It’s Jou Life has moved // New site address: itsjoulife.com

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It’s Jou Life | a DIY / lifestyle blog—musing about natural, healthy, artisanal living, and everything in between.

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Friends of Ours.

Hello, and welcome to It’s Jou Life! We’re Wayne and Jennifer, a (relatively) newly wed couple who found love in the most unexpecting place. This is our DIY / lifestyle blog—musing about natural, healthy, artisanal living, and everything in between.

We started this blog because our family and friends always ask us how we grow our own organic vegetables, what is Wayne woodworking on now, to send over our miso black cod recipe, what snacks stock our pantry, a tutorial on that cute zippered pouch, tips for marathon running, where do we worship, what to bring for a camping trip, what’s Jennifer’s skincare regimen… you get the idea. This is our way to share life’s loves.

Wayne of all trades is an engineer by day and a woodworker/gardener/chef by night. Jennifer is an activist, artist, actress, and an alliterations addict. You would often find us dancing to our own beat, exploring the great outdoors, at home watching Netflix, and hand crafting everything we own. We find the beauty in our every day, with each other, and in the Lord our Savior.

We both live to create with purpose and hopes to inspire. Thank you for joining us as we try to do all things with love. Here is a glimpse into our quirky lives.

//

We’ve refreshed and re-launched our It’s Jou Life blog to streamline and create more content that is relevant in our lives.

It’s Jou Life has moved! New site address:

http://www.itsjoulife.com

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Lion’s Head Meatballs, Chinese Food // recipe

 Lion's Head Meatball Recipe via It's Jou Life Blog // https://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/lions-head-meatballs-chinese-food-recipeServes 4

A favorite dish of mine from childhood, it’s perfect comfort food for a cold winter night and surprisingly easy to make. It’s traditionally made with fatty ground pork, but I opted for ground turkey. The dish is sort of a stew but lighter: The meatballs, greens, and a little broth are all spooned over rice noodles. It’s commonly known as lion’s head meatballs, because the wavy greens or noodles ringing the meatballs look like…a lion’s mane? In Chinese, they’re called shih tzu tou, so maybe they’re really supposed to look like little shih tzu lapdog heads. Even if they are taxonomically ambiguous, they are inarguably tasty and incredibly easy to make.

Ingredients

1 lb ground pork (I opted for ground turkey)

1 C chopped scallions

2 T soy sauce

1 T sugar

1 T Shaoxing wine

1 T minced garlic

1 T minced fresh ginger

1 t kosher salt

1/2 t sesame oil

1 egg

2 T cornstarch

Neutral oil

1 lb napa cabbage or bok choy, leaves separated, chopped if desired

2 C chicken broth

White pepper

Cooked rice noodles or rice, for serving

Directions

  1. Put the pork in a large bowl and break it up with your hands. Add the scallions, soy sauce, sugar, wine, garlic, ginger, salt, and sesame oil and work the mixture to combine. Add the egg and cornstarch and vigorously mix, picking up and slapping the mixture back into the bowl a few times to create a tacky texture. Roll the meat into eight 2-inch balls. (Note: Keep in mind if you opted for ground turkey, instead of pork, it doesn’t hold its shape as well. Be gentle when forming the 2-inch balls and searing them in the pan. Don’t worry, it’ll taste just as delicious)
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a Dutch oven and add enough meatballs to fit comfortably in a single layer. Sear them until browned all over, about 2 minutes per side. Repeat with any remaining meatballs. Remove the pan from the heat and wipe out the pan.
  3. Line the pan with the cabbage or bok choy, arrange the meatballs in a snug single layer on top, and add broth to come within 1/4 inch of the tops of the meatballs. Cover the pot and set over medium heat. Gently simmer until the greens are tender and the meatballs are cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes. Serve over rice noodles or with steamed rice.

