Thursday, February 24, 2011


While watching The Biggest Loser on Tuesday, something trainer Jillian Michaels said about what one's potential gave me goosebumps.

For those who didn't catch the show, she basically had the contestants run at a 12 speed on the treadmill when the most they had run was a 8-10 (for about 20 seconds). They grunted and a couple commented that there's no way they could do this. Well, they did do it. The look of pride and accomplishment is one we all recognize when we reach outside our comfort zone and do it.

Afterwards, Jillian said something like this "This is glimpse of your potential people-you get out of your way so that you can can do it. When you have the right attitude and the right tools". She then asks "What else are you doing half-assed?"

How many of us stop way before our potential? I know I have. I get scared. I get lazy. I worry about getting hurt. I worry that I don't know what I'm doing and don't have the confidence. I'm not just talking about exercising. I'm talking about everything from parenting, cooking, learning new things, or just being your true self.

These past two days, I've been trying to get out of my comfort zone and work on redefining my potential. I have not swam, actually swam in a lap pool for six years because I've had babies and once I had time, my skin was mutinous with the rest of my body. Also, I've never been a strong or even good swimmer. Yes, I've bit the bullet a few times and got into the kiddy pool to play with my kids but actually workout? No.

I did yesterday though. I swam for 25 minutes and it was exhilarating. My arms felt strong. My legs kicked. I put on this floating belt and ran in the water for part of it. My knees felt great. It was a struggle but afterwards, I was sure proud of myself for getting out of my way. Oh, as for my skin, my lovely greased me down with two lotions and it stayed on so my skin didn't get irritated. I hope to add swimming once/month if my skin allows it to my workouts.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The very, very, very best buttermilk pancakes...ever.

Really. I have made many different pancakes and used many different recipes but this one I've had since I was 20 years old. Seriously. This recipe is why I keep bulk cornmeal around. If you've spent the night at my house or have brunch here, you've probably been served these pancakes and have asked for the recipe. I used to make this once a week when the Koo was one because he loved him some pancakes. I would freeze them and just nuke it for one minute and the boy would be so happy eating these.

Nowadays, the boys think it's torture if I serve them anything other than cereal. Warning folks: there is a darkside to making your kids homemade everything-they don't know how good they have it and beg for processed foods.

But I digress, for those of you still with me, give this a go. I have treasured this recipe for 19 years and it's time I share it. It needs to be passed on.

I love the flavor of these pancakes because it has a subtle cornbread with the texture and flavor. Drizzle with maple syrup and it's fan-fabulous.

Homemade Buttermilk Pancakes

3 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
3 TBSP canola oil or melted butter
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Large bowl. Add all the wet ingredients. Whisk until blended. Add all the dry ingredients and mix until smooth like pancake batter (ha). Heat griddle between 325 to 350F. Drop 1/4 to 1/3 cup onto griddle (I don't grease my griddle). Cook about 1 and 1/2 minutes on each side. Butter these bad boys up and drizzle with maple syrup.
What time in a day do you hate? What about it makes you dread this time? For me, it's between the hours of 3-5pm. This used to be the time my little ones would get up and we would have to find something to do before daddy comes home from work (usually he comes in way after 5pm).

So, here's what I dread. I am lethargic at this time. I am hungry at this time. If I'm going to hop onto the big numbers of the scale, it's due to munching during this time. I hate it when it gets dark around 4:30pm and everywhere around, it is quiet in the streets or if you see people, they are trying to hurry home or to whatever after 5pm appointment they've got to get there by.

What the boys and I have been doing during this time is watch House Hunters. The boys and I try to guess at the beginning what house the featured house hunters will buy. I think I had it though two days ago when I watched on where the woman was so picky, her husband was embarrassed. She even griped about the drapes. HELLLOOOOOO. YOU CAN CHANGE THIS. Also, the number of times I hear someone who doesn't cook say "oh, the kitchen appliances are not stainless steel" or "this kitchen doesn't inspire me to cook".

I know it's a lot of money to buy a house but keep things in perspective people. I think the boys and I might be watching something else or just turn the TV off now that it's getting lighter during this time.

Oh, and I would welcome all and any play dates at this time to pass the time.

Looking out my window today

Drifting, blowing snow. Wet. Blinding. Sticky. Cold. Please go away.


I love fruits.

Any kind.

There's not one fruit I dislike.


I sometimes dream that I can pick an orange or plum. I get totally excited when someone asks me to come pick fruit at their place because they have too much. There's just no such thing as too much fruit. Fruit does not get a chance to rot in this house. If it even thinks about it, I will hurry scurry and make sauce, jams, or pies out of it faster than Ken Jennings can ask a question on Jeopardy.

I can eat fruit all day long as a stand alone and if I ever get any stuffed between two pie crusts, I will make out like flies to stink.

So this is where the problem lies, the new Weight Watchers has zero points to fruits and most vegetables.

