Sunday, February 1, 2015

My Top Ten List of Adorations for 2014

The year 2014 has come and gone, but it was definitely a memorable one for me... new job, met a lot of lovely, diverse people, started a new routine of making green smoothies, watched my kids turn ten and thirteen, helped a family member get through an illness, watched a lot of great films, and read a lot of inspirational books.  I have started 2015 on a positive note, by taking more chances, and not caring so much about what others think.  I joined a running clinic that has made me fall in love with running for the first time in my life, and I will talk more about that in a future post.

With this being my first entry for 2015, I've put together a top ten list of a few of my favourite things from the past year. Maybe some of these items are also on your list?  Without further ado, here they are...

1. Fitbit One Wireless Activity and Sleep Tracker
I clip this little slim, portable guy everyday on to the waist of my pants, or in my pocket.  It records my steps, calories burned, kms walked, stairs climbed, and hours of sleep.  It resets every morning, and syncs wirelessly to the Fitbit app on my iPhone to quickly view the summary of the current day, previous day, or week.  It also has a watch, so I can see what time it is throughout the day.
Fitbit, Fitbit One, Activity Monitor
Fitbit One

2. Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips Eyeliner Trio in Nude
If you like, or have tried the cult favourite, Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On eyeliners, you will love the PF Shimmer Strips eyeliners. These have super staying power, and they literally do not come off, even if you rub. I probably have the most oily lids in the universe with my Asian eyes, and nothing seemed to stay on the whole day until I tried these.  In comparison, the UD eyeliners are $20 each at Sephora, whereas the PF ones come in a set of three for about $14 at Shoppers, Target, or Walmart.  They are made in the US, and come in different sets that suit each eye colour, but my favourite one is Nude.  It contains a true-black shade, a dark brown, bronzy shade with subtle shimmer, and a light bronze shade also with a bit of shimmer.  These are twist-up style, so you don't need a sharpener, but if you do want a finer point, they do come with a built-in sharpener at the bottom.
Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips Eyeliner Trio in Nude, eyeliner, best eyeliner
Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips Eyeliner Trio in Nude

There is a Burberry Body version that I find too strong and musky, but the Burberry Body Tender version is perfect.  I love this perfume because it smells so fresh, without being too flowery or woodsy.  It contains a combination of lemon, English roses, white jasmine, sandalwood, cashmeran, and amber.  I find myself reaching for this perfume each morning, more than the other ones in my collection.
Burberry Body Tender, Burberry perfumes
Burberry Body Tender Eau de Toilette

I've been researching and looking at different E-Readers for about a year, and decided to get the Kobo Aura. I previously bought the Kindle Paperwhite, but found that the E-PUB format that my local library has, was not compatible with the Kindle, so I needed to download a third-party conversion software and convert the file, which was a major pain in the butt.  The Kobo Aura is compatible with E-PUB, PDF, Adobe DRM, and RTF formats.  It has a 6 inch display, and is so light and compact.  It easily fits in my purse, and the battery charge lasts about a week.  It has a soft glow light so I can read in the dark, and the screen is non-glare.  Most e-books from my library have a three week loan period, and it automatically just comes off my device after the three weeks, unless I choose to renew the book.  Below is a photo of my Kobo Aura, with the Kobo Aura Sleepcover, in purple.
Kobo Aura E-Reader, Kobo Aura Sleepcover in purple
Kobo Aura E-Reader with Kobo Aura Sleepcover in purple

This book first came out in 2012, but is my favourite one that I read in 2014.  I remember staying up late at night reading this, as I couldn't put it down.  It is filled with suspense, tragedy, friendship, hope, grief and forgiveness.  I loved it from beginning to end, and can't wait to read more books by this author.
Night Road by Kristin Hannah, favourite books, fiction
Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Love, love, love this flannel shirt.  I bought it from Aritzia in Canada on sale. It is fitted, but a little oversized and long, so that you can wear it with leggings or skinny jeans.  It is so comfortable and warm, plus I am obsessed with the red/black buffalo check pattern!  Needless to say, it has become my new favourite shirt.
TNA Brisco, Buffalo Check, Aritzia, Buffalo Plaid, TNA
TNA Brisco Shirt in Buffalo Check from Aritzia

