Monday, December 30, 2013

Our Christmas 2013

wow. it's already the end of the year! I know we all are thinking about the new year's celebration (I'm busy preparing too!) but today I thought to share what we did on our Christmas. I wanted to write this post earlier but well... it's better late than never :)
My gingerbread cookies because hubby said Christmas without gingerbread cookies is not Christmas. haha. The cookies and the icing are vegan (the recipe is from the Joy of Vegan Baking book). I don't know about the color pens and the candy cane decorations I used to decorate the cookies. I bought them at Jo-Ann. The color pens are so much fun! It's easy to decorate and write on cookies.
I made apple pie instead of cake. Although the pie sheet is a store-bought one, I used a recipe from the Vegan Pie in the Sky for the filling. This pie paired with ice cream really well.

Each year, we buy an ornament that represents us for that year, although this year we actually picked two.
We chose this because our son loves his bath time :)
And this, hoping to make a grand trip to Japan in the near future.
I made this from our last year's Christmas tree. Husband cut the tree and dried it for a while. I wrote that this was Junior's first tree and attached a string using a glue gun. I saw this idea somewhere on the Internet and thought it was really a good way to remember a Christmas tree that had some meanings like first Christmas together, baby's first, kitty's first etc.
I hope you all have a wonderful year. See you in 2014!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Cards

I usually knit or crochet Christmas gifts but with limited time this year no hand-knitted/crocheted items were on my list. This is a bit of a disappointment but a huge relief at the same time. Last year I was panicked that I wouldn't be able to finish these dolls for my nieces!

I could, however, sneak in some time to make these cards.
This was sent for my parents. I love the "Christmas Greetings" stamp, which came from this set that was a freebie from the magazine Cardmaking & Papercraft.
I fell in love with these stamps, especially its vintage feelings. I pretty much bought this issue to get these stamps.

But on flipping through the magazine I found a few interesting layouts. One of them was this design that uses buttons as a Christmas wreath, which is the inspiration of this card for my in-laws.
Inside the wreath I used one of the postage stamps stamp from the set. Too bad I smudged it. Ooops. The original design was very simple with just the button wreath on a kraft card and I liked its simplicity. But mine looked a bit too simple, so I stamped those snowflakes in silver and placed those little gingerbread men on the bottom.

There was a snowman printed on a part of the patterned paper I used above, and I really wanted to incorporate him on one of the cards above. But I couldn't come up with a way to do that. So I just made a separate card featuring him.
Like the second card, I stamped a couple of snowflakes in silver, and placed a few pearly stickers. I think I could show the feeling of a snowy "let's make a snowman" kind of day with this card. This was sent to my brother-in-law and his lovely daughters.

Did you make or receive handmade Christmas cards?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

WIP Wednesday #4

I've finished the body and am now onto the sleeve! yay. I've actually been fighting with the urge to cast on another project, which is this fun blanket. The weather might have been something to do with this urge. haha. But I'd better finish this baby kimono sweater first.

Although I made the body half an inch larger than the 18mo size, I've picked up the same number of stitches for the sleeve. I added two more rows at the beginning of the sleeve though.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Anniversary Card

November is a pretty busy month for us. Not only do we have Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season, we also have little guy's birthday and our anniversary, all within 1-2 weeks!

This year we celebrated our eighth year anniversary (and it's the 10th since we met. wow). Because we were going to go to the in-laws' for Thanksgiving we decided to have a special anniversary dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant in that area while my in-laws watched the little one. It indeed was a wonderful dinner and I'm thankful for my parents-in-law. I don't use non-family sitters so going out alone with hubby is really a rare occasion for us right now - not that I mind, I love going out with LO.