Lion's Head Meatball Recipe via It's Jou Life Blog // https://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/lions-head-meatballs-chinese-food-recipeLion's Head Meatball Recipe via It's Jou Life Blog // https://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/lions-head-meatballs-chinese-food-recipeLion's Head Meatball Recipe via It's Jou Life Blog // https://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/lions-head-meatballs-chinese-food-recipeThis recipe is exclusive from LUCKY PEACH PRESENTS 101 EASY ASIAN RECIPES. Copyright © 2015 by Peter Meehan. Photograph copyright © 2016 by Jennifer Jou

Day 7 // Easy DIY Honey Egg White Yogurt Cucumber Face Mask

Day 7 is my own home recipe // Honey Egg-White Yogurt Cucumber Face Mask. It’s a change from the scheduled Wine-Infused Face Mask, but I didn’t have red wine and wanted to work in a moisturizing and soothing face mask instead. Growing up my mom taught me how to take care and pamper my skin with DIY natural ingredients found in the kitchen pantry. My favorite is the Honey Egg White Yogurt Cucumber Face Mask.

This DIY mask recipe has major benefits that will aid parched skin and fight against the environmental harm that inevitably affects the skin.

  • Honey can aid in the relief of irritated skin because of its mild antiseptic and antibacterial properties.
  • Egg whites contains many proteins, high in collagen, maintain the elasticity of skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines. (Remember to mix the egg white well enough to obtain a foamy egg white look).
  • Yogurt can help moisturize and contains lactic acid that will smooth and gently exfoliate your skin while reducing fine lines and wrinkles by tightening the pores.
  • Cucumbers aid and sooth sunburn, hydrate the eye area and cleanse the skin.

Ingredients

1 egg white

1 tsp honey

1 tsp fresh plain organic yogurt

8  thinly-sliced cucumbers *optional

Directions

  1. Beat the egg white with a fork until it turns a little frothy. Tip: Coolest way to separate the yolk from the egg whites.
  2. In a bowl thoroughly combine the egg white, honey and yogurt.
  3. Apply the mask on your cleansed face and leave it for 15 minutes until you feel it dry.
  4. Gently rinse it off with warm water.

Click here if you prefer to try the Birchbox Challenge Wine-Infused Face Mask instead.

About the Birchbox Challenge

Birchbox teamed up with a panel of all-star experts to bring a 31-day challenge to make 2015 your healthiest, happiest, most gorgeous year ever. I’m joining Birchbox on this month-long challenge and will share my success with #BirchboxChallenge. Make sure to also enter for their daily prize giveaways. Let’s do this together!

{ diy } succulent wedding centerpiece

DIY succulent centerpiece via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-bHWhat do you get when you mix an urban gardener with an DIY-enthusiast? DIY succulent terrarium centerpieces! We spent an hour of our Sunday to create a few of these lovely centerpieces for our upcoming wedding. We’re still having our florist make some floral centerpieces, but felt creating these additional DIY centerpieces is a beautiful way to add a personal touch and share our love for succulents with our guests. (It’s also friendly to our wedding budget!) I’ve learned floral centerpieces can cost from $75-$200. Materials to create these DIY succulent centerpieces cost about $15-$20 each.

A succulent terrarium isn’t only for weddings, it can also add the finishing touch to a coffee table, low-maintenance greenery to a desk or even a unique housewarming gift!

The Usual Suspects:
– Glass container with wide opening
– Succulents, assorted
– Cactus & Succulent soil mix
– Horticultural charcoal (optional)
– Decorative pebbles or river rocks
– A spoon, or little shovel

1. Place a 1-inch layer of pebbles/river rocks on the bottom of container; this provides drainage so the plants won’t rot in standing water. We used a mixture of large-size and small-size river rocks. We bought our glass containers from Michael’s craft store and succulents from our local garden nursery.

2. (Optional) Add a 1/2-inch of horticultural charcoal. The charcoal will help keep the terrarium smelling fresh. Smooth out this layer too. We read it helps to rinse the charcoal before to prevent a layer of black dust from collecting on the inside of the vase.

3. Place a layer of cactus mix soil, a fast-draining soil that retains little moisture. Use your little shovel or hand to level the cactus mix soil in your glass container.

4. Remove plants from pots. If you have multiple succulents in one pot, gently break them apart and use them separately. Scoop a little hole in the soil and place roots in soil. Gently add more soil around the edges of the container and around the base of the plants and pat around the roots. Sometimes the lanky, tall succulents have a difficult time standing up and tend to topple over. Pack more soil around them and strategically place some large-size river rocks around the base to create some stability. We used around 3-5 succulents per centerpiece.