I like to slather this body cream on after my shower, especially in the winter, when my skin is so dry. Origins is my favourite natural skin-care company, and I use A Perfect World SPF 25 moisturizer on my face every morning.  The Ginger Souffle body cream has a citrusy, uplifting scent that always improves my mood when I put it on.  It has a thick, whipped cream consistency that is non-greasy and long-lasting.  For me, one tub lasts about a year (seriously!), and you can buy it at Sephora for about $38.  It is made with natural ingredients, pure essential oils, and does not contain any parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances/dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates, GMOs, or triclosan. 
Origins Ginger Souffle Whipped Body Cream, body cream, Origins, ginger
Origins Ginger Souffle Whipped Body Cream

I am quite a movie buff, and saw a lot of them in 2014.  My favourite film of the year is... drumroll please... Interstellar, directed by Christopher Nolan, and starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Caine.  This movie was a space adventure, and felt like a roller coaster ride filled with action and emotions.  It was everything that I thought Gravity was going to be.  I am usually not a fan of Anne Hathaway, but decided to take a chance and give it a try.  I am so glad that I did.  And Matthew McConaughey... what can I say?!?!
Interstellar, best movies of 2014, Matthew McConaughey, Christopher Nolan, space movies, sci-fi
Interstellar movie

When my husband competed in his first Tough Mudder in 2014,  he bought a pair of these socks for himself, and picked up a pair for me (he always surprises me with random gifts). I've been hooked ever since! I have since bought two more pairs of these from MEC here in Canada.  They keep my feet so warm in the winter, and I love wearing them with boots.  They are made in the US, from 38% nylon, 30% Merino wood, 30% acrylic, and 2% spandex. The heel and toe are cushioned, so if feels super-comfy when I walk in them. 
Fox River Outdoor Strive Merino Wool Socks, winter socks, comfy socks, MEC
Fox River Outdoor Strive Merino Wool Socks

Last but not least, my beloved Vitamix is at the top of the list for 2014. If you remember my previous post found here, I raved about this machine, and I am proud to say that the love affair is still going strong. I make my delicious green smoothie each morning before work, and am proud of myself for keeping this up consistently. It has not decreased in quality or function at all, and I have not experienced any problems with it whatsoever. You can still use my discount code 06-010043  when you purchase any item directly from
Vitamix CIA Professional Series Blender, Vitamix discount code, green smoothies
Vitamix CIA Professional Series Blender

And there you have it.  Are some of these things on your list?  If not, I would love to see your favourite things!     ~ Janice 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Scarf-Ace: Eight Ways to Wear a Lululemon Vinyasa Scarf

I  was in my local Lululemon store the other day, and saw that they had some new scarves at the front counter. The pretty pink/plum striped one caught my eye immediately.  The sales person saw me looking at it, and started raving about how soft and versatile the scarf was.  She then proceeded to give me a full demonstration on the different ways that the Vinyasa scarf can be worn.  I'm not usually an impulse buyer, but the scarf looked so damn good on her, that I bought one.  I know... sucker, right?!
scarves, Lululemon Vinyasa scarf, Lululemon, Lululemon infinity scarf
The Vinyasa scarf is made from "Rulu", which is a stretchy, super-soft, breathable, and moisture-wicking fabric. When I was at the store, the colour choices were grey, black, grey/white striped, lilac/grey striped, and the pink/plum striped one that I have.  The official colour name from the Lululemon website is "hyper stripe heathered bordeaux drama/bumble berry".  I picked this colour because I thought it would add some vibrancy to the black, grey and brown shades of fall and winter.  
scarves, Lululemon Vinyasa scarf, Lululemon, Lululemon infinity scarf
The underside of the striped pattern is a burgundy/plum heather colour.  It's kind of like getting two scarves-in-one, as it's totally reversible.  It is shaped like an infinity circle scarf, only the Vinyasa has snap buttons along one side.  You can wear it with all the buttons done up, or half of them done up, or none at all.  It's totally up to you on how you want to wear it.  In the short time that I've had the scarf, I've had a lot of fun just playing around and experimenting.  There is no right or wrong way to wear it, and I have a hard time duplicating the same look twice, as it's a little different each time.  That's what I really love about the scarf.
scarves, Lululemon Vinyasa scarf, Lululemon, Lululemon infinity scarf
There are a lot of videos available on the web that show you different ways to wear the Vinyasa scarf.  Two of my favourites are found here and here.  Be patient when trying to duplicate the styles shown in the videos.  I was a little frustrated in the beginning, because mine never seemed to look the same as theirs.  I got the hang of it after a few attempts however, and it's super-easy to put on now.  I really do love that the scarf is so versatile, and can be worn year-round basically.  In the spring and summer months, it can easily be worn with a tank top during the day; then at night when it's cooler, you can turn the scarf into a shawl, wrap, or even a shirt!  I hope you have as much fun playing with your Vinyasa scarf as I am!  ~Janice
scarves, Lululemon Vinyasa scarf, Lululemon, Lululemon infinity scarf

