Monday Mentionables: Hasselback Sweet Potatoes, Fudge Babies & Jason Chen

Hi everyone! Hope you had a good weekend. This pretty much sums up mine:

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Haha. At least I can laugh about it now. A Saturday Costco trip (never realized how many manners-challenged, hungry, eager people go there for samples) and too many kiddie meltdowns had me grumbling and praying for patience one too many times. I am so glad it’s Monday and I have a moment of peace to myself. 🙂

Here are today’s mentionables:

1. Hasselback Sweet Potatoes. I have grown to like sweet potatoes because they are healthier and sweeter than regular potatoes and they come in pretty colors (the purple ones are yummy). I saw a recipe going around on Facebook for fancy baked sweet potatoes and gave it a try. The trick to getting the sweet potato sliced evenly is to place a pair of wooden chopsticks next to it to act as a buffer so you don’t cut it all the way through. This method worked pretty well except for the fact that my chopsticks were round and kept rolling around on the cutting board. Maybe this square gal needs to invest in some square chopsticks instead? 😉

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They taste the yummiest right out of the oven!

2. Fudge Babies. Another new recipe I tried out recently was for these yummy, healthy walnut-cocoa-date balls. The kids even liked them momentarily (the first day), which meant I ended up eating the rest (which was fine by me!). Mine didn’t turn out quite so pretty or round as the picture in the recipe because I used a Magic Bullet instead of a food processor. I think next time I’ll crush the walnuts with a hammer first – good way to get stress out, too. 🙂

3. Jason Chen. I am a softie when it comes to romantic movies, books and songs (even though in real life hubby is the more romantic one, haha). I stumbled upon this guy on YouTube and his song “Best Friend“. It’s very cliche and cheesy, but cute. I also think it’s cool to see an Asian guy going after his dreams of becoming a singer instead of the stereotypical engineer or doctor. Yay for non-square people!

Have a wonderful week!

Monday Mentionables: Sports Edition

I thought since it’s the Monday after the Super Bowl, I’d share about sports. Now, I’m not a big sports fan (I didn’t even know who won yesterday’s game until I checked Facebook today – which is how I get most of my news these days, haha), but here are some sporty things even I can get into.

1. Super Bowl Ads. Whoever comes up with these million dollar ads are pretty creative and out of the box thinkers. These two commercials are very sweet and have a puppy theme – come on, who can resist a puppy? This one is for Budweiser and this one is for Cheerios.

Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat/freedigitalphotos.net

2. Linsanity. So I finally bought the recent movie out about Jeremy Lin from Walmart. When I was picking it up from the Walmart.com register (it’s $12.99 online compared to $20 in the store), the cashier had a funny smile on his face when he saw what movie I had bought. He was probably amused to see this Asian non-sporty looking lady buying a movie about an Asian basketball player, but yes, I am a big fan. Not only because of his race (you can’t deny it is pretty amazing to see an Asian guy dunk!), but of his faith in God, too. It’s a great movie, very inspirational and appropriate for the whole family. After we finished watching it, C asked, “Can we watch it again?” 🙂

3.  Coconut Water. Coconut water is great for rehydrating after any physical activity. It is packed full of electrolytes like Gatorade, but without any added sugar or artificial colors or flavors. We’ve tried a few brands and I personally like the one from Trader Joe’s the best. You can look at a review of different brands here.

Alrighty, have a good Monday everyone!

 

Monday Mentionables: Jitterbugs, Hip-hop Moms & Phyllo Dough

It is Monday… and boy was the morning crazy! For some reason C woke up on the wrong side of the bed and had a mini meltdown all the way downstairs until she got into hubby’s car and I closed the door. All this happened while she was wearing a glittery “Mom and Dad make me smile shirt”, which so did not apply this morning. Hubby and I exchanged bewildered glances through it all and I whispered to him, “Wait till she’s a teenager!”

I hope your Monday has gotten off to a better start. 🙂 Here are today’s mentionables…

1. Jitterbugs. We went to a local museum this weekend and made jitterbugs. Let me say that this museum is a bit nerdy as it’s on the grounds of a university (Go Bears!) and it specializes in science-y things. Which is why we learned how to make electric “bugs” with a motor and a AA battery. It was a fun and educational time learning about circuits and how they work. I think the kids liked the decorating part the most though.

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E’s is on the left; C’s is on the right.

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You could try this at home!

2. Hip-hop Moms. I saw this video going around Facebook the other day and thought is was so true and funny. Makes me want to start rappin’, too! Haha. Check it out here!

