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I’m not a big coffee drinker, but I do love my tea….particularly Milk Tea!  When we visit Hong Kong-style cafes or bubble tea establishments, one of the drinks I always like to try is their milk tea.  We started making our own milk tea at home and I thought I would blog about it because it tastes soo good!  It’s very creamy and soothing, and it’s a great way to start off the morning with a muffin or scone :)

This milk tea is very simple to whip up if you can find these two boxes of tea: “Lipton Yellow Label Tea" and "3:15 PM Milk Tea”.  Both contain tea bags (not loose tea or powders that dissolve in water), and we purchased them both at Walmart in the Asian aisle.  Using the “3:15 PM Milk Tea” alone gives kind of a watered-down effect, but once you add a bag of the “Lipton Yellow Label Tea”, it packs more of a punch and makes it taste like the Milk Tea that you order outside!

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We add two spoonfuls of sugar (of course adjust sweetness to your liking), 1 packet of the “3:15 PM Milk Tea” and 1 packet of the “Lipton Yellow Label Tea” to a mug.  Next we add boiling water, let it steep a bit, and then we’re done!

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Time to enjoy a nice hot cup of Milk Tea in the comfort of your own home!

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If you are unable to find the “3:15 PM Milk Tea”, you could always add evaporated or condensed milk to black tea to make your own milk tea from scratch.  And since the weather is warming up, you might want a more refreshing and cold drink- you could try making “Iced Milk Tea" by letting this tea cool down and then adding ice!  Remember to add less water in the beginning though as you want a more concentrated tea to begin with since the ice will dilute it further.  Or, you could put your milk tea in an ice bath like the picture below to prevent it from being diluted.  We thought the presentation of this milk tea was so unique when we tried it three years ago in a cafe in New York City’s Chinatown!

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Enjoy your Milk Tea, and let us know if you give this a try!


Over the weekend we made this “Coconut Milk Tapioca Dessert" for our family!  Growing up, this was one of my favourite Chinese desserts, and I’d always get so excited whenever one of the Chinese restaurants we went to served it at the end of our meal :)  I was ecstatic when I found a great recipe for it on Wantanmien's youtube channel HERE.  It tastes so good, and the addition of watermelon, mango and honeydew makes it very refreshing and perfect for the summer!  I followed her recipe pretty closely, but I omitted the salt (I tried it with the salt before, and we didn’t quite like it), and instead of using white sugar we used yellow rock sugar (which is common in many Chinese desserts).  I multiplied the recipe by 6 to make enough for 7 people.
When I first found Wantanmien's youtube channel, I became obsessed with all her videos as she clearly explains how to make many of my favourite Chinese dishes and desserts with incredible precision (e.g. Hong Kong pineapple buns, mango pudding, sticky rice).  If you haven't seen her channel before, check it out HERE.  Her videos are in Cantonese, but if you click the “CC” button you can see the English subtitles, and you can see the ingredients in English in the description box as well.  I’ve tried a few of her recipes, and they’ve all turned out great!  Can’t wait to try more :D 

Over the weekend we made this “Coconut Milk Tapioca Dessert" for our family!  Growing up, this was one of my favourite Chinese desserts, and I’d always get so excited whenever one of the Chinese restaurants we went to served it at the end of our meal :)  I was ecstatic when I found a great recipe for it on Wantanmien's youtube channel HERE.  It tastes so good, and the addition of watermelon, mango and honeydew makes it very refreshing and perfect for the summer!  I followed her recipe pretty closely, but I omitted the salt (I tried it with the salt before, and we didn’t quite like it), and instead of using white sugar we used yellow rock sugar (which is common in many Chinese desserts).  I multiplied the recipe by 6 to make enough for 7 people.

