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Monday, April 30

DIY MAGNETIC STRIPS + CORKBOARD MAKEOVER


Now that E's approaching two and understanding a lot more, my teacher instincts have been kicking back in. ;) He's already picked up a lot simply with us reading to him, but we've never really focused on anything specific. I wanted to create an interactive spot in our house where I can work with him on his letters, numbers and colors.


In our family room, we have this empty wall beneath our counters that seemed like the perfect spot. It was at his level and set apart from the rest of the dining room.

Now the problem was figuring out how to make this spot blend in with our family room. If this were a typical classroom, then I'd have no problem going all out and making it kiddie-ish and cute. But this was our family room and where we spent 90% of our time. This was where we held our bible studies, where we entertained, where we relaxed...


I wanted to keep this space simple, clean, but functional. I also wanted a surface that I could use magnets, thumbtacks, or even staples on it. Here's what I finally came up with:



Materials: corkboard, primer, spray paint, painters tape, fabric, 2 metal rulers, decorative paper or shelf-liners, newspapers, spray adhesive, and gorilla glue

Directions: Before spray-painting, tape down the corkboard area with painter's tape and newspapers. Prime the frame first and then spray-paint with your desired color. 



Use spray adhesive to adhere the fabric onto the board (make sure you protect the frame with painters tape first before spraying). Tuck the extra fabric under the frame with a ruler or butter knife. 

(By the way, do any of you recognize this fabric? It's the same one that I used for the linen wreath, the upholstered chair, and laundry curtains! )



Instead of buying metal strips, I found a cheaper solution by using metal rulers. They were light and the perfect length for my 2 x 3 board. I covered them with some adorable shelf-liner that I had found at Marshalls.  


I then attached the rulers using gorilla glue for a strong bond.


After the rulers bonded, I attached the board onto the wall using these AWESOME Command velcro strips. No need to put holes in the wall or worry about damage when I decide to take the board down.  Seriously, I love these strips!

And that's it! Easy wasn't it?! Currently I am using the top strip to hold E's "artworks." ;) This is how I'm keeping it for now, but I will update you all as I add on to it.





What do you all think? How do you all incorporate your kids' space into your adult space? I'd love to hear your tips!

Enjoy your last day of April!

Friday, April 27

FRIDAY TREATS

These last two days have been so hot and humid here. It's only April and I'm already considering taking out my ice shaver. Just need some fresh mangoes and condensed milk... Mmmm :) 

I also wanted to take a minute and thank you all for your wonderful feedback on the recipes this week! I had no idea so many of you were fans of spicy foods too. ;) I also have some lighter recipes prepared for next week so be sure to check back. 

Ok on to this week's treats! Doesn't #3 look absolutely delicious??! :D



1) What an adorable paper plate basket by SarahHearts using washi tape!

2) These pretty thumbtacks by Torie Jayne would make beautiful earrings...

3) Dole Pineapple Whips by Prudence Pennywise... uhhhhh YUM!!!

4) For my blogging friends, check out these beautiful (free) patterns by August Empress.



5) I found this on Pinterest, but unfortunately I was unable to source it. (If anyone knows where this is  from, please let me know.) I love this idea of letting the kids decorate their own cake.

6) I'd probably never leave the house if I had this Beckam Pit Sectional! ;)


Have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, April 26

[SZECHUAN] RED OIL WONTONS

I'm so excited to share this popular Szechuan dish with you! My husband and I first tried these delicious red oil wontons at a small restaurant in Chinatown, NYC. I still remember when we took our first bite of this juicy little snack served with a tasty chili sauce.  There were no words to describe how good it was... it was the perfect blend of savory, spicy, and slightly sweet. Unable to find them quite as good here in Texas, I decided to try and make my own.  They're fairly easy to make once you have the wonton wrapping technique down.  