5. Finish the look by adding more river rocks on the top layer. Done!

DIY succulent centerpiece via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-bHDIY succulent centerpiece via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-bHDIY succulent centerpiece via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-bH

DIY succulent centerpiece via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-bHDIY succulent centerpiece via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-bH

DIY succulent centerpiece via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-bHDIY succulent centerpiece via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-bHDIY succulent centerpiece via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-bH

DIY succulent centerpiece via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-bH

Care Tips:
1. Give the terrarium direct sunlight every day for at least five or six hours.
2. Water the terrarium every two weeks. Water lightly–don’t over water.
3. The water should lightly drain to the bottom. After watering, there should not be more than an inch of water visible in the gravel at the bottom.
4. Use your finger to touch the soil and check if it’s dry before watering.

We still have to make more and look forward to shopping for more succulent varieties at our local nurseries!

{ DIY } craft letters for engagement shoot

We had a craft attack last week. In preparation for our e-shoot we prepared decorative craft letters as props. We bought the paper mache craft alphabet letters from Paper Source. They sell the whole alphabet in capital and lower case letters (also ampersand)! They are lightweight and the perfect paper material to be creative. You can decorate with paint, glitter, paper–possibilities are endless!

diy craft letters via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-b7

Materials needed:

– Paper Mache Craft Alphabet Letters: We bought ours from Paper Source.

– Pattered Paper: We bought a beautiful patterned sheet of paper from Paper Source.

– Acrylic Paint: Colors that are similar to the paper you desire to wrap the letters in.

– Foam brushes

– Lead pencil & eraser

– Glue: We used a fabric glue that was strong and quick dry. All-purpose glue should be fine.

– Scissors & a Razor

Total time: If you’re a perfectionist, around 3-4 hours.

diy craft letters via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-b7diy craft letters via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-b7diy craft letters via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-b7The craft letters we bought from Paper Source only come in a natural brown cardboard color. We decided to wrap decorative Paper Source paper around our letters for a unique look. A good tip we read online is to prep the letters with colored paint that is similar colors to the decorate paper. We bought these super cheap Craft Smart Acrylic Paint from Michael’s craft store, along with the foam brushes. Prepping it with paint is a good idea in the case there are “gaps” near the seams. The like-colored paint will be more seamless where the would-be brown gaps are. We painted several coats of yellow, since the color was so light and translucent. No need to soak the foam brush in water, just start painting in full-strength. (Don’t mind the brown empty spots above, my fingers were holding those spots and had to wait until everything dried before completely covering the missing spots)

diy craft letters via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-b7diy craft letters via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-b7This is the tricky part. We lightly traced a dotted line of the letter (with a lead pencil) onto the front decorative side of the paper. We also turned the letter to it’s side and traced the side with a solid line. Then cut at the solid line and folded at the dotted lines. This way, there are “flaps” and that are folded. The flaps should cover the sides of the letter to create a seamless look on the front side. We went back and lightly erased the dotted lines since it was slightly visible. Then glue the paper cut-out to the paper mache. Repeat on the flip side. The inside parts of the “W” had open spots, so strips that were measured to the width of the letter were cut and glued for a seamless effect. For paper that extends off the edges, use a razor to lightly slice it off.

Finished product!

diy craft letters via it's jou life blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-b7

manicure monday: a zoya jelly orange-red

So Wayne and I had our engagement shoot over the weekend and thought it’d be fun to add a pop of color to my nails. I went for a Zoya bright orangey-red color called Kate by The Small Things Blog. From the bottle to the nails, I love this vibrant color and jelly-licious finish.

Zoya color: Kate by The Small Things Blog via It's Jou Life Blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-aWManicure Usual Suspects via It's Jou Life Blog http://wp.me/p3cljj-aWBelow is my usual steps to ensure long-wearing and chip-free nails.

1. Revlon Colorstay Base Coat: Apply one thin coat and let dry. This bad boy is a must before applying any type of nail color. It creates a smooth base before applying polish and acts like a protectant barrier between the nail bed and color. This helps most in more saturated colors like deep reds  or dark colors from staining your nails. I like this Revlon brand because the dual brush covers more nail surface in one sweep. Easy and quick.

2. Color: Apply one thin coat and let dry. Repeat. Depending on the nail color, sometimes I repeat this step a third time with lighter, more translucent colors.

3. Sephora by OPI Top Coat: It’s important to make sure your color has thoroughly dried. Nothing is worse than applying top coat on semi-wet nails. Top coat is another must for me. It creates a seal for your color, shine, and protects it from chipping.

