beginning in the Spring City of Kunming, and the trees in our apartment complex are gorgeous.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Family Fridays: Yes Boy

This past week, Andrew has started saying "yes" a lot. It is really cute when Andrew says "ye-es." He still says "no" a whole lot, but maybe this is a start in lessening the negativity of this little two-year-old.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mandarin Mondays: Now (现在)

I recently resumed Mandarin lessons with my tutor. During my last Mandarin lesson my tutor reviewed time words and phrases such as "what time is it now" (xiàn zài jǐ diǎn, 现在几点)

We started class (shàng kè, 上课) in the morning (shàng wǔ, 上午) and finished class (xià kè, 下课) before afternoon (xià wǔ, 下午).

My tutor is a very good teacher. She is having me practice pronunciation and tones a lot right now too. She says it can be hard when you're learning, but I'll thank her later.

Family Fridays: Last Friday's Trip to the Zoo

Last week, my husband had a friend from elementary come to visit for the week. We we're a little busy last week, but here are a few pictures from Friday's trip to the zoo.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

DIY Light and Fluffy Pancakes

This a a more traditional pancake recipe than the hearty pancake recipe. While not quite as nutritious, these taste great and are fun to make for special occasions or company. I made them in heart shapes with strawberry sauce for Valentine's Day.

Homemade Fluffy Pancake Recipe

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk (or buttermilk)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and stir until smooth.
  2. Pour about 1/2 cup of batter onto a hot greased griddle.
  3. Cook until underside is brown. Flip over, and cook until the other side is brown. 
  4. To make heart shapes I first tried making heart shapes right on the griddle, but found it easier to cut a heart out of the middle of a large pancake. I really like how the pancake with the heart cut out of the middle looks with the hole filled in with strawberry syrup, very festive.
This recipe makes enough for 1–2 adults, but this basic ratio is easily doubled, quadrupled, or more. Serve warm with homemade butter, pancake syrup, spiced syrup, strawberry syrup, orange marmalade, lemon marmalade, or pumpkin butter for a really special treat.

DIY Strawberry Sauce

I love that strawberries are in season here now. This is the simple pureed strawberry sauce I made for breakfast for Valentine's day breakfast this year. But it would be a sweet treat any time of the year.

Homemade Strawberry Sauce Recipe

  • Four cups hulled strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  1. Put all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.
  2. Transfer strawberry puree to a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  3. Once the sauce has boiled and thickened slightly turn off heat. Serve warm, or refrigerate for later use.
This was a great topping for fluffy heart shaped pancakes.

    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    Strawberry Banana Smoothie

    This is a easy, healthy treat that blends up really fast.

    Homemade Strawberry Banana Smoothie

    • 1 cup strawberries
    • 3 peeled bananas
    • 2 cups milk or yogurt
    • 2 Tbsp sugar or honey (more or less to taste)
    Put all ingredients in the blender, put the lid on of course, and blend until smooth.

    Friday, February 10, 2012

    Family Fridays: Say Cheese

    This past week, Nate and I made our first attempt at making mozzarella at home. At first, it seemed like every was going really well, but in the end we were only able to get the milk to turn into crumbly ricotta cheese. It was nothing like stretched mozzarella should be. I think that the citric acid and the rennet we used worked as they were supposed to, but the "fresh" milk here in China seems to have been pasteurized at too high of a temperature to use it for making mozzarella. We may try again using powdered milk or try to find a cow. Oh well, it was still a fun project to try to do as a couple.

    Easy Valentine's Day Luminaries

    This is the same idea as the candle luminaries I made for Christmas. I simply changed the colors and added a beaded heart ornament. Simple and cute!

    Thursday, February 9, 2012

    DIY Death By Chocolate

    This is an amazing chocolate dessert that has been around a while, and goes by many different names. Whatever you call it though, it is amazing and really versatile. You can use all mixes and cool whip for a quick easy dessert or make everything from scratch to have the most control over taste and ingredients. You can vary the additions and change the flavor quite a bit. If you really don't even like chocolate (I don't know how that could be possible, but I hear some people don't), you could even just use the trifle idea and layer a different flavor of cake and pudding to create a whole new dessert. This dessert makes a lot, so it is great for company, and leftovers keep well in the fridge too, if you are only serving a couple. This would make a good Valentine's dessert for a chocolate lover.

