Zipzicle: ice pop pouch freezies

A few days ago I was sent a package of zipzicle to try out !  My first tester and it was a success.  I filled some with strawberry banana smoothie and some with lychee juice (it was such a tasty drink so I wanted to make freezies out of them for me :) because it's so so so very hot out).

Here are my findings:

- no stick, no drips, no crying baby over dropped ice cream !  it's mess free for kids
- excellent way to get your kids to eat fruits (& veggies)
- great for teething baby (my youngest screams (happy squeal) at the sight of it)
- easy for kids to push the ice goodness up
- pouch is reusable for at least 1 more freeze (or 2 :)
- inexpensive
- great on the go (I used it to keep the kids busy on long car ride :)
- better than store bought freezies as those are loaded with sugar, with zipzicle, you control what you put in there ! 

- you need a funnel to get the liquid into the pouch
- you need to freeze the pouch (standing) in a container

If you're going to order these, order at least 36 pouches (or more) because you would want to try different recipes, mixes, etc.  Get the kids involve in the prepping and filling of pouches !  A fun family activity and then you get to enjoy the ice goodness together after. 

Our patio project

After a couple weeks of hard work, things are coming together and our backyard is ready for use.  The shed is up and sitting proudly in the corner of our garden.  The kids were excited, not so much for the completion of the project, but just to be out (more often now) in the yard.  They love running around, playing on the swings, monkey bars, climbing up and sliding down the slide, and having a tea party !!!  Bee adored tea party.  Her eyes light up at the sound of those words.  And so we did, have a tea party, to celebrate our completed patio.

pink lemonade tea. freezies, and macarons !!! we were in sweet heaven !

Handy man C took the left over pallets and made a bench for us to sit on !  It took him less than an hour to disassembled the pallets, cut to size and nailed them all back together.  He also did some sanding to smoothen out the rough surface.  The results was a nice 5X5 bench for extra sittings in our patio.

We ended the evening with lots of water, dirt, clovers and 2 naked kids running around !  We love our backyard and with the new designated area for family dining and lounging and grassy area for playing and games, parents and kids are both happy campers ! 

how to make homemade playdoh without cream of tartar

Bee wanted playdoh so I quickly whipped up 2 colours of playdoh for her.  I found making homemade playdoh not only cheap but also makes me feel safe that there's no preservative or other crap stuff added to the mix !

To made 1 big ball (about 4" in diameter), enough for 2 kids, I measured 1 cup of flour (Robinhood brand), 1/3 cup of salt (+ a bit more), 1/2 tablespoon of canola oil, and 1/2 cup of lukewarm water.  

For color playdoh, add a few drops of food coloring into the water.  

Mix the flour with the salt, add in the oil, then slowly add in 1/4 of the water, mix through (flour mixture will be dry and crumbly) then 1/2 of what's left of the water, mix through then add the rest.  

Knead and press in all directions, put pressure as you work through the dough.  If you have older kids, let them knead the dough for you ! 

I found the playdoh to be really chewy (?) and soft to touch (how the kids like them).  If you like it a bit more dry, sprinkle on some flour and work them through.

Store playdoh in a sealed container when done playing (or wrap tight in saran wrap).  Should last for a few days.  Have fun !  

A taste of summer : vietnamese mango salad recipe

I heart mango !  From crunchy green sour mango to jelly-like sweet golden mango, I eat them all !!! Yum !  When my friend Nancy had me over at her place, few summers ago, I was curious about the sour mango salad she made.  I never had Vietnamese sour mango salad before that day and I am so glad she made it.  It was very tasty and quickly became my favorite salad.  

I enjoy it so much I decided to steal her recipe and alter it because I want to keep it simple.  I like cooking but my style is fast and furious :)  I want to get in and out of the kitchen in as little amount of time as possible.  So my preference for this salad is simple, green Mexican mangos, prawns, rau ram (Vietnamese coriander (?)) and Vietnamese dipping sauce (nuoc mam toi).  There's no rare sour mango imported directly from the country side of Vietnam or difficult prepping techniques !  Oh and very little chili !  Wahhhat ?  I know, I'm a weakling.  I am the odd nammer that can't handle the heat :)

Here a super easy and tasty recipe that serves great as a side dish for 4-6 people.  It's great pairing with grilled meat or spring rolls.