3. Phyllo Dough. I made turkey and cheese “turnovers” with Trader Joe’s phyllo dough this weekend for a potluck with old friends. If you like puff pastries, you’ll be happy to know you can make your own with phyllo dough. It’s easy to use – just defrost it overnight in the fridge, unwrap the dough (with dry hands or else the dough will stick), add your own insides (sweet or savory ingredients) and bake! I wish I had taken pictures of the finished product for you guys, but we had to rush out the door. Here are some recipes to get you started (warning: don’t look at the pictures on an empty stomach!).

As mentioned before on my Facebook page, I’m very excited to have my story, “Forced to Pause” published in Women’s Memoir’s new anthology. Special thanks to people who have bought the ebook already and for your encouraging feedback! I’m still waiting for the price to go down to $0.99 on February 1 (8AM PST) to buy it. 😉

Have a wonderful week!

Monday Mentionables: MLK, Jr. Quotes, Elephant and Piggie, Baked Salmon & Frozen Medley

Hi everyone, welcome to the start of a new week!

Here are today’s mentionables:

1. Quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr. In light of today’s holiday, I wanted to share 15 of MLK, Jr.’s most inspiring motivational quotes. He was truly a man who understood and lived out the power of love, change and perseverance. It’s hard to pick just one quote from this list that is the most inspiring to me because they all make me pause and reflect. Which one touches you the most?

2. Elephant and Piggie Books. My kids love these books by Mo Willems. In this series, you get to meet best buds Gerald (the elephant) and Piggie (the pig – haha). They are opposites in their personalities – Gerald is a bit high strung while Piggie is more laid back – which makes for lots of funny conversations. E and C both love We are in a Book and have borrowed it three times from the library already (which means I have read it at least nine times). 😉 You can check it out in this read aloud video of it here.

3. Easy Baked Salmon. I love baking because it’s the most no-hassle form of cooking in my opinion. I recently googled for a recipe that uses salmon, spinach and tomatoes (which I had in my fridge at the moment) and found a really easy and tasty one.

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The salmon came out super moist!

4. Frozen Medley. Have you seen the movie “Frozen” yet? I actually haven’t, but I feel like I have after listening to the soundtrack NON-STOP for about three hours at a Chinese restaurant yesterday (I was there having afternoon tea with a girlfriend). I think I know all the songs now, word for word – almost. 😉 Here’s a fun medley of several of the songs from the movie sung by three members of Pentatonix.

Alrighty, I’m off to rescue my munchkins from the TV! Have a great week!

Monday Mentionables: Mojitos, Start Marriage Right & Baking Soda

It’s the first day back to school for the munchkins after two weeks at home!!!! (How many exclamation marks can I use here?) I am enjoying some much needed quiet time and it feels so nice. 🙂 I did enjoy our time together though and will miss the “go with the flow”, non-routine-ness of the break, but I do believe distance also makes the heart grow fonder. 😉

Now on to the first Monday Mentionables of 2014:

1. Mojitos. Hubby and I have never been big drinkers, but there are a few drinks we do like from time to time. For me, I love pina coladas because pineapples remind me of Hawaii and for him, it is the mojito. Now since I am frugal at heart, I decided to try my hand at bartending and make a mojito for him at home. I looked up the recipe online, bought the ingredients and gave it a go. I learned the secret to a yummy mojito is in the simple syrup, which you make by boiling equal parts water and sugar and then steeping some mint leaves in it for a hour. 

Steeping the mint leaves from our backyard, which grow like weeds!

If you are not into alcoholic beverages, but you do love the taste of mint, you could use the syrup for other drinks as well (hubby tried it with tea). 

2. Start Marriage Right. I am so thrilled to tell you that I got my first writing “gig”! I am now a regular (monthly) contributor for a cool website about marriage. Start Marriage Right is a great resource for those who are single (and wanting to get married), dating, engaged and newly married. I actually think those who are past the honeymoon period (myself included) can benefit greatly from all the advice and encouragement there, too. I don’t profess to be an expert on marriage (hubby can vouch for that!), but I am happy and honored to be able to share what I have learned and experienced. You can read my first article here.

3. Baking Soda. I think the best cleaning products are cheap and all natural, that’s why I love baking soda. I bought two big bags of the stuff from Costco a while back and still haven’t gone through them yet. Check out this link for 51 uses for baking soda! Did you know you can use it to treat insect bites (#7), clean batteries (#28) and as a fruit and veggie scrub (#51)?

And here’s a news flash for you all: I have decided it’s time this blog had its own home! So instead of renting space at Blogger.com, 2square2behip will be moving to its own site. I am in the process of migrating everything to the new domain name and will hopefully have it up and running in a few weeks. I’ll keep you updated here as well as on my Facebook page!

Thanks for reading and making my blogging time fun and worthwhile! 🙂 Have a wonderful week!

