Laid back

Laid back

I guess it’s time for that Monday morning post again. It seems my blogging has become a lot more laid-back these days because… well, that’s how life is around here. I can pretty much predict how long it will take us to get anywhere. In Vancouver, it was always 40 minutes in whipping rain to get to even the nearest of places but here, it’s 10 minutes tops haha, got to love that! Throw in another 10 minutes and you have the morning rush hour, if you can even call it that, where there’s like 10 cars at the stop lights! I know, crazy, right? :grin:

We started our Thanksgiving grocery shopping last week to avoid the crowds. What crowds? Ya sure, it was so crowded no one, repeat, no one slammed themselves or their shopping carts into us, plus we had to park a little further from the front entrance and spend an extra 10 minutes in the checkout line, and get to taste lots of food samples!

Oh yes, the food samples! Turkey ham with cranberry sauce (note to self: I seriously have to go back for those!) Crunchy slices of baguette dipped in red sauce.

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Beef something or other, so delicious and juicy.

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Let’s just say we delayed lunch because of these life-sized samples that you can actually taste, not those microscopic samples which barely scrape your tastebuds and do nothing more than get between your teeth. I usually walk right past those and don’t even bother stopping. Boo! Seriously, if businesses want me to buy their products, they’re going to have to do better than that, or they might as well just close shop and stop wasting everyone’s time.

Okay, so where was I? Yes, Sunday, we didn’t leave the house at all. The weather has dropped to a daytime high of 50-60s, with intermittent sun and barely there drizzles. Really nice weather to be out but we chose to chill at home instead, read: doing two loads of laundry, cleaning the bathroom, hanging up the holiday string lights, cooking huge pots of pork porridge, and sweet potato soup, and reclaiming our living room which had vanished underneath the boxes from our online shopping :wink: .

Hope you all had a great shopping weekend. It’s Thanksgiving week. Are you all set? I know we are. Booyah!

Clairity/

Hip to be #Shopping – Quaint #Gifts

It’s that time of year to start cracking your head over gifts. The hardest people to shop for are those who already have everything, and you really don’t want to be giving them the same thing you’ve been giving them for the last three years. How about surprising them with something quaint this year?

Dream and Sugar Tea Set
Dream and Sugar Tea Set

Thank your friends for being so lovely by gathering them around this adorable teacup set for a gourmet fte. Garnished with golden trim and matching metallic handles, this boxed set features six subtly heart-shaped mugs that sit on sweetly matching saucers. Enveloping today’s aromatic blend in hues of cranberry, lemon, orange, rose, mint, and pale blueberry, this charmant collection invites you to match each piece with the perfect companion. My, what a thoughtful host you are!

Elephant-abulous Necklace
Elephant-abulous Necklace

Make a mammoth-sized fashion statement when you accessorize with this antiqued-gold elephant necklace. Embellished by royal-blue and ivory enamel, multicolored beads, and a red faux-gem eye, this ornate, pachyderm-shaped pendant hangs from a long chain, earning you tons of complements.

A Reel Work of Art Wine Rack
A Reel Work of Art Wine Rack

Combine your passions with this unique metal wine rack. Cleverly designed to resemble a retro movie reel, this navy-blue rack holds up to four standard wine bottles, supported by a stable, weighted base. Accentuated with a distressed, vintage-inspired finish, this nifty design gets two thumbs up.

Modcloth is offering 10 new arrivals at 50% off for 24 hours each day. Check back daily for 10 new styles at 50% off! You definitely don’t want to miss this.

Clairity/

Fruit paradise

Fruit paradise

Quite frankly, if this isn’t fruit paradise, I don’t know where it would be!! We’ve been devouring fruits like they’re free. Well, they’re not free but they’re certainly not expensive and there’s enough choices to make my eyes go zo-iink! We’ve been carting back boxes and boxes of fruits and eating at least 3 different types of fruits after dinner every night.

Bosc pears, blueberries and crimson grapes

Bosc pears, blueberries and crimson grapes

I love pears but I haven’t bought, or eaten pears in ages simply because I haven’t been able to find any that are not from the land of exploding watermelons. Now there are these Bosc pears, so soft and sweet, I buy them practically every week! It’s like making up for lost time, know what I mean? :grin:

Okay, you know the Red Globes or whatever so-called seedless grapes – forget about those. Let me just say, there’s nothing, repeat nothing, like these crimsons. They’re super-sweet. The skin is not bitter and you don’t have to peel it off (if you’ve ever peeled the skin off grapes, you know it’s torture). They pop in the mouth (yes, you can literally hear the pop).

And they’re seedless, as in really seedless, no false advertising here. We’ve been gobbling them every single day, faster than you can say ‘where have these crimsons been all my life?!!’. Sadly they’re out of season now. We passed by the vineyard and the tops of the grapevines have been cut *sobs*. Guess we’ll have to wait till next year for these gorgeous babies.

Bagfuls of crimsons

Bagfuls of crimsons

You know, most fruits are meant to be sweet and plump. But somehow I can’t say I’ve eaten too many strawberries and kiwis that aren’t sour and dry, and that has really put me off. Well now, these strawberries and kiwis are sweet and juicy, and I’m totally sold.

