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Recipes

Penne with Pesto Sauce

Pesto is another Italian sauce that is so simple to prepare. In fact, I grow my own basil at home just for this menu. If it is hard to obtain pine nuts in your area, you can use peanuts or other kinds of nuts, too.

Ingredients:

  • Basil leaves, 1 cup
  • pine nuts, 1 table spoon
  • olive oil, one quater cup
  • grated parmesan cheese, one quater cup
  • Penne (or any other type of pasta)
  • a glove of garlic, chopped
  • olive oil, 2 table spoons
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

Steps:

  1. Combine pine nuts, basil leaves, olive oil and parmesan cheese altogether in the blender. Grind them finely.
  2. Bring salted water to boil. Add penne and cook until aldante. Remove from heat. Drain the cooked penne.
  3. Add the pesto sauce from the first step into the penne. Mix well. Add salt and pepper to your liking.

 

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Grilled Vegetables

Sometimes you don’t want to eat too much especially for dinners. Grilled vegetables are the perfect choice. This recipe is recommended by Alice Waters. It’s incredibly simple to prepare yet extremely delicious. Simply season vegetables of your choice with olive oil and salt and baked them at 225C for 20 minutes. The reason we use salt is not for saltiness per se but to use salt to bring out the true flavors of those vegetables.

Recommended vegetables for this recipe are potatoes, pumpkins, butternut squashs, bell peppers, cauliflowers, zuchinis and brocollis. It is advisable to slice them evenly in terms of thickness so that they are cooked uniformly.

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Chicken Stock

Chicken stock is one of the kitchen essentials. Try and avoid instant stock whenever possible, because it tastes unnatural. Making home chicken stock is not as complicated as one might think. It is worth the efforts.

Buy chicken skeletons from supermarket. They are cheap. Wash them to remove blood. Boil them briefly once to remove further residue.

On the pot, put in onions, carrots and celery along with chicken skeleton. You may add one bouquet of spices including but not limited to Thymes. This is optional. Add salt. Bring them to boil and reduce heat to simmer for at least 45 minutes, but preferably 1.30 hours. Take out any residue on the surface.

Filter them with cotton cloth. You can store them in the freezer for as long as 2-3 months.

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Japanese Pickled Cucumber

We recommend a lot of japanese cuisine in this blog. So, you might want to have some pickle recipe to go with them. Try this simple cucumber pickle recipe.

For the best result, japanese cucumber is recommended, but you can go for english cucumber or any local cucumber you can find, too. Prepare them by cut into small pieces, add 1 teaspoons of salt and mix well. Leave them alone for 15 minutes. Rinse out excess water (quite a lot of them!). Then add 1 teaspoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, some amount of sesame seeds and 1/3 cup of rice vinegar. That’s all.

You can keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

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Recipes

Berry Yogurt

Let us kick off this food blog with the food I eat every morning, the berry yogurt. The idea is to incorporate all the healthy ingredients first thing in the morning; those that experts recommend us to eat daily i.e. berries, nuts, seeds and arguably dairy products. At least, by having this cup every morning you have done your homework. Besides, all ingredients can be readily stored in the fridge making this menu perfect for breakfast.

I only eat a cup of berry yogurt for breakfast, perhaps with one apple or banana, if I am not hungry. Otherwise, I switch yogurt for oatmeals if more calories are needed later in the day such as the day I go to gyms in the morning. Besides, I change the types of berries, nuts and seeds from time to time so that I never get bored with this menu. There are hugh varieties of them to choose from. The choices are unlimited.

Ingredients:

  • Plain Yogurt – 1 servings
  • 3-4 pieces of walnuts
  • a few frozen blueberries
  • some sesame seeds
  • honey on top (optional)

15 Tips to better organise your apartment

Organising home is by no means an easy task. Living in a small condominium for years, I have learned numerous tips to share with you.

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Determine the location of your desk first

It would be ideal if your desk is so close to the window that you can read without a lamp. Natural light is the most comfortable light to the eyes. Besides, it saves energy. It’s even better if the natural light comes from your left side so that you get no glare on your laptop screen.

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Locations of AC outlets can be crucial too

Ideally your room should have AC outlets on every wall so that you don’t have to extend AC cords all over the place. That’s messy. If not possible, tell your developer in advance to install AC outlets on walls that you plan to place electrical appliances. If all of that are not possible, you will have to live with it. You have to place all electrical appliances near given AC outlets whether you like it or not in order to keep your room tidy.

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Store stuffs according to their usage

Every square inch in your apartment is a real estate. Things used everyday must be kept easily accessible whereas things rarely used can be put away. For example, your tax document archives can be stored on top shelf because chances are you might not need them at all in the future. Meanwhile, your desktop is reserved only for items you use frequently and nothing else.