4. Sally Hansen Salong Manicure Quick & Dry Drops: This is a newly added product to my usual steps. I tried it for the first time over the weekend and really like it. This brilliant product dries polish in 60 seconds! These drying drops also help prevent smudges and dings. How it works: with just a couple drops, nails are dry to the touch in 60 seconds and completely dry in 5 minutes. Vitamin E and Jojoba formula helps hydrate and nourish dry cuticles.

Summer Sprouts

We planted pole beans and cucumbers in the garden about 10 days ago and they recently sprouted!

bean cucumber
Pole beans planted around a wire cage and cucumbers planted under a trellis.

beanSprout cucumberSprout
Baby bean and cucumber sprouts.

The cucumber seeds were started under plastic bottles with the bottom removed to create a mini-greenhouse.  After the seeds had sprouted, we removed the bottles and replaced them with plastic rings cut from water bottles to keep the seedlings separated from the mulch.  This helps to keep the seedlings from staying too moist which can cause disease.

We have also been harvesting blueberries as they ripen.  Blueberries don’t ripen all at the same time so you should check every couple days and harvest the ripe ones.  It can be a little tricky to tell if blueberries are ripe, but look for berries that are completely blue/purple without any hint of green.  Blueberries can also be sweeter if left on the bush an extra day or two after they turn colors.  Just remember to pick them before the garden animals do.

blueberry
Blueberries.

DIY Redwood Planters

We’ve been on the lookout for some medium-large planters to house the new blueberry bushes we got, but its been difficult finding good ones at a reasonable price.  So we decided to build our own.  Total cost ended up being around $25-$30 for a 18inch cube shaped planter.  We could have used cheaper wood and reduced the price a bit, but we decided to use redwood for the weather and insect resistance.

Instead of using redwood planks, we used 5.5 inch redwood fence boards.  Fence boards are cheaper than redwood planks and they also have a more rustic, unfinished look.

Materials List:

Cut from 5.5 inch wide redwood fence boards:

  1. 12×7.25 inches – for the planter sides (A)
  2. 3×18 inches – for the planter bottom (B)

Cut from 5.5 inch wide redwood fence boards, but split length-wise so one piece is 3 1/8 inches and the other is 2 3/8 inches.

  1. 4×17.75 inches – for the planter edges (D: 3 1/8, E: 2 3/8)

Cut from 1 3/8 square redwood lumber

  1. 4×17 inches – for the corner posts (F)

We also used 16 2 1/2 inches exterior wood screws and 12 1 1/4 inch exterior wood screws leftover from a previous project.

Tools List:

  1. Saw (we used a hand saw, but a power mitre saw would be much easier)
  2. Power drill
  3. Carpenters square
  4. Tape measure or ruler
  5. Clamps (we didn’t have any but it would have made the project a lot easier)
  6. Pen

Construction:

After cutting all of the required pieces, check the cut edges to make sure they are smooth and remove any sharp splinters.

Then start by constructing the first corner, take two sides (A) and line them up with corner post (F).  All three pieces should sit on top of a base piece (B) and be flush with the edges.

Redwood Planters Step 1 via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7R
DIY Redwood Planters – Step 1.

Then take the two edging pieces (D and E) and arrange them as shown below (an extra pair of hands might come in handy here).  You can also first screw in the sides to the corner posts, then attach the edging, but we were trying to save some screws.  Be sure to drill pilot holes before driving the screws to make sure the wood doesn’t split.  Pay close attention to how the seams overlap each other.  The seam between the two sides (A) is covered by the edging piece (D).  The side pieces (A) and corner post (F) should sit on top of a base piece (F).  The edge pieces (D and F) should sit on the ground.

Redwood Planters Step 2 via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7R
DIY Redwood Planters – Step 2.

Next, either clamp the pieces of wood together or have a friend hold them while they are screwed together using 2 1/2 inch exterior wood screws.  Make sure you attach the screws in to the center of the corner posts for a solid connection.

boxE via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7R DIY Redwood Planter. Step 3 via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7R
DIY Redwood Planters – Step 3.

After the first corner is done, continue building the corners around the planter.

 DIY Redwood Planter - Step 4 via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7R
DIY Redwood Planters – Step 4.

After all of the corners are completed, slide the remaining sides (A) down the grooves and screw in place.

boxH via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7R
DIY Redwood Planters – Step 5.

