Sunday, July 12, 2015

July Garden Updates

Since my previous update on the first harvest of our garden, we've been constantly harvesting more from our garden, so we've been busy working on garden stuffs for the past few weekends. As the summer temperature continues to increase, it's getting tougher to stay out too long in the garden. But fortunately, just picking veggies ain't bad at all as compared to pulling weeds. Plus, this is my type of weather so it's actually nice to be able to wear shorts and t-shirts. =)

July 10 (Fri): Let's see what we've got in the 3rd month of additions this month are tomatoes, corns, carrots, peas, and cabbage, while zucchini, squash, and cucumber continue to produce more. =) Love the colors of the veggies!! 

The bush beans are really coming in fast and since we can't eat 'em all, we're gonna preserve it by shelling it. My goodness that was a whole lot of work!! Stir-fried some younger beans with's good!! =)

We also picked a whole lot of corns and it took 4 of us one whole evening to shuck, clean, and blanch all 107 corns!! All these are in the freezer now and hopefully it will last for awhile. After all the hard work, these are gonna taste good no matter what...haha!!

Made more pickles from the cucumbers...this batch is bread & butter pickles.

July 2 (Thurs): As mentioned in my previous blogpost, we're planning to plant more broccoli in the fall so I've started another new tray of seedlings. We've planted more than 60 plants now and haven't even finished using one small packet of seeds!

Day 3 & 6 after planting the seeds. Haha as you can see, I've been 'monitoring' their growth!

July 5 (day 15): These are the first batch that we planted on June 20. Growth after 2 weeks.

July 8 (day 18): Noticed that some of the plants grew too tall and are losing support so I came up with all sorts of way to revive them. Moved some into a bigger pot (broke one stem in the process of moving), used wire ties (recycled from bread packaging) and plastic forks to support those thin stems.

July 10 (day 20): Mom helped to transplant the plants into plastic cups and added more soil as supports. We now have an 'indoor' garden in the!! So far the plants seem to look pretty good, hopefully they'll continue growing bigger and stronger before we eventually move them outdoor. =P

P.S. Since we're both rookies in gardening, we've been getting crash courses from mom (especially on the preservation methods) and learning as we go. So whatever I'm updating here is mainly based on the results of my 'experiments' and I'll keep updating on the progress along the way. =P And for those who are wondering if Alabama is turning me into a farmer, let me put it this way...I'm unleashing my potentials in many areas that I've never!! And most importantly, we're tapping into all the readily available resources here to eat healthier and save more! =)

My 1st Visitor from Home

July 3-5 (Fri-Sun): Buddy Weekend

Last weekend was July 4th weekend here but for hubby & I, it was Buddy weekend. =P Hubby flew to San Jose to attend his best friend's wedding, and just as I thought I would be spending the weekend alone, my buddy from home (Penang) decided to make a trip to Huntsville for a visit!! So I officially hosted my very first VIP here in the US!!

To be honest, I've never really thought anyone from home (apart from family) would ever travel all the way here to visit. After all, I'm in Alabama, not NY or LA. No don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with this place, just that it's not somewhere people will purposely stop by when they visit the US. So of course I was more than happy to have a friend visiting, within 7 months since I moved here!! 

Last November when she sent me off at the airport. I really didn't expect that we would meet again so soon, moreover in the US!!

Managed to 'force' her to take all these selfies with me...muahaha!! =P Still kinda hard to believe how everything played out, and glad we made this meet up happen...hahaha!! =P Certainly enjoyed one whole weekend of company and endless chats!

Made up this room to welcome our first guest. =)

Friday night dinner at this Korean restaurant that she found online. Bibimbap, jajangmyeon, tteokbokki, kimchi...yumss! Once again proved that I'm a lousy tour!!

Instead of visiting tourist attractions, I brought her on a tour of my university and workplace...haha!

This is how we celebrated 4th of July...hahaha!! Who needs fireworks when I have this chef 'imported' from Penang to make 蛋炒饭 for dinner!! 

Drove up to Nashville on Sunday...her 'workplace' for the next 3 days. Spent our Sunday afternoon shopping at Opry Mills outlet. =P

Had dinner at her hotel before driving back. I like this home-style-minimalist design.

俗语说:有朋自远方来,不亦乐乎。这次难得朋友因为工作大老远飞到美国,还特意抽空来探访,真的有够朋友哦! 其实我俩都算蛮幸运,进入了这个工作团队后得到了很多的机会和眷顾,所以我们常会互相提醒要感恩知足,不强求,能在工作中找到天时、地利、人和,就更加要懂得珍惜。虽然这两天的时间咻一下就过去了,不过我们很快就会再见面,期待几个月后再聚,等你请我吃大餐咯! :P

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Chicago in 7 Hours

June 21-26: Training in Chicago

Traveled to Chicago last week for a week-long training. I was supposed to attend the training in Atlanta but the timing clashed with our Peru trip so I opted to attend the training in Chicago instead. Even though I've traveled a pretty good bit around the States, I've never been to Chicago. I'm glad I managed to spend some time on Sunday doing some sightseeing around the city. =) 

Complimentary upgrade to first class for my flight to Chicago. Nothing fancy but it's always nice to get free stuffs...haha!! I'm gonna lose this perk soon so I'd better enjoy it while I can. =P

Hello Chicago!! Beautiful coast line!! 

