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The Magic of Worm Castings March 24 2014

Many people said that eating just 3 Gynura Procumbens leaves a day can help support your high cholesterol, blood glucose, hypertension, rheumatism, viral ailments, and other illnesses.  3 leaves doesn't sound like much to grow at all, but if you are eating it everyday, the plant will not be able to produce as fast to catch up with you.  Now, what if I told you that your leaves have the potential to grow bigger so you can eat even fewer leaves?  

The leaf you see in the photo is indeed a Gynura leaf!  It is about 2.5-3 times the size of a regular one.  WOW!  What I did different last year was to added some worm castings in the soil.  Worm castings are great organic fertilizers for your gardens. They are rich in plant nutrients, and trace minerals which help stimulate growth in your plants.  If you haven't given worm castings a try, I highly recommend it for your vegetable gardens.  

You can either get worm castings online and have it delivered straight to your door, or visit your local nursery.

Spring into Gardening! February 23 2014

For those of us in Southern California, Spring has already sprung!  This year winter has been very short, and have no complains at all! It is already too warm to grow lettuce or romaine.  In fact, my bok choy and lettuce are already flowering, finishing their cycle. I'm a little sad to see them go, but this also means I have a bunch of different varieties to look forward to.  

It still amazes me how quickly you can grow food.  Even from seed, in just a few months your food will be ready for harvest.  With a little planning, you can get food growing almost year round!  

Currently I just planted seeds of bell peppers, Anaheim peppers, kale, cilantro, and Winged Beans.  As the Scarlet Runner Beans, I planted the seeds 2 weeks ago and today a few were already transplanted to the ground!  I really love using these ergonomic gardening tools that were given to me last Christmas.  Since I work with my hands so much, these tools are such much easier on my wrists.  I really have been enjoying gardening with much lesser effort.  I highly suggest checking these tools out if you have carpal tunnel or arthritis for gardening to be more enjoyable. Click here to check them out!   

If you are in the colder regions, I hope spring will come soon for you so you can start growing again!  Leafy greens such as kale, swiss chard, celery, or arugula seem to have a pretty long growing period.  Places without freeze can enjoy these in the garden year round!  

Herbs that do well in the spring are cilantro and basil.  You can start these or even keep them on a bright window sill.  These herbs like cooler weather so I plant them in the shade or under some larger plants to keep them growing longer.  To keep them going a little longer, you can pluck off the flower buds when they start to develop too.  Have you bought any seeds or save any from last year?  Hope you get to sow your seeds soon.  Happy Gardening!  :D 

Taste of Vietnam November 23 2013

Hope you enjoy these. I will be posting more soon. Stay tuned! :)

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Marimo T-Shirt Photo Shoot! October 04 2013

Trips are always fun, but can also be stressful.  The stress of getting everything done before leaving, the stress of making sure things needed were packed, the anxiety of trying to figure out if everything would fit in the luggage…but the excitement of just being 24 hours away from seeing my family was just indescribable.

It was just 2 hours before leaving the house to get to the airport, and I was just finishing up packing.  I was also trying to make a few T-shirts for my little cousins.  Oh their adorable faces ~ I thought they were perfect candidates for modeling my Marimo T-shirts.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been in Vietnam now and this morning we got up early and went to a local park for the photo shoot.  It’s Monsoon season in Vietnam and the rain had just cleared up by early morning.  Thank goodness!  We were so fortunate to have beautiful clear sky for the shoot.  It was loads of fun spending time with my cousins and family.  The mother of these girls is quite a chef too!  I’ll post some photos of food to share with you later.  For the meantime, enjoy these photos.  Have a fabulous day!  :)  XXX


My Marimo Shirt Designs! August 30 2013

One night, about a month ago, it came to me that it would be a lot of fun to create Marimo characters so we get to wear them! After many sketches and reiterations I am finally happy with them! These are a few that I will be working on to show you. Hope you like them. I'll keep you posted with more updates! Have a lovely week! XOXO

