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Tuesday, July 31


Today I would like to share with you another comfort food that our family loves! Mapo Tofu is a popular dish originated from the Sichuan province in China. Typically it is known for being so spicy that it'll make you break out in a sweat. :D

When I was young, I remember the time my parents' friends came over to make this dish for us. There was so much smoke and heat coming from the kitchen that our smoke alarm went off! Anyone who walked in immediately felt their nose and eyes stinging from the spiciness!

Being a huge fan of spicy foods, I love this dish just the way it is. However, since E started eating with us, I've had to tone down this recipe a lot. It's still extremely tasty, just minus the heat. ;) For this recipe, I used a combination of the black bean sauce and chili garlic sauce since they're easier to find for most people. However, if you can handle spicy foods and have access to an Asian grocery store, I'd recommend just buying the chili black bean sauce or the guizhou black bean chili sauce.

1/2 lb. lean ground pork
1 tsp white pepper
1 T soy sauce
1 T rice wine
1/2 T cornstarch

2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 14 oz. block of tofu, medium firmness(cubed)

1 T grapeseed oil
1 T black bean sauce
2 tsp chili garlic sauce

1 tsp Japanese sesame oil
1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
2 C chicken broth
cornstarch slurry - 1 T cornstarch + 1 T water

one handful of cilantro (chopped)
1/2 T freshly ground szechuan peppercorn powder

Marinate the ground pork with white pepper, soy sauce, rice wine, and cornstarch. Set aside for half an hour in the fridge. 

In a separate bowl, mix together the black bean sauce, chili garlic sauce, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Set aside.

Heat oil in a saute pan or wok over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, throw in the garlic and quickly move it around the pan. Add the ground pork and start breaking it apart into small pieces. Once the meat is brown, pour in the black bean mixture and stir the sauce in well. Add in the tofu and gently stir everything together.

Pour in the chicken broth and bring the heat down to medium. Gently stir everything again until the broth comes to a boil. Pour in the cornstarch slurry and stir until the sauce thickens.

In a separate pan, toast up some peppercorns. Grind them up and set aside.

Turn off the heat. Throw in the cilantro and peppercorn powder right before serving it over a bowl of steaming rice. Enjoy!

Side note: Unlike the picture shown, I normally eat it with TONS of cilantro! :D

Linking up with: Peas & Crayons

Friday, July 27


For the next 72 hours, Paper Coterie is running their BIGGEST SALE ever on gift cards! They have been dramatically discounted so that you can use them on any of their personalized cards and gifts! 

The discount INCREASES as you purchase more in gift cards:

$25 for $12.50
$50 for $20.00
$75.00 for $27.00
$100 for $30.00

So hurry on over to Paper Coterie! You won't want to miss out on this AMAZING deal! :)


So does anyone have fun plans for the weekend?? :) I've been seeing so many posts about trips to tropical locations - I wouldn't mind the three of us secretly escaping there for 3 days! But it's ok, a weekend off with no plans at all is almost as good. :) 

Before I sign off, I leave you all again with some of my favorite links from this week. Hope you enjoy them!

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This Lucite Tray by Chelsea @ Two-Twenty-One makes me want to run to the Container Store right now!

I'd love a pillow in each of these patterns please...

Who needs side tables anymore when you can have this instead?

A good friend of mine shared this awesome makeover with me. Check out this entertainment system - turned - play kitchen by Erin @ Sutton Grace!

I have a weak spot for wooden toys... I'd love to get this Build a Robot by Sparkle & Spin for E!

Wednesday, July 25


As a former elementary school teacher, I wished I had read this book before I started teaching. Communication is such an important skill that can either harm or strengthen relationships. I'm only halfway through the book, however have already picked up so many useful tips that I hope to use with E in the future:

  • "There is a direct connection between how kids feel and how they behave" (p.1). 
  • We need to learn how to "hear" our kids and acknowledge their feelings. This doesn't mean that we become permissive parents and agree with everything they feel. They don't need us to agree with them or be ok with their actions, they just need to know that their feelings were accepted. Then they're more willing to accept the limits we set for them. 
  • When we give our children instant advice and solutions, we're keeping them from the experience of figuring out their own problems. They end up growing up not trusting their own perceptions and constantly relying on others.  
  • "One of the built-in frustrations of parenthood is the daily struggle to get our children to behave in ways that are acceptable to us and to society.  This can be maddening, uphill work.  The more intense we become, the more actively they seem to resist" (p.49).  Parents need to help their children deal with their negative feelings, however parents themselves need to learn how to deal with their own negative feelings too and figure out why their kids are responding the way they are.  
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk shared so many ways in which parents can be authoritative without being micro-managers. What's been helping me the most are all the illustrations and detailed examples and exercises on how to carry out these conversations. 

I've still got some more to read, but I will definitely be reporting back to you all soon! Have a great night! :)

Tuesday, July 24


Hi everyone! It's feels like it's been a while since I've done a DIY. Sadly I'm still deciding on what to do with the little nook I mentioned a few weeks back...

