Saturday, October 18, 2014

DIY Dried Lavender Potpourri Pouches

I have been sewing a lot lately from quilts to kitchen appliances covers and my last project was making potpourri pouches for party favors. I made small pouches, filled it with dried lavender, sewed them together, put some ribbons, and there I have very cute, pretty, naturally scented homemade potpourri pouches. My daughter loves to take a pouch, which she calls her little pillow, to go to sleep. It makes a lovely natural air freshener too. This will be for the birthday party favors of a friend's two year old daughter. I hope the little ones will love getting them as much as my daughter does! This will work as homemade gifts for the upcoming Christmas or any wedding or bridal/baby shower parties as well. :)

Lavender has a healing and calming effect which helps us to relax and go to sleep. The use of lavender essential oil is endless. It has powerful healing powers from treating rashes, soothing eczema, relieve muscle aches, and more. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

My Sewing Journey: It's Never Too Late to Learn A New Skill... and Never Give Up!

I started learning to sew three months before my daughter was born. I braved myself and bought a second hand sewing machine, not knowing anything about it and how to use it. 

I started to watch online tutorials and familiarized myself with sewing terms and machine parts and I was so happy when I made my ever first sewing project - a small tissue holder. I even added lace, I thought it was so fancy. I was so proud of this first accomplishment.

 Then I bought zippers and I wanted to learn how to sew in zippers, sos I made a small pouch. Though far from perfect, it was another milestone for me.

Then I wanted more. I wanted to know more, learn more, and make more, but there was so much information online I started to get lost, so I made an investment to take four basic sewing lessons with someone I found off craigslist. It was not cheap but in retrospect, it was well worth it. I became more comfortable with my basic stitches, I was able to ask all my questions from learning myself, and most importantly, the teacher gave me a boost of confidence that I could do more and better with regular practice. I told my teacher I really wanted to try make this handbag, but I was too intimidated to try it. She simply said: "You can do this." And just like that, I felt that much more confident of my ability, despite my limited knowledge, that I could do it. Then I know, this is why I paid so much money to learn - not so much for the how-to's, but for these precious intangibles. Fresh out of the class, I made the handbag, with many challenges that involved a broken needle and lots of painful unpickings, but I was able to follow the steps from the beginning until the end, and learned a lot of new sewing skills in between.

Since then I experimented with ruffles, inserting buttons, smocking, making dresses for my baby girl, quilts, household products, and more. 

A stand-mixer cover

Sewing Machine Cover

Christmas Tree Skirt

My daughter's first birthday dress

A Clutch

Quilt for Baby #2

Quilt for Baby Niece

(You can find all the tutorials through my arts and crafts album on my facebook page)

It is very true that you get better with practice. With more practice, the more stable, comfortable, and confident you get with the machine and sewing techniques. I don't like the process of measuring, cutting, and pressing fabrics, but they are all crucial to the final product. There is no short cut. And it is so with anything in life. So I am learning to enjoy the process. And I learn that the process of learning is more important than the final product itself, because it teaches us perseverance and discipline. 

"Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope" - Romans 5:3-4

Hope this inspires and encourages us to never give up. It is also never too late (or too early) to learn a new skill! I asked my husband sometimes if sewing is a waste of time, and he said "I wish someone taught me some very practical skills when I was young, which I can pass on to my children. Now you can." :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Delicious, Easy, and Healthy Meals with Mekhala Living Sauces!

I love cooking and I mostly cook from scratch, but I find there are times when I am in a rush but would still like to cook healthy food for my family and I can't use ready-made sauces that I find in the supermarket because most of them are full of refined sugar, artificial flavors and colors, and preservatives. I was so happy when I came across Mekhala Living's sauces recently and cooking has never been easier. 

Meklaha Living is a Singaporean-Thai company that manufacture their own range of organic and natural Asian food products in their own factory in Thailand. They purchase their raw materials from small farms in Northern Thailand at fair prices and work closely with these farmers in a mutually beneficial relationship that helps them and the farmers grow together.

Their products are:
- 100% natural ingredients, with no artificial flavors, colorings or preservatives
- vegan (and most of them are gluten-free)
- made from wholesome, organic/natural ingredients. They use himalayan pink salt, rice bran oil and coconut sugar in their products, which are much healthier alternatives to regular table salt, vegetable oil and refined sugar.
- incredibly easy to use: perfect for those who would love to cook but don't have the time to prepare from scratch.

I have tried five of their sauces and here is what I think of them:

Blackpepper Beef Stir Fry

If you are a big fan of blackpepper sauce, you will have to try this sauce. It may not have the umami kick that you get in blackpepper meat dish from a Chinese restaurant (because I'm sure they put a lot of MSG in it), but it is as savory and blackpepper-y as you can get home made. You just need to put a little bit of sauce for a good portion of meat. I cooked it with beef, in the picture above, and will try it with cod fish next time.

This is now my to-go sauce to pour over steaks I make at home. It has a mild sweetness and peppery kick and it is just so mouth watering over a hot sizzling steak!

I marinated potatoes and baked them to pair with steak and it is delish! I love the smell of coriander. It is so refreshing!

Basil Garlic Pasta

Okay.. this has to be the best sauce out of the ones I have tried. It is like pesto and perfect for making quick and easy pasta dishes. Even my two year old loves it! I only have to put a little bit of the paste over a good portion of pasta because it is very concentrated and flavorful. If there is one sauce I would recommend you trying (out of the five I've tried), it would be this one. It is very good to marinade chicken with as well.

By itself, the flavor is delicious and it has a good balance between sweet, sour, and saltiness. But in order to get a full, tasty pad thai flavor, I need to use a lot of sauce for a small portion of noodles. It is still definitely cheaper than buying pad thai in a Thai restaurant, but value-wise, the other four sauces are better.

Aside from sauces, they also sell organic coconut oil, rice, and teas. Their products are available in specialty shops (e.g. Four Seasons organic store at Parkway Parade), various online stores and at their flagship store in Pasarbella. 

If you are interested in trying (and I'm sure you will be well pleased!), they are giving a 10% discount for purchases over $30 and it is free shipping for orders over $25 at both their online shop and their Pasarbella shop (just quote "PastureLiving" to the salesperson). Offer is valid from 1 October 2014 - 30 November 2014. 

Check out the recipes section on Mekhala Living's website and youtube channel for cooking ideas and follow their facebook page for news and promotions.

 Disclosure: I was given products for review and no monetary compensation was received. All opinions are my own.