- 2 medium mangos (Mexico, firm/hard, look for green skin or green with tint of red)
- 1 bunch of rau ram or Thai basil

If you know how to make Vietnamese dipping sauce (recipe here if you don't) then use that sauce instead of the dressing, but if you in a rush like me:) the dressing below works just as well  :)

- 1 green lime (to yield about 1 1/2 table spoon of lime juice)
- 1 heaping table spoon of good fish sauce (what's good fish sauce ?  The one that's more than $5 a bottle :)  I use the 3 crabs , 5 crabs, and Red Boat brand.)
- 2 table spoon of organic sugar (1 1/2 white sugar)


- 1/2 red bell pepper
- 1/2 orange bell pepper (or any color of pepper)
- prawns (boil, remove shells, slice in half length wise)
- lean pork (boil, thinly sliced into strips)
- thinly sliced cucumber (seeds removed)
- baby tomatoes (cut in half)
- chopped chilies if you like it spicy


> Peel the mangos, slice into 1/5 of an inch thin slices, stack the slices and cut into thin strips
> Put mango strips and other add ons that you like into a deep bowl

> Tear rau ram and/or basil leaves into small pieces (or roughly chopped them) and add to the mix (more or less to your liking)

> Mix lime juice, fish sauce and sugar (and chilies if using)

> Pour dressing into salad mix and toss around to evenly mix the ingredients

> Let them soak in the dressing for about 20 min. before serving !

*** NOTE *** This dish is very forgiving because the flavour of the mango overcomes all others :) so you don't have to measure the dressing to a T !  Depending on the sweetness or sourness of the mango, you can adjust the sugar, lime and fish sauce to your liking.  

Enjoy !

This salad is just with mango, a bit of minced chili, and rau ram (vietnamese corriander, only avail. at vietnamese supermarket and sometime T&T) in vietnamese fish dipping sauce

Vietnamese chicken with ginger and kaffir lime leaves dipping

We eat a lot of poultry around here.  Fish and prawns are the other usual suspects.  One way I like my chicken is Ga Luoc (literal translation is boiled chicken).  We boil free range chicken and make a dipping sauce for it to eat with rice.  It's very tasty (to me anyways :-)  The kids like them plain and can eat quite a bit.  We eat this dish at least once a week.

How to make Ga Luoc ?  it's pretty easy

- 1 free range chicken (about 3 lbs)
- 1 big enough pot to cover the chicken with about 2 inches of clearance from the top rim
- water (fill up to about 1/2 pot)

> Clean and wash chicken.
> Boil water
> Put chicken into the boiling water, make sure it's fully submerged (add more water if need be)
> Wait until the water boil again (bubbling on top) then turn off the stove
> Leave pot on stove, close lid tight and let stand for about 30 min (10 min. per lb)

* My mom taught me to put in a bit of tumeric powder into the water when it boil, before putting the chicken in.  The color from the tumeric gave the chicken skin a soft golden yellow tint (the way how my mom remembers chicken looks like back in Vietnam).  I have gotten use to my mom's chicken so we eat them yellow too :)  I heard tumeric is good for you so all is good ! 

Remove chicken from pot and submerge into a bowl of cold water.  Let chicken cool then chop to bite size pieces (or debone it and cut the meat into bite size pieces)

Ginger and kaffir lime leaves dipping sauce:

- 4 tbsp fish sauce (the 3 Crabs brand kind :-)
- 1 1/2 inch of ginger (thinly sliced, or sliced and chopped to tiny pieces)
- 5-6 lime leaves (thinly sliced)
- black pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.  You can divide up the sauce into smaller bowl after so each person has their own dipping bowl.  Then each person can add more fish sauce, chili, ginger, etc. as they like.

If you have time, use the water you cooked the chicken in (chicken broth ?) and use it to cook rice !  It'll make the rice quite tasty !  Yum !

We usually make a squash or veggies soup with the chicken broth (season with fish sauce, of course) and make a sauteed green veggies dish and that's dinner for us.  This is quite easy to make and not greasy/fatty !  We remove most of the skin when eat (I only eat the thin one, it's so good).

oh hello monkey bars

I discovered this week that my kids LOOooooVeee the monkey bars.  They just like to hang up in the air for as long as they can then release (expecting me to catch them just in time ! :-/  At least they give me some warning, Bee would say "I need to go down" and Lovebug (whom I'm am only inches away from, except to snap a pic.  :)  would release one arm first and then the other, giving me time to grab her.  She doesn't like that I'm near her.  She would kick my hands away from her.  She wants to be independent, to be on her own.  She's 16 months for goodness sake !!!  This girl will surely be the one giving me many heart attacks as she's so fearless.

Lovebug trying to pull her feet up ON the monkey bar !!!  While Bee cautiously trying to wrap around the post.

a monkey and a piglet | favorite sayings

Thoughts of the two monkeys bought a smile to my face.  They're so playful and so darn cute.  I am bias, but what mama isn't ?  my kids are so hugable, kissable, squeezable !  I want to hold them tight all the time.

Bee's frequent list of favorite sayings:

- mommy poo poo daddy poo poo
- I am talking to poo
- Can I take poo with me ?  it's in my bum bum !
- I'm talking to poo
- I don't want you to go to work.  I'm not hungry
- I want you to stay home with me because I love you.  Momma, I love you.
- You stay (home) with me now ?
- I want to eat bon (cinnamon bun)
- One more (candy) OK.  I promise you.
- I eat I brush my teeth
- You're my best friend. 
- You're my favorite
- I love you this much (stretch out her arms way to the back of her)
- Can you hold me ?
- I want your ti ti
- Look for me mommy
- I run you run after me
- You have surprise for me ?  
- Why you like that ?


