spicy tofu and sour green beans

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I had heard somewhere about the spicy tofu and decided to give it a try today. It was well worth it; tofu had not ony a great texture but also a nutty falour. I improvised the sour green beans (sour because of the vinegar) and I am glad I have – they were interesting and surprisingly tasty 🙂

Enjoy!

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Recipe:

  1. slice up firm tofu (I used around 1 cup for this dish)
  2. coat them with the spice mix consisting of 1 part chili powder, 1 part turmeric, 1/5 part dry dill, and salt to taste
  3. fry both sides for 2-3 minutes in vegetable oil; set aside
  4. coarsely slice 1/2 onion and fry for 1-2 minutes in vegetable oil
  5. add 300 grms of green beans and add 1/2 cup of water – simmer for 5-10 min
  6. add 1/3 cup of vinegar and salt, simmer for an additional 2-3 min

Serve immediately

Special joy journal – July 27, 2016: things that I have acquired while I was on vacation

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this is what my new throw looks like. Love the colour, softness, and the little pieces on it – all made with love 🙂
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this little piece is one of my favorites 🙂
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I love this one too 🙂

 

Every time I am home for vacation, I was showered by gifts by my family and friends. I also find a chance to shop as my homeland is not only affordable but also has a variety of items that I cannot find where I am.

This year too I was blessed with many gifts and purchased items. I have been feeling pretty excited about them, which prompted me to write this special entry 🙂

1. I am grateful for the soaps I have bought! They are the softest bath soaps I can ever imagine. The bright green color gives me peace; their softness and foam are incredibly soothing; and i am lucky to have had 6 of them. I feel like I do not have to think about buying another soap for quiet a long time. I am so excited 🙂

2. I am grateful for the blouse I found. It is soft to touch, has lovely little flowers along the fabric, and is a delight to wear. It is also much more girlish than the shirts that I usually wear at the office 🙂

3. I am grateful for the winter boots and the walking shoes I have bought. This is the third year that I have been buying the same brand of shoes/boots from the same store. The winter boots are awesome; sturdy and water proof, and I could not be happier to have them here where the winter is pretty harsh. I have been using the first pair I bought three years ago in the last two years and I believe they will be good to go for another year. I have two new pairs of winter boots now, which means that I do not have to think about buying winter boots for quite sometime. I have the same positive experience and feelings for my walking shoes; the one that I am wearing is 2 years old. It has been battered a little bit, so I am happy to replace it with the new pair I bought this year. They are comfy and pretty 🙂 What a peace of mind to have all of these ! 🙂

4. I am grateful for my new throw! I used to have a nice one for years, which I kind of burnt over the stove while I was trying to help my dough get risen 🙂 So my sister bought me a nice soft fabric, cut it out for me, and fixed the corners and trims with a lovely embroidery. For some reason, I wanted to make it colourful so I knitted around 20 different, little pieces and glued on the fabric. The end result is really cool! Each piece was improvised and I love looking at them. their shapes and colour gave me joy 🙂

5. I am grateful for the spices I bought or were given by my family members: crushed chilly peppers (thanks mom), dried mint (thank you aunt) 🙂 I sure will lovingly use and consume them 🙂

6. I am grateful for the sesame, nigella, and poppy seeds that I bought to be used during my bread-baking adventures 🙂

7. I am grateful for the corn flour that I bought. I have been meaning to try corn bread for sometime. This excitement cannot be missed now 🙂

8. I am grateful for the cat figurines that my sister gave me – they are so cute I do not know where in the house to display them 🙂

9. I am grateful for the little painting in a beautiful frame that my sister gave me. She has done an amazing job with the colours as well as the frame… I will cherish it for ever 🙂

10. I am grateful for the big tea glass that my sister-in-law has given me. It is one of a kind 🙂 I guess it holds around 500 ml of liquid so that means one glass of tea will be more than enough for the day 🙂

11. I am grateful for the purse that may sister made for me. My sister has been interested in this kind of stuff for some time and I must admit she has been doing an amazing job. She made maybe 20 purses, each of which are unique and improvised. The one that I have got has 40 different and unique embroidery-like pieces on the body and the strap. The colours are all nice and joyful, too. I am so lucky 🙂

12. I am grateful for getting two memorials from my dad’s house (he sadly passed away last winter): his cell phone and an old bowl that I remember was around for decades…. I am glad I have found this chance to keep his presence around me right here in my own home..

