Friday, April 12, 2019

Super Cute Origami Kit Review

Recently, I had the pleasure to review the Super Cute Origami Kit By Yuki Martin and Illustrations by Emily Watanabe.  It contains a Full-Color Instruction Book, 48 Folding Sheets, stickers, sequins, rhinestones, pearls, and a lace washi tape.  Pretty much everything you needed to create some super adorable origami, and then some.




My daughter was super excited when we received the set.  We opened the package together and she started to read the instruction booklet on her own.  She told me that besides the instructions on creating the origami, the booklet also includes some fun facts.  I love it when a play set is also educational.


My daughter started with a couple easy ones, and she was able to complete them all on her own.  She loves the fact that they were rated in different difficulty levels so that she could practice on easy ones first.



Did you know what the Russian Nesting Dolls are called Matryoshka?  I certainly didn’t.  It was one of the fun fact from the set!  I love learning new things every day!  This Super Cute Origami Set is amazing.  Beside entertaining, it also help the kids follow instructions, and also inspire them to be creative.  My daughter designed and drew the patterns for the dolls’ little dresses (see picture below).  I think they are super adorable!



The Maneki Neko, the infamous Japanese Lucky Cat, was one of the origami with the highest difficulty.  At first, my Daughter wasn’t sure if she can handle it all by herself.  But after completing the cupcake and Russian Nesting Dolls Set, she built up her confident and gave it a try.  She was so proud of herself when she did it!



My daughter had so much fun playing with this Super Cute Origami Kit.  She brought it to a play date to share with her friend (a couple years older than my Daughter) and they had fun making Masquerade Party Masks together!  If you’re looking for fun and educational activities for your kiddos on Spring Breaks, weekends, rainy days, or the up coming Summer Breaks, I highly recommend this Super Cute Origami KitSimply click here for more information.  Thank you again for Tuttle Publishing for sending the kit for review. 



Disclaimer:  I received a copy of “Super Cute Origami Kit” for the purpose of this review and I was not compensated in any way to write this post.  All comments and opinions are 100% my own.



Saturday, February 9, 2019

How to Revive and Use Dried Vanilla Beans


Let’s talk about Vanilla Beans.  Do you use whole vanilla beans in your recipes?  I personally love and adore vanilla beans.  They have this unique, sweet, floral, and earthy (depending on the regions) aromas that you don’t get from any other ingredient.  They certainly make any baked goods and desserts tasted gourmet.  Ever since the shortage of vanilla beans a few year ago, the price of them had been sky-rocketed.  (That is totally a different topic so I’m not going to go in-depth today).

My point is, since vanilla beans are so expensive, you do want to utilize them the best you could so that nothing goes to waste.  If you live in an area that has a dry climate (such as Southern California), you might have experienced that your vanilla bean dried out before you use it.  No need to panic!  I’m here for the rescue today.  Watch my video below on how to revive a dried vanilla bean and many different ways you can use them. 



If you’ve missed my previous video, click below to watch the tutorial on how to split and seed a vanilla bean and other usage ideas.




If you have any other questions, please feel free to leave me a comment below.  

For more product information and vanilla recipes, please visit www://SingingDogVanilla.com



Vanilla Simple Syrup

Ingredients:
1 vanilla bean
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

1) Place all ingredient in a medium pot.  Let the mixture simmer for 5 minutes, stir occasionally.  Let cool completely before use.

2) The simple syrup is wonderful to mix into teas, cocktails, and fruit punches.





Vanilla Spice Poached Pears

Ingredients:
2 Semi-Ripe Pears, peeled
3 Cups water
1 cup Sugar
1 lemon, peel off rind and juiced
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
1 star anise
1 vanilla bean

1) Place all ingredient, except the pears, in a medium pot. Heat mixture over high heat until it comes to a boil.

2) Lower the heat to a simmer and add in the pears.  Simmer for 20 minutes or until fork tender.



3) Let pears cool slightly and enjoy them warm or at room temperature!  Accompany poached pears with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, dark chocolate sauce, or fresh berries.