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Vitamix Blender - Recipe for the Ultimate Creamy Green Smoothie!

Even though I've read a ton of reviews, and have heard so many people say positive words about a Vitamix blender, the price has always prevented me from purchasing one for myself.  I too used to be one of those people who thought, "Five hundred dollars for a blender... are you out of your f*@#ing mind?!?!"  I thought that never in my lifetime, could I buy enough smoothies at places like Jugo Juice or Booster Juice to equal the price of a Vitamix.  But then I got to thinking, and did a little math just for fun.  We probably went to Jugo/Booster Juice at least once a week, more than that in the summer months.  There are four of us in the family, and if we each got one, that would be about $24 each time.  $24 x 52 weeks =$1456 a year! 

To be honest, I didn't seriously think about getting a Vitamix until my co-worker raved about it (in my opinion, she's in the wrong profession and should be working for Vitamix!), and gave me a little taste of the smoothie that she made.  It was green, delicious, smooth and so fresh... everything a smoothie should be. I was sold! 
Vitamix Ultimate green smoothie
So I bit the bullet, and bought my own Vitamix.  It came with a 64 oz BPA-free container, huge recipe book and DVD.  I treated it like a precious baby when I took it out of the packaging.  As you can imagine, I was in love with the blender (is it possible to fall in love with a kitchen appliance?!) and could not wait to try it out. The first time I turned the power on, I jumped a little at the sheer magnitude of power that exuded from it.  It put my old Kitchen Aid blender to shame. There really is no comparison between my old and new blender.  The Kitchen Aid always left little chunks of frozen fruit, and the consistency of the smoothies was never right.  They were always watery, and I had to constantly chew the pulp of the greens.  The Vitamix is an absolute beast of a machine.  It comes with a 7 year warranty, but it will last beyond that.  My husband's friend said that he's had his Vitamix for over 20 years with no problems, and it's still going strong.  Now my smoothies are always creamy, smooth and chunk-free!
Vitamix Ultimate green smoothie
I've incorporated making a green smoothie as part of my morning routine now, and that is all I eat for breakfast, along with a cup of tea.  I like mine a little on the thick side, so that it fills me up and sustains me until lunch time.  This is what I've been making every morning for the past few weeks.  It makes enough to fill two 500 ml sized mason jars, so my husband and I grab one each before we go out the door.  It contains greens, frozen mangos, dates, lemon, ginger, and bananas.  The recipe is at the bottom of this post.  For the greens, I usually buy Earthbound Farm Organic brand. It comes in a big tub that contains a mixture of organic baby spinach, baby kale, and red/green chard.  This container makes about 4 days worth of smoothies.
Vitamix Ultimate green smoothie
This tub of organic kale, spinach and chard makes 4 days worth of smoothies for me.
I blend the greens with water for about 20 seconds before I add the other ingredients, as I find this enables me to not have to use the big black long stick (aka the tamper), that comes with the Vitamix.  The mornings are crazy enough as is with two kids, so the less things I have to wash, the better!  
Vitamix Ultimate green smoothie
Blend the greens with water for about 20 seconds first.
Vitamix Ultimate green smoothie
This is the result after only 20 seconds of blending.
Next, I add the rest of the ingredients, then blend again for about a minute.  I love adding frozen fruit as opposed to fresh, because it makes the smoothie nice and chilled.  I buy the big bag of organic frozen mangos at Costco, and it lasts for quite a while. I leave the variable/high switch on 'variable', start at speed 1, then gradually increase to speed 10 and blend for about a minute. Even with the blender at 10, it's not as loud as my old Kitchen Aid.  Don't get me wrong - it's not whisper quiet, but it's definitely not as loud as I thought it would be.
Vitamix Ultimate green smoothie
After all ingredients are added, blend for about 1 minute.
The result is a creamy, delicious, thick, refreshing, vibrant green smoothie...
Vitamix Ultimate green smoothie
Goodbye watery, pulpy, chunky smoothies; Hello creamy, smooth, yummy goodness!
The finished product...
Vitamix Ultimate green smoothie
The Vitamix has truly changed my life.  I wake up excited to make my green smoothies.  I have noticed increased energy levels, improvement in my skin and nails, and a positive boost in my mood. It definitely is an investment, but if you look at it from the perspective that it will last over 20 years, it is worth the high price in the beginning.  I cannot say enough good things about my Vitamix.