When I first found Wantanmien's youtube channel, I became obsessed with all her videos as she clearly explains how to make many of my favourite Chinese dishes and desserts with incredible precision (e.g. Hong Kong pineapple buns, mango pudding, sticky rice).  If you haven't seen her channel before, check it out HERE.  Her videos are in Cantonese, but if you click the “CC” button you can see the English subtitles, and you can see the ingredients in English in the description box as well.  I’ve tried a few of her recipes, and they’ve all turned out great!  Can’t wait to try more :D 

Pattern: Snake

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It’s the Year of the Snake this year!  Crochet this cute, friendly snake complete with fangs, a slithery tongue and scaled body to celebrate!  Snakes typically have a bad rap as sinister villains, but this little guy is determined to break the stereotype :)

Materials:

  • green yarn (I used Lion Brand Cotton-Ease Yarn in ‘Lime’)
  • 2.00 mm crochet hook
  • yarn needle
  • fiberfill
  • beige felt (for scaled body), red felt (for tongue), white felt (for fangs)
  • 12 mm safety eyes
  • black embroidery floss (for nose), tan embroidery floss (for scaled body)
  • glue gun

Note: I worked in continuous rounds (vs. joined rounds). 

***PLEASE follow along with my blog post HERE to read about the background story of this Snake and to see more step-by-step photos!!!***

HEAD

[We are working from the bottom of the head to the top of the head in order to get a flat base.]

Using green yarn, 

Chain 5

R1: Starting from second chain from hook, Sc 3.  3 sc in next sc (which is the first ch).  Turn and Sc 3.  3 sc in next sc (this is the fifth chain).   [We are making an oval by crocheting around the chain].  (12 sts)

R2: Sc 4, 2 sc in next sc, Sc 5, 2 sc in next sc, Sc 1. (14 sts)

R3: *Sc 1, 2 sc in next sc*, rep 7 times (21 sts)

R4: *Sc 2, 2 sc in next sc*, rep 7 times (28 sts)

R5: *Sc 3, 2 sc in next sc*, rep 7 times (35 sts)

R6: *Sc 4, 2 sc in next sc*, rep 7 times (42 sts)

R7-13: Sc 42

Position safety eyes and embroider nose on short side of oval.  Nose is embroidered by making two “L” shapes.  

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R14: *Sc 5, dec 1*, rep 6 times (36 sts)

R15: Sc 36

R16: *Sc 4, dec 1*, rep 6 times (30 sts)

R17: *Sc 3, dec 1*, rep 6 times (24 sts)

Cut oval shape out of cardboard and place on bottom of head.  Begin stuffing head.

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R18: *Sc 2, dec 1*, rep 6 times (18 sts)

R19*Sc 1, dec 1*, rep 6 times (12 sts)

Stuff head firmly.

R20*Dec 1*, rep 6 times (6 sts)

Fasten off and weave in end.

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BODY 

Using green yarn,

Chain 9

R1: Starting from second chain from hook, Sc 7.  3 sc in next sc (which is the first ch).  Turn and Sc 7.  3 sc in next sc (this is the 9th chain).   [We are making an oval by crocheting around the chain].  (20 sts)

R2: *Sc 4, 2 sc in next sc*, rep 4 times (24 sts)

R3-R11: Sc 24

Fasten off and leave long end for sewing.  Stuff body firmly.  Attach body to head, aligning back of body to back of head so that body is leaning back slightly.

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TAIL

Overall, we will be crocheting the wide part of the tail (in the shape of an oval) by picking up stitches from the back of the body and then crocheting towards the tip.  See this video HERE  to learn how to pick up stitches.  The tail should appear like a continuation of the body and be placed approximately where the faded oval is:

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We will be crocheting the bottom “U” shape of the tail first:

Using green yarn,

R1: Hold Snake’s head and body so that the back is facing towards you.  Starting from bottom right side, pick up a stitch.  Chain 1.  Pick up 7 more stitches along bottom row.  Ensure that Snake will stand by himself at this point. (8 sts)

***I picked up the first stitch between Rounds 3 and 4 of the body.  Choose an appropriate first stitch so that the 8 sts of Row 1 are centered along the back of the body.

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R2: Sl stitch to one stitch above and slightly left.  Turn and sc 8. (8 sts)

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R3: Sl stitch to one stitch above and slightly right.  Turn and sc 8.  (8 sts).

R4: Sl stitch to one stitch above and slightly right.  Turn and sc 8.  (8 sts). 

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R5: Sl stitch to one stitch above and slightly left.  Turn and sc 8.  Sc 1 above (left side of oval).  Sc 4 by picking up stitches along top of oval.  Sc 1 down (right side of oval).  (14 sts)

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R6-7: Sc 14 (14 sts)

Stuff tail lightly.

