Tradition: Kimchi-Giving

It’s takes an entire day – yes, a whole day to make a batch of Kimchi that will last my family 2-3 months depending on our appetite and craving for this crunchy, perfectly spicy, salty & sweet homemade kimchi.  

Since I started making my own kimchi back in 2007 when I first met Maangchi, my family has learned to eat a lot of complementing Korean dishes with my home-made kimch.  

I am proud that I make a good balance of flavor with the best ingredients I can find.  Every year I make more kimchi not just for our consumption but also to give and share to special friends who are always in line waiting for my freshly made kimchi.  

It is becoming a tradition.  Making kimchi and giving it away ūüėä.  Sharing food is one of my favorite ways to show love, thanks and appreciation to a friend or a family member.

Can’t you smell my kimchi?

Individually jarred and ready to give away Kimchi



Frugal but not Stingy with my Laundry (All Natural & Chemical-Free!!!)

I discovered Soap Nuts back in July 2015 while researching online about Eczema.  My children have eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) and I have used so many products for their skin care for I was so desperate to find a cure.  As doctors always say that there is no cure to eczema but proper skin maintenance,  I was still frustrated because I have done almost everything possible – bought all kinds of moisturizing lotion, emollient and oil but their skin are still full of irritation.  Back in July, both of my girls were suffering severe redness and itch and I couldn’t take watching them be in that situation.  I even became a member of the National Eczema Association and it somehow helped me be informed as a caretaker for eczema-suffering-children.  The NEA is a great resource and I really enjoy reading articles and learning from other parents whose children also suffer from Atopic Dermatitis.

Anyway, during my research, I came upon a website/blog It’s an Itchy World.  After reading Heidi’s story and seeing the photos of her baby I was eagerly inspired and convinced that Soap Nuts will work for my children.  I guess if you’re a mother, just like any mother, we will do anything to find a cure or even just find a way to relieve the redness and itch from eczema.  That same moment, I was online purchasing my first bag of Soap Nuts.

What are Soap Nuts (from NaturOli Website):

Soap nuts are known worldwide by many names such as soapnuts, soapberry, washing nuts, soap nut shells, wash shells, soapberry nut husk, Ritha (Hindi) nut shell, Chinese soapberry and many more. Very simply, soap nuts are the dried shells (or husks) from the soapberry (or soap berry nut). These berries are the fruit from a quite unique tree species. These shells contain a substance called saponin that produces a soaping effect. Saponin is a 100% natural alternative to chemical laundry detergent and cleansers. It can replace many chemical detergents such as those containing sodium laureth sulphate (SLS) that are becoming well known by consumers for being a skin irritant and health hazard

I first tried to use my soap nuts as how others traditionally would do it, by putting 4-6 soap nuts in a muslin bag and throwing it into the washing machine.  My laundry came out unbelievably clean and odor-free.  Because I’ve been using free & clear laundry soap for years before I discovered soap nuts, I wasn’t expecting my laundry to smell fragrantly fresh.  I’ve been using ALL Laundry Detergent for a long time.  It was recommended by our Pediatrician because according to the doctor it is very mild.  However, even with ALL, my girls’ skin were irritated.

With more research, I discovered that I can make my own Soap Nut laundry detergent.  There’s a lot of resources on YouTube but this is my favorite:

With my old Laundry detergent, it costs me $15.00 per month but now with soap nuts, I’ve been saving a lot of money and saving the environment in my own little way by not dumping my old laundry detergent plastic bottle.   I bought 4 pounds of soap nuts for $39.95.  I’ve been using it since July and I am only about half way thru my large bag.  That means I spend about $6.67 per month  on laundry soap.  I did also invest on a bottle of lavender essential oil and I add a few drops into my washing load.  A 2-ounce bottle of lavender essential oil cost $18.00 at Whole Foods.  This bottle will last me a long time.  I also bought Trader Joe’s Lavender Dryer bags.  It’s chemical-free and I use it to supplement my use of essential oil.

I still have another 3-4 months before my bag of soap nuts are all gone.  To those who want to try soap nuts here are a few things to note:

  • Soap nuts are fragrant-free.  Do not expect your laundry to be aromatic.
  • I personally buy NaturOli soap nuts but there are other soap nuts available online.  MAKE SURE YOU ARE BUYING FROM A RELIABLE SELLER.
  • Buy only de-seeded soap nuts
  • Read more about soap nuts before trying it.  There are a lot of resources online specially on YouTube
  • Be patient while learning to use soapberry nuts
  • Be creative and resourceful… I also put my used soap buts in my garden ūüôā

A Tribute to my Mom

I created this video in 2012 for my Mom’s 68th birthday celebration.

