Year 2011 had been rough - personally (snowboarding injuries and car troubles - times 3 - one after another) and also in general (earthquakes, tsunami and the nuclear armageddon situation in Japan, volcano eruptions, drought and flood in various parts of the world - how come they couldn't dump the water in flooding cities to the dried-up places?) Enough already!! Let's look forward to a bright new start in year 2012!!
Our local supermarket had these giant shrimps on sale, so I couldn't resist picking up a box - there are only 8 shrimps in a pound and each was at least as long as the full length of my hand. I got really excited getting them out of the box.
After thawing them and washing with a bit of salt, I had to used a pair of scissors to de-vein the shrimps and cut each open length-wise so that the halves are still attached by the shell on the back. Then I smeared finely chopped garlic all over the open side and lay them flat on vermicelli (the clear kind) that I had soaked in lukewarm water to soften.
The jumbo shrimps were cooked to perfection after 12 minutes of steaming, and I topped them with a sauce made with sauteed green onion, sugar and soya sauce, with a dash of chicken bouillon. We all enjoyed it a lot - so much so that I had forgotten to take a snapshot of the dish and only managed to get this picture of the shrimp - which had trouble fitting into my bowl. Since the prawns were still fairly expensive at 10 bucks a box, I had only picked up one to experiment - but now it seems like I should have bought more while it's on sale!
Have yet tried using it yet but was very happy to finally own a SILPAT - a re-usable baking mat made of silicone that I've seen often in culinary magazines and TV shows on the Food Network. Not to mention that I only paid about half the price it usually goes for wherever I see it. Score!
It's officially less than a week 'til Christmas so this week rather than our usual games we had a potluck and decorated gingerbread houses instead. A lot of things didn't go according to plan this evening but after a few drinks we still managed to have a great time :)
I hope everyone will also have a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday!
Our team had always decorated our area for Christmas since we moved into this building, but this year it's made official that the Christmas contest would be one for the most festive cubicle - so people went all out! One lady turned her cubicle into a gingerbread house complete with candies stuck on the side; another team turned their aisle into Santa's sleigh path with a reindeer in each cubicle (Rudolf got the first!) and Santa himself stuck face-down flat against the wall. But the effort I found the most amazing was an aisle that was turned into something similar to Disneyland's "It's a Small World Holiday" boat cruise. Christmas lights were strung along the aisle and between each cubicles there was a banner that says "Merry Christmas" in a different language. Among these and Christmas wrappers, there were these giant paper ornaments that looked amazing but turned out to be pretty simple to make. My coworker was kind enough to supply colorful paper and show me how:
With my new haircut (done with layers and side bangs) I definitely needed a flat iron to keep the fizz down and to smooth out the ends of my hair, and this little baby I picked up from Wal-mart for under $20 had been SO handy:
I had bought it as my first flat iron just to try it out (to see if I really need to use it and if I really would have the time and patience use it) - because all the other flat irons I've looked at were at least 5 times more costly. Despite its small size, it heats up quickly and stays heated for as long as it's plugged in. And the iron being so short made it really easy to maneuver - I didn't have to worry about accidentally burning my scalp. So far it's been doing the job pretty well, so I might be able to put off getting another flat iron until this one goes. And I love the fact that it came with a little heat-resistant pouch that I can just stuff it into when I don't have time to wait for the iron to cool down before putting it away. Score!
Love the FlavorWave Oven - just used a metal steam rack over a metal place on the bottom and cooked the marinated beef ribs in single layer for 15 minutes and they turned out just as good as Korean BBQ.
At a dollar a pop in the Lisa's Cosmetic Warehouse Sale, I couldn't resist but to pick up this nail polish in a dark crimson red along with another one in a rich dark chocolate brown - both that would be great for winter wear. I loved the Real Royal from Sally Hansen's Maximum Growth plus Nourishing nail polish, but was a little disappointed in Always from the Diamond Strength line. I was really drawn to it because of the crimson color in the bottle, but on the nails the color is closer to a cherry red.
Way too loud and cheerful for the classy understated elegance I was looking for (like the Oxblood that Michelle was wearing on her accent nail) - but with some glitters (a la Nicole by OPI's Love Your Life), it's actually just what would be perfect for adding some holiday cheers :)
The Christmas Countdown, that is. It hit me as quite a shock that we are in December already (how time flies!) and it hit me harder when the stockings went up in the office to remind me I have just about 3 weeks to gather my wits and pull together a list of Christmas gifts ideas, actually go into a mall in this time of year (oh, the horror!) to buy these gifts, plan the holiday gatherings so the gifts and wishes could be delivered, and somehow squeeze some holiday baking in between. EEEK!! Stress levels on the rise... I think I need a drink, or two...