    Homemade Death By Chocolate Dessert Recipe

    • 9x13 pan of chocolate cake or brownies
    • 4 cups of chocolate pudding
    • 1–2 small packages cool whip or 1–2 cups heavy whipping cream (whipped)
    • 1–2 cups chocolate chips (or crushed candy bars)
    • extra additions like chopped nuts or fruit (optional)

    1. Prepare the cake and pudding according to package or recipe instructions and allow to cool. Whip the whipping cream or thaw the cool whip.
    2. Select a very large serving bowl. If you have a trifle bowl, this dessert looks quite elegant in one. But any other glass or ceramic bowl works fine also. Alternately, you can layer these desserts individually in small bowls, glasses, or jars. Using stemmed glassware for individual portions is another elegant look.
    3. Cut cake into chunks.
    4. Starting with the cake layer ingredients in order, creating three layers, ending with a smooth layer of whipped cream with chocolate chips or other additions sprinkled on top.
    5. Refrigerate until you wish to serve it and any leftovers.

    Wednesday, February 8, 2012

    Easy Heart Wreath (No Hot Glue Required)

    I've seen a lot of cute Valentine's wreaths on the internet, but most of them require the use of a hot glue gun, which I don't have. So I came up with a different way to make a tissue paper heart wreath, without any hot glue.

    Easy Tissue Paper Heart or Heart Wreath

    • thin cardboard
    • pink or red tissue paper
    • scissors
    • hole punch
    • ribbon (optional)
    1. Cut the thin cardboard into a heart shape whatever size you like. If you want a wreath, cut a heart shape out of the middle of the larger heart.
    2. Use the hole punch to bunch holes all over the heart shaped cardboard, about 1–2 inches apart.
    3. Cut 3–5 inch squares of tissue paper.
    4. Take a square of tissue paper and twist it a little in the middle and stick in one of the holes. Repeat until the whole heart is covered with fluffy tufts of tissue paper.
    5. You can add a ribbon if you like for hanging on the wall.

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    Easy Valentine's Decorations: Love Blooms Bouquet

    This is such a simple and frugal project, but I love the finished effect. You could use this idea for just about any holiday, but I think it is really cool for Valentine's Day because often love grows most during hard times. The pretty ornaments hung on simple branches seem to echo this thought to me.

    An added bonus is that my boys got to help with this project in a way they actually thought was cool, which isn't the case with a lot of Valentine's crafts. My husband took them outside so they could hunt for sticks for me. They were so happy to present me with their beautiful bouquets of sticks when they got back.

    After I had the sticks, I just trimmed a few to the desired length and arranged them in a vase. I tied a ribbon and beaded ornament around the base and then hung beaded and stuffed heart ornaments on the branches. I decided to also just loop some thread through some fake pink jewel and hang those on as well for added sparkle.

    You could vary this project a lot, just by changing the container and the type of heart ornaments used. I think this bouquet turned out really cute.

    Monday, February 6, 2012

    Mandarin Mondays: Lantern Festival (元宵节)

    Today is the last day of the Chinese New Year (known here as Spring Festival), and it is called Lantern Festival (Yuán xiāo jié, 元宵节). This festival is always held on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month of the new year because it is the night of the first full moon of that year. People often go out to appreciate the moon, and round red lanterns are hung to light up the sky as well. Thousands of red lanterns decorate the city right now.

    On this day, people traditionally gather with family or friends and eat a special food that is a ball of rice flour that is sometimes filled with sesame or peanuts. These are called tāng yuán (湯圓) and are eaten boiled in water, similar to the idea of dumplings in soup, but it is sweet like a dessert. The round shape of the moon and the tāng yuán symbolize family and togetherness.

    Apparently, this is also traditionally a sort of Chinese Valentine's day to celebrate your sweetheart. Nowadays in China, there are three "Valentine's Days" though: Lantern Festival (Yuán xiāo jié, 元宵节), the Western Valentine's Day, and Chinese Valentine's Day (Qíng rén jié, 情人节) or (Qīxī Jié, 七夕節), which is on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month and means the night of sevens. A friend of mine says this is bad news for Chinese boyfriends.

    Friday, February 3, 2012

    Family Fridays: Kunming Right Now in Pictures

    Almost time for Lantern Festival

    Western Hills

    Another great view of the city

    Awesome magnolias


    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...