instant pot: Chinese braised short ribs


Yes, I joined the Instant Pot bandwagon. It's all the rage right now, but it is for a reason. It's a miracle worker, I swear. It use to take me 16 hours to make this ridiculously amazing Kahlua Pig with my slow cooker, and now 90 minutes under pressure with the Instant Pot.

Game. Changer.

After following a few recipes for the past couple weeks, I'm starting to feel comfortable with this new appliance. This is my first try at something without a recipe. And I have to say, it's a keeper. After removing the short ribs, I threw in some potatoes in the remaining liquids and cooked it under pressure for 6 minutes. 6 minutes, people! Have you ever cooked potatoes in such a short amount of time? It was delicious and flavorful. Needless to say, I have already given my slow cooker away.

bryant & hudson turn 1


I can't believe my babies turned 1 last month. It's official, my boys are now toddlers.

First birthday parties are not really for the birthday child... children in our case. It's more for the parents to celebrate the fact that we survived the first year. Gary and I not only survived the first year, but the first year with twins (and a 3-year old). And celebrated we did! With lots of food, friends, and family!

The party was held at one of our favorite local restaurants, Lincoln. They did a beautiful and delicious job with the catering. The menu was both kid- and parent-friendly with lots of healthy options.

Just thinking about the cakes makes me so happy. The cakes turned out exactly as I had envisioned with the personalized toppers and city skyline. They were extra special because it was a collaboration with two of my mama friends. The cake was made by our talented pastry chef friend and the cake topper was designed by another good friend of ours, Jody from my baby olive juice.

With Austin's first birthday, I went all out... basically handmade everything possible. So, with the twins' I wanted to do the same. It just wouldn't be fair, if I didn't make some effort. But with three in tow, it was hard to fulfill my ambitions.

The theme of the party was New York City. If you didn't know, Bryant and Hudson were named after landmarks of my birth city, as Austin was named after Gary's birth city.  NYC was also where Gary and I met and got married. There is just so many ties for us, so it was obvious to throw a party with the theme.

With half the guests being kids under 5, I wanted to make it playful and inviting. I created a mini city by repositioning some Ikea market stands into a newsstand, a cupcake shop, a tattoo parlor, and a pizzeria. Gary even put together a special edition newspaper featuring the birthday boys.

Its so hard to believe with so many weeks of planning, a party like this is over within a couple of hours. Thanks to all our friends and family who were able to come celebrate with us and our boys.

Photos by Sadaf Murad Photography

holiday candy cane tags


With just a few days until Christmas, I was somehow overcome with guilt that I didn't do anything for Austin's preschool friends for the holidays. I did plan a small gift for his closer friends, but not his whole class. And I know it is not expected of me to do anything. However, memories of the little goodie bags from Halloween and last Christmas came back to haunt me. Will mommy guilt never end?

I couldn't get over it, so I went to Target and picked up Austin's favorite holiday treat... candy canes. This kid can eat mints til next Christmas. I'm serious. He can win anyone over an Altoids eating contest.

With the candy canes, I added a little tag made by printing a message on some adhesive paper. Austin had a grand ol' time putting each one in his friend's cubbies. I'm glad I did these because I got to share the experience of giving (even if it was a small gesture) with my little boy.

Here's a free download of the tags. Happy Holidays, Everyone!

packing peanuts snowman


Yay! It's holiday season. Happy Holidays everyone!

It's been busy land over here; I've been pushing through with the house construction before El Nino starts, while wrapping up a couple of my design projects and managing a family of 5. But there is always time to do a fun craft, especially with a 3-year old.

I've been trying to be creative with my gift-wrapping this season. I really love the idea that the gift is not what it seems like in this Target commercial. It was from 2 years ago but I still remember it. For a gift exchange I had with some mommy friends, I came up with this idea to "wrap" the gift with packing peanuts that the gift conveniently came with. I also thought it would a fun craft to do with my 3-year old. Instead he decided to make "snow" with the packing peanuts.

Also, check out the ornament snow globe and the paper roll christmas wreath I did last year.

framing complete


We've made a lot of progress since August, as you can see from the photo above. The framing is about 99% done, the roof is weather-proofed, and MEP rough-ins are in the works. Sadly, we didn't capture a time-lapse of the framing because the heat from the few hots days we've had had fried our camera. Boo! 

There has been a few hiccups since the completion of our foundation, but not a major setback. The first unanticipated event that happened occurred about halfway through the framing stage. The original crew just abandoned our job because they were offered more pay on another project. With all the construction happening these days, its been competitive to line up good subcontractors. Fortunately, our general contractor were able to get another crew on board within a couple of days. It took a couple more for the new team to get acquainted with the work and what has already been done. 

The weather was another unexpected cause for delay. There were a few rainy days before we got the roof on. Its crazy how dirty it gets after a storm. Thankfully we got the roof wrapped, because rain has been forecasted for the upcoming winter months, a lot of it. 

Now that we have the skeleton of the house, I'll be posting about the fun stuff soon: finishes. 
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