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DIY Fabric Tags Late-night cravings and weight gain are taking their toll on my body. Tell me again, when is the baby due? With months to go, my daughter-in-law’s pregnancy seems to be progressing far too slowly for this excited Chinese grandma or Yin Yin, as I will be called. In an effort to curb my sympathetic pregnancy symptoms (did I already mention late-night cravings and weight gain?) and to use some of my anticipatory energy, I’ve started making things for my upcoming grandbaby. Not wanting to appear self-obsessed, but still wanting to convey the love that went into each handmade piece, I decided to create my own fabric labels. After a little online search, I came across a helpful article on the wonderful site lil blue boo. I don’t know and I don’t care whether the baby is a boy or a girl, but I do know that he or she has already captured my heart!

SUPPLIES
SuperSoft Inkjet Transfer Paper
Ink jet printer
Iron
Ironing board
Pillowcase
Scissors
Assorted ribbon, optional

DIRECTIONS
1. Design your tag, logo, etc. on a computer.

2. Fill a page with different sized fonts of your design to suit your purposes. My font sizes ranged from 16 to 36. DIY Fabric Tags: Positive image

3. Flip your page of designs on the computer, because you will need a reverse image to print on the transfer paper. DIY Fabric Tags: Reverse image

4. Print a test sample using plain paper.

5. Stick a sheet of transfer paper into your printer and print according to the manufacturer’s suggestions. The light blue side is the back side of the paper. Do not print on this side. SuperSoft Inkjet Transfer Paper

6. Using scissors or a paper cutter, cut into tag-sized pieces.
DIY Fabric Tags: Cut into pieces

7. Follow manufacturer’s instructions to transfer image to fabric.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I used Pages to reverse the image, because I didn’t know how to do it using Word.

2. I recommend printing a sample of your design page on plain paper first, before printing on the transfer paper. Doing this, you will be able to see any mistakes, any need for color adjustment, spacing issues, etc.

3. Make sure to use an old pillowcase to iron on and to protect your ironing board, because scorching from the iron may occur and excess adhesive may stick to the pillowcase.

4. I purchased the SuperSoft Inkjet Transfer Paper through the Dharma Trading Company.

5. This particular transfer paper is soft enough to be used as a “tagless” tag. Transfer image directly onto fabric, instead of ribbon.

Add a nice finishing touch to your handmade gifts by creating your own fabric tags!

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I Love Yin Yin What Do I Call Her?
A few days before the arrival of my father’s mother from China in 1960, I lean on the kitchen counter and ask my grandfather, “What do I call her?” Busy preparing the family’s supper, he pauses, looks at me intently, and replies, “You call her Yin Yin.” In Toisanese, a Chinese dialect, Yin Yin refers to the grandmother on the father’s side. In the Chinese language, every grandparent has a designated title. After decades of political red tape, my Yin Yin, the last of the family to immigrate to the United States, is leaving her small country village in China to be reunited with her family.

Even though I was a child at the time, I remember waiting at the airport for her arrival. As the family watched passengers deplane, my uncles joked, “Is that her?” or “Maybe she’s the one?” Because it had been so long since they’d last seen their mother, they could not recognize her. For my grandfather and for my father, the oldest son, the end to their 22-year wait was nearly over.

Love at First Touch
Standing in front of me, my Yin Yin utters my Chinese name. I fall into her arms as she embraces me for the first time. It is love at first touch. No awkwardness, no shyness – it is as if I’d known her love forever.

Although cancer cut her time with us short, my Yin Yin cherished the days she spent with her family. I became her little shadow. I helped her hang the laundry out to dry, defrost the freezer, pick slugs off the vegetables and water the garden. She taught me to speak Chinese and I taught her to speak English. When she made Chinese dumplings, she popped them into my mouth as soon as they finished steaming. I deem those eight years with her my chubby years.

