Thursday, April 29, 2010

National Scrapbook Day

Coming soon! This weekend in fact. Unfortunately, I don't have any plans. We've got a full day of errands planned, which doesn't leave much time for scrapbooking. Not good since I'm going to a crop in a few weeks and at minimum, I should be prepping for that.

What are your NSD plans (or what were your plans)? Let me know in the comments by Monday and I'll use my crystal ball (or to pick a lucky commenter to receive some scrappy goodness. I'm not sure what yet, but maybe some stamps, ribbon...I'm sure I can find some yummy stuff.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Happy birthday car!

I was pretty excited when my car hit this milestone.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Italian Rice Balls

Arancini = Italian rice balls = deep fried rice/cheese/butter/beef yumminess! When I first joined the family, Mr. Fix-it's mom fixed these for a holiday and they quickly became a favorite of mine. They also led to a slightly uncomfortable discussion about rice, lol. She wanted to know where to buy "cheap broken rice" to make rice balls because it was stickier than regular rice. Hmmmm, I don't buy cheap broken rice and had no idea there was such a thing, which she didn't quite understand because she figured that I'm Chinese and should know about these things. She was not interested in my suggestion to use short grain rice, which is stickier than long grain rice. No matter, her rice balls were still delicious, no matter what rice she used.

We went to visit the Aunties this weekend so we thought we'd surprise them by making rice balls. We hadn't made them in two? three? years so were a bit out of practice, but they turned out well and the Aunties were so surprised. Uncle J wasn't there so they planned to freeze some of the leftovers for him. Isn't that sweet? Not that we couldn't make them again for the next visit.

Plus, I learned a bit of family trivia on the drive home. It turns out Mr. Fix-it's mom introduced rice balls to his dad's side of the family. For some reason, I thought it was the other way around. Now everybody love 'em! So enough babbling; here's the recipe (with lots of notes).

Rice "shell" ingredients
1 pound (3 cups) short grain rice
1 quart water
Pinch of saffron for color (optional)
2 egg yolks (save the whites for later)
1/4 pound of butter (1 stick), cut into pieces
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Filling ingredients
1 pound lean ground beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small can tomato paste
1/4 cup pine nuts
Salt, pepper
Olive oil

Bread crumb coating ingredients
3 cups fine bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (the stuff in the green can, not the good stuff, lol)
salt, pepper, parsley, garlic powder, optional

Oil for frying

1. Cook rice with the saffron in the water. I've cooked the rice over the stove and in a rice cooker and it turns out well either way. Just be sure the rice is quite dry when it is cooked.
2. Prepare filling: Saute onion in a bit of olive oil until softened. Add ground beef and brown. Remove any excess grease (I didn't have any since I used ground sirloin). Add tomato paste, pine nuts, and seasonings. Cook for 10 minutes.
3. Mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and seasonings.

4. Lightly beat the egg whites (you'll need them in step 7). Note that I needed three additional egg whites. I suppose you could use whole eggs too.

5. Add the egg yolks, butter, and Parmesan cheese to the rice. Let cool just enough so that you can handle the rice mixture.

6. Form the balls: Coat your hands (just the palms and fingers) with a little oil. Spread a heaping tablespoon or so in the palm of your hand. Make a depression in the middle and place about a teaspoon of the filling in the center. Add another teaspoon of rice on top to form a ball.
7. Roll the ball in the bread crumbs, then into the egg white, then back in the bread crumbs. Place on waxed paper until you're ready to deep fry them. We ended up with 24 rice balls.
8. Deep fry in vegetable oil until light golden brown. I fried them at 335°F for about 3-4 minutes. Place on paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

Cook's notes:
We ended up with over a cup of bread crumbs leftover so if you wanted to start with less, you could. But bread crumbs aren't expensive and I think having the extra made it easier to coat the rice balls.

We also ended up with almost two cups of filling leftover. Next time, we'll either use less meat, try to add more filling, or double the rice shell mixture and make more rice balls.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Blog update

I did it. Changed my blog title (for the third time since I started this blog). I'm hoping it will inspire me to include more photos, write more in depth thoughts, and blog more regularly. Wish me luck!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Thinking, thinking...

and not blogging. I've got stories to post and photos to post, yet they are still in my head or on my memory card. I could come up with lots of, FIL's illness, work, FIL's passing, work, family, work, hmmm, I'm noticing a theme here.

