A Couch Fit for a Barbie

Once upon a barbie sofa, there sat Barbie who found her sofa to be so comfortable, she invited Ken to share in its coziness. Much to Barbie’s dismay, Ken settled onto the sofa and then promptly fell asleep. The end. No wait, he snored. The end. To be continued….(tomorrow, same time, same place).

I do have a point to this post, I really do. You see, my daughter has dreams. Big dreams, small dreams, dreams involving a Christmas elf named Willy who is both companion and servant, dreams involving a couch fit for a barbie that comes with a removable cushion.

Hmmm…well, with the price of renting elves going up lately, I decided to grant my daughter’s wish for a barbie couch, so off I went to the fabric store in search of foam and fabric. The foam I picked up was a package of 3 square sheets intended to be seat cushions, so the foam itself wasn’t all that dense or stiff, but they were inexpensive and seriously, Barbie hasn’t gained an ounce since 1959. Girlfriend keeps her figure in check at a trim 7.25 ounces.

My daughter, in her excitement, tore open the package of foam and enthusiastically began cutting away. A few seconds later, she held up to show me what I can only best describe as a parallelogram and proudly exclaimed the seat cushion had been cut. You know, the kind of seat cushion you’d find in the back, on the floor, with a few dusty footprints on it, of the slightly damaged/reject room at Ikea.

So after coaching my daughter on tracing the layers of foam, we had cut out the base and the back of the couch, the cushion to go on the seat and then the sides. I only later thought of buying teeny tiny couch legs or something for the look of button tufting, but I’m about as impatient as my daughter to see the final product, I think it was a success. I would estimate it took 90 cents in foam, another 75 cents in thread and fabric and a couple of hours to handsew everything.

barbie on couch

Barbie likes her new furniture.

Now I’m working on the matching chair. I’m going to make an effort to be more consistent in my stitching, for overall uniformity.

barbie chair

Seat cushion has been sewn, pieces of foam set up to demonstrate how the final product might look

I Dream of Dreaming

Have you ever woken up in the morning and remembered your dream, a dream so vivid it could have been real. And then as the day goes on, there are aspects of the dream that start to fade. You sorta remember why you were there or who you were with or what you were supposed to be doing, but it’s not 100 % clear.

Last night I had the strangest dream. I must share…

  1. My parents told me that my partner had been in a car accident, although it was not clear if it was fatal or what had happened (I didn’t ask, I think I didn’t want to know). Then I remember looking out into my parents’ driveway and I could see the shell of my partner’s vehicle sitting on the flatbed of a truck. It wasn’t his current vehicle, but one of his previous makes/models. I remember thinking, where is the truck he’s driving? and I noticed the cars parked around the flatbed truck were my partner’s past vehicles.
  2. I went to send a Facebook message to my partner’s sister and his mother to relay the news of the accident, but the next thing I recall is seeing my parents reacting with pity, so I deducted that I had updated my Facebook status and not sent a private message. Now the whole world knows.
  3. In the next part of the dream, or an entirely different dream, I was in a social setting where regular folks like me and “bad people” were mixed together and everyone was to watch their behaviour, so they didn’t get into a tussle with a bad person. At some point, I remember irritating one or two of them, how I’m not sure but I think I said the wrong thing, so there was definitely a fear that I was in danger. I was searching for an exit to the building to escape, but they were impossible to find. That idea where you enter one room and it’s attached to another room and the door on the other side leads into another room, etc. 
  4. I don’t remember if it was another dream, but I remember being in love with some guy. I recall thinking to myself, this is a face I’ve seen before because we only dream of faces we’ve seen. I was overwhelmed with that gushing feeling, but I can’t for the life of me remember what his face looked like now. I know it wasn’t my partner’s face. This person’s face was boy’ish. Like, boy band boy’ish. Well, older, legal boy band boy’ish to be exact. Bordering on slightly effeminate.

I remember years ago I couldn’t wait to go to bed every night for the simple fact I could dream :-) Now that I think about it, it could have been a low point in my life seeing as snoozing was way more appealing that being conscious. Thankfully life has picked up for me :-)

Some of my recurring bad dreams involve…

  1. not being able to drive a standard car – I had one for a short period, so technically I did learn how to drive stick, but it’s always been intimidating for me.
  2. not being able to run. I seem to sort of hover above the ground at an angle and moving forward, which would suggest I might be running at cartoon high speeds, or trying my hardest to run but not succeeding (similar to trying to shout but with no noise coming out). Only once do I remember ever having the sensation that I was legitimately running.
  3. missing a class the entire semester because I wasn’t aware I was taking the course.

