How Great Buddies Play

Alex has a best buddy, Aiden,  in his class. The funny and amazing thing is that they were born on the same day at the same hospital but we didn't even know it.  They act, talk and play the same way.  So what do these two love to do together?

They love to play in the sandbox.

They love to run up and down the stairs.

And, they love to paint.

Best buddies.
xo, L

HHDD #25: Chicken Satay Skewers

Another thing I love about Donna Hay -- and yes I am aware that I should go out and mingle with other cookbook authors, and stop clinging to the arm of my “best friend” like some shy little ninny – is that she has Asian recipes aplenty strewn across her books and magazines. Asian dishes and influences are very much apparent in the food she prepares...which of course is just one more thing that endears her to my Asian heart.

I will say at this point that no, not even a hint of a sniff of Filipino anywhere, but trust me, that’s just for now. One day that Australian goddess and I will meet and we will surely trade recipes and then she will inevitably publish some version of the Filipino dishes I share with her. Patience friends.

Anyway...Donna’s Asian dishes. Yes! Vietnamese spring rolls, Chinese noodles, Japanese sushi preparations, and Thai curries (and many others) often make their appearance in her delicious wake. And though it may make more sense, and would certainly be more authentic, to go consult with a book that is of those particular cuisines; Donna craftily weaves them around her simple, four-ingredient type recipes, so a “beginner-cook” who thinks she wanted to make pan fried veal chops and squash soup ends up making Thai Green Curry and fresh spring rolls with such ease, and to such accolades, that suddenly...she loves Asian too!

I was thrilled then when I found out that Meeta, the brilliant lady behind What’s for lunch, Honey?, picked Chicken Satay for this round of Hay Hay It’s Donna Day!

Meeta is one of (yes there was a tie!) the lovely winners of HHDD’s last round (Pesto!) which was hosted by me :) The other winner (with a fabulous sweet pesto!) is Tartasacher of Mil Postres. Just as this was the first time HHDD has announced a tie, Meeta and Tartasacher decided that this would also be the first time HHDD would have two themes! Meeta chose the chicken satay and Tartasacher chose something sweet!

The recipe Meeta chose was Chicken Satay Skewers. You can also find the original recipe here. As this was my first time to make satay from scratch I didn’t experiment or alter the recipe at all. Although the recipe itself is a variation from most satay recipes in that it uses ground cashews instead of peanuts, and there is no turmeric. It’s quite simple to throw together, and before I knew it, in the pulse of a blender, I had satay sauce to marinade my chicken in!

Donna uses coconut milk, cashews, ginger, fish sauce, chilli, and soy sauce in her marinade. I’ve since searched for more recipes on the web, and the marinade ingredients differ from recipe to recipe in such a dizzying range that I’d be pushed to find out what exactly would constitute “traditional”. In any case, these skewers were delicious! Aside from being bang-easy to make ;) I served them with some cheat’s satay sauce (confession here: marinade from scratch but sauce from a packet!), lime wedges, steamed white rice, and lots of cilantro.

C and I both enjoyed these skewers and I will definitely be making satay again. I’ve got my eye on other recipes to try (like this one) and a whole slew of Indonesian and Malaysian cookbooks from my favourite bookstore to fob ideas off (economic crisis = taking SMS notes in the bookstore with my mobile phone...ssshhh!).

Special satay note: We have our own version of satay here! Down south in Zamboanga they have satti...much like the Malaysian sate. I've written about it here :)

Thanks Meeta for choosing a fantastic theme! Hay Hay It’s Donna Day was created by Barbara of Winos and Foodies and is now under the care of Bron of Bron Marshall. Next up: my entry for Tartasacher’s sweet theme – sugar grilled fruit with yogurt!

Flakes, Friends & (Upcoming) FUN!

As the last of the snowflakes were falling ... dumping more than a foot of snow on Indianapolis, (marking the city's biggest snowfall in 13 years) I was chatting on the phone with my friend, poet and author (and neighbor)Rebecca Kai Dotlich. We caught up on news and discussed plans for a Bella & Bean Valentine's Day Party - and Book Sale at the Simply Sweet Shoppe in Carmel, Indiana.

Our beautiful, turn-of-the-century neighborhood candy store has every type of confections one could imagine. The Valentine's Day Party will take place February 14 from 2:00-4:30 pm on the second floor of the shoppe, which is the home to the Second story Playhouse, a performing and visual arts studio for young people.

There will be a book signing by "Bella & Bean", author Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Valentine cookie decorating, and Valentine card craft with the help of Rebecca and myself. Bella and Bean is illustrated by Aileen Leijten who has a wonderful sneak-peek website with links to the characters, activities, and reviews!