R8: *Sc 5, dec 1*, rep 2 times (12 sts)

R9: *Sc 2, dec 1*, rep 3 times (9 sts)

R10: *Sc 1, dec 1*, rep 3 times (6 sts)

R11: Sc 6 (6 sts)

R12: *Dec 1*, rep 3 times (3 sts)

Fasten off and weave in end.image

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Adding details:

- Cut out below shape from beige felt.  Drape it across Snake`s body and tail to make sure it is the correct length.  Sew felt piece onto body.  Add lines of tan embroidery floss down the felt piece for the scaled body.

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- To make the fangs, pinch a corner of white felt together.  Add a drop of glue from a glue gun to hold the sides together.  Snip the corner off.   Make 2 fangs.

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Cut out a long narrow piece of red felt and snip a “v” at the tip for the tongue.  Glue two white fangs and red tongue in place.

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Have a very Happy Chinese New Year, and have fun making this friendly little snake :)  He would make a perfect gift for expectant mothers whose babies will be born in the Year of the Snake, or for friends who were born in the Year of the Snake as well!  Once again, please check out my full blog post HERE to read about how this little Snake came to be and to see more pics of him!  Post your finished Snake pics on my Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram or e-mail them to me (all_about_ami@hotmail.com) so we can all enjoy them :)

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This pattern is an original pattern by Stephanie of All About Ami (February 2013). Please do not claim this pattern as your own. If you wish to share this pattern, you may link to this pattern but please do not reprint it on your site. You may keep a copy for your own personal use but you may not sell or distribute it, or sell items made from this pattern.

Snake

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Can you believe it’s almost been one whole year since we released an original amigurumi pattern/design (Snuggles the Penguin)?  Thank you for being so patient with us, particularly since this blog is called “All About Ami [gurumi]” yet we haven’t made many in recent months.  Being pregnant for most of last year meant that I crocheted mostly baby-related items, and I had almost no time to crochet during the first couple of months after Myla’s birth!  I wondered what our next original amigurumi project would be and was a little nervous about it since we hadn’t embarked on our typical process (sketch, figuring out shapes, writing up pattern) in a very long time!

Once again, Ryan was the great encourager as he said we HAD to make something for Chinese New Year since it was our tradition.  The Chinese New Year Doll was our very first original design and last year Ryan was the one who encouraged us to make a Chinese New Year Dragon even though it seemed challenging.  Who knew that Dragon would become our most popular amigurumi!  

When we excitedly looked up what zodiac animal the year 2013 was, we found out it was the Year of the Snake.  There were other amigurumi snakes out there (your typical long, slithery snakes), but we wanted to try to make a cute chibi version that looked different.  Making a cute snake was another great challenge as snakes seem to be typically sinister villains in popular culture!  Thinking of snakes conjured up images of Voldemort and Slytherin, Orochimaru from Naruto, Kaa from the Jungle Book and Snake Jafar!  We knew we had our work cut out for us…  We looked up different images of snakes and Ryan came up with this initial rough sketch:

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We wanted our snake to have really big eyes, so we even stuck the 12 mm safety eyes in the sketch so we knew approximately how big the head and body needed to be!

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After putting Myla to bed, we began working on our Snake in the evenings!  I started off with the head, crocheting around a series of chain stiches to get an oval shape.  Typically I crochet my amigurumi heads from top to bottom, but we worked from bottom to top to get a very flat base with a domed top.

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We placed the eyes on the short side of the oval…

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To get a very flat base, Ryan cut an oval shape out of cardboard and placed it on the bottom of the head before stuffing it!

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Here is the finished snake head all closed up after the eyes have been positioned, nose has been embroidered (two “L” shapes), cardboard has been placed and head has been stuffed!

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Next up was the body!  Once again, I crocheted around a series of chain stitches to get an oval shape.  As I was working on it, Ryan said it reminded him of the sock cell phone cozies I made a while ago!

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We then stuffed the little body and attached it to the head so that the body was aligned with the back of the head (not in the middle).  We wanted the head to be leaning back a bit and not standing straight up at a 90 degree angle.

