Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Skirt makeover

What's wrong with this skirt? Nothing! It's just too plain :P
 Now instantly dressed up :-)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Layered Skirt - A Tutorial

I've never sewn Georgette before and I'm nervous. It turns out sewing thin fabric wasn't that scary :-) This skirt I made for my daughter. It's a very simple skirt employed some clever scheme to hide all raw edge so don't worry if you don't have a serger.
First start out with 3 rectangles (I need the third one since Georgette is so seer, but you can just use cotton and only need 2 pieces: 1 big and 1 small).
  • Georgette fabric or any lightweight fabric
  • Matching cotton or any lightweight fabric
  • elastic band
  • Matching thread
  • each rectangle has the length measured by the waistline measurement x 1.5 or 2. For 40" to 45" fabric I just use the whole width, only cut the size of the height so I don't have to worry about concealing the raw edge.
  • for the large piece the height would be from waistline to knee + 1.5 inches, cut 2: 1 from the Georgette fabric, 1 from the lining fabric.
  • The small piece should have the height 3 inches shorter than the other 2.
  • Sew 1 seam on the short ends of all pieces to form a tube. Iron seams open. Zigzag the raw edges if needed.
  • Make the hem now on all pieces: fold the bottom end 1/4in, iron; fold another 1/4 in., iron then sew a seam 1/8in away from the edge.
Now's the tricky part:
  • Place the shorter Georgette tube on top/outside of the longer Georgette tube, right side up/out.
  • Place the liner on top/outside of the tube formed by previous step, right side up, or out.
  • Pin all 3 layers in place.

  • Sew all 3 layers together using a 0.5 in. seam.
  • Now open the liner layer away from the 2 Georgette pieces, iron.

  • Measure your elastic band's width, then add 0.5 in. as the distance from the folded edge down, mark a line using a disappearing pen. (sorry my line already disappearing :P)
  • Pin in place and sew all layers together using that line as the guide to form the casing for the elastic band, leaving an opening about 1.5 in. for inserting the elastic band. Sew another line 1/8in. away from the top edge. See? all your raw edges are concealed now.

  • Flip the outer layers up off the lining for inserting the elastic band. Cut a piece of elastic band the size of your child's waist + 1in., pin 1 end to the outside of the hole using a safety pin. Use another safety pin to insert the elastic band into the casing. Take care not to twist it inside the casing.

  • Overlap the 2 ends of the elastic band, zigzag a few lines to close.

  • Almost done :-) now close the gap on the casing
  • Voilà! a simple skirt with layers!

  • Now have fun!
    Happy the 4th of July!

Dresses Makeover

I bought these maxis last year for $8 each. They were too long with the ruffle on. Then I remember my favorite dresses that are too short. I used to have to wear leggings with them to maintain my dignity :P so I cut the ruffle off the maxis to the length of the short dresses' hem, attached them to the short dress. (They're already ruffled, just cut the exact length then close the tube up with 1 seam line). Voilà! 2 new dresses. No, 4 new dresses! Problems solved: long dresses shorter, short dresses are about 2 inches longer.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chicken Phở Recipe

soup base, any chicken bouillon will do

An easy version of Pho. Using the mixed spice for Pho package (picture).

Ingredients: All ingredients can be found at any Asian grocery store.
  • 1 chicken (any kind but I love baking hen from Walmart)
  • 1 package of mixed spice for Pho (star arnise and cinnamon are main ingredients)
  • 1 package of Pho noodle
  • 1 package of bean sprout
  • 1 bunch of green onion
  • 2 small onions
  • 1 piece of ginger (about the size of a thumb)
  • Pho soup base or chicken bouillon 
  • hoisin sauce & sriracha hot pepper sauce 
  • lemon/lime cut into wedges
  • Thai basil
  1. Roast a  small piece of ginger (thumb size) and a small onion, smashed with the side of a knife until burnt on surface a little. 
  2. Put the ginger, onion & mixed spice in a spice ball, drop in a pot with the chicken cover with water, add a pinch of salt, cook until chicken tender
  3. Take the spice out, discard. Take the chicken out, let cool then shred into bite size chunks
  4. Add more water if needed, salt & chicken bullion to taste to the stock
  5. Boil some water, put pho noodle in for about 5-10 seconds, take out, drain
  6. Cut some green onion, slice some onion
  7. Place some bean sprout in the bottom of a bowl, some noodle, then shredded chicken, sliced onion & green onion on top, ladle with Pho stock. Squeeze some lemon in. Put some Thai basil on top.  Add some hoisin sauce & sriracha hot sauce to taste, mixed. 
  8. Mix hoisin sauce and sriracha hot sauce as dipping sauce for chicken.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Child talk