I hope you can join us in this magical place, for a Valentine's Day filled with friends, FUN, and hopefully NO snowFLAKES!

A portion of the proceeds from this book sale on February 14 will go to Best Buddies Indiana.

The theme of Flakes, Friends, and Fun inspired me to post an illustration I did for one of Rebecca's poems titled, What Is A Snowman Made Of?

Mark Lipinski, What a Fun Guy!

Guess who was interviewed by the funny and crazy, Mark Lipinski of Quilter's Home Magazine? Run to your bookstore or quilt shop and buy a copy of the magazine [April 2009 edition]. Turn to the last page and you'll see lil' ol' me. Mark is hilarious and his magazine is wild just like him.

xo, L

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

For those of you who celebrate the Lunar New Year, I wish you a prosperous and great year! Welcome, the Year of the Ox.

My kids love their little treats from my Mom. She sends lai see [red envelopes] filled with money and these adorable lions to ward off evil. xo, L

Lookee Here!

This is the latest issue of American Patchwork and Quilting [April 2009]. I got this advance copy because I'm a contributor. Check it out! xo, L
This is the latest issue of American Patchwork and Quilting [April 2009]. I got this advance copy because I'm a contributor. Check it out! xo, L

Spicy Chicken Waldorf Salad


C just doesn’t get the Waldorf Salad. I placed a plate of it before him and I could have been handing him a pair of patent red stilettos judging by the puzzled-but-I-think-I-still-get-it look on his face. “It’s a Waldorf Salad,” I piped encouragingly (in the same tone that I would say, “Of course I’ll wear them!”). Hmmm..."It’s interesting,” he says – which is C-speak for “I’ll eat it but please don’t put it in the daily rotation.

Humph. I guess not everyone is as devoted to mayonnaise (and mayonnaise based foods) as I am. Nor is everyone as taken with charmingly retro dishes.

The Waldorf Salad was created in the Waldorf Hotel of New York in 1893, by the maître d'hôtel at that time, Oscar Tschirky. Although some say not. The famous maître d'hôtel is also said to be have put together the first Eggs Benedict. Although this too is contested. Cole Porter includes the Waldorf Salad in his list of Top things. I imagine many a nervous wife of a time before me, trotting this out to her stockbroker husband and friends.

(Could this be why C didn’t take to it? Because he isn’t a stockbroker and I’m not a nervous trotting wife? Hmmm. Could be...)

Whichever account is true; this is just the sort of glamorous, F. Scott Fitzgerlad-y provenance I love my food to have. So even if apple + celery + mayonnaise + walnuts may elicit a bit of a question mark from some...I’ll be lining up for this salad with my silver spoon in hand, high-heels clicking, and Cole Porter in my head.

Spicy Chicken Waldorf Salad

  • 1 cup chopped red apples, cored but unpeeled
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup (approximately) chopped cooked chicken breast (2 chicken breast fillets, pan-fried in olive oil with salt and pepper, then chopped)
  • 3-4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1/2 to one whole lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper (or any spicy chilli you like)
  • Lettuce leaves (just enough to line 2-3 plates)

- Toss all the ingredients, using only half the lemon’s juice and 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, in a bowl and mix gently until just combined. Taste and adjust – add lemon or mayonnaise as to your taste. Adjust salt and pepper to taste as well.
- Serve chilled on a bed of lettuce.
- Serves 2-3.

Originally, the Waldorf consisted of only apples, celery, and mayonnaise. Walnuts came later, but are now an essential part of the dish. I’ve added chicken to mine, as many versions have, to make it more substantial as a meal. I also added some cayenne pepper to make it spicy – because I love all things spicy – though I’ve probably done Mr. Tschirky and Mr. Porter grave offense. This will serve 2-3, but if your significant other does not appreciate retro-glamour and loses interest after a small plate, keep the extras and have it as a sandwich or a wrap the next day. But don’t be too hard on him – we can’t all live in This Side of Paradise – give him a kiss and promise him adobo and remember that it’s our differences that make life exciting :)

Eating While You Work

This time of year I always love a good soothing bowl of soup. It grounds and warms me somehow because I am forever trying to multi-task and am running around like some crazy woman. Lately, I've been working on book stuff, new web site stuff, etc. I made some of this favorite soup and yes, those are olives that you see in there.  I can't remember how I came about this recipe but it's yummy. Please forgive me but I am not an exact measurements kind of gal.