Strawberries, plums, kiwis and gorgeous crimsons

Strawberries, plums, kiwis and gorgeous crimsons

Persimmons, plums, honeycrisps, love ‘em all. What can I say?

Persimmons, honeycrisp apples and black plums

Persimmons, honeycrisp apples and black plums

Did you know that storing sweet strawberries with blackberries in the same box makes the blackberries sweeter? And those navel oranges the size of my palm are in season, yay us! Bought my first crate of 24 sweet-and-juicies for $9.99 and I’m laughing!

Navel oranges, blackberries and strawberries

Navel oranges, blackberries and strawberries

So cheers to some of the fruits we’re going gaga over. Of course, we love bananas too because they don’t need to be peeled, cut and stored, says the hip but lazy mom.

You know what’s so great about this whole fruit shopping experience? It’s that I don’t have to scrutinize the labels and question where the fruits are from, and limit myself to buying only Washington apples, Del Monte bananas and kiwis which are practically the only fruits I’ve been buying for years. Now it’s like the fruit gates have been thrown open right before me and I’m shoveling a myriad of fruits into the trunk of my car each week with my eyes closed. I’m in fruit paradise!!!

Clairity/

My Cuisinart SmartPower blender

My Cuisinart SmartPower blender

Now that I’m almost done setting up my new kitchen, I’m finally finding time to blog about what I’ve bought. First off, my new blender which I’ve been keeping pretty busy. When I was living in Vancouver, I thought I had the best blender, the one with the jug. I liked it but that was because I didn’t know better. So now, obviously I was shopping for a similar one.

As it turned out, not all blenders are created equal and we did stumble upon an even better one, this Cuisinart CPB-300 SmartPower 15-Piece Compact Portable Blending/Chopping SystemCuisinart CPB-300 SmartPower 15-Piece Compact Portable Blending/Chopping System right here. Well, Hip2bDaughter1’s eagle eyes spotted it first, and I haven’t looked back since.

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The blender I had before came with only a jug the size of an aquarium, and nothing else. This one comes with 4 full-sized blending cups complete with lids, a chopping cup and a jug which is just the right size for everyday use. And the entire set cost less than what I paid for that other one. Score!

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And you know what I love most about my Cuisinart blenderCuisinart CPB-300 SmartPower 15-Piece Compact Portable Blending/Chopping System? The fact that I can make all my fruit juices and smoothies right in this cup and drink directly from it. No need to transfer from the jug to a drinking glass. Let me tell ya, I would do anything to avoid washing an extra item :lol: .

The cup comes with a lid that I can slap on and rush out the door when I’m in a hurry. In fact, the whole set is so compact I can even make smoothies in my car if I wanted to, heh! How convenient is that!

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The motor’s slim design saves me precious counter space, and it’s powerful enough to even crush ice. I don’t have hold down the button the whole time which is nice. Whir it for a few seconds, just look at that silky smooth blend …

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As for the chopping cup, it’s perfect for chopping onions, garlic, chilli peppers, and what have you. I use it to make my special chilli blend which we eat with practically everything. Gotta have some spice in your life, y’know!!

So if you’re looking to wash one less item when you blend, or for a new blender, or plan on giving one as a gift, consider theĀ Cuisinart SmartPower blenderCuisinart CPB-300 SmartPower 15-Piece Compact Portable Blending/Chopping System. It’s a tool no kitchen should be without. Seriously. I mean, if I received one of these for Christmas, I’d be laughing :grin: .

Note: I’m not being compensated nor did I receive this item for this review. I bought this blender out of pocket. The opinions I’m sharing here are mine and I hope you find them useful. This post contains affiliate links.

Clairity/

Hip to be #Shopping – Layer It On #Sale!

The weather’s definitely cooling down. Although I can technically still go out in a T-shirt in the day, I have to layer a cardigan over in the mornings. Layering is fun. I hope you have fun checking out my choices this week.

Ooh La La Lady Top in Black
Ooh La La Lady Top in Black

Well look at you, feeling fabulous and fashionable in your new black top! The way you’re walking in your tweed pencil skirt and the dramatic angular neckline of that short-sleeved design shows that you’ve got confidence to spare and fierce attitude aplenty. We especially like the way you’ve parked a grey beret on the top of your head for a look that has all your pals saying Ooh la la!

Your Fireside of the Story Cardigan in Rust
Your Fireside of the Story Cardigan in Rust

Snuggled under the cable-knit front of this rust-red V-neck, you patiently listen to your best friend relay a tale of this weekend’s adventures. The oversized, wood-like buttons of this wide-ribbed sweater add excitement to your look, as your face lights up to match the glowing fireplace!

Cookie Pie Coat
Cookie Pie Coat

You hurry up the path of your best friends house with a fresh, home-baked treat nestled in the crook of your arm. Cloaked in this nubbly, chocolate-speckled taupe coat, you’re as toasty warm as the ooey-gooey pie you baked for a giggle-filled girls night in.

Greeting you at the door, your pal raves about your delectable hooded coat – its double-breasted, silver-lined licorice buttons mixing perfectly with your black leggings, tunic-length shirtdress, patterned socks, and lace-up boots. In this charming confection, you’re sure to look sweet!