Lovebug can babble a few words now !  she's so adorable when she says "Mah Mah"....

- Mah mah
- Dah dah
- BaA (grandma in vietnamese)
- DuG (dog)
- Hup (up)
- wah wah (water)
- bub bah (bubble)

I choose you

"I choose you"

3-words that made significant difference on my thinking pattern.  Pastor J shared last Sunday on the topic of godly marriage, it was such a great message.  What I walked away with ?  Our reasons and emotions aren't reliable vehicles to listen to as they waver.  It's our will that has the power to triumph over them both.  We need to WILL our self to choose our partner over and over again.

You can listen to the sermon here:

Marriage, whether christian or not, consists of 4 parts:  Commitment, Accommodation, Self-sacrifice and Forgiveness.

It was a great sermon, a great reminder for me, who's constantly busy with kids and when I'm free, (I reasoned) I need time for myself, for my own hobbies.  There's very little time left for my husband.  He's understanding about it, he knows we're in a limbo (newish baby),  BUT BUT BUT I don't want to use this as excuse.  Because I've been doing just that.  Instead of caring for C, instead of taking some chores off his hand, I choose to spend time with Candy Crush !  If it's once in a while it's ok, but I've been doing those a lot.  I don't even feel rested after my "me time" (cuz my brain activities were kept going at high speed).

I don't want to make THIS game-playing into a me-time HABIT for me.  It's not that Candy Crush is BAD, it's not, but because I play it excessively :(  that's when I turn something that's a good pass-time game into bad (like alcohol, little is good, excessive consumption leads to liver failure).  Anything in excess is not healthy.  I can't believe I'm addicted to a game.  Seriously ?  Who knew !

C has been great at always finding time for us to talk, to rest, to just be in each other's presence.   He took the ipad from me many of times and would say "you're mine now".   Stupid addictive Candy Crush !  a game that I not only need to score 3 stars but also need to beat my peers' score.  Argggh !  So my first order of "I choose you" for me was deleting Candy Crush.   I've disconnected it from facebook, which helps a lot.  I really need to let it go through.  Like completely delete it from all ipads.   I am not one easily addicted to anything so this was shocking to me when C pointed it out.  I've been in denial for a while.

There was a time when I was na├»ve enough to think that once you're married, you're secured, it's forever.  Then one by one, people are divorcing like hot cakes around me and that shattered my bubble pretty fast. OK, so we won't be separating over Candy Crush, and it's not THAT huge of an issue, but you see, it's just an example that little thing that go unnoticed can lead to big thing and that can change the course of everything.  We will all go through little stuff like this in our life journey, and it's important to take notice of the little things.  Because it's those little un-noticed things that added up to big thing and then we find ourselves going "what ? how did we get here ?".

Lately, I have not been playing much CC.  I still have some self-control :)  I feel like I've gained so much time back in my day.  I do have to make an effort to avoid it.  Oh how I pray and pray for strength and self control !   It's all about WILL power you know !  Don't reason or justify anything, you just DO IT.  We choose what we let in our life, if we picked garbage, we'll get garbage !  I've learned that we can not be certain, sure, of anything, but God, who's faithful and unchanging.  Everything else can shift and change.  EVERYTHING.  So we need to continue to work work work to keep the good things we have.

PJ likes to use the yard sample (green green vs dead grass), however for me, I like to think of my marriage like our back yard garden, because we spend a lot of time caring for it.  Our garden requires us to constantly tend it, nurture it, weed it, watch for new growth, watch for diseased plant (and quickly kill it before it can spread), protect the roots, watch for bugs, etc.  It needs ongoing care and attention.  Like our marriage, we continue to work at keeping it growing.  If we stop nurturing our marriage, it will slowly BUT SURELY look like this picture below:

It's depressing looking isn't it ?  This is what happened when we let any relationship go unkempt really, not just for marriage ! misunderstanding, frustration, regret, guilt, resentment, doubt, insecurity, and a host of other ugly stuff will move in.  Don't just sit around, let things go, and think "I'll tend to it later".  By then, it might be overwhelming and you're too tired and rather give up than trying.  OR say if you want to put in the work of reviving the relationship, what if it's too late ? what if the other already move on ?

Our house is getting a mini clean up/makeover this week.  It's only a few years old but my neighbor, June, told me once, always walk around your house, check into everything.  Even if it looks ok, have a good look at your house, inspect it, remember it, so when something is wrong, you can easily spot the fault.  She said you need to up keep it every year and fix what you need to fix.  Don't wait until everything stop working because then it will be a bigger and more expensive of a job.  Her words stayed with me.  This is our first house and I sure can learn from her.  Her house is a testament for her advice, it's 50 years old, and pristine inside and out.  The result of her constant care.

My relationship with C needs constant care.  Our garden is currently thriving and to keep it that way we need to be good garden tenders !  "I choose you" ... such beautiful words !

The peonies are starting to bloom in our garden