Ingredients
1/2 lb. ground pork
1/4 lb. shrimp (chopped)
1 C romaine lettuce or nappa cabbage (finely chopped)
1/4 C fresh or dried shitake mushrooms (finely chopped)
1/4 C chicken broth
1/4 C soy sauce
1 T rice wine
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp salt

1 pkg wonton wrappers (~40)
scallions

Dipping Sauce
1 T of homemade chili oil
2 tablespoons black vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn powder
1 stalk of scallion (finely chopped)





Wrapping Station: 
  • Wonton wrappers
  • Small bowl of water
  • Small spoon  
  • Cutting board or other flat surface
  • Two plates covered with saran wrap and dusted with flour - This will prevent your wontons from sticking to the plate.  If you're not planning on cooking all of them right away, place the extra plate of wontons straight into the freezer while you fill the other plate. Once the wontons firm up in the freezer, store them away in ziplock bags and put them back in the freezer.  



Wrapping Technique:
  1. Lay a sheet of wrapper on a flat surface in the position of a diamond.  
  2. Place a small scoop of the meat mixture in the center.
  3. Slightly wet the edges with your index finger.
  4. Fold the bottom corner up until the points meet.  Gently smooth the edges down until they're tightly sealed.  
  5. Take the two bottom ends and bring them together by sealing the ends with a little bit of water.  
  6. Done! :)




Once all the wontons are wrapped, place them in a large pot of boiling water. Cook until all the wontons float up to the top (~5-10 minutes) and take them out with a slotted spoon. 

Drizzle generously with your dipping sauce and garnish with some scallions before serving. Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, April 25

[SZECHUAN] BOILED FISH aka SHUI ZHU YU

Growing up, my mom did the majority of the cooking. She liked to cook dinner in the basement (to keep the upstairs clean) and then bring the dishes upstairs once she's done. Then she'd go back downstairs to clean up.  

Meanwhile, I'd be in my room doing homework. Once I smelled the food though, and man did it smell GOOD, I would always somehow end up in the kitchen sneaking in a few bites here and there.  However, a few turned into A LOT and by the time my mom came back up, she'd find half of her cooking gone! I know.. I know.. I was horrible huh? My mom never got upset though and sometimes she'd ask me to come out and we'd end up finishing the food together. She's the best isn't she?! :) For those of you wondering right now, yes she'd cook AGAIN so that my dad would have something to eat. ;) 

Now my dad was one of those people who rarely cooked. Not because he didn't want to, but because he was always busy working to provide for our family.  On those rare occasions when he did though, his dishes always turned out A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Did I also mention that he never follows recipes? So not fair, right? ;) 

When we went back home earlier this month, my dad shared with me this delicious and super easy recipe.This Szechuan boiled fish is a popular dish that he knew I loved. He tweaked the recipe a little and figured out a simple way to prepare it.


Ingredients
3 T grapeseed oil (any oil is fine)
2 Swai fish fillet or Basa (cut up into bite-sized pieces)
4-6 ginger slices
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tsp salt
2 T cornstarch
1 T rice wine
1 C water

1 T Szechuan peppercorn 
1/2 tsp of ground Szechuan peppercorn powder (grind peppercorns using 
a food processor or a mortar and pestle)

2 T chili bean sauce
1 T spicy chili crisp hot sauce
2 T cornstarch
1/2 T homemade chili oil 

2 C of chopped romaine lettuce (placed in a heatproof dish that you will be serving the fish in)*

*Broccoli also works great with this dish too! Steam or stir-fry separately and then combine with the fish before serving.  



Directions
Marinate the fish with ginger, white pepper, salt, cornstarch and rice wine for 2 hours in the fridge.  

Heat the peppercorns in a large wok for about 3 minutes over high heat.  Add the oil and stir around for about a minute until fragrant.  

Add the fish and gently stir them around in the oil. Add the chili bean sauce and spicy chili crisp sauce and mix everything well.  

Pour in the water and cook until it comes to a boil.  Turn down the heat to medium low and let it simmer until the fish turns white and are no longer opaque.  Mix the cornstarch with 2 T of water in a bowl and then add this mixture to the fish to thicken the sauce.  

Immediately pour everything into the heatproof dish with the raw romaine lettuce and stir around to gently cook the lettuce.  

