An Inexpensive Window Treatment

The day we moved into our home I found a piece of bamboo in the attic. I love bamboo! Absolutely love it! 🙂 It is an easily renewable resource (eco friendly), sturdy, versatile…need I go on?
Anyway, I needed to update the window in my dining room but I couldn’t afford to go buy new curtains and rods, etc….meaning this had to be cheap. 😉
As you can see, my window has plain sheers on old fashioned metal rods. No pizazz. 😦
I had my sweet husband cut the bamboo to the right size for the window and then I began to hunt for some brackets. I went to see my dad who used to run his own heating and cooling business and saves everything. Sure enough he had some conduit straps that he bent to the right shape using a vise grip…they were just right! I spray painted them with several coats of white (sorry, my pic was only after about 2 coats).
We (OK…I mean my husband) secured the brackets to the wall using plain old regular screws.
Next I took my plain orange sheers and sewed ribbon to the top (.47 cents a spool – I used two).
After tying the curtains on the rod, I thought it still needed something. I added a couple of bamboo (Did I mention I love bamboo?) and fabric fans that I recovered with scrap fabric from another dining room project I did a few years ago.
I also have a Japanese-style globe lantern that I bought at a thrift store last year. I found three of them for a $1 each, but they didn’t have the light kits with them. I took my white lights from Christmas and placed them inside. My husband made a rod to hold the lantern out of a piece of scrap wood and a little bracing hinge. Here is my before and after…what do you think?
(Sorry some of these pictures are so dark. I was trying to show how cozy this looks at night.)
I am linking up to:
Thrifty Decor Chick for Before and After Party
Between Naps on the Porch Metamorphosis Monday
Finesse Your Nest for Shop The House Sunday
Fireflies and Jellybeans Show off Your Stuff Party

Beyond The Picket Fence

Tianjin Preserved Cabbage

Every once-in-a-while someone introduces me to something that I can’t wait to try and experiment with. Fish sauce was one of those things. Now, I don’t know what I’d do without it. Not only do I use it in the Vietnamese foods I prepare, but it also adds flavor to some of the foods I grew up eating (like chicken soup).
Recently my father-in-law came and stayed with us. He was more than willing to pass on his knowledge of Vietnamese foods to me. I learned so much when he was here!
One day we drove into the Asian market to get a few supplies. I got the things I knew I needed while my father-in-law shopped for some things he was sure I hadn’t tried yet.
One of the things he placed in my cart was a cute little clay crock with Tianjin preserved cabbage.
Tianjin preserved vegetable originated in Tianjin, China during a time of extreme poverty. Because of the lack of refrigeration, people learned how to preserve their foods in order to store them for long periods of time.
I love the clay pot that it comes in! =o)
When you open the crock, the first thing you notice is the piquant aroma of garlic. I know, the color doesn’t look very appealing…that doesn’t mean that it isn’t delicious!
Perhaps some people would be deterred from trying this because of the strong smell and unusual color/texture. But don’t let this stop you! Those of you who like to eat at Asian restaurants have probably already had this in your meal. 😉
Like most Asian seasonings and condiments….you just need a little. 😉

Making my husband’s favorite dish

When I first got married, I wanted to make my husband’s favorite dish. He is Vietnamese and the only Asian foods I knew how to cook were Chinese and Japanese dishes (which are nothing like Vietnamese foods).
Now a few years later I find that making Vietnamese foods are not so daunting.
This is my husband’s favorite and the very first Vietnamese meal I learned to prepare: Thit heo kho voi trứng (Carmelized Pork and Eggs).
Here we go!
First chop about 1/2 large onion and crush 2 cloves of garlic.
Cut up about 1/2 lb of pork. Most Vietnamese cooks I know leave the fat on for flavor, but for health considerations I compromise with my husband and trim “most” of the fat off.
Set aside 1/2 cup sugar and at least 4 hardboiled eggs (I always make more because that’s everyone’s favorite part).
You will also need coconut juice, which looks like this:
And the most important ingredient – 1/2 cup fish sauce
You can also add a little Sambal Oelek…but not too much
Combine the pork, garlic, onions, fish sauce and sugar in a bowl and let sit for at least 10 min (Even better if you let it marinate for a couple of hours).
Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a pan and brown meat. You can add a little chili paste (Sambal Oelek) to this if you want.
Add 1 cup coconut juice and simmer for about 5 min.
If you don’t have Asian caramel syrup on hand (which I never do) you can make your own by caramelizing sugar. Place about 1/2 cup sugar in a pan.
Cook on high stirring constantly until it is a rich caramel color. (This is where my husband usually pulls the battery in the smoke detector because I’ve set it off).
Don’t leave it too long or it will taste burned and make your meal bitter.
Add eggs to the pork mixture then pour the hot caramel over and stir well. This should turn everything a nice caramel color.
Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.
Now it’s time for me to go eat supper! 🙂