I do have an easy painting activity though that I did with E this afternoon.  It's fast and fairly mess-free. ;)

Materials: canvas panel, paint, foam pouncer, glue stick and your child's silhouette (computer print-out of your child's profile)

Directions: Apply glue around the edges of your silhouette and stick it onto the canvas.  (Make sure you're using the washable Elmer's glue stick. Otherwise you may have problems removing the paper silhouette later.)

Have your child start stamping on the colors using the foam pouncers.  I started E with the lighter colors first and then gradually moved him onto the darker shades of green.  

Make sure he/she's stamping around the edges of the silhouette.  

After your child's completely done stamping, gently remove the paper silhouette off the canvas and let the paint dry. 

I'm thinking about adding the number "2" to the blank spot so we'll remember his age. It'd be kind of cool then to make one every year and display them in his room. What do you all think? :D

Until next time,

Monday, July 23



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations on winning the giveaway! I will be contacting you via email today.  

A HUGE thanks to Paper Coterie for providing the free poster and to everyone who participated! 

Also if you didn't get to win this time, ALL CANVASES & POSTERS are currently 40% off starting today until August 7th.  

Hope you all are enjoying your Monday!

Friday, July 20


Hi friends! I apologize for this late post, but a small thunderstorm blew through our area and knocked out our internet. Thank goodness we just got it back on. :) 

So without further ado, here are a few of my favorite finds from this week!

I'd love to make this for E's room in the future. Thanks Michelle @ Ten June for this great skyline idea!

What a sweet little nursery shot by Wing from Canary Grey Photography!

A good friend of mine and I really REALLY want to try making this adorable heirloom cut chenille blanket by Aesthetic Nest.

Mmmm... I have a feeling that these chocolate covered banana split bites would be a huge hit in our family. ;)

And maybe even these zucchini oven chips... 

Wednesday, July 18


Last month in a post, I mentioned having this very delicious spicy brisket noodle soup with a good friend of mine at this Korean restaurant. From that day on, I started craving it all the time and must have went back at least 4 times since then. It was one of those dishes that once I got it in my head, I couldn't get it out until I had some! ;)

Unfortunately this place was kind of far from my house so I decided to try making it myself. In the original recipe, this dish called for some special ingredients like fernbrake and bean sprouts, none of which I had on hand nor wanted to make a trip to the Asian market for. I decided to sub the veggies with ones that my husband would actually eat like purple cabbage.

I used this basic recipe by Maangchi and altered it a little to fit our family's tastes.

1.5 lb brisket
half a white onion
8 garlic cloves

Hot Sauce Mix

2 T Korean chili pepper powder
1/2 T grapeseed oil
2 T sesame oil
1 T fish sauce
2 T soy sauce
1 tsp cracked pepper
1 T salt

a bunch of scallions (6 stalks)
half a purple cabbage

*noodles - wu-mu, cellophane, thin spaghetti, etc. (optional)

Place the brisket, onion, and garlic cloves in a large pot. Fill it with water about 1-2 inches above the meat. Cook in a large pressure cooker for about an hour and a half. (I like the meat really tender, but if you don't just cook it in a regular pot over high heat for about one hour.)

While the meat is cooking, chop up the scallions and purple cabbages into large chunks and set aside. Mix together the hot sauce ingredients and dump it onto the vegetables. Mix together all the ingredients until the vegetables are fully saturated with the sauce. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Once the meat is ready, remove the meat and shred it with the grain. If it's not soft enough, simple slice it thin against the grain. Throw the meat into the vegetable bowl and mix them together well.

Remove the onion and garlic from the broth. Dump the meat + vegetable mixture back into the pot. Bring it back to a boil and then simmer it on medium low for another thirty minutes. If you're like me and prefer the meat softer, cook it in the pressure cooker for another thirty minutes.

Add more salt to desired taste. Serve the soup over noodles or with rice and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 17


Have any of you ever checked out these cute personalized wall art from Paper Coterie? Made of fabric, these posters have a specially patented adhesive that will stick and re-stick to any surface!!!

Today, they are giving one lucky reader a free wall art poster (originally priced at $18)! The only thing you'll have to pay for is shipping. 

Just follow the simple instructions using the tool below. This giveaway will end this Sunday, July 22nd. Good luck everyone! :)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 16


Elizabeth Daza!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations on winning the giveaway! I will be contacting you via email today and you will have 48 hours to claim the prize.

Also a HUGE thanks to the Martha Stewart Craft team for providing the awesome products and to everyone who participated! 

If you're bummed out that you didn't win this time, don't be! Remember there's one more stencil giveaway and I have a feeling you may love it even more. ;) 

So check back soon!

Friday, July 13


So here's another book, How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, that I've heard lots of great things about too. And, apparently a very popular one judging by its ratty condition and the fact it took almost a month before a copy was available for me to check out at our local library.  