Chicken, Leeks and Olive Soup

6 - 8  Chicken drumsticks [I prefer to take the skin off]
2 Stalks of Leeks [chop into 2" lengths]
1 Small Jar of Green Olives
Chicken broth
Salt and Pepper if desired 

Throw everything into a pot or a slow cooker and let cook until chicken is done and leeks are tender. Simple and delicious.

xo, L

Dinosaurs Rule!

This is one of our favorite books at the moment. We love the artistry of Robert Sabuda. Before I started quilting and before the explosion of the number of paper artists into the greeting card industry, I designed handmade greeting cards. I must admit that paper was my first love and it was an even more passionate love affair than the one that I have with fabric.

You have to watch out for the hungry T-rex. He'll jump right out at you and eat you!

The triceratops love to fight and we get such a kick out of the fiery personalities that pop out of this book.
The mastery of the pop-up object is phenomenal and one little dinosaur lover is entertained immensely. xo, L

Sweet Roll

[Photo credit: American Patchwork & Quilting]
Look what I found! My crayon roll made its debut in Better Homes and Gardens' Fall 2008 issue.  It is such a versatile design. You can change it up and use it to store your knitting needles or anything else that pleases you.  You can use any type of fabric and alter the size of the crayon roll for a different look or purpose. Quilt and fabric designer, Jane Sassaman, modified and made the design for her pencils. How cool is that? I love to see what others have done with my designs. Won't you share yours? xo, L


Today the world is focused on witnessing the start of a new journey for the United States. The history-making inauguration of Barack Obama has the world mesmerized. This is another step along the way in fulfilling the dream of Dr. Martin Luthor King. President-elect Obama's inspiration and great oratorical skills has injected hope into people around the world.

It has been amazing to see how my kids have grasped the events in their own way. Adam would rather watch world news over Curious George and Alex shocks people when he shouts "Barack Obama!" whenever we see his photograph gracing the cover of a magazine at the bookstore.

Here's to your dream, Mr. President.

3, 2, 1

... ready for landing. The Space Quilt is officially up on the wall. I loved the applique on this one. The pattern comes from Make Believe. There's even a pillow that coordinates with the quilt.

I am giddy over his love for this quilt ["Mom, can you write that I love your quilt?"]. I make/design a lot of things and they do love what I do. However, there were times when Nintendo and Thomas the Tank Engine were much preferred over my softies or handknit hats and scarves. Things are turning around. I now get their opinions on which fabrics I should buy at the quilt shop and they will pull out balls of  yarn that they want me to buy for them at the yarn shop. They both want to help me make a quilt for them. What more can I ask for?

New and Old

I am starting work on my next book. The deadline is a tight one and I have to get cracking. Funny thing though. I just received two boxes of my samples back from the publisher. It has been a year or so. Whenever I do get samples back, it is like Christmas because I don't know what I will be getting back. I usually design, sew, write and send the samples out. Though I take photos of the pieces for myself, there's nothing like touching the real thing. I often forget how the project looks and feels until the book is published. When I get the actual samples back though, it is even more fun because I get re-acquainted with the designs. Adam has been asking about "his" Space Quilt for a long while now. Well, we are just going to have to have a little welcome home hanging ceremony tomorrow after I take the quilt out of box and press it. 

This little pillow came  from The Modern Crafter - Home Stuff. I had so much fun designing the projects for this book. The ideas are simple yet cool. I hope that you check the book out.
xo, L

Thrift Scores...

Thrift Bounty 2.
Originally uploaded by Paper Treasure

It's true, I have a thrift store addiction... I can't help myself. My last few days off were filled with treasure hunting and I couldn't be more satisfied with my newest second-hand acquisitions: piles of antique lace, little teal roses (both for wrapping Paper Treasure orders), some vintage books, vintage picture frame (you'll see it soon in new jewelry photos!), vintage chess box, Zadie Smith's White Teeth (which I've been meaning to read for a while now), a new black planter for my succulents, an amazing moped book from the 70's, a blue grocery tote bag, a silver candle holder and of course, some jewelry components. And you know what? I didn't spend more that $25. I love you Portland!!

Now at Seaplane!

New Work.
Originally uploaded by Paper Treasure

They have a large stock of brand new Paper Treasure earrings & necklaces.