Happy Birthday, Cindy! <3 June 21 2013

Birthday Get Together
Today is Lotus' mom, Cindy's birthday!  She turned 14 today!  WoW!!!  Lotus and I decided on getting her some joint health treats as a present, and she loved it!!  Cindy's owner, Mark, said he hasn't seen Cindy this happy and running around so much in a while.  We think she is really happy to see her daughter again, and be able to spend quality time with her.  Mark only took Cindy to the meeting this time so we can just focus the attention on her.  Lotus and Cindy walked around the small park and got some treats and eggs to replenish.  There we talked about our next meeting -- the beach!!! But at the moment, I hope you enjoy our family photo!  XOXO

Superfood Mangosteen Video May 29 2013

I shot this video on my birthday!  Haha  I probably shouldn't have shot it on this day since I felt sick all night afterwards, but fruits can't wait!  I want to get it on video to show you when they look their best!  I read that the shell of the mangosteen offers a lot of benefits such as anti-inflammatory properties, arthritis, osteoarthritis.  The benefits of the shell also helps to prevent tumors and cancers.  It helps to lower blood pressure, has great anti-aging/antioxidants, prevents kidney stones from developing.  It all sounded too good not to try.  So there I went....got my first try of the shell on video.  Because of the strong taste that stayed in my mouth, food just didn't taste right for the entire night.  Birthday dinner tasted wrong, desserts tasted bitter, and tummy didn't feel good.  Whenever mangosteen was mentioned, I almost threw up! Hahahaa  No wonder people take them in a powder form.  The shell was absolutely awful and unbearable!  But I just had to try or I wouldn't know...So with that said,  I hope you enjoy my video.  Maybe even getting a little laugh out of it.  :D

Birthday Visit to the La Canada Garden May 26 2013

La Canada Garden
This is such a beautiful garden.  The trees were tall, the garden was lush filled with Mables, Pines, Roses, Ferns, and loads more.  It felt like a short vacation back to the North West Pacific.  We had such a wonderful walk through the gardens, galleries, and gift shop!  The gift shop sold seeds of these golden yellow/orange tomatoes called Mandarin Cross.  It's supposed to be creamy texture and exterior much like a mandarin orange.  How can I say no to this?  Of course I brought it back with me and I can't wait to plant them and show you my harvest!  ***Fingers cross***
Lunch at La Canada Cafe
Banana Shrub
Les Anis de Flavigny Mint
Labrador Birthday Card
vertical garden
A casual lunch here was so relaxing.  I loved that we were close to the pond and were shaded by the Pine trees.  What's neat about this cafe is they bring in local produce so  I ordered a roasted veggie wrap with pesto sauce.  All that wonderful smoky aroma is still so clear in my mind.  I would love to make this at home! We ended the day by returning home to spend with my baby Lotus.

Lotus' Family Reunion May 17 2013

Lotus' Family Reunion with her Mom and Brother

It's been 10 years since Lotus have seen her biological mom, and it's been 7-8 years since she's seen her brother!  The owner of her mom and brother and lost touch with me for some years in between and I only recently found his contact after reorganizing my old papers.  With just a few emails and phone calls we made time to meet up! I was so excited about this day.  I kept asking myself what kind of treats should I make for them, what flavor do they like, etc., etc.  After taking a browse through the market I decided to make peanut butter, carrots and yam cookies with honey.  When it comes to food, I try to provide the best quality for us.  Because of this reason I had gone to three different markets trying to gather some good quality organic ingredients.  After some shopping I came home and started making the treats. The day of our meeting is finally here!  I was so excited though Lotus had no clue what was going on!  Haha  I grabbed their treats and we drove out to our meeting place.  As soon as we arrived Lotus ran to them and they got along so well so quickly. Lotus and her biological family doesn't care for other furry friends very much usually, but they seem to be very happy around each other.  I think they really remember each other.  Her mom is usually very protective of her son when strangers are around, but she loved Lotus as soon as she came close. We all had so much fun catching up.  I had three English Labradors surrounding me.  It was just the best thing ever!  I was completely smitten by their kisses. Near the end of our gathering, I took out some treats to share.  They kept shoving their faces closer to the treats asking for more.  I was so glad I made those because I learned that Lotus' mom, Cindy, eats only soft foods.  These treats were so soft and nutritious, they were perfect for all of them. In a few weeks Cindy will be turning 14 and we must meet to celebrate her birthday!  We also talked about going to the beach when it gets warmer.  I'm so excited about all of this, I don't think I can go to sleep! haha