Drizzle with chili oil and ground pepper.  Serve over rice.  

Since we were cooking for E too, this recipe was made not as spicy as the traditional Szechuan boiled fish.  However, if you'd like to turn up the heat, simply add more of the peppercorn and chili bean sauce.  Also normally this dish is served with celery and Nappa cabbage.  I chose to use Romaine lettuce as a healthier substitute. :)

Tuesday, April 24

[SZECHUAN] HOMEMADE CHILI OIL

As promised, I will be sharing some of my favorite spicy dishes with you this week. I have a special love for spicy foods and Szechuan cuisine is one of my favorites (next to Korean!). Chili oil is the secret ingredient in many of these dishes and it can be easily made at home.  I initially came across this easy chili oil recipe from Almost Bourdain's blog. Sadly, Ellie's amazing blog is no longer open to the public. Here's my tweaked version of her wonderful recipe:


Ingredients
1 C canola or vegetable oil
3 stalks of scallion
4-5 slices of ginger
6 T chili powder
3 star anise

Directions
Combine the chili powder and star anise in a heatproof bowl. Set aside.

Heat oil over medium high heat in a small saucepan or skillet. Once hot, add the scallions and ginger. Heat until the oil's fragrant (~5-10 min) and remove the scallions and ginger.   

Immediately pour the hot oil into the heatproof bowl and mix all the ingredients together.  

Let the mixture sit out in room temperature for at least a day. Once all the oil has risen to the top, carefully transfer the oil into the container of your choice. Store up to two months.  

Once you have your chili oil, you will be ready for my next two dishes:

Wed: Szechuan Boiled Fish
Thurs: Szechuan Red Oil Wontons

Stay tuned!

Monday, April 23

REFLECTIONS + BLOGGING TIPS/RESOURCES




I have a special post for you today about my experiences thus far with blogging. I know this may sound surprising, but before last fall I was kind of oblivious to this world of blogs. I knew "about" them... just never really got into them. Then I started watching the Nate Berkus Show and was instantly hooked. (By the way... am I the only person who didn't know his show got canceled? I just found out a little while ago. So sad.) It was during these afternoons when I was introduced to the most amazing bloggers like John and Sherry @ Young House Love. Their blog was the very first one I started reading/following and then from there Kate @ Centsational Girl, Jen's @ IHeartOrganizing, Kate @ The Small Things and Christine @ Just Bella... just to name a few. ;)

All these blogs inspired me to create my own this January and that's when "Enjoyer of Grace" first got started. To be honest, I didn't think it'd be too hard and didn't realize just how much time really went into keeping a blog. From the time spent on projects, to taking all the pictures, to editing the pictures and then writing up the posts and then editing those before hitting that "PUBLISH" button... yes those hours can really add up.

And then there's the blog design... I didn't know a thing about html codes when I first got started. Who knew that creating a clean and user-friendly blog would require so much work behind the scenes?? But now I know (and knowing's half the battle... my husband loves this quote from G.I. Joe and it somehow stuck with me hehe) and after spending hours upon hours of researching and editing, I decided to share my findings to spare you all the frustration that I went through. I put together a few tutorials that really helped me when I first got started. For my dear fellow bloggers or aspiring bloggers, this is for you!

HOW TO:

Create a blog header/banner using Picasa 3

Create a thumbnail gallery 

Create a grab button and add it to your blog 

Center your post and date titles 

Center your navigation bar/page links 

Center Blogger Adsense in sidebar

Remove space between blog posts 

Remove frames from your pictures and signature 

Add a "Pin It" button to posts 

Add the Facebook "Like" button to posts 

Create and add social media buttons 

If there's anything else you have questions about, please feel free to leave a comment or email me @ enjoyerofgrace@gmail.com... whichever way is most comfortable for you. :)

Yes, blogging is a lot of work and I'm still learning everyday how to find balance and not let it consume all my time. However I still love it and appreciate all the friendships that I've formed with many of you! :) Thank you again for all your sweet comments, emails and helpful tips along the way. 

Have a great Monday!