Yin Yin’s Tea Cozy
Decades later, my sister and I stoop in the dusty attic of my father’s old family home in China. Using a small flashlight, we conduct a final search for any keepsakes that should go back to the States with us. In a dark corner, where the angles of the roof meet, we find an old tea cozy basket. Taking care while opening it, we are surprised by the basket’s contents. Both happiness and sadness flood my heart as I recognize the photos that my grandmother must have placed there for safekeeping. Photos of my grandfather, my parents, my uncles and aunts, and my sister and me – people my grandmother loved, but people she’d not seen in decades or ever met – nestled against the floral fabric lining of the cozy. Standing in the attic, I think about how happy she must have been to leave the photos behind and the joy she must have felt at the prospect of seeing her grown-up sons and meeting her grandchildren for the first time. The journey back to China with my family reunites me, in many ways, with my Yin Yin.

Call Me Yin Yin
All the gifts under the Christmas tree have been opened, but my second son passes out one more to everyone in the family. “You have to open up these presents together,” both he and his wife say. I am suspicious, because his camera lens points at me. We open our little packages and words of excitement flutter out of our mouths. Each of us holds a newborn-sized onesie. Happiness leaves me speechless and then I smile. I’m going to be a Yin Yin! I can’t wait to share all the love that my Yin Yin gave to me with my grandchild!

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Buster and Ruca With his Santa’s hat askew, Buster, a black Lab, looks warily over at Ruca, his playful Corgi cousin from New York. “Is she still there?” one could only imagine him thinking as he tries to avoid eye contact with her. Despite their size difference, Ruca herds Buster over to the sofa and makes sure he remains there. Watching the two interact with each other, I am reminded of how looks can be deceiving.

#1 – Not All Things Are What They Seem
25 Things That Are Not What They Seem While thinking about how looks can be deceiving, I came across this list of 25 Things That Are Not What They Seem. It’s an interesting read, especially for trivia buffs!

#2 – The Science of Happiness
Many people fall prey to the deception of what will make them happy. Why are some people happier than others? What do happy people possess that others don’t? Check out this infographic to learn about the science of happiness.

How to Be Happy

#3 – What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

He’s young, but he’s wise. When 13-year-old Logan LaPlante is asked what he wants to be when he grows up, he answers, “happy and healthy.” In this TEDx Talk, he discusses Hackschooling and how it differs from traditional schooling. Traditionally “school is geared toward making a better living, rather than a better life.” Watch his thought-provoking presentation and see if it doesn’t get you thinking about your own education or your children’s education.

#4 – Trash or Treasure?
Do It Yourself Craft Ideas Upcycling is the art of taking something no longer used and converting it into something useful. We deceive ourselves every day by trashing objects that can be transformed and given a new life. Make this the year you begin upcycling and for ideas, check out these Do It Yourself Craft Ideas.

#5 – Self-Deception
“Human potential is the same for all. Your feeling, ‘I am of no value,’ is wrong. Absolutely wrong. You are deceiving yourself. We all have the power of thought – so what are you lacking? If you have willpower, then you can change anything. It is usually said that you are your own master.”
Dalai Lama

Now Go and Spread Joy!

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Grilled Fish Tacos If you raise children to have adventurous taste buds and you give them an appreciation for well-prepared food, most likely they will grow up to be good cooks. This little bit of parental advice may not hold true for everyone, but I’ve been rewarded in spades. All my children enjoy cooking good food as much as they enjoy eating good food. Not only do my children enjoy good food, they also share it. I’ve been the lucky recipient of some really wonderful meals prepared by them. A couple of weeks ago, my middle child and his wife treated me to delicious homemade fish tacos. Because they were so good, I had big-time cravings for them and had to make them for myself. These fish tacos are easy to prepare, moist, flavorful, and healthy. No batter or deep-frying involved. Fish Taco Fridays may become a regular occurrence in this household!