Arboretum Plant Show April 21 2013

arboretum plant show

Today is my boyfriend's birthday.  Usually he doesn't like to do anything specialy, but this year the arboretum plant show happens to come around so we decided to go.  The plant show was so much bigger than we expected so we ended up spending most of the day there, seeing and exploring.
arboretum plant show

Mother duck and her duckies
Mother duck and her little ones
Me under the Banyan Tree

Daisy Like Flowers on a Tree

Like what I enjoy doing most -- collect rare plants. Hahahaa Most of what we got, we don't even know what they are!  Luckily one of them came with a fruit to sample.  We cut it open and shared amongst our friends and turns out, none of us liked it.  Haha!  This fruit smells like Dawn Dish Soap and has sweet and sour taste.  Just a little unpleasant for my taste buds.  But, there is no doubt trying something new is always exciting and fun.  :)
Every Girl Loves to Shop

Strange Yellow Papaya Fruit

Strange Fruit Cut Opened

Hairy Balls and Butterflies April 05 2013

Monarch Caterpillar on Hairy Balls
This beautiful story all began from a casual weekend spent at the nursery.  I saw some plants with funky balloon like balls!  Yes, they are called Hairy Balls (Gomphocarpus physocarpus)!  Uh...it was love at first sight...so I grabbed 2 of them and brought them home.  The first plant I put down didn't like its home so much, but the second one was in full sun, and it blossomed!
Hairy Balls

Hairy Ball Flowers (Gomphocarpus physocarpus)

Hairy balls are so fast growing in the Spring and form beautiful clusters of flowers.  The shape of the flowers remind me of orchards.  Although the sap of this plant is poisonous, there are still loved by the caterpillars.  In December 2012, black caterpillars with yellow and white stripes were all over this 5.5 ft tall tree!  These caterpillars drink the sap to protect themselves from predators.

Fast fordwarding...
Butterfly in Cocoon
Now it's March 2013!  I started noticing the cocoons were hanging everywhere!  By April 2013 the beautiful Monarchs were born.  This entire week, I've set out my camera hoping to catch one of them when it's breaking out of its shell.  Sadly, the one I followed didn't make it.  The shell got harder and more transparent then it fell off the branch.  :( Monarch Butterfly with Injured Wings
This entire week was such a treat for me.  Each day I got to see a new butterfly being born.  Some were healthy and a couple had wings that were damaged.  My boyfriend and I tried to feed them nectar and kept one of them in the greenhouse since it was still cold at night.  The one that slept in the greenhouse got better the next day.  I got to carry it in my hand and set it free.  This has been such an amazing experience. Holding Monarch Butterfly
Butterfly on my Gynura Procumbens
Here is where the caterpillars metamorphosed, grew wings and learned to fly.  I hope they will come back and visit from time to time, and maybe send their children back to do this again.

Garden Salad November 22 2012

Panscy Salad

When I was visiting family in Seattle, we made a salad with all the veggies they grew. If you like floral scent, this salad is for you! Every spoon I put in my mouth tasted like perfume. Topping off the salad with Pansy really made the salad look so pretty! It was really refreshing having this salad with bratwurst we grilled, bought at Pike's Farmermarket. YUUUUUUUUMMY! LOL.

Home grown Loofah October 26 2012

Most of us already know loofah is a scrubbing sponge used in kitchens, and bathrooms, but did you know that loofah is also edible!?  Yes!  It makes a delicious and neutrious meal when harvested at its young and soft stage.  It is also packed with dietary fiber, vitamin C, zinc, thiamin, magnesium, iron, riboflavin, and it is low in fat and calories making it one of the ideal foods for weight loss.  It also treats jaundice (yellowing of the skin usually due to poor liver function) as it strengthens your immue system, and it helps restore and nourish your liver.