Come again?

The weight isn't going down as fast as I would like because I don't think WW thought about fruities like me. So now, I'm trying to limit my fruit intake to three/day instead of double that.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Day of my dreams

Today was one of those days I will look back fondly because I got to do three of my favorite things: garage sales, race, and eating. The morning started out with an indoor "garage" sale with almost 100 different booths. Heaven. I bought tons of books, two bags, a jacket for my friend, a mini iron, Kitchen-Aid hand mixer (25 cents). It was fun.

Next, I ran in a 4-mile race. It was trail running at it's best. If you don't like running hills and bumpy, muddy surfaces you will not like this race. I love running hills and I loved the breathtaking views as the trail wound up and down hills at a state park. Oh, and I ran it in 45 minutes which was wonderful for me with my bum knees.

Last, I got to go out to eat Italian pasta. I love Italian food but don't do this hardly at all because 1) we don't have a fantastic Italian restaurant in my town 2) it's not my lovely's favorite, so on the rare occasion we eat out it's not Italian.

Oh, and the mixed feelings part? I go to go by myself without husband and kids in tow. My friend Ro went and she did awesome running and looking for treasures.

Friday, February 18, 2011

TV shows

Do you ever scroll down your TV program guide and see shows you just can't figure out why or how it could still run especially reality shows like Dog the Bounty Hunter or Swamp People? Well, I'm one of those people that watches these shows. Here are the shows I make a point to watch when it's on:

1. American Pickers. LOVE THIS SHOW. I'm not into the stuff Mike and Frank pick but I love seeing the furniture, cars, and just knick knacks people have squirreled away on their properties. Plus, the owners are so intriguing.

2. Top Shot.

3. Dog the Bounty Hunter

4. Billy the Exterminator

5. Confessions: Animal Hoarding

6. Pawn Stars

7. No Reservations

8. Bizarre Foods

9. Auction Kings

10. Biggest Loser

11. Forensic Files

Seriously, I could lose two hours of my life on these shows. What are your guilty pleasures?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

I have not baked breads in months but this past week, I've managed to bake four loaves. Just for the heck of it, I made cinnamon raisin bread. Super hit in this house with my men. They inhaled it...all in one day.

I have the big Kitchen-Aid mixer so I can make two loaves but the recipe below is for one loaf.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

3 cups bread flour
2 T sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp SAF instant yeast
2 TBSP Nonfat dry milk
1 TBSP butter or canola oil
1 egg
1 cup very warm (hot as a hottub) water

2 TBSP cinnamon
2-4 TBSP butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins

Combine all ingredients in a Kitchen Aid mixer with hook. Mix until dough is smooth and elastic. Scrap down dough and spray inside of bowl with PAM. Cover for 1 hour in draft-free area.

Punch this dough down and roll out into a rectangle with the short side only as wide as your loaf length (9").

Spread butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar (sometimes I'm a little too liberal with this) and raisins. Roll up the dough from the short end and place in greased 9" x 5" loaf pan. Cover with a towel and allow to double in size (~45 minutes).

Once doubled, place loaf in oven. Turn oven on to 350F. Once the temperature reaches 350F, set your timer for 30 minutes. NOTE: I place the loaf in the oven before turning it on so it has time to rise slowly as the temperature slowly increases. When I do it this way, the insides get done while the outside is just golden and not burnt.

Take it out carefully after about 2 minutes and allow to cool enough to get your serrated knife and a tub of butter and have at it. If there is any leftover, it makes really good french toast the next day.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Remember this country dress (sorry I forgot to take a full length picture)...

...that became this?

Here's what was left of the became a skirt for my friend B's beautiful girls.

Sewing Party

Good reason to have four sewing machines: sewing parties. Bad part, I can't replicate myself enough to help all the kids so one machine didn't get used at all. I'll have to figure this all out but I thought you might like to see a picture of my 2010-2011 rescued sewing machines.

The boys at 5 and 6+ years old. Today was a good day to be a mom. The boys played. They laughed. They are so delicious right now. Koo let me hold him and cuddle with him for a good five minutes. Aaahh. I got a few hugs in with S.E. I love how S.E. is starting to sound out words and can recognize words all around him.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I loved volunteering in Koo's class this morning. Brought crafts to make and a game of BINGO. The kids got to sew a big paper heart bag using yarn and of course flair with colors and doilies to decorate. Afterwards, we played Valentine BINGO where candy hearts were used as bingo chips. Koo told me the kids enjoyed having me there. So funny to see the kids play Bingo.

I brought in a veggie tray for S.E.'s class and didn't get to spend anytime in there but he said it was a very fun day.