Cake pops round no. 2 tomorrow, kids. I want to make a few for a coworker who’s leaving his 9-5 to pursue a music career full-time. I printed off his band’s logo because I wanted to copy the font and then somehow reproduce that on a cake pop. How, I’m not sure. I might make myself a stencil and fill it in using food colouring pens. I’m concerned it’ll require a few, or 10, tries, so I may actually do the lettering on a chocolate disk, then attach that to the cake pop rather than writing directly on the cake pop. If I was really creative, I’d recreate the album cover in cake pop form. That’s a big if, but seriously, that would be so awesome. If all else fails, I’ll resort to googly eyes. No one can resist a big ol’ set of googly eyes. Not me, at least.

 I’ll definitely take pictures !

Seollal (Korean New Year)

Korean New Year, Seollal, is the first day of the lunar calendar and so begins a three-day national holiday. I was curious to know how Koreans celebrate the occasion and it is often spent with family, whereby families honour their ancestors,  pay respect to elders, play games, wear the traditional dress (hanbok) and eat delicious food. 

I was also interested to learn if the Chinese celebrated the New Year similarly. In China, New Year celebrations are spread over 15 days. From what I read, each day is celebrated differently, involves praying to their ancestors, gods, eating certain foods for longevity, good fortune, and then rounding out the festivities, a lantern festival is held on the 15th night. And there seems to be a heavy emphasis on the dos and don’ts, such as cleaning your home before the New Year to sweep away the bad luck and allow the good luck to enter the home, but after the New Year begins, put your broom and dustpan away lest all the good luck be swept away.

2013 is the year of the snake. According to what I’ve read, those born under this zodiac sign are ambitious and hardworking. Their downfall can be self-doubt though, related to their perfectionist personality.

I was born in the year of the rabbit and without really knowing all of the signs and their personality traits, I find the rabbit’s qualities suit me. Some traits include:  gentle, quiet, elegant, kind, patient, intuitive, clever, ambitious. Ok, so some of them apply. Some. Negatives: rabbits are reluctant to reveal their minds, like to weigh their options. This can result in rabbits missing opportunities or resisting change because of their conservative and cautious personality. I think that is me.

And I did visit T&T supermarket yesterday.  I thought it was fun!! For dinner, I put together some green onion pancake, edamame and bulgogi beef last night. I also made some spring rolls this morning. Filling consisted of mung beans, finely chopped carrot, celery, ginger, garlic and salt. I thought they were tasty, although I will have to experiment with the pan temperature. It seemed either too hot or not hot enough, so I found it difficult to get a consistent colour on all sides.

spring roll

Veg spring rolls

And without a doubt, there are so many fascinating items at T&T and I can’t wait to return. There was a festiveness in the air. The supermarket was packed with shoppers as I had anticipated, but interestingly, traffic seemed to flow well inside the store.

I’d been in the store maybe 10 minutes when I was approached by an older woman who had been mulling over the selection of frozen dumplings.  She held up a bag of  dumplings, looked over at me and asked, do you just boil these? She may have assumed I would know off the top of my head. I mean, if one of us would be familiar with dumplings, the odds would be in my favour as the Asian person. But I didn’t know, so I looked on the back of the bag and read the directions to her. Boil for 4-5 minutes until they float, I said. The woman nodded, put the bag back among the others and walked away. Only after did I wonder if I had inadvertently insulted her by reading the directions, something she could have easily done herself. She probably wanted the quick and dirty, yes or no answer. I gave her the manufacturer’s suggested cooking method.

Asian supermarkets – there’s no place like home

This weekend I’m headed to T&T Supermarket for my very first time. It’s decided. And imagine how it’s almost  Chinese and Korean New Year, so the store ought to be buzzing all weekend, but nobody comes between me and my Korean ribs, no one I say.

I read somewhere online that T&T is owned by Loblaws, so I suspect the quality to be up there. Other than that, I have no idea what to expect. I’ve heard there’s an entire aisle dedicated to noodles, which excites me more than it should. I want to be impressed and I will be disappointed if it doesn’t live up to my expectations.

As a Korean growing up with a traditional Canadian upbringing, I feel a sense of belonging in Asian supermarkets, purely because I look like I belong there…and then my bubble (tea) bursts when somebody tries to talk to me in Korean and then I just look like an imposter. That’s my cue to head straight for the checkout line.  

I remember a couple of years ago I was standing around in Future Shop waiting to be served (if only I had a penny, er, nickel, for every time that has happened to me…) and a man, who had also been standing around waiting to be served, came up to me and asked, are you from Kazakhstan? I shook my head no, while remembering the movie Borat, then blurted “Korean” and he nodded and that was that. Thinking back, it was an odd exchange, but it’s a question I’ve been asked for a long time – where are you from? When I explain that I was born in Korea, but I grew up here in Canada, the next question is, do you speak Korean? -No. Then I can’t help but feel as though I’ve let the person down a little. Makes me laugh thinking about it. I should try saying yes next time.  

