It’s been a while since I’ve made bitter melon soup. I can’t even remember the last time I made it but it was probably over a decade ago. This time I decided to follow this recipe on Youtube. I’m not a huge fan of the super bitterness of the bitter melon so to draw some of that bitterness out, after I removed the seeds, I soaked the melon in salt water for about ten minutes.
I didn’t have all the ingredients from the recipe so I used what I had on hand: lemongrass, garlic, scallions, cilantro, and mint. I had some Thai peppers on hand so I used a few of them for a touch of heat.
Everything was chopped up and mixed with ground beef before stuffing the melons which I’d cut into thirds. Whatever was leftover from the pork mix, I made into little meatballs. With the peppers, I simply cooked it with the soup.
The soup turned out pretty good. My high-schooler really liked the meatballs but didn’t care for the bitter melon. My husband and my other daughter didn’t care for the soup. I guess this is why I rarely made this dish.
There are many ways to cook bitter melon but I grew up eating it as a soup so it’s what I’m familiar with. Mom would also make it stir-fry, I believe. I’ll have to try stir-frying next time. Have you had bitter melon soup or stir-fried? What did you think?
I got this little watercolor sketchbook from Amazon. It was free item I received to review. What drew me to this sketchbook at first was the cute little bunnies with floral artwork, but then when I got a closer look at the paper quality, I was hooked. The paper is thick cold press watercolor paper and takes water well. I was impressed a the quality.
I used the paint pan I made last year. I ordered the paint pan from Ali Express and filled it up with mostly Daniel Smith watercolor. There’s also some W&N Cotman and Art Philosophy Guache. I don’t have a photo of the outside of the pan but it’s got an outer space artwork that’s just too cute.
I used a reference photo to draw and then paint the tulip. It didn’t take very long to paint because the paper was excellent. I had a lot of fun painting this flower. I think I’ll use this little book to paint flowers and landscapes.
Do you love to paint? If so, what’s your favorite things to paint?
Around the same time I made the second lemon blueberry cake, I made rye bread. I love the way rye tastes with caraway seeds so I put quite a lot in. Initially, I was going to make it in a dutch oven but husband knew a little bit about how to make bread (he once worked in the bakery in a grocery store) so we used his knowledge to bake this bread. It’s something I’m sure anyone who’s baked bread knows, and that’s to let the bread rise in a warmed oven for about an hour or so if possible before baking.
I used Bob’s Red Mill Dark Rye Flour. The bag it came in had the recipe on the back so I decided to try that recipe instead of the one I found on Youtube. However, I didn’t have molasses or wheat gluten so I left those out. I also didn’t have bread flour so I used all-purpose flour.
The rye bread turned out perfect. I made a turkey sandwich with it and it was delicious.
A few weeks back, I made a lemon blueberry cake. After buying blueberries from Costco and no one eating them I decided to make a cake with them because I didn’t want them to go bad and have to toss them away. I followed a recipe on Youtube, here. It looked easy enough to make and the outcome was delicious.
I had made the cake in the evening so the photos made the cake look darker than it really was. I used a cake pan and then transferred it onto a cake stand. There was subtle sweetness to it because it only required one cup of sugar. Also, because I didn’t have sour cream on hand I used plain Greek yogurt because that’s what I had.
A week later, I decided to make the cake again but this time I made it in a pie pan. I used blueberry Greek yogurt instead of plain Greek yogurt or sour cream and it turned tasty as well.
Husband and I started eating the cake before I remembered to take a photo.
Events and gatherings make me anxious. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy going places and trying new things and revisiting old places, etc., but when it comes to scheduled events, I get super anxious, especially in places like the image above. That photo was taken in 2018 during oldest daughter’s national competition at the ESPN center in Disney World. It was a lot of fun being there, supporting her and the team, but it gave me a ton of anxiety just keeping up with the times they would perform (so I won’t miss them) and remembering the team’s schedule afterwards like pick up time, and dinner time, etc.