Loofah has a mild sweet taste, and are very juicy.  The inside of the loofah is white, soft almost like cotton, they don't feel watery at all, but when cooked all the liquid would fill the pan!  To make this dish, all I need to do is peel the skin, slice them, and throw them in a pan (sometimes with oil and sometimes without).  When they are cooked, I basically have a loofah soup!  Add a dash of salt (I prefer sea salt), and the dish is ready!

After my meal, I blend the skin peeled skin with some honey, and or aloe then turn it into a face/body scrub.  After scrubbing I like to leave it on my skin for about half an hour.  It helps adding moisture on my skin.
Loofah face scrub
Loofah is originated in the Arabic desserts, and they have made their way to Afraica and Asia.  This vegetable is part of the cucumber (Cucurbitaceae) family.  Yes, loofah and cucumbers are a type of guard.  They especially love the heat/humidity, sun, and moist soil.  It's a very quick satisfaction type of crop to grow since their life span is so short.  This crop grows the fastest in the late spring and throughout summer.  This vine can spread up to a few feet per day on each branch, and the loofah only takes a couple of weeks to develop to an edible size.   After the first few are ready to harvest, the other baby loofahs are already catching up.  One plant was plenty to supply a small family with a loofah to eat almost every day!  Now the weather is cooling down as we are approaching autumn, the crop is also slowing down its productivity.

The photo above, I'm holding is my mom's 2nd largest loofah!  We decided that she should let the largest grow to its max.  We shall see!  Or let it dry on the vine so we can extract the seeds for next year, and make a sponge out of it!

Loofah is such a fun vine to grow, but one should only grow it when there's a lot of space for this crazy vine to climb.  My mom had no idea it was such a fast climber plant.  Thus, with a patio the size of a hallway, this plant had really kept her busy daily training it not to climb on the house! You have been forewarned.  :)  Try the vegetable if you get a chance though!  It's very tasty.

Sand Dunes in Oregon October 18 2012

Oregon Coast

When we were heading back home from our long journey to Canada, we decided to take the long route driving along the coast. Everyone I spoke with told me we needed to do that because Oregon coast is just takes your breath away type of beauty. As excited as we were packing up to head back, our drive was nothing but rain in our sight. It rained for an entire day and throughout the night. We saw nothing but fog, and dark grey ocean. Fortunately, there was a short moment when the rain got lighter and we were able to see something on the coast. Oh, let's hurry and snap some pictures!

Though my photos were nothing like the chartreuse green forests or the cobalt blue sea, the scenary still looked peaceful and beautiful. I was happy I got to capture the Oregon Coast in a different mood.

As we arrived at the sand dunes sight, the sand were wet and heavy, holding my feet down as I climbed the tremendously high mounds, which I felt as if I was crossing mountains. Never have I felt so out of shape!

This is the place for riding ATVs and snowboards! But someone with neither of these would just have to tour the place the hard way. Nevertheless, it was still a lot of fun. I jumped around like a bunny, and didn't have to worry about getting hurt.

On our way climbing back up we overheard a ranger explaining why there are noxious weeds envading this place. Before the 1960s, this place was bare without weeds/grass or forests. Residents in this area complained about all the sand blowing into the streets so the city decided to import a grass from Europe to stablize the sand. Now the weeds are all over the coast, and people are volunteering to pull them out. On the bright side, these grasses provided enough stability for plants and trees to grow. Now known as forests.

Check out my Roadtrip gallery for more photos!

Sea Beans October 17 2012

Sea Beans
Sea Beans, AKA Salicornia virginica or American Glasswort, is a type of succulent that grows in salt marches, and on beaches.  They grow throughout many places in the world such as North American, Europe, South Asian and South Africa.  I did not know what sea beans were until I was visiting North West Pacific.  I came to a stop in the Sand Dunes in the coast of Oregon, and discovered that they grow there!  They are a common item you would see on the menu or sold at the markets in the northwest Pacific.

They can be eaten raw or cooked.  Common dishes with sea beans are seen in salads, pickling, and light stir frys with butter or olive oil.  When I got them at the farmer's market in Seattle, I did a light stir fry with a local mushroom and olive oil.  It was a super quick meal with very minimal preparation.  Though sea beans are grown in the sandy areas, but usually the part we consume are the young part  grown on the top so they felt pretty clean at the market.  I did a quick rinse and they were ready to go in the pan.