Since I received a lot of good feedback from you all with my last review on Bringing Up Bebe (found here and here), I will do my best to report back to you on this one soon! :) 

* Just FYI... If you're interested in purchasing/reading reviews of any of these books, check my sidebar for my Amazon Store. I've included those as well as some other favorite items of mine!

Also, opportunities to enter for the Martha Stewart Craft Stencil Set Giveaway will close in 3 days! The winner will be chosen at random using Rafflecopter. Good luck to those who've already entered! 

Talk to you all again real soon! :) 


Thursday, July 12


When my husband and I made the switch over to the Hario Coffee Dripper, we no longer needed our old Melita coffee filters. I decided to re-purpose them and make those puff balls that I've been seeing all over blog land and Pinterest. Normally, they've been used to cover paper lanterns like this one from
Modern Jane:

Since I didn't really need a lantern, I decided to make a miniature one with a plastic cup. I've been wanting to redo this little nook in my dining room anyways (it was starting to look a little too museum-ish) and a hanging puff ball seemed like a great start! :)

Materials: 80-100 coffee filters, glue gun, glue stick, plastic cup, sturdy thread, beads, Xacto knife & needle (not shown), hole puncher ( I was initially going to hang my battery-powered LED lights inside the ball, but changed my mind. The holes were to help the light shine out.)

Instructions: Flip the cup upside down. Scrunch up a filter around a glue stick and then adhere it to the plastic cup using hot glue.  Use the glue stick to push it down to save your fingers from getting burned. Start from the top (bottom-side of the cup) and repeat layer by layer until the whole cup is mostly covered.  The bottom will be empty of course. 

Using an Xacto knife, make two slits on top (on the base of the cup). To hang the ball, thread the needle and pull it through the slits. You can either hang it as is or slide beads through the thread to make it stand out more. Since mine was light I just hung it up with a thumbtack.  

I had found a magnetic board in IKEA's clearance section the other day and thought this spot would be great for sharing pictures that would've otherwise been on our fridge.  Now the pictures are more view-able and safe from any kitchen splatters. ;) 

I'm still planning on updating this spot some more. Maybe a stenciled background or just stenciling the magnetic board itself? 

What do you all think? I'd love to hear your suggestions! :) 

Have a great night!

Monday, July 9


Do you have a blog, an etsy shop or a small business? I'd love for you to come share it with my readers! :)

Hi again friends! Just wanted to let you all know that I decided to take on... SPONSORS! I am currently offering 2 different sizes as well as FREE ad swap opportunities! Each ad space includes great opportunities like feature posts, guest posts, and giveaway/product reviews. For more info on my stats and pricing, please click "Advertise" or find the button below the header. 

This is all so new to me, so please bear with my excitement! ;) I cannot even express how wonderful you all have been these last 6 months and how much I appreciate your support through your comments and emails.  So thanks again!!! 

Before I sign off, I just wanted to remind you all of the Martha Stewart Crafts Stencil Giveaway! This is the last week to enter so don't miss your chance! Good luck everyone!


Over the weekend, I got to spend time with some junior high girls at church.  We talked about how often times we can lose our joy as Christians.  However it's not that the Lord left us or that we did something to lose our salvation, but there may be some sins that are blocking our fellowship with God or we may have done something to grieve Him in our spirit.  

The Lord is not concerned with our sins or what we've done wrong, but the fact that these sins separate us from Him.  In the Old Testament, after Adam and Eve disobeyed God and were hiding from Him, He did not ask what they did wrong but rather where they were. 

Even though man fell and got injected with the sinful nature, Christ, as the spotless lamb, paid the price for us and took care of our debt to God.  1 John 1:9 - "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  

So what do we do whenever we feel that we've lost our joy? Do we just stay depressed, make ourselves feel bad for dong something wrong, or do nothing at all? No! We need to immediately repent and apply His precious blood. Because He is righteous, He has to forgive us... and not only does He forgive, He forgets. :) 

After we confess, we need to feed on His Word to be supplied. Often times when we find ourselves sad or down, it's a huge sign that we're hungry and in need of God's Word. :) Then we need to spend time with Him in prayer - pouring out our heart and spirit to Him. Finally, we need fellowship with others who love and enjoy Christ.  He has made us members of His Body; only when we're in the Body can we receive the life supply and joy from the Lord.

"Real fellowship is not a duty, but an enjoyment - the greatest joy on earth." :)

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On a creative note...

You probably have noticed, but I haven't shared a lot of DIYs lately. I know, it makes me sad as well. :( Between running after E, adjusting to his newly found "independence," starting potty training and then taking care of some cooking needs on the side, I've been really missing time to just sit down and create something with my hands. You ever feel like that? 

Well last Friday, I was having some girls over and thought it'd be the perfect opportunity to pull out some paints! Walmart has these awesome canvas panels that come in a 3 pack for $3.50.  I always have some on hand, because hey painting on paper's just not quite as fun. ;) 

Check out these cute creations that they came up with: 

Unfortunately mine was not quite as creative... but I still had fun!

Much grace to you all this week!