I am so happy to be able to provide a discount code for you when purchasing any Vitamix blender or accessory via the website, or phoning their customer service line at 1-800-848-2649.

Here are the steps for getting the Free Shipping discount:
After you have added your item(s) to your shopping cart,
1) Enter the code 06-010043 in the "Promotion Code" box
2) Click "Apply", and the full shipping amount ($25 US/$35 Can.) will be deducted from your order.

Buying from directly ensures that you will be getting an authentic, brand new product, backed by the full 7 year warranty.  Happy Blending!  ~Janice 
Vitamix Ultimate green smoothie discount code

Here is the recipe for The Ultimate Creamy Green Smoothie (makes about 1 litre):
  • 12 oz water 
  • 2-3 large handfuls of kale, spinach, chard, or a combination of any greens
  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • 1/2 lemon or lime, peeled
  • 1 large slice of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 4 pitted dates
  • 1 banana
  1. Pour the water into the container, then add the greens.
  2. Start on speed 1, then gradually increase to speed 10.  Blend for 20 seconds.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Again, start on speed 1, then gradually increase to speed 10.  Blend for about 1 minute.
  5. Enjoy, and feel good about all the healthy food you're putting in your body!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pan-Fried Quinoa Cakes With Cheese

I tried Quinoa for the first time last year, and have slowly developed a liking to it with each new recipe I make.  Pronounced "keen-wah",  this superfood is often referred to as a grain, but is actually a seed from a vegetable that is related to swiss chard, spinach and beets.  It's gluten-free, and high in protein, fibre, and calcium.  I find myself making Quinoa in place of boring ol' rice a lot more these days.  The one thing I suggest when making Quinoa, is to rinse it thoroughly with water in a fine-mesh colander before cooking.  If you don't, the taste can be very bitter (learned that from the first few times making it... no wonder I didn't like it at first!)  Sometimes I cook a huge amount, and store it in the fridge for use during the week.  I enjoy it with avocados and chickpeas in a salad, or heat it up and use it as a side dish at dinner.

I just discovered a new Quinoa recipe that is so tasty, healthy and easy!  Hope you give it a try, and let me know what you think!  ~Janice 
Pan-Fried Quinoa Cakes with Cheese/Sriracha sauce
Pan-Fried Quinoa Cakes with Cheese... and Sriracha on the side!