Our accommodation in Chicago. We were assigned roommates randomly, but I was glad I got a nice roommate and we share quite a lot in common coz she also just transferred from South Africa recently.

After dropping my luggage at the hotel, I started my solo sightseeing mission at 2pm. Took the free hotel shuttle to the nearby CTA station and hopped on the subway to the city. 

My mission for the day was to visit Cloud Gate (the Bean), Navy Pier, Chicago Riverwalk, and Willis Tower Skydeck. Walked all around the city and successfully accomplished my mission within 7 hours. =) As mentioned, this was a solo sightseeing so please bear with my many selfies.

Selfie stick is a must-have when you're traveling alone...glad I brought it...haha!! Had a funny encounter at Cloud Gate when a group of skater boys saw me taking selfie and the whole bunch of them decided to get into my selfie as!! 

Cloud Gate (more commonly known as the Bean) at Millennium Park...designed by Anish Kapoor. It's a funny coincidence that I learned about this artist from T.O.P's instagram posts just few days before my visit...haha!  

The beauty of this sculpture is that its surface reflects and distorts the city's skyline.
"When the light is right, you can't see where the sculpture ends and the sky begins." Apparently, my light wasn't quite right...haha!!

Random sightings in the city.

Walked such a long way to Navy Pier and was a lil' disappointed that there's not much to see here. Just took some photos and left.

Had dinner at Yum Cha restaurant and rested my poor legs. It's been a long time since I last had dim sum. Ordered har gao, siu mai, xiao long bao, garlic spinach, and Tsingtao beer. The food was actually not bad for American standards.

Continued my sightseeing with a walk along Chicago Riverwalk.

Final destination for the day was the Skydeck at WIllis Tower. 

360 degrees around Chicago. Intentionally scheduled my visit later during the day so that I can see both day and night views. 

The highlight of the Skydeck is the Ledge's glass boxes that extend out from the building at 103th floor. My gopro came in handy for some cool selfies on the Ledge! 

More Gopro selfies and pics. =P

Watched the sunset and waited until the city was lit up before calling it a day.

Spent most of my time for the rest of the week in this area.

Good food for lunches & dinners.

And teatime snacks to keep myself awake during the training...haha! =P 

It's Time to Harvest

First half of 2015 is officially over. Gosh...time has been flying by so quickly and I've been here for 7 months already!! Personally, I felt like I've done a lot in the 1st half of the year in terms of settling down, work and travel. 2015 has been great so far, and I've still got lots of plans and things to accomplish in the next few months. Hope that the 2nd half of the year will be even better! =) I'm in blogging mood this week so I'm gonna try catch up with all the outstanding blog updates. Here's a quick recap of what I've been up in the month of June.

June 6 (Sat): First Harvest of our Garden!

When we started planting our garden on April 4, it was just a flat land. And now 2 months later, the garden is filled with pretty plants and crops are ready to be harvested!! 

So much fun picking zucchinis, cucumbers, broccoli, and squash!! 

Pardon my sampatness as this was my first time farming...and after all the hard work, these freshly picked veggies definitely gave us a great sense of achievement!

After a productive day in the garden, it was time to chillax in the pool and prepare a good dinner with veggies freshly picked from the garden! =)

June 19 (Fri): Pickle, pickle, pickle!

Since we've got so many cucumbers from our garden, one of the best way to preserve those cucumbers is to pickle them. Had a quick lesson from mom on how to make pickles but I don't exactly know all the steps yet though coz I've just been helping to fill up the jars...haha!! =P As for the other veggies, we've been blanching and freezing them. 

June 20 (Sat): Mom's Pre-birthday Dinner 

Celebrated mom's birthday in advance with Aunt Betty Jo since I would be traveling on the actual day.

We're planning to plant more broccolis in the fall so our project right now is to start planting the seeds and growing them indoor so that they'll be big enough to be moved to ground by Fall. Recycled egg trays and bought potting soil to plant the seeds. The bottom left pic is the progress after 1 week (June 27)...not bad!!

June 27 (Sat): More Veggies, More Pickling!

Went to the parent's place last weekend after coming back from Chicago to help pick more veggies and pickle. Seems like we're gonna have some new crops to pick soon...bell peppers, tomatoes, corns, and watermelon!!

June 28 (Sun): It's been awhile since I last shared photos of my cooking coz I've been making pretty much the same stuffs week after week...haha! Attempted making Hainan chicken rice last weekend and I'm surprised it turned out pretty good! Not bad for a first timer, I'm surprised by myself too..hahaha!! =P