Saturday, April 21

NEED A GOOD LAUGH? :)


Ummmmmmm... so yeah, my wonderful husband shared this with me today. Do you think he's trying to tell me something? ;) 

I have so much lined up for this upcoming week... some blogging tips/resources, yummy recipes that will make your mouth burn (in a good way!), and even a little makeover! I can't wait to share them with you!

Hope you all are enjoying your weekend! :)

Friday, April 20

FRIDAY TREATS


Hey friends! :) How was your week? I've been trying to spend more time with E on learning his alphabets since he's been calling every letter an "O." Sometimes I think he says that just to mess with me though. Yes, my 22 month old already knows how to mess with his mommy...

Anyhow! I'm so excited to share with you some of my favorite finds/links this week! For my blogging friends, make sure you check out PicMonkey if you haven't already... it's awesome! :)



1) Love this simple and delicate sterling silver curved bar necklace by Junghwa.

2) Check out this super creative sunburst mirror by MeiJo's Joy using cardboard and sequins!
3) Calming Jar by Robyn... something that maybe I E needs during his time-outs...
4) What a cool diy baby shower gift by Valerie @ Boogaboo!
5) Personalized Wall Decor by Petit Collage... another adorable baby gift to give!
6) PicMonkey.com is currently one of my favorite online editing tools. Just drag your picture in and have fun exploring all the possibilities!

Next week, I'll be sharing recipes of some of my favorite spicy dishes with you all! Here's one of the ingredients that I made myself:


Have a lovely weekend! :)

Wednesday, April 18

MY DESIRE IS TO BE FOUND IN HIM



Philippians 3:9  "And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is out of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that is out of God and based on faith."

Above my stove there's a quote that I've had since my teaching days. I use to keep it in my car to remind me every morning on my drive to school to turn to the Lord. It was so easy to just wake up and let my mind be occupied by the million things that I had get done. I would "go, go, go" and then crash by the afternoon - physically and emotionally drained.





Even seemingly "good" things can distract us from Christ. As I was getting things together for dinner just now, I was reminded again by this quote to turn back to Him and not go about my day independent of Him. We have such a wonderful One living in our spirit... why would we want to ever live apart from Him? :)


"Lord, my desire is to be found in You. In everything I do day by day, I want to be found in You."

Much grace to you all this week!


Tuesday, April 17

FAVORITE KITCHEN GADGETS


Today I am linking up with Centsational Girl and sharing our favorite kitchen gadgets! Here are my top four favorites that I use the most:




1) Tatung Rice Cooker - Almost every Chinese/Taiwanese family swears by it and almost every one of them has at least one... or in my parents' case three! I'm not even sure if there's anything that you CAN'T cook in this thing. I've seen my parents make rice, soups, stews, steamed buns and veggies, and even fry noodles straight in this pot. I personally loved it for steaming veggies and fruits for E when I had to make his baby food.

2) Aerolatte Milk Frother - Like many of you know, my husband and I are HUGE coffee and tea drinkers. We grind up fresh Ruta Maya coffee every morning and usually have an earl grey tea latte every night. For the longest time, we would use the typical Coffee Mate creamers. (coconut's our favorite!) However this past winter, I replaced my Bodum milk frother with this Aerolatte and have been the biggest fan of frothing ever since! There's something about warmed frothed milk that completely transforms our coffee and tea experiences. I can honestly say that I haven't felt the need to stop by Starbucks or any coffee shops since I started frothing! :D

3) Michael Graves Mortar & Pestle - I love how easily this grinds up ingredients that I frequently use like peppercorn and fresh herbs! I also use it to grind up dried herbs to help release more flavor. Plus it makes me feel like a real chef. ;) I found this one at Marshall's for $8!

4) Back to Basics Ice Shaver - Shaved ice is one of my favorite things to eat during the summer. We love it piled with lots of ripe mangoes and sweetened condensed milk! Yum!