Monday Mentionables: Chicken Wings, Holiday Shopping & Christmas Songs

Oh my, I think this post qualifies as an “Almost-Tuesday-Monday Mentionables”. Haha. I am realizing that blogging while my munchkins are home on Christmas break is going to be challenging (cue the broken record of whiny voices asking, “Mo-om, what can I do?”). So in the spirit of trying not to be perfect, as well as, making my best effort to be present with my kids, I’m giving myself a “blogging pass” for the rest of the year. I hope to recharge and come back with a bang in 2014, so stay tuned. 🙂

In the meantime, here are today’s mentionables…

1. Sweet & Spicy Rubbed Wings. Thanks to hubby, I have fallen in love with chicken wings from Wing Stop. But since I am also frugal (aka. cheap!), I decided it would be more cost efficient to make them myself. I found this recipe online and it was pretty easy to follow. I did make some changes though: I left out the spicy ingredients and the coffee for the kids’ sake… and the paprika for my wallet’s sake ($8 for a small bottle!)… and the cinnamon for hubby’s sake (he dislikes it). So, I guess I just made sweet rubbed wings. 😉 But everyone liked it! Let me know if you try the recipe as is and how it tastes. 

Sorry for the poor lighting – gotta change out the lightbulbs over the dining table!

2. Holiday Shopping. In light of all the retail therapy that is being done this week, let’s not forget the poor men who get dragged to the malls by their wife/girlfriend/sister/daughter. Check out this link for photos of miserable men and the dark side of holiday shopping. 🙂

3. Christmas Songs. Just wanted to share four of my favorite Christmas songs.

#1: Little Saint Nick by the Beach Boys

#2: All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey (performed here with Jimmy Fallon & The Roots)
 
#3: Underneath the Tree by Kelly Clarkson
 
#4: O Holy Night (sung here by Jackie Evancho)
Here’s wishing everyone a Merry Christmas! 

Monday Mentionables: Pumpkin Chai Latte, Sing-Off & Carved Leaves

‘Tis the season for sneezing, coughing, aching and wallowing… 🙁 I love all the Christmas cheer in the air, but I hate the germs that accompany it. It seems I could only hold off the bugs for so long because I finally got sick over the weekend. Thankfully the rest of the family is holding up okay (probably cause they gave all their germs to me). 😉 Anyhow, my brain is a bit fuzzy so I’ll keep this short and sweet. 

Here are today’s mentionables… 
 
1. Pumpkin Chai Latte. I love Peet’s chai latte (sorry Starbucks’ lovers). The only thing that can match my love for that drink is their pumpkin chai latte. This is a seasonal offering though, so don’t wait to try it. 
Ahhh…I’m nursing my cold with a large one today. 🙂
2. Sing-Off. If you love good singing, you’ll love this show. It’s all acapella, which means no instruments at all. But the best part is that they use their voices to be the instruments. Last season’s winners, Pentatonix, are amazing. One of the members, Kevin, is a beatboxer who speaks Chinese better than me. 😉
 
3. Carved Leaves. I saw this link recently that shows just how creative and amazing artists can be. Check out these photos of art carved into leaves.

Happy Monday! Stay healthy everyone. 🙂

Monday Mentionables: Baked Veggies, Stray Cats & Sound of Music

Welcome to the Monday after Thanksgiving, also known more recently as Cyber Monday, but I prefer to call it detox Monday. 😉 I hope you all had a restful and heart warming weekend with family and friends. My family and I had a good time eating, talking, eating and more eating these past few days. I certainly had my fill of turkey for a while, so I thought I’d focus today’s mentionables on VEGGIES. 🙂
 
1. Baked Veggies. Thankfully, I didn’t have to cook much for Thanksgiving, except for a veggie dish. I choose to bake them because they tend to turn out crispier and more appealing to a kid’s taste buds (think pseudo french fries). I did a random assortment of them for a dinner we went to at our cousins’ home (where a friend treated us to a Heritage turkey that was smoked and seriously the best turkey I’ve ever had!). Unfortunately, we were running late that night (what’s new?!) so I didn’t get a picture of the baked zucchini, mushrooms and carrots I made, but I did take a picture of some baked carrots I made another night this week.
These almost taste like yam fries, but are less heavy. I got the recipe here.

You can essentially bake any kind of veggies. The one that the kids love the most though (even our dear picky son!) is cauliflower

2. Stray Cats. Continuing on our theme of veggies, here’s a story I wanted to share about how vegetarians are likely made…
 
C is starting to pick up on words and being able to spell/read them. One of the first words she wanted to know how to spell was chick. Then came chicky and chicken. If you can’t tell, she loves chicks of all kinds. 😉 But with her newfound reading skills under her belt, she made a somewhat traumatic discovery yesterday. She came up to me and pulled me down to her level. With her warm breath tickling my ear, she asked, “Why does Meow Meow’s food say chicken on it?!”
 
