Fall, my favorite season of the year, is right in front of my eyes. Leaves have started changing their colors. Soon I will be surrounded with trees showing off their glowing crowns. I love to collect leaves when Fall colors are at their peak. I always save some if not all for my sister.
Last year when we invited our friends over for Thanksgiving dinner, I used the leaves for place cards. It was so simple and almost free, so I want to share it here before the leaves become earthen thick carpet.
Here are examples of leaves I collected from places I visited last year. From right to left: Red Oak, Eastern Red Cedar, small and big Flowering Dogwood, and Red Maple leaves. Note that each species has its own peak time. After collecting the leaves, I stored them in a book or magazine to keep them from tearing and wrinkling. There would be some marks on the books because the paper absorbs the leaves' moisture. Therefore, my favorite book to store the leaves is Yellow Pages. In this day and age, who needs that book anyway?
Now the fun part, cutting out the name. The length of the dinner attendance's name will determine the length of the leaves that will be used, or using small font is needed. Outline the name using pencil to make sure the composition of the letters are nice, then carefully cut the name out using a sharp retractable/snap-off knife.
Cut a thick light color paper to attach the leaves. The paper helps to see the name better and also acts as a structure of the card. I used leftover paper from my school project. Other possibilities are paper from a wedding invitation, a presentation folder, or a chocolate box. To attach the leaf to the paper, make two holes space very closely. Pull several inches of a thick thread through the holes, then tie the leaf tightly.
The place cards are ready to use. Place them on folded napkins or on plates.
I hope this simple idea is helpful and can be used to brighten to your Autumn dinning table. Don't worry if yours doesn't seem perfect. Neither did mine. "It's wabi-sabi", as my coworker once taught me.
My current job requires some site visits, which include mostly surveying and sometimes soil and water testing. The site now is still a wooded area with some trails got cleared out. Since we haven't submitted the permit application for disturbing the area, the trees along the trails were only pushed down, not completely removed from the ground, so people can walk on them. Therefore, even the cleared trails are still very rough. We have to walk through fallen trees and branches and climb walls of stacked fallen tree trunks and steep slopes. Our heavy surveying equipments often make our hike more difficult, but bearable. When branches or standing trees block our survey shot, we also have to do some cuttings using a machete. My friend usually does the most of the cutting and I help some. No wonder I usually have a great sleep the night after a site visit
Eventhough site visit can be tiring, I enjoy it and learn so much from it. Other than learning what those engineers do, I also enjoy small things I find on the site. On my last two visits, I found countless Trilliums and other wildflowers. Unfortunately, ticks and snakes are trade-offs of the spring beauties
When the weather was still much colder than it is now, we could spend the whole day working on the field. My friend and I liked to have a lunch break at an arboretum nearby. We packed lunch from home to be frugal. Since it was like a picnic, I preferred to bring sandwiches from home so I don't need to worry about warming my food. For the sandwich bun, I usually side aside a little part from the dough bread I made weekly for hubby. One day we saw deers passing the arboretum, very close to where my friend and I were.
I don't think I will need to go to the field often now since my part is almost done. When I do, I am just glad that I get a chance to have a break from staring at my computer
Growing up in a country whose the biggest moslem population in the world, I used to experience the festivities of Eid -the biggest moslem holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. The holiday merriment rendered the whole country. Stores, restaurants, TV stations, radio stations, and all public services welcomed the holiday. It is a great time for businesses too. Hubby's mom always starts baking for this holiday two month before Ramadan. It was the best time for her business. Among her products, pineapple tart is one sweet people like the most. I was not surprised when she told me that. Hubby and I love it too. Please read my old post if you want to know more about her pineapple tart.
Since I thought I wasn't busy, I wanted to make the tart on my own. The pineapple tarts from hubby's parent have gone months ago and there is no sign of us going home nor his parents visiting us at any time soon. So I bought two big pineapples for the jam. After peeling and crushing them, I boiled the mixture then stirred until the juice dried out. I started making the jam before hubby got home from work. I saw hubby's mom made jam when she was visiting us and it didn't look hard and didn't take too long. But mine was still watery 1.5 hours after I started stirring. I was sweaty and a bit frustrated. I remember my mom-in-law told me that it would get burnt if I didn't stir it. When hubby got home, I asked him how long his mom's assistant usually took to make the jam. He said, "I don't know, he usually spent the whole day making jam". WHAT?!
Days later, I asked my in-law if her assistant took the whole day just to make the jam. She concurred. She usually had her assistant made the jam out of 70-80 pineapples per one batch. For holidays she usually hires another person just to stir the jam. Oh! There are hard works behind those tarts that we munch effortlessly.
I made the tarts two weeks after I made the jam. Hopefully just like my in law's, my tarts can also enhance joy for my friends who celebrate this holy day.
For those who celebrate Eid: May blessings of God fill your family with warmth, joy, and peace.
Happy Eid ul-Fitr 1432H!
I'd been submitting and resubmitting my proposal to hubby this past three years. So long of a wait that my proposal became a joke that we used very often in our conversation. I'd broken 2 hand mixers and 1 dough hook. But that wasn't enough reason for getting a new one, one that was much more powerful that what I had before.
Got home after an intense group meeting on Monday after Thanksgiving weekend, I saw an shiny red stranger on my kitchen countertop. I couldn't stop smiling! No wonder hubby was anxious to get the UPS package before the break. He told me that he ordered a "book" that was important for him.
I remembered he asked me to pick the mixer color I wanted several months ago. That was after we discussed about Michael Pollan's food rules and got to no. 37, "The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead."
I had to wait until school was over before I used my new baby. I am excited!
As school has started, assignments and exams are lining up doesn't leave me much gap to have fun in my kitchen. Cooking and eating is now more for survival than for enjoying moment and doing some art. There is time. There also will be time during this semester when I am stressed out and need cooking and baking for stress reliever. We'll see.
Earlier last week, hubby showed me our financial record and pointed month when the expense on grocery shopping increased drastically. That was summer and winter break when I had school break. Haha... I told him that those were months when he was well fed.
Last month I (again) broke one of my mixer's beater. There were five beaters, three were broken months ago when I was making Chinese bun. The whisker-the main beater I used to make cake, fell apart when I was mixing orange-chiffon-cake batter. I've abused that mixer for years, so what did I expect? At least there is stronger reason now to move up Kitchen-Aid mixer on our wish list's priority.
We are moving to an apartment soon, which means we won't any longer have the luxury of having a spacious kitchen. That also leads to more changes. No more stealing the church's kitchenware! *sob
We were so spoil living in this house. It is sad to move, but we know this is the right thing to do.
I don't know how our new kitchen will treat us. I don't know when I can settle down in the new apartment and start updating this blog. I'll do it as soon as I can. Stay tuned...