Sea beans and rice cactus
My first impression of sea beans were that they reminded me of my Rice Cactus back home.  So much details in my memory...when I put the two photos together, they have just a little resemblance.  Anyhow, the thought of eating a succulent is pretty wild!  I grow so many types of succulents, but never would I have thought to eat them!  Hahaa

Agar Agar from Ireland October 16 2012

Purple Agar Agar
One of our good friends returned from Ireland and brought us these gorgeous purple seaweed they harvested on the shore in Ireland!  They mentioned that they like to boil it down in water and use the gelatin in salad dressings.  Is this Agar Agar from Ireland then!?

Agar Agar is a type of seaweed, when boiled down it turns into gelatin, which is what many Asian desserts are made with.  Most jellos we see in the market used animal Collagen to bind, whereas most Asian countries use Agar Agar for binding.  Since Agar Agar is a type of seaweed, many vegan and vegetarians turn to this as a solution in their cooking.

Thai and Vietnamese, for example, make all types of colorful and delicious jellos and jelly desserts using Agar Agar.  If you can't get Agar Agar in seaweed form, there is the powder you can buy at some Asian grocery stores, or regular grocery stores.  If they don't carry them there, they are usually at the health food markets.  Whether it's Agar Agar in form of seaweed or powdered, I've only seen the clear kind.  Never have I seen the red/purple one like many articles mentioned.  That being said, I'm so excited to use these beautiful purple ones!!  I'll let you know what I made with them later on.  :)

Good scent brings a good night sleep October 05 2012

Jasmine Floral Arrangement
One type of flowers I love growing are the ones with wonderful fragrance. My very favorite is Jasmine. They are hardy to grow in the warmer regions, and their cuttings make really awesome arrangements! Their buds continue to develop and bloom even after they are cut. The Jasmine branches you see in the photo above were upcycled from from the previous Jasmine arrangement I made a few weeks ago! Two of the branches were completely done flowering so I removed them and added a few different leaves I grabbed from the garden. Now I have a whole new arrangement to enjoy again.

Jasmine flower
Mmmm....the fresh, sweet scent travels all throughout the house from the living area. Instead of using the chemical scent sprays or lighting candles, sometimes I also like to place them in the bedroom. Now I can be sure that I will get a good night sleep.

Mid-Autumn Festival October 02 2012

Yesterday was Mid-Autumn Festival that many Chinese celebrate.  This is a holiday that is celebrated on the 15th of every August in the Lunar calendar, which usually falls near the winter equinox in the Gregorian (Western) calendar.  This day is the memorial of the lovers Hou Yi (male)  and Chang Er (female); thus, families will gather for dinner and enjoy mooncakes together under the moonlight.

3000 years ago in China, lived an excellent archer, Hou Yi, whom one day decided he would shoot down 9 suns and let 1 stay so people and plants won't suffer from the extreme heat.   After he shot down the suns, everyone was teared with joy and pronounced him to be king.  Hou Yi married a beautiful woman, Chang Er, and lived happily after ever until one day he was granted with a magical pill called elixir that would turn anyone immortal if one were to consume it.  Having sharing this news with his wife, they decided to hid away the elixir.  Sadly someone heard their conversation, and wanted the elixir for himself.   One day when Chang Er was alone at their palace, the man came in looking to steal the elixir.  To prevent conflict, Chang Er swallowed it then quickly her body became so light that she flew high to the moon, and no longer to see her husband again.  Chang Er sacrificed herself for their country to maintain peace while her husband would only be able to see her silhouette everynight when he looks up at the moon.

Every Autumn we celebrate this day with moon cake, and other crops we harvested.  Traditional mooncakes are round with an egg yolk inside so when you sliced the cake in half, you will see a round shape resembling the moon.  Though mooncakes were made in a round shape which symbolizes eternity, but throughout generations, it had taken on many new shapes and colors.