Here is the recipe for Pan-Fried Quinoa Cakes with Cheese (makes about 24 cakes):
  • 4 cups cooked Quinoa 
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan or cheddar cheese (I used a mix of both kinds)
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil for pan-frying
  • Sriracha sauce (for some kick!)
  1. Place all ingredients except for the oil and Sriracha, in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Stir until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
  4. Form patties that are about the size of a cookie, and 1/2 inch thick.
  5. Fry until golden brown on one side (about 5 minutes), then flip over and fry 5 minutes more.
  6. Serve with Sriracha sauce,  plain yoghurt, or tzatziki sauce.
Pan-Fried Quinoa Cakes with Cheese/Sriracha sauce
Combine cooked Quinoa with all other ingredients
Pan-Fried Quinoa Cakes with Cheese/Sriracha sauce
Pan-fry in olive oil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes
Pan-Fried Quinoa Cakes with Cheese/Sriracha sauce
Carefully flip over with a thin spatula, then fry for 5 minutes more

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Luminous Light - Instant Photoshop in a Small Compact!

I'm very excited to share my newly-discovered beauty product with you!  I'm sure you've heard of the Hourglass line of Ambient Lighting Powders, since there has been a tremendous amount of hype in the blogosphere recently.  I'm definitely not the first, nor will I be the last to review this amazing product.  
Hourglass Ambient Luminous Light, glowing skin, finishing powder, candlelit glow
There are six different shades in the Ambient Lighting collection, ranging from a pale yellow colour, to a sun-kissed golden beige.  Each powder works differently to capture, diffuse, and soften surrounding light to create a luminous glow to your skin.  
Hourglass Ambient Luminous Light, glowing skin, finishing powder, candlelit glow
I chose the shade Luminous Light, which according to Hourglass, is a "champagne pearl that creates a soft, incandescent candlelit glow - day or night."  I was attracted to this one the most because the colour is so beautiful, and seems to have the most shimmer out of all of them.  I am not a fan of the matte powdery look, and prefer a more luminous, dewy finish.  There are no chunky bits of glitter whatsoever, so you don't have to worry about looking like a shiny disco ball (attractive...not!)  Instead, your skin is left looking flawless, radiant and glowing - what's not to love?
Hourglass Ambient Luminous Light, glowing skin, finishing powder, candlelit glowHourglass Ambient Luminous Light, glowing skin, finishing powder, candlelit glow
The compact itself has a beautiful, bronzy, mirrored, chrome finish - very chic looking!  These powders are also free of Parabens (harmful chemicals added to preserve the product), talc, fragrance, nano-particles, and gluten, so you can have peace of mind. I am extremely happy with Luminous Light.  I use it as a finishing powder, and apply it all over my face using my MAC 150 brush. It truly makes your face glow, as if you are under candlelight.  Not over the top, but just very luminous and beautiful.  The photo below is a swatch of it on my arm, but it does not do it justice.  Please note that I've applied it very heavily, in order for it to show up on camera. Looks so much better (and subtle) in real life.  You'll have to try it for yourself!  ~Janice 
Hourglass Ambient Luminous Light, glowing skin, finishing powder, candlelit glow

Monday, January 27, 2014

Three Ingredient Banana Chocolate Chip Bites

Okay, it doesn't get any easier than this one!  This recipe has become a favourite in my household of late, and I find myself making these twice a week because they disappear so fast.  This has made my life so much easier when it comes to packing school lunches.  I make a big batch, and quickly toss in three or four of these in their lunch bags for their snacks.
I've seen a lot of variations to this recipe, and you can definitely tailor it to however you like.  The three basic ingredients are oats, bananas, and chocolate chips.  I use Rogers Porridge Oats, because it has bran and flaxseed added in, but you could just as easily use Quick Oats. I photographed my daughter while she made these and she had a great time, so make sure you get the kids involved.  ~Janice 
food, three ingredient recipes, 3 ingredient recipes, 3 ingredient banana oatmeal chocolate chip bites, kids' recipes, school snacks, baking, cookies, healthy cookies, bananas,
The 3 ingredients: Oats, Bananas, Chocolate Chips
Step 1 - Mash the bananas in a big bowl...
food, three ingredient recipes, 3 ingredient recipes, 3 ingredient banana oatmeal chocolate chip bites, kids' recipes, school snacks, baking, cookies, healthy cookies, bananas
Mash, mash, mash away!
Step 2 - Add oats to the bananas.  For extra fiber and health benefits, you could add in some flax, chia or hemp seeds, and bran.  I had some leftover chia seeds in the fridge, so I added those in.
food, three ingredient recipes, 3 ingredient recipes, 3 ingredient banana oatmeal chocolate chip bites, kids' recipes, school snacks, baking, cookies, healthy cookies, bananas

