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Killing Ants

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with the ants here.  Most people complain about the cockroaches, but I’ve had that under control for several years now.  (Just put out 20-50 cockroach traps in every nook and drawer.  Change every 3-4 months)  But ants have always eluded me.  I could never find a trap they liked for long.  They ALWAYS came back.  I looked up some ideas online.  Seems like Borax will do them in.  Dehydrates them or something.  But how to administer it?  Drops around the house?  Sprinkled in with powdered sugar.  Again, nothing worked for long.  Until I mixed it with a little water, made a solution, and added honey.  Good bye ants!  As long as I leave a little (like 2 TB) out on the counter in a mini container (or bottle cap) they wander by but never stay.  Take about 1 TB borax, add 2 TB hot water, stir until there are still some crystals at the bottom.  Add 2 TB honey or sugar syrup.  Mix and set out on the counter.  It does dry up over time, so you’ll have to replace it about once a month, but it really truly does the trick.

anttrap

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival

moonfestI’m so happy to have come back and not missed the Mid-Autumn Festival.  Because you know what that means?  Moon cakes 🙂  Here in Taiwan, everyone has a BBQ with their friends and families.  There are fireworks (of course), pomelo, moon cakes, snacks of all kinds; and everyone is in front of their house with an itty-bitty BBQ.  Kind of peaceful and sweet.  I’ve made attempts at re-creating a gluten free version of the moon cake above.  Not my best culinary creation, so I’m not including a recipe.  Instead:

DSCN4682Yeah.  Doesn’t look very appetising to an American.  These are Apple Pears.  Chances are, you can find them in your local grocery store, especially if you live on the West Coast.  There are many different varieties, large and brown to small and almost yellow.  They are lightly sweet, and have a delicious crisp crunch to them (better than an apple in my opinion).  So how to pick a good one?  I’m not sure… but it should feel firm, and not be too dark brown or tinged green.  Peel off the skin on the outside (bitter and chewy), then slice like an apple.  Like I said, they have a delicate flavor, so don’t try them the first time if you have just had something strong before hand.  Savor alone 🙂

中秋節快樂!

新年快樂! Happy Chinese New Year

DSCN2492

Chinese New Year is my favorite time of year here in Taiwan.  Everyone leaves the city to visit another city, or relatives in the country.  The world is QUIET.  In a city of 2.6 million people, I can’t hear a thing.  It’s wonderous.  Which brings me to choosing oranges and tangerines, this season’s finest.  I haven’t gotten pictures of all the oranges offered here yet, but let me tell you there are quite a few.  Pictured above is a tangerine with loose skin.  It’s so sweet you’d think they added extra sugar 🙂  My favorite at the moment.  These tangerines are 4-5 in. in diameter, and you want to choose one with no soft spots/discolored spots.  The skin should not be tight to the fruit, but slightly loose.  You’ll see what I mean if you feel a couple.  新年快樂!  Enjoy the silence with some tangerines.

Public Transportation, Taichung

I feel like I’ve lost my motivation here… lots of ideas, but little time, and then nothing gets posted – since Oct!  (apparently).  My car is unusable for the moment.  So, I’ve been exploring the bus system here in Taichung.  And, it’s growing on me.  I may not ever want a car again, well except for long trips around the island.  Anywho, here’s the pertinent info:

1.  Buy a bus pass at any 7-11, Family Mart, etc.  100NT.  Add a balance 100NT = 200NT

2.  Buses currently are “free” if you travel under 8 km.  This is basically anywhere in the city.  If you travel under 8 km, there’s nothing taken off your card balance.  I don’t know how long this lasts for… maybe until the MRT gets up and going?

3.  Kids don’t need a bus pass 🙂  0-5?  Not sure how long that lasts… but that’s what it seems to me.  So I can cart my kids around with me on only my adult pass.

4.  I love this live Google map of the buses.  Bonus if you can read Chinese and tell where they are from, and where they are going to in the drop down menu.  But the drop down menu is easy enough.  Pick a bus number, and see where it goes.  Control whether you are going West bound or East bound clicking on the menu that shows up with blue tabs. One tab shows one direction, the other the return direction.  Also shows when the next bus will arrive at your stop.  Pretty awesome.