This is the card I made for hubby. I drew inspirations from two kinds of cards I saw in a book, one of which uses the "(how many) reasons why I love you theme (I think it was 23 or 25 or something in the original design. that's gotta be awesome!). But I also liked the window panel design I found in another card, so I combined the two.
Inside I printed out this quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery (who wrote the little prince).
We've been going through life's major changes in the past few years, which seem to continue into the next few, so I thought this quote sounds right for us. We are not where we thought we'd be but at least we're heading for the same direction together. Rather than getting frustrated about what we don't have or what we haven't achieved I remind ourselves that we should enjoy our life adventures together.
I hand-stamped each letter using these stamps. That was a bit tedious task but I love how this card came out. Hubby looked impressed too :) Since I didn't have numbers stamps I hand-wrote "8" but in retrospect I should've spelled out 8 and used the stamps as well. That would've made the sentiments look neater.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Jr's first birthday

Our little guy turned one year old! I can't believe he's already one. Time indeed flies. I'm so blessed that he's been growing strong and healthy without major injuries or sickness. At his 12 month checkup he's 32 1/4 inches tall, which is at the top of the growth chart. wow! He's slim for his height but still weighs about the average for his age. well done little guy!

On his birthday, we had to head out to my in-laws' that was 4 hours away so we decided to have a little birthday lunch at home then another one at the in-laws'. We started off his birthday with blueberry pancakes with coconut cream (the above). These pancakes were made without egg but turned out to be pretty fluffy and delicious :)

And then we had pizza for lunch. I made shaped pizzas for the little guy using cookie cutters. I'm glad they turned out so cute! The pizzas were made thick and soft, more like bread, so he could enjoy it as well.

I've read elsewhere that it's fun to decorate baby's high chair because most photos will be taken while the baby is on it so I used the chevron patterned buntings in the photos to decorate his high chair.

These are called "issho mochi". It is a Japanese tradition to have baby carry these mochi on his back on his birthday. The unit for weight "issho" is a homophone of the word "one's whole life" in Japanese. It's kind of like a word play but, therefore, these mochi represent one's whole life. It's believed that if a baby can carry such heavy items (about 3 pounds), he'll grow strong and healthy for the rest of his life. Fun, huh?

How did our little guy do?
yay, he did it! :)

I love mixing up Japanese traditions into American lifestyles a little bit.

After a long drive to the in-laws' we were welcomed by this beautifully decorated room.
And lots of presents.
Thanks to my MIL, we really had a wonderful birthday for LO. He loved his first real cake (and his grammy's pumpkin pie on Thanksgivings)!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

WIP Wednesday #3

My Baby Sachiko Kimono Sweater is coming along!
I've finished the fronts. Hoping to make this a 24 months old size, I've cast on 52 stitches and decreased to 18 stitches at the shoulder. The total length is 11 1/2 inches. My gauge is 4 stitches per inch.
And I've started on the back. This photo represents the real colors better than the photo above. It's looking good :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

WIP Wednesday #2

I've been spending my (extremely limited) time mostly by making slideshows for Jr's upcoming birthday, so I haven't made much progress on the craft front. But I have finished Jr's shopping cart seat cover. yay! This cover has been working great. I've used it at Target, K-mart, two local grocery stores so far and it works with the carts of all of these stores. It indeed is a universal cover and I love it :)

I've also made two cards, which I'm going to write about soon on this blog.

So my Meredith dress has been untouched for about two weeks now. But I've started on Baby Sachiko Kimono Sweater, making a fairly good progress on the back.
I love this kimono sweater. It's fun to make. It's cute. And I think it's easier to dress a baby in this too. I actually made one a few years ago for my nephew. My SIL told me that he wore the sweater as a sleepwear. When he was ready to go to bed he used to bring the sweater to his mom to indicate that he was ready to sleep. Isn't that cute? I hope this sweater will be loved by Jr too.

The yarn I'm using is Lion Brand Cotton-Ease. The main body is in lime colorway and I'm making the garter portion in Almond. I'm trying to make this in 24 months size. My son is only an almost year old but he's in 95% for his height so I'd like to make a bigger size. I hope my calculation works!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

FO: Shopping Cart Seat Cover

I've finished it! yay. This cart seat cover is indeed cute and I received a few admiring looks from other mamas during our shopping trip. I made a few mistakes in it but feel a bit proud :)

The pattern is A Universal Shopping Cart Cover from lil blue boo (free! thanks Ashley). It was a little pain to add patches of fabric to make it wider before diving into actual sewing but the end product is definitely worth it. I'd wanted use 60" wide fabric to minimize the preparation time but I couldn't find cute patterns. It doesn't show in the photo but the back side is simple dark brown fabric. If anything, I wish there were a slit or something where the handle is so I can have a firmer grip on the handle. Also because the cover pushes the belt down, it becomes too short, especially for my son who's tall for his age (Perhaps this would be a problem for him with or without the cover anyway). I might need to carry a separate belt for him.