Today in Manila – October 14, 2015 marks the 1st Anniversary of my Mom’s passing. ¬†I just want to post this video and share to the world how beautiful, strong, talented, loving and compassionate my Mother was. ¬†

Ma, I love you. ¬†Nobody can ever know how much I miss you. ¬†I miss your voice, I miss your smell, I miss you being around us, I miss everything about you… most of all, I miss your warm embrace.

I pray for your eternal rest.

Last photo taken with my Mom (August 2014)

Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon (Ampalaya) Soup – Canh Kho Qua Nhoi Thit

I learned this recipe from a Vietnamese friend, Bok’s colleague Hieu (a.k.a. Kobe). ¬†His wife cooks this Vietnamese soup for him and when I tasted it, it was goodbye to my traditional style of cooking bitter melon with eggs. ¬†Thank you Kobe!! Thank you Mrs. Kobe ūüôā

This soup is very light but “bitter” if you are not used to eating this kind of vegetable. ¬†Bitter melon belongs to the gourd family. ¬†It is usually¬†used in Asian cooking or used for it’s medicinal properties. ¬†When I was young, my siblings and I were served bitter melon sauteed in eggs, tomatoes and a little bit of pork. ¬†It was a long… very long learning experience to get used to the taste. ¬†I thought I’d never learn to eat it but now that I live in the U.S., I always recollect¬†upon the old recipes we used to cook when we were young eating simple dishes in The Philippines.

To make this soup is economical, healthful and easy.


  • 5 Medium Bitter Gourd/Melon
  • 1 lb. Ground Turkey (Pork or Chicken can be used as well)
  • 1/2 cup chopped wood ear mushrooms (use fresh or dehydrated)
  • 1 cup glass noodle or vermicelli (soaked in warm water and chopped)
  • 2-3 large shallots (sliced, fried and seasoned with salt)
  • 4 stalks of green onions chopped
  • 1 egg
  • Salt, pepper, mushroom seasoning or fish sauce (optional)

In a large bowl, combine ground meat, chopped green onions, chopped wood ear mushrooms, glass noodle, and egg. Season to taste (salt and pepper) and mix well.

Cut the bitter gourd into 2-3 inch cylinder.  Removed the fibrous pulp using a teaspoon.  You may soak the prepared bitter melon in salt water for 20 minutes before stuffing to removed a little bit of the bitter taste.  Make sure to rinse it before stuffing.

Stuff the meat mixture into the gourd cylinders making sure it is not stuffed loosely or too tightly.

Fill a large stock pot with 3 liters of water. ¬†Wait until rolling boil. ¬†Slowly drop the stuffed bitter melon into the boiling water. Return to boil and removed the excess scum or foam with a skimmer. ¬†Boil for 20-25 minutes. ¬†Season with fish sauce… I don’t use fish sauce but I use mushroom seasoning or just plain salt. ¬†When it’s done transfer to a bowl and garnish with the fried shallots and chopped cilantro leaves. ¬†These will truly bring out a great flavor for your soup.

I hope you enjoy making this recipe. ¬†I cook a large batch of this and Bok¬†brings it to work for his lunch. ¬†It’s very healthy and light you will enjoy this anytime of the year.

HŠļ°nh ph√ļc nŠļ•u ńÉn! ¬†(Happy Cooking!)

Letters that make my day… CHILDREN INTERNATIONAL (Sponsor a Child)

Back in 2013, Bok asked me what I want to do when we grow older and what will make me happy during those times.  I clearly remember that day when he asked me that question, we were driving with the kids and when we do long drives, Bok and I enjoy talking about life, our families, our goals, plans and dreams.

I remember thinking deeply and asking myself, what will make me happy specially when I get older, after we raise our own children. ¬†Only one thing came to mind… CHILDREN. ¬†In 2014, I discovered Children International. ¬†Together with my girls, we scoured profiles of needy children and finally picked Ariana and Arjon. ¬†Ariana is a girl from Legazpi, Philippines and she is the same age as Jade (my eldest daughter) and because we don’t have a son in the family and we lost our little boy when I had a miscarriage in 2010, we decided to pick¬†Arjon, a 5-year-old boy from the Philippines.