Cottage Pie

Wouldn’t it be nice to create fabulous new dishes every day? We would start with fresh ingredients, bright and shiny and ready for action. We would use exciting new herbs and spices. We would dip our spoons and fingers into new cuisines and explore horizons previously only dreamed of while gazing longingly at exotic cookbooks. We would procure only the best food stuff, things wildly romantic sounding and exceptionally rare. Every day starting afresh. We would be the culinary equivalent of those heiresses who only wear couture and never repeat an outfit. To dream...such a lovely past time...and one I am quite expert at ;)

In the here and now of this thing called reality, however, I have to admit – my fridge is full of leftovers. No new creations here today I’m afraid. For now, I must place my dreams of truffles and Scandinavian sweet buns and new gold flats aside, and deal with these wilful odd bits in the chiller. Sigh...and no pouting on my part! I have, after all, vowed to battle food waste to the bitter (sweet) end, so these leftovers will be cunningly made over by me – much like how designers and magazine editors found ways to resuscitate 80’s fashion and made us believe that we never forswore it. Cunning.

Cottage pie – a simple, homely, comforting dish, in whose loving arms many leftovers have found solace. It remains one of my mother’s favourite ways of dealing with leftovers (the other was croquetas***)...and not just leftover mince! Any leftover meat could be chopped up, sautéed with a variety of additional odds and ends, and smooshed into a Cottage Pie. Depending on the original dish the resulting Cottage Pie could have a creamy filling or a tomato-based filling. Leftover veg was tossed in too!

It’s no surprise then, that as she was leaving our flat after a dinner of roast pork, she eyed the leftover meat and whispered to me, “make it into Cottage Pie jo!” And because I am nothing if not a dutiful daughter, that is just what I did.

I can give no exact measurement as who knows how much leftovers you’ve got, or how much leftovers I will have in the future – so if you are looking for a traditional Cottage Pie recipe you can search for one here. These are just basic guidelines on how to take yesterday’s dinner, swathe it in mash potatoes, crown it with cheese, et voilà’s lunch!

First take your leftover meat and assess. If it’s not mince then chop it up into small pieces, but not too small as to hassle yourself. Now, what was the dish like? That determines, for me, what I will add. My roast pork was stuffed with chorizo and garlic, and rubbed with salt, fennel seeds, and pimenton de la vera. To complement it, I sautéed chopped onions and garlic, added the meat, then added some wine and tomato paste and a little more pimenton. Now I had a meat base that was tomato-y and smoky and faintly Spanish....yum! If you have some roast beef you can go creamy with cream and mushrooms and maybe some cheese leftover from your cheese platter. Up to you of course.

Next make you mash potatoes (or do them simultaneously...I certainly won’t stop one from saving time as well as food!). Just make it the way you like best, or using whatever you’ve got on hand.

Now to assemble: Take any oven-proof dish that looks like it’ll fit everything. Lay the meat on the bottom. If you want to please my mother, which I always want to do, place some corn over the meat. Then pat the mash down over that. Last, sprinkle the top with as much cheese as you want – I used parmesan and all that was left from the previous evening cheese plate. Pop in the oven and bake (I put it in at 190C) until the cheese is all toasty and tanned and the filling is bubbling up at the sides of the mash.

A brand new dish for unsuspecting palates! Yay! We’ve made use of our leftovers and avoided food waste yet again! Now...about the outfit repeating...I’ll have to work on that.

***My mom also loved to stuff leftovers into croquetas or croquettes – with a little potato, anything could be turned into these little rolls! Croquetas de tinapang bangus? Don’t laugh unless you’ve tried them!

Things To Do In This Cold Spell

We've been experiencing a cold spell and my crazy little one loves to play outside with his best buddy right after dismissal. Brrr!!!

My ideal morning and better way to deal with the bitter cold is to snuggle under the covers and read. I've been enjoying this little read. The Coraline website is cute too. If you want to explore the site, there's a knitting pattern hidden in the web site. Suddenly, there's a lot of buzz about Coraline. There's a Nintendo DS game for it coming out in the next few weeks and then the movie will debut in February. Right now, I simply want to enjoy the book.  xo, L

Still Here

I'm back and full well into 2009. I'm not so much for making resolutions but I always have a sense of renewal every year around this time. I go into a cleaning binge and try to de-clutter. I think that it comes from the fact that when I was young, we were always told to have the house clean by Chinese New Year.

We had a rough couple of weeks with a couple of health issues. One of the main ones was the presence of whooping cough in my 2nd graders' class. He was sick with a virus and didn't have the pertussis but he did sit diagonally from one of the classmates who had it. In the end he ended up with a three week vacation [2 over the holidays and an extra week off] and a week-long dose of antibiotics.

I spent some time crocheting. I'm self-taught and I don't think that I've ever really done any crochet except a few granny squares. Well, I ended up crocheting Mario and Luigi softies, starting a lacy crochet cell phone case and finishing this cool scarf. The pattern is actually just a stitch pattern called Queen Anne's Lace and it looks more difficult than it really is. I'll have the pics for the others soon enough.