I wonder if my daughter will be asked the same question. She’s taken a real liking to Korean “things” and why shouldn’t she, she’s half Korean, half French Canadian. While I don’t believe there are any other Korean kids at her school, many of the children speak French, English and a third language at home. To me, this seems more “Canadian” than speaking just English and French. Ha. I guess that means my daughter is behind in that department. Dang. Get thee to Korean school, child! (and I just know her response to that would be, But I don’t know where it is, Mom!??!).

 

More photos from Winterlude

For some reason, I had forgotten to add other Winterlude photos I had taken at Confederation Park last weekend. Then again, is anything more important than photos about food. Short answer to that question is no. 

Jinju lantern

Jinju lantern

Bear on stilts

Bear on stilts

I should consult the Winterlude website to learn who the man dressed up in white and the polar bear are supposed to represent. When he saw the photo, my partner thought it was a hunter and a polar bear, whereas that never even crossed my mind. I assumed he was some mystical snow wizard who made friends with a polar bear. Interestingly, two men who looked to be in their 40s went up to the bear and gave him a few punches to the gut. It looked to be a childish act of aggression against a mascot. 

lantern display

Jinju lantern display

Jinju lantern

lantern

Ice sculpture - polar bear

Ice sculpture – polar bear

Winterlude

Band

A pretty rockin’ percussion band

Coloured ice block art

Making a tower of coloured ice blocks

Winterlude – highlights from weekend one

Jinju lantern festival

As part of the Year of Korea in Canada, the Jinju Namgang Yudeung (Lantern)Festival created a garden of lanterns, a tunnel made out of more than 1,000 lanterns at Confederation Park for Winterlude.

I wanted to go see the display, so my daughter and I zipped over to Confederation Park to check things out. There was also the promise of Korean food, so we had more than enough reasons to make it our priority for today.

Did you know, in 1592 when the Japanese invaded Jinjuseong, General Kim Si-min and his Jinju army of 3,800 soldiers defeated the 20,000 Japanese who were invading Jinju. Floating lanterns were used as a military strategy to keep the Japanese from crossing the river.  Although the Japanese invaded Jinju the following year and sieged Jinju Fortress, the people continued the tradition of floating lanterns down the river to pay tribute to those who had been lost during battle. And so this tradition of lanterns lives on through Korea’s Jinju Namgang Lantern Festival.

And what’s Winterlude without the food, right? 

photo by Wendy Floyd

The mandatory beavertail and hot chocolate

photo by Wendy Floyd

Some tire d’erable

photo by Wendy Floyd

Pleasing the tastebuds with some hotteok (Korean pancake)

Baby it’s cold outside…

It’s cold again. Really cold. I swear yesterday’s 12C compared to the temperature of -17C right is just down right cruel. I fight back. I pull the scarf up higher, pull the toque down lower, and I eat soup. Frequently.

I was inspired one day to make an asian themed soup. I love pho and it seemed I could just make something similar. And by the way, I only recently learned it’s pronounced “fa” – What the fa, right? Thought it was “fo” – so not proud of myself.

I do have one thing to be proud of and that’s my favourite soup to throw together in a matter of minutes. It’s one of those weekday dinner meals that comes together easily and quickly. Filling and perfect on cold winter evenings.

I take a carton of beef broth and empty it into a pot. I throw in a few dashes of soy sauce, a few squirts of rice wine vinegar, a teaspoon of garlic powder, a quarter teaspoon of ginger, a couple squirt of sriracha sauce and I bring everything to a slow boil. In the meantime, I chop a carrot lengthwise and crosswise into bite sized pieces, throw that into the pot along with whatever other vegetables I have on hand. I generally always have frozen corn and edamame in the house, so one cup of frozen edamame and half a cup of frozen corn. You could do pretty anything you want and in any quantity provided everything ‘fit’ and depending on if you like your soup to have a lot of broth or a minimal amount. I’ve used peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, sugar snap peas (love these in this soup), snow peas, mushrooms, etc. Once it comes up to a boil, I simmer for 4-5 minutes and then I’ll throw in a handful of rice noodles. Once noodles are cooked through, I’ll add in half a package of fondue beef, about a quarter cup of chopped cilantro and half a cup of mung beans and continue simmering for another minute. Done and done. I generally serve with more chopped cilantro and another squirt of sriracha sauce for kick. Sometimes I’ll stir in a couple teaspoons of sour cream into my bowl or squeeze some fresh lime juice into my bowl.