Vanilla Lavender Bath Salt

Ingredients:
1 cup of lavender Epsom Salt
1/2 cup sea salt
1 tablespoon dried lavender buds
A few drops of purple soap colorant (Optional)
1 dried vanilla bean, break into thirds

Stir all ingredients together until well incorporated.  Transfer to an air tight container until ready to use (preferably after a week to let the vanilla bean infused into the bath salt). 

To Use:
Scoop 1/2 a cup of the bath salt mixture and add into a tub of bath water.  Soak, relax, and enjoy!  
















Thank you Singing Dog Vanilla for sponsoring these videos.





Saturday, December 8, 2018

21 Homemade Holiday Gifts for Everyone on your list!

How is your Christmas shopping so far?  Are you almost done?  Besides merchandise that you can purchase, sometimes, homemade ones are just as wonderful.  I personally love homemade gifts.  Here are some easy ones that you can make for someone who has everything!


Homemade Granola

I usually pack these up in mason jars for a nicer presentation.  You can also add a tag and write down the ingredients at the back so the recipients know exactly what are in it.  They make a great homemade gifts and are healthier than cookies for sure!

Click here for the recipe.

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Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread:

This Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread is nothing but delicious and stunning!  It makes a wonderful hostess gift if you're attending any holiday parties.


Click here to watch the YouTube video.

Click here for the recipe.



Cinnamon Pull-Apart Star Bread (Tang Zhong Method 湯種法)   http://uTry.it




Winter Wonderland Shortbread Cookies:

These Winter Wonderland Cookies are buttery and delicious!  If you are hosting a holiday party, make some cookies (without decorations) and frostings.  Let the guests and kiddos decorate the cookies themselves.  These will keep the kiddos entertained and the cookies double duties as take home gifts!  You are very welcome!

Click here for the YouTube Video.

Click here for the recipe.

How to create a 3D Winter Wonderland -  Classic Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing    http://uTry.it





DIY Homemade Lavender and Rose Bath Bombs 


The holiday can be stressful for some people.  These DIY bath bombs will make a wonderful destressing gifts!  Be sure to make some extra for yourself too.  They are easier to make than you think.  Check out my video tutorial below. 



DIY Homemade Lavender and Rose Bath Bombs     http://uTry.it




Homemade Cocoa Mix:

Who doesn't love a cup of hot cocoa in the winter, right?  This is a no-brainer and everyone will love you to pieces if you make these for them!

Click here for the recipe.

Home Made Cocoa Mix and Frozen Hot Chocolate



Candied Pecans:

This is one of the must-make recipe every year.  Pack them in treat bags or mason jars and they are good to go!

Click here for the recipe.

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Chocolate Sablés


These cookies look fancy but super easy to prepare.  Perfect for chocolate lovers.


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Lemon Curd:

This is one of the yummiest curd you'll ever made!  Forget about the store bought ones!

Click here for the recipe.

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Fruity Pork Jerky:

Who knew pork jerky is so easy to make?!  Try these out and I know you'll love them.

Click here for the recipe.

Fruity Pork Jerky 自家製果汁豬肉乾 for Chinese New Year  http://uTry.it




Lemon Scented Thumbprint Cookies:

Remember the lemon curd up there?  Use that to fill these thumbprint cookies too!

Click here for the recipe.

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These snowball cookies has a melt-in-your-mouth kind of texture.  Once you've tried them, you'll make them more often than just the holidays.


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Mendiant with Fleur de Sel:


Look at how festive these are?  Don't think I need to explain any thing here.


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Orange Marmalade:

This orange marmalade is my family's favorite!  I have them in my fridge all year round.

Click here for the recipe.

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This will be the only chocolate chip cookies you'll ever needed.  Well, at least that is true for me.



Check out How to Make the Best Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip/chunk Cookies from scratch.  A must have recipe for everyone, especially around the holidays!!!   http://uTry.it




Another easy gift that is a cinch to make.  I love "spa" type homemade gifts. 



Homemade Lavender Bath Salts



Apricot and Pistachio Biscotti


These biscotti cookies keep well and travel well.  If you're shipping cookies for loved ones, these will be perfect.  Not to mention, they are very festive.  You can swap the apricot with dried cranberries as well.