Meanwhile, I am bracing for the cold spell that will hit the east coast by the end of the week. I hope that you've all had a fab start to the new year. Back soon. xo, L

Pickled Young Onions - hope in a bottle

The market has been bursting with these little bulbs since late last month and I couldn’t resist grabbing a few bundles for myself. Never mind that I have never used these young native onions ever, and would most likely have to root (no pun intended) around the internet for something to do with them that wasn’t too lame, I had to have some! I already love onions, and can eat scandalous amounts of them, but tempt me with pearly pink miniatures with sprightly green stems still attached and I am quite powerless.

So, like many market days past, I happily dragged home the unsuspecting items with which I had no idea what to do.

But can you blame me? They were so pretty and really begging me to take them!

And don’t you think they are so emblematic of a new year? Young and vibrant and full of rosy-cheeked promise?

Which is why it doesn’t make sense that I pickled them.

Was this my feeble attempt to try any preserve the dewy newness of the year? Or the youth of these onions? Or maybe I just need to admit, despite all my childhood protestations, that YES I do like pickles.

No recipe for now – I just threw everything together by taste with what I had lying about. Some cider vinegar and sugar, some pepper and dill seed, a sili labuyo (bird’s eye chilli) and some random fennel fronds. I boiled the vinegar and sugar, then added the onions (stems trimmed and peeled). I boiled them for about 5-10 minutes then removed the lot from the heat, chucked in the spices, poured it into a jar and left to cool, after which I stored the jar in the fridge – which is where it remains, getting more pickly every day and proving fair match for adobo, curries, and stinky cheeses.

Whatever the case may be, pickled or fresh, I like how these little bulbs look to me like hope and beginnings – and thanks to a little vinegar and sugar I have bottled that symbolic promise of better things to come :)

Hope...not too shabby a theme for 2009 I’d say :)

HHDD #24: Pesto! The Winners!

I think I’ve drawn the suspense out long enough. All through the Christmas holidays and through the new year...twiddling my thumbs and counting votes and waking up gloriously late...who is the winner of Hay Hay it’s Donna Day: Pesto?

It gives me great pleasure to announce that for this round we have a tie! Two superb entries from two fantastic bloggers – Sun Dried Tomatoes and Purple Basil Pesto from Meeta of What’s For Lunch, Honey? and Panna Cotta with Sweet Pesto and Raspberry Sauce from Tartasacher of Mil Postres! Bravo, bravo, bravo for you both!

It was an honor once again and an absolute thrill to host this round. Thank you to all the lovely was fun pesto-ing with you! Your recipes are getting tucked into my files for future pesto ventures :)

And now let’s all give Meeta and Tartasacher a big rah-rah-rah! I have no doubt they will come up with an amazing next round! :)

Happy New Year!!!

Hello 2009!

We had an extra-long holiday this year and I am just recovering.

We first headed down south to Davao for a wild and wonderful wedding, fabulous feasting (incredible fresh tuna - raw, grilled, and everything in between!), and unrepentant relaxation. Well, relaxation for me as C and my mom were busy kayaking and what-not (endorphin chasing I suppose) -- by the time we got back to the city he was down with a horrible flu! So despite the many holiday celebrations/meals/parties lined up, we were forced to forgo most and hole up in out flat for Christmas. And the truth of it wasn't bad at all! A sort-of escape from all the clamor, we spent a quiet Christmas eating take-out (I was lazy!) and opening our presents together in our pajamas...after which we burrowed back in bed where I put a dent in my reading while getting up occassionaly to give C his medicines. Horrible, shameless, decadent, laziness! Was there any any grand meal preparations? No. But as I lost track of time in the middle of my book-pile and that awesome way the sheets feel when you're in them all day, I couldn't really bring myself to bother. A quiet Christmas...I enjoyed it more than I expected :)

Although C was up and about after a bit, we seemed to unconsciously continue that peace throughout the holiday -- first a visit to his mom's farm where I spent a marvellously indulgent day doing nothing but tending a pot of chili in between cocktails, then a relatively quiet New Year's (well, as "quiet" as a New Year's Eve can be) in my mom's flat (with her delicious sopa cartuja). And days of sleeping in all throughout!

Now here I am, on the cusp of a brand new year, stretching as if awakened from a deep luxurious sleep...still a bit foggy-eyed but ready to jump right in :) Look out 2009...I'm awake, and I'm hungry! ;)

Happy New Year everyone!

***Don't think I've forgotten! I've counted the votes, and checked them twice, and will be announcing the winner of HHDD: Pesto shortly!