We’ve been sponsoring these two beautiful children for more than a year now; and to us, this journey is just beginning and we enjoy every moment and opportunity that we are able to help these children live better lives through our sponsorship with the help of Children International.

How does it feel to sponsor? ¬†It’s PRICELESS. ¬†No burden, no worries, no pressure, no second thoughts.

We love hearing back from Arjon and Ariana after we write them. ¬†It keeps our relationship going as we learn about each other’s lives. ¬†Funny thing, both of them don’t know that we are a Filipino-Chinese-American family. ¬†We’ve been writing them in English and I never mentioned to them that we speak the language they speak. ¬†We do this because we want to surprise them. ¬†This coming December (2015), in coordination with Children International, we will be meeting these children face to face. ¬†We will visit their homes, school and community in Legazpi, Philippines. ¬†It’s going to be a trip of a lifetime.

Thanks to Children International for this great program, thanks to their great staff both from the U.S. and all around the world.

Thanks to Ariana and Arjon for these letters that always make my day.  See you soon!


F√ľr Elise (For Elise) after 7 Years…






Cua Pao (Gua Bao) – Lovingly learned from my Mom-In-Law

I first tasted Cua Pao when my mother-in-law visited us in California and she made her own version.¬† From then on, because of the savory, sour, sweet and nutty taste of Cua Pao, it’s become one of the family favorites.¬† Cua Pao also known as folded steamed sweet buns with filling is an authentic “Chinese” recipe.¬† Similar to when you order Peking Duck, stewed pork belly cut in slices are placed in a steaming hot sweet bun. It’s very easy to make and it’s a sure hit to anyone who loves to explore authentic Chinese meal.¬† Definitely NOT a vegan recipe but it’s a classic hand-me-down family recipe¬†ūüôā

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  • Pork Belly
  • Soy Sauce
  • Mirin
  • Cooking Sake or Rice Wine
  • Ginger
  • Star Anise
  • Cilantro
  • Sour Mustard
  • Chopped garlic
  • Chopped peanuts with white sugar or crushed peanut cake
  • Folded white steamed buns


First, prepare the stewed pork belly.  In a large pot, boil pork belly with crushed ginger for 30-45 minutes making sure to remove the scum for a clear/clean broth.  The broth should reduce then mix in soy sauce, mirin, and sake.  Reduce for another 15 minutes.

In a wok, heat oil and brown the chopped garlic.  Mix in thinly sliced sour mustard and stir fry for 5-7 minutes making sure you squeeze out the water from the mustard before cooking.

Prepare cilantro leaves.

Steam store-bought buns for 10-15 minutes.

Assemble your cua pao… and enjoy!

My Children…¬†


I am a Mother of our two most precious Angels, God-given, Life-motivating, and our source of Happiness. Having our children changed me as a person, made me a stronger woman, taught me to be more patient, fearless, selfless, brave, God-fearing, creative, hardworking, silly, nagging, fun-loving, and compassionate.  As our children grow, and as I age, I slowly realize my stages of growth when I was a child myself, growing up with 3 siblings being raised by our parents back in The Philippines.  Every stage, I tend to flash back and discern the struggle my parents had to overcome.  It’s not easy to raise children but it is definitely The Best thing in my life, my family.  My husband and our children they are the source of my strength. 
I got this book today from the Thrift Store in Tustin for only $0.50.  I am excited to learn more and understand how to inprove my parenting skills.  That’s another thing I learned as a parent, spending money wisely ūüėČ and THAT, is very important.

Thanks for reading!

Gotgamssam Salgussam Í≥∂ÍįźžĆą (Walnuts wrapped in Persimmon/Apricot)

One of my favorite snack recipe that I learned from Maangchi is Gotgamssam Salgussam.  I enjoy how easy it is to make these and I also love how healthy and filling it can be.

It’s been a couple of years since I last made some of these but last week, I was able to buy good quality dried persimmons at our local Korean Market (H-Mart).  I also purchased organic dried Turkish Apricots from a Persian market here in Laguna Niguel.

It is always best to use whole walnuts but I only found halves and pieces at Trader Joes.

When you try it, have it with your favorite Tea.  Enjoy!