Step 3 - Add in chocolate chips.  I used Hershey's semi-sweet, but you could make it really healthy by substituting with dark chocolate, dried fruit, carob chips, or shredded coconut.  I use chocolate chips, only because my kids are more likely to eat them.  Anything tastes better with chocolate chips, right?!
food, three ingredient recipes, 3 ingredient recipes, 3 ingredient banana oatmeal chocolate chip bites, kids' recipes, school snacks, baking, cookies, healthy cookies, bananas

Step 4 - Mix together with spatula until combined...

Step 5 - Roll into one inch balls, and place on parchment-lined baking pan...
food, three ingredient recipes, 3 ingredient recipes, 3 ingredient banana oatmeal chocolate chip bites, kids' recipes, school snacks, baking, cookies, healthy cookies, bananas

Step 6 - Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, and here is the finished product...
food, three ingredient recipes, 3 ingredient recipes, 3 ingredient banana oatmeal chocolate chip bites, kids' recipes, school snacks, baking, cookies, healthy cookies, bananas

Here is the recipe (makes about 2 dozen):
  • 4 large, ripe bananas
  • 2 cups uncooked quick oats 
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)
  • Add-ins (optional): bran, flax/chia/hemp seeds, dried fruit, nuts, shredded coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Mash the bananas in a big bowl.
  3. Add oats to the bowl and mix well.
  4. Add chocolate chips and mix until combined.
  5. Roll into one inch balls, and place on parchment-lined baking pan.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hanky Panky - The Most Beautiful, Comfy Undies In The World!

Now that I've got your undivided attention from the words "Hanky Panky", I had better explain what I'm referring to before continuing.  Hanky Panky is a lingerie company based in New York, that has been around since 1977.  Their products are made and shipped out of the good ol' USA.  I can't recall exactly when or how I discovered this company, but all I know is, I've been a loyal fan of the Low-Rise Thong for at least six years now.  Yes, I said the "T" word!  I can hear the gasps and shrieks of astonishment and skepticism now... "How can you wear a thong - you're a Mom for God's sakes!"  or "I can't wear thongs... they give me a wedgie." My mind used to conjure up those exact thoughts too -  that is, until I tried these bad boys on.  
Hanky Panky, Hanky Panky low-rise thongs, thongs
Perfect Eye Candy for a dull and rainy day!
Let's delve into some of the reasons why I am so in love with these, shall we?  First off, the most important thing: comfort.  They are made with the softest lace imaginable, and I'm not lying when I say that I can't even feel them when they're on.  It's not the cheap, scratchy kind of lace that rips and falls apart after a few washings.  I've also found that they do not stretch out.  Ever.  Oh, and ladies, because they are lace and fit snugly, there is no VPL (visible panty line).  Yay!
Hanky Panky, Hanky Panky low-rise thongs, thongs
How do you like my attempt at doing something "artsy" with a thong?!
Secondly, they are  instant pick-me-ups when I'm having a bad day, or feel  a little blah.   Let's face it, us Moms sometimes need all the help we can get.  Now that my kids are a little older and more independent, it's way more of a smoother ride.  I remember the good ol' days of having zero sleep, dried milk and spit-up on my shirt, my hair a mess, and being in sweats all day.  Makeup or a shower? What's that?  Or, even now, with kids running around screaming, and spilt milk on the floor, and runny noses to deal with, we need little things along the way to cheer us up.  For some, it may be going out and buying a new lipstick.  For others, it may be going for a walk around the block, while some may enjoy having a nice, hot bath.  Those are all great things, but nothing makes you feel sexier, or more beautiful than putting on a pair of hot-pink Hanky Pankies.  Trust me, my husband can attest to this!
Hanky Panky, Hanky Panky low-rise thongs, thongs
Super-soft lace!  You can tell that it's really well-made.
Which me brings me to my third reason for this lovefest - the huge range of colours that they come in.  
Who wants to wear boring beige, white and black, when you can choose from colours like Atomic Pink, Bali Blue, Electric Orchid, Key Lime Pie, or Passion Fruit?!  I recently discovered a beautiful lingerie store called Knickers Lingerie Boutique that carries Hanky Panky.  They had on display a few of the pretty colours available.  Needless to say, I will definitely be back!
Hanky Panky, Hanky Panky low-rise thongs, Knickers Lingerie Boutique, thongs, lingerie
Hanky Panky display at Knickers Lingerie Boutique
Hanky Panky, Hanky Panky low-rise thongs, Knickers Lingerie Boutique, thongs, lingerie
Beautiful packaging from Knickers Lingerie Boutique
Okay, now for the bad news, like the down part of a movie that you know is always coming... the price for one pair is $20.  I know, pretty steep, considering that you can probably get four or five pairs of similar-looking undies elsewhere.  I have yet to find some that are of the same quality of lace as these ones though.  If you know of such a thing existing, please email me!  I would love to try them.  Also, It's not like I buy twenty pairs at one time!  I pick one up here and there, and over time, you will find yourself with quite a collection.  You will not regret spending the extra money for them, as they last a long, long time.  Not only that, the way that they make you feel when you wear them, you can't put a price on.
❤ Remember... you are worth it, and you deserve it!  ~Janice 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My Mom's Potato Rice Cake Recipe (Lo Bak Go)