What kitchen gadgets/tools can YOU not live without?! Come link up and share! :)

JAPANESE CHEESECAKE


Hey there, my sweet readers! Hope your morning's off to a good start so far. :) I was up late last night again making some minor tweaks to the blog. I'm still very new at all this and slowly learning about html codes and how they work. Most bloggers would just hire those fantastic blog designers and save themselves from all this frustration. But me...? Oh no... I'm super weird and prefer self-induced stress JUST so I could figure things out myself.


But I have to tell you... that moment when everything comes together and actually WORKS makes it all worth it. :D I've been wanting for months to organize my diy, recipes, and organization pages into user-friendly thumbnail galleries for you all. I tried so many different ways but kept getting frustrated after spending hours going through codes and having it not work. For a while I was ready to just give up.

Then last night I found this AMAZING tutorial by Sweeter Than Sweets and decided to give it one more shot. Not only was it super easy but the code was understandable as well. I can now finally announce to you all that the thumbnail galleries are officially up and running! Yay!!!

Ok now on to this delicious cheesecake recipe... :)

* * * * * * * *

This past weekend I had the biggest craving for cheesecake. And not just ANY cheesecake, but a soft fluffy and velvety smooth Japanese cheesecake. :P I prefer it over the traditional Western one because it's much lighter and not nearly as sweet.

By Sunday night I was driving myself crazy thinking about it (o.O) and decided to pick up some ingredients and make it myself. I had kept a recipe from one of my Japanese friends in college and adapted it a little to make this:



Ingredients:
1 - 8 oz. pkg cream cheese (softened and cubed)
3 T cake flour
1/2 C whipping cream
3 eggs (yolks and whites separated)
1/2 C cane sugar
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp cream of tartar



Directions
Preheat oven to 350.

With an electric blender, carefully mix together the cream cheese, whipping cream, egg yolks, lemon juice, flour and half the sugar.

Clean and dry the mixers thoroughly. Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until foamy. Slowly add the remaining sugar and cream of tartar and mix until stiff peaks start to form.

Gently fold the egg white mixture into the cream cheese mixture.



Pour the new mixture into a lightly greased loaf pan. (I was trying to make a little personal size serving too, however the loaf turned out to be too small. Next time I will stick with just filling the loaf pan.) Gently bang the pan on the counter six to eight times to release any air bubbles.

Place your loaf pan into a larger glass pan filled with boiling water until it comes halfway up your inner pan. (Do not fill the water too high or it might spill into the cake mixture.)

Bake for 35-40 minutes on the lowest rack until the top develops a golden crust and a toothpick comes out clean.







There are simply no words to describe that first bite into this soft warm fluffy goodness. The three of us ended up finishing almost all of it that night. We managed to save just a few slices to have with coffee the next morning. :)

Has any of you ever tried Japanese cheesecake or have any tips on making it?  I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, April 16

DIY PAINT CHIP + GLITTER CANVAS ART



Happy Monday, dear friends! :) Don't you feel like this past week just flew by?? After our trip to the northeast, we came back home to a million different things that needed to be done. Surprisingly I managed to get some time in for a few DIYs. ;)

Some of you might remember this DIY Paint Chip Art from Honey We're Home that I posted about in March. I have been collecting paint chips since then in hopes of creating something similar. Then a few weeks ago I found this fine tip glue pen at Joann's and could not even explain my excitement! What... I can't be the only one who gets giddy about stationary right?? :D

I decided to have some fun with it and came up with my own paint chip creation. With the help of some gold glitter, I created this little canvas art for E's room.


What do you think of the mint and tangerine combination? I pretty much adore it! :) Here's the simple how-to if you'd like to make one yourself:

Materials: paint chips, thin canvas board, "circle" hole punch, glue pen, glitter, 3D glue dots, pencil and ruler



Directions: Draw a faint pencil line to mark where the glitter will be. Apply the glue and sprinkle glitter over it. Next punch out some circles from the paint chips and stick them onto the canvas using 3D glue dots.



I added this little "love you" on top because we tell E this every night before bed and he always repeats it back to us. There's really nothing sweeter to our ears. :)






Quick and easy... my favorite kind of DIY. :)


Hope you all are having a great start to your week!