Sliced Mooncakes
Like the photo above -- the light color filling is made with Durian ice cream, which is completely new to me!  It's made in Singapore!  For those who are not familar with Durian -- it is a fruit that you either love or hate because of its very pungent smell.  I actually fall under one of the rare categories which is neutral.  I don't really love, nor disgusted by this fruit.  I usually don't crave for it, but sure can appreciate it.

If I was in Vietnam, China, Taiwan, or Hong Kong last night...or 2 nights ago (considering time difference) I would get to see all the beautiful handcrafted paper lanterns people make for children to carry around with their friends.  The lanterns are made to look like rabbits mostly, and some of other animals then a candle is lit inside the lantern, and you'd carry it around with a bamboo stick attached to it.  Ohh...I did that when I was young...

There is something I'm not clear about though -- why is the piglet so significant on this day?  They are always displayed on the shelf with the mooncakes.  Sure, they are adorable, but I can't think of why they are part of this celebration. The pig usually comes with a few piglets.  Perhaps it signifies rebirth, a new beginning?  Whatever the reasons are, Mid-Autumn Festival is definitely an evening being with friends and family and enjoy good stories and wonderful foods.  Just like Thanksgiving.

Dutch Pancake September 26 2012

Dutch Strawberry Pancake
Oh my!  I love, love, love Dutch Pancakes!  I can have them anytime of the day.  They and a pretty quick thing to whip up in just half hour!  Yup, from prep to out of oven in just half an hour and you'll be ready to impress your lovies.  The pancake fluffs up for a few seconds when it's first out of the oven so be sure your lovies won't miss out on the presentation!

You can make this with any fruits you have.  I prefer the classic strawberries even though Dutch Pancakes usually are made with apples.

1st Dragonfruit Harvest of the Year! September 09 2012

Wendi holding dragonfruit
For the past couple of years my Drgonfruits usually isn't ready for harvest until late Autumn, but this year it's ready so much earlier!  They are so delicious and refreshing after you chill them in the fridge for a while.  I love adding them in salads or eating it plain!

My Christmas Morning January 02 2012

Like some families -- Christmas morning is the time we gather and exchange presents. Except in this home, we have hired a present unwrapper to help us opening our gifts.  Her name is Lotus Phantastic, my doggie. She loves tearing anything you give her so you can say that she absolutely loves her job, especially at Christmas time!

What stinks like rotting flesh? October 31 2011

Corpse Flower at the Huntington Library
Remember those old movies where they showed a giant flower the size of an adult that eats people? Those are not completely false. It’s actually a combination of the two types of plants — Carnivorous plants, and Corpse flower. Carnivorous plants get their nutrients from digesting flies and insects, while Corpse flower (aka Stinking flower) uses their odor to attract insects to pollinate since the flower itself cannot pollinate itself.

Corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum) naturally grow in the rain-forests of Sumatra, Indonesia. The plant does not flower often, especially when it’s cultivated in a green house. It takes about 10 years to flower! Each plant has only one flower that can reach the height of 8-10 ft, and the scent is much like a rotting body. Can you imagine how strong this odor would be for a 10 ft tall flower!?

A couple years ago, I was fortunate enough to witness this flower in a place close to home, Huntington Library in San Marino, CA. Like all the odd plant lovers, I kept my eye close to the Huntington Library website to see the updates of the growth of this flower. Each day it grew a few inches to half a foot!


Stinky Plant

The first time I went to see it the flower hasn’t opened so I checked for updates on the website, and it said that it bloomed! I went there the second time, of course, hoping that I can see it in bloom since the bloom only last for about a day, or two. It was sort of unfortunate that the flower wasn’t fully open when I got there. I did managed to take some photos, and it was really awesome seeing a flower that’s taller than my tallest friend who’s 6′ 4″!


Nepenthes Rajah

Sure, the movies may exaggerate a tad about these flowers eating people, but it’s not entirely impossible. I did a little research for information about these plants eating mammals the size of humans, and found that one of the largest Carnivorous plant, Nepenthes Rajah, can swallow a frog, or any small mammals and reptiles! So in future if no human does any destructions to the rain-forests, we might find a giant Nepenthes Rajah with a human inside!


Hahaaaa…(or not…) Happy HalloweEeeEeeeeN!