Now I realize the photo below might suggest it is not good. I promise, my whole family loves it. I find the broth is just so rich and savoury. Again though, my family does not represent the general population. Tastes may vary :-)

Try it though! Really!

An asian soup - from no specific country, which is why I'm attributing to an entire continent

An asian soup – from no specific country, which is why I’m attributing it to an entire continent

What I’ve been watching lately

About six or seven years ago when I let go of cable, I resorted to watching shows online. Not immediately though because I didn’t know that was possible, but when I finally did catch on to the wonders of the world wide web, I confirmed that it’s not as gratifying as flipping through the channels, but it’s definitely far more efficient.

As a result though, I’ve admittedly missed the boat on popular shows. Someone will ask, did you see _____? -never heard of it. Have you been watching ____, can you believe it? -sorry, missed that one. Sometimes I’ll pretend to have watched the show if the show’s title sounds familiar, you know, just to fit in. Ok, I did that once.

But there are some shows I do follow regularly and one such show is the Graham Norton Show. I am solidly addicted to The Graham Norton Show. He is sooo funny. His quick wit, his humour, the chemistry between Graham and his guests. Oh, it kills me. I love the format of his show and how  freely the guests interact with one another. It just flows naturally and I love it.

I’m also a big fan of Cougar Town. I wasn’t necessarily a huge fan of Friends. Sure, I watched all of the episodes, er, twice, but it wasn’t what drew me to watch Cougar Town. Honestly, I can’t say what did actually, but I absolutely adore the humour and find the show is well written.

And with a lil’ shame (because I think it’s the right thing to say), I follow all of the Real Housewives franchises. Not exactly intelligent tv or sophisticated, certainly not the kind of thing I would bring up at a social gathering unless I knew I was among a ‘safe’, non-judgemental crowd. It’s my our dirty little tv secret. Please don’t tell anyone.

Hump day cravings

I’ve been craving a few things lately, surprisingly not related to food, and I thought it’d be fun to share them with you.

- a clutch, preferably a large envelope style soft leather clutch in a saturated jewel tone. Soooo sophist (so much so I don’t even need to spell out the entire word!!!). Handles on a purse? -No.  Handleless chic’ness? -Indeed! From a practical standpoint, it can be thrown up into the armpit and wedged, so that it is still possible to find the keys to the car and hold a coffee all at the same time.

-an oversized, mustard coloured chunky knit infinity scarf. The finishing touch to any woman’s cozy winter, artsy look.

-red matte lips, ones that make me look like I’m not trying too hard.

-full and bouncy long hair that’s been blow dried with a big round brush. I don’t know what it is, but i’ve been doing less straightening and more bouncifying. I’m loving a fuller head of hair ! For once my coarse mane actually working to my advantage!

-and a coconut cream pie like the one below that I made last summer. coconut cream pie

I couldn’t help myself – it’s late afternoon and my blood sugar is waning.

Your sweet spot for choosing a recipe

Some time in the last four or five years, I developed this knack for finding delicious recipes. It involves some serious Googling techniques and a keen eye for deliciousness. Check and check. I’m not swayed by retouched images, beautiful lighting or cute vintage baking props (as evidenced by my own lower quality photos). No, I see a dessert for what it really is. I think this is the gift…though, it’s too bad my gift applies only to baked goods. The odds, right?

cupcake ecard

When a picture catches my eye, I quickly read through the list of ingredients, baking instructions, etc. and go back and forth between images and recipes before deciding if I’m going to follow one or a combination of different recipes based on taste, time and effort. I believe a dessert doesn’t require spending hours in the kitchen in order to be delicious. Last fall, I scoured the Interwebs in search of a fall-themed cupcake and I dreamed up a perfectly spiced pumpkin cupcake filled with caramel, covered in a vanilla buttercream, and topped with toasted walnuts and more caramel drizzled over top. Ha. You know, simple, low key.

S'more cupcakes

I also saved myself some time (and possibly reconstructive surgery?) by purchasing a jarred caramel sauce. I don’t own a candy thermometer or trust myself being in charge of a large pot of boiling sugar. I sometimes have to remind myself that I’m the person who burned a four-inch piece off my forearm during that phase where I wouldn’t open the oven door entirely. You see, when my daughter was younger, I had a fear she’d come bounding in the kitchen toward the oven while the door lay open, so by not opening it all of the way, I convinced myself it was safer for her (me, not so much). And that’s why store bought will, on occasion, trump homemade. Thankfully for my own well being, I have restarted opening the oven door all of the way. Progress. For fun, I should compile a list of my irrational fears and share them/compare notes.
 

Behold the s’more cupcake – a graham cracker cupcake, filled with marshmallow fluff, topped with more marshmallow fluff that’s been toasted, graham cracker crumbs, and a piece of milk chocolate.