Psst! Here’s a heads up, layer to your heart’s content and save 25% off at the Layer It On Sale now on from November 17 thru 21, 2014. Stocks are expected to fly off the shelf so get there early.

Sophisticated Steamed #Tofu

Sophisticated Steamed #Tofu

Browsing the aisles at Trader Joe’s, I was excited to see tofu. A picture of tofu topped with ground pork quickly came to mind. It’s a well-loved dish that’s commonly served at Chinese restaurants. My home-cooked version uses steamed (not deepfried) tofu, has added beta carotene and looks better? Okay, I’m just showin’ off here :wink: . I have no idea how my dish came out looking this pretty. Stoked!

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Well, as you probably know, tofu is made from the curd of coagulated soy milk. It’s low in calories and cholesterol, gluten-free (whatever that means, I never really figured this out), and a good source of protein, calcium and iron. So it’s all good. But tofu on its own can be very bland which, if you look on the positive side, means there are endless ways you can funky it up. So here’s what I did with mine and let me warn you, this is crazy delicious.

Sophisticated steamed tofu

My Sophisticated Steamed Tofu topped with ground pork, carrots, cilantro and spring onions

This is the tofu I used, the firm type. Soft tofu tastes good too but it breaks easily. So if you’re new to tofu, or if you’re planning to steam it like I’m doing here, firm tofu is easier to handle.

TraderJoesOrganicTofuImage credit

These are the other ingredients I used. As usual, these are estimates ‘cos I don’t measure my ingredients.

  • 1 cup ground pork
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 baby carrots, finely diced
  • cooking oil (I use avocado oil)
  • 2-3 teaspoons spicy black bean paste (comes in a bottle and can be found at any Asian grocer)
  • drizzle of sesame oil
  • a few sprigs of cilantro and spring onions, roughly chopped

First thing, I bring to boil a pot of water to steam the tofu. If you own a fancy electric steamer (I don’t), use that. I do it the old school way with a big pot and a steaming basket.

Meantime, I drizzle some avocado oil on my skillet and saute the garlic till fragrant. Then I add the carrots followed by the pork and spicy black bean paste. At this point, you can season to taste if you like. Stirfry on medium high to high heat till everything is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Finish off with a generous drizzle of sesame oil. Smells so good!

Sophisticated Steamed Tofu

Do you think my Sophisticated Steamed Tofu looks good enough on a restaurant table? :)

And it’s time to plate this baby – steamed tofu in the middle topped with the ground pork and carrots, and garnished with fresh herbs. Look at that burst of colors… definitely a feast for the eyes before the tummy. Enjoy!

The spicy, salty ground pork is the perfect complement to the bland tofu, and the subtle crunch of the carrots adds a layer of texture to the smoothness of the tofu. Super delicious and healthy. Goes great over steamed rice and vegetables. I’m excited for you to try this… and if you do, let me know how it goes, okay?

Clairity/

The grocery haul 1

The grocery haul

Our Sunday got off to a slow start. It’s hard to drag myself out of bed now that the mornings are colder. With daylight savings though, it gets light earlier and when the sun streaks in through the windows, you know it’s time to get up.

We got to Costco 2 minutes before they opened and already there was a crowd waiting. Parking near the entrance is what we aim for and we did get a fairly good spot! Inside, the Christmas displays are out. Santas and snowmen peeking at us from every corner. Feels so festive already.

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We took our time to shop which, for us, is a nice change from having to contend with crowds who think nothing of bodily contact (eww!) and cutting lines. So this is nice. After an hour and a half, this is what our cart looked like.

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Let’s see what we got here – a box of almond milk, raisins, dates, sliced almonds, 12 grain bread and a huge jar of raspberry mango jam which we sampled. When the promoter told me it’s not only a jam, you can use it as a topping, in a smoothie or even freeze it to make ice cream, I immediately snagged a jar. Cool!

I bought a ton of fruits – a crate of navel oranges, grapes, and the strawberries and blackberries were on sale at only $4.99, how could I resist? So happy especially seeing as oranges are in season. We went through many crates of them in Vancouver. They’re juicy and sweet. So good.

I also got a pack of party chicken wings (which should be fun for making buffalo wings), a huge slab of salmon, a box of frozen crusted tilapia, a bag of frozen cooked shrimp (which I always have in the freezer just in case), and a 2 lb bag of asparagus.

That should do it, says the chronic bulk shopper with a satisfied grin on her face. Now if the Apocalypse hits us tomorrow, we’ll still have food a-plenty to eat while we sit it out :wink: .

Next, on to Baja Fresh for lunch. You know I love Mex food and this is my favorite place to get my fill. We had the shrimp and steak burrito, and the grilled chile lime shrimp salad. No regrets. So good.

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After lunch, it was time to hit two more grocery stores for the remaining items on my grocery list. Between hanging out and getting the laundry done, it was time for dimsum dinner at our regular Chinese fast food place. A laid-back Sunday doesn’t get any more exciting than this (am I contradicting myself?). So how did your weekend go?

Clairity/
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