13. I am grateful for the black sweater and the dark-reddish jacket that my mom knitted for me 🙂

14. I am grateful for the basket that I bought to proof my loafs in! I made it! I found something to do this very important job. It is lovely and my mom and sister also made clothes to put in it to help prevent dough sticking to the basket. cannot wait to try all of these 🙂 I also bought a little sharp knife that I will use to score the surface of the dough prior to baking them in the oven. I am anything but excited about everything I have to help me with the bread-baking adventures 🙂

15. I am grateful for the freezer bags that my mom gave me. well.. here too we have freezer bags, yet these are so nice and easy to use thatI could not help but pack 5 packages with me 🙂

16. I am grateful for the rice. Its grains are bigger than what we can find here – just the type that I love!

random thoughts

I feel like writing about small indulges that make me feel pampered 🙂

Considering that the only expenses bigger than $1,000 were my washer and dryer (excluding my flights to visit my family and my house), I guess I am doing good pampering myself while also looking after my funds.

So here is a list that I can come up with now:

1. Having breakfast: I love having breakfast at the weekends! there is something nourishing about it and the fact that I get to have it on the weekends only, it is my way of start celebrating the weekend. Breakfast does not need to be too expensive (though it  depends on your preferences. Nevertheless, breakfast and lunch are often times much cheaper than dinners).

2. A good book that captivates my interest. There is nothing like a great book that makes your day enjoyable, time frozen, and mind and heart filled with new knowledge, emotions, and empathy. 90% of my books are purchased from second hand bookstores or charity. The only book I have had pricey was a project management book I needed to study as part of a certificate program (time to sell it now). Borrowing books from libraries, of course, does not cost a dime – give it a try.

3. Chicken noodle soup: is there any other food that nourishes the body while also relaxes the mind? What is the cost of this? $3?

4. Taking photos: that is a really fun activity. Other than the cost of the camera and print outs, the cost of all the memories and lovely pictures recorded is basically $0. Plus, can we really put a price on recording memories?

5. A good cup of coffee every once a while. I love caramel or maple syrup added coffee every once a while. There is a cafe that do these in a shopping mall I go time to time. A great way to award myself.

6. Food: food is always a tricky material for indulges. I happen to reward myself a lot by food, especially pastries and bread (though I am trying to limit them lately). My new year eve meal is almost always some pastry I make at home with beef and pastry sheets. Even though I love this meal, I am glad that I do not bake it more than twice a year.

7. Movies: Although I have not done this in years, seeing a movie at a theater is a lovely experience.

8. Tea, apple cider, and hot chocolate: whether black, green, or herbal, tea has a calming effect. On cold winter days, in addition to tea, hot chocolate and apple cider are my favorite beverages.

9. Leisure walking: Although I do not do this as often as I wish to; when I do, I enjoy it very much. Especially those that occur spontaneously where I do not before hand plan for the route, take my time to enjoy and examine the scenery (even looking at different houses and their characteristics can be an interesting activity).

10. Going through the stores at the airport: One of my favorite activities! I love looking at the merchandise and the variety of items. This is particularly nice when the airport is in a different country. As you can guess, the books sold are the ones that get my most attention. but hey, they are great 🙂

11. Browsing the stores: I have a negligible habit of impulse buying thus I am not afraid of going thru an entire store, examining and exploring the items. It is one of the meditative experiences for me when I truly focus and thus get a mental break from daily thoughts and tiredness. Thanks to this activity, I have discovered many different food (e.g. savory I am so fond of) that were not a part of my regular diet.

12. Taking a road trip: I love it when we drive on a car together with friends or family. Have you noticed that the conversations are different, lovelier during road trips? Especially when we all are going to places that we have not explored before. Whenever I have a chance to suggest an activity, i suggest a road trip 🙂

13. Music: Music is… awesome! I listen to it while at home and office. The free music channels and youtube makes it basically free. Could not be happier 🙂

14. Writing my blog and reading other blogs: Very amusing, relaxing, informative, and affordable activity. Okay I need a computer and an internet connection to do so, but these two help with so many activities (listening to music, watching videos, doing research, learning, booking flights and hotels, etc.) that their cost comes really low. Plus writing helped me to learn a lot about myself – how about that as a great benefit?