Then, there's my lovely husband. He bent over backwards on Saturday to make a trip to Spokane, WA my best trip ever. I got to go to the thrift stores, sewing machine shop (the best part!), Nordstrom's Rack, Costco, Krispy Kreme, and a nice dinner. He drove and took care of the kids while I got to lollygag in the stores. It was all lovely. Dinner was so nice because the boys behaved and ate well. Oh, there was a couple of other things we did too-Chuck E. Cheese for the kids and Harbor Freight for dad. You know I can't make it a total "Me" day without giving back. That just ain't me.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I rescued another sewing machine. It was staring at me for one month at my local thrift store. I waited one month hoping someone would appreciate this machine and buy it. One month. Today, I went in and there it was-still there. $15. How could I not buy it?
This one is a Singer 301 (late 1950's). What I love about this sewing machine is every part I cleaned and oiled was MADE IN THE U.S.A. After getting all the dust, greased it, threaded and adjusted still works. Really well. I love the hum of the machine when it runs. They don't make 'em like this anymore.

I LOVE it. Simple. Well-made. Adn after 50 years. I still get excited when I buy a sewing machine and get it working. At this time, I have ten sewing machines. Yes, ten. Yes, I do use them. My husband thinks I need an intervention but I'm not greedy. I don't intend to keep all of them. So far, I have rescued and given four machines permanent homes.
Really, I am just fostering them in the hopes that these machines will find a permanent home.
No, I have not fallen off the face of this earth. I have been cranky (and that's putting it mildly my friends) so I didn't want to post another totally downer post.

The boys have been on the mend from the fever of all fevers and starting to feel like themselves again. I think I can handle up-chuck (got a steam cleaner), diarrhea, or even runny noses. What breaks me? Whininess and crying. I don't get how that feels better to them. When the boys are sick, every little thing sends them into a fit. Seriously, you can't sit next to your brother?!

Okay, digress again into Negative Nate. I guess I'm not ready to do an upbeat post. So, what do you do to get over the blues? (besides chocolate)?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Bad Knees

What good is a blog if you only write the happy-go-lucky stuff all the time? I'm not saying that's a bad's just not what I feel all the time...

I've been struggling bad with my weight and health. I keep getting relapses with my skin problem, my knees are killing me and I'm trying not to be a wimp about it so I'll run and then be in pain for days. Crap!!! My knees are not suppose to hurt in my 130's. It brings back memories of me in my 160's when I couldn't get out of bed without going to bed with 600 mg of Advil so my knees will work in the morning to pick up my babies and take care of them. I hate the old feelings/aches coming back when I tried so hard to get to where I am. Do I not get a break?! I'm frustrated and scared. I'm scared that I'm going to be too big again and I really don't think I can look at anyone who's told me I've been an inspiration to them in the past two years in the face if I gain back my weight.

Enough. I will just have to not run for awhile. I guess I'll just have to bike and ice my knees-and try not to eat the house down.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


My kids are sick. Maybe my dad is right. Walking to and from swimming lessons at 19F with wet hair might have caused them to come down with this flu. They have high fever and lethargy. If they are going to be sick, this is the one to have. No vomit. Slept through the night. No cruddy, runny noses, and no diarrhea. Now, being the Catholic I am I probably need to confess all this to dad.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Happy Lunar New Year-Year of the Rabbits!!

Now the New Year is official. Being Vietnamese, I grew up following the Lunar calendar to ring in the new year. It it celebrated on the last new moon in January or February. Traditions run deep and strong. I have the most wonderful memories of this celebration. We try not to work during this time because the belief is if you work hard on this date, they you will be working hard the rest of the year.

The grown-ups would give the kids money in red envelopes (I loved this growing up) because if you give, you will receive the rest of the year. My grandfather, mom, and aunts would get together a week or so before and spend all weekend making sticky rice dish with fatty salted pork in the middle and wrapped in banana leaves. Then it is steamed for 14 hours and turns the rice green. Very laborious and time consuming but delicious. It's an acquired taste. My paternal grandfather made the best when he was alive. He never cooked, except for this dish. I still miss him.

Also, visiting families and friends all week long is one I also loved because I had a lot of cousins and during this time, we would get to see each other and catch up. Oh yeah and my one thing I disliked, loud firecrackers blown up in front of our houses. Growing up being the only Asians in the 'hood, this would bring out the curious or frightened neighbors.

My boys called my parents this morning to wish them a happy New Year. I miss my family and some of these traditions I don't do because I don't have families here. However, I've got friends and hopefully they will join in a meal with us when they visit.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Seriously delicious boys. Walking home from swimming lessons at about 30F. My dad would kill me if he ever saw this post. S.E.'s hair was still wet (he refused to wear a hat) and by the time we got home, slightly frozen. My dad would randomly call me to warn me not to let the boys play outside if it's windy or cold out. Then, in the summer, he would warn me not to let the boys play out in the direct sun-they might get sunstroke. Lordy. That man worries about his grandkids in the funniest way. Maybe that's where I get my bubble boy mentality from. hmmm...