The citizens here are so considerate.  Always very helpful with giving my kids seats on a crowded bus.  We rocked the Wenxin route today all the way down to Costco.  It only took us 1 hour… hmmm guess that’s the down side of using buses.

Pear Coffee

 

Took the family up to a restaurant in the Donghai area for the double 10 holiday(雙十節).  Pear Coffee.  I had previously been here to celebrate a friend’s birthday with ice cream.  Delicious ice cream, and not too bad entrees: $250-$800 NT.  Most were full course meals – soup, salad, drink and dessert.  You could also order a la cart items.  Not a whole lot for my husband to eat however – tuna on salad or fillet of sea bass.  The draw of this restaurant is of course the rocks.  The kids LOVED playing in them.  And my husband and I could eat dinner in relative peace, have a conversation for once! 

 

 

 

The only draw back –

a fine white dust covering the kids.  There was however a bucket of water to rinse off in, and spacious restrooms.  It was bath time anyway when we got home.

Choose to sit outside if you want close supervision of your kids.  Most tables are inside, curving around the landscaping.

There are no sand toys, so share with another patron or bring your own.

Pear Coffee is located near Donghai University just off Xitun Rd.  See Compass for details.

Chalkboard paint – in Taiwan!

I’m totally stoked – I finally tracked down some unsanded tile grout and was able to make chalkboard paint.  Here’s the elusive info:

After exhaustively searching every 五金 (hardware/dollar store) in town, I finally checked the craft store, and sure enough – unsanded tile grout.  It was in the section for tile projects (unsurprisingly), you could also choose sanded or not and various colors. 

So simple, but it’s taken me at least 6 mo. to find this.  Anyway, followed the directions on Martha Stewart above and presto!  Chalkboard paint on my refridge.  I’m drooling over all the possibilities now 🙂

A couple thoughts on the whole project:

1.  Read through the comments on MS – many people had clumpy paint problems.  (as did I)  Either add your grout to a little water before mixing it in the paint, or sift it in slowly.  Either way, after sitting for a day, it will have dissolved in nicely.

2.  Here’s what I did:

enlisted slave labor to clean my surface

 

 

 

 

 

traced my design using a projector

 

 

 

 

 

filled in my contrasting border color

 

 

 

 

 

mixed my paint using acrylic or water based black matte paint (glossy is fine, but different looking)  Use 1 c. paint to 2 TB tile grout.

I did a few coats because I didn’t want holes when I sanded the surface at the end.  Make sure to sand between coats or any bumps will stay where they are.

 

 

 

 

 
one thing I would do differently next time would be to do the finer border design in regular paint, not the chalkboard paint.  It looks a bit chunky to me.  I still love it!  Go out and find your tile grout today 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep those peas weevil free

When I was in college, my room-mate and I decided to invite her older sister over for some tea.  We picked a time, she was delighted to come.  We pulled out the tea and decided to make some scones.  The scones were all mixed up, the older sister would arrive in 30 minutes.  We pulled out the raisins for the scones… and there was something weird about them, they were all clumped up.  There were weevils in our raisins!  We picked them out, we washed them, but weevils are black and so are raisins.  For some reason (probably the lack of sugar in the scones) we felt compelled to put the raisins in.  What were scones without raisins?  The sister came.  We had a lovely tea, with weevils in the scones.好奇怪!

Here I often find weevils in my rice…beans…split peas.  (My raisins are always kept in the refrige) So how do you keep them out of your grains/beans?

1.  Always keep rice, beans or grains in the freezer

or

2.  When you buy grains/beans, immediately freeze them for 24 hours, remove and store on your shelf

Obviously I failed to do that to my split peas above.  Should you find yourself with split peas looking like this – grainy on the bottom, cocoon or spider web like strands inside – don’t throw out your grains, just pop them in the freezer, then sift them when you take them out.  Good as new.  And honestly eating a weevil or two won’t hurt you 🙂