To add to all the fun, the bad news is my FIL's siblings have been in the hospital sometime in the past month, some more than once. Aunt M went in just before FIL's passing; Uncle J went in the day after the funeral (or was it two days?). And we just found out that Aunt G was in for a few days earlier this week. The good news is everyone is home now, almost everyone has recovered. Hopefully everyone, including us, will get/stay healthy.

With all that's going on, blogging falls to the bottom of the to-do list. I'm thinking about changing the title of my blog to something more meaningful/inspiring/motivating to me. Thinking...still thinking.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I'm waaay behind in posting these, but since I still want to keep track, here's a gas price for April.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I saw this pair hanging out in the neighborhood. They didn't seem to mind me taking a photo.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Passed on the blueberries again

They were only 99 cents for 4 oz. That's a great price, but again, these were from Chili. I can't wait until "local" blueberries are available. I put local in quotes because I'm willing to buy them if they're trucked in from another state. Obviously, I'm not on jumping on the locavorian wagon yet. And I bought veggies that weren't local, but I justified that with the thought they looked fresher than the local stuff and I'm making food to take to my BIL's for the last family dinner before my other BIL leaves. Baby steps, or maybe it is one step forward and then another step back.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

White envelopes and flowers

We (actually Mr. Fix-it) received two white envelopes with checks this week. They were inside the sympathy cards from my mom and cousin. Somehow, seeing that from my mom broke me up more than any of the other sympathy cards we received. Maybe because I knew she was following tradition. Or maybe because I knew she really didn't have the money to send (heck, I sent her a check earlier this year). Or maybe because it was a symbol of how much she cares. Mr. Fix-it thought it was a little weird, but considering how much a funeral costs and considering that it is a symbol of caring and considering that is a tradition I grew up with, we will accept the money graciously and gratefully.

On the other hand, I'm not such a traditionalist that I left all the flowers at the cemetery. I forgot that it was bad luck to take home the flowers. I couldn't resist because I hated the thought of hundreds of dollars of flowers rotting in the sun. Besides, my FIL would also have been appalled at the waste. So somehow, in bringing some of the flowers home, I think I'm honoring him a little bit.

Friday, April 09, 2010

It was a beautiful day

My FIL's funeral was today. It has been a crazy week. The family opted to forgo a mass since the first available opening was the middle of next week. I would have preferred the mass because 1) my FIL was a devoted Catholic and 2) I could have used the break in the preparations and the weekend to recover (just being honest here).

Monday was spent trying to recover from the shock of FIL's passing, planning the funeral, writing the obituary (we wanted to get it in the newspaper as soon as possible), and writing the bio and selecting the photos for the memorial website. Tuesday was more planning and an attempt to get some sleep. We hadn't gotten much sleep in the past few weeks. I also started a draft of the eulogy. Wednesday, made the memorial boards (woo hoo, used my Cricut to cut out the letters). It took way longer than I thought it would and I wish I had used more photos. Oh well. Finished the eulogy, but wasn't happy with it. Thursday was the viewing and vigil. Mr. Fix-it and I took a break mid-afternoon and the poor guy fell asleep as soon as he sat on the couch. I printed out more photos for the photo binder. After the vigil, we went back to FIL's house where the brothers reminisced about FIL. BILs and Mr. Fix-it were finally able to talk a bit about their dad and share some good memories. Just a few thoughts here and there helped fill out their image of their father and I was able to rewrite the eulogy that night (yes, more lack of sleep).

Then there was today. The sun shone brightly; there was a breeze. This morning, we brought a few more photos to the funeral home that we forgot yesterday. Met Deacon Bill who was from FIL's church and officiating. Saw family whom I hadn't seen since the last funeral (Uncle N, last year) and the funeral before that (Uncle T, two years ago). It was difficult, really, really difficult to get started with the eulogy. I'm not sure why. Deacon Bill and Mr. Fix-it both came up to give me moral support. It wasn't this difficult when I gave the eulogy for Mr. Fix-it's mother. But I got through it...barely. And hopefully I won't need to do this again for a long, long time.

It was a beautiful service, it was wonderful seeing family, it was a really, really sad day.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Saying goodbye

My father-in-law passed away early Sunday morning. Easter Sunday was a beautiful day. We spent it with family, but it was rather surreal as we were all in shock, and then we were really shook up with an earthquake that afternoon (that one based in Mexico).

I haven't had time to mourn with all that has been going on. So far, the service has been planned, mass cards selected, flowers ordered, obituary submitted, and the biography written/photos selected for the memorial tribute. I still need to print photos and make the memory boards and write the eulogy. I'm exhausted.