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Once the body and head were attached together, it was time for the tail! This proved to be the most frustrating/challenging part as we had to redo it multiple times to get the correct shape and placement.  We wanted the tail to be approximately where the faded oval is in this pic:

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Instead of opting to crochet a separate tail and then attach it later, I decided to use the technique of picking up stitches from the body and then crocheting outwards for a more seamless transition so that it appeared that the tail was a continuation of the body.  I learned this technique from FullMetalPiglet when I made Luigi.  If you’ve never picked up stitches before, you can watch this video here.  

With the Snake’s back facing towards me, I started picking up stitches from the right side and went along the row towards the left.  I checked to make sure that Snake could sit by himself at this point just with this row of stitches.

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I then crocheted back along the new row, slip stitching along the sides (more detailed instructions will be in the pattern post).  As you can see, the oval is forming.  

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I did this a couple more times to get a solid base so that Snake would be leaning back with this tail…

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Then I could finally complete the oval by picking up stitches along the sides and top.  From there, I continued crocheting around the oval, decreasing along the way to form a pointed tip.

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Here are some different views of the tail protruding from the body!  Snake is kind of looking like a little green worm here!

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And here are some close-up’s of the tail so you can see the exact shape and approximately where I picked up stitches…

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Next up was the detailing!  Ryan cut out the shape below out of beige felt and draped it across Snake’s body and tail to make sure it was the correct length.

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Then he sewed this beige felt piece onto Snake’s body and tail.  After that, Ryan added lines of tan embroidery floss to the beige felt for the scaled body, reminiscent of little Dragon’s scaled body!

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To make the fangs, Ryan pinched a corner of white felt together.  He used the glue gun to add a drop of glue to hold the sides together and then snipped the corner off.

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He also cut out a long narrow piece of red felt and snipped a “v” at the tip for the tongue.  Ryan then glued the two white fangs and red tongue in place!

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After all the detailing was complete, here was our finished product!  May I present to you…*drumroll please*….our Chinese New Year Snake!

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We showed little Snakey to Myla, rocking him back and forth making fiss fiss noises ;)  Myla was definitely intrigued about who this little guy was!  We also thought it was neat that the stitches kind of look like scales!

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Here are all of our Chinese New Year amigurumi so far :)  First we made Chinese New Year Doll carrying a little bunny for the Year of the Rabbit in 2011.   Last year we made Dragon for 2012 and of course this year we have Snake for 2013!  I know Dragon was a popular gift for many expectant moms in 2012 as they were all having Dragon Babies….including us as Myla is a Dragon Baby!  If you know any expectant moms, if you are expecting a baby in 2013, or maybe you yourself are a snake or who have friends who are snakes, our little amigurumi Snake could be a popular gift :)  After all, the Year of the Snake won’t come around for another 12 years!

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Haha, we just had to pose our tiny bunny with Snake!  

Lil Bunny: “You’re a friendly snake, right?…Riiiight?…*shudder*”

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We are very pleased with how this little guy turned out!  We tried our best to create a cute, friendly chibi snake that went against the stereotype ;)  It felt good to go about the whole amigurumi designing process again after such a long time, and we hope you enjoyed reading about it!

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We wish you a Happy Chinese New Year (officially on February 10th this year)!  Does anyone have any special plans to celebrate?  We will be having hot pot and eating yummy rice cake (or lian gao, one of my fave desserts)!  Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful Year of the Snake!

***The FREE pattern for this amigurumi Snake and more detailed instructions and photos can be found HERE***

Sneak peek of our first original design of 2013: Chinese New Year Snake
Full step-by-step blog post and free pattern coming next week!

Sneak peek of our first original design of 2013: Chinese New Year Snake

Full step-by-step blog post and free pattern coming next week!

Asian Lettuce Wraps Stir Fried Sticky Rice Cakes (Leen Gao)

Over the weekend, we went to an International Potluck at our church.  We made some of our favourite Chinese dishes, and I thought I would share them with you!  Both dishes are very simple to make, and we’ve made them countless times for dinner :)

At the top we have “Asian Lettuce Wraps”: the flavourful meat is sweetened by hoisin sauce and wrapped within lettuce leaves like a burrito.  They’re a fun party food with a delicious crunch!

