May Favorites 2016

Goodbye May, Hello June!

After some unseasonably warm weather here, May cooled down considerably. Here are my favorites for May:

Drinking
Loads of PG Milk Tea (one teabag, hot water and a teaspoon of condensed milk)
Also, cold brew matcha – one teaspoon of matcha powder in 16oz of cold water, shake bottle up. Perfect for the warmer weather.

Eating
I tried baking chiffon or sponge cakes this month. I made a vanilla swiss roll with a strawberry-rhubarb filling and a gula melaka chiffon cake. The flavor of the gula melaka was perfect in a sponge cake.

Listening
Borns’ Dopamine album
The Productivity Show – I just enjoy good tips on how to manage work, email and life better.
Modern Love Podcast – great essays read by talented people. My favorite episode was A Heart Outrun, read by Colin Farrell.

Watching
Star Wars (episodes 1-7), getting excited for Rogue One.
Lily Pebbles’ Every Day May videos – I particularly enjoy her vlogs and her videos that feature her arty camera work.

Doing
Long walks
Inverted meditation
Adding new plants to house/deck

Reading
Harry Potter – The Prisoner of Azkaban

What has been your favorites this past month?

Friday Favorites

Work is still crazy and I have a lingering cold so that means I’m intentionally hoarding things that I love and enjoy. Little treats and moments of gratitude have helped me through these past weeks.

Cadbury Caramel Eggs – I love caramel. You all know that!

Milk Tea – made with PG Tips tea bags, full fat milk powder and raw honey. The best comfort drink.

Playing sea otters with Sagan – we have been enjoying videos of this baby sea otter and his momma, floating in the sea so he has been laying on my belly while we pretend to be sea otters.

Penelope Dullaghan’s Instagram posts of her work – love the recent pieces with blues and whites.

This book – Owls: Our Most Charming Bird – lovely illustrations. Sagan loves owls, but we never got a reference-style book and when I saw this, I knew this would be it.

Sheet Masks – finally, my face has stopped peeling and is playing nice with my foundation/makeup. My mum bought me a whole bunch of them from Etude House when she went back to Singapore, they have all worked equally well.

Friday Favorites

What’s not to love about Fridays? The sun came out this morning for about an hour and then rain fell hard. I was on the phone with some folks in Dallas who laughed when I told them about how it’s raining and grey here but only because I did not rub in the fact that it’s beautiful out here in the PNW. I didn’t want them to be envious.

I’m feeling much better today. Still a little foggy but am so glad it’s the weekend. And a long one.

Here are some things that has helped me through this week:

Matcha Coconut Oil and Honey Tea
I mix half a teaspoon of matcha powder with a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of coconut oil into a dark green paste then add hot water. Stir well and it’s a delicious healthy drink. It’s not oily but makes the matcha richer. Wakes me up every morning.

Clementines or Baby Mandarin Oranges
We buy them by the bag and go through 2 bags every week. Sweet and tart and juicy. Helps to round off anything savory.

Broadchurch Season 2
I watched Season 1 a while ago and it was at times, difficult to stomach the pain that some of these characters carry but it was done so well and the acting was impeccable. It took me a while to get back into watching it because of how I empathize with the pain but Season 2 was even better. I just completed all 8 episodes this week. I like how UK series don’t try to overdo and extend their storyline until they “jump the shark” (Happy Days). Worth the watch.

Trader Joe’s Dried Pineapples
These are so sweet and taste very much like pineapples and not sugar. It would be good in a trail mix but on its own, they are a nice little healthy dessert. I like how they are sliced crosswise and when dehydrated, look like little crinkled chrysanthemums.

Homemade Boba Tea
I made some boba tea right after Whole30 with these slow cooked tapioca boba, some black tea, milk powder and honey. I was in boba heaven. This brand is recommended by boba aficionados so I bought some to try. The texture is wonderful.

It was a crazy week, not as bad as last week but I surrounded myself with things that made me happy. It helped with my perspective.

Long Weekend

New summer sandals

A photo posted by @astromei on

I am so happy that I extended my long weekend by taking an extra day off yesterday. Lately, I’ve been feeling the effects of the many moves we had earlier in the year. My body was begging for rest. I complied and went shopping, thus the Instagram.