IMG_0631Blind cupboards are better than transparent ones

In general, blind cupboards are better than transparent ones because they will not make your room look messy. Cupboards are supposed to be used to store stuffs that you don’t use often. And more often than not, those stuffs are not very beautiful.

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Drawers are better than boxes

In general, I find storage units with drawers are better than the ones with the top lid, because it is faster for you to retrieve things. The only drawback is they tend to be more expensive.

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Shallow boxes are better than deep ones

If you decide to go for boxes, the shallow ones are generally better than the deep ones. With deep boxes, you tend to pile stuffs inside them making it hard to find things you are looking for. Alternatively, use dividers to organise space inside the box.

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Don’t stuffs to much, always leave 20% space

Don’t try to stuffs to much things on your storage units as well as anywhere in the room. Always leave 20% extra space for future expansion.

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Use Ziplock bags to organise cables

Everyone has a large bunch of unused cables at home. Don’t buy any commercial cable organisers. Rather, store them individually in a ziplock bag. 

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Hanging is a smart way to keep stuffs

Utilise any empty wall by hanging stuffs on it. It saves space and easier to access.

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Don’t keep your CDs/DVDs

They takes up a lot of space and growing very rapidly. Instead rip the movies , store them digitally on hard drives and throw away the physical media. In the case of music, I subscribe a streaming service and stop buying CDs entirely. For books, I try to buy them on kindle first.

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Don’t store stuffs on the floor

Although it’s tempting, storing stuffs on the floor makes the process of floor cleaning more difficult.

Buy the portable vacuum cleaner

a full-blown vacuum cleaner is too large for an apartment. Buy a portable vacuum cleaner instead but don’t buy a cordless one. The cordless ones are not powerful enough and literally useless.

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Curtains collect dusts

Curtains tend to collect dusts and hard to clean up. So are dolls and fabric couches. If your place has a lot of dust problems, go for plastic.

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Trash can is not necessary

Personally I don’t have trash can in my place. I just hang recycled plastic bags on the front door as a trashcan. Every morning, I simply take it to the public dumper when I leave my condo.

Discard some of your belongings every now and then

No matter how well you organise your room, sooner or later, it will get clustered again because you keep buying new things. While it is not practical to suggest you to stop buying new things altogether, every now and then, discard some of your unused belongings to free up some space. Admittedly, home organising can never be perfect. It is an ongoing process.

     

How to be a better macbook user

OS X is a great operating system. Its UX is craftly designed for intuitive use. Its robustness provide users with true productivity and peace of mind. Nonetheless, some knowledge of its functionality could lift your macbook experience even higher.

Power Management

Unlike PCs, macbooks have only one energy-saving mode i.e. sleep mode. Sleep mode is triggered by closing the lid. This is a natural design since closing the lid is what you do when you finish using macbook. It is the best practice to put macbook in sleep mode after use instead of powering off because the machine will wake up faster from sleep mode. Macbooks are designed to be able to stay in sleep mode as long as one month before the battery runs out. 

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When a macbook is connected to a projector, OS X is smart enough to detect this and therefore does not go to sleep. However, problems arise when you need to listen to iTunes music with the lid closed. In this case, you have to use third-party application such as InsomniaX (free) to control the lid. Otherwise, simply leave the lid open.

Also, In some cases, you need to download large data from the internet overnight. Again, you have to keep the lid open (or use InsomniaX). PowerNap feature could not solve this problem because PowerNap only do tasks related to synchronisation and backups. In fact, I personally do not enable PowerNap.

Virus Protection

I once believed OS X was virus-free.  After using it without protection for two years, I installed a anti-virus software and found some tens spywares/malwares on my macbook. Hence, it is recommended to install some antivirus software on your macbook such as AVG antivirus which is free. In addition, if possible, install softwares from Apple App stores. They have tested those softwares vigorously to ensure us safety.

Backup and Recovery

The best way to backup your macbook is through its Time Machine. With time machine, you can recover specific files as well as the entire system. In order to perform full recovery, restart the machine and hold down Command R at startup to fresh install OS X. Your macbook will download OS X media directly via the internet. In case you also need to reformat your hard drive, you have to create a bootable thumb drive first using DiskMaker X, a free utility. 

I strongly recommend every macbook user to invest in a Time Machine. It is truly a great design because 1) it backs up your data on different physical drive, 2) it backs up incrementally, not congesting the network and 3) it backs up everything.

Alternatively, you can rely on iCloud to back up documents, photos and application settings. However, iCloud don’t support third-party documents and application. Furthermore, if your photo and movie collections get very large, iCloud could become impractical and expensive backup solutions. 

Speed Up OS X

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Finally, after long period of use, your hard drive could run out of space and your machine could get slower. To fix this, first of all, go to System Preferences > Users&Groups > Login items and uncheck startup programs that you don’t really need. Then use third party software such as OS Cleaner Master (free) to investigate your hard drive and get rid of unused data. Do these tasks once in a while to keep your macbook in decent shape.