Happy New Year!  I really have been neglecting my blog the last few months, but feel inspired to start up again, so I hope to post more regularly from now on.
Seeing that it's close to Chinese New Year (January 31st), I would like to share with you a  recipe of my Mom's called Lo Bak Go (which translates to Lo Bak= Daikon Radish, Go= Cake).  It is served quite frequently in Chinese restaurants during Dim Sum lunch, and is also called Turnip or Radish Cake. In this case, I am substituting the daikon radish for potatoes, hence the name Potato Rice Cake.  I have been eating this dish since I was a little girl, and have always wanted to make it, so I asked my Mom if I could watch and photograph her doing it. This recipe holds a very special place in my heart, as my Mom is getting on in life, but I'll always have this forever to remember her by! I enjoy a piece of the cake dipped in a little bit of soy sauce and hot sauce.  I will post the recipe at the bottom of this post. I hope you'll give it a try!  ~Janice 
Lo Bak Go, Chinese rice cake
Lo Bak Go - Chinese Potato Rice Cake
The first step in the recipe is to prepare the filling, which is by far the best part of the cake.  It is the tiny pieces of salty, savoury, hearty, meaty goodness!  It consists of finely chopping together Chinese sausage (Lap Cheng), Chinese mushrooms, dried shrimp, salted turnip, and green onions.  You can find most of these ingredients in Asian food stores, or Chinatown.  You could use cubed ham, chicken breast, or even firm tofu in place of Chinese sausage. Because let's face it, they are not the healthiest, which probably explains why they taste so damn good! After finely chopping the ingredients, stir fry them in a bit of canola oil and salt until tender.  This step can be done a day or two ahead.  Just cool and store in the fridge until you are ready to make the cake.
The filling: Chinese sausage, Chinese mushrooms, dried shrimp, salted turnip, green onions

Chinese sausage (Lap Cheng)
So on the actual day of making the Rice Cake, the steps involved are as follows: 
Peel and chop the potatoes, make the rice liquid or batter for the cake, add the filling, then steam the rice cake.  First, peel and chop the potatoes into 1 cm cubes.  We used russet potatoes, but any kind will do.

Next, make the rice liquid or batter, using Rice Flour.  We used two 400 gram bags to make five pie-plate sized Rice Cakes.

Mix the flour with some water that has been boiled and cooled, add 2 tsp. of tapioca starch, then knead with hands until it becomes dough-like.