In general, anytime I have to plan an event, including things like making reservations, I get extremely nervous. I was always like this, even during undergrad and graduate school when presenting, and during the years I worked as a student finance advisor when I had to educate new students on financial aid. Years ago when my sister and I and two cousins created a Hmong dance group and performed at the Dragon Boat Festival and all over the city, I was super nervous. One time the camera man from the local news had the camera on my sister and I and asked me some questions but I just couldn’t speak up. I think my sister ended up doing the talking.
Strangely, I used to teach Catechism and I never got anxious. I believe I taught for about 10 years and enjoyed every moment of it. Maybe teaching isn’t so much an event or gathering. I’m not sure. I just know if I have to plan anything or attend a planned gathering, yeah I get super quiet and just want to hide.
A month ago or so, I ordered a dutch oven from Amazon in hopes to try making my own bread. I watched a bunch of Youtubes on how to make bread. There were lots of videos that I got overwhelmed a bit. I then Googled a bread recipe and found this one. It sounded simple and easy so I went with it. I’m very happy to say, it turned out pretty good. The outside was super crunchy and the inside was soft and slightly chewy. I had it with butter and it was delicious.
You don’t need a dutch over to make bread. There are different ways and they can be found all over Youtube or the Internet. I personally wanted to try making it in a dutch oven. I’ve been eying bread bakers and bread makers and want to try them out but I just don’t have a lot of room in my kitchen. I’ve been thinking of turning part of the basement into a storage for cooking/baking items but that’s not going to happen. I’d rather convert it to scrapbooking room #2 because I love papers and colors more. Anyway, my next bread making goal is to make rye bread. I love rye bread especially with caraway seeds.
If you’ve made bread before, let me know your method or if you have a recipe you think I should try out.
With two kids under 21, we toasted with sparkling cider.
Hope you all had a great new year. This year is going to be exciting because I’m open for book reviews again. You can click on the book review link at top right or click here for submission requirements.
Our last stop on the cruise was Cozumel. We sat by the beach, was served lunch, and relaxed. It was a nice end to our cruise. The water wasn’t as clear as we had expected, but we were still able to go in and swim.
This is the view of the ship docking. The lamps were still on because it was still pretty early in the morning. I wanted to see the sunrise and watch the docking, so while husband was still sleeping, I got up and made my way to the top floor. I realized I could only either watch the sunrise or the docking because the sunrise was on one side and the docking was on the other. I decided to watch the docking.
Once we got off the ship, we took a short bus ride to the beach resort and found a nice spot right by the water. In the photo, husband and I were in the water taking a photo of where we sat. I believe the third or fourth umbrella in the front there (right to left) was ours.
Here’s the view directly in front of where we sat. That’s an inflatable water slide. I believe you have to get on a jet ski to get over to it. We didn’t bother with that. It was nice relaxing by the water and that’s all we really wanted.
We had a great time on this cruise. The cruise members were super friendly and the food was pretty good. The best part, of course, was just getting away from the every day and relaxing.
One thing I always enjoy about cruising is how beautiful the cruise ships are. When we arrived at the Cozumel port, two Carnival ships also arrived. Husband and I were having breakfast when we saw the two ships.
We ate quickly and went to the top floor because I knew they were going to have to “spin” and I wanted to capture it. The first boat pulled in bow first but the second one spun around.
This was probably the most exciting part of our vacation for me…lol.
We’d love to go on another cruise next year. We don’t have anything set in stone yet but we’d really love to go again.
Our second day on the cruise, we arrived in Costa Maya. We took the tour to see the Mayan Ruins. It was a one hour bus ride to the location and then about an hour walking around the ruins and listening to our tour guide.
It was extremely humid on the tour. We were told that it was rain season and that it had just rained and that it was going to rain again. The roads were dry so it was hard to tell but there were moments when rain misted.
I learned so much about the Mayan people on this tour. Our tour guide was Mayan and it was interesting when he spoke Mayan to us. It sounded like he was speaking Chinese. He said the Mayans migrated from China and that’s why their language was very similar.
Costa Maya was enjoyable, aside from the humidity.
The cruise we took in late July was out of Port of Galveston in Galveston, TX. We stayed at the Harbor House Hotel which was walking distance to the cruise check-in building. We were at the hotel for one night and had time to eat at two restaurants, watch an oil tanker come through the waterway, and watch the sunset with the cutest tugboat in the view.