I’ve been listening to the Mystery Show podcast, thanks to Kate! Loved it so much that I listened to all the episodes in one day. Now I have to wait…

Also really enjoying Crime Writers on Serial. If you listened to Serial Season 1 and like me, have been caught up in this case, you would like this podcast and of course, the very detailed Undisclosed. These podcasts turn my 40 minute bus-ride into a flash!

I downloaded a new (to me!) book that comes highly recommended by a blog friend who prides herself on living life to the fullest.

Loving watermelon, iced coffees, brie on crackers and late night catch-up chats with Mike.

Staying Cool in the Heat

Skagit Sun Strawberries #hellosummer

A photo posted by @astromei on

Eating cold spicy peanut sesame noodles – quick and easy and delicious! Use rice noodles or soba for a gluten-free option.

Listening to Leon Bridges’ new album – his sound is timeless.

Reading The Little Prince again because when you are feeling a little tired and off, this tips you in the right direction.

Enjoying warmer mornings, toddler chit chat, iced tea and dark chocolate-covered dried mango.

Oh My

All the sleep deprivation in the world is made better when I see this face.  I do miss my sleep. Before Sagan, I was the type of person who needed her 8 hours.  You see, I have a really active dream life (read: a lot happens, many people show up in them and I remember them clearly) and if I don’t get my 8 hours, I will feel utterly unrested.  Now, even though I only get a couple of hours here and there, I still have the same vivid dreams.  Thus, on most mornings at 6.30am, you’ll find me quite a zombie.  But how can you get frustrated with a face like this one?

He is growing like a weed.  Two weeks ago at his 2-month well-baby check, he weighed in at almost 13lb. I’m willing to bet that he is almost 15lb right now.  I really hope my arm strength will catch up with his growth rate.  I don’t know how folks can pick up their toddlers but if they can, I probably should be able to, eventually.

It’s almost time to think about going back to work. Most mothers go back to work after 12-16 weeks. I am, however, in a unique position where I have to find a new job.  The last one was only a contract position.  I know that it’s going to be difficult for me to go back to a full-time work schedule or to keep the schedule I had before.  I am going to want to have time for the boy because I would hate to miss those milestones.  I feel lucky that we can afford for me to spend the rest of the year at home, I am truly  grateful for this time off. I hope the new year brings new opportunities that will allow me to work fewer hours.

By the way, it is my favorite time of the year – fall.  I love all the smells, colors and tastes.  I’ve baked 3 pumpkin pies in the last week and I have to say that adding 2 tbsp of brandy to your pumpkin pie filling makes your pie taste deeeeeee-leeeee-cious!  I blind-bake store-bought crusts, follow the recipe on the Libby’s can except for the brandy and an extra pinch of nutmeg.  Next on my list, sweet potato pie.

I’ve also been enjoying some cocktails lately but nothing says colder weather like a Dark & Stormy. Spicy ginger beer with spicy dark rum. Ooh la la!

Other exploits in the kitchen – Buffalo Wings and Yong Tau Foo.  The latter is tofu/tofu puffs stuffed with a fish meat paste and steamed.  You can it in a clear broth that contains soy beans or you can have it with hoisin sauce and chili sauce on rice vermicelli (bee hoon).

I’m looking forward to making more stews and definitely try my hand at braising.

On the creative front, I’m trying to find some time to sew more burp cloths and maybe a pair of pants for the boy. We’ll see. Right now, I’m having fun checking out patterns and selecting cute fabric here, here and of course, on Etsy.

Tea addict

I cannot get enough of tea. Even in recent months when I was feeling out of sorts and a little discouraged in my other passions, I still sought tea out to make me feel better. It’s tea with lemon, tea with honey, tea with steamed milk (my favorite!) or iced tea.

I do enjoy my cup of coffee from time to time but I can’t do without a good cup of tea, even with this baby on the way.

I have a current favorite iced tea and I am not sure how I will ever stop drinking this. It’s Tazo’s Giant Peach. It is not like any other peach-flavored tea I’ve ever tasted. You can actually taste peaches in this one. Not artificial at all. I have not tried the diet version but my tongue does not like artificial sweeteners, so it’s not even about it being unsafe.