Grilled Fish Tacos
Adapted from a Bobby Flay recipe

INGREDIENTS
Tacos:
1 pound white fish, such as mahi mahi, orata, tilapia, basa, etc.
1/4 cup canola oil
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1 jalapeño, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
8 flour tortillas*

Garnish:
Shredded white cabbage
Hot sauce, tomato salsa, or pico de gallo
Crema or sour cream
Thinly sliced red onion
Thinly sliced green onion
Chopped cilantro leaves
Queso Fresco, crumbled

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2. Place fish in a medium size dish. Whisk together the oil, lime juice, ancho, jalapeño, and cilantro and pour over the fish. Let marinade for 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Remove the fish from the marinade and place onto a hot grill. Grill the fish for 4 minutes on the first side and then flip for 30 seconds and remove. Let rest for 5 minutes.

4. Place the tortillas on the grill for 20 seconds.

Serves 4

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. *I use corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas. I think they are a better choice for tacos and they are slightly healthier to eat.

2. If you don’t want to grill the tortillas, you can warm them up in a frying pan on your cooktop.

3. The Kachumbari Salad I prepared last week goes wonderfully with these fish tacos.

Enjoy!

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Shape the Hive Two is better than one, three is better than two, four is better than three, and so on. Being a part of something larger and grander, lends us support and strength and gives us a better perspective. No matter what each of us is experiencing, good or bad, life is just better when shared with others.

#1 – Shape The Hive
Shape The Hive Be part of a creative community and help SHAPE THE HIVE, a digital interactive art piece. The website states: “SHAPE THE HIVE, at its foundation, is a creative community. Members contribute pieces that, when combined with others, will form a whole far greater than the sum of its parts.” Participants create and add images to cells using their own photographs. The built in software allows participants to manipulate their images to give their cells different kaleidoscopic effects. This is so easy and fun to do!

#2 – Makes Me Think
A while back I posted a link to a site called Makes Me Think: Today’s Thought-Provoking Life Stories. People submit entries about occurrences and observations that made them think (MMT). Recently, I came across this site again and I remembered to bookmark it on my computer this time. Reading the entries always engulfs me in an array of emotions and often times renews my faith in my fellow man. Here is a sampling:

Today, I went for a run and decided to go thru my town’s cemetery. While I was looking around, I came across an older women in a lawn chair reading a book next to a grave. I began talking to her, assuming she’d lost her husband recently, but it turns out she has done this every week for the past five years. Her love and devotion MMT.

Today, I am 16-years-old. I learned CPR yesterday in health class. I had no idea I would have to perform CPR on someone this afternoon. And when the paramedics arrived, they told me I undoubtedly saved my mom’s life. MMT

Today, instead of calling the cops on the homeless man that was caught stealing canned soup from the grocery store where I work, the store manager bought the homeless man an entire case of the canned soup he was stealing and told the man he’d prefer never to catch him stealing again. MMT

#3 – A Word To The Wise
Dishwasher Fires We’ve all heard about clothes dryer fires, but how many of us have heard about dishwasher fires? I normally don’t write about these types of things, but a friend recently shared her dishwasher fire experience with me and I think it is information well worth sharing. The interior of her home is being completely gutted, because of the extensive fire, water, heat, smoke, and soot damage. In her words,” . . . the common culprit appears to be an electrical defect in the control panel that was used by many manufacturers in the late 90s up through 2005-2009. Many, many models by many manufacturers are under recall – but nobody knows! Like many people, I did not register my appliances because I didn’t want to be flooded with junk mail/e-mail. Most manufacturers have a place on their website where you can check which serial numbers are under recall. Encourage people to do it – and to register appliances. Also, do not run the dishwasher when leaving the house or going to bed.”

Here are a few links I found regarding dishwasher fires:
KitchenAidFire.com
General Electric Recalls 1.3 Million Dishwashers for Fire Hazzard
Maytag Recalls Dishwashers Due to Fire Hazzard
ABC Action News “Dishwasher Dangers”

#4 – When The Mind Says Goodbye
After listening to my friends tell me their stories of dealing with parents who have Alzheimer’s Disease and after watching this video, my eyes were opened to this sad and cruel disease.

#5 – Counting Hours
“Don’t count every hour in the day, make every hour in the day count.”
~Anonymous

Show someone you care this weekend and your weekend will become infinitely better!