The final step is to attach the bottom boards (B).  Lay out the boards so there is around a 1/2 inch gap between the three boards for drainage.  Then screw in to place using a combination of the 1 1/4 inch screws along the edge and the 2 1/2 inch screws in to the corner posts (F).

DIY Redwood Planters - Step 6 via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7R
DIY Redwood Planters  – Step 6.

Now you are ready to plant!  We planted blueberries so we could better control the soil since blueberries grow best in acid soil.

DIY Blueberry Planters via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7R
DIY Redwood Planters in the garden.

Weekend Gardening

Busy weekend in the garden! We bought and planted 5 varieties of tomatoes during our community garden’s annual heirloom tomato sale.  The seedlings were grown by Windrose Farms in Paso Robles.  Descriptions below are from their plant tags.

  1. Japanese Black Trifele – Black Tomato, Indeterminate, 75-80 days.  Exceptional fruit with the shape & size of a pear with rich flavor.  Abundant producer of great purplish-black, smooth fruit.  A favorite! Good for coastal gardens.
  2. Cherokee Purple – Dark Purple Tomato, Indeterminate, 80 days.  A must-have in every garden.  Beautiful 12 oz dusky rose/purple heirloom beefsteak from Tennessee, with a sweet rich flavor.
  3. Isis Candy – Bi-Color Cherry, Indeterminate, 67 days.  Delightful medium sized yellow-gold cherry tomato with red marbling.  From just a blush of red to streaks , always a sweet delicious rich fruity taste.
  4. San Marzano – Roma Tomato, Indeterminate, 80 days.  Excellent for canning, paste, or puree.  Rectangular pear-shaped, 3-1/2 in. long bright red fruit with mild flavor & meaty texture.
  5. Cosmonaut Volkov – Indeterminate, 65 days.  This Russian heirloom, named form the Russian space explorer who fell through space is the quintessential eating tomato.  A juicy, sweet, rich full-bodied early slightly flattened 8-12 oz. tomato that will produce well in cold or coastal conditions.

We choose a good mix of colors, shapes and purposes to give us good variety all summer long.  Since we are growing our tomatoes on a trellis, we choose indeterminate tomatoes that will keep growing till they die.

We also built 2 trellises (72 inches tall by 96 inches long by 30 inches long) to support the tomatoes, cucumbers and butternut squash we have planned for the summer.

Garden Trellis via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7W Garden Overview via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7W
Trellises in the garden.

We also saw the first red strawberries from our strawberry tower!  Looking forward to many more.

Our First Strawberries via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-7W
First strawberries from the tower.

a blissful 30th birthday

I’ve had { an extra spRing in my step } since that Saturday of my birthday.

It started with an —
engagement in a tree,
feelings filled with love + bliss + smiles,
in company with fabulous friends,
indulging in delicious dishes.

When my 30th birthday came–it was enjoyment beyond belief. After (almost) 3 years of dating, Wayne proposed to me while I was in a tree! (more details in another post) Wayne also helped plan an intimate birthday gathering with my dear family and friends at my parent’s home. We prepared a delectable dinner spread that fed everyone (x3) and were in the best company. It’s such a wonderful feeling to see my best friends from the various stages of my life share a laugh and get along.

For those who know me, I love hand-crafting gifts for friends. To add that personal touch, I decided to make party favors. A week leading up to the party, Wayne and I had a make-shift sweatshop and sewed adorable drawstring bags. We set up a Party Favor station and had bowls of my favorite nostalgic Asian candies I loved as a kid–White Rabbit milk candies, Hi-Chews, Japanese Gummies, Haw Flakes, Lychee jellies, Morinaga Milk candies and Green Tea & Coffee hard candies. Guests can stuff the cute drawstring bags with these sweet confections. The bags can be reused to store other fun treasures. (DIY drawstrings bag post to come…) There was also a Fujifilm Instax photo corner, where guests can take photos and write a little note. I love all the little details.

Thank you friends for your warm birthday + engagement wishes, and sharing this memorable day with us. Thank you Wayne for helping make this day possible. Your unconditional love and heart in our relationship is the greatest gift.

OOTD | J.Crew dress. JewelMint Heavy Metal necklace. Timex watch. Tiffany Embrace engagement ring.

Beautiful decorations and banner by Eleen Wu.

Photos: Jennifer & Victor Vic

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