{ bargain } free panda express samurai surf & turf dish

Panda Express Surf & Turf

If you don’t have lunch or dinner plans today, the Panda has the answer. Only today (Wed., 4/17) you can feast on a single serving of their new item, the Samurai Surf & Turf for free!

You can print this coupon or show it on your mobile device. Single Serving, no purchase necessary. Valid at participating locations.

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


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.

{ jou eats } mochi cream in torrance

The hunt is over.

Finally found Mochi Cream in So Cal! I first had Mochi Cream from a friend that purchased these delights in SF and I’ve been searching for them ever since. This Mochi Cream store is located in the Torrance Mitsuwa Japanese market. I’ve always been a fan these Japanese sticky rice delights. Traditionally, they are made of mochi rice and pounded into a paste and molded into various shapes, usually round. It became mainstream in the American market with mochi ice cream.

Back to Mochi Cream… these little guys are imported frozen from Japan and have excellent texture, taste and flavors. It takes about 15 minutes to thaw out and is ready to consume. They are $1.80 each and come in dozens of flavors like Sakura, Red Bean, Green Tea, Double Mango Cream, Mocha, Black Sesame, among others.

My favorites:
{ Double Mango Cream } Mango-flavored mochi filled with mango concentrate and cream. This left me wanting more.
{ Black Sesame } Black sesame-infused mochi filled with black sesame paste and cream.
{ Green Tea } Green tea flavored mochi filled with green tea paste and cream, all coated in matcha green tea powder. A bit messy because the powder tends to blow everywhere, but delicious!

I saw they also had donut shaped ones in the display case! I’ll have to make another trip out to Torrance…

Mochi Cream Torrance (21515 Western Ave., Torrance, CA 90501). Located in the Mitsuwa Japanese market.mochi cream

{ photo: jennifer’s iPhone }

bargain | sephora VIB preview day 15% off event

{ Save the Date } Sephora VIB Members Preview Day 15% off event!

Thursday, April 11 – All Day

Bring a friend to enjoy the savings. Get spring makeovers. Take home a limited-edition tote bag and free samples at your local Sephora store.

Sephora VIB 15% event via http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/bargain-sephora-vib-preview-day-15-off-event/

*VIB Status? Attain VIB status by spending $350 at a Sephora store, sephora.com, sephora.ca, or in a Sephora inside jcpenney within a calendar year (January-December). VIB status is good for the calendar year in which the BI member qualifies and the following calendar year; annual requalification is required.

{ updated 4/8/13 } some Q & A from the sephora.com site.

What is Chic Week?
Chic Week is a special promotion offering 15% off all merchandise purchases for Beauty Insiders from April 12th – April 21st. To kickoff Chic Week, Very Important Beauty Insiders (V.I.B.s) can attend a special Preview Party at their local store on April 11th. VIBs can redeem the promotion from April 11th – April 22nd.

V.I.Bs will receive an email on 4/9 inviting them to the preview. If you are a V.I.B. and have not received the email please log into the V.I.B. only section on BeautyTalk, on or after 4/9/2013.

(please check back here on 4/9 for the link)

If you are a Beauty Insider and you have not received the email please log into the BI section on BeautyTalk on or after 4/12/2013.

(please check back here on 4/12 for the link)

What will be offered at the Preview Party?
V.I.Bs will receive the below benefits on 4/11:
• The first to shop: an extra day to save 15% before everyone else, online and in stores
• VIBs may bring a friend to get the discount too
• A SEPHORA Tote to take home PLUS a Sample Bag of 8 samples! (Available in stores ONLY)
• Spring makeup lessons at The Beauty Studio
• Face Time with our Experts and Brands

What time does the VIB Preview Party begin?
The Preview Party is happening all day on April 11th during your local store’s regular business hours. Check out our store locator for hours and locations: https://bit.ly/sephorastores

What does the VIB Preview Party tote look like?
The tote is about a 12”x10.5”x4.x vinyl striped bag. It is only available for V.I.B. clients with a purchase at the April 11th event while supplies last and can only be redeemed once per client.

Is the discount available at Sephora inside jcpenney stores?
The 15% off discount can be redeemed but all preview party perks may not be available at Sephora inside jcpenney stores.

Is the discount available with Canadian orders?
The 15% off discount is available in US and Canada stores but it not available with Canadian checkout online. We do reserve offers for our Canadian clients, so make sure to check our Canadian offers page for exclusives.> http://seph.me/10DzNG5
Can I redeem the 15% off offer more than once?
Absolutely! The offer can be redeemed multiple times through April 21st for Beauty Insiders and through April 22nd for VIB’s.

Can my friend attending the VIB Preview Event with me redeem the 15% off offer more than once?
The 15% off offer for (non-Beauty Insider) friends at the VIB Preview Event can only be redeemed during the event.

Are there any exclusions to the offer?
The offer is not valid on purchases of Gift Cards or eGift Certificates, towards previous purchases and may not be combined with any other offers.

What if I’m not a Beauty Insider?
Beauty Insider is free and easy to sign up. Become a Beauty Insider to redeem the 15% off promotion. Learn more about the Beauty Insider program at any Sephora store or online at http://seph.me/10CbCHW

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

engaged ! via http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/birthday banner via http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/instax photo message corner via http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/instax photo message corner via http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/party favors station via http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/party favors station via http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/party favors station via http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/party favors station via http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/ kale salad via http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/ stuffed mushroom w/ ricotta & spinach via http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/ kurobuta pork belly sliders via http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/porto's potato balls via http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/ chipotle chicken wings via http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/ porto's guava & cheese pastries via http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/spicy rice cakes via http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/ baked goods via http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/ crab dip via http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/chinese sticky rice via http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/birthday cake! http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/ king's hawaiian tropical delight via http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/wayne & jenn http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/smiles http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/joy ! http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/fujifilm instax collage via http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/a-blissful-30th-birthday/

{ jou farms & eats } field of greens

Wayne planted baby greens a couple months ago and we finally harvested some yesterday–so lush and plentiful! Within a few hours we made Easter dinner: Roasted organic herb chicken, baby multi-colored potatoes and the freshest of fresh, home-grown baby greens salad. Can’t wait to finish building our trellis so we can grow tomatoes and other summer goodies!

fresh baby greens in gardengreens for dinner{ Photos: Jennifer’s iPhone }