15. Planning, planning, planning: I have a thing for planning for goals I would like to tackle. Coming up with a question and then designing a step-by-step strategy to reach the goal is always exciting for me. Yep I do mess up with executing the plans sometime (my recent healthy life-style plan that I blew is a good example), but eventually all go well.

16. Sleeping in: every once a while there comes a weekend morning that makes me sleep till noon. This does not happen to much, but I believe it happens when my body needs it. Often times, it is relaxing.

17. Sleeping late: there is something peaceful about late-nights, some kind of freedom… Friday and Saturday nights are my freedom nights when I can stay up till late, reading, writing, or watching TV. Serenity..

18. Spending time in my yard: I have a small yard with a couple of trees; lilacs are particularly my favorites. Seeing them in summer is a beautiful feeling. The same thing with just being in the yard and listening to the sound of trees – the soothing whoosh their leaves make with wind…..

19. Scents: I love my perfume but due to scent-free policy of my workplace, I only wear it at the weekends. Its scent is so lovable I am glad they produced it! The same thing with candles and soaps. I have a soap that leaves a nice scent after each hand-wash. I would not change it at all. When comes to candles, I did not buy lately but I make sure to check them at the stores. One of my favorite one has honey-cinnamon scent.

20. Wearing my best shoes: I am a person of habit, so I keep wear the same things weeks after weeks. Yet, every once a while wearing a different outfit or my favorite shoes makes a difference in my mood 🙂

21. Grocery shopping: I love grocery shopping. Finding fresh produce is a rare and often cheerful activity for me (where I live, fresh produces are hard to find).

22. Shopping after the holidays: this is the season for shopping!. The sales right after the Christmas are unprecedented. Boy, do I stock up? 🙂

23. Thrifty store visits: Even though I often end up not buying as much as I plan to, I love browsing through the shelves in thrifty stores, especially the kitchen items and the books. A good book I certainly will buy. The kitchen items are mostly an interest; to see all the old stuff… I have a thing for old things. They are different and very interesting for me.

24. Ethnic stores: There are so many different things in these stores that I make regular trip to one close to my house. It is a little food store where I can find the most interesting spices, hot sauces, and dried food. Plus, that store is incredibly cheap. I wonder why that is.

25. Soft facial towels: These are priceless; there is nothing nicer at the end of a busy day to come home, wash my hands and face, and feel the soft towel on my skin. I would highly recommend you to get a thick, slushy towels that is a delight to use.

26. Creams and moisturizers: my hands require hand cream throughout the day. In winter, it is almost essential to moisturize the rest of the body. I am grateful for these creams and lotions that not only nourish my body but also smell good 🙂

27. Time spent with family and friends: Do I have to talk about it? It is the favorite activity of many people. Are we not lucky?

I hope your list of things that make you feel pampered is longer than this.

Go pamper yourself in this beautiful Saturday! 🙂

healthy eating, limitations, and the joy of it

many years ago, I had prioritized the well-being of my body; I was exercising and eating well.

There was an incredible pleasure in going to different stores to get the healthiest food; one store to get the tofu and the dandelion; another store to get bulk tea and spices (and those spices were just awesome! all bunch of different ones, smelling so nice…), another store to get the fresh produce, and yet another one to get the beans and legumes…. My meals were not necessarily the best or the tastiest one (only because I am not interested in cooking), but I was eating a variety of food prepared in a way healthier way than now.

There was an interesting satisfaction in eating healthy – I cannot put my finger on it. But it was indeed a great feeling; something like “I am doing a great job taking good care of myself”.

Why did I stop doing that????

I can tell you why – I moved to a smaller city with limited choices of stores and food. Yes there are some stores I can go get the legumes, but in terms of fresh produce, spices, and teas, it is very disappointing here..

nevertheless, next weekend I will make an attempt to go to different stores around the city to see whether I can find things that are different than what is available in stores close to me.

And that idea excites me 🙂

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