Apricot and Pistachio Biscotti  http://uTry.it




Bourbon Maple Bacon Jam


This is a gift for the meat lovers.  How doesn't like bacon, right?


Bourbon Maple Bacon Jam





These peppermint meringue cookies are delicious on their own and also wonderful in hot cocoa and coffee!


Peppermint Meringue Christmas Trees



These are one of my favorite holiday cookies to make.  Festive and beautiful!



Classic Shortbread Cookies – Christmas Wreath and Christmas Tree  http://uTry.it



Chocolate Yule Log (Bûche de Noël au chocolat)


Bring this cake to a party and you'll be invited back every year for sure!


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Snowflakes Chocolate Peppermint Bark


These peppermint barks are easy to prepare and super gorgeous.  You'll want to make extras for yourself too.




Check out how to make these festive Snowflakes Chocolate Peppermint Barks with video tutorial.  http://uTry.it


I hope you enjoy my holiday homemade gift idea round up.  If you're looking for a particular recipe that are not listed here, feel free to leave a comment below.  Do you have any homemade gift ideas to share?  Please leave a comment below or link to your recipe.  Thank you for stopping by today!  Until next time....

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Holiday Gift Guide 2018



This week, most of us are probably busy preparing for the Thanksgiving feasts!  Don't forget, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are following right after!  As much as I love retail therapy, I prefer to shop online, especially around this time of the year.  Here are some Holiday Gift Ideas to help you out!  Hope you'll love the items that I selected!


For the Baker:
3D Christmas Cookie Cutter Set


I purchased this 3D cookie cutter set last year and it's super fun to use.  My Daughter and I decorated these cookies together to share with friends and family (see picture below).  Aren't they gorgeous? Click here to see the tutorial and recipe.

How to create a 3D Winter Wonderland -  Classic Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing    http://uTry.it



Joseph Joseph Adjustable Rolling Pin
Perfect for the OCD baker in your life who wants everything perfect and in precision!  After all, it’s much nicer if your sugar cookies come out in even thickness than lop-sided!  I totally understand the frustration. Click here for product information.






For the Home Cook:
Air Fryer




Last year, the Instant Pot and Sous Vide Precision Cooker might be the super stars in the kitchen!  This year, the Air Fryer is definitely taking over!  After all, many of us are into healthier cooking/diet.  The Air Fryer would be what you need if you're watching the oil in-take in your diet.


For the Star Wars Fans:

My Son is a big Star Wars fan!  These are some fun items that any Star Wars Fans will love!  I personally love the "Chop Sabers" the most!  How creative!  It's a great way to encourage the kids to practice their chopsticks skills as well.

R2-D2 Measuring Cup Set
















For the Cat Lovers:















I hope you like these gift ideas.  Wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration! 





Disclosure: uTry.it is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

New Meanings to Breast Cancer Awareness Month


First of all, sorry for being MIA (missing in action) on this blog for the past few months.  I meant to drop a few lines, in many occasions, to explain the reason.  Somehow it just didn't happen.  Stepping into October, I have no excuse to postpone it any further. If you follow me on other social media, such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and/or Twitter, you know that I'm still active (and pretty much alive) and you might have already knew the reason for my lack of new posts here.

Simply put, I was taking some much needed time off to focus on my health.  I still create recipes and videos for my clients.  But taking a break on my own blog was necessary, given the frequency of  all of my doctor visits and treatments.

Why did I choose October to post an update?  That's because October is Breast Cancer Awareness month!  I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer back in March.  I didn't post an update regarding my health issue here for a few reasons.

First of all, I started this website as a family food blog, I wanted to share happy things, such as family time, travel experiences, and fun recipes with you guys.  Who wants to hear me whine about my illness, struggles, and sadness, right (that's what I originally thought)?  So, I didn't think sharing my diagnoses here was appropriate.

Second of all, I am still on this journey, battle, good fight, or whatever you like to call it.  When my journey is still an on going one, there are many uncertainties and I truly not sure where it will take me.  I simply don't know where to begin to explain either.