But I LOVE this cover!

It's a bit embarrassing to admit my mistakes but these were what I did wrong.

1) I don't know what I was thinking but somehow I ended up with 4 leg openings (ugh) so I had to patch those up with leftover fabric (which happened to be where he sits so luckily it won't show when in use).

2) I'm still not good at attaching bias tapes. I'm not a fan of them. I didn't cut long enough bias tapes and had to connect a couple of them for one opening :( The stitching is not neat. Guess I need more practicing.

But I still like it. Actually, I like it maybe because of these mistakes. These mistakes show that I put my efforts in making something for my little guy. This is why handmade items are unique.

With extra padding, Jr. can now sit in the cart a little more comfortably. Moreover, since he doesn't touch the cart itself, he's not going to collect germs from the cart!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

WIP Wednesday #1

To make this blog more fun and to track my ever growing Work-In-Progress projects, I've decided to have themed posts on Wednesday where I'll show you photos of my WIPs. We'll see how my projects progress each week (and how some may be abandoned ugh...). Mind you, the progresses will be very slow because Jr doesn't like to sleep very much. But I hope having to keep track of progresses each week will motivate me to finish the projects I've started!

Without further ado....

Meredith - a gift for my friend's daughter.
Yarn: Bernat Softee Baby in Mint
I'm also about to make a swatch for Baby Sachiko Kimono Sweater. This is going to be Jr's sleepwear. I've made the Sachiko sweater a few years ago for my nephew. It was a fun project and my nephew liked it as his sleepwear so this is going to be great! I'm thinking of using lion brand cotton-ease.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mochi's Been Obsessed with Baths

For some reason, Mochi's been obsessed with baths lately. We often find her in a tub. She often comes to the bathroom, uninvited, when we're taking a shower or I'm giving Baby a bath lol

Is your cat fascinated with baths too?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Jr's First Trick-Or-Treating

I hope you all had a fun Halloween, if you celebrate! It was Jr's first Halloween and he was oh so cute in his costume. Husband and I, both being fans of making things, wanted to make his costume too but we were just so busy during the month of October that we couldn't manage it. Instead, we just picked up a Superman costume at a party store. But that's ok cause he was freaking cute :)

I realized that we didn't have a container to collect Halloween candy so I whipped up this little paper bag on the day of Halloween.
I used 12 x 12 pattern paper and stamped those bats and the "Happy Halloween" phrase (the stamps are from the Halloween and Thanksgiving stamp set from Stampabilities). I love this font! The bag wouldn't be big enough for a typical trick-or-treating but since he was only a baby I figured this would be big enough for this year.

Unfortunately, the total amount of candy was so heavy that the bag fell apart at the end :( Well, that may be good news, I guess.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

babyfood 10 month old

Starting this month, the baby's food was getting more adventurous and fun with the introduction of herbs and spices. Our meals are getting more similar and sometimes we're even able to share some of our meals, which is awesome.

quinoa, chickpeas
Now Baby can eat two of my favorite foods too. yay. I love that quinoa can be the main grains of a meal as well as the protein source.

I used to serve pureed beans just as it is but I started to spread the puree on toasts this month. He seems to like it.
Udon is a type of Japanese noodles made of wheat. It is usually introduced at a fairly early stage of babyfood in Japan and I thought of introducing it earlier. But I didn't have a chance to go to an Asian grocery until this time. Since they are long like spaghetti, I break them into pieces before cooking and cook longer than what it says in the package till the noodles become really soft.

Herbs/Spices (Garlic, Cinnamon, Sage)
I love adding herbs and spices to babyfood. They can add tastes without making the food salty. For example, Baby doesn't like oatmeal very much probably because it's bland, but with cinnamon, he'll eat it. The same goes for steamed broccoli. Although he used to like broccoli, he's started to dislike it (ugh). He picks it up and throws it out from his high chair! But when I saute broccoli with a tiny amount of olive oil and garlic and/or sage, it becomes his favorite food. yay.