I got a little postcard in the mail from the Bay inviting me for a free consultation and a little something to practice with after they teach you how to use their product - but when I dropped by the Clinique Counter today I was told that I needed an appointment but they were fully booked for the day. So rather than a mini-makeover where she could show me how to use this little compact, the sales lady offered to let me walk away with the eyeshadow palette without having to sit through the sales pitch -
There were 2 colorways to choose from but the neutral shades seemed to be too bland and would probably look better on someone with a cooler undertone - whereas this combination of cool colors would probably work better on my warm undertone. I love the way they have little labels below the shade to suggest where on the eyelid the color should be placed. I don't know if I will make any use of it though - I do have quite a few eyeshadow palettes that I am using with similar shades, so maybe it'll get passed on to someone who would get more fun out of it.
I've heard so many friends and friends of friends starting to do MMA that I had been entertaining the idea of trying it out. Although I'm not a big fan of pain and bruises (like the ones I see on my dear friend Diana who started about 3 months ago), I liked the fact that it's a good work-out that shows quick results - everyone I knew doing MMA had lost a lot of weight and got really toned in virtually no time at all. So when a co-worker told me about the gym he goes to around the corner from work, I was excited to check it out.
I thought I was only going to observe, but ended up participating - I learned quite a few other things from this experience: 1. jumping rope is much harder than what I remembered doing as a kid and much much harder than it looks. 2. Kicking and punching is so much more fun when you make contact - the Wii variety of air-punching just won't cut it anymore. 3. Going back to work covered in sweat is definitely not an enjoyable experience - and it makes you all the more self-conscious when others walk by. 4. The pain and the soreness that comes with strenuous exercise hits long after the workout is done. But all-in-all, I'm proud to say that I had survived my first MMA class!
Couple of weeks ago we took advantage of bonus Optimum points plus instant rebate in the form of a Shopper's Drug Mart gift card to bring home the XBOX Kinect bundle - and now it's all set up and ready to go!
So far my favorite is still the adventure game that came with the console - especially the obstacle course you cruise through on a platform where you have to jump over and duck down bars among other things. Can't wait to try out other Kinect games!
A while back, B's mom insisted on getting a FlavorWave Oven - and that was before she heard about it from Mr. T - and I'd have to be honest that I was more than doubtful at first. To the point that I had bet on the ridiculous-looking device not being used more than twice. Boy was I wrong. This thing turned out to be the handiest addition to his kitchen yet. Wings on the grill are done within 20 minutes, and even kalbi (Korean-style beef ribs) turned out perfectly using a steam rack that let the fat drip off and gave the ribs grill marks. Using it as a baking oven, however, was a hit-and-miss. The middle burns too easily while the outer edges don't get cooked as much - and we found that puff pastry simply won't puff up in it. Roasting chicken drumsticks in a casserole dish charred the top but left the bottom uncooked. But basically anything you can throw on the BBQ grill, you can throw it in this oven and it will get the job done.
My latest experiment stemmed from a sudden craving for Japanese-style grilled eggplants. This is how I tried to recreate the wonderful sweet and savory taste and tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture of my favorite veggie dish at Sushi Hour:
Wash Chinese eggplants (they are longer and skinnier than the kind you see in Italian cuisine) and remove stem. Cut into half length-wise then into shorter chunks. Rub surface with minced garlic with a bit vegetable oil to prevent browning. Arrange in a single layer on a steamer rack.
Stick the steamer rack into the FlavorWave Oven, eggplants and all.
Set timer to 15 minutes and temperature to 350F. Then sit back and let it work its magic.
When the eggplant is almost done (and when you are no longer amused by the light and how it's cooking your food), chop up a stalk of green onion to start making the sauce.
Over medium heat, add about 2 tablespoonfuls of vegetable oil to a heated wok, and when it starts to bubble around the chopstick you stick in the oil, add some minced garlic, a teaspoon or so white sugar and the chopped green onion. Sautee the green onion for a minute. Then remove from heat and add 2 tablespoonfuls soya sauce.
Take out the roasted eggplant and arrange onto serving dish.
Pour sauce over eggplant - and you're ready for a great veggie dish that goes great with rice!