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Gardenia The scent of gardenias wafts through an open window and lingers in the room. I inhale slowly and let the intoxicating fragrance permeate my soul. I feel drugged and I can no longer focus on the task at hand. As a Marcel Proust-moment transports me from the present back to my past, I begin to hear the clanging of trolley cars and the hissing of bus doors opening and closing. In my mind, I see my mother bending over a very young version of me and asking, “Would you like to pick out a flower?” People push past us on the crowded street as I examine the buckets of flowers at a corner flower stand. My small hands reach for a large creamy-white swirl of petals. The sweet fragrance is nothing like I’d ever smelled before and I repeatedly sniff the blossom. “That’s a gardenia,” my mother says. I nod and guard my treasure as we board a bus for the ride home. My reverie ends with the ringing of my cell phone and I return to the present. Gardenias will forever remind me of my mother and of that time in my life, but even more than that, they are reminders to me of how little seeds can be planted deep.

#1 – Remember Fathers
With Father’s Day coming up, here’s a video tribute that triggers memories of all that fathers do:

#2 – Eat Your Words
Harry Potter Cake Books and birthday cakes can each be a source of fond memories. What if the two entities joined forces and became “book-cakes” or “cake-books”? If you love books and you love eating cakes, you’ll enjoy scrolling through the photos of 24 Incredible Cakes Inspired By Books.

#3 – Best-Value Destinations
One of my favorite travel memories happened while I was in Italy with my husband, my kids, and three of their friends. We had just finished touring the Galleria Borghese and were slowly walking back to our hotel. Somehow our conversation turned to skipping and how some people in the family couldn’t skip. Before I knew it my adult children and their friends were having a skipping relay race on the dirt paths outside the villa. I still laugh when I watch the video of the race! Create your own travel memories, but before you decide where to go, check out Lonely Planet’s Best-Value Destinations in Europe for 2013.

#4 – Make Gift Bows From Magazine Pages
Make gift bows using magazine pages to decorate Father’s Day and graduation gifts. How cute, colorful, and clever! Click here for the complete instructions. Make Bows From Magazines

#5 – Words of Wisdom
I hope that my achievements in life shall be these:
that I will have fought for what was right and fair,
that I will have risked for that which mattered,
that I will have given help to those who were in need,
and that I will have left the earth a better place
for what I’ve done and who I’ve been.
C. Hoppe

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all fathers and CONGRATULATIONS to all graduates!

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weeping cherry

Photo by Linnell Chang

Tucked away and wrapped around the scars of sawed off limbs, lays an oasis of flush, verdant growth. Young leaves glow brightly as the sun weaves its way through heavy branches and highlights this little piece of heaven. Despite its injury and its scars, this tree found the strength and the resiliency to prove that it’s still alive and beautiful. Alexander Pope said it best, “Hope springs eternal.”

#1 – From the Brink of Extinction
Imagine your excitement if you were an exploratory botanist and you noticed a tiny plant that had been thought to be extinct for the last 60 years growing on the steep slope of a volcano. Read the article about this amazing discovery on Mother Nature Network.

#2 – A Poet Who Knows It  
Whether you have a daughter or not, you will appreciate poet Sarah Kay’s heartfelt, sometimes rambling, but always thought-provoking TED presentation titled “If I Should Have a Daughter . . . “

Here are some examples of her thoughtful prose:

“Getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air.”

“Put the star in starting over . . . and over.”

“There’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it’s sent away.”

#3 – Art and Nature

Artwork by Moki

Painting by Moki

German-based artist Moki combines humans with nature in some of her artwork. Learn about this talented artist and see more of her incredible art by clicking here.

#4 – With a String of Lights . . .
With a string of lights you can do a ton of fun and interesting things – well, at least the 46 Awesome String-Lights DIYs For Any Occasion that are shown on BuzzFeed. I really think the doily wedding garland is cute, but there are just too many clever ideas for me to choose a favorite!

#5 – The Negative Is the Positive
“Life is like photography. You need the negatives to develop.”
- Unknown

Have a wonderful weekend!

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