Actually, my husband and I hate onion. I could eat it if it's cooked really well, in the form of onion rings, or red onion in a small amount, but husband doesn't at all. So naturally we don't buy onion. However, when my parents were here, they bought some and left it in our fridge. Then I thought, why not. This would be a great chance for Baby to try onion. It turned out he loved it! I guess there's no reason to believe that he wouldn't like it just because both his parents hate it, right? I think I'll buy some time and again, since onion makes his food interesting too.

Butternut Squash
I would have introduced this earlier but since butternut squash is a fall vegetable, I waited till this time. I think it's important to eat seasonal produce even if baby doesn't know yet :)

I made a very weak miso soup so he could get used to the taste. Weak because otherwise it'll be too salty for babies. He loves it. In fact, I couldn't eat enough of miso soup when I was pregnant. Maybe baby wanted it before he was even born :)

I read again and again that doughnut shaped cereals are one of the best first finger foods for babies, so I've decided to give cheerios to him. He loves it. I think he thinks he's eating cookies or something :) Now cheerios became his regular breakfast along with fruits and soy yoghurt.

Next month, I'm planning to try seaweeds, some more herbs and spices, and perhaps mushrooms? It's going to be fun!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Birthday Card #1

I made this card for my FIL, who recently had his birthday. The card was inspired by the cards "Pastel Phrases" in the book the ultimate paper crafts collection. As a center piece, my final choices were this lighthouse one and a golf themed sticker (he loves playing golf) but I chose the lighthouse. The piece seemed to match with the background pattern and the overall color scheme better. And I thought the ocean and the lighthouse would be perfect because they recently had a trip to the Mediterranean region.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

DIY air freshener

With the smell of LO's diaper pail getting stronger (ugh), I needed a good air freshener. I could easily buy one of those at a store but I gave a try on a DIY air freshener I found on pinterest. And it works great!

It's super easy and inexpensive. Basically what you need is a container, baking soda and essential oil. I actually used fragrance oil I found at Hobby Lobby to cut more cost (although essential oil would probably be better). So I had to add more than "several drops" called for in the instructions and to leave the lid open, but it does work. It makes your room smell fresh but is not overpowering like store-bought ones.

I believe there are more instructions online but the two I found on pinterest are:


Saturday, October 12, 2013

almond parmesan

I could see the fall has come because one day when I opened my pinterest page, it was filled with butternut squash recipes. In fact, I just made creamy butternut squash pasta the previous night*. I don't look forward to chilly days but I love fall comfort foods and fall colors.

Among the recipes I found on my pinterest page, this roasted butternut squash with kale and almond pecan parmesan particularly caught my eyes. It looked so comforting and delicious. I still had some butternut squash so immediately tried this. I had to made some modifications because I didn't have all the ingredients. I even had to omit pecan from the almond pecan parmesan but I loved it! It perfectly fit this particular recipe but I can see that it also goes with many other dishes. For example, I made pasta salad the next day for lunch and sprinkled some of my almond parmesan. It was oh so good. I'm going to have to make the original pecan version too. It must be delicious.

I modified her recipe to make almond parmesan as follows. I omitted the pecan, reduced the amount of the nutritional yeast and olive oil by half, and added salt to taste. 
Do you have favorite butternut squash recipes?

* I made this pasta the following way. First, I steamed the butternut squash and mashed it. I put some aside for babyfood. Then, I thinned out the rest of the mashed butternut squash in a pan with water and coconut milk over medium heat, and added nutritional yeast and other seasonings. yum.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

baby "room"

So this is how it feels like to be inside the baby "room" 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Baby food - 8 & 9 months old

I wrote about what Baby and I ate most of the days of the last month when we had the vegan month of food event, which you can see it here. And here's the list of the new foods Baby tried during his 8 and 9 months.

8 months old
I know. this is not vegan. I couldn't find soy yoghurt that did not contain sugar, so I was going to wait until he was able to eat yoghurt with fruits and sugar. However, when my MIL came to visit us, she also brought her plain yoghurt (she knew we didn't have any at home). She offered us some and I thought hmm maybe it was a chance for Baby to try some since I didn't have any intention of buying dairy food.