Conversation in the back of the car this morning at school bus stop:
Meggie (4): "Look out the window, look over there. You'll see something. Don't look at me. I don't want you looking at me!"
Sydney (7): "It's ok to look. I'm not touching you or pushing you. When you grow up, some boy might want to look at you because he likes you. Get used to it. Besides, you might get so pretty all the boys want to look at you."
Meggie: "Oookayyyy."
Meggie: "I'm gonna look like mommy."
Sydney: "Just don't look like her side. She's fat." (sly smile) Then he asked: "How much money will I get when I go to college, mommy?" (He saw his college fund statement once.)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Suggestions to Environmental Nuts

As the "eco" movement moves to... ridiculously nuts path, it bombards your everyday life with propaganda & no truth. From your kids' Nick Jr. program every morning to your corporate email: "please think of the environment when you print this email," blah blah blah the list goes on. The most hilarious attempt done by our lovely Sheryl Crow on saving "green" here stirs up some memories that I'd like to share with you. Maybe Sheryl can learn from it too. It was amusing hearing her suggest that we should only use 1 square of toilette paper per sitting (umm...we need a demo here, Sheryl). Back in Vietnam when I grew up, farmers used dried banana leaves or newspaper for toilette paper, just crumble them up. (As it's probably hard to find dried banana leaves here unless you move to the jungle, I suggest we use the useless newspaper, dear Sheryl, perhaps the "New York Times"?) Their "toilette" was a small wooden/tin fort built in the middle of a pond, where they raise some catfish in. 
As soon as something dropped down there, a startling noise occurred as the fish jumped up for food. Know what they do with the fish, eh? I hope you still enjoy catfish as much as shaking Sheryl Crow's hand.
Us city dwellers just used plain old water. You do you business, get off your throne, fill a bucket of water, dump it in the toilette to flush (no flush-able toilette, baby!), then you proceed to the floor, get another cup of water & wash your behind, dry with a reusable cloth. How environmentally wonderful is that?
You would think the people in Vietnam were so environmental conscious? Not really. It was just the utmost poverty driven by Communism. I suggest all our liberal celebrity friends move to Vietnam (the country side, where the dirt poor live) for a month (well, a week should suffice) to learn ideas on saving "green." I won't object if you just stay there & maybe do some real "good" for the earth: stay out of the way to prosperity!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Childhood memories, Life Journey & Breast Cancer

Last week my cousin IM'ed me that my second cousin, My Van, got breast cancer. It took some time to register. Van is my mom's half brother's grand daughter. In Vietnam, relatives are a lot closer and got ranked like in the same family. Therefore she's supposed to call me "auntie" (she never did, just used the term for peer, claiming that she was older than me - 1 year). Van just turned 40 last November. Her youngest of 4 just turned 1. She stopped breast feeding in June, found a lump on her breast and went to the doctor's for it in September. Test came back after Thanksgiving: she got breast cancer. As of Monday this week when she went in for her 11-hours surgery she was at stage 3.
Growing up my cousin Van and I were close. We lived a few minute walking distance in Saigon. Her family's bedroom is on the third floor of her grandfather's house, where I spent almost every night watching TV since we don't have TV at home. TV was only broadcast a few hours a night every day, state owned of course. We spent many summers of our childhood in the country where my grandmother's house and her grandfather's house are of a few minute walking distance also. We spent afternoons laying on the branch of a tree branding over the river in front of her grandfather's house looking out the river, talking. I showed her my first poem. We "swam" in the river using inner tube, banana trunk to float since we were just a bunch of kids from "the city," never were close to any water in Saigon. I got a frantic moment there where a leech stuck to my thigh.
Then we drifted apart. Her family, after many attempts, finally successfully fled the country, spent some time in refugee asylum camps and migrated to the States. My father also fled with my two brothers, spent some time in Thailand, Philippine refugee camps and then got to the States, living in the same apartment complex with her family. My dad then sponsored my mom and I in 1992. My family of 5 lived in a 1-bedroom apartment. My second day in America I started working in Van's mom's Nails shop in downtown LA.Eventually I started at East LA College and did Nails to make a living. I then moved to Virginia, opened my own shop, finished up my undergrad, went to work for a year, went back to school and finished grad school. I didn't see Van for years until 2 years ago when I went back to California for my uncle's funeral. She got 3 kids, I got 2. My youngest is 2 months older than her youngest, both girls. We then exchanged numbers. I called her once last year right before she gave birth to her 4th. I never thought I needed to worry about her. She was a strong, independent woman. She sent her husband to New york for dentistry school, then she went back herself to be a pharmacist. I thought she lived the American dream and very proud of her.
It breaks my heart to learn what Van'd have to go through compare to the little surgery I went through last week and know about the discomfort that went with it. Makes me feel like a whim. On the other hand I'm confident Van will overcome this with the resilience my people have proved over times of darkness. I'm forever very proud of her.