At the bottom we have a Shanghainese dish called “Stir Fried Sticky Rice Cakes (Leen Gao)" by Steamy Kitchen.  Growing up, I always loved eating the sweet chewy “leen gao” for Chinese New Year.  I was delighted to find this recipe for “leen gao” in a savoury dish and it is also surprisingly easy to make.  I buy my sticky rice cakes (or “leen gao”) frozen from T&T, my local Asian supermarket, and soak them, as well as the dried Chinese mushrooms, overnight.  Stir fries are quick and easy, and this one has a nice variety of textures from the chewy rice cakes to the crunchy cabbage and bamboo shoots.

Both dishes were a hit as we took home empty platters at the end of the night!  It’s always fun trying out new dishes at potlucks and being introduced to different foods :)  Remember to keep these recipes in mind the next time you want to try something new for dinner or for an upcoming potluck!

Chinese New Year Doll

With Chinese New Year coming up, I wanted to create a special Chinese New Year Doll.  Ryan and I thought it would be so cute if we could make a little bunny that she could hold since this upcoming year is the Year of the Rabbit!  I knew this would be quite the challenge since it’d be my first original design and I wanted to make her quite intricate.   

Ryan and I roughly sketched out different designs.  Here’s one of them:

My mind was swirling with ideas as I thought about how I’d make each piece, from her hair to her sleeves.  I meticulously wrote down how I made each part and wrote out the pattern, which I am providing for free HERE

I started off with her head and face, using 9 mm safety eyes and embroidery floss for her eyelashes and her mouth.  She looks so funny when she’s bald!

Chinese Doll

The hair was the challenging part.  I wasn’t sure what shape to make and how to position the hair on the head.  If I made one big circle and sewed it ontop, it would simply look like she was wearing a hat (or that she had a bowl cut!).  I really wanted to make a part in her hair as well.  And so, I made two circles of varying sizes and overlapped them to create a side part for her!  I flipped the circles inside out (as seen in photo below) since they fit the head better this way.

Chinese Doll

Then I made a red dress (red symbolizes good fortune and joy in traditional Chinese culture, and it’s found everywhere during Chinese New Year) consisting of two parts: a tube and a circle for the bottom.  I joined the circle to the tube with single crochets to create a frilly edge for the bottom.  We cut out a cardboard circle, placed it in the bottom, and then filled her dress with rice so that she would stand nicely.

Chinese Doll

Next, I sewed a cute bun ontop of her head.  Then we placed toothpicks in her hair (representing chopsticks of course :D) and Ryan used a glue gun to secure a little yellow and grey ball to the toothpicks.  The glue gives it a nice oramental look, almost like a jewel or crystal. 

Chinese Doll

I then made sleeves that flair out and two balls for her hands.  Ryan helped me glue gun the hands into her sleeves.  I attached the sleeves to her dress (doesn’t it look like she’s ready to give a big hug in the second photo?) and then tied her hands together so she’s ready to hold something!

Chinese Doll

 Now onto her little bunny toy!  To make such a tiny bunny, I had to get special extra fine crochet thread as seen below:

Extra fine crochet thread

My eyes were going a little wonky when I was making this bunny since the stitches were so tiny!  I had to take breaks and work on it bit by bit.  I pretty much made this bunny the same way as my other bunny, adjusting the pattern to make it smaller.  Look how tiny the head is:

Little bunny

Assembling the little bunny didn’t take too long.  She sure is tiny, hey?

Little bunny

And now to place the little bunny into her arms :)

Chinese Doll

Here are some side views:

Chinese Doll

I had to bring out the other bunny too because they look so cute together!

Chinese Doll

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And with some Red Pocket Money :)

Chinese Doll

Have a Happy Chinese New Year, everyone!  Let me know what you think of my first original creation :)  And once again, the free pattern that I’ve written out can be found HERE!

Happy Chinese New Year!!!  It’s the Year of the Rabbit, so I made this special Chinese doll and her little bunny to celebrate :)  Full blog post to come soon!

Happy Chinese New Year!!!  It’s the Year of the Rabbit, so I made this special Chinese doll and her little bunny to celebrate :)  Full blog post to come soon!

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