The face he made was so cute though :) He looked as if he bit into a lemon or something because it was rather sour. Anyways, currently he's happily consuming silk soy yoghurt, the peach and mango kind. This is the only variety he can eat, since I haven't introduced other fruits yet. I give him only a portion of it at a time because I'm still reluctant to give him food with sugar.

prune juice
yes. he was constipating. casual google research told me that prune juice was effective to relieve constipation, so I gave him about a tablespoon every morning. I don't know if it worked but he liked it :)

edamame, green beans, grapes, broccoli

around this time, he started to grab his food and bring it to his mouth on his own. so the food was getting chunkier and thicker. sometimes I gave him diced foods so he could practice his pincer grasp.

well, I can tell you letting him grasp his rice will result in a huuuge mess lol

9 months old
my goal this month was to introduce beans, wheat and olive oil. I've also introduced napa cabbage.

black beans and lentils were successfully introduced and Baby loved them, as seen in this baby shepherd's pie.

And we tried Natto! :)
Natto is fermented soybeans. Just like other fermented foods, it has a distinctive pungent smell. And it's sticky and slimy. you may wonder why we eat such stuff but it tastes good (perhaps if you regularly had some when you grew up) and it's good for ya.

Baby didn't like it at first but with a tiny amount of soy sauce he ate it all! I didn't want to use soy sauce yet but I admit it's hard to eat natto without any taste so a little bit should be ok. Natto is a popular food for Japanese babies in Japan.

Baby had pasta and homemade bread. For him to be able to eat pasta or bread makes it a lot easier for mama to carry snacks when we go out. yay. As I mentioned in those posts, he loves both pasta and bread, especially the bread.

Monday, September 30, 2013

[vegan mofo day 30] baby avocado & broccoli pesto-style pasta and conclusion

This is a pasta dish I made for Baby the other day - the avocado & broccoli pesto-style pasta! The photo doesn't do it justice but the actual pasta has this beautiful green hue from the avocado. With some sprinkles of salt, this will make a tasty meal for adults too. I think I'll have the adult version for my lunch someday.
Last night's meal was a collection of leftovers. The stuffed eggplant that I took home from the farmhouse dinner, the seared tofu, chickpea salad and corn from the previous night, and some rice. Hubby prepared this dinner so I didn't have to do anything :)

This concludes my veganmofo posts this year! phew. With two posts that covered two days, I've managed to write for every single day of the month! yay. I didn't stick to my theme for the last week (because we had guests), but I hope I was able to show you that one could eat a variety of tasty and satisfying vegan food even on a budget. And I hope you've enjoyed seeing a glimpse of what a vegan mama feeds to her baby. At first I was going to just list what Baby and I had but for almost each meal I made, I had something I wanted to say. I'm actually surprised that I have so much to say about the food I make!

Thank you so much for reading my vegan mofo posts. I'm sorry I couldn't visit your blog. I have, though, a full intention of reading all other vegan mofo posts even after September ends, so I may surprise you by leaving you some comments several months later. hehe.

My blog will go back to regular crafting and Mochi related posts. I hope you'll stick around, especially if you are either a) a crafter, b) a vegan mama or dad, or c) a crazy cat lady (or dude). If not I hope to see you at the next year's vegan mofo! Thank you and have a great week.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

[vegan mofo day 28 & 29] Chinese takeout and seared tofu

Day 28
We had a Chinese takeout
We shared several meals but I had Mapo Tofu over rice and vegetable fried rice (asked to leave out the egg). For some reasons I'm fond of those Chinese takeout boxes. They're so cute :) We don't see this type of Chinese takeout very much in Japan so my parents also enjoyed it. Takeout is great especially with a little one.

Day 29
The omnivores ate some non-vegan main meal so I made seared tofu steak-style. I didn't add any seasonings, just splashed some soy sauce before eating, but it tasted great. The side dishes were chickpea salad, corn on the cob, sauteed asparagus (not shown in the picture) and rice, made by my mother. Baby had the same seared tofu but he hasn't tried any of the ingredients in the side dishes yet, so he had broccoli and carrots instead. I thought the amount of rice was too much but he ate it all! I can't believe how much he eats now. The amount increased a lot even during this month alone. It's fun to be able to see the changes in his diet from the pictures I took and for that also I'm glad I joined vegan mofo this year.