Add enough water to the dough until it is similar to the consistency of homogenized milk.  Again, make sure you use water that has been boiled and cooled, as opposed to tap water.  This makes the texture of the finished cake more smooth.  We needed to use about eight cups of water to get the right consistency.  Stir with a ladle between each cup of water. You'll be able to tell it's ready when the back of the ladle is completely coated with the white liquid.

Ok, here comes the fun it is time to steam the Potato Rice Cake!  Using the ladle, fill a pie pan or deep dish with the rice liquid, until it is about 1/3 full.  Sprinkle the potatoes first, then the meat filling all over the surface.  Be generous with this, as this is what makes the cake taste so yummy!  

Next, ladle more of the liquid on top of the filling until the plate is about 2/3 full.  You should still be able to see some of, but not all of the filling.

Place the pan or dish in a steamer, and cook for about 40 minutes total.  After 35 minutes of cooking time, sprinkle some chopped green onion on top to add some colour.  If you don't have a steamer, you can make your own steamer by using a large wok filled with about an inch of water, place a small round rack or inverted plate in the wok, then place the pan or deep dish on top of the rack.  Simmer for the same amount of time, and you will get the same result, which will look like this:
Lo Bak Go, Turnip Cake, Potato Rice Cake
Lo Bak Go, Lo Baak Gou, Radish Cake, Rice Cake
Pan-fried leftovers the next day!
Here is the recipe for Potato Rice Cake, or Lo Bak Go, in case you wanted to make it yourself.  My Mom used 2 bags of rice flour to make 5 pie pans of cake.

For the filling, which can be prepared the day before:
  • 8 dried Chinese (Shiitake) mushrooms, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • 3 Chinese sausages (Lap Cheng)
  • 1 cup dried shrimp, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • 2 pieces salted turnip, soaked in water for 10 minutes
  • 4 green onion stalks, chopped  
  1. Drain and squeeze out the excess water from the mushrooms, shrimp and turnip.
  2. Finely chop all ingredients.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a hot pan.
  4. Add a pinch of salt and stir fry everything together for about 5 minutes.
  5. Cool and set aside.  Refrigerate if not making until the next day.
Rest of the ingredients:
  • 4 large, or 6 medium russet potatoes, peeled
  • 12 cups boiled, then cooled water
  • 2 bags rice flour (red bag) *Note: do not use the Glutinous rice flour (green bag)* 
  • 2 tsp. tapioca starch
  • 2 shallots, chopped  
  1. Cube potatoes into 1 cm. squares.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a hot pan, and saute shallots for 2 minutes.
  3. Add potatoes and pan-fry for about 10 minutes.  This gives the potatoes extra flavour.  Set aside.
  4. Start on the rice flour liquid by pouring the bags of flour into a large bowl.
  5. Add 2-1/2 cups of the boiled water to the bowl, and mix together with your hands.
  6. Add tapioca starch.
  7. Knead with your hands until it becomes like dough.
  8. Add the rest of the water in, one cup at a time, stirring with a ladle between cups.  It should resemble homogenized milk.
  9. You can tell it is ready, when you dip your ladle in the bowl, and the liquid forms a white coating on the back of the ladle.
  10. Using the ladle, spoon the liquid into one of the pie pans until it is 1/3 full.
  11. Sprinkle potatoes, then the meat filling all over the surface of the liquid.
  12. Ladle more of the liquid on top, filling the pan to 2/3 full.  You should be able to still see some of the filling, so don't cover completely!
  13. Cover and steam over boiling water for about 35 minutes.
  14. Sprinkle some chopped green onions on top, then cover and steam for 5 minutes more.
  15. Carefully remove the pan from the steamer.  Cool slightly, then cut the rice cake into pieces.
  16. Serve with soy sauce and hot sauce.  I like to use Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce. Enjoy!
  17. Any leftovers that are stored in the fridge can be pan-fried in oil until a crispy crust is formed (see photo above).  This tastes even better, and it's usually how Dim Sum restaurants serve it.