Doh. You see, Meow Meow is this stray cat we inherited that has been living outside our house for the past year. We originally had been feeding these two other cats (which we named Bob and I forgot the other one’s name) that our neighbor had asked us to feed when he moved away. Long story short, those cats disappeared and this new one showed up. 
 
So, back to C’s discovery… she was appalled at the thought of a cat eating a poor chicken. I told her with a regretful look, “Yeah, sorry, some animals eat chickens.” Her little face fell at the thought. Then she exclaimed, “Some people eat chicken, too!”
 
Double doh. One of these days, we’ll need to explain to her that the Chinese word “ji” we’ve been using to refer to the meat we eat is the same word we use for her beloved chickens. We might have a vegetarian on our hands in a few years!

Here’s Meow Meow (sometimes referred to as Kitty – yes, we’re not very original when it comes to names, haha) venturing into our house.
Here’s Meow Meow eating her chicken (gasp!) breakfast.

3. Sound of Music. Okay, what does the Sound of Music have to do with veggies? Well, if you remember the opening musical number to the movie, it’s called “The Hills Are Alive“. Hills equal verdant vegetation. 🙂 Anyway, for those who loved the original Julie Andrews movie, you may be interested to know there’s a remake of the Broadway musical coming up this Thursday on NBC. The best part is that it will be a LIVE broadcast. I watched the “making of” video and was very impressed with the cast and the set. Oh, did I mention, Carrie Underwood is playing Maria? I definitely think this will be worth watching. 

Have a happy Monday, everyone! 🙂

Monday Mentionables: Pumpkin Cranberry Scones, Stage of Life & Veteran’s Makeover

Happy Veteran’s Day! 

This post is going to be super quick cause I have two munchkins vying for my attention on their day off from school! 😉

Today’s mentionables are…

1. Pumpkin Cranberry Scones. I tried this boxed “recipe” from Trader Joe’s and got good results. I substituted the one stick of butter with coconut oil and it still worked. The kids liked it (although briefly, haha), but I thought it tasted more moist than the other boxed scones I tried before. 

Watching them bake!
The finished product!

2. Stage of Life. I got an email today saying I won my first writing contest hosted by Stage of Life! Whoo-weeeeeeeeeeee!  😉 The topic of the essay was “I am scared of…”. You can read my entry here. My winnings include a $50 spa certificate and a pen! 😀

3. Veteran’s Makeover. I love makeovers of all kinds – hair, clothes, homes, etc. – but my most favorite kind of makeover is that of the heart and mind. This video I saw online totally reflects both. I have started to appreciate how much veterans have sacrificed for our nation and wish life wasn’t so hard for many of them. I’m thankful there are great organizations out there that try to help them get back on their feet. 

Happy Monday to you all! 

Monday Mentionables: Pomegranates, Monterey, Parenting Express & Beautiful Day

Hi everyone! Just happy to be alive this day and thanking God for everything He has brought me through. Hope you are getting a good start to this week, too. 
 
Here are today’s mentionables…
 
1. Pomegranates. In case you like pomegranates, but have no clue as to how to get those seeds out, here’s a super easy way to do it (I listened to my mom on this one and it works!). 
 
Yes, this is one fruit where you actually eat the seeds! There’s lots of fiber, vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants in them!
The secret is in the spoon! You first cut the pomegranate in half and place one half face down in a cup that is about the same circumference (thank you high school math!) as the fruit. Then, using a metal spoon, start hitting the pomegranate! Turn the cup around as you hit so you get all the sides of the fruit. Keep hitting (and getting your stress out) until most of the seeds fall out and then use your fingers to pry the final few out. Oh, and be sure to wear an apron while you’re doing this so you don’t get pomegranate juice on your clothes.
Here are two pomegranates’ worth of health and deliciousness!
2. Monterey. We took an overnight trip to Monterey this past weekend for hubby’s 30th (plus or minus a decade) birthday. We almost didn’t make it cause he had a work emergency that had kept him working almost non-stop for 3 days. But thankfully, we were able to go at the last minute.
We had a great view at lunch of these sea lions (who are no longer on the endangered species list!). I commented to hubby that they reminded me of us in our family bed. 😛
This poor seagull was sitting outside the window for over ten minutes just waiting for Chloe to drop her corn dog!

3. Parenting Express. Just wanted to share a story of mine that got published on Parenting Express’ website for this month. You can read about my adventure going down a very tall, tubular slide with my kids and how that experience relates to my journey as a mom!

4. Beautiful Day. This song by Jamie Grace is cute and catchy, just what I need for a Monday! Enjoy!

Have a wonderful week!