Lastly, I guess I'm just a private person.  I didn't need the whole world to know my struggles or what I'm going through.  Sometimes, I even think telling my friends and family might add burdens on their shoulders.  Am I the only one who think this way?

So, you might wonder why I wanted to share it now, isn't it?  Honestly, I believe things happened for a reason.  You can look at this illness as being bad luck for me because, come on...cancer sucks, it simply sucks.  No one wants it in their lives, nor their friends and family's.  But if my "misfortune" can somehow spread the message and help someone out there, even just one person?! I think it's well worth it to share my story/journey.


But how can I really help?  What message should I share?  Honestly, before I was diagnosed, Breast Cancer Awareness Month didn't mean much to me.  Sure, I saw this pink little ribbon flying all over the internet for the whole October. I will click on the share button and pass on the little pink ribbon.  I got the message that self check (self breast exam) is important.  I do get my annual check up and mammogram and I thought I did my part. I sure didn't know what other signs to look for.  I didn't think breast cancer could happen to me in the past because none of my close family has it and I didn't considered myself as high risk.  

In October, my focus was way more on looking for costumes for my kids to wear on Halloween, and what treats to share at school with their friends, rather than breast cancer and check for symptoms!  That pink little ribbon didn't really help me much!   





Until recently when I've came across this "Know Your Lemons" picture!  Simply click on the image to enlarge.  Or click here to go to their website for an interactive video for more information.  I think I'm a very visual person.  This picture really helps me to visualize the different signs of breast cancer and what to look for.  I hope it'll help someone out there as well.   

In my case, I first noticed a hard lump on my breast that raised my suspicious since last September.  However, mammogram and ultrasound both shown as negative. The radiologist and doctors told me there's "nothing to worry about"!  Until the lump grew bigger this March and I did more rounds of testings and biopsies to confirm.  After this whole incident, one important lesson that I learned from my breast surgeon was that mammogram and ultrasound are not 100% accurate.  The only way to find out is to get an biopsy of the lump!!!  If I knew this back in September, the cancer might not have spread to my lymph nodes.  I guess sometimes we need to be persistent as a patient!

Did you know, 1 in 8 women would develop breast cancer in their live time?  Simply think of 8 women around you; your mom, daughter, aunt, cousins, close friends, etc; and imagine one of them would get diagnosed, that really hits home!  Ever since I was diagnosed, I realized many around me had gone through similar journey.  It's not an easy battle, but I know that I'm not fighting alone!  I was blessed to have so many friends and family around me who show supports and encouragement.  This illness surely brought us closer together!    

Cancer surely changed my life!  Who knew I would be so grateful for waking up in the morning, breathing, and not feeling pain! Who knew, having a bad hair day is nothing significant compared to having handfuls of hair falling off your head because of your treatment.  I often rush my kids when it's time to take off to school.  Now, I wanted to just hug them a little longer, a little tighter before they take off to school.  Cancer gives me a different perspective in life as well as realizing what really matters.  Now, I try to slow down and try to live in the moment.  

If you pass me by on the street, I might look healthy and normal, just like every other person.  People probably wound't associate me with the word cancer! Walking down the street, I wonder how many people I came crossed are fighting with cancer and struggling with their own battle!?  Cancer taught me to be more patience, to be more kind to others as I don't know what they are going through in their lives.  

I am so thankful that I had a wonderful team of doctors who take care of me.  They taught me to have hope and never give up!  They truly saved my life and I'm grateful for that.

On my journey, my husband truly shown me what our wedding vow "to love and to hold, in sickness and in health" really means! He taught me what is unconditional love, patience, support, with his actions.  I am a fighter and a survivor because he believed in me!  Today, it's our 14th wedding anniversary.  This is my special message to him, "Happy Anniversary, my Love! I look forward to many many more celebrations to come. I love you!"     

Ever since the diagnoses, I tried to eat more healthy and cut down on sugar and carbs.  I promise, I'll share some of my healthy recipes with you next time!  If you're interested to know more about my journey for better health and my cancer treatments, feel to leave me a message below and I'll share with you on future posts.  Otherwise, I would change gear and switch it back to a food blog!  After all, sharing recipes is what I do best!