If you haven’t tasted this, you should. I know it’s not the season for iced teas but can you blame a mum-to-be who is growing a little heater?

Image from My Little World

Monday after

My summer string lights over the patio

How was your weekend? I had a good one. We had our hands full on Saturday with Scarlett’s very first garage sale, we had quite a few customers and enjoyed hanging out in the sun. I have a farmer’s tan but the new color on my skin is healthy. I know it will return to its pale glory in a few months. Sunday was a minimal chore day, we only took the cars out for a bath and vacuum. We don’t do that very often but it really does feel good to have a clean vehicle.

July is coming to an end and soon it will be birthday month. I love August. When I was younger and growing up in Singapore, it meant that we could look forward to a day off from school – National Day, and in that same week, 3 of us cousins will celebrate our birthdays together (we were born in the same week of the same year). Now, August means the height of summer – grilling out, popsicles, a bountiful garden, orange sunsets and balmy evenings. Can you tell that I am so looking forward to August?

Today’s bits:

I have been wanting mojitos this summer – I think these Danish Modern muddlers will look stylin’ and work well. Of course in a pinch, we can always use one of these wooden rolling pins.

My other half will cringe at this but don’t you think this Hello Kitty wallet is absolutely adorable?

I haven’t had the chance to visit the Georgetown Farmers/Flea market that is held every Saturday. Maybe this week.

The noise of the fan blades from our columnar fan sent me on a quest for a less noisy fan. May I present the Dyson Air Multiplier. It looks sleek and are blade-less so they won’t be a cleaning nightmare. I am not sure about how much I am willing to fork out to be without the extra noise and to have better air flow. But I would be interested in checking these out at a store.

I am always on the lookout for letterpress prints – this Urban Gardening one by Starshaped Press is delightful. Very summer-y colors and a great use of type.

Declutter

Kitchen Window Sill

Ever since I realized that we won’t be moving for a while, I have always tried to keep up with my decluttering projects. I just do not want to end up with too much stuff over time. Like almost every other person, I like stuff. I find it, I buy it, I don’t know where to put it. Today I finally finished sorting through the boxes that I brought home with me after I left my job. It took me a while to figure out where all these work things would go. I did not want to fill my workspace at home with these things so I had to take a brutal approach. There was much to recycle and discard.

Here is an interesting link to some instructions on how to tackle decluttering your home. Unclutterer is a great resource for organization.

Today’s bits:

How about these nesting Russian Babushka glasses?

You might have already heard of these guys who make excellent affordable Pinot Noirs in Sonoma – Banshee Wines. I have not tried it but I heard from reliable sources that it should not be missed.

I always enjoy a good ice cream sandwich, both the American version where you have two cookies sandwich some ice cream as well as the Singapore one where you get scoops of ice cream in a slice of bread. I have to say I love the latter version, what can I say, I’m biased to memories and tastes of my youth. Still, these farm animal ice cream sandwich molds are really cute.

Run, don’t walk, to Geraldine’s Counter in Columbia City for their sweet potato fries. Heavenly, crispy, orange and sweet!

I think these reusable sandwich bags are a good idea, especially if you send kids to school with plastic sandwich bags that they just toss. These also seem really easy to make at home, all your crafties!

Comeback?

Seed madness

You can call this whatever you like but I call it “I’m so glad to be back!”.

As you can tell, I was picking through my seed packets yesterday and sorting through what I might have time to plant in my backyard. Grow, grow, grow, I say!

Have you seen these adorable little frocks Alicia has been sewing for her baby? I love them!

These brick succulent planter idea from Readymade is genius! I think I have the spot just for these.

I’ve been thinking about Alfajores that Matt Armendariz made and didn’t want to get into exploding a can of condensed milk. Dave Lebovitz has good method of making dulce de leche in the oven, minus the can.

How I would love it if someone dedicated this song to me – Yo-Yo Ma & Diana Krall’s You Couldn’t Be Cuter.

I am very curious about this manual Espresso Maker at Matteria.